One of the great things about a marsh is that you get to see the changes it goes through in the seasons. Summer has come to Vancouver and my life at Burnaby Lake has gone through many changes.
I was at Peace today when I went to the waterfowl sanctuary at Burnaby Lake, so I was not surprised to find peace there. I always find peace there. Peace, honeysuckle, and summer ducklings showed themselves today. The garden that was just beginning to grow in May when we were here together is now full in bloom and full of life. The most amazing flowers now bloom. Bees are busy everywhere and the slugs are trundling about. I was very concerned about one slug who was sitting in the garden path. I didn’t want him to get hurt. They are all my slugs and my bees. The most amazing full arbor of honeysuckle filled the garden and beyond with the best smells of summer and childhood. There was such peace and beauty there today. It only needed you there to see it with me. The blackberry vines are in full bloom now and little berries are forming. We are all waiting for the berries; birds, humans, and chipmunks together. Further into the lake, Lilly pads have replaced the fields of daffodils we were so awed by, and the ducks have created highways through them. Scores of Mallards were swimming single file through the narrow highways they had made, ducks as far as the eye could see, in a pilgrimage from one pond to another within the marsh. One mommy Mallard proudly displayed her late summer hatchlings, a brood of five sweet ducklings no more than four inches long. Did I mention there was peace there today? No thought of good or evil crossed the minds of the ducks and geese who nibbled seeds from the hands of children feeding them. The Redwing Blackbirds carried no worries on their wings. The Marsh Wrens knew no cares. The marsh does not know hatred. Sweet peace and gentle waterways flow.
I wondered how I would experience the marsh since my brush with Nirvana. I had not been there during the beatific vision I experienced for weeks. There was no need then. But now that I am somewhat more back to the earth, there is no place I would rather be than Burnaby Lake. Some things have been changed in me though. A fishing rod sits In my car’s trunk, now unused, because I do not wish to frighten the fish. They are my fish. I want them to swim freely. All creatures and things of the garden and lake are God and we along with them. To believe that would make me naive or muddle headed, but to know it is truth. I feel things in a gentler way now and I know what I know. It is much sweeter. Yet it is all bitter sweet for lack of your presence to share this with me.
The sky was blue and speckled with clouds as the swallows and marsh wrens dived through the air. Big fat geese stood in water two inches deep and puffed out their big bellies. On a bench, three old Russian ladies, oblivious to the paradise they were in, muttered in Russian about mundane things. In the marsh, only the humans ignore peace.
I want so much to share my marsh with others, but only some can see. My childhood world of the garden was like that to me as well. Both the marsh and the garden exist in eternity waiting for visitors with new eyes and hearts. I want so to take you by the hand and say, “Come over here. Let me show you the carrots and the peas, the beans and potatoes, the watermelons and corn, the strawberries and gooseberries, the peaches and the apples, the grapes and the walnuts. Look over here. Let me show you the ducks and geese, the peacocks and chickens, the fish that swim freely in the stream, the beavers and the otters, the owls and the eagles. They are just right over here. They are made of god stuff just like you and me. Look at the flowers too beautiful to pick, the honeysuckle bushes and mimosa trees that so delight the little humming birds, and over here, the tiny baby chickens that peep and sit in the middle of your hand. Let me show you. Do you know how strong walnut trees grow? Come, let me show you. Do you know they can withstand a tornado? Feel their trunks. And over here, between two big walnut trees grandpa made a swing just big enough for two people. Sit with me and we will watch for the red birds to come and listen for the whippoorwills. It is all here. Everything anyone ever wanted and so much more is just waiting for us to grow new eyes and hearts. And there in the marsh, something new comes today from peace and assurance that nothing can go wrong. Nothing can go wrong.”
I want so much to show you these things for they are a part of us and we of them. My eyes see better because the birds are so beautiful. My nose works better because the flowers are so fragrant. The fish swim more freely because I love them so. The bees, the worms, the slugs all work the garden better for love. Can you not see? Can you not see? The world is our body and God is our soul. What could be wrong? In this eternity what could be wrong? It is all part of the same beauty. In the time it has taken me to pen these lines twilight has come. The beavers are just coming out of their dens for moonlit strolls. The ducks and geese now perch themselves on logs and wait for dreams of tomorrow. The wrens are in their boxes. The crows have left the marsh to sleep in their trees and a mother eagle sits in her nest just across the lake. And now I have seen them and in these lines my heart has shown them to you. Have you seen them? Have you seen them? I reach out to touch your heart with the love that I know from nature, from God, and from you. I don’t know if you have seen them, but I am happier that my heart has shown them to you. And the parting line will always be, Love is Present.