Posted inDharma, Henry's Messages

Message from Henry: Mountains

April 27, 2022

Mountains — it’s breathtaking to arrive in mountains by day. The bright sky, the searing clarity of the light, the sharp air. The chest fills and opens. And all the great geometric shapes up above, shining like new coins.

But if you arrive by night, perhaps slogging up with a pack on your back, through mud and sleet and low clouds which obscure all but the immediate slopes around you, it’s different. Just murk and cold. Then finally you reach somewhere warm and dry, and fall asleep with little idea where you are, except that it’s dark and cold and wet outside.

Then you might wake up early, and know from the fringes of the blinds that it’s still dark out there. And you huddle down in your warm bed.

Then the time comes when the edges of the blinds are bright, and a band of daylight is falling across the floor. You draw back the blinds and there they are — the mighty presences. Peaks high up in a clear sky, and valleysides with a scarf of cloud still lingering on them, over their patchwork of foliage.

Up here in the northern mountains of New Mexico, in October, that patchwork is made up of flags of orange and gold and bright rust, amid the solemn dark green of the many pine trees. They’re aspens, giving out their last flame of the year, the one that will end in blankness and sleep.

They glint in the sunlight sometimes seeming like they can’t be made of vegetable matter, but rather metal or liquid. But here, they’re striking mostly as irregular shapes in the quilt that covers the great bodies of the mountainsides.

Looking out this morning, I remember a story from my childhood, of the daughter of one of our parents’ many Russian friends. When she was brought to the Alps for the first time, she exclaimed: Mama, why did you never tell me what mountains were?

Message from Henry is from our April 25, 2022 Newsletter.

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