Lighting Their Path

So fellow travelers, this last day of a long hard school year is filled with some tough goodbyes.

There are always shifts in staffing at the end of each year. This time around those shifts are hitting a group of friends pretty hard.

Today’s goodbyes are a reminder of another parting tugging at this Mom’s heartstrings. Rather than dwell on what’s to come I want to be deeply present in the time remaining.

This Zen moment from an evening spent with Favorite Younger Daughter at a traveling exhibit brought these words to Light.

Finding the courage

To send young ones on their way

Mothers love stay strong

Being present in the moments we have for as long as I can and finding joy in simple things like a walk through magical lanterns of Light.

lantern walk

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Threads

So fellow travelers, the importance of family has framed many of the choices I’ve made. Those choices have in turn directed which paths I followed on this journey.

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Navigating crossroads is rarely easy. In times when we struggle against an inevitable change, our resistance can blind us to possible options. Other times we are so to open new experiences, the options quickly become an overwhelming muddle of open ended questions with no clear direction. Either way a kind of mental-emotional paralysis sets in requiring some outside assistance to help us move forward.

As the mother of two bright, independent, strong willed daughters who are now in their twenties, I try to be an ally as they navigate the twists and turns of their adventurous lives. Sometimes that means taking a deep breath and standing in quiet support alongside them at a key crossroads. Nearly six decades of life experience might give me some perspective that things have a way of working out, yet I have not forgotten the feeling of uncertainty embedded my own crossroad moments.

Threads of life experience tie us together as a family. On Father’s Day evening, Favorite Older Daughter skyped with us from the top of a trail where she and some friends were rock climbing. I listened with a full heart to the passion in her voice as she described their hike and climbing adventure.

Up she goes (Photo Credit Mike Goris) This is not the spot she was skyping from. It’s a shot from a climb on a different day.

The next morning I captured this moment between my mom and Favorite Younger Daughter who is visiting for a few weeks.

 Her visit home feels like a long cool drink drawn from a deep well after a hard journey. Long distance motherhood is a tough gig. I am grateful for the precious time together. It strengthens the sacred threads which secure our hearts in love.

More than memories

The past becomes a compass

Future paths unfold

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 



Birds of a Feather

Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him?” A Course In Miracles

So fellow travelers this quote popped up in my morning feed today.

My immediate response was ” Me!  I would! ” and while I understand the quote’s intended spiritual lesson is we deny too much the power we have within us, I know my response comes from a place of truth.

Osprey in flight Fair Haven Sate Park May 2017

 

Of course I marvel at the amazing grace and power of raptors, watching in awe whenever I am blessed with a sighting. Who wouldn’t want to soar above the trees and spiral gracefully upwards on thermal drafts? I’ve had dreams of flying like that. Yet the honest truth is I relate more in spirit with the little song birds who chirrup as they dash about the forest underbrush, diving down to snatch a cool drink from a brook, darting up into the air to snag a juicy treat, then dodging into a secret sanctuary among the leaves.  Tucked safely away I would feel free to sing the song in my heart without fear of reprisal.

The admonition is clear. You have been given tremendous power. Why hide it within a smaller self?  I contemplated this yesterday afternoon as I sat in my favorite chair by our little pond taking in the birds enjoying the feeders I had just refilled. Chickadees, finches, cardinals, juncos and grackles hopped back and forth between the trees, feeders and the ground gathering the seeds with great gusto. Occasionally one would hop daringly onto the rocks by the pond and, eyeing me with utmost caution, dip their little bills into the waterfall for a quick drink before dashing back into the trees.

In my current quest to come to peace with what is I find myself eyeing reality with the same caution as my little visitors. I have never been one to give in easily to situations which do not feel right and I am not about to start now.  The philosophical and spiritual foundations of  who I am have been built from hard won battles with both personal and global negativity. Maybe this grants me the wingspan and power of an eagle but if I am honest with myself, those wings do not suit me. I am simply more comfortable flying about on smaller, more agile wings.

A flash of color

A song sung true from the heart

Tiny feathered warriors

Guide me on my path

Tree Swallow Sterling Nature Center May 2017

Who’s to say power can’t be tucked into those little feathered wings ?

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Editors note: The poem is a flipped haiku format using 5/7/7/5 rhythm



Camping with memories

So fellow travelers, found this golden washed view of a day’s end in my “drafts and edit” file. It was an auspicious moment which blessed a camping trip taken last year with a dear friend soon after my mother-in-law died.

It captures some of the feeling I am often struck by when a trail brings me to a spot of magical Light.

I remember coming out of the woods to this view released a flood of emotions. It was so reminiscent of the many old postcards we found that summer when clearing out my mother-in-law’s house. The moment gave rise to deep thoughts about the long process of shifting through the mountains of things collected everywhere; my mother-in-law, God bless her, had thrown almost nothing away. Ambushes of memories and emotions were embedded everywhere, many of them dark and sad, yet there was also much love and joy and healing, oh so much healing in that process of release.

It has been a year since Joan left this life. Time and memory are tricksters of the heart and mind. The year which has passed since both daughters and our son-in-law flew home to bid their Grandmother goodbye has a distorted feeling, like an image viewed in a carnival mirror. Parts passed by so quickly the recollections are blurred, others extended so slowly the effect is painfully distorted.  Even though he rarely speaks of it, I know my husband misses his Mom and the fractures in his family left by her death are growing deeper. I am grateful one of our daughters will be coming home to visit later this week and we will be visiting my family over Father’s Day weekend.  My family is far from perfect, yet we stand by each other, just as my daughters stood with me in the church when I read the words I had written to honor Joan’s memory.

Dawn comes darkness fades

Pain becomes mere memory

Light calls Welcome Home

We are all in one way or another, together or alone, seeking the path which leads Home.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may peace bless your journey.

 

 

Marathon 

So fellow travelers, you know those times when days feels like weeks? When the finish line never seems to draw closer no matter how hard and fast you run?

No matter. Today is the last day of classes. After exam week is over this marathon school year will be done. Time to let summer break clear the mental debris, hit the reset button and move on.

It is what it is

Still change is not beyond reach

Hope is an option                                                      

Peony blossom ready to bloom

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Surrender

So fellow travelers, one of those pieces that has been waiting in the wings came together this rainy afternoon while editing a mediocre photo.

The monster came 

and spent 

I turned to face It

Deep in those cavernous eyes lay

an aching chasm of souless void

Exhausted and resolute I offer mine

An eternity passes in an instant

as I let go

shredded into a thousand pieces

Still I remain and now

there is much more of me

I am here 

                                  there 

e    v   e   r    y    w    h    e      r    e 

I am lighter 

softer

free to fly on the wind

nest with birds

sing cicada songs

and carry dandelion puff wishes

 to the listening ears of Heaven

 

In the process of recovering from a prolonged period of unsettling and stressful situations, my current focus has been on relinquishing the struggle against what is. This is not to say I am willing to accept anything which counters my core values. It means I realize no amount of resistance is going to change certain circumstances. Moving forward requires me to process the emotions embedded in these experiences so I can find new balance points. Surrendering to the depth of feeling felt like coming apart and yet created a sensation of spacious grace making it easier to stop struggling and regain my self awareness. Time to set a few wishes free.

 


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.



Being the Buddha That Is

“When you suffer you should suffer. When you feel good you should feel good. Sometimes you should be a crying Buddha. And sometimes you should be a very happy Buddha.”
~ Shunryu Suzuki

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Buddhas in the garden at 金閣寺  Kinkakuji Zen temple Kyoto Japan 2014

So fellow travelers, a creative tribemate recently posted this quote.

Shunryu Suzuki was required reading in a comparative religions class I took in college. Zen Buddhism’s emphasis on acceptance of what is has always been both it’s most compelling and most challenging dynamic for me.

Accepting what is when one is happy or at peace comes far easier than accepting what is when one is suffering or sad.

Yet I know it is resistance to pain or sadness, the struggle to be other than what is which intensifies and prolongs suffering.

During the years I endured migraine headaches, I learned a meditation technique which allowed me to find an empty, pain free “space” within the headache. I was never able to maintain it for more than a few minutes at a time, but those few minutes often provided essential relief when I most needed it. To get there I had to sit with the pain.

As the school year is drawing (thankfully) to a close I am begining to reflect on it’s chaos and realized I needed to “sit with the pain” so I gave myself a day of being with the full range of feelings embedded in the past eight months. In essence I stopped struggling to be anything other than frustrated, angry, disappointed, confused, sad and tired. This allowed awareness to shine through the darkness.

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Fountain in Nikko, Japan 2014

Suddenly it was clear so many changes had happened in such rapid succession I never had time to recenter before the next onslaught.  In essence I have been in “survival mode” for eight long months. Even the reset function of both winter and spring breaks had been offset by situations which blindsided our whole team within days of returning from each school break.

Maintaining confidentiality protocol I’ll refrain from specifics. From a mindfulness perspective the details themselves are irrelevant. Response is more relevant than details. The difference between mindful response and mindless reaction is crucial to establishing Inner Equilibrium. Becoming aware of how difficult it has been to stay in response rather than reaction mode it is clear I have some adjustments to make going forward. 

Just the thought of going forward makes me a happier Buddha.

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Rest then go forward

Step out on the mindful path

Buddha heart within

 

 

 

 

 

Jizo, Buddha of lost souls.  Japanese Gardens, Portland Oregon 2014

Walk gently on the path my friends and may peace bless your journey.

 

 

 

Zen Moment : Rising Crescent Moon

So fellow travelers, a sudden thunderstorm filled  the evening air heavy with cold damp air.

Trinity of Lights*

Stepping out for the last dog run of the night, I looked up and saw the waxing crescent moon rising above the big maple tree by our little pond.  A tree frog’s evening serenade set this flow of words in motion.

Sun sinks below the horizon

pulling all light beyond the edge

abandoned

alone

as darkness closes in until

a silver crescent cracks the night 

and one lone frog sings out 

a kindred soul 

in search of hope

Sunday evenings have brought increasing heaviness as this challenging school year evolved. However, this extended holiday weekend provided much needed respite to help me reset my energies for the final weeks left. I have never been so glad to see a year come to a close. When it is finally done I will spend the summer building on some insights I have gleaned from the chaos.

Forward. No need to look back. Onward to a path of greater Light.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

*Postscript: for those who inquired, the “floating” green sphere is a solar lantern with a green wicker exterior that hangs by our pond. The other two lights are a porch window and of course the crescent moon.

Solitary Loonacy: One Bird at a Time

So fellow travelers, the preliminary tally results from last weekend’s birding marathon just came out.

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While my final tally of 73 species is not in the top ten on the team list, I felt a little swell of pride seeing my tally listed higher than several teams of seasoned birders. Not a bad showing for my first solo “flight,” given the challenges of being afield without my longtime Birdathon teammate aka Favorite Younger Daughter.

Little did I know how sparsely scattered those tallied sightings would be. Our basic strategy has always been to hit known hotspots as early as possible giving us the option to track unusual sightings at locations in between throughout the day.

Those hot spots were unusually quiet, missing many of the songbirds that pass through during migration season.  In most of these spots I would find more memories than birds.

Sterling Nature Center Heron Rookery where Team Loonatics scored our first owl sighting last year.

So I spent a lot of time scouting side trails and second guessing possible back up locations. Some sightings of more common species I probably missed because I could not simultaneously drive and watch along the roadside. There’s where that second pair of eyes has always been a crucial part of our teamwork.

Perhaps more than any individual sighting my most significant discovery on this solo quest was the joy embedded in the process we had laid down in our years as a Mother-Daughter birding team. My fellow Loonatic may have been several thousand miles away yet her spirit echoed in every favorite moment of this solo run.

Hidden in plain sight

One bird’s song gives voice to love

Echoes in my heart

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Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

After the Storm

So fellow travelers,  the first big thunderstorm of the season blew through earlier this evening.

Tree frogs are serenading me to sleep through open windows for the first time this year.

Night falls tree frogs sing

Gusting winds and rain abate

Calm after the storm

 Walk gently on the path my friends and may you rest well this nearly summer night.