25 years I’ve walked this trail, marking the hours,
lauds to vespers, marking the life of one dog, and then
the lives of two; I wonder, can my current pack of five
smell the sacred scents, the years’ long layers
of shed coats and cells scattered like blessing
by the three who have gone? Can my current pack
smell the incense of who I was, and am, trudging
these pilgrim miles every day and every season,
shedding thoughts, releasing what isn’t me? My faithful
4-leggeds and I, processing down the aisle in forest
and field, the trail made of us and all, daily discovering
secrets, befriending the trees, mourning the fallen, noticing
the lives they harbor still; teaching us the holiest lessons:
falling matters to rising; death matters to life; sacrifice illuminates
then and now, the holy union we live within; we praise every offering
and cross, share our confiteor, all good news and gift, mystery,
revelation; we sit at our bench under arching oaks, each dog
offers a paw to bless our communion (berries, biscuits): the
trail proclaims how everything revolves, held by Love, always.
I recall that first spring’s brilliant flash of trilliums, flickering
in sunrays that pierced the tender green infant leaves
just there, in the shaded patch of forest that every spring since
has widened, a whispering white delight of blooms welcoming
our longing hearts, dancing winks of dark and light: what could
we do, but genuflect and bark, or cry, for joy? And every year,
we seek and find that growing patch of yes, the sweet
consecration of life, and know again that spring is here and
resurrection happens. We meet old friends and bid them peace:
the gabbling scoot and peck of turkeys, hens guiding poults
down carpets of moss; wild fruit, columbines, cardinals,
toads down in the marsh, and soon, mosquitoes, jewelweed,
summer roses, long days fading like the breath of dogs,
the fading breath of everything, not dying, transforming,
waiting for the yes of trilliums; my beloved companions
and I pray on the trail made of us and all, made of lessons we
have traveled, eaten, and shed; attentive explorers, sniffers
of mystery, lovers of wonder, sacristans of stories told
every season, of what happens, what changes, what lasts…
rounding to autumn, asters and acorns, now
blackbirds gathering, flock calling flock, autumn
choir of 25 years and once again, our ritual ends;
in falling leaves, blessings of peace, blackbird choir
singing us safely, gratefully home, to shudder off
another day, a year too filled with sorrow
and suffering, too clamored, too crammed
with too much: I will rest beneath the leaves
of holy books, encircled by dogs and cats
and the memories of others; we will nestle and
dream of walks yet to come, awaiting signs and
wonders on the trail made of us and all,
and of trilliums, flashing their
light in darkness.
10 thoughts on “Liturgy of the Trail”
I needed this, so much, today, Kitty. Thank you and bless you.
Oh, I’m glad it offered you some grace, Cathy; it’s so kind of you to affirm that. Thank you and blessings to you as well! Gentle peace, dear one.
beautiful prose here. good looking pooches, and looks like a nice place to walk.
Thank you for your kindness; yes, a lovely hiking trail in every season, for which we and the 4-leggeds are most grateful. 🙂 Be well and safe, and gentle peace to you.
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Ahh, just beautiful. You painted such a vivid picture with your words and brought all those years into dazzling light. Lovely seeing the pups again. I’m sure your pack sense them. Love and hugs to you all.xxx
Thank you, dear one…had to add a picture of our darling Idgi Rose. Sad that the only camera I had for our walks was an early (bad) digital, but we do have lovely “indoor” photos of her. 🙂 Thank you for the grace and kindness you always offer. 🙂 xoxox, K
Beautiful ❤ thankyou
Thank you, Angela; that’s so nice to hear. I appreciate your kindness, and hope you’re well and safe. Gentle Peace to you and your beloveds.
This poem is reminiscent of Mary Oliver, who I loved. Beautiful piece.
Thank you, Judy, for your kindness. It’s quite touching when people take the time to share their impressions and responses, and I appreciate it so much.
Be well and safe, Judy. Gentle peace.