I snapped this photo while bushwacking along the lake 2 days ago, and when today’s word opened this morning, it entered my mind that this photo, still in my camera, was the one, though I admit I didn’t really want to use it. It felt too dark somehow, especially given the previous days posts, so full of sorrow and remorse. After all, transformation can be an image of new life, of emergence, of hope! Couldn’t one of these show up for me today?

Alas, it was a raw rainy day where I live and though I took a brief walk, I was driven inside quickly. I just wasn’t sure that forcing a fresh photo was worth exacerbating my hacking cough. And so here it is, the photo that has chosen me.

Yesterday, my granddaughters and I spent a few hours learning about the soil. Led by the park naturalist, we discovered some of its miracles of transformation…. decomposing sticks and stones, the skeletons of leaves, the roots of small plants, the threads of fungi, decaying tree bark, rotting logs, sow bugs, pill bugs, worms, beetles, and millipedes all doing the work of making soil.

Dead animals didn’t come up. Though I’m sure if they would have, it would’ve been handled naturally,  it wasn’t part of the planned lesson.

Death becoming life IS the lesson, though, as one way of being unfolds into another in constant succession. We don’t want to look, for some reason, at the wonder, the real hope, of that. Maybe because it takes such a very long time, and we all want to know NOW the next incarnation when , of course, now IS the next incarnataion!. Each moment is , in a way, a brand new life, different than the last, made up of the decomposed and integrated moments that came before. Each composted experience nurture for the growth of the incoming seeds.

We have these rigid categories, animal, soil, tree. But when exactly is a tree a tree… when it is a sprouted seed in the soil taking up nutrients of decomposed flesh to manufacture its roots and first reaching stem? a seedling? a sapling? a woodpecker drilled snag? a rotting log on the ground? soil in the jar that the naturalist told the children was a tree?

When is the precise moment that sunlight becomes leaf? Is it the same moment it exhales the oxygen that we breathe to metabolize our own cells?

Or maybe it is just that we don’t want to look when death has something to do with oxygen-breathing things, which seem to expire all-at-once, though their bodies remain. There is a suddenness to that that feels more terrifying somehow, as it seems that the part of us that makes us alive is here in one moment, gone the next. The physical remains but something quite tangible, quite real, the ‘who’ of our beingness, is missing.  In this world where our experience teaches us that everything is recycled into the next, we wonder, ‘Where does the expired part go?,  The part that leaves with the breath, what does it become? When is the precise moment when consciousness becomes …..light?

What is the Form it will take?

I will not fathom those depths, as if anyone could and survive. But still I do choose to see this decomposing creature as a sign of great hope. Not so much that I will live forever, being transformed somehow in some way that I cannot see or understand, as if it really matters that I do in the grand scale of things ( or even in my own mind if I am honest). The hope for me remains in this time and place, in the miracle revealed that moment by moment death becomes life and that tomorrow I may be blossom from compost, a people may create justice from oppression,  and the earth might bring forth beauty from melting glaciers.



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