A curl of blue-grey smoke climbs lazily toward the star-filled sky. My lips make contact with the well worn pipe stem. As I begin to draw on the stem, the glow reflecting from the bowl onto my thumb, lets me know that the fire within is healthy. The warm bowl guards my hand against the crisp evening air. The heat from the ash feels good. The hot flavor washes across my tongue. It tastes sweet, tart and bitter all at once. The pungent aroma snakes up my nostrils. The smell is friendly and warm. It reminds me of other nights in other places. As I pull my mouth from the stem a few tendrils of smoke escape into the moonlight. After a pause to relish in the experience, a ring of smoke rises gently from my mouth. It floats skyward. A moment later a blue-grey arrow shoots up through the ring. The arrow mushrooms beyond. The ring widens and begins to dissipate into the night.

     The sweet assault on my senses soothes the frustrations of the day. Worries and irritations float away on a thin rising column. They are replaced by peaceful relaxation and a warm feeling of contentment. Each inhale seems to draw me further into a state of mellow solitude. With each exhale comes more relaxation as my tensions are expelled on a smokey jet.

     It is a time of contemplation. It is a time for prayer. It is a time of thanksgiving. A time to enjoy and reflect on the good things in life. A time to appreciate those things that we have and give thanks. Far too often we ask for things and far too seldom do we take time to thank the Creator for all that is done for us. This is also a time to listen. Listen to the crickets chirping in the bushes. Listen to the wind moving gently through the leaves overhead. Listen to the yapping of coyotes in the distance and the whippoorwills one tree away.

     I pull again on the stem. A billow of sweet smoke rolls skyward. It swirls across the first quarter moon and then disappears. I truly am grateful for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me. I have good health, a wonderful wife, a nice house, a good paying job, and my beliefs in a greater power. Every new day is special because it is different and has its own surprises to offer.

     Far too soon the bowl is empty. It begins to cool in my palm. I carefully scrape the inside of the bowl to loosen the remaining contents. I rap it gently on the heel of my other hand. The leftover ashes and unburnt mixture fall to the Earth. They came from the Earth; it’s only natural that they return there. The pinholes of light in the night sky beckon me to take one more long last look before going back inside. A smile crosses my face as I say goodnight to the spirits.


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