• Alastar Connor

I lay my sorrow at the base of the mountain.

I lay my sorrow at the base of the mountain.

This morning I participated in a guided meditation. We were picturing ourselves as a mountain. Still, steady, timeless. I am learning a lot about grief during this insane time of Covid. This grief, and the practice of meditation, is in turn teaching me a lot about life. Inevitably, my meditation, the practice of stopping, quitting the more intense busy of our current reality to let the mind be, brings grief. Grief is something that can be pushed away, hidden, driven back by daily tasks and distractions, of which there are so many right now. But when I stop, grief is what rears its ugly head. Still there, still very present, a feeling of being untethered, ungrounded, and lost.

I feel very little like the strong grounded mountain right now. Even seated on the floor, trying to focus on my breath, my body just hurts. Pain, sorrow, stress, and loss make it hard to feel like the steady presence of a tower of granite. As tears build and leak out, rolling down my cheeks like springs becoming streams, carving traces of my emotion into the makeup on my cheeks, I try shifting my focus to instead gazing up at a mountain that stands before me. As I think back on the memorial hike for Rachel that I participated in a few weeks ago, I think of the worn path that we hiked, following the footsteps of so many before us. Perhaps in ancient times, people traveled that same worn path up to the mountain top to gaze over the valleys, feeling small. Perhaps they came to that same mountain to lay their grief down, placing their heavy burden at the base, putting one foot in front of the other to climb and offer the gift of their presence to the valley below.

Somehow, imagining the ancient presence of the mountain made me feel less alone. The timeless nature of the topography of the Earth reminds me that grief is something that centuries of people have come to lay down at the base of these mountains. It has no solution, no fix, no balm to heal, but it is a timeless experience that unites humanity. So often, I still sit with a phone in my hand, not knowing who to call. I speak to her, trying to conjure her up, imagining what she might say to make it better, amazingly feeling her so close, a gift of my vivid imagination, even sometimes feeling a hug that almost feels real. But as is life, the moment passes and life rushes back in until the next time I choose to stop and feel. Maybe the mountain that I am being right now looks more like shifting tectonic plates, an earthquake reorganizing the land I knew, and I only need to hide in a cave until the ground beneath me stops moving.

Thank you for the meditationZoe CulbertsonSeaside Meditation Photo byEberhard grossgasteiger

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