We continued on walking through the landscape noticing the little ways in which it resembled the most beautiful parts that remained of the city. The tall oaks and Douglas firs covered in light, the smell of the beach after the sunset, the warm breeze of a summer afternoon in the Pacific Northwest—so much nature and yet so much space to be in between—so much time to be alone in the splendor of creation and so much time to be with others and to exchange love freely and without fail. This was a world that had begun in the city. Then a voice surrounded me and uttered words like that of a song for what seemed like the first time and yet like a familiar reminder, “Your world’s gradual subsidence, spanning millennia, beneath a shallow sea with eons of deep time, passing mostly in chaotic noise, has been home to micro movements to and fro my father’s dwelling, and don’t you see? Little ghost, it’s never been about the salvation of disembodied souls but of the renewal of the whole earth.” “Where am I?” I asked and silence filled this place.
It was then that I asked my Teacher, “May I let go and try walking on my own? I want to be like the animals, free to run about, to go to the east and the west and play in the horizon with all the rest.” “That’s not all they do,” said the Teacher. I watched them as they were speaking ever so softly during their play. I listened carefully and noticed that they prayed with one another for the eyes of the blind that were still in the city. The Teacher smiled and said it all with his eyes and so it was then that I let go and began to bleed from the base of my feet as my weight pressed me with excruciating force into the grass. But the birds lifted my gaze away from the ground and toward the distant mountain and suddenly hope began to guide me forward as I realized that the further I walked the less it hurt. I looked to my right and my left—scenes of my life playing before my very eyes—times when I had failed to seek harmony and justice and I knew that the animals here represented the very thing that I had missed in my life. I had lived a life that fueled a love for security and prosperity, but in this moment I found peace in knowing my brokenness and could sense that this place was taking the fullness of my story and building upon the good and forgiving the wrong. It wasn’t about punishment like I had feared; it was about my own awareness and forgiveness of my past that projected me on and on toward the great mountain and my body began to become solid. I could no longer see my wounds through my feet. And as I looked back towards the Teacher I saw ten thousand more just like him singing,
“Come forth all of creation!
Lift up your voices in praise
For today one begins to see what was always there.”