This is a shot of the tallest drop (80 feet) in 320 ft multi-tiered Raven Cliff Falls, located in Mountain Bridge State Park, SC USA, taken from the new park overlook.
(Continued from Autumn Befalling Raven Cliff) The understanding of what happened in me that day would work its way into my awareness over a span of weeks. And given some latitude, my creative mind might work this experience into something of a conversation that might go something like this:“Ah, yes, there now; you see me; you hear me; because you are at last prepared to acknowledge in you, that which you’ve taken time to perceive in me….You feel the truth of this now, and it changes everything for you; seeing yourself through different eyes, through my eyes, changes everything, doesn’t it?”
And then it’s like I feel the waterfall smiling as it takes up a song in a language long forgotten, but meant to emphasize the point it’s trying to make in me. I’m in its throes, possessed by its madness, and catapulted into a reality where, for the moment, I have no doubt that all of this is real. I’ve done nothing to earn this; I haven’t been any more the ‘good boy’ than anyone else (though I’ve tried). Deservedness doesn’t enter in, and I suspect that this is why this is happening; I suspect that somewhere along the way and quite recently so, I quit trying to grasp for approval from everyone out there beyond me, my friends, my parents, my boss, my God; I gave that up like a habit that wasn’t working for me any longer; I quit trying to make others convince me that I was okay when they maybe weren’t so sure of themselves as well. I will no longer dispute the beauty that confronts me or the significance in the time it took to render – this mountain thrust up from the earth’s core, the chiseling out of Raven Cliff, the millennial rains culminating as the tool that shaped this rock, and the magnificence reflected in the erosive fall of Matthews Creek. I am choosing to register that beauty at a level of appreciation that wasn’t possible for me previously, because I simply wouldn’t allow it. I was Chevy Chase giving a cursory nod to that beauty because others had told me that to do so would make a difference somehow, but it never did, until I allowed it. The truth of the matter was hitting me square in the face like a smithy’s hammer, ringing out sharply in the sound of steel on steel, and something gave way within me in the moment that I felt the waterfall speak…
“You cannot see in me what you will not see in yourself and now you see this; now you know this. The cage surrounding your heart of hearts has been breeched; you had the key to the door all along; you have unlocked it, and you have entered in.”
I had judged myself as unworthy; I had locked myself out. Now the door was open and as I stepped inside, the static roar focused into a song of beckoning, now welcoming me in, a song that the cage had made inaudible to me, numbing me to this truth. Everything around me was in here with me; all sense of time and space had dissolved into paradox. The waterfall still roared ‘out there’ in the distance, but now somehow it was a part of me, and I was a part of it. Daylight was still dwindling into night, but now that aching sense of urgency had subsided in its frantic push, and so dramatically that it felt true that I just might be able to linger here in this place forever.
“You have that choice, ever before you,” sang the waterfall. “You can go back to the way you were or you can remain here within your heart within me, within it all.”
The shadows had climbed the ridge-side above me when I finally shouldered my gear in twilight and headed back up the trail. I looked back one last time in appreciation even as I realized the gravity of this life. Raven Cliff had fallen into shadow but I heard her, felt her, just the same, ‘out there,’ and within me. Each stride took me toward my responsibilities and challenges in life where sometimes I encountered that state of depletion, and I wondered at this. I feel more aligned, more in tune with the truth of me; what I am part of, a feeling of enormity, as if my heart reaches out into all that surrounds me; my heart pervades all of nature and nature radiates its acknowledgment of this, resonating with me in agreement, and it all just flows into, through, and between us. It just feels so perfectly appropriate.
The heaviness of concern was there when I arrived at my car; it was the final day of this trip; tomorrow would find me in the city once again. I found my car key under the rock where I had left it. I paused a moment with my hand on the gear shift searching within me until I found it. How easy it was to fall into old habits of worry, but a locked door, once first opened, is much easier to unlock again. I felt the tears well up as I unlocked the door of my heart once more and felt the truth rushing forth to greet me. I heard the call of Raven Cliffs and felt its cool spray refreshing me as before. It was as if she were saying, “Fear not, my love; you will get better at this.” And then she smiled and held me close for as long I feel to allow her to.
Nikon D90, 1/3 sec, f/18, 185 mm, ISO 200, Bogen Pistol grip head, Wimberley tripod
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