Full Moon Cottage has been dressed for Christmas over the past week. Objects encrusted with memories have been scattered around the rooms, and spirits we love have been fully welcomed back into our midst, not just those of our parents, who are always with us, but all those characters and places that populated our childhood stories: great-aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends, teachers, janitors, cafeteria ladies, bus drivers, piano teachers and the neighborhood personalities who bordered the edges of our days. I can see the Park and Market grocery, and the ice skating rink, where tinny Christmas music blared as we glided round and round. I remember how Santa rode through town on a shiny red fire engine, so loaded with lights that I never stopped to wonder at the absence of his sleigh and reindeer. I never stopped to question any of the incongruities and obvious fallacies offered to us during the Christmas season. Every year, we were happily willing to be drenched in magic and readily surrendered our doubt to exist wholly in a world of fantastical impossibilities. Because they were true, at the heart level, where children seem to more easily live and breathe and have their being. I had a happy childhood, and at no time of year am I more grateful than during the Christmas season, when the flood of memories, visions, and smells mix with the magic of nostalgia, sparkle of winter, and the natural tendency to gather in towards light and warmth. For a month or two, I revisit those times and places that created me and allow me to treasure the present with greater depth. I’ve always loved Lent and its invitations to whittle away and purge in preparation for spring’s rebirth, but the rituals and traditions of Advent cheer my heart. They seem to counter and balance the season’s darkening and chilling environment so tenderly. The cinnamon, chocolate, orange, and anise smells of seasonal baking, the glitter of ornaments, the soothing and jubilant sounds of Christmas music, and the focus on the excitement of anticipation and joy: what could be better? So many spiritual traditions seem to center on light and gift in winter; it’s encouraging (“heart-centered”) that many humans get it all perfectly right once a year, anyway. I wish we could resist the urge to allow corporate marketers to dictate the meaning of this season to us and their attempts to drive people into greater frenzy and stress and spending, instead of slowing down, gathering in, cherishing each holy moment. The heavy burdens of pragmatic doubt regarding the magic of the world, the pain of self-judgments, and the accepted need to replace our innate value with things, things, and more things we must endlessly buy, may be set down; we did not need these rampant desires as children and certainly do not benefit from them as adults. Christmas helps us retrieve the gifts of childhood, if we listen. A friend posted on a social site that she’d enjoyed a four-hour lunch with an old friend: Just to read it made me hopeful and happy for both of them, but for all of us as well. I know they pushed back against demanding jobs and demanding lives to make way for this time together and yet did so, valuing friendship above tasks. So, for now, I abstain from the entreaties to constantly shop, and from what is called “news,” and instead rest in the Good News always coming, always here: we are made of Love, embraced by Love, and asked only to Love in return, until to Love we return and with Love we merge. And that is enough. And that is everything. May the deep peace of the season gift you with a warm heart, clear vision, and a community of family and friends–and four-leggeds–to see, hear, hold, and enjoy. We are called to be merry; let us do so, drenched in magic and readily surrendering our doubt. Love reminds us we already exist wholly in a world of fantastical impossibilities. Joyeux Noel!
The daily round has been crammed with life, guests, listening, and activity of late. How lovely it is to have a day open before me without a list or template circumscribing and defining its hours…just a blank page to fill as I am called…I think I’ll take the pups and my camera out to the trail and return home to make that cup of hot cocoa I’m always promising myself.
Tomorrow will be filled with preparations for our Thanksgiving weekend, and that, too, cheers my heart. There are few better feelings, for me, than the anticipation of joyful community with people and 4-leggeds I love.
And so, I raise my cup of cocoa and toast us all: May we be blessed with a peaceful and joyful celebration of all that inspires deep gratitude in our lives. May our patience and humor abound.
May we forgive ourselves of all those errors and lapses in love that arise from our humanity and so more generously forgive others theirs.
May we ease expectations and judgments of ourselves and others so as to better perceive the blessings waiting for us right now, right here, and may we be present to the lessons they have come to teach us about the ways we are infinitely loved.
May our willingness to isolate and name these gifts allow us to cherish them more deeply and share them more profoundly.
Dona nobis pacem.
Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life. ~ A.J. Cronin
Gratitude is so close to the bone of life, pure and true, that it instantly stops the rational mind, and all its planning and plotting. That kind of letting go is fiercely threatening. I mean, where might such gratitude end? ~ Regina Sara Ryan
Gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the cosmos. When we offer thanks to God or to another human being, gratitude gifts us with renewal, reflection, and reconnection. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight. ~ Joan Chittister
Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner
If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice. ~ Meister Eckhart
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude. ~ Denis Waitley
You have been given a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?” ~ William A. Ward
Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. ~ Doris Day
Gratitude is twofold – love coming to visit us and love running out to greet a welcome guest. ~ Henry Van Dyke
A long walk on a gray day in November can be a walk through heartbreak, through all the heartbreaks of your life, even those that haven’t happened but are yet to come.
Nostalgia, recollection, memories, loss: they all swirl like the leaves and slowly settle as peace returns and new patterns of connection and understanding rise. November’s invitation is to gently and deeply mine the gold of our lives. There is heartbreak, but so perfectly balanced by gratitude.
I wouldn’t call my November walks depressing; instead, they’re healing, gift, and necessary. My unconscious provides the mental video; it flips the scrapbook pages of my life and decides where to pause; I only attend, watch, feel. Walk and watch and allow what rises to be honored.
Any walk, any time of year can provide such healing, but November’s backdrop of rust and brown and black and fading yellows, and everything vital slowing and dying back, and all the animals gathering, burrowing, or leaving: it all seems to gently remind us of our losses and our own mortality, and to invite our own time of clearing and harvesting. What to hold, what to release?
Maybe it’s my Celtic ancestors’ love of wisdom and acceptance of sorrow and the ways I hear them calling to me in November, or the deep pleasure of sudden red and green wagons interrupting the monotonic browns and golds, or all of these and the veil of mystery clearly cloaking everything revealed, shimmering, as at no other time of year, but I’ve come to treasure the month and its pervasive atmosphere of spiritual retreat.
The circling world has returned me to the time of thin places and the Sacred has certainly permeated my past month, or perhaps age and effort have finally brought me to the place where the numinous is more apparent and the liminal invitations—to see thresholds into deeper ways of being—are more accurately and peacefully encountered. Of course, there are days I’m blind as a bat to the light surrounding me, and as out of touch with my spirit as I’ve ever been, but they are less, and since presence, listening, deepening, gratitude, and forgiveness have been qualities I’ve valued over material gain, I’m happy to examine my life periodically and discover if those traits I’ve treasured and quests I’ve set as worthy are being integrated into my life.
Maybe it’s autumn. There is something about its particular colors and quality of light that makes me more pensive than other seasons. It seems always to begin with a low-level anxiety, probably ancient, and I catch myself worrying if I’ve “gathered” enough to last a winter…and then the questions about precisely “what” I need to store and so be sustained come calling at my heart’s door.
Life review is a spiritual practice too often saved for the end-of-life journey. At that time, it’s a guided journey through life’s highs and lows, regrets and blessings, gains and losses, named by the one who is dying and explored deeply in order to bring greater peace and closure to the dying process. Rituals help ease forgiveness and augment gratitude, or opportunities may be revealed to heal wounds carried as painful burdens over a lifetime. I loved traveling the life review journey with my patients when I worked as a hospice chaplain, but often people are too weak, confused, or unable to complete the practice as they approach dying, and its benefits are lost.
And so I highly recommend we engage with this practice long before we face our final breath. A daily examen, a monthly meditation, or at least an annual dedicated time for reviewing our dreams and life goals, and whether the choices we’ve made are in alignment with our named purpose or will lead to imbalance, can help us live more fully and in tune with Spirit. And after the assessing, and emptying, comes the time of deep listening: what messages does Spirit bring to us for our encouragement and possible redirection?
Retreats can also help with this process, and so can a monthly meeting with a spiritual director. A friend of mine is currently writing her life Manifesto, and others have created Mission Statements to guide their journey…these are not carved in stone and can always be altered, but they serve a purpose in making their authors aware and committed to remaining spiritually aligned and awake during their time on earth. What, finally, is our Credo, and are we true to it?
Certainly, autumn brings me round to look again at who I’ve become and how true I’ve been to my gifts and spirit. The pull of the ego to conform, to “win,” to be the center of attention, to be perceived as successful by all the false measurements the world offers rather than the self-assessment I know after all these years will reveal the honest answers I need and treasure is relentless, but worth resisting. And every year, it gives me joy to see the path I’m on, the place I am, is where I’ve always wanted to be. Not that I have all the things I’ve desired, or perfect relationships, or a life without pain and disappointment, but that what I have is precisely enough and fulfilling.
So I give myself time to sit, to walk, to be alone and realign myself with those goals I hold dear. I note my success and forgive my errors, and surround myself with friends who treasure their own paths and tend their gifts. I recommit to offering back the best of what I have and look for ways to contribute to the world more of what I believe it needs to come into balance. I listen.
The worries triggered by the autumnal urge to gather and store ease as I relax into the awareness that my life is rich. The sky shines silver and the leaves glow, burnished bronze and gold, calling me forward into mystery. I embrace it, knowing my life invites my continued growth and unfolding.
My husband and I wanted a break. Together. After so many years together, there is little we want or need; instead, the best gift we can give each other is shared time, away from the rutted routines we walk each day. New views help to create new outlooks, and the shared imaginings we have for this slow life we’re co-creating can be stimulated and renewed by travel. The weather’s been warm and the fall color is blushing its way down the state, so we decided to take 4 days and head a bit north, to the state’s largest Cranberry Festival.
Wisconsin produces most of our country’s cranberries and festivals are held every autumn to celebrate the harvest. I’d read something about “1200 booths” participating at this festival, and thought this referred to artists and flea-market/antique vendors. I knew there was a cranberry-focused museum and bog tours, so it sounded like a perfect adventure.
We drove up the night before the festival opened and met other festival-goers when we checked-in to our hotel. “Oh, we come every year; you’ll love it!” they assured us. We woke up early to head from our hotel to the little town, Warrens, where it’s held. This is what we saw:
A tiny town crammed with thousands of people lugging carts around to booths that lined streets and sidewalks, and narrow, narrow “alleyways,” everywhere. Claustrophobic doesn’t begin to describe it, and the merchandise was largely made-in-China mass-produced schlock. Little art, no antiques. Disappointment…I could feel my anticipation swirling down and drowning in one of the numerous stomach-turning vats of frying fat preparing decidedly non-cranberry food.
It wasn’t a complete or epic fail: We appreciated a brief bus tour of some cranberry bogs and enjoyed the town’s museum, but then exited the noisy, packed town. Quickly.
Happily, this part of the state is rich in geological and environmental history. The almost 44,000-acre Necedah Wildlife Refuge, just a few miles from the over-crowded shopping spree of the cranberry festival, called to us.
When the “local” glaciers retreated almost 15,000 years ago, they left a vast, low-lying wetland, called the Great Swamp of Central Wisconsin. For centuries, Native Americans lived in this area, which they called “Necedah,” or “Yellow Waters.”
Then Europeans arrived, and their farming, which necessitated draining the marshes, cutting trees, and battling the wildfires which had long nurtured the prairies, eventually destroyed the natural landscape that had endured for thousands of years.
In 1939, President Roosevelt’s administration, through the Civilian Conservation Corps it established, reclaimed burned-out land, restored prairies, oak savannahs, and wetlands, and created the wildlife refuge. Among others, a restored whooping crane population is welcomed to its acreage each year.
We hiked along raised planked trails in silence, feeling cleansed and at peace. A lovely breeze carried the calls of geese, herons, eagles, frogs, and songbirds through the air. It was hard to believe thousands of people preferred what the “festival” offered to what was available at the refuge, but there you go.
The next few days we explored nearby lakes, rivers, sandblows, and the bluffs, mesas, and buttes that are actually former islands in Glacial Lake Wisconsin. We hiked around state parks and climbed for hours, grateful for glorious weather and views.
Sunday morning came too quickly, but we were able to ride into the sunrise and stop at Roche-a-Cri State Park to see the petroglyphs and pictographs of Native Americans, and those who came later. (Note the “A.V. Dean. N.Y. 1861” carving.) 300 steps up, and we had an “island view” that took our breaths away.
For us, vacations are times to “be” together, center our spirits, listen to our feelings and hearts, create new dreams. We like adventures and surprises, and generally don’t over-plan, but the Cranberry Festival that became an island vacation was completely different from what we expected. A perfect gift.
The turning, tilting earth has brought us around once again to my favorite time of year. The light is gorgeous and my spirit feels lightened in autumn as well. The world sparkles, amber and bedewed, as though newly dipped in honey and rolled in stars each morning.
The 4-leggeds and I go for long walks and sniff out miracles along the trail. One day, we pause to watch the sunlight piercing through the trees, another day, it’s spider webs clinging to the bridge, or dew on long grasses, or butterflies flitting around the purple asters. The lush viridity of past months and particular summer companions are preparing to leave our environment. Life cycles are shifting and the world feels more fragile, and therefore precious, in autumn.
One late afternoon, I watched as the garden glowed with sparks of gnats rising against the setting sun…autumn reminds me how magical and brief, how unique and delicate is a lifetime.
The garden continues to yield, though she’s growing tired from the energy spent to do so; still, tomatoes are collected and stored away, as are the herbs, peppers, squash, onions and carrots. Soon, it will be time to tenderly turn the plants back into their earthen bed, an activity that, like every ending, sobers the heart and invites contemplation regarding the sacred balance between loss and gratitude, planting and harvesting, life and death.
Like a squirrel, I tend to overstock the pantry and freezer this time of year, too, always ready for desserts that perfume our home with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla, or hearty soups, and wild rice stews. It’s time to bake yeast breads and savor the smell of wood fires and apples. Of all the year’s seasons, autumn most stimulates and satisfies sensuously, or so it seems to me. The air shivers with the pungency of damp decay spiced with wood-smoke, and the leaves color our world with scarlet, gold and orange. Like the chiming of cathedral bells, bird-call increasingly resounds. Geese, ducks, and cranes flock and honk, blackbirds chorus, and crows scold and complain throughout the day. Soon enough, winter’s icy astringency will erase and muffle, utterly. Now is the time to savor these bountiful smells, tastes, colors, and sounds.
Halloween decorations are making their way around the living room and dining room. A Wiccan friend tells me that, rather than taking offense at our Halloween witch figures, she believes crones are a fitting symbol for the year’s decline; hopefully, this is a time for rendering the year’s wisdom as well. I’m creating rituals for this…to sit with the movements and invitations of the year thus far, those both pursued and rejected. Who am I now seems a fitting question for autumn meditation, before planting the seeds of Who do I wish to become for winter’s incubation.
My husband is adjusting to the rhythm of the new school year and, before he returns home, I’m off to teach second graders in an after-school program. Ships passing, and then mooring back together for the 7 P.M. popcorn party that the puppies anticipate every evening.
These are ancient autumn rhythms for us, this rising to gather and store, and to continue crafting a life that matters, to enter the dance of diminishing light, and to notice everything precious and brief before the dark of night rushes in, colder and closer each evening.
Now is the time to be burnished by autumn’s golden light and hallowed by the season’s holy mysteries, honoring the gifts offered between the green life of summer and the austerity of winter. A time for counting blessings and letting them go, for gathering in and handing out, for storing memories, sharing stories, and gentling onward sacred farewells.
Blessed be, say my Wiccan friends, merry meet and merry part…and grateful be your autumn heart.
Nothing is glummer Than a cold in the summer. A summer cold Is to have and to hold.
~ Ogden Nash, Fahrenheit Gesundheit
It is ironic that on the hottest day of the year (September 10th!) I continue to harbor a nasty late-summer cold. We’re five weeks into another drought, and during the long, necessary hours of watering the gardens, it feels odd to be sneezing and taking breaks to greatly enrich the investments of Kleenex stockholders.
My voice sounds like a sheep crossed with a foghorn, and several bees and wasps seem to be lodged, circling and thrumming, in my head. It figures: a couple of weeks ago I smugly announced to Phillip how interesting it is that “I never get sick. Just never. It’s been years.”
It does seem, though, like the hours spent watering are also cooking the tenacious virus out of my system…More irony: What’s killing the garden is healing me.
It looked like we might avoid a drought this year. We enjoyed a temperate spring and bountiful summer, harvesting more asparagus, gooseberries, and cherries than ever.
The gardens seemed to be recovering so well from last summer’s horrendous months of aridity. But August and September have set us back again. We’re grateful that several gallons of tomato sauce are already in the freezer, but the grass is dying back, the trees and wildlife are suffering, and there are more of both than we can care for, thoroughly.
So I’ve begun to blow a bit cold on gardening, too. I’m willing to plant, weed, and tend my gardens for hours, and have, for 50 years, starting with a tiny flower patch my father and I prepared for my first garden. (Moss roses, bachelor buttons, zinnias and marigolds: A gardener is born.) But I have to admit that the past two summers have robbed me of the rewards previous years have afforded. I used to feel the joy of midwifing a nursery full of thriving greenery, blossoms, and food; now, I feel like a full-time hospice worker once again: Who might die today?
The long hours that formerly yielded deep peace and contentment are leaving me feeling, well, forlorn and bereft. I miss the partnership of Mother Nature; we used to co-create so happily together, though I understand her abandonment after decades of maltreatment and abuse by beings who should know better.
Still, there’s a garden in the front yard that needs to be overhauled, and I can’t help but get a little excited about planning its design…all the plants could be drought-resistant, and irrigated wisely.
Maybe I need to keep working at it, showing Mother Nature my intent here is earnest and my commitment faithful; maybe that’s the only way both of us will heal and find each other again. Isn’t true love always renewed in a garden?
Now, where are those garden-design books?
(See Ogden Nash’s entire whole poem here.)
A Lazy Thought
There go the grownups
To the office,
To the store.
Don’t grow up
It takes a lot
~ Eve Merriam
All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
Where are you hurrying to?
you will see
the same moon tonight
wherever you go! ~ Izumi Shikibu
Laughing with somebody till the tears run down your cheeks. Waking up to the first snow. Being in bed with somebody you love. Whether you thank God for such a moment or thank your lucky stars, it is a moment that is trying to open up your whole life. If you turn your back on such a moment and hurry along to business as usual, it may lose you the ball game. If you throw your arms around such a moment and hug it like crazy, it may just save your soul. ~ Frederick Buechner
I get so preoccupied with the details and pressure of my schedule, with the hurry and worry of life, that I miss the song of goodness which is waiting to be sung through me. Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.
We are naturally reverent beings, but much of our natural reverence has been torn away from us because we have been born into a world that hurries. There is no time to be reverent with the earth or with each other. We are all hurrying into progress. And for all our hurrying we lose sight of our true nature a little more each day. ~ Macrina Wiederkehr, Source: Radical Grace, the Center for Action and Contemplation
Hurry, hurry has no blessing. ~ Swahili Proverb
In the garden,
old steps forgotten
can be relearned,
a pause in your own dance
to witness and honor again
those lovers and opposites,
meant to be matched,
who meet and feed,
each upon the sweetness
of the other
in open abundance and joy.
a wheeling reel of life—
giver and receiver,
now the flower,
now the bee,
then the flower’s seed
Bow, drink, feed, love.
Or god; perhaps they are the same.
by the lover in you who,
seeing Love’s circular dance,
loves the world better…
then turn again,
sweetness and sustenance.
the dance goes on.
Bow, drink, feed, love.
Or god; perhaps they are the same.
Our summer has blessed us with a holy balance that we found it very difficult to maintain last year. The difference in our energy is profound, substantial, and named as gift.
Hot and muggy weather has been moderated by temperate; rainfall has been received and followed by aridity; days and evenings filled with friends and activities have altered with times of silence and stillness. No great or monumental changes have occurred in our lives, but transformations have, of course, been ongoing, and we acknowledge that the anchors we use to steady and focus our attention can at any moment be lifted to allow for sailing with those currents always carrying us home, beyond one now to the next.
It is an ordinary time of picnics and gardening, of art fairs and meeting with friends, of sitting with a good book and enjoying our 4-legged companions, of celebrating the exquisite good fortune of being alive and finding each other and being well together in spite of our impediments, frailties, and the dreams we’ve let loose like so many colored balloons floating away through summer-blue skies. All is well within the boundaries of what, actually, is.
It is lovely to arrive at a place and time that offer both presence and reflection, hunger and satiety, desire and its fulfillment, all in an even flow of moderation. And although we know that life’s fierce tempests will once again tumble our minds ahead of our steps, that grief and regret will make their entrances and speak their lines through our hearts, and that this soothing rhythm may suddenly jangle into jerky syncopation, perhaps some sense of this deep peace will continue to whisper its blessing and steady our spirits when it feels as though the ordinary has departed and our hope seems to hang again on the promise that all shall be well.
I hope we’ll retreat to this time and place, so as to recall we’re always circling the still point, and our proximity to peace is driven more by our receptivity to the miracles shining through the mundane and the willingness to discover the poetry hidden in the prosaic than by the perceived drama of external events and characters. I believe we’ll again be blessed to rest in the center if we can recognize the sacred balance offered by the ordinary.
We need to find ways to lift the moments of our daily lives—to celebrate and consecrate the ordinary, to allow the light of spiritual awareness to illuminate our days. For though we may not live a holy life, we live in a world alive with holy moments. We need only take the time to bring these moments into the light. ~ Kent Nerburn, Small Graces
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought; I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail. ~ Herman Hess
This week the daily round has circled through a sensuous loveliness, an embrace of the colors, patterns, sounds, and fragrances of summertime vivid in both their familiarity and uniqueness. Along the trail, the milkweeds’ heady perfume makes the pups and me dizzy on our walks, and it mingles so perfectly with the birdsong, the buzz of bees and hummingbird, the sunlight dancing across the water, and the explosions of Matisse colors in the gardens that we return home silent and rather drunk on the surfeit of incoming stimuli. Too much of a muchness makes us swoon.
A few years ago, Phillip added a small deck off the end of the house that confines my writing desk. This deck borders the owls’ white pine woods and overlooks the back gardens and river, but gently so, as it’s screened by an adolescent maple tree. The houseplants live there joyfully from May until we feel the breath of first frost.
The other decks dazzle visitors with the sun-fired summer world in all her splendor; this little deck invites me into a hushing stillness, and has become my favorite summer place to meditate, read, encounter the Sacred, and observe the miraculous in the “smallest special details,” those slices of life that offer mystery and delight in small and balanced measure, precious in their detailed minutiae.
Here, my senses are bathed but not drowned, and insights arrive peacefully, small blossoms that open slowly, tiny treasures that I can unwrap in my own time: The seeds of just one tree; the shimmering petals of one begonia, a small ant carrying his prey, a hummingbird quenching her thirst…each detail intricate and unique with the Eternal Mother’s artistry and love; each thing revealing its spark and reminding me that all life is eternal, precious, and unique.
Almost two weeks of hellishly high temperatures, thunderstorms, and the resulting steamy atmosphere have made the world around Full Moon Cottage a sauna. A Finnish winter in reverse. We dash outside to sear our lungs and open every pore, then run back inside to chill ourselves silly.
Nonetheless, despite sketchy weeding and deadheading missions conducted in haste while smothered in mosquito repellant, I seem to have kept the gardens happy. And at dusk, cloaked in conditioned air and holding glasses of chilled wine, we’ve enjoyed the seasonal spectacle of fireflies flitting about, seeking romance and union.
Every morning, I refill the birdbaths with fresh cold water, check the many feeders, and make sure all of our summer guests are tended. A kind friend sent me a wren house her husband built and we now have house wrens serenading us with their aggressively happy chirping.
Nights have been less pastorally soothing. Thunder and lightning have rumbled and crackled through most of the last week’s dreamtime. I can tell by the dark circles under our eyes that both of us need a long, quiet night. It looks like that may happen sometime between Sunday and Tuesday, when a dry, temperate spell is forecast.
No complaints. The rain has been welcome and the high river allows for canoe rides to continue. Other parts of our state have been flooded, and for many farmers, hopes pinned to a planting season and eventual harvest have vanished. Last year these were lost to drought and this year to flooding, a vivid reminder that we are still tethered to our climate and its health for our sustenance.
The chiggers that plagued my gardening for several summers disappeared completely during last summer’s drought, I expect from lack of food and moisture. I am made, utterly, of smells and tastes most delicious to mites; they’d completely ignore Phillip if he were lying nude in the garden and I stood beside him covered in armor. They’d head straight for the chinks in my metal and pierce my flesh with their nasty stylostomes, injecting enzymes that melt my cell structure into chigger malts. I’d hoped that between the drought and our lovely cold winter they’d disappeared for good, but discovered this morning that they’ve not only survived but are thriving…the confident human gardener, smug in her knowledge of where to dig and what to plant and how to improve the landscape, bustles outside to rearrange and redesign the earth surrounding her home and returns covered in itchy red welts, brought low by a voracious and nearly invisible mite.
Yogi Berra was right: It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility!
This month, I’ve been “working ahead,” so I won’t fall too far behind as I heal from a foot surgery that had been scheduled for this Friday. But, after a long talk with the surgeon this morning, I decided against the surgery, as it seems the procedure he now feels would be best would also be more complicated than we first thought. Since it is not-yet-necessary, I’ll continue to deal with the relative discomfort, for now.
I feel a bit like a ship that just missed an iceberg; all the engines have been thrown into reverse and I’m about to start forward again, but my heart is saying, “Wait.” My mind and spirit haven’t caught up yet. All the tasks I’d normally tackle are already finished, and all the speculations and decisions I’d cast forward around the weeks to come have suddenly vanished. Part of me was almost looking forward to lying on the couch with a raised foot, watching all the episodes of Game of Thrones and being cared for by my darling husband. But I also feel relieved that the riskier and more complex surgery can be put off, for now.
And now I can take time to smell the flowers, change my course from being so future-oriented to entering the present more fully, as I realize (again…sigh) I should have been doing all along.
I’ve also thought about all the people facing surgeries they can’t postpone; by contrast, my need to undo plans and schedules that my over-organized mind has arranged seems insignificant. I’m grateful for the time I’ve been given to wait and discern my course, and hope for less invasive procedures to be created.
So, I’m heading out on my bike to relax and let go of all the anxiety and calculations, the planning and imagining, the endless detritus collected when the calendar boxes are filled, circled and underlined…back to the blank pages and the healing openness of a glorious summer afternoon.
Peace to all those facing diagnoses and surgeries that can’t be removed from the calendar; may the sleepy green and fragrant peace of a summer afternoon surround their hearts and spirits, and bless them through their healing course to a new wholeness.
It’s that lovely, lovely time of year when the gardens have begun sharing their blooms and are so pregnant with the promise of more, that life feels lush indeed. The slugs are tiny and the Japanese Beetles haven’t yet arrived. We’ve hosted a multitude of the dragonfly called “Widow Skimmer,” and Monarch Butterflies are fluttering around the gardens here and there. The succession of blooms, from peonies to irises and poppies, continues, and it’s hard to believe how much delight I derive from this always-surprising flow of color and texture year after year. A lifetime of gardening certainly keeps one reliably childlike!
I’ve been checking my Baptisias every day; in addition to last year’s drought, they were devastated by Genista Broom Moths, usually found in Texas. The Baptisias have been my faithful garden anchors for 15 years with never a pest or disease and their suffering was especially distressing following the damage from the drought. So far, they’re egg and caterpillar-free.
Along the trail (which we’re back to traveling, now that the new bridge has been completed), the wild honeysuckles’ heady perfumes have given way to phlox and wild roses. The garlic mustard is back with a vengeance, but I’ve learned to keep it out of my own gardens by harvesting and blending it in salads: The best way to defeat your enemies may be to make them your friends, but I’ve discovered that eating them also works, at least in this case.
Phillip’s vegetable garden is planted, and daily watering is calling forth shoots and tendrils that make me dream of beans and tomatoes and all things delicious. We enjoyed a huge asparagus yield this spring, and the gooseberries, raspberries, and cherries are equally plentiful this year; within a few weeks, their fruits will be converted into our summer energy as well.
Little Murphy had a visit to the vet last week, and Clancy needed a visit the week before, so we’re grateful for our wonderful veterinarian and happy that the prescribed medicine is helping both heal from their diagnosed (minor) problems.
Phillip completed another school year and is remodeling a kitchen for a colleague this month. He received a lovely letter from an appreciative parent, not a common occurrence these days, and so, dearly valued for the encouragement offered.
Next Monday, I’ll celebrate my 58th birthday, and I’m scheduled for surgery on the 21st, so posts will be slow in coming for a while, but I’m hopeful the gardens will remain healthy and enhance my own healing.
Every so often, we reach these mysterious intersections of time and place that offer perfect peace, contentment, and comfort. Moments of enchantment that can last for days. Our hearts seem to say, “I know this place; it is my home.” I’m finally able to listen to my heart and detect, name, and cherish such times, which wasn’t always the case, and I know they will transmute into new days of discontent, discomfort, and less beauty. Their transitory “now-ness” makes them all the more precious. The river of time will continue to flow and carry my little “life boat” along to new adventures, times, and places…and some will feel, again, like home.
So I drink deeply and promise myself, again, that this time, I’ll keep this holy peace in my heart and carry it forward to the next “now-ness.” Whatever surprising flow of color and texture is offered, may our spirits rest in peace.
A Parent’s Letter:
Just wanted to take a minute to thank you for all that you have done over the years in teaching my kids. When someone asks, “Who is a good teacher in our town?” I think of you. Thank you for always putting up with my texts and in-person visits. Thank you for being patient with my son over the years and helping him out as much as you have. I am truly glad that he had a teacher like you who was willing to work with him so that he could graduate. I’m sure there were times that he shouldn’t have, but thank you for making sure he did. Best of luck to you in the next years of teaching…
We’ve been experiencing regular rainfall—so far—this past month, and that means the winds have blown from the southeast at times. It’s startling to gaze out the window and see the river flowing north, against the current, kind of a “what’s wrong with this picture?” puzzle until it’s named and understood.
I couldn’t help but see the metaphor this presented for the resistance, or blocks, we encounter on our journeys through life. Our minds, bodies, and spirits resist change, challenges to our status quo, surprises to our routines, and threats to the directions we’re headed, and our wiser companions (dead and living) consistently invite us to notice our resistance, name it, and move along.
However, I’ve not often encountered the idea that I should honor my resistance, be with it fully and unpack its messages with gratitude before setting out again. Prompted by the river’s seeming ease while flowing in either direction, I’ve been pondering the value of acknowledging my resistance and its partner, denial, with hospitality, rather than responding to them as unpleasant messes I need to scrape off my shoe, quickly purging them from my spirit while apologizing to the Universe for being such a dim-witted gob, before zooming brilliantly on towards enlightenment, unencumbered by such glaring hesitancy.
So many gifts and blessings on our spiritual—and emotional—journey seem to derive from an acceptance of “what is,” a constant adaptability and reframing that, ultimately, lead us to enter the unity of all, and join our energy with that of the Love/Creator generating reality, that I’m not sure why a more gentle handling of our reluctance to take the next step isn’t more greatly emphasized and kindly embraced. She who hesitates may sometimes be found. Discernment shouldn’t be about merely overcoming resistance, but about listening, in stillness, for its wisdom as well.
I’m not advocating Better Living Through Prolonged Avoidance. As a spiritual director, I know that a tight embrace of our denial ultimately leads to illness, a breakdown of the mental, physical, and spiritual health that nurtures our stability and growth. Long years of forcing our minds, bodies, and spirits to conform to beliefs, systems, relationships, and patterns that we’ve outgrown or that were never “true” to begin with causes us to project the shadows ever-outward. Refusing to recognize our complicity in hurting others or ourselves and declining to take responsibility for making peace and asking for forgiveness are forms of denial that are destructive. In a real sense, our health is dis-eased and we’re (often largely unconsciously) infecting the energy around us with our illness as well.
These shadows require a deeply honest encounter, often assisted and guided by a trained professional, for healing to be possible. Without this, we can’t and won’t even recognize and name the “monster” we’re denying to begin with, or our resistance to seeing it for what it really is, and the resulting diminishment of its power—from monster, to human, to only a facet of our multi-dimensional selves—is inhibited.
Instead, I’ve been pondering that initial “No, thanks” we offer to transitions or insights that have been forced upon us, or sometimes even those we desired, worked towards, or chose. Our behavior, practices, and patterns might regress to a time and place we knew to be “safe,” or we might reach for the ice cream instead of the yogurt, or indulge in procrastination rather than productively tackling whatever re-ordering is necessary to adjust to the coming (or already-assuming-residence) change.
We’re far enough along on our life’s journey to be aware that these responses indicate our resistance; we catch ourselves, and…
What then? Do we berate ourselves for back-paddling? Do we feel like spiritual losers and shame ourselves for not embracing transformation and gliding peacefully into the offered enlightenment without missing a beat? Do we call ourselves names other than Beloved?
I think we do, and too often.
Instead, I wonder if we should welcome and embrace our resistance as a necessary partner on our journey, a wisdom voice we ignore at our peril and an integral stage of authentic transformation. Resistance can offer a kind of respite, like winnowing through our possessions before moving to a new home, pulling off the road when we’re too tired to continue driving, or taking a “mental health” day to renew our spirits. It’s as though we’re saying, “I need to mend, or re-weave my tapestry here; I need to gather more information about where I’ve been and who I’ve become before I step back into “becoming” with mindfulness.”
Usually, after a day or two flowing north, the river shifts and runs true to her orientation. What I’ve noticed is that either way, she flows peacefully along; she doesn’t seem corrupted or disturbed when the winds blow her northward. Neither, perhaps, should we resist our resistance, but instead welcome the lessons it has come to share.
Guest Author: Finnegan the Cat
Hello again, dear reader. The human who calls herself my mother has dashed out once more to weed and mulch gardens between our current, intermittent thunderstorms. While I do not know precisely what these tasks entail or why they must be accomplished, I have seized upon her frenzied behavior as a welcome opportunity to once again share my wisdom with you.
This time, I do not address fellow felines, but seek to widen my ever-increasing circle of devotees by directly addressing humans and instructing you, from my superior vantage point as a rightly-adored member of the species felis silvestris catus, in the fine art of napping, something we cats know about and practice deeply and intensely.
My thinking has undergone brilliant revision: Earlier, I sought to aid my colleagues in the training of their humans (http://thedailyround.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/the-training-of-humans-by-finnegan-the-cat/), but hundreds of e-mails from eager students have informed me that their humans are so exhausted and ill-tempered that education and improvement pose challenges even the most diligent feline cannot surmount.
I deduce this to be due to humans’ lack of sleep, observing as I have that it is both a pleasure and spiritual practice you largely avoid. Thus, if I can successfully remedy your need and capacity for sleep, your training as better servants to cats everywhere can resume.
Using my siblings—and, of course, myself—as models, I will illustrate approaches to restorative slumber that you may not have previously considered or attempted. While some human scientists encourage napping as a method for recuperating one’s mind, body, and spirit, I instead encourage you to consider it as an art form, and the highest calling one might pursue, for true Art, in itself, is rejuvenating.
And, please, banish ideas of “power-napping” and other such obscenities from your vocabulary and mind. These are euphemisms used by “success-oriented and managerial” types to suggest a nap is something accomplished quickly and with the utmost strain, in order to achieve the most beneficial results regarding your increased productivity. (Their gain, your loss; such is capitalism, my friends, and believe me, you derive no nap-like benefits from buying into its tireless resolve to suck your body and soul dry…but I digress.)
I will return to my political ideologies in another post, but, for now, I must again emphasize that you eradicate such filthy terms and faux practices as “power-napping” from your mind and life. Instead, I would submit that the neophyte napper must accept that the fine art of napping requires sustained periods of self-accepting but resolute practice, resulting, one hopes, in up to 16, perhaps (I can dream) 20 hours of sleep every day.
Behold: a photograph of my mother “napping” in an automobile many years ago, captured by my father, who may have better used his time focusing on the road before him.
While I would hardly recommend a moving vehicle as the most welcoming spot to pursue one’s naps, we shall see that location is best designated through personal preference. At this time, mother’s method, as you can plainly see, lacked delicacy and the controlled “athlete in repose” image one aims to achieve. Still, for a beginner, there were aspects of her approach that might have encouraged a professional tutor of my distinction, but, sadly, her apparent need for a drool cup–an unfortunate lapse in mother’s style and form that continues to this day–made problematic the likelihood she would ever attain a true mastery level in her napping, a forecast many (many) years have proven true. Study and learn from this, dear reader.
Here, then, a Beginner’s Guide to Napping, today covering the basics of location, form, and duration.
Location: Sun-puddles are the finest places for napping, wherever they are found. Rugs, window seats, boxes, sinks, commercial cat-beds (if one must), and, of course, human beds are recommended, but please explore your unique napping preferences and be willing to experiment. One of my favorite places to nap is atop the clothing and blanket dryer when it is running full throttle, and Murphy (although I cannot recommend the general sloppiness of his postures, save for Pose #3; see following) often naps high above the living room, on top of the TV cabinet.
I would caution you to refrain from napping anywhere in the kitchen, especially on a counter or tabletop, as our mother (if her acknowledged odd behavior can be extrapolated to other humans) pitches a royal hissy fit when we dare to attempt this. I have responded with my keenest “Calm yourself, woman” glare to no avail, so have abandoned this location as acceptable. For now. (As I have referenced, she is aged and I will likely outlast her.) You may have better luck with your family members, or may live alone, so I say have at it, if your kitchen counter is calling.
Posture: This is where the true artist emerges. The first position I would suggest is the casual magnificence demonstrated here, by moi, in the Crossed Paws Pose. Note the peaceful maintenance of the head’s position.
As you progress in your art, you may attempt the following: Moving from position one, above, a yawn (still napping, of course) is executed, and then one drops, almost imperceptibly, to the “Perfectly Prone” position. A trifecta of nappage postures, as it were. Do not try this too soon in your learning; you are bound to be discouraged when you fail.
Another pose to master is to rest on one’s ventral side, casually, the One Paw Extended Pose. (Casual to the beholder, of course; one’s focus must be riveted.) You can see my attempts to teach Murphy (a.k.a., “The Ham”) are ruined by his relentless inability to focus on anything but the camera.
The third pose, however, resting one’s head like an infant upon one’s forward, sweetly-curled paws, The Neonate Pose, is one of Murphy’s specialties. It makes adult humans say, “Oh, how cute! How precious! How darling!” If one goes in for that sort of childish thing, this pose may be your favorite.
This cannot be forced, but rather demands elegance, the perfect coiling of the tail completing the circle, the head resting on all 4 paws…Mulligan comes close; when he is not licking himself, he can be a most surprising student in mastering what would seem far beyond his troubling intellect.
Sadly, the new sibling, Fergus, falls far short of the circle pose, but we are practicing diligently and daily.
Lastly, I would say a supreme pinnacle, a “mountaintop” you may want to hold in your napping dreams, is the Happy Family Nap Pose, which, as is plainly apparent in this photograph, my siblings cannot yet grasp. Here, I am almost at wit’s end trying to elicit cooperation in this most strenuous of poses. As you can see, Murphy has positioned himself far too closely to my posterior and then immediately fallen asleep. Synchronized sleeping is key in the HFP. Fiona and Mulligan are clearly seen to be out of alignment; in addition, Fiona is looking scornfully at the camera, while, again, Mulligan’s fascination with licking himself has robbed him of focus entirely.
Finally, I must address the duration of napping that a true artist would demonstrate. To aspire towards anything less than 10 hours would reveal one’s permanently amateur status. Begin, I caution, with the stated 10, and build up your endurance to the Mastery Level of 16 hours, and then 20 hours (the latter conferring the status of Supreme Master). I humbly admit I have achieved this level, and seek to guide my siblings towards similar perfection. Mulligan, if I can deter the licking, may do well. Fiona seems to be developing her own system of napping. We shall see: these secondary schools of form and content are so often drenched in inferiority; for example, consider Pantanjali and then Iyengar, if you catch my drift. The mind quickly turns from such blatant perversion. Perhaps Young Fergus, if he can vastly improve his form, may be most likely to succeed as the next Master, but he has years of practice ahead of him.
As do you, dear reader, so get to it.
When I was younger and my body, or mind, or spirit shared its weariness, my response was usually to resist such silliness and work harder. I suspect this was the equivalent of “leaning in.”
Now I listen attentively and grant myself Sabbath minutes, or hours, or days, or weeks—whatever is possible in proportion to the emptiness I detect—if these will restore my creativity and re-balance my energy.
I have spent years offering my creative energy to Full Moon and her gardens; it’s nice when I allow these places and spaces to gift me in return with their beauty and energy, allowing love to flow both ways and deep re-creation to restore me with peace and new insights.
Joy and gentle peace to you from Full Moon.
Four weeks ago, a man I didn’t know well but had reason to trust based on our past relationship (he was a department head in the Servant Leadership Program where I earned my Master Degree), called and asked to borrow money he would repay a week later, when his bank loan came through… He would drive three hours early the next morning and retrieve the loan, if I could provide it.
Several years ago, it seems, he’d left the university and started up a coffee-roasting business that was initially successful but now, apparently, not so much. The need was urgent, he said, to pay for a piece of German equipment being delivered the next day or risk losing another several months of business…
The story was convoluted and poorly-crafted.
To say the call caught me off guard is an understatement. Why would he call me, a former student living three hours away and a person he barely knew? Why wouldn’t his bank, or family, or friends, or former co-workers help him? All the intuitive bells, whistles, and alarms went off, but in direct conflict to the understanding I’d had of this person as an honorable man devoted to his family, his Catholic faith, and the teachings of servant leadership. How could it not be true?
I said I needed to talk with my husband and I’d let him know the answer that evening.
I shared the story with Phillip that night, fully reviewing my doubts and my perception that this man was in very deep trouble. I knew vital parts of the story had been withheld and I hadn’t probed deeply enough, possibly out of the sense this would embarrass the man, but more honestly because it would have embarrassed me. I knew it was risky, and the sum a large one, for us. I shared my intuition that we shouldn’t lend the money, but then discounted it based on my past experience with the man. How could he possibly lie, steal, or cheat? That wasn’t who I knew him to be. Things like that don’t really happen, not to me. Too Arthur Miller; too over-the-top dramatic. Too preposterous.
Phillip said, “It sounds like he needs help. I don’t believe the ‘German equipment’ story, but maybe it’s for a house payment, something he needs to stay afloat. We have to be willing to lose this money.” We hoped that the man would use it wisely and repay it, as he promised.
A month later, as expected, the man’s check has bounced a few times. He indeed lied (lied in deed?), and willingly took our money with no chance of repayment. Money we’d earned through hard work and saved through small sacrifices, one after the next.
I know this man has a wife with compromised health, a daughter in middle school whom he adores, and a business that must be horribly broken. I know he is desperate. I also know that when he taught the principles of servant leadership, he believed in them, and I cannot fathom what dis-ease has created the discrepancy.
I do not understand why he chose an unethical solution to his problems, or what fears and miseries have caused him to fall so far and turn his life into a Greek tragedy.
The experience has angered and saddened me, of course; it has made me twist and turn with the struggle to forgive someone who entered our lives and betrayed us, and, of course, it has brought forward the many-headed monster of money and its meaning.
Phillip has moved on more positively than I, stuck as I am with the pain I’ve caused by dishonoring my intuition, by allowing the past to dictate my choices in the present. Knowing who someone was doesn’t really help me know who they are today. Why didn’t I work harder to protect our money and to learn more about this man’s troubles? He didn’t want to share and I was too shocked and embarrassed to invite the truth…
And I agonize over the idea that by saying “yes” to this man, I’ve encouraged him to fall even further; I granted a reprieve from the crash to the bottom he needs to hit at some point. I allowed him to dig more deeply into the self-loathing and denial that accompanies betrayal.
I pray for his spirit’s healing. I curse his weaknesses. I regret my generosity and question my motives.
So the journey circles round and I am invited to examine my experience. I have to ask questions about my motives and needs, about why this event has created such turmoil and sadness, and to discover ways to regain my peace and balance.
I have to ask myself why I allowed this person’s story and needs to unseat my balance to begin with, and to take precedence over the peace and welfare of my family. Who did I need to be to him?
It’s too soon to know. I’d love to be able to sum it all up and say something wise. (“Be careful what you believe to be too preposterous to happen to you: it will.”) I’d love to pack it up and store it in the attic of life lessons learned, once and for all time.
It ain’t that easy, however. “Never loan money to family or friends” isn’t always true. Very little is always true, and life doesn’t move along in neat little chapters with tidy beginnings and endings. Except for two breaths, life is always lived “in the middle of things.”
But I do know this: The answers to my questions, and who I become by waiting for them and listening deeply, may provide greater wealth than I lost.
My husband and I have begun the long discernment regarding where we’d most like to retire. We have several years of regular employment ahead of us, but think it best we start the conversation now, in case other opportunities present themselves, or health issues arise that would require a more sudden shift. So, what shall it be? “Up North” on a lake? A condo in the city? A different state? In the U.S.? Another country? We know that, at some point, the maintenance of Full Moon and its four acres will become more physically demanding than we can manage, but what are the signs that will tell us the time has come?
We can’t know what’s ahead, of course, but I’ve known people who have reached their retirement without ever truly having considered their needs, desires, and possibilities regarding the next (and, let’s face it, the last) stage of their lives. The following years proved more challenging for them than a dedicated time of planning may have created.
Even beginning these conversations has proven interesting, as we each consider leaving Full Moon Cottage, sit with our feelings, come back to reconsider possibilities and then go out to work in the yard, take a canoe trip, walk on the path, or sail down the trail on a long, meditative bike ride.
Full Moon has been a lovely and deepening home, generous in its gifting, and we’ve traveled through a good bit of our lives here. Every season has offered so much beauty and so many lessons. This past week, the orioles, red-breasted grosbeaks, purple finches, goldfinches, and hummingbirds returned to the feeders with their great appetites and vivid presence.
The shy and solitary green heron who lives beside us in the woods has returned; like the owls, he struggles to find peace among the raucous crows, and I’m grateful he does, for his annual reappearance and heartbreaking calls each spring anchor the new season for me as surely as the oriole’s song.
The tulips have begun blooming, at last, and we’ve been working to edge and mulch the gardens, just ahead of the weeds, especially the vigorous garlic mustard, which suffered no setback from the drought.
A mourning dove couple has chosen to build their nest above my pullout clothesline. I guess I’ll be using my dryer for a few more weeks. We’ve never seen mourning dove newborns, so this is a rare treat for us.
There are nests all around our home; every day more are apparent. We noticed a sandhill crane nesting in a marshy area, “hidden in plain view.”
It looks like we’ll have a very brief spring; temperatures could be in the 90’s next week, and summer will open wide. I can’t help but wonder how many more springs we’ll be here to welcome fox kits, to set out seed and oranges for returning birds and their newborns, or to tend the gardens’ rebirth. I wonder how many more autumns we’ll bid them each farewell and settle in for another winter.
But Full Moon has taught me that wherever we are, there is possible beauty and the rhythm of cycles that elicit love and call forth our gifts to co-create. We’ll be sad when we finally have to leave, of course, but I hope we’ll be looking forward to new adventures on other sacred ground, and quiet places to bow down to the beauty before us.
My beloved Aunt Mary died several weeks ago, early one Sunday morning in February. She was my mother’s younger sister, but not by much, and their close bond throughout their lives always made me long for a sister, too. It often surprised the three of us how much more I resembled my aunt in attitudes and preferences than I did my mother. And in the years since my mother died, Mary and I had become even closer, sharing e-mails and phone visits regularly.
My aunt was a remarkable person, utterly funny, charming, intelligent, and alive to the society, interests, and amusements that paraded through her days, the kind of person who had many lifelong friends, enamored children, nieces and nephews, and beholden strangers who benefited from her kindness and acts of charity. She was someone whose wit, wisdom, ready listening and encouragement were vital to making others see that a better world, or just a better day, is always possible. She had a vital spark most lack. She breathed greater life into those around her than they sustained alone.
I write this not as a eulogy, for I cannot do her gifts or influence on my life justice in such a brief forum, but by way of sharing that my grief in losing her has been gentle and so coupled with relief at her peace that it’s traveled with me these past weeks more like a soft grey cloud than a terrible storm, as my parents’ deaths engendered. I am grateful for her gifts and presence in my life and I am grateful that she is no longer yearning to be with her husband or suffering from ill health.
But I sure miss our e-mails, visits, and shared laughter.
I was thinking of her one morning when spring beckoned more than chores and I’d wandered outside to see what the world could tell me. I saw this daffodil, so earnest in its reaching for light that the dead leaf circumscribing its leaves couldn’t restrain its rising momentum.
That is how the dead can be with us, how grief can restrain joy…The next day, the leaf had fallen away, joining others that surrounded the plant, becoming food for its continued growth. In death, still the breath of life.
Another gift of spring has been these darling fox kits, just emerging from their den to smell the world and take a few tentative steps into its songs and mysteries. They make every pore of my being tingle with maternal instinct, but, like everything wild, including my own nature, they also teach me over and over again to respect their boundaries and not interfere with instinctive patterns followed for centuries. So I observe from a distance and leave them to their necessary dance. I hope they will know peace, and comfort, and joy, in whatever form these may be known by foxes. I breathe a prayer and send it to their den at night.
I read about a wealthy inventor, futurist and engineer who believes people will, eventually, live forever, and who has hopes that his dietary, vitamin, and exercise regimen will allow him to remain healthy until this is possible.
I have no desire to live forever; I just want to be alive for all of the life granted me, and, if I’ve done it well, maybe I can feed the growth of others in their reaching for the light after I’ve gone, breathing still through their lives and the ways they love the world.