I Didn’t Know I couldn’t do it, so I did.

After being on a five month hiatus from my blog, I am pleased to share a guest blog from a good friend, Sandy Sarr.

Three nights ago, in my sleep, these words came to me:

IMG_3409
This is the tree I climbed 50 plus years ago.

I didn’t know I couldn’t do it, and I went forth and did it.

I often don’t remember dreams or words that come in the night, but these words insisted I remember them.

Today, seemingly unrelated to the dream words, I thought about climbing a hugh elm tree that became know as the “high spot” because no other kid in the neighborhood had climbed as high into the tree’s branches as I did when I was eight.  I climbed up and up and settled into a crook, where the branches cradled me, a perfect perch to look down at the ordinary world. My new friends marveled at my climbing skills.

I don’t know when I became afraid of sitting up there in the old leafy tree across the street from my grandmother’s house in Chaska Beach, Ohio. But I have a memory of my father standing beneath me, arms up stretched, saying “Jump! I’ll catch you!” And I felt more afraid of jumping toward him than I did sitting there and getting myself back down to the earth. I never jumped. I climbed back down from my sky haven to safety only to return to the high spot again and again.

That memory involving my father may be a childhood fantasy that took root in my imagination like the roots that held the tree and me aloft. I only saw my father three times growing up and never again as an adult. Perhaps It was a desire my father would be there for me, and that he would watch me and protect me from danger.

Whether he was there or not, I got myself to the high spot, and I got myself back down to the ground.

I didn’t know I couldn’t do it, and so I did.

And now something wants me to know that I can get to another kind of high spot yet again, if only by the mystery propelling each small movement forward to new vistas.

Sandra Sarr, is a writer and poet living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she works at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine telling the stories of animals and those who bring them for healing. With bachelor’s degrees in journalism and sociology and a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing, she is revising her novel, The Road to Indigo. Her poem, Strange Currency, will be published in an anthology titled, Alone Together, in September.

Winter Solstice

A Wsnow-covered-pine-trees-910311.jpeginter Solstice Blessings

May you find peace in the
promise of the solstice night,
That each day forward is
blessed with more light.
That the cycle of nature,
unbroken and true,
Brings faith to your soul
and well-being to you.
Rejoice in the darkness,
in the silence find rest,
and may the days that follow
be abundantly blessed.

Rilke considered the cold season the time for tending one’s inner garden. “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

May you find peace and rest in the invincible summer within you.

Happy Holidays!!

 

Reside in Gratitude

DPPP_0093.jpegThe Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.          

I return to this poem to remind myself to rest in the grace of the world.  This past week has been very tumultuous for me. After a week of impeachment hearings and the Democratic debate I am exhausted. It’s been a week of deep sadness as the great divide in our country seems to deepen. Each side seems to harden their position regarding President Trump’s impeachment hearings. How can we begin to bridge the gap and become one country again?

I woke this morning and knew I had a choice.  I could stay angry and grief-stricken or I could choose to reside in gratitude.  As I returned to gratitude, I felt my whole body unwind.  I looked around my home and realized how much I had to be grateful for.  My friends, my clients who entrust me with their stories, my garden, the birds that grace my feeders, the seven miles of nature trails out my back gate, and so much more.  These bring me joy and take me out of the anger and grief. Nature brings me back to my center.

I will not bury my head in the sand. I’ll continue to take action when I feel others are being unjustly treated, but I choose not to linger there.  I choose to return to gratitude, joy, and hope.

May you choose to reside in gratitude for your health and well-being. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving remembering all that you have to be grateful for in your life.

This is an updated version of my Thanksgiving post from last year.

Plant Communication

IMG_1004I have always been fascinated with the thought of plants communicating with each other and us. Thanks to quantum physics we have moved from a reductionist look at life to the reality of our interconnectedness with all living beings human and non human. There are three stories that have always touched me that demonstrate the communication of plants.

The first is one that happened back in the late 1990’s. It is about a young woman named Julia Butterfly Hill, who took up residence in a 1,500 year-old redwood tree for 738 days to protect it from Pacific Lumber Company. Pacific Lumber had been hired to down this entire grove of redwoods. Julia was supported by a group of activists who set up a pully system to send her food, etc., as she was able to send down waste. She affectionately named the tree Luna. Pacific Lumber Company tried all kinds of legal maneuvers to get her out of the tree. Finally out of frustration they decided to take all the trees around her and leave her and the tree. As soon as the chainsaws started, Julia said that Luna began emitting sap, not just a little, but amazing quantities pouring over her and her platform. Luna had not emitted any sap in the days of living in her shelter. Julia was convinced that Luna was crying for her partners in the grove. Was Luna crying? No one can know for sure. I choose to believe she was, as she began to witness the destruction of her family.

The second story comes out of the University of Arizona. Its science department was doing research on plant life in the desert. Again, this was the late 1990’s. What they found truly surprised them and started them on a completely new path of research. The Arizona desert is filled with wild pigs called Javalenas, or commonly known as Collard Peccary. They observed that as a Javalena was eating the berries from one shurb, the shrubs surrounding this one were being left alone by the other pigs. As they researched this phenomenon they discovered that the shrub being attacked sent out distress messages to the plants through its root system warning them of disaster. Receiving the message, the plants developed thorns preventing the pigs from eating their berries.

The last study study is the findings that trees talk to each other. Scientists have found they communicate via pheromones, hormone like compounds that are wafted on the breeze. When one tree is being attacked by insects, gypsy months, or beetles it sends out distress signals. The downward trees catch the drift, sensing those few molecules of alarm. This gives them time to manufacture defensive chemicals benefitting the entire grove.

Plant life survives through unity and communication, protecting each other from harm.  We humans do the same thing. It seems hard to believe at this time of deep divide. I

IMG_1012know that if I were stranded on the freeway a majority of those passing would stop and help. They wouldn’t ask my political allegiance. I write this post as a reminder to me, as well as others, that we do stick together in times of crisis. Our country seems so divided, flamed by hate-filled rhetoric, that it sometimes feels there is no hope. I return to the simple belief in kindness. I see it every day when I pay attention.

May we pay attention to acts of kindness we receive and give each day. This is our way of caring for each other, maintaining hope in a world that seems to have gone array. We need it more than ever at this time in history.

Transitions

IMG_1126Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. Rumi

What better time to write about transitions then when fall is slowly turning to winter. I’ve always used the seasons as a way to look at my own growth. In fall I love walking in the crisp air and seeing the vivid colors that tell me fall is in its prime. I watch the leaves let go and fall to the ground, and ask myself “What do I need to let go of.” I mourn the slow loss of my roses, dahlias, and other summer plants. I watch them die away, going dormant, preparing for the rest winter offers for renewal. I ask myself, “What is dying within me?” “What wants to be birthed?” These are questions of transition. Questions many of us ask, and often want quick answers.  I turn to Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote reminding me to be patient:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

It is often hard for me to “live the question.” I let the questions free float as I do walking meditations. I make space for the answers by slowing down and listening to what comes forth.

May you find the time to be patient and “Live the Questions” of your life.

 

Miracles

70404619_2413056612106815_8560608121511215104_n.jpgThere are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is to see everything as a miracle.     Albert Einstein

I have lived in both worlds. I now choose to see everything as a miracle. Living as though nothing is a miracle creates a darker world. I lived in a world of cynicism, distrust, anger that shaded my interactions and experiences. A wonderful definiIMG_1084tion of a cynic is “One who is a disenchanted idealist.” That was certainly me. Coming of age in the sixties I believed anything was possible. For a decade I thought we could change the world. Becoming a cynic protected me from the reality that change is slow and one step at a time.

Today I believe that everything is a miracle. I still have my moments of anger as I live in a world that is deeply divided and hate-filled. Instead of raging I feel deep sadness and know that this too shall pass. I know that my presence can make a difference through kindness, a smile, a word of encouragement. Bringing a smile to another’s face is a miracle. One step at a time is all we can do.

When I notice myself getting down, I walk outside and let nature renew me. How can I not see the miracles of a rose unfolding, or a flicker bathing itself in my bird bath? These are small everyday events and true miracles. Taking a hot shower each morning is a miracle. There are so many hands that help bring the hot water to my home. I know how blessed I am, as so many people in our world don’t have this luxury. Miracles are in front of us every day.

These are two of my favorite quotes that speak so simply to life as a miracle.  “If you are bored, you are not paying attention.” Fritz Perls, and “Stay close to anything that makes IMG_1122you feel alive.” Hafiz.

May you feel the aliveness of miracles throughout your day.

 

Be Astonished

Mary Oliver speaking at a gathering in San Francisco, told the audience, “I want to speak to the young people in the audience.” She said, “Pay Attention
Be Astonished
Tell Someone.”

These three instructions have stayed with me. Being astonished evokes a sense of awe within me as I am pulled out of myself and  feel connected to something greater. With the daily headlines shouting out climate destruction, mass shootings, and hate filled, divisive rhetoric, I find myself retreating to the beautiful seven miles of nature trails out my back gate. I am blessed to be so close to an old growth forest.

My garden is another refuge. Watching the flowers slowly opening to their amaIMG_1084zing beauty. Watching and listening to the various birds that grace my feeders brings me joy and peace. I often think of Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Peace of Wild Things” where he says,  

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in this beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things

Research suggest that the sense of broader connectedness and purpose evoked by awe can help relieve negative moods and improve happiness. Evoking feelings of awe may be especially helpful when people are feeling bogged down and disconnected. Doctors are now prescribing walks in nature over medication. Abraham Heschel defines awe as a “Sense of transcendence, for the reference everywhere to mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine…..What we cannot comprehend by analysis, we become aware of in awe.” He further states, “Awe is the beginning of wisdom.”

My teacher and mentor Matthew Fox once said, “You must fall in love at least three times a day.” Yes!!! I practice falling in love, being astonished, with the beauty that surrounds me daily. It helps me move out of a sense of despair and into awe and wonder.

May you fall in love at least three times a day, and be astonished with the mystery of our universe.