On a cloudy autumn day I pedal my bike along a ridge to a hilltop strewn with piñon trees, distant mountains visible in every direction. Elation brims over within me.
I turn my bike downhill on a crazy-fun romp. I bank turns, skirt around trees and grind though gravel patches. A broad smile stretches across my face.
A dark thought enters my head—it has to do with my neighbor. After years of fiery conflict with her, I have found peace, only to feel a cinder rekindle this week. I recognize the negativity and think, I must chant my mantra or I’ll crash.
Suddenly my tire jumps off the trail and hits a dead branch. I fly over the handlebars onto my head and roll to a stop. Dazed, with searing pain in my neck and shoulder, I call on the Beloved, rise and try to walk. With one hand I pull my bike off the trail. Then I sit on a bank of stones.
My hands tingle—a sign of shock, so I put my head between my knees and breathe deeply. I’m miles from home, and at this hour—mid-afternoon on a cloudy day—the trails are empty of riders. I am alone.
I do have my cell phone, and I reach to pull it from my pack, but my hands won’t move. They’re numb—drawing inward, into frigid little fists. I have no idea what’s going on but it feels terrifying.
I breathe deeply and again call on the Beloved. I chant my word and focus on the eternal Presence. Always these days when I do this, a smile forms on my face, and even now I feel my lips curl up at the edges. I can hardly believe the peace and bliss that flow in, a tingly calm and glowing love. I sense the truth: that I am not this body that is having this experience. Instead I am a soaring soul, unfazed. I sit in this state for a while, knowing that I must let the Beloved fix this, for I cannot.
A Biblical verse flows in: “On Thee shall I wait all day.”
A cool breeze blows across my back, and birds chirp in the trees around me. Slowly my hands loosen. I remain calm even with the pain in my neck and shoulder. I lift my head and see my bike lying on its side covered in dirt. Tentatively I stand, find my footing and lift my bike. I assume I will walk it home, but after a hundred yards I climb on. Gingerly I steer down the trail.
When I arrive home, I ask for guidance about treatment for my injury. My shoulder hurts when I move my arm, but I can move my arm, so it appears as though nothing serious happened. I see my acupuncturist, ice the soreness, rub lavender oil on it and swim to keep the circulation going. With the Beloved I revise my feelings toward my neighbor so that once again I see her as a beautiful soul working through her tendencies, just as I am.
But what stays with me is the feeling I had while sitting on that pile of rocks with my head between my knees, a joyous knowing that I am more than this physical body, and I can access love even in the midst of pain and fear.
The day before this crash, while wandering through the Santa Fe Farmers Market shopping and shooting photos of squash, apples and chile, I “accidentally” shot a selfie—a surprising image of what looks like my astral being, a truer version of me: lighter, brighter, unmoved by the dual workings of the material world.
If I ride a bike I will fall, if I love my heart will hurt, if I live in a physical body, it will die, but my soul never, ever wavers. It is steady, immortal, eternal.
It is Love.
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