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For A Moment In The Smokies

By Dr. Dick Wieder

     The day was overcast--not gloomy but very gray for a summer's day. The clouds were banging softly into the North Carolina hills. It was warm but comfortable. Patti and I had stopped along the roadway to View the hills and in particular to view a wide rambling stream that had been following us off and on along the highway. We stood on the bank of the stream and marveled at its clarity. and coolness. Rocks and stones of various sizes and shapes but all smoothed by years of rushing water were scattered along the stream's path causing a beautiful sound that only a mountain stream can make. The cool mist of the forest was welcome relief from the warmer lowlands.

     Working my way midstream one cautious rock after another, I peered upstream as if to catch a glimpse of the stream's source. To say I had become transfixed by the scene before me is a classic understatement. There it was--a wide tumbling roaring stream rushing at me; and it seemed to begin at some point hidden up there in the cool damp greenery and mist that cloaked the hills on either side. An unreal, mystical and even spiritual beauty baked the entire scene. Too beautiful for even the most eloquent of language. The sound of water over rock drowned every sound wave. As if my ear had become tuned to the cosmic sound of a universe expanding outward. And it crossed my mind that perhaps at some distant long ago the entire earth may have looked as this, The mist that hung heavily yet gingerly among the trees rose upward and merged as one with the low gray overhang of sky. The greenery became an outgrowth of the mist itself.

     Then, something began to stir within me. As if something in my long lost unconscious roused to be recognized. Some thing so deep in my being that it arose from an instinctual time before awareness came to be. It could not be described. It could not be felt. It had only to he experienced. Suddenly and for a fleeting moment that seemed eternal I knew no boundary to my self. For my very essence, my spirit, if you will, my very being merged with the beauty before me! There was suddenly an inescapable oneness. For I and the tree, the rock, that mist were one in the same. Intertwined as one single entity. The physical me no longer existed. For I was the scene and the scene was me. The essence of me spread out across that expanse and became the same with the essence of the leaf, twig, rock, and water. And pervading it all was a silence so profound that it had to be heard to be known.

     Then quickly as if broken by the jealousy of awareness, I found myself midstream again staring off into the mist to find the stream's source, The roar of water over rock returned. Trembling from a mixture of fear, wonderment, and exhilaration I worked my way back towards the stream's bank. Not really cognizant of my arms and legs as they worked my body. Desperately I tried to recapture the experience through conscious effort without really knowing what had happened. something had changed within me though I could not: be sure what it was. But somehow chemically and spiritually I was different. I knew that I had been touched by or stumbled upon a reality that is not the same as I know from day-to- day. An underlying reality that now I knew existed. It possessed an aura of goodness, a freshness, a cleansing aspect. A realty side-by-side yet unseen in the physical reality.

     Since that experience I wonder if it is a rare moment that comes to only a few. If that is so then it is self-awareness that made it so. For self-awareness only knows the "me" of creation. Strange how that supposed precious quality of "knowing that we know" has separated us so far from creation, So far that we feel above and superior to the creative process that brought us all about. We no longer see ourselves as part of creation, Even the moral code upon which our culture is based has twisted the truth. It: made creation evil. And turned us against the creative process . For human kind was seen as dominant and it became manifested as destruction. So today there is total disregard far the planet. And in the disregard of the planet was hidden the seeds of the disregard for our fellows.

     The meaning is clear from both science and religion; there is a near spiritual underlying unity in nature that transcends all else. As human beings we hold in our hands the seeds of not only our destruction but the destruction of the earth's ecosystem as well. We have lost touch with that unity. That is what we all really seek to rediscover through mathematics and meditation. We strive to experience that. total oneness again. And, I suppose, that every now and then someone touches, someone feels that oneness again. if even for a the Smokies.

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