The Clearing at the Water’s Edge

There have now been a great many times when I have crossed over from the temporal awareness of everyday life and ventured deliberately and purposefully into the world within. Inevitably, as I travel inward, I have found myself visualizing imagery of what I would characterize as a clearing, where I always seem to go when I go within. Before breaking through the layers of this deeper awareness, I seem to initially have to force my way through the deep underbrush and navigate through an ocean of trees before I eventually see the light on the outskirts of the trees. As I approach this clearing, the light brightens, and I notice that my pace quickens.


I break through into the clearing, and far in the distance, I see the mountains; I see the other side of the forest; I see the beginning of the trees ascending the mountain, and I see the water’s edge. When I raise my eyes, and embrace that moment, I know that I have arrived in that place, in that clearing, where all things are possible. It took me a very long time to understand that what I was encountering in these moments of introspection was simply being inside of myself. I have been the whole time wondering what it all meant. I would often ask myself, why do I arrive at this clearing? Why is it so beautiful and so warm and so inviting and so natural, when I know that I am actually sitting peacefully in my room, or languishing on a summer’s day on the back deck, or sitting in a camp chair as the sun descends, and how can it be that I feel such unity with all life? This is the feeling I get when I go within and I find this clearing and walk toward the center, but I don’t ever seem to arrive at the water’s edge.


It seems, even as I traverse this clearing and approach what feels like the edge, I never seem to get there. I used to suppose that perhaps this was a kind of signal to me that I’m not quite there yet, even after all this time, and I have had experiences, certain moments within, where I could smell the water, and almost taste the vapor from the water as it blew in the wind toward my face. I would often think to myself afterwards, this is just a torment. I would get so close, but I just wasn’t there yet.


Strange as it may seem, there were also instances, when I would close my eyes as I came out from the forest into the clearing, where I would encounter what felt like an energetic force or some kind of vaguely personal spiritual guidance. Somehow, I had the sense that the same dilemma was taking place on the other side, and that this energetic source was also perplexed in the same way.


These experiences have led me to suppose, the reason for this might be that achieving a degree of closeness to the edge without actually arriving, and recognizing a degree of urgency in seeking to reach the water’s edge, presents me with a kind of threshold between the two worlds. In attending to the beautiful stillness, calm, and warmth which surrounds me in this clearing, I recognize that these moments are treasures. Even as I wander quietly through this space, I can sense the gentle rhythm of my heart beating in my chest; I can appreciate the sensation of warmth, and inhale the scent of the water, and it always seems to calm me. It also reminds me that there is much to be gained from the work detecting and exploring our inner evolution.


What has become apparent to me in my own explorations is an affirmation of the previous counsel of a valued mentor, which expressed how we often find ourselves seeking the path, when we are actually already on the path; whatever we are experiencing or enduring at this moment is the path. In all my searching, it never really occurred to me that the searching itself was the path. Now as I approach the “autumn of my years,” brilliant, colorful, extraordinary, and spiritually challenging, I sense not just the beauty, the vibrant colors, and the release from the sweltering heat of summer, but rather I feel the embrace of the release from those challenges, and hope that the transition within me endures a while longer than the traditional autumn season.


As is often the case, upon returning to the temporal world after such explorations, I am once again reminded, that true bliss can be found within, but it is not confined to that world. As time progresses, it becomes clearer that the lines are blurred a bit more than we sometimes suppose between our experience of the physical world and that which is possible to know when we travel within. All the efforts we make to expand our knowledge and understanding, all the research and writing, all the searching, hoping, and daydreaming—all of it—has been in the interest of sharpening the focus of awareness of the true nature of both our temporal and spiritual existence.

7 thoughts on “The Clearing at the Water’s Edge

  1. Perhaps they really are one and feeling separate is an aspect of sensory perception.
    I enjoyed this rendezvous through the clearing to the water’s edge, John. Spending time in the woods or nearby the water is always a joyful cleansing for me.


    1. The sense of separation may well be a feature of our perceptual process, and the manner in which we approach the task of discernment can also alter the results significantly. Our intentions and motivations can mitigate the outcome of any serious effort, and perhaps expressing my experience in this way helps me to understand it better, while not necessarily representing how others might perceive it or experience it.

      There has always been a clear connection for me between the natural world and my inner world, and while we often cannot define the precise boundaries between the temporal and the spiritual in a particular circumstance, these two states of being have distinctive characteristics that identify each when we are fully engaged in them, and articulating a spiritual experience in temporal terms or by employing metaphor, while not necessarily representing its true nature, comes as close as one can in attempting to express it. The “cleansing” one experiences in the woods and near the “water’s edge,” can be joyful, and can revive our spirits if we are open to the possibility.

      Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,

      “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.”

      Even though he expressed this idea in the common writing style of his day, which emphasized “manhood,” the message acknowledges the connection that all people can experience.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment….John H.

    1. It is very satisfying to produce writing which sparks additional consideration of the subject in those who encounter my posts, and your generosity in response to what I wrote is greatly appreciated.

      When attempting to describe one’s own deeply personal experiences in a way that can be understood more generally, it can be challenging to find a common frame of reference, especially when there are profound cultural or sociological differences in play. The experiences which provided the foundation for my own journey of discovery and spiritual development are diverse and multifaceted, and possibly containing elements which might be viewed as controversial or in contrast to what others have known. That you are able to appreciate my efforts to share my experience shows that I may have succeeded to some degree with my efforts in this instance.

      Your own story is shaping up nicely now and I anticipate that it will produce much interest here in the WordPress community.

      Thank you so much for your visit and your generous support…John H.

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