Geese in Flight

geese in flight

I looked up when I heard the honking.

A flock of Canadian Geese had just taken off and was flying right towards us as it was gaining lift. They were on their way South for the winter. They are a little late in leaving this year; it’s been a mild winter so far.

Something very primal awakens within me when the migrating geese fly by.

It is a profound reminder that we all live in mystery.

Much of bird migration is a mystery: how birds know when to migrate, how far they go, where they go, and how they choose their route.

But, what about the greater mystery that we all live in?

I tend to walk through the days of my life much more aware of the predictability of it, rather than the mystery of it.

Comforted by rhythms and routines, I rarely think about the greater mystery that life is, until I find myself in a moment of awe and wonder and mystery, like the one with the geese this morning.

When I have a moment of awe and wonder, I realize that I like living in mystery. I realize that I like not knowing, and I like discovering things as I go along. I like trusting the unfolding process of life.

What is the mystery that you are living in?

Nature’s Sculpture Garden

sculpture garden

On my late afternoon walk tonight, our pond caught my attention.

This pond is a swampy kind of pond, and in some years we don’t even have a pond in winter. In those years, the pond just spontaneously appears with the fullness of the spring rains. Then it is called a vernal pond, and it is home to a large variety of toads and frogs and birds and dragonflies.

In the winter, all of this life is absent or dormant, and my interest in the pond lies in the fascinating variety of shapes and textures in the ice. It is like nature’s sculpture garden.

There are turbulent bits that are all churned up, and there are calm bits, where the surface of the pond is so smooth that you might be able to ice skate on it, although I have never tried.

And then there are things that have fallen into it, and stuff sticking out of the middle of it, in unexpected and unplanned places.

There are pathways that are never there in other seasons. It would be possible to go deep into the woods by walking over the frozen surface of the pond in winter.

It occurs to me that in many ways, this pond is like our lives. There are calm bits, where life is going along smoothly, and sometimes we are lulled into the complacency of expecting life to be like this, always.

And then, some turbulence comes in, which seemingly causes disruption in the flow, or, at least, in the expected flow, of our lives.

We run into apparent obstacles and stuff in our lives that we don’t plan and don’t expect.

And then, sometimes, there are pathways through all of it that are just as unexpected, perhaps where we are graced with ways through challenges that we could have never have anticipated.

This pond is really a lot like our lives.

It is like our lives in one other way, too. All of the churned up bits are on the surface of this pond. There is also a deep part of the pond that isn’t visible, where everything is still and calm, and where there is a base of the pond that is grounded and solid.

Just like the pond, we have a deep part of us that is below whatever is happening on the surface of ourselves or our lives. This part is grounded and calm. And it is always accessible to us, whenever we need it. It is there for us, no matter might be happening on the surface.

How can you access your inner core, that place of calm and groundedness?

 

 

 

 

The Cold Way to Now

cold way to now

I’m out on a walk, on the coldest day of this winter season so far.

It is minus 15 degrees F wind chill. I’m walking really fast, head down, into the wind.

It is so cold that my breath feels like it is freezing on the way into my body.

I love my walks, and I almost flew the white flag of surrender today, given the cold. But I had taken all the time to get the dogs’ boots on, and thought I’d try a walk on the road, rather than in the yard. We usually get better results out on the road, if you know what I mean. 🙂

But, I  admit it; my focus is on walking fast to get to the end, back in the house, where I can have a warm cup of tea. I’m definitely just putting in my time.

Cinnamon stops for a moment, and I suddenly realize that I am not at all present in this moment. My mind is all wrapped up in thinking about how fast I can get back in the house. My mind is on that cup of tea.

I stop and take a few deep breaths. I deliberately center myself and come into the present. I clear my mind of all of its thoughts, and I look around, and I just feel, with all of my senses. This is always what brings me into the Now.

It is a stunning day. The sky is a bright sapphire blue, and perfectly clear, without a cloud in sight.

There are diamond glints, all over the snow. The light, fluffy, ivory snow that fell last night is sparkling. The surface of the snow is clear and perfect; the woodland creatures haven’t been out on this patch yet.

I let myself feel the breeze, and suddenly I become aware of the warmth of the sun on my face. I hadn’t even noticed that before. I am smiling in pleasure at the sun, which we haven’t seen in days. I just soak up the sunlight; it makes me feel so good.

Yes, it’s cold. But it is so much more, and I hadn’t been able to see any of the “more,” when my mind was completely possessed by how cold it is. I completely missed the full beauty of the day.

In the winter around here, we all seem to take up the hobby of Weather Watch. We become amazed at how cold it can become, and then when it becomes that cold, we become even more amazed at how much colder it can become. We develop a bit of a weather obsession, and we act like we deserve a badge of courage for how much cold we can tolerate.

None of that matters. It matters that we dress intelligently and stay safe, but beyond that, if we truly wanted warm weather, we wouldn’t live here.

In my obsession with the cold today, I almost missed the day. I certainly missed the beauty of the day, until I woke up, halfway through my walk. So I am asking myself: how can I be even more present to my life? How much of my life am I missing? How much beauty is there to be savored?

How much beauty is there, just waiting to be savored, in your life?

 

 

 

Rhythms of Nature

winter 2015 one

Today was an inside day. I had a huge number of chores to do, and – very unusually – we had some winter sun. As the sun streamed through the windows on the south side of the house, it energized me.

I was like the Energizer Bunny for a few hours.

I took a walk in the morning, but after that, I was sequestered inside the house for the rest of the day. By this nightfall, I was feeling a little off balance. I realized that I had lost touch with the rhythms of nature. This organic ebb and flow of time in the day is what usually sets the rhythm for my day.

In the winter, I awaken around sunrise, so I join with nature in awakening to a new day.

At midday, when the sun is at its zenith, I usually take a break from my work and walk the dogs. This gives me a sense of the fullness of the day, and of things coming to fruition. Energy is heightened, and nature is busy.

Just before sunset, I walk the dogs again, so that I am in touch with the ending of the day, when nature has a sense of closure for the day. Time feels like it is slowing down, and closing in, as the darkness falls.

More and more, I am allowing myself to align with this natural daily rhythm. This feels really good to me, and very respectful of my physical nature. I have a sense of going with the flow when I give this to myself.

As I went out at dusk tonight, there was a doe in the yard. When she saw my dog Cinnamon, she bounded off into the woods.

I envy the animals sometimes, because I feel like they follow a more natural rhythm than we humans do. In winter, my body wants to slow down at sunset, but I often push on. I’ve been trained to work later than 4:30 pm, and I hear my own sense of responsibility calling to me.

Tonight, I went back in the house and continued to work after sunset, thinking all the while of the doe, whom I imagined was finding a place to bed down for the night. And I wondered what it would be like to live more in alignment with these daily and seasonal rhythms, that which my body seems to want.

At this time of year, at this latitude, the span of time between sunrise and sunset is about 9 hours. That is a short day, especially for those of us in the fullness of our work lives. But still, my body wants to honor the rhythms of nature, even during this time of year.

What would it be like, for you, to live more in sync with nature’s rhythms?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silence and Soft Light

silence and soft light

The early morning sun was soft today, just barely showing through a thick cloud cover. The silhouettes of the trees caught my attention, with their complexity and beauty. Everything was still.

This morning, nature is my temple, and this tree is my altar.

I often create special altars in my home. I choose a small alcove and place a few items of special significance there, to create a space of sacred meaning for me.

These small altars are places that draw my attention in the middle of a busy day. They invite me in, to a breath, and to reverence. They offer me a sacred pause.

That is what this tree did for me today. The beauty and intricacy of the branches invited me in, to reverence, and to silence.

I stopped, took a long breath, and offered my thanks for this gift of sacred wonder.

What draws you in, to the sacred, to a breath, to wonder?

 

On the Threshold of Light into Darkness

dark farm

I am late getting out for my walk with Harper, and darkness is closing down on us. I watch the light come on at the farm that is a mile away.

The wind is fierce, and the air is damp, but I find the darkness strangely comforting. I love seeing the lights come on in each house as we walk by.  I feel contained by the space of our flashlight beam, just a few steps in front of us.

Off in the distance, the Great Horned Owl is calling into the growing darkness. This is unusual. I can’t remember ever hearing this owl at dusk. It lives on our property, and it is usually my comforting presence at four o’clock in the morning, when I have awoken and cannot get back to sleep.

Tonight the owl is calling me to greater presence, and I am very aware of standing on the threshold of light into darkness.  It feels like the owl is marking this transition for me.

I’m wondering what wisdom there is here, tonight, for me, in this threshold of light into darkness. Thresholds are luminous places where the quality of space and the rhythm of time are shifting.

Times of light, for me, tend to be filled with vitality and activity. I am often moving from one thing to the next, in a dance of commitment and achievement.

As the darkness comes on, it narrows my focus, slows my tempo down, and brings me inward, into a reflective space. I literally can’t see as much as I can in the light.  The darkness brings me into a time of incubation and stillness, before the activity of the day begins again tomorrow. Benedictine monks see darkness as The Great Silence.

The threshold between light an darkness is a pause, and it is a generous breathing space for me.

On this threshold, I am invited to let go of the staccato tempo of the day. It has been a busy day, with bursts of activity, followed by brief pauses, in an abrupt, disjointed dance of getting things done.

I am welcoming this cover of darkness tonight. It wraps itself around Harper and me. Like a comfortable blanket, it makes me feel warm and held in a welcome space of renewal.

What is it like for you, on the threshold of light into darkness?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ephemeral Moments

sparkling world

There was a moment this morning when I looked out our living room window, and every tree branch was filled with rows of water droplets. Each droplet was sparkling in the sunlight.

The trees all looked like they had been strung with rows and rows of tiny lights  It was magical.

I went outside, and the air was filled with a delicate tinkling sound, as the droplets fell onto various surfaces.

I have found these moments, where the sacred looks so tangible to me, to be fleeting in my life. They are momentary and transient. They feel like moments when a divine essence is shining through a sacred veil, right into my ordinary life.

And then I wonder. Are they really so rare and fleeting, or are they happening all around me, all the time, without me noticing them?

What are your ephemeral moments?

 

 

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