They rise up straight from the ground, the trees that surround my cabin.  I’m back at Gilchrist for the seventh (?) time and it settles around me like a blanket.

I didn’t plan to attend this retreat, but my foolhardy determination to take on yet another part-time job was thwarted by a sudden health scare.  How many times can one ignore the warnings whispered by the subconscious?  Quite regularly, it seems.  I was accustomed to blowing past anything that stood between me and solvency.  Besides, it was my birthday weekend and I had been secretly hoping my workaholic husband would fete me.  But he scheduled a mountain of work instead and I was left alone.  What better to do than follow suit?  A wad of cash makes a good substitute for neglect.

Apparently, fate had other plans.  I discovered quite unpleasantly, but not unexpectedly, that my working in a toxic environment had seriously jeopardized my ability to breath.  No problem, I thought; I’ll simply strap on a few Borg-like devices and happily continue deluding myself.  Not so, for it appears my entire body had become reactive.  My days of compartmentalizing were over.

I cried at first.  Hasty excuses and explanation had to be tendered, but I was relieved, relieved down to the bottom of my soul.  And I wasn’t sure who or what wept those tears.  Was it me or that indefinite thing called ‘soul’?  I knew I had dodged a bullet, but not in the common sense.  Yes, if I had taken the next familiary step and forged ahead, my health would be at permanent risk.  But that is not what frightened me.  I had been given a choice:  Soldier on or be forever divided from my soul.  For what does one truly profit if the world is gained but the soul lost?

I didn’t want to find out.  So I hastily drove the two hours to the Michigan forest where my soul is delighted, but my mind is annoyed.  Can’t I ever get these two to peacefully co-exist?

The mind wants stubbornly to dismiss the beauty about me.  A cardinal, with fine scarlet feathers, perched outside my window, not three feet away from my chair.  How did he know I watched him?  Was he as curious about my scratching on paper as I in his pointed crest?  Only a pane of glass separated us, but it might as well have been a gulf.

Or maybe he, and the doe grazing beyond him and the rhododendrons beckoning outside my door are calling me to put down the pen and come to play.

I will answer them now.









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