A small cabin sits on the shore of a quiet lake. It is made of wood, tightly constructed. One room, with a steeply pitched roof, it is snug and dry and comfortable. On the side facing the lake there is a roofed porch running the width of the cabin. Between the porch and the lake there is a picnic table, fire ring, and a few trees. I am stopping here for only two days, but even the shortest break from the busyness of home is a welcomed one. I quickly settle in.
I listen to rain fall all night, but I wake to sunlight and air that is fresh, even cool for August. After breakfast, I set up a place on the porch. With the cooler in front of my chair, I am lounging in a lovely forest room. I pick up my laptop and begin writing. It is a revelation at first. I am using this tool for the first reason I had for buying it. It is a word processor. Without the distractions of an internet connection, it works amazingly well. I write long after noon. Lunch becomes dinner and after editing my work at the picnic table, I am ready for a break.
I return to my seat on the porch with a book – a Kindle in fact. These electric tools seem out of place, but they do not intrude on the silence. I am reading the second chapter when I notice movement on my left. I look over and down at the short space between the rails and the floor and there is the body of a black snake. The body is moving, and moving, and moving but there is no head or tail in sight. As the apparent length of this fellow dawns on me, a tiny head looks over the foot rail well around the corner, nearly in front of me. Its face has a very small rounded nose, tiny eyes, and a smooth line that is its mouth. My visitor looks rather friendly, as if this hesitant movement, and the pause during which we look into each other’s eyes, is a meeting of alien minds. We have the same needs: green leaves, blue sky, rippling water, and, well, we won’t dwell on food right now. But the need we are satisfying at the moment is companionship. Woman or snake – we all need someone with whom to enjoy this day, this sun, this world.
Finally, the snake sticks his tongue out at me and breaks the spell. I know the boy and girls at the next site would love to see this handsome snake, so I invite the family to cross our short divide of small hill and slender trees to get a look at a real, wild snake. They rush over and check him out, ooh and aah at his size, and embarrass him right off into the woods. He reproaches me for a moment, heading toward my feet, reminding me that we might have been quiet friends. I hope he knows I love him but wanted to share him. Okay, I wanted to show him off. He disappears in moments.
Days later, I will learn that in many cultures a snake is seen as our umbilical cord to the Mother. He was a messenger to me, reminding me that I am tethered to this Earth. In my mind, I thank the snake for blessing me with this message. I wish him many baby snakes and a long life.
When night falls, I light a small fire in my metal fire-ring. As I look at the light reflected on the leaves above me, I hear a plop in the water below me. Thinking I might have heard a ripple meeting the shore, I continue watching the fire and the lights reflecting on the far side of the lake. The next watery sound I hear is definitely caused by a swimmer. I step down to the shoreline and place my hand against a tree to steady myself. I wait for a while but find myself enjoying this moment without added drama. The tree’s bark is surprisingly smooth and warm to my touch. I think of her roots, deep in the ground, drinking happily from the muddy water inches from her trunk. Some low branches brush the surface of the lake, and I imagine all the life that might be sleeping, eating, or simply being there in the shelter of her green leaves and small stems. I share her view across the lake and I listen for anything she might like to tell me.
The idea that occurrs to me, after a motionless time, is “eternity.” The knowledge that this tree will grow while these stars shine and this water whispers for a time I cannot measure fills me with a fullness, a roundness. I cannot describe the happiness I feel at being a small part of such a vast existence. There is comfort in seeing and being and letting it be enough of a contribution in this quadrillionth of a speck of eternity. So I tell the tree, “Thank you for this blessing.” And I bring this interlude with me when I return to my busy life – always there, always inviting me to return. When I experience my oneness with our Mother, there is no need for anything more.