The more I walk on Rabbit Lane, the more I notice the nuanced environment around me, in the hay fields, the trees, the flowers, the birds, the cows. And with each step I ponder the meaning of things, of what I see and feel. I begin to understand more about the worlds both without and within myself.
we open our eyes
the places we walk
will show us
but also hard
beauty and sorrow
sometimes each alone
often all together
Snow Canyon called to me. I could not wait to finish my law classes in nearby St. George and head into the canyon for an evening hike. I chose the Hidden Pinyon Trail, a popular trail over and through twisting redrock slots and boulders, past blooming prickly pear cactus, Mormon tea plants, black brush, and flowering yucca. I felt lonely and disconnected in my relationships, wondering who I was and questioning about god and life. Arriving at a ridge line 300 above the canyon floor, I sat cross-legged on a patina-stained ledge, raised my staff with both arms to heaven, and called upon the universe for answers. This poem attempts to convey the experience that followed. The photograph above is a Utah Agave plant with its bloom growing seven feet tall in Snow Canyon.
Father of earth and sky—
manifest Thyself unto me.
Child of earth and sky—
see my writing in the rock,
in the swirling veins of cemented sandstone,
in the lichens’ greens and grays.
Hear my voice in the warbles and trills of song birds,
in the lonely quail call.
Smell my wisdom in the breeze-born sage
after desert’s summer shower.
Taste my nature in the pure water
pooled in pocks etched in stone over a million years
by grinding wind and splintering ice.
Touch my mind as you touch with whisper touch
the stunning, delicate cactus bloom,
as you cause the fine red sand to sift through wondering fingers.
Feel my heart as you cry
and reach for the sky
It was obvious to me that my daughter, Laura, was feeling emotional distress. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?” I asked. “Nothing,” she replied, in typical hold-it-in fashion. I put my arm around her and said, “Come walk with me on Rabbit Lane.” We walked, she talked and cried, and I listened and did my best to buoy her up. We have taken many walks on Rabbit Lane since. Rabbit Lane has become more to me than an unremarkable little dirt country road. It has become for me a place of contemplation, enlightenment, and healing. I wrote this poem not only to remember the occasion of that walk with Laura, and of many other special walks with my family, but also as an invitation to you, my fellow travelers, to come walk with me down Rabbit Lane, as it were, in our respective journeys to understand, to grow, and to be the best men and women we can be.
COME WALK WITH ME
Come walk with me,
Come walk with me
down Rabbit Lane.
Tell me your troubles.
Tell me your fears.
Tell me your joys and your dreams.
Tell me everything
while we walk
past racing horses and cudding cattle,
past the llama guarding thick-wooled sheep,
past deep-green alfalfa and wispy golden grain,
past the skittish muskrat diving to its ditch-bank burrow,
past Monarch caterpillars poised on pink, perfumed milkweed flowers.
Come walk with me,
just you and me.
Come walk with me
down Rabbit Lane.
Ancient peoples walked and farmed and hunted on this land that we now call Erda. They fled to the desert wastes ages ago, making way for my ancestors to farm the fertile fields. But Harvey’s property possessed a connection to the ancient traditions. And he invited me to a part of that connection for a moment. Inside the turtle lodge, we left the world behind, left our carnality outside, and sought the Divine Presence through prayer, heat, song, privation, and the smoke offering of the peace pipe. (See Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog, Chapter 7: Turtle Lodge post, for a full discussion of the turtle lodge sweat ceremony.)
HOUSE OF OFFERING
The rocks glow,
like a cluster of orange suns,
shimmering in ferrous shadows
with pulsing heat
in the mid-day darkness
of the stick-framed, skin-clad lodge,
House of sweat,
House of cleansing,
House of song.
Sing of the weathered ancients!
Sing of the laughing children!
Sing of the beasts and the rivers, the woods and the wind!
In this dark other-world:
House of hope,
House of healing,
House of dreams.
Dream of the grisly bear and the bison!
Dream of feathers flying and eyes!
Dream of circles and fire and roads to choose!
Sprinkle now the water,
fill the house with steam,
and renew the chanted song.
Ascend now the burning bark,
fill the house with smoke
pulled from this pipe
and offered up from this
House of prayer,
House of offering, to the
House of God.
Sleepily down Church Road I walked, past an unmarked dirt lane traveled most often by farmers on tractors. Somehow I had tumbled out of bed and out the door. I would much rather have continued my slumber under warm covers. Crisp darkness and the ripe fragrance of dew upon cut hay greeted me as I stepped onto the covered porch. I could see only silhouettes in the lingering darkness: old trees planted by farmers perhaps a century ago; the Oquirrh mountain range; cattle chewing mechanically on coarse grass. Continue reading →
Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road tells the story of a humble country dirt road, of its human history, of its natural beauty, and of its ability to bring insight, understanding, transformation, and healing to those who walk it. The book contains stories and poems, music and nature observations that will amuse and inspire. Rabbit Lane helps us to slow down and pay attention to the beauty around us and within us. The prefatory poem, Silent Spring, honors the vision and hope of Rachel Carson, author of the 1962 classic book by the same name, for a world filled with the music and beauty of nature. Enjoy each of the many chapters, stories, poems, and songs as you walk with me on Rabbit Lane.