I had forgotten the Afghan mountain spirit

The wars within and without had spun me into a hurry,

a hurry to do what, to accomplish what?

I had forgotten the mountains of Afghanistan until,

going up her untamed slopes encroached by an expanding cemetery,

I asked Sami and Sarwar, as a cold breeze blew my voice away,

“Is the mountain a living or non-living thing?”

The clouds were presenting shadow shows with the sunlight,

as the mountain peaks loomed above hibernating shrubs,

and graves previously and newly dug for grieving families.

“Alive! The mountain is living,” they both replied.

The earth’s seismic sway had served up her prominent art

for us to gaze and tread upon,

for us to reconsider our obsessions

to extract, exploit and kill on her watch.

02 The mountains are alive

During a team building circle two weeks ago, we had thought,

“How could we manage our fears, stresses, anger, sadness…?”

‘Go touch Nature, let her caress us, and calm us’

was one way in which Mexican activists coped.

Off and up we went,

a celebration of the previous day’s trickle of snow.

We were braced for the winter freeze,

and wondering if the mountains had something for our uncertain steps.

I reminisced how years ago, away from Kabul or any city,

I was living amidst the mountains of Bamiyan.

There, whenever I was tired,

I would walk out onto the raised tectonic plates…

03 the earth receives our graves

A middle-aged grave-digger told us

that he dug several graves every day.

“They fill up quickly,” he stated, and asked for the orange crates we had,

probably to use as fuel.

Under or on the ground,

the earth holds us, receives us and sustains life.

“If anyone is drowning with too many thoughts,” Barat reflected,

“he or she can come here. The thoughts will settle.”

The hills generate a magnetic field that

balanced our negative and positive energies,

not to make us ‘neutral’ people,

but to electrify us,

drawing us into their hems, folds and decisiveness.

04 We are water beings

Some tried to reach as high as they safely could,

while others were content just to be elevated

above the smog of Kabul,

the human-driven pollution of self-harm.

Sarwar held up a handful of snow as if to drink the crystals,

snow that provides Afghanistan with most of its water.

Sarwar understood that we are really 70% ‘water beings’,

we’re not as solid as we think we are.

Together with other volunteers, camaraderie meant that

they threw snowballs at me as I was filming them;

water interaction and rejuvenation!

05 the mountains within us

The mountain seemed to have shared its resolute-ness,

because, returning to our homes at the end of the day,

the youth seemed to have embraced the mountain into themselves,

alive, appreciative and aware.

Sitting, their arms danced in wild unison,

acknowledging one another’s emotive presence,

caring for how tough life has become for everyone,

and remembering how we ought to always consult

our other mother;

Nature,

our earth.

01 I had forgotten

06 our strength amidst trouble

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