For many years now, the ‘new year’ begins near the end of December, the day after Winter Solstice. So when new year’s day rolls around, I am happy to utilize it for yet another time of deep reflection. This year, one of my dearest friends and I drove to a remote Buddhist monastery in the mountains of northern California.
We had hiked there one other time and this time we had the specific intention of reaching a meditation platform located atop one of the steepest trails. It is extremely dry in northern California this year and all the creatures that live in this area are longing for refreshing waters of a good winter rain. As I hiked up the steep trail I noted that lack of traditional green radiance customary for a California winter. Rounding a corner in the steep traverse, I came upon this beautiful old Manzanita tree.
The brilliance of its skin-like bark was so stunning in contrast to the brown, dry surroundings it just took my breath away! I paused to spend a few minutes admiring the beauty and for the rest of the hike, I thought about all the gifts and insights this brief encounter brought at the onset of 2014.
So here are a few questions that began coming forward as I continued my hike… What teachings are present for us from this wise, old Manzanita or other beings in nature as we navigate the turbulent waters of society? Would I have seen or become aware the brilliance of this beautiful Being if weather conditions had been more normal? In times of ‘dryness’ in our life, how might our brilliance shine? From where do we draw our water or nourishment in times of depletion?