Kelley J. Leigh

Loud World. Quiet Soul. Listen beyond the noise.

Rooted

“Will power and discipline alone can never fix your soul. Striving, pushing, and trying harder will not recover your life.”

 – Adele Calhoun

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My proposed path winds through a gate and disappears into the rolling grass fields of a local 35 acre mountain retreat. In the gushing fall breeze, I wrestle with flapping paper and find my place on the first page of the printed “Prayer Trail Guide.” The last days of summer washed in like an unexpected emotional tsunami and left me in a depleted depressed state. I took this day off to seize some solitude … to stop, breathe and receive.

I sit on a rustic log chair near a wood gate, and take in the quiet. It takes a while to unplug, to shush the manic lists that run like ticker tape through my thoughts. I need to slow down enough to hear my heartbeat in my ears again. Shush the anxiety. Quell the constant inner chatter. Listen for the quiet. Repeat cycle.

Wendell Berry once said, “Best of any song is bird song in the quiet, but first you must have the quiet.”

Today, the quiet comes slowly.

A gate opens to a wide field of long wild grasses. The path begins here and vanishes around a hill. I can’t see where the the trail goes. The printed guide from The Potter’s Inn offers a map, quotes and probing questions for designated sites along this solitary trail. The first question center around the gate:

“What gates or fences have been preventing you from encountering God?”

Hmmm. This is a good question. I wonder. What HAS been preventing me?

The sun warms my cheeks and nose. A bird chirps at me the way a rubber shoe squeaks on a wood floor. Squirk. Squirk.

It’s the usual, I decide. The creep of busy. Screens and social media. Time. Family. The noise of life. And I’ll have to admit, Fear. I have been running hard with my familiar bastard. Somewhere along the way, I started listening to him again, and the fallout is never good. My poor husband, I sigh with a waking clarity, I’ve been so mean and distant.

A long ago memorized verse randomly whispers through my mind like a breeze through leaves:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength. But you will have none of it.”

True. I’ve had none of it.

The open gate ahead is a simple keep-the-cows-in sort of gate. My hiking boots crunch on red pulverized granite gravel and stride through steep long hills of high altitude prairie grasses. White clouds race like sailboats across a crisp blue sky.

Moving grasses tower above my shoulders; others sway by my knees. They toss and buck with the airstream. Brown wheaty clusters bob and sway heavy toward the ground, single cat tails move lean and swift, plumes like feathers fly and toss. The acreage is about to go to seed. Single stalks of many varieties all form a massive crowd. The sharp blades move in orchestrated bends and bows with the wind.

I’ve heard it said that the roots of certain species of prairie grasses extend more than 12 feet below the surface. The tall switchblades and stems can keel and lean like storm-tossed waves, but the plants remain tethered to the ground, anchored.

I recognize this anchored toss and tumble. It is my own conflict between old ways and new. I have been slipping, tempted to focus on circumstances. Lately I’ve been listening to crippling whispers of fear.

Even so, in the space somewhere behind my sternum, I feel it. I know God beckons, to come, come back, rest and trust. And this quote floats into my thoughts. The grasses hiss and sigh next to me as I repeat the words in my head:

“You do not support the root but the root supports you.”*

The path curves near a small pond and I inhale the smells of mud and green. My shoes slish and slip thru soft wet dirt pressed with footprints of elk, deer and dog. A ripple in the water catches the sun and shoots sparkles toward the sky. Sunshine glistens off marsh plants. And I notice a whizzing flash of movement on the path.

A small garter snake darts and slithers past my feet.

I startle with fright and an impulse to run away. Then, wait. Look.

“But he’s so small,” I argue with myself for a millisecond and reach to catch him.

Baby Garter2

Brown striped, soft, thin as a pencil, writhing for freedom, his light flitting tongue smells me. He has large eyes on a baby body that recently emerged from a reptile egg. He panics and wriggles between my fingers.

“I won’t keep you. I’ll let you go.” I release the little snake to glide away and disappear.

Empowered in this place of quiet I realize, here by sparkling water where the wind shushes the noise of my soul, I just reached down and picked up a snake and let it go. Nothing to fear.

Turns out, sometimes the biggest objects of dread and anxiety are actually small enough to fit in the palm of a hand.

A long flowing gust of wind picks up and lifts my hair. The multitudes of slender grasses bend low again, the same way blowing snow drifts or ocean waves indicate patterns of unseen force and power.

Shhhhhh …

Rooted deep.

Shhhh …

Dropping seed to the ground as we bend without breaking.

Shhhhh …

Who knows which way the wind will blow?

Shhhh ….

Nothing to fear.

Bouquets of blowing grasses bow and dance on a rolling hill. Yellowing round aspen leaves quake and shimmer like coins. Salmon plumes, brown stiff straws, silvery grey blades, and tufts of white yarrow sway in tidal waves of gold and green like a chorus of hands waving bon voyage to a departing ship.

Shhhhhh …

Shhh …

You do not support the root.  The root supports you.

 

Isaiah Quote: Isaiah 30:15, The Bible

Root Quote: Romans 11:18, The Bible

Plant images and post by Kelley J. Leigh. All Rights Reserved.

Snake image from article by Justin Smith and Metroparks.com

8 Replies

  1. I’m so thankful you have shared more of your beautiful words and heart. You always inspire me. <3 (PS: I read this the other night before sleep but could not get the Kindle to let me comment. So I just got to read it and take it in all over again. I just love your writing! Stalker Level: High!)
    Angela Giles Klocke recently posted…MiddlePlaces.com: Why We Should Stop Waiting for a Crisis to Run to GodMy Profile

    1. LOL. Thanks for the stalker level report. I always appreciate your encouragement, Angela.
      ~KjL
      Kelley J Leigh recently posted…RootedMy Profile

  2. Kelley, This is a beautiful expression of your wandering on the trail! Thank you for putting to works what your soul was speaking. Your testimony is a gift for our work to provide this space. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for taking time to comment, Dustin.
      I am grateful for the space at Potter’s Inn. ~KjL
      Kelley J Leigh recently posted…RootedMy Profile

  3. Kim

    What a peaceful place that must have been, because I feel so much more peaceful having been there with you. Thanks for the peek into your walk.

    You’re back. And there’s nothing to fear.

    1. Thank you, Seestra.
      oxox
      Kelley J Leigh recently posted…RootedMy Profile

    2. Slpworscheck

      Repentance, rest, quietness and trust. Thanks, Kelley, for this beautiful reminder.

      1. Thanks, friend. : )
        Kelley J Leigh recently posted…RootedMy Profile

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