I honor my June commitment to pray for the salmon regularly by penciling it in on my calendar for the third weekend of each month. That simple act has surprising potency. Hey, I am really going to do this. I have established a priority in my schedule. So on July 21st I check the time of low tide, grab my medicine bag plus “thumb drum” and a miniature bodhisattva statue that begs to be taken, throw my boots in the car and head back to “my” stream.
I muck my way out farther than before. Rounding a bend, I discover an uprooted tree. I see where the wee Bodhisattva can be left just above high tide mark. This seems magical to me. I am establishing an altar to be seen mostly by the ravens, dogs, raccoons, otters and the occasional salmon who pokes his/her eye above water. This tickles me, she who still believes the world is sentient and recognizes such acts of caring.
I have forgotten my camera so I can’t record the image I carve in the mud. I am more aware than before of the green webbed algae and how sticky it is, how shallow this body of water is, how hard it must be for salmon to cross it as they search for the mouth of the stream and how skilled they are at patience as they wait for the tide to swell. I squat on my heels for a time and play the “thumb drum,” which I don’t really know how to do. But I get carried away by the notes pinged and before I know it a lot of time has passed and I feel cocooned by my intention to love.
Wow, this is meaningful activity. . . an oasis. I am startled by how this moves me and yet, I know exactly when I am ready to return to the hustle and bustle of ordinary life.
As I retrace my steps, I pick up litter. Then, as if a voice from the forest sweeps over me, I am told that I must paint an image of this experience. That I am to paint an image devoted to EACH month’s experience. . .that this year’s commitment has significance that I will not understand until I am looking back at it.
I begin the painting immediately on a canvas given to me by a friend, a friend whose artist Mother has just died. Her Mom had already painted on this 24” square and gessoed the image over for reasons unknown to me. In the brief time I had known her, I had fallen in love with her and her art, so I receive this canvas with gratitude. I prime it several times more and feel as if this layering of artists’ intentions gives extra energy to my own.