companion at the threshold...

It's early June in the Shenandoah Mountains and I'm at a retreat: in the morning I left my tent wearing layers, but by afternoon I am sweltering. Diving into my tent on the first break I have, I peel off one layer after another until I am dressed only in the cool breeze quietly moving through the screened roof of my tent.

I close my eyes and rest for awhile. Soon I will head back out onto the trails to walk with a question, inviting the forest to share its wisdom with me. I have often been surprised by what answers I receive when I wander through nature with pores and attention wide open, ready to listen deeply and perceive differently. 

I open my eyes to a delightful play of shadows, light and leaves across the walls of my tent....and then see the shadow of a spider amongst the leaves-- delight! I sit transfixed by all that is in front of me, and realize that my environment has come to me.

As I watch the spider, leaves, light and shadows shape-shifting across the walls of my tent, I wonder about stories-- past, present, and future. My worldview is shaped by stories that I've been told, some that I've accepted and continue to shape me, some I've rewritten because personal experience teaches me something new, and then there are the stories that are just forming, only fragments of imagination and ideas. I sit in the midst of all of it-- at the threshold of light and shadow, old and new, inside and out. 

Throughout numerous cultures there are stories centered around the spider, the storyteller that weaves past, present and future. I realize that as I've been pondering my questions I have been attempting to receive an answer fully formed from the outside, like viewing a spider's intricate web glistening in the sun. In reality, I am more like the spider in the midst of a web that I am weaving, slowly connecting one thread at a time.... 

I relax my pondering and allow my body to sway with the breeze, light, and leaves.

A brief glimpse from inside my tent...  

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily
to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely.
But much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself makes no promises.
It is only a door. 

-Adrienne Rich, "Prospective Immigrants Please Note"