The desire and the intention to walk in the snow tickled my consciousness as soon as I opened my eyes today. After a few days of being housebound, allowing the snow and below freezing temperatures to win in the “man” versus nature battle, my desire grew greater than my inertia, which was in itself a by-product of the spiritual blahs. I tend to go through protracted periods of spiritual longing, followed by brief gifts of contentment and tranquility. Today is the former.
The spiritual blahs are the shadow of longing much in the way the nafs (ego) is the shadow of the ruh (spirit). When I get the blahs I feel way too material for comfort, like a piece of slippery silk on sweating skin, or wet wool on the back of my neck. I become material. I eat and sleep and pray, my mind fussing over the past or the future, pressing myself toward reality by meditating only on the present. I lose sight of Reality and instead linger in its shadow, reality.
The snow is soft and gentle today, powder, but it hampers my vision. I walk in this place, foreign but lodged in a memory over 12 years old now. I walk into the forest, thick, broken branches like fingers , solitary pick pockets, exposed by the blowing wind and silent, demanding cold. This forest has been stripped bare. Laid raw. I feel sympathy and compassion for its nakedness.
I allow myself to remember, the three boys and me, rolling down that hill, them on crazy carpets and me rolling madly on my side, like a big floppy bear. I remember that mixture of glee, excitement, happiness and aggression that young boys feel when they play, embraces and bear hugs ready to turn into a punch in the nose or a shove over the hill top at any moment. I draw in the memory and feel its weight in my heart. Out of the corner of my eye I see some young boys arrive with their slides. I do not have the strength to watch them. I walk on.
I am naked. I walk on allowing reality to drift away, the snow becoming a whiteness that fills all my vision, the world of my senses become a mere swirl of marshmallow. Inside I feel the fire of my longing, burning like a hearth as I walk in this unremembered place, through the forest, past the probing branches, pausing to watch a squirrel as he burrows deeper into the tree, birds as they hover for cover. I am oblivious to the snow, the deepening drift around my knees, the cold in my feet and legs. I merely need to walk on.
Ahead there is a small play hut. Could this be my station? Is this my cave? I go inside. I feel like glass on porcelain, ready to break by the sudden movement from cold to heat. But the fire of my heart is still alive, it warms the core of my body, sending delightful shots of heat through my limbs, to the tips of my ears – the fire knows where it is needed and chooses its own path. My body is broken and healed at once.
Al Wahid. Allow me to be in your companionship. Allow my heart to be a room in your Home. I shall look straight ahead. I shall not look right. Nor shall I look left. The world is white. The glass is broken.
There is no meaning or thought on the walk back to where I started- only the walk in silent whiteness. The cold now replaced by a warm numbness flowing from my heart to wherever it is needed, the children, birds, and squirrels have deserted the landscape which has changed from delightful to threatening as I have changed from blah to awe. For me love and fear have become one.