It’s quiet. There are many kinds of quiet in the world, but this particular quality of stillness is only found above the tree-line on a summit. It’s the kind of quiet that comes with knowing that you’re the only human being for a hundred miles. The quiet embraces and enfolds you as the sun rises, and Mt. Rainer glows faintly behind pink bedsheets. The sun too suspends for a moment, its own rays subdued behind the morning haze until it seems just a fiery ball, resting on the ridge. My eyes are drawn back to the mountain, and I trace its face, the gleaming snowbanks, the changing colors of the exposed rock—black at ten, blue at noon, grey at in the early evening, purple at dusk—so like the moon in its majesty, but close enough, almost, to touch.
And there is nothing to say. I move slowly because all around is breathing, has been here long before me, and will be here long after I am forgotten. I walk along the ridge as dawn breaks, and note the other familiar peaks still pink with sleep; Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens, there—I see the side of her that erupted, the hollowed bowl with the ominous bulge growing yet again in the center that tells us there is still pressure building below. Life is like that—always giving us signs that we can point back to in our history books as things we shouldn’t have ignored.
I love this place. There is nothing here, nothing except what you bring with you. No Wifi, or signal or sounds. No chaos—other that which you might carry within.
It’s just us here—and everything.
Bright blue rainwater tanks stand beside the cabin, catching rainfall as cold as the mountain streams. We take off our clothes and stand below the spigot and the shock of the cold makes me gasp and laugh. I shake the droplets from my hair and dry in the sun, leaving my clothes behind on the bench—the solitude of the place makes clothing feel cumbersome.
There is a path on the ridge, a place I walk along at dusk to see the sun setting deep behind the cobalt hills. A meditation hut with wrap-around windows rests here beneath the peace flags. We sit on its porch and swing our legs, watching the sun as it lowers, listening to the flags flutter softly in the breeze as they release their prayers to God. The landscape changes, the eastern peaks are painted as the sun casts its colors. Sapphire, smoky green, cobalt, purple, pink…and a haze, a reverent haze holds it and us, as if the greatest of secrets must still be kept from mortal eyes.
We do not speak. The sun slips away and a ribbon of glowing orange rests on the ridge with a strip of light between it and poignant deepening blue glimmering here and there with shy stars.
I wish they could see this, but this cannot be seen through two ragged eye-holes in a white sheet. I pity them and the inner chaos they carry that spews out into society like a tornado, taking life, taking innocence, and spreading pain. I pity the children they were once, and grieve their poisoned childhoods, twisted by the hate of their parents, who were twisted by the hate of their parents and a dark religion of continual judgement and hellfire, where no man is good and even god cannot forgive. Theirs is a dark prison, a pitiable, narrow existence. They cannot not feel the sacredness of the night, or experience the reverence of the stars emerging one-by-one until they cannot be counted…
The tragedy of their lives and of being human is that we can only know what we know. They will never know the peace of stillness, and how can they, being who they are? Their inner chaos will ever burn until their very lives are burned out. It will burn us with it, if we let it…and it would be so easy to let it as we witness their groundless hate burning by torchlight, igniting a righteous rage in our own stomachs…
But you, friend, sit here beside me. Be still, and watch the twilight fall. Breathe in as the purple wildflowers sway and listen to the peace flags fluttering softly in the evening breeze. They carry my prayers as well, to a life-force I cannot fathom, but still believe is good, as all sentient beings are inherently good. We are part of this, part of a beautiful world that is passing into entropy, yet recreating and reimagining itself every day. There is still hope for the human race, as long as two of us can desire and share peace together…as long as there is still someone who protects the earth…as long as there is someone somewhere raising a child without shame, instilling in that young soul that they are good, and modeling to that child that all humans of every color and gender and orientation and culture are of infinite value and worthy of infinite respect…
The ebony sky envelops us slowly—velvety and lovely—with bright stars that emerge and sparkle quietly with breathless brilliance.
There are still other flags… other ways, and other places where peace and love can still be found.
Hold to this, Love. Hold to peace.
(all images courtesy of Karvy)