Diving into Autumn

By Joe Mishan

A woodland floor in late Autumn, a carpet of yellow and brown fallen leaves.

I walk around in aimless circles in the old woodland, squeezing damp fallen leaves and mud beneath impatient feet. Maybe if I keep pushing on I’ll outrun the heavy density and restlessness in my body and my tumbling thoughts. My senses are battered by the incessant manic metal chatter of heavy machinery from across the lane to the north. Thousands of houses are being built to meet Government housing quotas. I sense the pain and tug of the earth dragged at by massive metal teeth, carving and reshaping the rolling landscape I have grown to know as home.

Two perfect pine cones lying amongst the soft splendour of moist autumn leaves bring me back to earth. I pick them up and cradle them in my palm, gazing at the intimate complexity of their tiny branches. I clutch one in each hand like precious talismans from an ancient  living power that might ward off the encroaching urban sprawl which is spreading over this soft green world. Some yards further on In the welcome embrace of a dark path between rhododendrons and tall elms I am greeted by a small plastic skeleton hand lying on the woodland floor, severed from its skeleton body and fallen here, a plastic exclamation mark announcing mortality. Not far beyond a thin metal tombstone leans askew against a hawthorne tree, and nearby, with a coincidence which is beginning to seem like a conspiracy, two plastic containers of something called hypochlorite acid, adorned with graphics of injury poison and death. A tableau takes shape. I place one of the pine cones in the plastic skeleton hand supported by the poison container. The gravestone marks this place of deathliness and life’s renewal. 

Meanwhile as if in reply, the cathedral of trees above me toss their branches in the strong wind. Nature levered from its natural easy rhythms, roused toward boiling point. Like the wind that rammed into my house last night with the force of a bus. Inspired by this reminder of nature’s raw power, its endless capacity to rebound, to survive and regrow, my heart fills with the fierce triumphant power of this wild Earth. I want to pour myself into the trees, into their dense rooted insistence of being, into the muscularity of trunk and branch. I want to wrap myself in the soft Earth of autumn, to sink into the darkness, to enfold myself in its musky embrace and sleep deep and full the whole Autumn through.

Oh never have I found a home so complete. A resting place, a belonging. A love as true as this.

Joe Mishan is a co-coordinator of XR Buddhists.

Posts and articles are the views of their authors and not necessarily of the XR Buddhists group.

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