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Beneath the surface

It was one of those late fall New England weekends. The trees were still flickering translucent flames of red, yellow, orange, and rust, and in the evenings there was that first chill knife edge of winter cutting through the air warning that it would not be long before the familiar landscape would disappear beneath a blur of snow. I left the city - that geometry of noise, concrete, and glass - and took a long train ride through small towns and farm country, where pumpkins lay around the fields like fallen suns. I saw wide vistas of sky, trees , hills, ponds, clouds. The friends I visited lived in a big white house that smelled of apples and burning pine logs, with neighbors always coming by to say hello.

Back from the house, through the woods, at the end of a rutted dirt road, there was a small lake, all glassy black and shimmering in the wind with dusky sunset light. I was alone. I swam slowly out across ripples of dark fire, beyond the shadows of pine and spruce. I swam slowly, as in a dream, through flames of fading rose and gold, beneath a sky that already quickened with starlight. I floated through that dark and shining water like a ship through time, the water cold and quiet - quiet, still, and dark, and overhead a great bowl of clear evening star scattered sky. The stars grew brighter. Then I dived way down, deep down into the dark deep heart of the lake, a quiet universe of peace and silence. Warm in the midst of cold, warm in the center of creation, free and alone and connected to all things, beneath me, the universe, above me, the universe, around me, the universe. In my very being, I felt an infinity of sky and the far turning of distant stars.

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Finally, after a time - an age of ice, an age of fire - after a long silence in the deep, I surfaced, feeling weightless, pure, and free, suspended in a new and timeless place. I floated in the sky, where there was now only a faint memory of sunlight. I stayed there for a while, just floating. One with the stars, all pure, celestial, new.

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