Life is Showing Me

reflections pond

The wind interrupts me. It jolts me. It shakes me awake. It cleanses me. It demands my attention. It can’t be ignored. It is literally in my face today.

In any moment, I know that Life is speaking to me. It is telling me, reflecting to me, the wisdom that I need to know right then.

Life is showing me where to look, and what to know.

Of all that could be getting my attention, right now, of all the things that I could be aware of, cloudless sky, fullness of sun, reflections in the ice, this wind is what has spoken to me.

So, this is where the wisdom lies.

Of all, this wind is what is most alive for me.

I pay attention to what is getting my attention. To me, it is Sacred Essence, reflecting back to me just what I need to know in this very moment.

This presence is available to me in every moment, in every experience. I need only to be aware of it. And therein lies the hitch. I must pay attention, to what is alive for me in each moment.

Today, again, I renew my pledge to pay attention. To tune myself to the subtle awakenings,  the slight movements, and the gentle stirrings.

I want to attend to the subtle invitations. Life is always inviting me to something. It is engaging me in a constant conversation.

Today, the wind is inviting me into a greater aliveness, an increased vitality. I only need to stop and listen, and it tells me this.

It is inviting me to wake up and be fully present.

What is Life inviting you to?




The Turning of the Season

crane migration too

The Sandhill Cranes are flying North. This is a sure sign of the turning of the season.

We don’t know how they know, but they do know when to return to their Northern breeding grounds, which are far North of here.

I always love seeing them. They are one of the signs of hope and promise of the new season, for me. They are heralds of hope and new growth. They represent the new and the renewed.

The cranes are a tonic for my soul that has been buried in the underground of dormancy and incubation for months now.

They are a call to return to the possibility of the new, even though I may not know what it is, yet.

They are a call to pay attention to what might be awakening from the dormancy, deep within.

Now is the time to pay attention.

What are you paying attention to?

The Back and Forth Time

snowdrops ice

The snowdrops have poked up through the frozen ground, the snow and ice, and are the first sign of new green growth this year. I am always thrilled to see them.

But they are also a mystery to me. How do they push through frozen ground? How do they survive in sub zero F temperatures? They make me nervous, because I always wonder if they will live through the ravages that Winter still has in store for us.

They are a paradox, and they come up in Back and Forth Time.

Back and Forth Time is that time when the seasons start to turn.

One day it feels like Spring. Then, the next day, the wind and snow blow back in, and there is another blizzard, and it feels like Spring will never come.

I realize that Back and Forth Time is a powerful metaphor for me, about my life.

It’s when the Old isn’t quite done with me, and the New isn’t quite fully ready for me yet, or even visible.

So I get days when I am living out the Old, and days when I get glimpses of the New, but the New is only a glimpse and a vague feeling. The bread crumb trail is sparse, scattered, and sporadic.

I don’t know why, after all of the changes that I have experienced in my life, that I still expect change to move at a smooth, steady pace forward. I wonder why I think that the bread crumb trail will be clear and robust, rather than off-again, on-again.

I need to remember that when the New is just barely starting to awaken, I am in a Back and Forth Time.

The call is to be patient, to be an explorer, and to remain curious and awake, to trust the awakening and the aliveness in it.

I need to trust that it will eventually gain momentum and carry me forward.

Nature can help me with this. Nature, in its seemingly capricious Winter to Spring mood, reminds me that I am in a Back and Forth Time, and that I will have Back and Forth Days.

How do you want to be, in Back and Forth Time?




That First Day

sunrise pink blue

Today is that very first day of the year that has “Spring-ness” in it.

It’s a magical day, and there’s only one of them each year. Everyone who lives in the Cold Country knows that, and has lived it.

It isn’t a day on the calendar, and there is no predicting when it will come. It arrives spontaneously, and sometimes when you least expect it. That’s one of the things that I love about it.

It’s that day when you suddenly feel, in your bones, that Spring is inevitable. Spring may still be far away, but the quality of the day grabs and pulls on a memory from deep within.

There have been lots of days this winter in the 40’s F, but none of them has had the feeling of Spring in them. This one does.

On this First Day, the sun is just high enough in the sky that it makes you know the turning of the season. It feels on the warm side of Winter.

When you take a deep breath, you breathe in warmth, and promise, and excitement.

Everyone has come out of their caves, and they are enjoying the freshness and hope of the day. They are walking their dogs. They’re cleaning up in the yard. They’re organizing their garages. They are preparing for the time when Spring projects will be absolutely compelling again.

Tomorrow, it will probably turn back to Winter-ness. The weather is notoriously capricious this time of year. It is a tease.

But we will never lose today, because now we know, again, the reality of Spring. Our faith has been renewed. There is no going back from here.

I just love that First Day.

What helps you know the promise of Spring?

A Quiet Beauty

quiet beauty

It is the day after a violent sleet-snow blizzard, and it is utterly quiet.

I breathe in the stillness, and appreciate how nature has settled into a silent reverie.

In stark contrast to yesterday’s bedlam. the snow is a meditation of white, wonder, and awe.

It feels like everything is at ease.

Yesterday, I was standing in this very same spot, as the 50 mph winds howled with what felt like menace. The sleet was beating on my face relentlessly. The road disappeared and left behind a flurry of disorientation.

Today, I settle in, too, and as I do, I begin to take in the beauty of the landscape.

I often fail to appreciate the depth of beauty in winter, but today it is undeniable. The subtle shades of browns and greys lend a complexity to the land that takes my breath away.

The variety of shapes, colors, and textures, in the most ordinary of landscapes, is stunning.

It is like all of nature’s winter beauty has come out to show itself, after being in tumult, and hiding, yesterday.

Nature is such a lesson in impermanence.

It is also a reminder of cycles.

Like nature, we all live in natural cycles of waxing and waning. Our own creativity consists of bursts of activity, and then quiet, dormancy, incubation.

I am reminded of how I often expect myself to just keep going at a steady pace. This determination to keep plodding on is an unrealistic, and unfair, expectation. Nature teaches us this.

As I walk along in the calm tranquility, I wonder: what would be possible if I learned to sense the ebb and flow of my own natural rhythms, and, even more importantly, I respected them?

What would it be like for you, if you respected your natural rhythms?









Eulogy for a Tree

eulogy tree

The roar of the chainsaws is both deafening and disconcerting. The act of comforting our dogs Harper and Cinnamon is a lost cause. Every time that a big chunk of oak drops to the ground, and shakes the house, Harper jumps.

It will be over soon, and peace will again reign on the property.

Three tree professionals have come today to take down the oak that is less than ten feet from our house. It’s right outside my office window.

The oak is over a hundred years old.  It is over twice as tall as our house.

For the thirty years that I have lived here, this oak has graced my office with its comforting presence.

It has kept me company through all the seasons.

In the winter, it has been a stable, grounding force in the midst of fierce winds and raging blizzards.

I have felt so much joy when the tiny buds begin to open in the spring, heralding another season of growth.

In the summer, the tree has been a lush green presence, protecting my office from the intense heat.

And in the fall, it has been a splendor of orange, red and brown.

This oak has been a source of continual pleasure and good energy over the years.

It had a twin; they were joined at the base. Five years ago, the twin died, and we had to have it taken down.

I felt like I had lost a friend.

Last year, this oak died, and we knew that we would need to have it taken down also.

When trees die, and they are so close to the house, we have them removed because of the risk of them falling on the house or the driveway.

When they are out on the property, we let them deteriorate, and they eventually fall down. They provide food and shelter for all kinds of critters.

This tree will continue to give, also.

All of its smaller branches are being chipped, and we will use the wood chips for pathways throughout the land.

Our friend and neighbor Rich always comes to cut up all the big chunks. He heats his house with wood, and this oak will keep him and his family warm for a long time.

I don’t know how to say goodbye to this tree properly, except to say that “You have been as beautiful and faithful a friend as I could ever want, and I will miss you.”

What are the quiet “presences” in your life, that give you joy?

Left Behind Things

rowboat side yard

On my walk this morning, my attention was drawn to an old rowboat resting upside down on its trailer. It was in the side yard of a house in the neighborhood.

It has been there for a long time, perhaps twenty years. My sense is that it has been resting idle for most of those years. On every one of my walks, it has been resting there. It has a forlorn look to it, and there is a lot of rust on it.

This made me think about all of the things once precious and exciting in our lives, things that have since been left behind.

We outgrow things. We grow and develop new interests, and other things get left behind.

They are perfectly useful, but they no longer hold our interest.

I know that I hang onto things that I have actually left behind. Sometimes this is a conscious choice, but more often it is my failure to acknowledge that I have moved on.

ac 5020

When I moved to the country thirty years ago, I acquired a 26 horsepower tractor to use for a large variety of tasks on my property. I loved everything about that tractor.

I loved that I lived where I needed a real tractor, and not just a small lawn-mowing tractor.

I loved the power of that tractor, and all the things I could do with it. I loved the sound of it, and I loved how it felt when I drove it.

I loved its orange color, and I loved caring for it: changing the oil, and lubing its joints.

Last year, I realized that my beloved tractor had been sitting forlorn and unused in my barn for a long time. I just didn’t do the kinds of things that it had once helped me with.

I had let most of my property go wild and native, so I wasn’t mowing big parts of the five acres like I used to do. The meadows had been overtaken by young woods, and I no longer had big clearing jobs.

I was no longer pulling up stumps of old oaks that had died; I just let them rot and eventually become homes for the wildlife. And, I no longer tilled a swath for a large vegetable garden every year.

My neighbor Brian now plows the snow off the driveway, so I don’t even need to do that anymore with the tractor.

I reluctantly acknowledged that the tractor that had faithfully served me for so many years was now a Left Behind Thing.

I gave the tractor to Brian. He has a half dozen farms, and I knew it was going to a good home.

It took me a long time to consciously acknowledge that I had moved on, not only from the tractor, but from the “me” who did those tractor things. I was really reluctant to let that part of myself go. I felt like I was letting go a part of the dream I had when I moved to the country, and that I had lived for so long.

But I was making different choices now, and the tractor wasn’t part of them. Just like the rowboat in the side yard is no longer a part of my neighbor’s dreams or life.

I like to think that these things are happier when they are freed to go and do what they were designed to do. My tractor wasn’t meant to sit in my barn; it was meant to go and be a tractor, and to be useful, just like any of us.

So, when I can’t or don’t love to use things anymore, I feel like it is time to release them, and to be happy for them that they can go and fulfill their purpose somewhere else.

But before I can do that, I need to acknowledge that I have moved on, that I am making different choices, and that I have left behind the thing that was once precious.

This isn’t always easy for me. It always takes consciousness about what matters. Sometimes it takes courage to let a prior version of ourselves go too.

What are your Left Behind Things?



The Tilling of Potential

tilling potential

Today I was walking with my dog Harper on the edge of a newly tilled field. Harper was exploring the field, looking for treasures that might have been churned up when the field was worked. He is a particular fan of corn kernels that didn’t make it into the combine.

I was enjoying the brisk November sunshine.

It was just last week that Al and his son Jordan were tilling the field with a disk harrow.

I love it when they till the fields, exposing the rich, black chunks of earth that will lie fallow until next Spring, when the earth will be ready to receive the seeds of a new crop.

There is such beauty, to me, in all of this potential. The field looks to me like a field of potential.

It is hopeful: what might appear dead right now is actually teeming with life below the surface, and the earth is readying itself to receive the seeds that will spring into life in just a few months time.

This makes me think about how much untapped potential lies within us.

What if we think of ourselves as a field of potential?

Imagine that you are a rich, fertile field, ready to receive the inspiration that will carry you forward into you into the next phase of your journey. Sit quietly for a few moments, and allow your inner wisdom to inform you. What potential lies within you?

Touchstones of Certainty

touchstonesI meditate every day. Not because I’m virtuous or particularly disciplined.

Meditation, for me, is an oasis of calm and certainty in a sea of change. It’s one of the best ways for me to connect to what’s most true, and centered, and essential in me.

And when my outside world is shifting, having some regular, inner structures really helps me.

I’ve meditated for 30 years, so it’s a real touchstone of rhythm and structure in my life.

These structures hold the process of change for me.

When your “outers” are moving, it helps to have some practices that feel stable and reliable, things that are just there, no matter what is going on in your life.

Regardless of the chaos or the uncertainty, I sit and meditate every day. It gives me a touchstone of certainty.

What are your touchstones of certainty?

Rituals That Mark Time

November bare treesOn Halloween morning, it snowed. Then high winds blew all the oaks clean, and left no doubt that it was November.

So, over the weekend, I did some of my preparing-for-winter rituals. It was time.

These are simple things like covering up the air conditioner unit and clearing everything off the screened porch. Some of you may rake leaves or stack wood.

Rituals are really important. They mark the movement of time, and for me, they help me embrace change, if I do them intentionally and consciously. By that I mean that instead of just putting it on my To Do list, and getting it done, checking it off, I think about how it is marking the end of the warmer weather and moving into the shorter days and cooler times.

These simple rituals are particularly helpful to me when I’m going through big changes in my life.

Doing rituals like this gives me some stability and routine, or ritual, in my world that is shifting.

What are the rituals that mark your time?


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