This - A Meditation
My dad started panning for gold about 28 years ago. He goes a lot of different places to prospect, but his favorite spot is along Coyote Creek. He knows every bend and where water flowed differently the year before, and where trees have fallen and changed the watercourse and where to find arrowheads, and where the wild grapes twist in thick, thick vines up into the oak trees.
I went with him on a quiet Saturday morning, the sun low, reflecting off the water making magic lines bounce from the surface of the water up onto an ancient looking Buckeye tree (if you’ve never seen a Buckyeye tree in the winter, just picture a tree that a wizard might live inside from Lord of the Rings. They’re very mysterious.)
The Water was cold so we wore rubber boots and rubber gloves as we dug into the gravel beside large rocks and between roots before sitting at the waters edge to slowly sift through the sediment and swirl water over it to seperate the gold from everything else.
This spot along the creek really is wonderful with all the overhanging alders, oaks, pines and blackberry brambles. Just up the hill are countless pieces of limestone covered in moss with little maiden hair ferns peeking up at their edges. Cows make noise just out of sight and up and over the hill the opposite way from the limestone is a vineyard soaked in morning sun.
People have been searching for gold here since 1849 so there are little clues here and there about their old work, but mostly no one comes over here anymore except the rancher who feeds the cows and my dad.
Recently my dad was asked if he’d be willing to taking people on panning trips to search for gold, he said yes initially, but then changed his mind.
You see, the problem with this arrangement is that people paying to go out and search for gold, is that they’d expect to find some…
As we sat on stones at the creek’s edge, our feet in the water he explained that yes, he loves finding gold, but that’s not the point. Paradoxically he doesn’t go gold panning to find gold. I asked him what he goes for and for his answer he opened his hands and raised them, palms up and open and kind of turned back and forth looking around at the gentle water and the trees and rust colored leaves on the ground and simply said, “This.”
It reminded me of an interview I heard with Marie Howe and the truth of what he said was wonderful and strange, and it’s a thought that’s well placed in other parts of life.
What is the “this” in your life today? What is the truth or reason that sits just below the surface? Asking this makes me feel more present with myself, other people and the places we exist together.
The “this” is easy to miss when the frenzy to find the gold (fill in the metaphorical blank here) can easily be the noiseiest part of life. But I believe there exists a quieter often truer reason for doing what we’re doing.
Happy Sunday friends. I hope your December is full of “this”.