ode to Sḵwx̱wú7mesh

How do you describe a place that has so many gifts, so many mysteries? A place that has adopted you into its family without question, without expectation, and called you one of it’s own? It is a paradise, a mecca of wilderness, of green, of things growing. I was weary, searching for a home, looking this direction and wondering, and then Squamish shared its secret with me.

“This is a place for living.”

I was drawn here, by some unexplainable grace, and after arriving I planted my feet, and gave up the search for home – I knew I had found it. And so I started living. Started breathing air so fresh and pure it transports me instantaneously to a 1000 years ago, after a gentle morning rain, long before the blight of industrialism, of ‘progress’, ever had its influence. With each breath I draw in the salt and the musk of the sea; the dark green and wholesome elements of lush rainforest; the mist of rivers fed by glaciers somewhere far away, somewhere high up, communing with heaven, perfect and clean. It travels into my lungs, into my blood, into my cells, with god-like awesomeness, cleaning, nourishing, reviving.

I look toward the astonishing granite monolith that seems to guard this place – The Chief, they call it. I imagine it being formed here long ago. Painfully and slowly sculpted by the bullying, the scraping away, the pressure and final release of retreating and advancing…retreating and advancing…and retreating ice. Now sitting in a place of prominence – all the people look up in awe. And I feel its wisdom. When I first looked up with a questioning heart, with lost eyes, with a severed sense of identity, it seemed to say, “Welcome, child. You are safe now. You belong here.” And now I imagine it watching over me, just as it has watched over the ancients. All of us walking the meandering paths, facing the chaos and the beauty of our short time on Earth – the Earth that will take us back into itself, to keep safe, to absorb and recycle, to extend  back out in new life forms.

I belong here. I am standing in an infinite circle, joined to every tree, every rock, every animal, every person, every single atom in the air. I have found my place, my village; the tendrils of my soul have broken through ground and taken root. And there is water – never-ending water to drink.

A blue heron flies overhead, landing with grace on the springy limb of a western hemlock. She looks at me knowingly, the bouncing motion of the branch in response to her weight slowly comes to a halt as they balance together perfectly, each one accommodating the other.

You see, this place is my teacher. This place is my true paradise.

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