I walked in the mountains wondering. Wondering if I do enough.
Sometimes I wear myself out doing. And still wonder if I do enough.
At times my efforts feel so small. Insignificant.

I walked in the mountains wondering. Asking the universe. Once again.

I think I’m a broken record, always needing assurance.
Please tell me. Do I do enough? Does it matter what I do?
Please hug me.

These were my questions, my needs, my wonderings as I walked in the mountains. There were five of us participating in this intentional walk. Stating our intentions, our questions, and then going off alone to be in and with the mountain for a couple of hours.

I walked in the mountains wondering. And noticing.

I noticed tiny flowers. No more than a half inch across. Bright blue. Jaunty yellow. Orange orange. Tiny flowers just blooming their hearts out. Would anyone notice? Oh yeah. I just did. And did it matter to them? They were just giving their all whether I noticed or not. And as tiny as they were, they contributed to the beauty of the mountainside. I thought of the pointillists, the artists who paint with tiny dots. From closeup, the paintings are a chaos of dots. From far away, a wonder to behold. Each tiny dot important. Each tiny dot contributing. Each tiny flower contributing to the beauty of the mountain.

I walked on.  Far across the grassy meadow, a bleached branch caught my eye. I had forgotten my hiking pole so I walked toward the branch thinking it might substitute. But it wasn’t a branch at all. It was a set of antlers from a majestic elk. Five points. Thirty inches tall from tip to base. I picked it up in awe, held it to my chest in a way that it wrapped around me like a, like a, yes, like a firm hug from the universe.

I laughed out loud. This universe was not fooling around with whispers. It was shouting at me. Just quit it with the self-flagellation, the put-downs, the wonderings. You are a child of the universe. You belong or you wouldn’t be here. Simple as that. Every tiny flower matters. Every tiny dot in the painting matters. Every word, every kindness, every ray of love you send out matters. Well, the universe didn’t exactly say all that in so many words. I found a set of antlers and that was my interpretation. Every time I ask, I get the same answer in different symbols, different messages. Why oh why can’t I just accept it? This time it was like the universe was shouting at me so maybe it would stick. A set of antlers almost three feet tall. Can you beat that?

I walked on and saw something else that had been bleached white by the sun. This time it was a piece of bone.  From the size of it, it was probably from a deer. I thought about that anonymous deer and how it had roamed this mountainside. How it had lived and died, maybe giving its body to feed other animals. Someday I, too, will die. I am mostly anonymous, and maybe my work feeds others, encourages others. Holding that bone, I thought about life and death and how we each matter. I matter. What I do matters.

I walked on, going up the mountainside. Under a tree, in a spot sheltered by a large boulder, I found a turkey feather. Almost perfect, but with a chunk out of it. Not-perfect gave me a message. Not-perfect has a story to tell. Something happened here on this mountainside. A fight? An escape? A snag? A story I don’t know but can imagine from other stories I’ve heard. Something happened to this creature. A piece is missing from this feather and maybe the turkey became braver because of it.

I know in my head that not-perfect is ok, that not-perfect is normal and natural and has a story to tell. Will my head please talk to my heart and let me hear with my whole body that not-perfect leads to love itself. Not-perfect is how we connect with one another – through our imperfections. I’ve got a plethora of imperfections, just like the many turkey feathers I found scattered around that sheltered space.

It was time to return to my friends for our closing circle. As I walked back, I thought of the many things I had found. First there was the heart rock I found before we even reached our starting point. Of course there was a heart rock. I find them everywhere. It’s not that I take it for granted. It’s just that it’s so common, I forgot to mention it. Then the flowers, the antlers, the bone, the feathers.

Like the tiny flowers, may I give without question. Without comparison. Without judgment.
From the antlers, may I know I’m loved and even hugged by the universe.
From the bone, may my life be such that it gives nourishment to someone else.
From the feather, may I accept my imperfections.

As if that were not enough, on the way back, I saw two more symbols that spoke volumes as only symbols can do. There on the ground was a mandala, the beginning leaves of a tall, prickly purple thistle. Then there were butterflies. Three as I walked back to our circle, but a dozen or more dancing around as we each shared our insights. Dancing. Just dancing.

How could my heart not sing?