Yesterday I went on a contemplative hike with Margaret Emerson. I had not been on this particular hillside in over a year and it was like visiting an old friend. This early in April the swaths of three-leaf sumac are grey and brittle-looking. We walked through some flatter areas with stands of dried up mullein, still standing at attention. My husband threw his back out recently and we’ve been working with mullein tincture as a remedy. I paused to study the rosettes of fuzzy leaves coming back at the base of some of the plants.
While walking I was reminded of something I heard David Abram say in an interview. He was talking about what happens to us when we are deeply engaged in activities that are anciently human. Things like staring into a campfire, looking at a baby’s face, or walking across the landscape. When we are quietly present inside these things it helps us return to that old, embodied, animal part of us that made us human before we had words. And this is both profoundly healing and necessary.
While walking, I made a practice of paying attention to the rhythm of my joints and limbs in their repetitions. The gentle two-step swaying and shifting of body weight, pelvis rocking. The motion was soothing in a deep-down way I cannot express. And I was also soothed by the feeling of this rhythm being recognized by the ponderosa pines… ah yes, there goes a human.