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All the Wonders

The Stump and Me

I first met you on my daily walks at Kanuga while I was in my spiritual direction training with Haden Institute. You were over on the far side of the lake and I loved seeing you in all the different seasons, imagining you in all the periods of your life before you were a stump.

We visited about many things … You – What you had seen and heard all the years you stood in this place. Growing from seed to sapling to the majestic tree you became. The story of you becoming a stump. The people who gathered on this land and first called it Kanuga. The animals, birds, and creatures who interacted with you during your long life. And all the creatures who walk past you, now, on this trail around the lake.

Me – What I was learning in spiritual direction training. The aching beauty of this place. The day I fell, face first, as I walked the trail while untethered from my body. (Sheila smudged me in the art space and told me to find a tree and sit at its base to get grounded.) The shadows and dreams I was encountering in this holy place.

I noticed the life you were still nurturing – moss and mushrooms, seedlings taking root in your stump. I marveled at the resilience of life – That each ending is also a beginning. That life always continues.

I graduated from the program … and then the pandemic came. Three years had passed since I last saw you. I came for the Dream Conference and looked forward to visiting with you.

I walked the trail looking for you … and I couldn’t find you. Each day, I walked and searched. I shared your picture with other hikers – “Have you seen this stump?” But you were not there.

The last day of the conference, I walked slowly around the lake looking for the open area along the trail where you used to be. And, finally, I found where you had been. You had been ground up and scattered along the trail. Two of your roots were still there, rising out of the ground, proof that you had been there.

I left an offering where you used to be. And when I pass this place on the trail in the future, I will remember our friendship and what you taught me: “Each ending is a beginning. Life always continues.” You are still nourishing life as you feed the earth. We are connected through the oneness of all creation. You will be beside me whenever I walk the trail around the lake.

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