A Return to Winter & a Child-Like Joy

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It snowed today. Soft flakes now spread over the evergreens and add white caps to the forest leaves turned brown. The return to winter’s cold brings a sense of calming peace with it. Like a big sigh has been released and we can settle back into normalcy for at least a little while. How long it will last is anyone’s guess.

Before lunch, I walked the roadways with the dogs and picked up other people’s garbage. The snow had not yet started to fall, but the sky was the gray of an impending storm. Ice replaced the puddled water at the end of my driveway. Frozen into cracked veins waiting for the next thaw. I found myself hoping it would be awhile before the water flowed again. Today, the birdsong is not so loud. Juncos gather droppings from the trees and blue jays rush overhead in their showy displays to be seen. And heard.

But the air is mostly quiet and still, and while I walked with my dogs the world around us appeared more balanced. Perhaps I saw what I wanted to see. The land cleared of artificial debris by my hands left a feeling a satisfaction inside of me. A small act, like dusting the sills of a window to make it clear again. It may not last long, but there is power inside deliberate moments.

After we arrived back home, I found myself pulled into the news while I ate a lunch of leftover dinner. Headlining the front page of the Sunday paper was a story about local teachers afraid of their students. I had to read it three times before it sank it. They were not talking about rebellious teenagers, but preschoolers and elementary age children. Young kids driven to violent acts of rage on a regular basis. Some fingers pointed to drug use by caregivers, others to unspeakable violence that must have been witnessed. While I read, I find myself wondering if we are all grasping at straws, unable to hold on to stability. There is the impulse to spiral into disbelief and despair when one reads such things.

Exposure to harsh elements can damage a living being if improper nurturing does not occur. Are we wrapping our babes in our chosen world of violence? Turn on the TV and chances  are you will find rage or horror in some form. Exposure to violent acts harms the mature heart. Now we are seeing the real effects of what it does to the tender young souls whose eyes are exposed to more than they should see. We shatter ourselves and those we love when we expose without heed to the harsh elements outside of us. And sometimes, when we linger too long with them, they become a part of our being.

Beside this article, was one piece on funding being stripped from schools. In my town, there are often complaints about how the bulk of our budget goes to the education. If we don’t invest in our future, what can we expect it to look like? If we don’t infuse the warmth of love into the hearts of our children, instead of constant exposure to hatred and violence, can we really call ourselves “caregivers?”

The snow began to fall while I read, bringing the solace that could not be found inside the news. For a moment I started to place blame, pulled into the world of accusations that filled the news before me. There was a momentary feeling of frustration when I read the words of the superintendent I had tried to work with for years to bring a mindfulness-based supplementary education to our schools. Perhaps I had given up too soon. Maybe his mind was now changed, but one grows tired from pushing through resistance.

Instead, I looked forward to the two groups of youngsters who were waiting for me at another school. I thought of their exuberant bodies and excited young minds. Sometimes  wild, but always lovable. I thought about how it’s taken me a year to grow into the comfort of teaching the balance of yoga to within the realm of the unpredictability of  young children, and that sometimes there are still moments of frustration. A temporary frustration that, I have found now easily melts into joy when I step inside the child-mind and find the wonder of joy.

Later, dancing and laughing without care of judgement I found this joy. Freedom is a natural state of the child-mind and I am grateful to have the excuse to let it run loose. When you become like a child, you give the child you are with permission to let their true self shine through. Together we danced into animal poses and stomped the floor as though it was Earth. A little too loudly, perhaps, as it brought a teacher up for a moment, but we didn’t really care. Nor did she. Instead, we muffled, ever-so-slightly, our footsteps and danced some more. When we rested into our makeshift circle, we talked about what we loved, like unicorns and pegasus, rainbow socks, and dragon slippers. All things magic that are real to a child’s eyes accepted as truth, because in the end all that matters is the joy wrapped inside love.

 

 

 

 

 

Musing on a Warm January Day

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Moss and lichen cling summer green to the January lilac

It’s a gray day here in New Hampshire. Raining when it probably should be snowing. The temperature, warm enough to open windows. My phone tells me it’s 59 degrees outside. Soon it will be 60, but tomorrow will bring a nearly 30 degree drop in temperature, and on Tuesday it should be snowing.

Yesterday, when I was out with the dogs and my son in the balmy air, I recalled walking in Boston more than twenty years ago, in January. It was a surreal day. Ninety degrees in the city. In January. A few years prior, there was an April Fool’s snowfall that dumped two feet of snow on my car in Providence. The weather has been extreme for decades now. Yet it still feels strange. Surreal.

I am not comfortable with this new normal. Now, most days, the atmosphere sparks with the unpredictable. Or, rather, what shouldn’t be predicted. It can be incomprehensible how we cling to old ways, even when we should change them.

Last night, my husband and I watched the movie Tolkein, and more than anything else, I was grabbed by the scenes of war. No wonder, I kept thinking, he wrote what he did. I was filled with frustration as I watched scenes I try to avoid in books and movies of a senseless and barbaric act we’ve woven into the fabric of humanity since nearly the beginning of our time here on Earth. To the victor goes the spoils of the greatest number of lives extinguished.

In these moments, I’m acutely reminded of the chaos of our chosen existence. The swirling darkness that lives inside of us. How we strive for power by killing life. The irony is sometimes too much to bear.

Outside my open window, it sounds like a tropical symphony. Birds sing as though it is spring and the lichens on the lilacs wear a stunning shade of aqua beside a vibrant green moss. Looking at it brings me comfort. It soothes my troubled heart. As does the happy confusion of wild birds in January.

Nature accepts more easily than I do, and I am grateful that I can turn to its soothing balm to temper my troubled soul. Acceptance can be hard to embrace these days. It can feel as helpless as it is freeing. Inside of it, though, is the knowing that I have chosen to be here in this time, as we all have. To play some uncertain role that I often cannot define. To move through each moment with an intention to cling to more grace than anger. More love than hate. And more forgiveness than resentment. And, what a challenge for this we have been given.

 

Still Presence #writephoto

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Photo Source: Sue Vincent

The land called to those who wanted to hear her. The rest wandered in idle enjoyment of the still stones. They brushed careless hands across their surfaces, and felt for holes to climb. Sometimes they took out their pocket knives and chiseled what they thought to be forever love upon their granite faces. And the land watched in silence, waiting for those who could hear her.

She sang the forgotten song to those who remembered its melody. They felt it in their bones as they stood upon her raised mounds. Her notes caressed their skin in the embrace of mother love. Her song wove inward through membranes to find the memory of home. Joy, rupturing the heart into ecstasy and sorrow, she sang of a love so deep tears fell from opened eyes.

To show her love for her children, the land danced her stones. She sent her pulse through their inert bodies and brought life to their forms. She whispered through time to awaken her mysteries and the stones beckoned to those who listened.  The long waits, well-worth the heart opened in recognition, they offered magic to the hands that hugged their bodies close.

I remember you, they whispered into pressed ears. Welcome home. 

 

Thank you Sue, for the morning cry 😉 and for the photo prompt. To participate please click here

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Finding the Light inside the horrific #australianwildfires

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Australia. Photo Credit: Pixabay

It hurts my heart to look at the photos and I know millions are crying with me. There is no grasping for logic inside this incomprehensible tragedy, as there is none. We can blame ourselves, and perhaps we should. Ignorance turning a blind eye for too long. Greed over-riding altruism. But, when it comes down to it, most would not have wanted what we are facing right now: an Earth, our home, filled with incredible and horrific suffering. I am thinking right now of the wildfires raging through Australia, as they have raged through California, Alaska, and so many other places across the globe in recent time. So many lives lost, millions of animals and plants gone. The innocent, suffering the worst.

We can blame ourselves, and perhaps we should. But, little good comes from looking backwards unless we are willing to change the patterns of our ways. In the midst of this horrific tragedy, I see the enduring light of hope. Eyes being opened, where they have been shut. Hearts joining in their collective sorrow seeded from love. That light that unites us all, igniting to extinguish the murderous blaze.

It was the late Fred Rogers who urged us to “look for the helpers (heroes)” when the unspeakable occurs. Right now, at this moment, the world is filled with them. Locals opening their doors to homeless wildlife in need of shelter. The wealthy and not so wealthy sending funds towards the efforts to abate the flames. Countless hearts joined in prayer and song calling for rain. And, all those firefighters risking their own lives to save another. This is love.

And, in some incomprehensible way, perhaps it is needed. A friend on social media made the observation yesterday that when a photo of Australia had appeared on her screen upside down, she thought it looked like a heart. It does, in a way. A misshapen heart breaking open. It also looks like a woman’s pelvis, expanding to birth. There are legends about Australia and the sacred lands in and around Uluru. Some consider these ancient lands to be the womb of Earth, and I find myself wondering if this incredibly painful rebirth we are experiencing is part of an awakening. Or, at least a call to an awakening. The future is shaped by our hands, just as the past was. How much more can the heart endure before it breaks open into love? Not just for the self, but for the other, in whatever form that other takes.

I have hope for better days to come. Australia is opening another doorway for us, just as all past tragedies have. We can enter it holding hands, find the scattered pieces of life inside, and do what we can to make our world whole again. We can, because we must. There is no longer a choice. Another doorway for us. There is only one. In essence, there has only, ever, been one. The one through the heart. Let us step through it together. Let us change our broken ways and mend this broken womb so that we can find a rebirth of what unites us all.

Life, a love story

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photo credit: Pixabay

I have been tumbling backwards in my dreams. Returning to homes of childhood and their keepers. It is funny how the mind moves through the body and the body through the mind. There is a cycling through time that is nonlinear. We are spirals like the galaxy that holds us together. We are each tiny universes filled with cells and memories. The past woven into the present, threading into the future, spiraling inward and outward. We are each an ocean, contained and endless. Our waters swallowed into the membranes of our cells in one moment, and expiring in waves back to the stars. We are heaven and earth in one body walking the planes of existence.

Three nights ago, my bare feet found the sands on the edge of the sea. They walked endless shorelines, treading the line between solid ground and the sharp drop back into the vast womb of Mother Earth. My heart a tremble of fear and courage, yet I dared not step into the water. The drop too steep I knew the swallow would be whole. It’s no surprise that the Mother returned in other forms in subsequent nights as the ocean found containment inside the throat. Words still searching for air. How frustrating the spiral can be.

As the year turns into a new calendar, there is the calling to shed the worn, tired skins we wear. There is the calling to strip bare and return to the womb to rebirth the self new and fresh. Yet birth is rarely painless, nor is it usually easy. It takes concerted effort, a fair bit of strength, and a willing letting go.

I have been thinking of the excuses I hold tight inside the spiral. This false feeling of security in the futile hope that no more pain will ensue. No one really desires pain, yet the heart builds a fortress that splinters in the tearing down. Birth is always easiest when there is no resistance to battle through.

I think, perhaps, I should have dove headfirst into those dream waters, or let the feet follow the suck of the sand into the liquid abyss. Only then would I have known if the drowning would have swallowed my breath, or gave it back. Complete surrendering of our fears comes with trust, and the acceptance that death, in some form, will occur.

It is always, though, a love story. The question is, do we make it conditional, or unconditional?

We Are God’s Hands

help-1300942_1920 “It’s in God’s hands.”

The words took hold of me while I scrolled through Facebook, that place where I can only spend so much time before frustration builds. The words came from a woman responding to a post about the climate crisis.

I sit here, a day later, thinking about the convenience of this claim. How often it is used to excuse our personal actions, or inactions. This letting go of control and giving it up to whatever name we, individually, call the divine force that moves through all of us. It is a false claim. An untruth we choose because it’s convenient. To put up our hands up and declare that something is beyond our control is to give up the truth of our existence. We are not puppets in some divine play, we are the directors, the actors, and the story-tellers. We exist to be active players in this game we call Life.

We are God’s hands.

God is not responsible for the mass extinction we are facing and the rise of our oceans. God is not responsible for the fires ravaging the face of Earth or the hunger in the bellies of children whose parents cannot afford food to fill them. God is also not responsible for our individual and collective greed. Our hoarding of wealth and want for more. God is not responsible for the felling of our  rainforests and the bleaching of our coral reefs. God is not responsible for our choice to burn coal and fossil fuels over harnessing the power of sustainable resources. The responsibility is ours. Alone.

If we are going to claim to be children of “God,” or whatever name we call the creation that brought us here, we must also realize that as children, someday we must grow up and take responsibility for our individual lives. We must step outside the shelter of convenient excuses and realize that our hands are pulling up the roots, stripping our mountains bare, and turning the ignitions in our vehicles in the name of convenience. It may be an “inconvenient truth,” to admit that we are the masters of our own existence here on Earth, but it is the truth, nonetheless. We can either face it, or suffer the consequences of denial.

This Body of Water Memory

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It is a rare night when water does not come to me in the form of dreams. It fills the basins of bathing tubs and the land surrounding me. I marvel at its form rising with ease through gravity, encompassing form until it disappears and absorbs. “Did you know water can remember you?” a friend shared on the eve of the solstice.

How can it not? Water is memory. When you pour it into a glass, it becomes the cylinder. When you expose it to music, it becomes the song. Exposed to fire, water becomes heat. Ice, stasis. We move through liquid limbs with the structure of bones. At least 70% water, we are living memories. The memory of what once was, and still is. Of what will become, and has never left time.

We are song, fire, heat, and ice. We are splinters of pain and the symphony of love in one body. Except, we are not just one body. We drink the tears of our ancestors and those that have been lost to form. We drink memory every day to fill the thirst inside. Expelling with the need to release not just our own, but those that have collected inside of us. We are memory in watered form.

In an instant, a molecule of water can transform. The shattered atoms of anger can coalesce into a star of love. Our bodies are capable of reform. Old patterns, learning new. We orchestrate the symphony of our own songs. The play of memory, ours to mold and break down. What songs do you sing to your cells? What memories do you ask water to carry for you? When I forget, I whisper love into the vessel and drink it into my cells. I sing “Om” through the well of the throat until it sinks into the womb for rebirth. Remembering I am the keeper of water and its memories, at least for some time. Time that dances in chaos or harmony inside of me, waiting to be released and rejoined in another form. Water, older than time. Held, for a moment, in me.