Seeking a Renewed Vision

Seeking a Renewed Vision

Standing in front of my altar, candle burning, invitation to the Ancestors whispered, I centered myself and asked for assistance. “Renew my Vision, help me connect with that which calls me to service. Guide me, please.”

For many years I had such a clear and powerful vision to document and share Beauty. I traveled to underwater realms, to amazing places like the west coast of Ireland, the Lake District of England, Bonaire…always seeking the Sacred to connect with and then share with others. 

Connemara Ireland

I knew, when I moved back to the mountains of North Carolina, that my life was shifting. A few months later, the pandemic exploded and the sensed shift became a whopping reality.

There was no social circle here as I hadn’t had time to connect with others but it didn’t matter anyway because we had to isolate. It was quite strange and yet perfect for me. I simply went deeper with Nature, thus deeper with myself. I had no option but to get really familiar with myself; thus, my connection with Nature became more real and delicious than I’d ever experienced.

And, as I wasn’t employed at the time, I studied and learned to fly a drone and took the FAA Part 107 exam to fly the drone commercially…but mostly I was thrilled just to FLY! And do something to enrich my mind and find other ways to experience and see Nature.

Flying the drone became a wonderful way to experience Nature in a new and expansive way.

So last week, when I ask for renewed Vision, I was expecting something to come rushing into my life that would give me some grand way forward. Instead, I got a dump truck load of firewood delivered and nearly every piece had to be split at least once, if not three or four times in order to fit in my little wood stove.

I got this pile of wood, plus had to split over half the wood from last season and restack it.

After a couple afternoons spent splitting wood, I got up the next morning and stood at my altar, lit the candle and said, What about that Vision, y’all? As clearly as a beloved elder standing next to me I heard, Chop wood. Carry water. I laughed out loud. The prayer was answered in a most unexpected way.

‘Before enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water.’ This Zen koan emphasizes the idea that although it appears nothing has really changed from the outer appearance, everything has changed on the inner experience.

Still mind, active body.

While chopping the mountain of wood, my body was busy. Yet as I used the maul, I felt my mind come into focus and stillness. Thankfully so, as it kept me safe while using a heavy, sharp object for multiple hours and days.

Part of the new wood, all stacked and ready for cold weather.

As I tended plants during twilight today, I smelled the wondrous smell of freshly split wood and admired the large abundance of stacked wood. I realized that this is actually living. It may not be on the awe-inspiring scale of traveling and diving and doing underwater photography and being in the water with humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea turtles, but this is actually where life is mastered—the day-to-day tasks that ground us into our life.

Castlerigg Stone Circle, Kewick, England

I’ve always been active and enjoyed physically and mentally challenging tasks….diving, cave diving, fly fishing in remote areas near where I live, far up wild creeks. Or hiking in Ireland or Canyon de Chelly, up remote trails in winter. Or visiting standing stone circles in northern England to connect with ancient energies. Such glorious and amazing adventures.

Cave diving in Mexico

But what of the mundane tasks of buying groceries, pulling weeds, cleaning house, cooking…chopping wood. Embracing these duties as ways to grow instead of burdens to endure can change our lives.

I didn’t receive a peek into some exotic adventure awaiting me in far away lands and with insanely cool creatures; however, I did glimpse the exotic adventure of fully embodying my everyday life right here in these Smoky Mountains…and it’s really quite amazing. And I am grateful.

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