Here is a thoughtful and curiously floating short story by one of our volunteers, Fiona Taylor.   It is a story that I found to be very effecting, as it sort of slid from the introverted and gentle world of meditation into a much more brutal world of reality.

Anyhow, here it is… read it an let us know what you felt about it if you would.

Still Strength.

The dreamy voice of the meditation app said find a comfortable place to sit, so she took a chair to her favourite spot on the deck outside the kitchen door. From here she could look out over her garden with the mountains in the distance defining the border of the small, farming valley beyond. It had taken a long time to improve the soil around the house after the builders had left it barren and compacted, but now it grew roses, daisies, and salvias alongside seasonal vegetables and herbs for both the kitchen and simple home remedies.

Sitting here, content with the progress she had made, she liked to think about Isabella Joyner, a pioneer woman of the district who, after the death of her husband, ran her cattle and dairy alone, with only the help of her mother in caring for the house, her infant son and the workers.

Thinking of Isabella’s obvious hardships in managing one of the state’s first pastoral leases made her feel like she could cope with the few difficulties in her own life. Isabella often drifted into her mind as she meditated, offering words of wisdom or advice on whatever was troubling her that day.

It had been 2 months since she had taken the psychologist’s advice and started to meditate and it was beginning to get easier; to be still, to focus on the breath, and calm the ever-present anxieties. The app she had downloaded offered many choices and she had been working her way through the calming anxiety series to mixed effect.

Maybe today I’ll try somewhere different to meditate, she thought, and see if that helps to deepen my practice.

Looking around her much loved garden she decided on a shady spot under the large Kurrajong tree. With its strong straight trunk shaped by decades of dairy cattle stripping it of its lower branches, it had always calmed her with its gentle but robust stability. Even its canopy, which listed heavily to the north east, was evidence of its resilience against the wild south-westerly winds that could tear across its solitary hilltop location. Buran, she had read in the local paper, was what the Aboriginal people had called this area, place of wind.

They certainly knew a thing or two, she thought, Buran told you more than Mt Samson as a name.

With that thought she settled in her chair in the shade of its outstretched branches, closed her eyes and began her meditation.

Bring your attention to the breath,” the calm voice of the teacher instructed.

Feel the cool of the breath as it enters your nostrils”, she gently guided, “and the warmth as it leaves.”

Feel the breath spread through your body with every inhalation, and relaxation deepen each time you exhale, slowing and lengthening with every cycle.”

Just as she was falling into the rhythm of her breathing, the wind began to pick up and started to swirl through the leaves of the old Kurrajong. Momentarily distracted, she directed her thoughts back to the breath as she had practised over the last 2 months.


Flow…………Let Go

The wind continued to increase its intensity as if straining to catch her attention. Whistling through the branches the leaves rustled and whispered.

I can hear them whispering to me, she thought, distracted once more.

Again, she tried to redirect her attention but this time the leaves would not be subdued. The whispers now sounded more like pleas, like cries of pain, of grief. A shrill keening that passed through the Kurrajong and swirled around her, encompassing her in its sorrow and unsettling her deeply.

Eventually, the voice of the meditation instructor broke through the wailing of the leaves and reminded her to gradually bring herself back to the room or wherever she was seated. She stretched her fingers and toes, her neck and shoulders, and slowly opened her eyes. Moving back into the shelter of the house, she hoped that the sounds and feelings that had shaken her would now begin to die down along with the wind.

She awoke the next morning, still with a deep sense of disquiet. Whose cries had she heard and what did they mean? The sounds of lament still singing in her mind, she couldn’t settle herself to any task. Eventually the restlessness drove her to seek out her trusted seat of tranquility within the library. Usually the solidity of so many books and the company of strangers that she didn’t feel the pressure to converse with, brought her comfort and soothed her ragged nerves. But today even here, she was unsettled, roaming from room to room until she found herself in a section of the library that she had never entered before. It was different from the other rooms, containing seats in circles instead of lines or squares, pictures and stories of Aboriginal histories painted onto the walls and her eye was particularly drawn to the map of greater Brisbane etched onto the window overlooking the river. She recognised the name Buran inscribed in the north of the map indicating several Bora rings and ancient pathways traversing it. In large letters the word Garumngar was written across this section.

Can I help you?” asked a calm voice from behind her.

She turned to see a friendly middle-aged woman, sipping tea from a mug with I See Deadly People emblazoned across it, and a name tag that indicated she worked in the library.

Oh, yes please” she responded gratefully, “What does Garumngar refer to?”

That is the name of the first people who lived there and they were the custodians of that land.”

Do we know what happened to them? Have they died out? I’m from that area and I haven’t seen any Aboriginal people living there?”

Well you wouldn’t really say died out. Here, here is a history of that area. It will give you some idea of the battles and skirmishes that were fought between the graziers and the Aboriginal people. It wasn’t all smooth sailing you know. The Garumngar people wouldn’t have understood these strangers on their country and all the fences they erected. The farmers, of course, took to defending, what they thought of as their land, with guns and many aboriginal people were killed” the librarian explained as she handed her a slim book to read.

She found a comfortable chair and finally settled in to read.

That first book led to many more, a deeper understanding of this place, that she was trying to connect to, and eventually to a desire to just listen. Her usual meditations had taught her to let go of attachment to worrying thoughts or past or future events but she was now feeling the need to become more aware of her present. Scrolling through the list of meditations she clicked on the sensory mediation

Maybe this one will be what I need, she thought, not really knowing what it contained.

She sat herself on the ground under the Kurrajong, this time with her eyes open and waited for the instructor,

Feel the ground that you are sitting on… is it hard, is it soft, is it rough or is it smooth…? Feel the air surrounding you… is it warm, is it cool, is it calm or is there movement?”

She sat and quietly focussed her mind on what she could feel, followed by what she could see. Watching the long grasses dance in the wind, a variety of birds flitting into view, searching for food or playing in the airflows, ants crawling past, scurrying back and forth carrying finds much bigger than themselves, the branches of the trees swaying in the breeze. She noticed the fruit just beginning to swell, and the bees that buzzed around the blossoms that remained. As time passed, she was guided to move her attention to what she could hear

What is the first sound that you can hear?”

Birds twittering.

Now let go of that sound and deepen your listening.”

Rustling of the grasses.

And release that, are there deeper sounds?”

The whispering of the leaves again!

This time however, as the leaves began to fall from the tree she heard the happy voices of women, laughing and chattering. Although she couldn’t understand the words that they spoke, she felt a peace and a comfort as if she was just one more in this strong female community. As she looked around, the fallen leaves had formed a delicate ring around her. Feeling safe within this circle she could finally truly relinquish herself and listen to her present. The voice of the instructor had long left her to continue in her own time and it was only a growing numbness in her legs that prompted her to move, such was her contentment in this stillness.

Moving back into the house, her solitude no longer felt like the escape it once was. Instead, she now missed the voices of the women, the quiet strength she derived from their presence, from feeling connected to something, or someone again.

Hi Mary? Yes, it’s me. Yes, it has been a long time. I was wondering if you and Anita would like to come out for a visit?

So, there it is….   A peaceful and thoughtful story I hope you will agree, and one that gives a different perspective to our small Mount Samson (which I gaze upon every day here at home).

If you enjoyed this story, please do leave a comment below to tell others how you found it.

One Response

  1. Loved it… educational (always wondered where the suburb of “Joyner” got it’s name… and the aboriginal history was fascinating), inspiring, and thought-provoking… wow… Well done Fiona!!

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