rituals: training (kari wilhite).

Friends, like I’ve said, treat of treats this week in #rituals FLASHMOB week. Let me then introduce you to Kari Wilhite from Dreadlocks and Goldilocks. You may remember Kari’s words from the 2014 series, “The Little Things.” She joins us again today with another story, first told through prose and then through poetry. I’m so grateful for those dreamy, poetic types who teach me to pause and sit with rhythmic words. 

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For years my husband and I have dreamt of hiking on the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park.  It is a 95 mile round-trip trail with endless ups and downs resulting in a cumulative elevation gain of more than 20,000 feet.  There is actually a lottery system to get approved to get a back-country pass for this trail. Well, we didn’t get in! We plan on finding another trail to traverse, though not the one we were really hoping for. And we’re okay with that. Nonetheless, I continue to train.

And isn’t it really about the transformation in the training process anyway?

So, I train.  I put on my backpack after the kids leave for school.  I have filled it with bricks from a patio project gone-bad.  They aren’t the most comfortable, but this adventure isn’t meant to be.

In this piece I reflect on the ritual of going into the woods behind my house. I do this about 3-4 times a week.  I am gone for anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes.  It is a very therapeutic ritual in solitary training for my body and my spirit.

And the one thing I am learning: even in rituals there is something always new to see, if I’m just willing to look, listen and learn.

I strap them on
they feel real nice
in awkwardness
I fling the pack
heavy on my back
out the backdoor I go
this ritual: what will I learn today?

up the paved road
behind my house
and spy my trail-head
hushed, a tad eery
this ritual: what will I see today?

these back woods
aka dirt-bike paradise
perfect pot-smoking oasis
garbage dump for the careless
it becomes spiritual
more than physical
almost immediately
as I see signs of
messy humanity
in the middle of the forest
this ritual: what will I come across today?

I see debris
of broken-down motorcycles
relationships gone-bad
scattered papers of:
a pornographic magazine
junk-mail advertisements
a beautiful wedding invitation
a plastic children’s book
how did all this get way out here?
this ritual: what will I think of these things today?

my heart breaks
as I see these things
in this ritual
I whisper a prayer
I cry inside at the
madness of it all
as I’m out in these woods
this ritual: how will I respond to it today?

I get giddy with joy
for I see a baby owl!!
I get hesitant with wonder
for I see a snake up ahead!
I get apprehensive with fear
for someone told me
a bear, a cougar have been seen
I dare not telling many about this
this ritual: am I taking too many chances today?

in this ritual I not only
train my legs
my lungs
but my love
and I return home with
reminders of this ritual
and how each time
it speaks something new to me
a rock
a piece of garbage
a wedding invitation
a heavy stick
a photo of a snake
a child’s toy
a magazine page
even a muffler off an old car

SubstandardFullSizeRender-4Kari lives in Bonney Lake, WA with her husband (who happens to be a pastor) and four children (2 teen boys and 2 elementary school girls). She loves to write poetry, encourage women in their stories, dance with the disabled and high-five the vulnerable. And, oh man, Cara again: did you not find yourself enveloped within Kari’s words? I think poets must have a special place in heaven. Leave her some love below!

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