The Trail

My feet land swiftly and excitedly upon the trail.

The feel of uneven ground beneath my veteran hiking boots and the smell of roots and dirt fill my head.

The energy of the woods around me whisper in my ear like faint voices of spirits passed.

Thin streams of sun pour through the canopy and caress my face from time to time.

Something unseen charges through underbrush off in the distance, keeping to the shadows.

A bird calls out letting me and its winged brethren know we’re not alone out here.

And I pause and take in a deep cleansing breath, absorbing the energy of everything around me.

I feel alive here; I miss it every day I am away

And my soul yearns and my heart longs for every step and surprise that awaits me on my next adventure.

I Have Learned So Large

I have learned so large
the space open for my soul.
Clouds hover below
as I circle away
from the snow-wound expanses.

I have learned so large
the paths of my soul traveling.
Aimless Autumn steps
walking with you
until we are lost
and I think:
“This is it.
This is how the life goes here.”

I have learned so large the flowering
of my soul
lovely as wild pink roses
as dandelions seeding
miraculous as the five white petals
that turn to bitter lemons.

– Copyright Kay Winter

Replenishing His Roots

He falls to his knees and he peers at the ground, as the sun bakes down upon the back of his neck, he looks out over his garden like it’s a rock in the middle of a stream in which he has been thrashed around in without control for some time, he needs that rock, he needs to grab hold and hang onto it. It’s his safety, his respite in troubled waters.

He reaches out and thrusts his hands into the cool, dark dirt, splays his fingers outward under the top soil, turns them over and scoops up handfuls of earth. It lies like a friend in his hand; it feels good, familiar, and substantially real.

He crawls around the various plants; the Sedums, Iris and Lilies’, pulling weeds and decaying material from under them.

He pauses now and again to relish at the site of the healthy Big Blue Hosta and the Dwarf Solomon, and takes a moment to fondle the shiny, dark, thick leaves of the English Ivy.

He spends the afternoon dividing and replanting, shoveling and raking and finally watering. As he stands there at the beginning of the evening in the late setting sun he looks down at his clothes, they are covered in dirt, his tanned arms filthy, his hands scraped and tired and he smiles. This is his reward, his therapy, his healing. From the ache in his back to the startlingly cold but refreshing water straight from the hose, this seems to be where he belongs, a place where all the pain and the troubles disappear, where his mind is free and his soul can rest.

This is the Boundary Waters

There’s nothing as special as the earliest morning light, as it spills over the horizon, reflecting in the tiny drops of dew hanging from the pine trees in the forest. The coolness of the fresh air, the silence of the lake and the haunting call from a loon somewhere out on the water.

This is morning in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. It’s tranquil and serene. It’s where my heart and soul regenerate and where my mind slips away from all time.

Where casting off in a canoe and setting my paddle into the water is like holding hands with a loved one. It’s a place where one can breathe and sleep undisturbed under an unequivocally and brilliantly depthless field of stars.

Industrialization has no place here, this is for the wild, the pure, the natural world where the bears roam and the deer wander and people can regain a sense of self and wonder.

This is where the rains soak deep into the thick moss carpeting islands of granite, replenishing groves of uncultivated, rich blueberries.

This is a haven of pure spiritualism, freedom and peace, this is the Boundary Waters

The Darkness Roams

The darkness roams the halls of our minds and beings
Poking here, pushing there, instilling fear where it can
Pushing doubt to the front of our awareness
The darkness calls, it beacons us with lavish lies of comfort and joy
Then pulls us in with dark remembrances that it feeds us over and over again
Let me comfort you it says
Telling the lies of our failures
Telling the lies of our faults
Telling the lies of our unforgivable things
Feel the joy of the suffering that you do so well
Insinuating itself into our everything, blinding our true vision
Reminding us of every little thing done or said wrong
Calling us deeper into our deserved suffering
Laying waste to any hope that we or our actions are redeemable
Opening the pit within showing us where we belong
Calling us deeper and deeper
The darkness grows, reaching out to our every fault
Our suffering is so great and deserved
Play with me, it says
I know you better, it says
I look after you, it says
I show you the truth, it says
But the redeemer walks those paths too
Handing out forgiveness we don’t know how to accept
We have practiced the suffering so long
Handing out the compassion we don’t know how to accept
We have practiced discordance so long
Beckoning to us with gifts of love we don’t know how to accept
We are practiced at darkness, we don’t know ways of light
The redeemer walks within shining lights so the shadows flee
We are practiced at darkness and think we are losing a parts of ourselves
The redeemer drops acceptance on our hurt places
We are practiced at darkness and think the hurt is precious
The redeemer walks with gentle steps of love
We are practiced at darkness and think it odd that our pain can dissipate
The redeemer beacons us with real comfort and joy
The darkness tells us it’s a lie
The redeemer shines brightly and says, follow my way
The darkness tells us we will lose what is ours
The redeemer shines brighter and shows the way
The redeemer brings light to the darkness and we lose ourselves
The redeemer brings light to the darkness and we find ourselves
The redeemer brings light to the darkness and
We become the light

Copyright Don MacLeod

The Grey Thief

The grey thief has come again today

The grey thief takes from what little light we have

The grey thief removes the shadows from the earth

The grey thief washes the light from the trees

The grey thief removes the brightness from the snow

The grey thief takes without thought

The grey thief takes without compassion

The grey thief blows in with no sense of the longing that has been created

Our bodies crave the light

Our bodies crave the color

Our bodies crave the brightness of the world

Our hearts try to shield us from the grey

Our hearts try to see the light

Our hearts try to see the color

Our eyes want to swim in the beauty of color

Our eyes want the tickling of the shadow at the corner of our eyes

Our eyes want to embrace the shifting light through the trees

But the grey is all encompassing

Gripping our hearts with solemnness

Pulling us into it and trying to embrace us

Pushing any thoughts of sunshine and light away

It is not evil, it knows no better

The grey thief has come again today

Copyright Don MacLeod

a letter

Hi there, say I wanted to reach out to you, to say that I understand. I want you to know that I get it, that I know how it feels to be alone in a room full of people, to feel like no one sees you, how it feels when people step to the other side of the street to avoid you. I know how much it hurts to feel so alone that you abandon yourself in order to pretend to be somebody else, in hopes that that person can find the love you desire. I know how it feels to sit in the corner of the living room, waiting for your mother to pass out drunk so that you can crawl up under her arms and pretend that she is snuggling with you. I know the guilt that must blanket you over feeling like you’d abandoned your sisters, leaving them to be abused by your step dad.

You hide in the shadows; you crawl up and sleep in the trees. I know you are there because I feel your pain, when you hurt I hurt. I know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that turns the taste in your mouth acrid. I know that smell too, that stench of fear, of failure, I can smell it now, wet cardboard mixed old sweat and angst. I should tell you it will be OK, but I don’t know that for sure. I should let you take my hand and lead you into the sunlight, where you can feel it wash over your cold colorless face, but I can’t, I don’t want to promise you, you won’t get hurt, because you will. It’ll happen as soon as you are comfortable, just when you’ve let go of that blanket, that icy chill will drop from the ceiling straight down the back of your shirt and you will cringe. You will close your eyes and try and wish it away.

That’s how life works, and I won’t promise you otherwise. But you know what, when that happens, I will be there, I will let you take my hand and warm you with my body. I will wrap my arms around your soul and hold it for a moment, I will look into your eyes, honest and true and tell you for that time, just then and for a while I will be there and I will hear your pains and I will touch your heart, and I will slow the creep that tries to steal your breath. I will love you for then and always. When you are ready, I am here. I am your safe place and you will know it because I feel it so I know you will too.