The Appalachian Trail wanders through our backyard here in Carlisle, and Thursday night, rather than sit meditation in the confines of a stuffy old room with smelly red carpet, we hit the trail! The AT Center in Boiling Springs and 2 professional photographers welcomed a group of 20 folks (and a few dogs) and led us around Children's Lake, stopping periodically to point out great vistas for photographs. The trail around the lake is flat and inviting. Sauntering was easy. Families were out for a stroll or set up along the water's edge with fishing poles and all the gear. Ducks paddled toward anyone throwing bread.
The lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout. A 5 trout limit is strictly enforced, and as one fisherman netted a gleaming fish, rainbow racing stripes glittering in the sun, I couldn't help but wonder if 5 was too many...how about just 1? And then release the rest. In other parts of the Yellow Breeches river that races beside the lake, it's strictly catch and release, as it is in the LeTort Spring river. That seems a little more sporting.
If I thought we might be practicing silent walking meditation, I realized as soon as we gathered that it was going to be more of a walking/ talking meditation! The benefit was immeasurable, as we broke into small groups and got to know one another a little better, or introduced ourselves to others who were also hiking.
All the stories of these lives enrich us, like adding more paint to a canvas, in a painting that is never completed. Some of the color tones are brilliant and uplifting like Spring forsythia. Some are as somber as the darkened, rain soaked bark of an oak tree.
Yet somehow, all nature's colors create a particular harmony without any need to fabricate perfection. Change is nature's hallmark, and ours as well, yet our struggle to keep life exactly as it is when it's great, or repel life when it causes suffering, keeps us locked in delusion.
We parted ways after the sun had set, as fat raindrops began to fall, all finally quiet, talked out after our 2 hour hike. Most of us got some fun photographs, but perhaps more importantly, we all felt relaxed and happy to have spent our time together on the Appalachian Trail.