It’s easy to get into an meditative mood while walking along the banks of the Metolius River. It becomes an instant river about a mile upstream of our central Oregon cabin, gushing out of springs that carry water from distant sources.
Since the upper reaches are mostly spring fed, the Metolius’ water level doesn’t change much throughout the year. Vegetation is able to grow on logs and rocks that, with the passage of time, become islands of life.
This evening, on my ritual dog walk, thunder clouds were starting to form. Per usual, Serena, the dog, and Brian, the human, didn’t encounter any other people. It was just us and nature.
No matter what has been worrying me before I set out on a walk, the Metolius magically leads it to fade away. I suspect that the magic is always there. Inside me, inside all of us. Nature just opens the door to what we normally shut ourselves away from.
A thought: Is this the way It really is? Perhaps the big It, that which we’re wondering “What is It all about?” truly is this simple, this no worries, mate. Religion urges us to solve the problem of human existence. Maybe there is no problem to solve.
Walking along the Metolius, it certainly seems so. Until the thunder starts.
More accurately, until Serena notices the thunder. I’d been hearing it for several minutes before she did. However, Serena had been on some super-intense chipmunk chases (she never catches them, and mostly never sees them; it’s the smells that entice her).
Dashing through the Ponderosas, fully immersed in the joy of the hunt, thunder wasn’t on her mind. Juicy chipmunks were. But then she stopped running and tuned in to the distant rumbling. Whereupon she started to go into her thunder-phobia.
Serena wasn’t in any danger. She thought she was, though. Suddenly she couldn’t enjoy what was giving her so much pleasure before. Her sole goal was to find a place to hide. Fortunately, I had a leash. She tried to dig herself a hidey hole under a fallen tree. I had to drag her out.
A thought: Is this the way I am too? Are most of my fears and anxieties as nonsensically founded as my dog’s aversion to loud noises? (Once a loud nearby thunder clap startled her; ever since then, Serena freaks out at gunshots, firecrackers, and, of course, thunder).
Religion offers us a place to hide. From fear of death, pain, suffering, misfortune, non-existence, meaninglessness, isolation—lots of things. But do we need to put our head in the sand (or under a tree stump)?