Down along the creek, a sudden thaw has broken the ice into thick blocks and here, where the creek widens and shallows, a heavy wind has helped to push up the pieces, like giant, upended dominoes, twisting them into a formidable defense against the onslaught of spring runoff. Around the makeshift dam, the creek fills and the muddy water overflows its shallow banks. Water finds its way around and under the ice, and a little further downstream gallops impatiently toward the open mouth of the lake.
Like the water, I too am impatient, waiting for the thick mantle of winter to break. I am tired of the long, dark nights, the extra layers of clothing, the heavy winter boots. I am anxious for the spring. I feel myself pushing up against the walls of ice I’ve built up in my mind, straining against the ideas and preconceptions and notions I’ve locked myself into. I realize that winter has put up unconscious barriers – habit and routine and even comfort – that I am anxious to break through. Words are sometimes difficult to locate. Occasionally I forget to lock the door.
In nature, obstacles arise and obstacles give way, but they are only ‘obstacles’ in our own minds. Nature makes no judgment. Why should I?
The lotus does not bloom in the winter; it requires warmth of the summer sun to flower and the light of the day to open. In the winter, it buries its roots deep into the mud and hides beneath the water, gathering strength and nourishment. In the meantime, it waits.
Here and there along the path, where the sun has melted the snow, the trail is slick with mud; the foothold is uncertain. Underneath, the earth is still hard and unyielding. We cannot expect change to come all at once, yet we can prepare ourselves and, along the way there will certainly be surprises.
Walking out onto the ice flow, I notice pockets of thin ice around the rows of rushes bent by the flood. Here, the ice has formed into rounded blossoms… like long-stemmed crystalline roses.
It’s hard to imagine that the muddy water, the blocks of ice, the snow and the crystalline flowers are really all different expressions of the same thing – but they are.
The temperature is dropping. Snow is in the forecast. It’s winter still – at least for a few more weeks.
Miles Murphy works in the field of learning and professional development. An independent scholar, he has a wide range of interests including the humanities of East and West. He is a devotee of Buddhism and a t’ai chi ch’uan enthusiast. His poetry and other writings endeavour to poke about in the rich soil and empty sky of the human condition. Miles can be contacted at email@example.com