THE TAO OF RIVER AND MOUNTAIN

Author’s Note: The photographs are not mine.

“Enlightenment is not a matter of imagining figures of light, but of making the darkness conscious.” C.G. Jung

July 22, 2005: Tao is a Chinese term that represents the basic concept of Taoism. Hilary J. Barrett in her article “The I Ching and the Tao” writes, “The Tao is the way. To move with it is to be in harmony with the nature of the time, fitting with it as smoothly as flowing water. ” Hence, today’s title suggests the way of river and mountain.

The greatest impact of this wonderful, spiritually renewing journey to Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana was through my experiences on the rivers and in the mountains. The mountains invite stillness through their solid immobility, yet are alive through eons of sculpturing. The rivers, often originating in these mountains, serve as a constant reminder that water flows through the channels of least resistance.

Flathead Lake

On Sunday, July 17, I drove to Somers, Montana on the northeast corner of Flathead Lake to visit my childhood friend, Katy Bollinger Meyers, and her husband Terry. Katy and I have been friends since we were second graders in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. When we parted ways after graduating from high school, we stayed in touch by letters and Christmas cards, and eventually just at Christmas. With the advent of email, Katy and I renewed our correspondence, but had not visited in about 34 years. When she learned that I was making a trip out west, she and Terry graciously invited me to visit.

When I arrived, Katy was working in her garden, and the connection was reignited instantaneously. We had a marvelous visit reminiscing, catching up on 34 years, and enjoying each other’s personas molded by our experiences over these many years.

Katy and Terry generously gave two days of their time to take me to Glacier National Park and on a raft trip. Monday we spent the day driving the “Going-to-the-Sun” highway in Glacier National Park. At the summit we sat by a tiny stream and enjoyed a delicious organic lunch Katy had prepared. The waterfalls, lakes, and wildlife of Glacier were spectacular.

Stunningly beautiful St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

Tuesday, we spent the day rafting the North Fork of the Flathead River. Katy and Terry had won the excursion, and they kindly made arrangements with the guide, Steve, for me to join them. Steve was a passionate environmentalist and had a head full of dreadlocks. This river was much more placid than the Snake in Wyoming. We drifted slowly and paddled through some tame white water. We stopped several times to relax on small rocky outcrops. Both Terry and I fished, relatively unsuccessfully, but the rhythm of casting to the foam lines and riffles was the ultimate in zen. Eagles honored us with their presence. Imagine three of these magnificent birds circling overhead in the depths of wilderness on a river of green.

North Fork of the Flathead River

And so my final two days were spent in the mountains and on the river. If your soul is open, you “will” hear, see, and understand the tao of river and mountain. It is my wish for you, the reader, that you may someday enjoy a rebirth similar to what I experienced on my journey westward this summer.

Tetons at Jackson Hole, Wyoming

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