The following story was written by our dear friend, Anne Hendler, after she spent time at the Repose exhibition. This is her beautiful gift, and I am so happy to share it with all of you.
“Come in!” he said, opening the door wide. Rays of sunlight streamed in through the windows, bouncing off the hardwood floors and giving the room a soft, warm, welcoming atmosphere. Their eyes met and she smiled, entering the room without hesitation.
In the corner of the room, next to the picture window, was a table. It was a simple table, made from a cut tree – a stump that seemed to grow right out of the floor was covered by a large round surface, perfectly smooth but retaining the whorls of the tree it once belonged to. She reached out and touched the soft wood. It was warmed from the sun.
They sat on the stools surrounding the table. They had wooden legs and were painted in many soft colors. He poured out steaming green tea into the ceramic mugs beside the tea pot. She drank in the steam, the tea, the silence. Coming here was not a mistake.
Perfect contentment. She began to notice more of the sunlit room. Soft light poured out of a door to the left. Peering through, she saw a garden. Well, not really a garden: it was wild, unkempt, beautiful. She stepped through the door and into the trees: walking slowly, listening to the birds’ songs. Birds sang in every tree. They built their nests where the boughs meet boles and sang joyously in the fresh spring air. Now and then the walker stopped to listen, to savor. The peace of the place was finding a home in her heart.
Through the forest she came to a wide river. More wonders awaited on the other side, but there was no hurry. She walked along the wooden pier. Someone had taken this path before. The sound of the water caught her attention and she stopped. She saw a chair atop the pier, wound with wicker; someone’s favorite spot perhaps. She sat on the pier and dangled her feet, letting the water rush over them. The water laughed as it caressed her feet. The joyful river, ever-changing, taught her how to sit and listen.
Finally she climbed into the little rowboat. She let the river take her as she lay back and watched the land go by. She slept in warmth under the starry skies. The river deposited the little boat on the opposite shore, near the sea. The cries of seagulls woke her. They sang of coming summer, of fish, of playing at the water’s edge. She smiled and stepped onto the land.
Beside a rock on the beach she found two soft bags. The necks had been tied with soft leather but now hung loose. The sides had been buttoned up tight, but now a few buttons were opened. Inside she found flasks of water and small bags of nuts, berries, and bread. Walking food. Lovingly she buttoned the bags and gently retied their leather cords. Then leaving the bags resting comfortably on the beach in the sun, she started inland to explore.
Soon she was walking on a grassy path with wildflowers all around. She breathed in the scent of the flowers and sat down in the field to be part of the experience. A snake charmer sat in a trance nearby and she watched him for a while. He played piri with skill and from a large white vase with a wide body and a narrow top – big enough for a man to sit down inside – a green and white snake danced and swayed. As the man played the snake nuzzled his cheek. The song quieted and the snake sank down into the vase again.
Time to move on. Soon the path became a dirt road with fields to either side. A farmer whistled as he drove his cart from a field. It was an old-fashioned cart, a relic of a simpler time. The carriage consisted of a bed and a bench. The wheels were something to behold – painted soft greens and blues. Small ones in front and big ones in the back. They were handmade and love was carved into them. The farmer beckoned the walker and she rode in the bed of the cart down the dirt path to the farmer’s home. There were soft white clouds in the blue sky. The farmer served rice balls in a colorful pot with jagged edges.
Following the farmer’s directions the walker turned north. Soon she was in a deep forest. She spent a long while walking through it, touching each tree, feeling its story, its age, its memory. Sitting against a tree she slept. Before dawn she opened her eyes. Dryads were dancing in front of her, awakened by the energy of her love for the trees. As she watched the dance a picture formed in her head of a place surrounded with hills – the tallest hill at the center – where she would find a well of water, a garden full of flowers, a shelter with a hammock, and a welcoming return from the journey. Waking from this vision she set off once again.
The late afternoon sun shone on the shelter. She drank clear water from the well. Bending down among the flowers she blew them a kiss. Pink blossoms aloft in the wind. The air smelled like honey. She swayed in the hammock in the garden with the fragrant blossoms for a while. Then she returned to the sunlit cabin just on the other side of the hills.
“Welcome back! Have some tea.” And she did. With cream and cookies.
“What did you learn?” He asked.
“I learned how to look.” She replied. “I learned how to rest.”