I focus on the earth beneath my bare feet. My heels as they strike the ground. The balls of my feet and my toes propelling me forward. The sand on the path is mostly dry and fine, a pale brown, casting a light dust across the tops of my feet. At one small spot, in the shade near the lagoon, it is dark and muddy, squelching under my soles. The earth is cool and solid, comforting in its very ‘thereness’. The wooden slats which form the bridges across the lagoon are surprisingly smooth. I walk more carefully here as they are uneven and the spacing between the slats does not make for a comfortable gait.
We wind our way further along, fallen leaves carpeting the path. Sunlight dappling through trees, insects buzzing, birds calling, a light breeze swishing the leaves. The path climbs steeply as we near the beach. Quietly we walk along the ridge through vegetation so thick we can barely see the sea beyond. A small space opens up and the path disintegrates in an equally steep descent toward the beach.
The sand on the beach is coarse, massaging my insteps. Nearer the water it is cooler and damp. The waves and the sand create a rushing symphony, an audible expression of ebb and flow, the universe breathing, contracting and expanding. The rocks on which I’m standing are covered with velvety algae, gently caressing underfoot. The ocean collides with them, bathing my feet in warm water, splashing up against my lower legs. It’s easier to breathe in wide open spaces. The sky above is a pale autumn blue. The sun warms my skin while an ocean breeze cools me off. The give and take of the universe made tangible.
I feel the dry mangrove sand slip under the balls of my feet as I step unsteadily up the steep bank from the sea shore back onto the forest path. Crossing the wooden bridge once again, my nose is assailed by the musty, estuary smell of the recently flooded lagoon. The tide is low and the black mud of the lagoon floor is visible in parts. Back in the forest I become aware of the million shades of green surrounding me. Greens so pale they’re almost white, and dark, rich greens lush with life and energy. As I walk on in silence I swear I can feel the earth thrumming beneath me and the life force pulsing through the plant life. Tree branches bend overhead creating a tunnel; cool and shaded, the breeze blowing more intently as it’s funnelled through this space. Dirty white mushrooms have taken hold in the darker and damper safety of fallen tree trunks.
It occurs to me that each leaf is unique in its shape, size, and colour and I am momentarily blown away by this realisation. How have I not considered this before? Every single leaf on the entire planet has its own design. No two leaves have the same shape. Their colours don’t match exactly. Their sizes, even on the same plant, are diverse. Much like us. Much like us.
I am at once separate from and a part of the universe. I feel deeply connected with the creative energy so evident in this place. God is here. You can hear him in the birds calling to each other. You can feel her solidly underfoot. He is the crashing waves, the autumn sun over heard. She is the wind rustling through the tall reeds lining the banks of the lagoon. They are the intricate and elegant attention to detail in leaves, no two made the same.