Koan # 10. Winter Meadow, A Place to Grieve

For me, the natural world is a place of healing & freedom. It is messy, ever changing, and holds so many spiritual lessons. I run to the woods when I’m sad…I hike through the woods when I’m excited to be alive.

Recently, our Lola Mading (Grandmother Mading) crossed-over to the Other Side. She was 94 years old and is very much missed. This prose-poem/koan rose up inside me on one of my morning tromps through my local woods near the DesPlaines River in Illinois.


Lola is dead.

Snowflakes float, drift, gently fall

onto the bare, white meadow

where bootprints, ski tracks,

deer hooves, dog paws

make trails of gray spots

across frozen ground.

What signs of ourselves do we leave behind?

Lola Mading sang with her barkada,

in pointed straw hats,

a posse’s hymn of planting rice,

blazing suns, and stooped backs,

they who never relished snow.

I let memories of her wash over me

as my boots crunched ice.

Snow kisses the ground,

a hush, a silence,

shrouding runners’ footprints.

Soon, all will be covered —

and can we say we really lived?

My lola, grandma glittering

in gold and black gowns,

cheap fabrics richly sown

by her own gnarled hands.

The footprints she leaves behind

cannot be seen.

They show a woman,

two steps to the left,

a front hop,

skip, wiggle, groove

shaking at her Senior Prom

to make tracks as fast as she can.

Snowflakes glitter,

crystalline white and blue rainbows,

across the expanse of the meadow.

White-tailed deer, chocolate Labrador,

Cooper’s hawk, Filipina American woman,

Snow will cover all of our tracks one day,

making room for new life

each change of season.


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