Finding Serenity in an Exploding World of Chaos

I run into these little writer’s hurdles from time to time. So much noise, but so little that I want to really focus on. I mean, its not really writer’s block – I have the topics to pull from, but I really just don’t want to. Its not like I can’t just turn to the left or the right and move around this funk. That’s really not that hard to do, but it means no blog post. Considering how far off the normal schedule I have gotten in the past few weeks, I just don’t want to NOT write a blog post.

There are plenty of cause célèbre that I could just pick up and start examining, but I am literally burned out on political discourse or trying to winnow some aspect of logic from one side or another of an argument or discussion. None of that sounds like what I really need, at least right now.

I just want something similar to a long drive through the Rocky Mountains, Craig Chaquico’s albums on random and continuous play – just low enough to be heard as background music, but not loud enough to preclude conversation. We just drive aimlessly through the back roads, enjoying the gorgeous scenery before us, and talking about whatever light conversational topic comes to mind. Hungry? We can stop at a roadside joint, and sample some of the food. Hope its BBQ though. I could do with a mean brisket and a cold beer right about now. But you would have to do the driving afterwards. Safety first, you know.

There are a couple of places in the southern Rocky Mountains where there are forests of Silver Birches. I would love to stop at a walking trail and take in the beauty of all of that. Listening to the winds blowing through the trees, the leaves using that time to whisper to us. And the conversation remains light. No need to solve the world’s problems here. Just time to let go of the tension, relax, and let the spring uncoil. Serenity indeed.

An evening would be spent on the porch of a cabin, deep in the woods with a clear line of sight of the ridge just a few miles away. The dark stars above us, as we toast one another in the quiet. The conversation remaining light. Serenity at last.

As a Pagan who has spent most of his life in the city or suburban settings, I miss the forests and the mountains. These are my easy reset buttons. A week away, with very little connection to the outside world, and I can find myself easily rested. But as a human being, a member of a very social species, I find it is easy conversation that I miss the most. As a wider society, we have become obsessed with constantly moving, constantly taking in and processing information – forever on the go. We sometimes forget to take the down-time. To hold a loved one’s hand. To turn off the news and cuddle on the couch, watching some mindless TV show or a movie that we can both get lost in. To basically find the time to wind down, and let the constant waves of the world’s emotions and energies pass high above us.

To be honest, I have grown tired of the constant political coverage. Or the newest emergency that springs up, which we have to deal with in the next five minutes – or else. I get that all of this is important. But we cannot live our lives constantly on the edge. Our bodies will quickly wear down, and we will find that we have issues handling even the most basic of troubled moments, like “where did I set the car keys down when I came home last night?”

I miss the Rocky Mountains. Every year, as the weather gets warmer, I get the twitch to go. But I cannot just take off whenever. Money, timing, and a whole host of other things all play against that. That still doesn’t quiet the strong affection I have for that area of the world. I love Ireland as well, for a lot of similar reasons – and the trip is even less feasible for me for all the same reasons.

To combat this, I utilize my own personal Inner Grove. Its all inside of me. My Inner Grove looks a lot like the forests in the southern Rockies, thicker the lower you are on the mountain. My specific Inner Grove had three trees when I started creating this within my Mind’s Eye. Now there are five. My silver birch is the center, with two oaks off to either side. Since then, a southern Pine and an Apple tree have joined this grouping. Next to the silver birch is a massive sedimentary rock, shaped like a huge hump. Or at least the part that sticks out of the ground. There is a blue-ish, green-ish tint to the rock, making it seem very out-of-place. This is where I spend my time meditating. All of this has aspects of the Rocky Mountains within it, purposefully. It is that landscape that calls to me. This Inner Grove is my sanctuary when I cannot physically go to where I wish to be.

Creating and growing this sanctuary, even in my mind, has taken time. At one point, I had envisioned a small cabin within, where dozens upon dozens of crows would come and sit – all calling out continuously. Eventually, I abandoned that, in favor of a much quieter setting – one where I could listen to the wind. The two Oaks and the silver birch have always been a part of the scene, both trees having deep and personal significance to me.

You could create your own concept of an Inner Grove. You merely need to take the time, and envision what it is that you need in your meditations. Consider it to be a personal and magickal way of having your own Room of Requirement. Anytime you have need of space to be clam, cool, and collected – you merely open your Room of Requirement door, and there you are. What it really looks like in there? Well, that’s up to your mind. or if you prefer, you can pick a moment from within your life, and use that as your Inner Grove…

Carving at a Roman Spring
Carving at a Roman Spring near Kaiserslautern, Germany

When I was stationed in Germany, in a wooded area just south of the town of Kindsbach (between Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl) is a rather sudden cliff of rocks, about forty to fifty feet high. In this area is the Heidenfelsen, which is a sanctuary where a spring is located. On days that I was not on duty, I would drive out to the Fussball (soccer) field on the west of town, park my 1962 Ford Econoline Van and hike in to the springs. I would sit near the spring, and listen to the sounds of the wind in the trees, the birds singing, the cars whooshing by on the autobahn, a little over two miles away, and the rumble of the jets of the aircraft at nearby Ramstein Air Base. As evening fell, walking through these woods was absolutely magickal. You could feel the atmosphere change from something very light to something very dark and heavy. On occasion, you could hear wild boar snorting and snuffling, as they pawed at the roots of trees, looking for food. Those sounds usually meant that it was time to beat a retreat back to the van. Boars were never a good thing to run into in the dark, given their territorial and protective nature.

I remember getting caught in a rainstorm while I was in these woods. The patter of the rain as it hit the canopy of leaves above, coupled with the deeper sound of collected drops falling from the leaves to the ground was a sweet, nearly deafening sound. Deafening until you realized how quiet it was in the woods. The smell of the petrichor and the sound of that rainfall have never left me. When I encounter either, I am instantly transported back to the wonderful place.

Yes, there is plenty going in the world. We are tugged at from nearly every direction for our attention, our energies, our monies…and the effort is draining on so many levels. We all need a break of some kind or another. Cuddle on the couch and watch something to get away…or spend your time in meditation…or whatever it is that you choose to do. Just remember, everyone needs a break…even you.

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