The Whitewater River pitches itself through a total of 411 feet of sheer drops and cascades in two separate levels. This is a view of the upper level of Whitewater Falls in high flow, the sun’s rays refracting beautifully in prismatic shimmer in the mist at its feet. At first I failed to recognize my old friend shouting with such bravado from behind a curtain of spray. The cliff face was entirely obscured behind a white surge, as if a wizened mop of hair had fallen across its eyes. I sat across the Gorge watching and waiting, struggling against the urge to feel disappointment; it was almost like I was confused, like I had showed up to the wrong party wearing a costume, a mask, when everyone around me was in their authentic formal best. It has been a couple of years since I had last come here and now the river was way up; I could see that some of the big hemlocks had died. I had never seen so much mist thrown up by this falls before. As I waited, the earth turned, as she is apt to, and the sun found its way to my back, and a bit of simple magic issued forth within the mist.
What is it about butterflies and rainbows that so captures our imagination? What is the nature of the ‘pot of gold’ found where the light of the rainbow touches the earth? Just moments before, I was lamenting the sun’s presence simply because I prefer to photograph in shade. Then out of that clear ordinary light of day, a rainbow came. Where there was ‘nothing’ just a moment before, beauty now graced my senses; as fragile in time as a butterfly wing, beating rhythmically with…..something now becoming ever so subtly apparent to my senses – no longer just impacting my physical senses with its refractions of light in background thunder of falling water dashing itself into teeming bits, but seeping into my consciousness as a deeper sensing, as a welling up within me that I can feel, until it reaches such sufficiency that I take note of this new feeling, a feeling like something urging me to wake. It isn’t ordinary; it feels a bit alien, unfamiliar; it hurts a little and I realize that I’m fighting against the effect it’s having within me. Resisting it hurts, and a silly image plays on the screen of my mind, a cartoon image of the Christmas Grinch with a magnifying glass held up to his tiny heart, a heart now expanding in view, as a smile eclipses the perpetual grimace on the Grinch’s face until his heart breaks out, bursting through the constraints of the looking glass’ steel frame. I want to allow this to happen, I realize, and in that decision, my prior and unconscious choice to resist, now dissolves, the hurt fades, and it’s like the embrace of the perfect mother reaching across the expanse of Whitewater Gorge to enfold me in her arms. I feel the hands of quintessential compassionate father part the veils shrouding deeper hurt inside me; hurt that I’ve inflicted upon myself in those past moments that I identified myself with something less than the truth of me, an identification that made me appear to fit in and be welcomed by those who I had made important, those who had damaged themselves in a similar way. I knew then that in seeking the approval of these meaningful others, I had sacrificed acceptance of me – the true me; I had assumed a false sense of me. It was a mask that would prove a disappointment through out my life, falling so far short of its promise to deliver the fullness of life experience had amongst others just like me. And just like such others, I would choose unconsciously to adopt more masks in attempted compensation rather than to simply acknowledge my rejection of the truth of me.
Belief is powerful; what I had chosen to believe had shaped my life in a way that I no longer wanted for myself, in a way that now compelled me toward a fundamental restructuring of self perception – flawed beliefs were giving way and moving me in the direction of seeing more authentically. Tears streamed down the inner stony face of me, dissolving rigidity in a healing baptism, like a wizened mop of hair falling across the face of it, like wisdom’s hands parting the flow to find perfect love looking back at me.
What brought me to this place of self forgiveness? I had chosen to cease blaming those significant others; I had finally taken responsibility for the condition of me; it was in this realization that I gave back to me the power to reverse what I had done, and to allow what I had rejected…..an ever deepening knowledge of the truth; it was thus my gift to me; it was a knowledge that can be experienced for this truth bridged a chasm within me and I became one with a rainbow, one with the waterfall that made it, one with perfect love returning into my awareness….so long in forgetful-ness that it was at first a stranger to me, a stranger that I chose to trust with my soul, a stranger that restored me into itself, remaking me as I am in truth…..I remember now; how odd it is to simply know.
And the earth continued her unceasing march across the heavens and Truth’s calling card winked out in an instant, but its pot o’gold remained there where heaven’s feet had touched down to earth in a rainbow; there within me, as the opening of my heart into the experience of it; the truth that I am a part of, the truth that includes all that is.
Nikon D90, 1/80 sec, f/8, 150 mm, ISO 100, Gitzo tripod, Wimberley head, near Gorges State Park, NC USA, Oct. 24, 2009
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