The path by this river was moist, and on the verge of muddy. The leaves overhead looked like the insides of a pumpkin. It was dawn. I had not been able to sleep at The Wildwood Inn, and so decided to journey to the Quabbin Reservoir nearby. I knew it would be quiet, still and serene. I had seen this path by the river many times, but this was my first jaunt down its trail.
There was a morning mist. Not a fog. More like the white webbing we use to decorate for Halloween. The woods looked enchanted. As if each tree was whispering a scary or sacred story on the wind. The wind itself was eerie. It made everything moan and sway. It was also as mild as May. The smell was mildew, like a Grandma’s attic. The creaking sounds odd, as there certainly no stairs.
The river flowed in swirling patterns. It was brown and green and reflected the ghostly sky. Occasionally the sun would appear, and the water would suddenly burst blue, but then it would just as quickly vanish. The water made no sound. Only frogs could be heard. They chattered in large numbers.
I laughed at myself. Trying to act all big boy. As if I was not afraid. As if I regularly ventured forth into the wild. Trust me, this river bank was pretty damn wild for me. I walked forward until a yellow caped presence startled me on the other side of the river. I stopped and stared. I listened.
It was a woman. My age, or there about. She was seated on a mossy rock, and was gazing into the flow of the river. She was equally shocked by my presence. We looked at one another. Funny, but we waved without speaking. We each returned to our previous activity. Mine a morning walk in the mist. Hers a chance to ponder for a spell.
Think about what, I questioned. Due to the time and place, I felt a sadness swarming about her. I sensed that she was at a point of needing to feel some intimacy, or some purpose, or a point to her days. I imagined her not to be depressed, certainly not despairing, but seeking something. Yearning to sort out a puzzle or solve a riddle. Wanting desperately to find a rhyme or a reason. I felt bad for her. I felt raw mercy.
Then it hit me. She was me. I had transferred onto her, exactly what had kept me up most of the night. I was not lost, but I sure as hell was not found. I was not lonely, but I wanted a friend to share the day. I was not down, but I was way below up. I laughed out loud.
We are, all of us, one. One soul. One spirit. One infinite variety of humanity. When we let ourselves, we can identify intimately with our neighbor. We can feel so close, we can smell their breath. We can swap hearts and even minds. We can know one another inside out. We can be created equally in the image of God.
A middle aged woman in a yellow cape. Down by the river. Early morning. Both of us seeking refuge. Both wishing to be understood. Both praying that this day might reveal a bit of magic to delight us. Both of us pulsing with the beat of Life. Its eternal questions. Who am I? Where am I going? Why bother? Two separate souls united by gold autumn light and a meandering river. A paradox? Possibly. Siamese spiritual twins? Probably.
We had waved. It was a most gentle gesture, and it had spoken more than I had said in months, maybe years.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.