At the End of the Road: Gratitude & Grace
by Anne Silver
What blessing brings you to the end of the road? Perhaps you have met the community of friends that you have always sought, living the values that you hold dear. Perhaps it is the beauty of the interface between sky and magnificent mountains, the unpolluted air that heals your lungs and lets you breathe with a freedom to be treasured. Perhaps the wandering deer touch your longing for kinship with all life. Are you aware how much you love trees? Can you remember the first one you hugged? Are you grateful for their peace, for the protection they offer in summer’s hot sun, and the wood they warm you with in the winter?
Awareness and gratitude plant your feet in a way here that nourishes you and all the rest of the beings at the end of the road. Is it more than the spectacular natural beauty and an environment largely inaccessible to humans? We who actually live here—often at the cost of great sacrifice of comfort and security—know that we are lucky. “Good karma” a Tibetan lama said to me when he found out how long ago I arrived.
Good karma is the grace that keeps people here, for sure. Generosity is the m.o. of most of our neighbors. We cultivate good feeling and good karma by offering kindness and whatever talents we may have to the good of the whole. This and the ensuing gratitude cultivate an invisible aura that enhances the natural beauty we find here. As Mark Jacobi once famously said: “The angels are us.”
A great source of goodness here is the spiritual dedication and artistic creativity of so many of our residents. Many are living lives which contribute to the evolution of our planet. Our shops and our festivals give these creatives a chance to shine light into our evolving awareness as a species. I am always amazed to find how many people I don’t know live here, capturing beauty and hopefulness with skill and imagination. And many world-changers move invisibly in our midst. Do you sing as you walk in the woods? Perhaps you chant the Gayatri mantra or other chants at dawn and dusk? Are your prayers for the planet spilling over into all your activity? Each creative and devotional moment in our environment is contributing something to the Crestone glow, the grace that embraces us all.
Light plays with the clouds in the sky and sends shadows to lodge upon the mountain. Being present to these shifts in the mood of our place assures us that whatever dream we are living at the moment, we are so very blessed. Immersed in beauty, we experience a life we might miss in a crowded or busy environment. Eschewing the confusion of speed and distraction, we can settle into the grace of our place at the foot of unassailable mountains. We can stretch our understanding and our consciousness to embrace beauty and simplicity. We can even endure difficulties, pain and sorrow because we are not so distracted by whirling, buzzing, glaring and vibrating habitats. We participate in the unhurried calm that is Nature’s thought-free obedience to what is.
One grace of aging I am discovering is the dropping away of external preoccupations. Repeated ear blockages reveal that I have two pairs of ears! My physical ears take in words and information. Thankfully they can block out much of the confusion of misinformation and conspiracy so prevalent in the world. These ears are just not available to hearing it anymore. My other set of ears are the ears of the heart. They operate especially well in mind-stunning silence—the gift of our place that I most treasure. Everything these ears hear inspires love.
So many people here embody that love in lives of service. Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the Crestone Food Bank, the Crestone Artisan’s Gallery, the Crestone End of Life Project were started in response to local needs. People pitch in and help as they can. The first response to a crisis is often a meal that nourishes the body and the soul! And many of us pray for one another. In life-crushing circumstances the cushion of others’ thoughtfulness is literally a Godsend.
As the earth tilts towards the solstice Sun, we can celebrate the faithful glow extending the length of its daily sojourn in this full-hearted community at the end of the road. We might easily hear angelic voices resonating to the joyful gatherings of the solstice: “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All!” What a blessing to live at the end of the road, where the light of the human heart, like our sun, glows in every season!