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Stripped Bare

Stripped Bare

I thought I could protect myself,

Hide my heart away and keep myself safe.

I thought I could figure it all out,

Learn to live with the emptiness inside.

I thought I’d put all the pieces back in place,

That I was complete once again.

I thought I was happy,

That I’d let go of everything holding me back.

I thought I knew what it felt like to love,

And to be loved in return.

I was wrong.

I had no idea something was missing.

I had no idea there was someone that knew just what I needed.

I had no idea they would need just what I needed to give.

I had no idea what unconditional could mean.

I had no idea what this could feel like;

Needing without needing.

I love the electric feel of your skin against mine, even just the touch of a single fingertip against yours says more than a lifetime of conversation. I love the way you leaned into me that first evening and it felt almost as if our bodies were melding together, as if some deeper part within recognized the other half of itself within you and longed to be one again.

I love that….

I love that I don’t know how to say what I want to say, but that I can feel it so clearly.

It is like when I went walking in the woods this past weekend. I wanted to share our story with the trees as you asked me to. I knelt and gently brushed aside the leaves that had fallen to the forest floor and placed both my hands on the cool moist earth. I offered a prayer to mother earth, to protect and keep both of us. I thanked her for bringing us back together in this life time and in all previous lifetimes. I prayed that circumstance would allow our paths to cross again many times throughout time going forward into eternity. I asked that she continue to guide and protect us, surrounding us with love and light. Then I stopped talking and prayed with my heart rather than my voice. I let the feelings of peace and contentment that overflowed from within while in your presence fill my heart. I focused on those feelings and let them flow through my entire being, radiating out from my heart, straight through my chest and into the earth as well as down both arms and legs so that it flowed through the palms of my hands and souls of my feet. I envisioned that divine love running deep into the earth, all the way to its core and spreading across the entire surface like ripples spreading across the surface of a pond. I felt the earth radiating its love back to me in an infinite circular fashion.

For quite some time I knelt there just being and sharing in love and gratitude. When I felt it was time, I slowly lifted my palms away, letting my fingertips linger, slowly and lightly lifting away with the utmost tenderness. I placed my hands together in my lap and knelt there a few moments longer before getting to my feet.

Then I began to address the trees, thanking them for allowing me to share space with them and for letting me share what I was about to say. I started, rather awkwardly at first, completely unsure of where or how to begin. Feeling a strong sense of support and reassurance from them I told them of how we met this time around and how despite my pretenses of keeping a measure of boundaries and distance from all those I touched, I felt a deep and immediate connection with you. I told them about the flood of feelings that came rushing in and how they didn’t seem overwhelming or overly intense at all but rather felt like the most natural thing in the world.

As I attempted to put words to the feeling, to describe how but a touch or a look could communicate so much, I remembered looking into your eyes and the words just stopped coming. I walked up to the tree right in front of me and reached out and placed my hands on it. I let those same feelings I offered to the earth flow through me and speak for me. I was quiet for some time, walking from tree to tree slowly and touching each of them. From time to time I would attempt to describe one specific experience or another with slow, quiet, and halting descriptions as I searched for the words no dictionary or thesaurus could ever provide.

​​In the moment that I began to feel like I was doing a poor job of explaining and sharing our story they showed me they understood better than I could have thought possible. I had been wandering aimlessly from tree to tree as they caught my eye and asked to be touched so they might share in the joy and love. They guided me to a younger tree, strong and healthy but stripped bare of it’s leaves. It reminded me of the way I felt the unusual desire to strip away everything but myself in your presence and be just me, unadorned and unafraid.

​​I knelt at the base of this tree and reached out to it. The feeling It expressed to me mirrored what I had been trying to explain. The base of the tree forked just above ground and the two trunks grew in their own distinct directions, both heading ever upwards on their own unique path but also both reaching out to the other intertwining their branches every so often.

Below the surface they were one tree with a shared system of roots. They will be forever connected and a part of each other but also both their own individual trees. Together they will face whatever life brings their way, supporting each other in high winds and cold stormy seasons. As I gazed up into their branches I could see how at certain points they grew closer together or further apart but regardless of their individual directions or the ways they branched off, they would remain forever connected and part of one another.

In that moment, kneeling there under this twin tree I knew I’d never be able to find words to say what it had shared with me and I with it, each in our own way. I just knew I wanted to hold on to that feeling and that memory. Not to cling to the memory like a drowning man clings to a life preserver in the rough ocean waves but to cup it gently in my hands. To support it without holding on too tight so that it had the space and freedom to grow and become whatever it was meant to be.

I took a few photos so that I could remember the moment and share the forest’s response with you someday should I ever find a means of retelling it. I know that somehow the right words don’t seem to matter when it comes to you because you seem to understand things on a completely different level and see through the disguise I thought I needed to keep on around most people. Somehow you seem to strip away all that is irrelevant leaving something simply beautiful behind and I hope that I can manage to do the same for you.