Sue and Ani at Wayland’s Smithy #writephoto #suevincent

Sue & Ani

Thursdays were days when Sue Vincent would post a photograph writing prompt challenge. In honor of this ritual, I have posted one of my favorite photographs of Sue, which I took two years ago during a shared trip to Wayland’s Smithy. It’s a photograph I hold dear. Filled with memory, magic and love.

I’m not sure if Sue knew I was taking this photo, but Ani sure did. The presence of these two beings made this afternoon extra special for me. Although I can count on my two hands the number of days I have spent with Sue, they rank among the very best of my life thus far. Sometimes you are lucky in life to encounter a teacher/mentor/friend who takes you under her wings and guides you in that gentle way to open your awareness to the magic that exists, but is not always acknowledged. I consider myself one of those lucky individuals.

I can’t tell you exactly when I first met Sue, or exactly how. But, I can tell you she entered my life just when I needed her presence. That is often the way these types of relationships occur. The teacher mysteriously finding the student, the student, the teacher, just when the moment is right…

If it were not for the internet, perhaps we would not have met, but I believe when there’s a will, there’s away. If you had told me twenty years ago that I would meet a woman named Sue who would lead me into the magical landscape of the soul and also the living lands of ancient Albion, I would probably not believe you. Yet somehow, one day, our paths intersected through our blogs, and the rest is our brief history in this lifetime together.

A lifetime that, I believe, stretches well beyond this one, to a far distant past when magic was not so extraordinary…

The photo featured in this post was taken just over two years ago. It almost didn’t happen, but somehow Sue managed to arrange an afternoon, packed full of magic, to take myself and a friend to Uffington. Here, Sue sits with her beloved dog Ani on the chamber of Wayland’s Smithy. It is, for me, a precious photo. The winged soul and her guardian canine in a place the bridges the realms of corporeal and spirit.

It is, most likely, our last day together in this lifetime. And somehow even though I’d like to have more days with Sue, it was fitting and perfect. As much as we may wish to, we cannot control the length of time we have with those we love and hold dear, yet when we review it, we often find that its length was perfect in its essence.

When I first learned of Sue’s illness, I cycled through the emotions of impending loss. There were moments when I decided it was wholly unfair, for Sue, for her family, for all those who love her, and for, selfishly, myself. Our adventures have only just begun.

But who am I to say how long a lifetime should be and when it should end? It is, instead, a choice to accept what one has been given and to realize the fullness of the gift wrapped in this temporary form. Knowing, at the same time, that infinity lies beyond the temporary form. For me there is peace in this knowing. When I look at this photograph, uncertainty disappears and faith takes its place. Although I may resist a plan that is beyond my control, with the surrender there is a doorway to the beauty of truth.

You can see it here. In the place of stillness, it opens. The winged soul bending down to touch the Earth, never truly leaves.

This Time of Gratitude

flower-2372997_1280
Photo Credit: Pixabay

As we spiral into another month (longer for some) inside the nest of our homes, many of us are turning to gratitude. Beneath the blanket of fear, we are finding a renewed, and perhaps even new, appreciation for life. All that we no longer have may feel like a loss, but what we do have is felt more poignantly.

How many of us now wake to greet each day with gratitude? “I am alive!” we think or may even say out loud as we feel the fortune of existence. Around us we see the blessings in our lives. The companionship and love of pets and family, the birdsong outside the windows that we can open to the wind, the budding of spring, and all the growth it offers…

We are being offered another chance at Life, and an opportunity to reflect upon what we hold essential and what we no longer need. Perhaps, after this time of turning inward, this hibernation in spring, we will emerge not quite the same as we were before isolation came upon us. Perhaps we will continue to see our world, as well as our individual and collective lives, differently. Perhaps what we deemed essential before may softly fall away to become the detritus for new growth.

There is an exquisite beauty to the heart song opening around the world. It sings love and empathy in the voice of unity, threading its notes through the darkness of fear, despair, and hatred.  We are turning over the ground we walk upon, discovering the roots that lay hidden. We are finding that life connects and weaves a grid of which we are all a part of, even though we may have walked in separation concerned only with our own path, or the paths of those we hold dear.

We are seeing how the farmer is essential to our lives, just as the rain that falls upon the fallow land. We are seeing how precious the seed is, pulled softly from its husk before it is nestled into the body of earth.  Upon our window sills, we are growing our own food and watching the wonder of creation in real time. Slow, unfolding, time.

Each time Earth turns towards the sun and the sky parts its clouds, we give thanks for the energy of life. It asks nothing of us, but continues to pour down its golden rays to keep life moving, growing, and hopefully evolving.

We find ourselves questioning the hold that we once felt and seeing that perhaps it was false. That perhaps the new house, car, vacation, shirt, or electronic device we yearned for and  thought we needed is really not so essential to our happiness anymore. Now, we are realizing, that wellbeing is the folding into the abundance of love in all its myriad forms. A love that surrounds us, but is also within us. Ever-flowing and sustaining real life.

This is not to say that we are all going through this time of renewal with ease. Although there are those of us with the privilege to still have the fundamentals to sustain life, there are even more who are going without. The polarity of life is becoming acutely apparent. And although we may shun labels like “socialism,” we are seeing how essential it is to care for the “other,” who is more like us than we once cared to see. The “other” it is now becoming unavoidable to see, is the “I” in another form.

In one, blinding moment, the wrap of security that once bound us tight may be pulled from us, as it has already for so many. Will we continue to allow ourselves to open our eyes to see the bare, unfettered truth as we become unraveled? Will we grow a new appreciation for the farmer who grows our nourishment, as well as the plants and animals that we consume? We will walk this Earth with steps of gratitude, realizing that we walk on life, itself? This ground that feeds us and sustains us?

Will we reach our roots down, deep into our Mother and rejoin not just with her life force, but allow our roots to reach out and nurture our neighbors, far and wide? Those we know, and don’t think we know…. Those we love, and those we thought we despised…Realizing that we are all interdependent upon each other down to the tiny microbes that we cannot see but swim through our cells?

 

 

It could have been worse

IMG_1994

I had been looking forward to this week, in the middle of the summer, since the middle of winter. Not because I was going anywhere, but because my children were. It was to be my one week all to myself, if you don’t count four-leggeds who live with me, but the fates had a different plan.

I spent last week with my daughter when she wasn’t hanging out with friends, or at her twice-a-week soccer bootcamp. We had a few rare moments together, which included an outing to her favorite restaurant where she happily ate eggs bennie with a mug of forbidden coffee.

My son was at basketball camp.

Then, over the weekend, he went to his buddy’s birthday party where eight boys camped out in a tent and maybe got a combined two-hours of sleep.

I should have know by then things might not go according to plan…

After pick-up on Sunday morning, I drove my very tired, but happy, son home where promptly took a shower and went to bed.

Five hours later, the dog barked at the neighbor’s cat and woke him before I could. I didn’t want him to sleep the day, and then not the night.

Monday morning brought a cold rain, and I made breakfasts and packed lunches for my two children as they prepared for their days at camp. I knew my daughter would be fine, she’d had a relatively relaxing week and weekend, and her camp was going to be indoors. Based on the forecast, I was hoping for a good dose of common sense on the part of my son’s counselors, even though he was supposed to be playing baseball.

After dropping off six children (only two of them mine) to their respective camps, I made my way back home.  I had five hours before I needed to get back in the car for pick-up. The majority of which I spent staring at two computers, one containing my manuscript, the other YouTube tutorials on how to format it into a book. After three hours I started to get nauseous from turning my head back and forth from screen to screen, and holding my breath every time I made a change, so I put it aside. I ate lunch, puttered around the house, checked social media, and headed back out into the cold rain to pick up the six kids I had brought to camp.

While I drove, the nagging worry I held in my gut all day started to itch for release. I really hope they kept the kids inside, I kept telling myself, until I pulled into the driveway of the fields and realized there were no kids to be found.

“They’ve got them at the field house,” one parent revealed, “They’re walking down now.” In the pouring rain. My daughter was at the field house across campus, I knew how far a walk it was.

Five minutes later, the groups of boys started appearing. Some of them wore caps, some of them worse sweatshirts. Some of them were simply dripping rain over t-shirts. When I saw my son, he looked unhappy. Miserable might be a more apt word. His blue sweatshirt was hanging with the weight of water off his shoulders, and his red hat was leaking rain down his hair (from the inside). His summer skin was a ghostly white.

By the time I got him in the car, 10-15 minutes later, after the counselors had given out the two “camper of the day” awards, my son was shivering for warmth. I handed him the mug of hot chocolate I had bought on my way to get him, and turned the heater of his seat on. “I can’t get warm,” he kept telling me as he gulped his hot chocolate down. It turns out they had spent the morning outside, in the pouring, cold rain, the afternoon mostly indoors, where they never fully dried out, then walked across campus, in the pouring cold rain, back to the ballfields for pickup. Why they never thought to keep the kids inside, or to at least call the parents for pickup at the field-house at the end of the day, I can’t tell you. But it could have been worse. They could have kept them out all day.

And, my son could have come down with pneumonia or mono, instead of strep. But I didn’t know that until today.

Monday night brought a fever, and after picking at his dinner, my son went to bed. Tuesday morning he slept in, and when he woke his forehead still felt warm. The thermometer read 100.4. I breathed a sigh of relief. It could have been worse.

We spent the day inside, my son sleeping, not eating much, and playing a little on his PS4.  After a shower, it was another early-to-bed for him. When he woke this morning, he ate half a bagel with some juice and told me his stomach was bothering him, but his temperature was down to 99.7. It could have been worse, but I suspected strep.

At 11am the rapid test taken at the doctor’s office confirmed my suspicion, and I breathed a rather large sigh of relief. It could have been much worse.

It hardly mattered, after that, that my son threw up all over the living room floor, his socks and the bottom half of the (new) sofa after I got him home,  because I knew he would be feeling better soon enough, and that it could have been much worse.

He’s now napping upstairs, and I’m waiting for my daughter to be driven home from camp. All four bathrooms have been cleaned. Another load of laundry has been washed and hung outside to dry in the sun that decided to break apart two days of clouds, and I am feeling grateful because it could have been worse. Much worse. And, maybe by Friday, my son will be well enough to sneak out to our favorite restaurant for some french toast before his sister gets home from camp.

 

The Lovers

It started with a solitary swimmer in the middle of the lake. I watched the slender black body ripple the surface of the water, the white chest catching the light of the sun.  A common beauty on this lake where I am spending the week, but still a great gift to behold. On Monday I woke early to see a set of 6 swimmers making a lap around the perimeter of the lake, searching for fish. It was only 5:30 am and I had not thought to bring a camera. But, yesterday I had one poised and ready.

common loon

I heard the call of its lover from some unseen point across the lake. Turning my head with the loon’s to a song that belongs to night, laden with mystery and longing. There is nothing that stirs the cells of the heart quite like the lyrics of the loon. For that lingering moment we forget the present, and fall into a haunting past of something not quite lost within us.

There was no answer from the swimmer I watched, only a few moments of silence. Then, suddenly, the absent lover appeared on the edge of my vision, and what followed was a dance of reunion so beautiful I could only give thanks for this beautiful gift as I clicked away.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sometimes we are allowed to bear witness to the exquisite dance of nature in a way that humbles us and fills us with a renewed faith in our beautiful world. This was such a moment.

The Heart of a Tree

Heart of Tree

It’s been an emotional week for me, as I process the energy of rebirth. In this time of spring, this is what I am choosing to call the destruction around me. On Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 trees were felled in my yard in an effort to bring the unfiltered energy of the sun to my too-shaded home. There is mold my attic, there is green mildew creeping along the white edges of my siding.

You could say I put this off for too long, but each cut of the chainsaw was felt inside my heart. My love for trees extends back, I am sure, lifetimes, but my memories start in my childhood as a little girl seeking happiness in a life of loss and new beginnings. When I was 5, and beginning a new life apart from my birthfather and extended family, I climbed the slender limbs of young maples to seek refuge, and to find peace. Here, in the embrace of a tree, I would find a joy that was often elusive on the ground.

Some of us, especially those who have totem animals such as bear, are meant to climb trees, even as adults. All of us, can benefit from their energies. When I walk in a forest of trees, I heal my inner child. When I walk in a forest of trees, I find myself laughing and skipping with joy. Sometimes, I sing and dance. I am alone, but I am not.

Trees, with their ability to live for hundreds to thousands of years, harbor souls of wisdom. Their roots mix and mingle with the energy of the underworld, where the Earth radiates love to ground and births life. The arms of trees bloom into canopies of green, harnessing the divine energies of the universe. Stand or sit with your back pressed agains a tree’s trunk, and you cannot help but feel this powerful connection of energies. It is sacred.

Before my 7 trees were felled, I visited each one individually. Placing offerings of found feathers, dried sage, and lavender at their feet, I whispered words of gratitude, and asked for forgiveness. With my body aligned with theirs, I felt our energies joined into the universal energy of love. Along with their forgiveness, I asked the elemental spirits who tend to the trees, to rebirth their energies into new life.

It has been a week of rain and sun, fitting for rebirth. Today there is the energy of gray stillness – the aftermath of death, which is not death, but a pause as energy is recycled and repurposed. The only water that drips, is from my eyes. Although I await this new life, and the sun’s healing rays, I mourn the loss of 7 trees.

A Reminder to Listen and Love

Today the universe reminded me to heal. To listen and receive the signs it is sending. I spent last week in a heavy fog of judgement, the energy I was raised in. Today, while listening to Rikka Zimmerman, I am reminded that this heavy energy is not mine. That it is within my power to dissipate it for myself, and in the process, there is the hope that I will also dissipate it in others. As a parent I am reminded that to judge your children is to suffocate their individual power and truth. Their divine lights. When I was a child I knew from the time of memory, that I was incarnated in this life to write beauty, to participate in the healing of the earth and humanity and to raise a family structured on love. It’s taken me many years to begin to step into my power. Judgement is a limiting force. When someone judges you, they judge themselves. It’s a ripple effect of destruction.

A way to remove oneself from judgement is to step back and to let go of emotional attachments/reactions to a the scene or situation. To watch it as an unbiased observer and say, “this is as it should be.” It may seem strange and foreign to do this, but if you let yourself it will feel right to you. A big weight lifts. For when we judge we feel heavy, awful.

Two days ago, while my children were in karate class, I was attempting to read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin, when two well-intended parents saw my copy of the book and proceeded to remark on the unfortunate findings that came out after the book was published. Suddenly the book was tainted for me, until I returned to it later in the solitude of my home. As I opened the book again and read its words, I realized it did not matter to me if the rumors of corruption were true, what mattered was the gift inside the cover. The reminder that within each of us is the capacity for living from the heart in a place of truth and love. That when one does this, the universe opens to all possibilities and miraculous things happen. Living through a place of love, in the heart, transcends fear and ignorance. It shatters terror(ism). This is the gift of the book.

My own book, which is waiting to be received by the world, I know in my heart, is also a gift for our time. A gift of the ability of the body and soul to heal from an environment permeated by fear and judgement. It reminds us that we as humans can transcend past this heavy energy that resides within our cells, carried down from our ancestors and our past lives, and multiplied and reactivated in this life. It is our choice to change this program to one of truth and love.

I acknowledge today that doubt and fear, and specifically that cord of energy that ties me to my childhood family, has held this book back from publication. There is an energy of resistance and fear surrounding the publication of my words that is not mine. I cut the cord. I give it to the universe to dissipate. The world needs my words. There are many, like me, who need to understand that we each have the capacity to heal. The universe, I accept and acknowledge with infinite gratitude, has given me this gift of truth to heal. I accept and acknowledge that it is, and will continue to ripple through our collective beings with the vibration of truth and love.

I extend immense gratitude and love to the Universe and all divine beings, in particular, my higher self, Rikka Zimmerman and Jennifer McLean and the Healing with the Master’s team for reminding me of this reality.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves and others is to see our truths, and through this allow ourselves to be the beings of love we are.

Namaste