Eyes open to the blackened sky.

I find myself on scattered rocks.

Cold waves wash over me as I struggle to remember.

Ravens call across the bay.

In the distance a portal opens and for the first time in years I feel hope.

Ravens now carry the fragments I desire to keep.

Testing out some new gear and setting up a tent in preparation for the next trip to Alaska.  Of course, being on the big lake and my need to be close to the water, I always get wet and nothing like the sun to take care of the drying.

Another beautiful fall day on the lake with constant waves crashing on the pebble and rocky shoreline. We spent hours combing for rocks to take home. In the end it usually turns into a competition for the largest agate. I am on a 3-year losing streak for that one.

Time always seems to slip by quickly and before we know it we emerge from the dream here and it is time to return home. On the last evening, we made a bonfire under the blanket of stars and paid homage to nature and all of its wonders.

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The day started early just before the sunrise with enough time for coffee to get us warm before venturing out to the shoreline. The sun spread its fingers across the horizon, the water, and our faces. We continued to a state park and found a calm and secluded lake surrounded by nature’s palette. So many vibrant colors against the perfect blue of a northern MN sky.

The city life slowly drains the energy and takes away bits and pieces of our being and our mind, but the water, the wind in our faces, the trees, and the crisp air repair the damage that has been done. Even the puppy needs to get away from it all.

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How did I get here? An important question I throw into the air while reading, writing, and drinking coffee on a cold morning with early sunlight across the fields.

In this current state of being, I awoke a few years ago after sleep walking through most of my life and leaving my path up to others, letting go of control.

It is simple and easy to look outside of yourself for direction and answers, and others are more then willing to lead and take you where they want you to go. I let this happen and my life was just a passing shadow, a fading glimpse of what could be and what I already was beneath the surface. Where was I really and truly? Where was he hiding, how could I find him, and the most important and challenging question: how to become aware that I was NOT being my true self?

The day to day struggles, emotions, and experience build upon others, all figuring into the outward person you are, the one we walk around with. What does this build within? How and what do these experiences build on the inside?

As they build on top of others, the layers push further away from a central point, diluting and diminishing the light, the lantern that is within. I had not seen my light, my lantern since before I was born, wandering a different place. Somehow I knew it was there, I had a vague and distant pain that this not my first time here. That there was more, but I was confused and unsure of what I was feeling and what I would see in dreams. I felt lost in one regard, and in another I was angry that I was unable to unlock the secrets deep within.

Like flotsam carried downstream beneath bridges, past cities, and into valleys before washing out to sea.

Whether intentional or not, we attract others that align or sense the energy that we give off, those vibrations that consume our thoughts and essence. I was searching each minute of each day, and that was what my life had become at that point. In this spiritual emptiness, I had become vulnerable, listening and latching onto anyone that said the right words, that seemed to be genuine, interested, and in some ways an equal, even if I did not believe or feel that way.

Further lost in the sea, the dark depths swallowed everything I saw.  Any glimpse of light vanished, any indication of land or solid ground, gone.

Until I met you.

I felt reborn and the darkness began to clear as you chipped away at the layers and stone scattered across my field. Your stories of things beyond here, of experiences from previous lives meant I was not alone, that what I felt was real.

Finally, someone to walk the golden shoreline, hand in hand as we watch the sunset and the calm sea.

From your guidance I realized the reality I desired, the control I had, and the answers within. I saw this current life as a field, and my experiences manifested as objects, tokens, and cairns. How we navigate that field, what we keep, and what we discard, determine the reality and the life we live.

I now see with more clarity the guides that I come into contact with, and know which are real and which are not.  I now see the stone cairns I have left for myself from previous and future lives.  I now walk this field with an ever-growing awareness of myself and the path I will take.

Golden Sunrise
Golden Sunrise

A few photos from a recent trip to Lutsen on Lake Superior.  Basked in cold light the shoreline glowed with radiant heat from the sun transitioning from Winter to Spring.

It has been busy around here getting back to work, and working on the upcoming issue of Stone Path Review.  Lutsen was good for the writing and I have been working on a few pieces, and started back on a collection of zen related essays.

Here are a few photos of sunrises from Lutsen.

Christmas Day brings thoughts of family, friends, beliefs and what helps us to get through each day. We headed north into the cold and snow to spend the time within nature, at the beckon call of deer and raven, and fell asleep each day to the methodical splashing of water on the frozen shoreline.

Rising in the early morning before the sun, the grass is sharp and crunchy, the lake is calm, and the horizon has a very faint glow.

We walk down the wooden staircase to the rocky shoreline. Mostly flat with a slight slope to the water, it is mostly smooth stones, and sand. On this morning, with the temperature at 6 below, there is 2 feet of ice lining the shore for as far as we can see in both directions. The slushy water is heavy and slow, with pancake ice floating near. Our breath is thick and heavy, staying near our face with each exhale. Fingers are cold, even while holding a quickly cooling cup of coffee. We walk toward the river, kicking a few rocks and looking at various sized pieces of driftwood, trying to warm our fingers and toes.

Turning around and beginning to walk back, a faint shadow passes over the rocks. We stop and look up at the sky in time to see the black raven – large and majestic, the wingspan at least 4 feet across and the body the size of a small dog.

Once the sun has become visible
and fully stretched for a few hours
it is time to hit the trails
for a solo hike.

Well worn paths pass through
grasslands and into the forest
before narrowing as it hugs the
steep cliffs overlooking the Cascade River.

Scattered ice and snow patches,
frozen hoof prints and hiking boots.

The trail veers away
from the river and further
up the forest becomes dense,
the trail is overrun with
tree roots, river rock, and fallen limbs,
before opening into a field.

On the other side the last
climb to Lookout Mountain.

The solitude and quiet that is
winter while hiking trails that
have not been touched by humans
in days, brings the mind within
as it focuses and narrows, by
letting negative energy fall away
and we give ourselves to the creator.