Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Autumn in Vermont

What a beautiful scene, isn't it? Have you ever visited Vermont? If not, you really should go. And even though it's the busy season, autumn is not to be missed. How do I know? As a nine year old, I lived in Bennington, Vermont. What a fabulous place to be as a young person! There was a great museum, wonderful rivers, peaceful valleys, century old architecture, and...ghosts!

Yes, Bennington is one of the more ghostly populated places to visit. Why is that interesting? Well, I think it's because as my life as moved from knowing to knowing, being in that place had a great influence on me. It wasn't the ghoulies. No, it was the energy of the place. The energy that said there were those we didn't see but were all around us.
The church I went to with my folks was a wonderful white church on a hill. It was old. Very old. The pews were the old timey kind that were family boxes - with hand made latches and plenty of carvings by those who occupied them. When it was quiet, you could hear the voices of spirit beings and see shadows of long-forgotten people. Sometimes, when you turned around to look at where the choir sat in the balcony, you could hear voices in song even though no one was there.
I loved to walk through the cemeteries and read the stones and imagine the lives of those who lived before me. What were they like? Were they happy? Was it difficult for them? Did the harsh winters bear down on them and did they go hungry if the weather failed? And did they look at the colors on the leaves and run their hands over the leaf veins sensing the water giving life as it coursed through? Did they wonder who or what was beyond the mountains around them?
So many questions for a young child.
But those questions have served me well and brought me through to places I would have never dreamed. I can still walk through a cemetery and be filled with wonder and be overwhelmed by the spirits of those reposing under the sod. I still hear the voices of the spirits, and sometimes see them dart by. And when I do, I fondly remember the spirit choir of my childhood church. Now when I see children I wonder if they have the same curiosity with life that I did as a child. Or have we allowed our children no place for wonder and imagination in the harsh world we've created?
Even now, I marvel at the seeds of a dandelion, the ripple of water against a rock, the sound wind makes as it whistles through the trees. And although I have had my dark moments in this life, I find myself coming back around to those things that were important to me as a child. It's easy to get caught up in "reality" and lose sight of eternity. How I long to have the knowing I had as a child; to see the "imaginary friends" who were there in spirit speaking to me. There was a thin veil between here and there when I was young.
Who were you at that tender age? Could you sense the spirit world around you? And if you did, why has it faded? Is it because it was not real? Not at all. It has faded because we let the cares of this world drown out the reality of the otherworld. So I encourage you to find a peaceful place. My peaceful place was that old church and cemetery in Vermont in the beauty of autumn. And in finding that place, allow yourself to feel it completely; mindfully.
It is in that peaceful place that we find rest and the wisdom of the sages.
(And I'm doing my darndest to get back to wonderful Vermont. I can feel it calling me, just as my ancestral Irish homeland does. One day....)

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