In these times of fear and great unrest,
Of want and greed, injustice plain,
There is a twofold urge in each one's breast -
To run and hide, or ease others' pain.
I know you feel it, as well you should:
A daily tug-of-war inside.
So what of those who fled for good?
They who in solitude abide.
Are they right to run and save themselves?
Some clarity I had to find.
Could trees and rocks solve all that ails?
I had my doubts but I made up my mind:
The Hermit of Cold River I would seek,
Noah John Rondeau could tell me more
Of how he settled in crack and creek
Amongst the pines on that south shore.
For twenty-one years! Through depression and world war!
The Hermit of Cold River, population one,
Lived out his years amongst the stars,
and fish, and boulders; storm and sun.
I packed and sorted for a trek unsupported,
Through creek I splashed, over blowdown I did bound,
Until, as if a pupil transported
By fervent belief, the hermitage I found.
Noah's ghost stood up from his fire and lunch,
He greeted me with a warm smile.
I figured he had the omniscient hunch
And knew what had brought me all those miles.
I started to inquire about how he could run,
And leave an entire world behind,
But he held up his hand, his listening done,
And gestured widely, at all our eyes could find.
That seemed to be his answer,
So I thanked him and slunk away.
For the rest of my run I pondered,
And wondered if there was truly anything to say.
I know it's flawed, but it's my best one,
And it's brought me some peace as I scramble and seek.
This stanza stands as my lone lesson
From my visit with the Hermit of Cold Creek:
You may devote your life to salvation,
Whether your own or all the world's,
But one must consider the balance amongst
The silences as chaos unfurls.