These are my reflections on an early morning meditation at the Resurgence Summer Camp 2008:
We gathered in the campsite, about 12 of us, at 6.30 am on a warm and sunny July morning. I knew we would be going down to the river and, like the others slowly joining the group, had decided not to go barefoot. One man turned up barefoot and was asking if it would be alright to do so and was wondering what the ground would be like. We agreed it would be fine for him and, as I was slightly envious of him' I said "I will journey with you". So off came my shoes too. It the end, as we silently set off, three of us hardy men felt the coldness of the early morning dew beneath our feet and the soft refreshing grass.
Walking, slowly, silently, in single file. Trying to keep a rhythm between our breath and our careful footsteps. Down the field, through the trees, over the stile and out into the flat grassy sheep-shawn grass of the meadow alongside the river. Alders stretched out along the river bank of the River Teme which meandered through the red soil of the rich earth. The tall Balsam with ornate pink flowers, magnificent constructions of origamied petals, joined the clusters of nettles over which we could peer down to the gentle waters to our left. Along the sheep path we journeyed, dodging nettles, to a place where the alders provided a shaded resting place overlooking the calm waters for us mindful walkers.
Green Woodpecker, Pheasant, sea gull, a Wren singing, crow, possibly Blue or Great Tits; and was that a Kingfisher I just heard flying past down the river? And a Dipper too?
In the distance a farmer was irrigating a field: I am aware of cycle of the water from the river to the crops to the food eat. Connections are everywhere.
We rest for a while. The perfect sound of a singing bowl drawing in our focus. Others sit, but I stand, listening to how the ringing fills the air and intermingles with the trees. How do I feel about it I wonder? I had never come across the sound of these in practice before this weekend, but the it seemed to blend in. I liked it.
I touch the alders, bright green in the sunshine. Their rough bark softened by the algae. I run my fingers down through the crevices in the bark and sense the variety of the different ages of trees. Even though I am with a group of people, still no-one has said a word. I am amazed at the peace and awareness to the experience that these folks bring. I don't remember having been with people who have revered meditation like this before - perhaps they all knew what to expect, perhaps this is in tune with Buddhist practice.
We are eventually called by three rings of the bowl to gather and begin our journey back. We pause in one corner of the field for one final look over the meadow. We stand in a circle, asked to bow to each other and then to bow to the "Masters" (whether that be to Jesus, Buddha or whoever - I'm not used to some of these rituals!). At the exact same moment we all face the sun to do that a group of three or four swans takes off from a patch of water out of view to our right and fly across the meadow in front of us calling distinctively. Looks of awe and amazement fill the us all. This was an incredibly moving moment.
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There are probably many metaphors that could be applied to the swans appearing when they did. Swans and Masters, Royal and Sovereign, Nature as Teacher. It is up to me to read into it as much as I want to. It may have been coincidence, but perhaps this was a true moment where Nature, God and humans interact. Like the butterfly in the tent later that day (see previous blog). When you spend time outside, you experience things in a different way. Someone wrote to me recently and prayed that God (or was it Jesus?) would reveal Himself to me in a real way. Perhaps this was that moment. Perhaps the whole weekend was a revelation for me. I felt deep love.
Thank you, June, for your guidance and showing me a practical outworking of slowness and mindful meditation.