Sound and Silence: Encountering Voices of Grief and Hope on the Buffalo

neon mushroomsSunday I rested in the predawn stillness, waiting for the first bird songs. Sweet anticipation infused the Ozark woodlands. It played quietly on the whispering breeze and in my heart. What a magical time, this transitional interlude between night and day!

Steady snores grumbled over from the collection of tents erected by river-floating Texans a few sites away, but it didn’t matter. After two days of hiking in Arkansas’s treasured Buffalo National River area, my ears and heart were attuned to Nature’s finer rhythms and melodies and were harmonizing with the Heart’s deeper Sound. What a change from just days before!

Certainly being in Nature refreshes, recalibrates and renews. I was very happy to be walking with my brother who had traveled down from Chicago. Yet hiking in silence and laying in a tent alone at night temporarily amplifies the inner stories.   It gives unresolved hurts and struggles space to speak their pain. And their hopes.

As I move closer to legally resolving final ties with the spiritual community I helped create and chose to leave last November, I’ve encountered sadness, self-doubt, and inklings of new freedom . . . feelings that had been insisting on some attention but whose mouths I had temporarily sealed with the duct tape of work and other responsibilities. That is until the testing, healing days and nights on the Buffalo.

I listened to my pain, as my brother and I crested lush hills and walked along streams swollen by the remnants of Hurricane Bill. I listened to my Heart strengths and the parts of me wanting to change. I spoke admirations to the trail-crossing box turtle, the copperhead warming in sun-touched leaves, and the surprising neon mushrooms poking up along the way. Through the climbs and descents, I accepted that sometimes in transitional human moments the voice of grief mixes with the voice of anticipation, anticipation for the unexpected good yet to come.  Would you agree?  The resonant Sound that contains both voices is the courageous beat of the honest Heart, present in the moment, perfectly willing to release from the passing night and stretch into the arriving dawn.

With the Texans still snoring, I gave thanks for the Heart’s evolutionary wisdom and welcomed the whippoorwill’s morning song.

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