I Am Breath

IceLakeMt

Guest Post: Kim Jakus

We’re back from a bit of a break on the blog. We are settling into life in Jordan, and in the meantime we’ll share some more reflections from the last eight months in India and Nepal. First, a few posts to wrap up our series from our trek.

We had the incredible privilege of having Kim join us for 2 months of our pilgrimage, including our time in Nepal, on the trek, and 2 weeks in India visiting a seed-saving farm in Northern India called Navdanya and a community-building project outside of Bangalore called Protovillage (more on those later). Here, Kim offers her reflection from our trek in the Nepali Himalaya.

Many days I have a mantra. To speak out loud what I want and claim that it already exists inside me. Often, it is: I am health; I am healing. Sometimes, I am strength; I am strong. Or, I am endurance; I endure. Today, as I move forward, hiking uphill, my mantra is I am breath; I am breathing. I listen. I breathe in:

The birds chirping, singing sweetly unseen. The more harsh caw-caw, caw-caw of the crow. The rushing river and gently gurgling stream. The melodic clanging of bells around the necks of cow and pony. The soft swish swing of her tail. Over time, I am distracted by my other senses. The ache in my right hip, a sore left heel, tension in my shoulders building from the weight of the pack. I become tired. The birds chirp, “Are you still there?” “Yes, I am still here.”

With a new awareness, the sounds continue to come in greater and greater waves. The hollow ringing of wind in my ears. The buzz of the fly. Despite the silence of the encroaching mountains, nature shouts and humanity replies. The greeting of “Namaste” spoken as we cross paths with one another. The chattering of Nepali girls, Indian music on the radio. The metal squeak of the suspension bridge. The occasional rumble of a motorcycle and less occasional grumble of a jeep.

I am Breath

It is only after many hours that I become aware that I, too, am sound. My mantra returns: I am breath; I am breathing. A barely audible inhale and a labored exhale. The swish of fabric on fabric with each step. With each step, the monotonous thud of hiking poles. The harsh crunch of gravel and the soft crunch of dry pine needles. The creaking of wooden planks as I carefully cross a precarious bridge built upon a boulder.

Darkness descending, deep within the clouds, nature echoes humanity with her own rolling rumble and grumble. The pitter patter of rain drops on my coat. The pace quickens. I am breath; I am breathing hard, steadily straining for air. Now, a labored inhale and a labored exhale. When thoughts of being warm and dry block out the sounds that have been my companions today, finally, gratefully, a pause . . . Enough for one day, rain taps upon the tin roof of the lodge.

In centering prayer, we repeat our mantra. I am breath; I am breathing. Invoking God to speak. I hear only the sounds around me. And the sounds, the noise – is prayer. A chorus rejoicing over creation.

 


We took a pilgrimage, not to a church or shrine or temple but to the mountains. For 23 days we walked in the presence of some of the world’s most breath-taking scenery in the Annapurna region of Nepal, completing the full Annapurna Circuit and a few side-treks. These are a few reflections written along the way, after hours and days of walking and breathing and sometimes contemplating.

 

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