East of Portland, where I live, beyond the conifer and deciduous forests which bestow their presence on both sides of the Columbia Gorge of Oregon and Washington are the buttes and cliffs and hills adorned simply in grass and wildflower and oak at creek side. No majestic fir or ever-present salal. A solitary beauty reaching for the sky, stretching into the horizon.
These hills remind me of the rolling Osage hills where I grew up in northeastern Oklahoma. My heart is filled with the breeze warmed by the sun for the first time this Spring. And there is the grand view of the Cascade mountain peaks such as Hood, Adams, St. Helen’s and Jefferson.
In this place, I feel the earth and sky hold me in tender balance. I hear bird song and waterfall. I see wildflower and lichen. I smell freshness and taste the promise of this moment, here, now.
And on every ridge and in every valley, I sense the guardians of the land. My trail guides. My connection with the spirit of the land and the history of place. A deep well-spring, giving life to all who enter, to all who dance, to all who love. My trail guides lift me up and entertain with long-quieted story and steady whispers of natural energy. They come as friends and hear my heart call out. They respond with love and humor and more story. These trail guides see deeply and offer long-held wisdom garnered from eons of land awareness and spirit connection.
I seek these hills in communion, in shared experience. And though I meet them almost anywhere I explore and hike, in these ancient hills, I feel my trail guides closest. They prepare me for my journey and offer insight for the path. And every time I venture out, they are there, happy to greet me, happy to walk a while with me as I open my heart to the beauty around and my intrinsic desire to travel with them as my trail guides.
No need to hurry, no need to fret. Always here when I return, with ready story and open heart. In truth, in trust. Amen.