I walk every morning, drive a quick seven miles to the Rocky Fork Metro Park where an asphalted trail winds through a relatively untouched forested tract of land. The asphalt provides safety, the surrounding land provides a submersion in nature. It is a “soul care” practice, and I have proudly explained that I walk in rain, sleet, snow, cold and winds, but never in lightening. This morning I discovered I also don’t walk in windy sub-zero freezing temperatures. A comeuppance of sorts. I have gear for cold and icy, but not for frost-bite.
I actually hate being cold, and aging has increased this aversion, in part because cold arrives more often and seems more unrelenting, as if “getting warm” is a victory of sorts. I recall hearing all the snarky and condescending references to “snowbirds” over the years, and find a sudden well of compassion. Yes, there is the cold, which seems unyielding, but also the subtle terror of ice, of falling and hip fractures and…This fear is real.
So, I laid a fire in my quiet fireplace, and realized that today, with no forest walk, there was this other dimension of nature not to be ignored or dismissed. The surge of heat and warmth, the sparkling light prisms shattering the dark, the mesmerizing crackling of burning wood and the aroma permeating my home, the shift of energy in my place and space, the smile of welcome I gave this small fire: this too was “soul care”.
As is often nature’s way, one must experience an “extreme” to notice its obverse. One never fully understands cold until one experiences heat. One never fully understands darkness until one experiences light. One never fully understands cruelty until one experiences kindness. Perhaps the confinement of the Covid Cave has opened the door to a more nuanced understanding of freedom. While the manifestations of that discovery can confound, the discovery itself is noteworthy.
"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together."