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



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.

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.

Accepting Joy

So fellow travelers, each morning a thought for the day arrives by email.

Good morning. Here comes your morning moment of zen.

Today’s message spoke of acceptance.  More specifically, it referenced accepting our part in a Bigger Plan of what’s unfolding in this life.

That’s been a challenge for me this year, yet slowly I am coming around to comprehending some of the pieces.

In my adolescent years, I knew with the brash certainty of youth there could be no Grand Plan. Life’s twisted circumstances were far too random to make any sense. Along the way to here and now, my experiences with unexpected serendipity and Universal Consciousness gradually brought me back to center.

Dawn kissed dew scatters fairy lights across fresh spring grass.

 

Those experiences were more likely to be a glint of sunlight than a flash of cosmic lightning. The lessons came as quiet whispers, gentle reminders of inner truths waiting to be heard. This not to say my journey did not have it’s crash and burn episodes.

I’m grateful for those tough lessons too. Grateful to have come through stronger, more aware if not outright wiser and most of all with a deeper compassion for those who suffer or struggle.

If this belief in the inter-connectedness of life through all space and time is a simple minded attempt to give meaning to my otherwise insignificant journey, well, I’ll take that as it is. After all I crave simplicity more than ever these days.

Like the simple joy of catching golden light at sunrise in a shimmering dew drop.

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

The Gravity of Illusion

So fellow travelers, those moments we pass through when changes come so fast and furious we lose sight of all points of reference like being caught in a vicious riptide until exhausted, we cease to struggle and in letting go find ourselves drifting, free at last from the current and able to swim to shore.

Such a strange existence

 this life under water

 bound by illusion’s gravity

 captive in mind’s mirror

 until a pebble of child’s laughter

 breaks the surface tension

 sending ripples of joy to break us free.

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

Zen Moment Sunburst

So fellow travelers, lately the emotions of long distance love have stretched some heartstrings to near break point.

When family fills your heart, miles bridging months expanding into years sometime seem vast beyond reason. More so when one’s immediate purpose has lost its drive.

I’ve always said I never wanted to become one of those ghosts who show up at the door just to get in the hours to hit some designated benchmark. That is not who I am.

Which is why I’m struggling to redefine the meaning in my work day situations.

Then a bit of Light breaks through the dense fog of uncertainty and wakes my spirit with this

Sunburst after rain

Memory of a moment

Love arcing through time

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One moment of magic reminds me joy need not wait.

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

Random Bliss

So fellow travelers, work has been whackadoodle (shout out to fellow blogger Tom Atkins for finding the perfect descriptive terminology.)

Going into week three of this chaotic spin it’s starting to take a toll on me.  When incidents I’d normally consider as “outliers” keep happening,  I find myself starting to question my perception and grasp on reality.  Tom’s blog piece brought me back to center with his reminder we have to keep seeking peace.

So on my way to work yesterday morning when I caught a glimpse of the waning crescent moon, in the velvet pre-dawn sky, I stopped to take it in. Diamond bright in the crystal clear frost bitten air it sat cradled perfectly in the arms of the giant sycamore that stands as our front yard Guardian Spirit.

I did not go back inside to get my camera, but I did take the time to fully absorb this moment of bliss and then, mindful there was a poem stirring in all that joy, I snapped a shot with my phone.

Bliss

random

fleeting

yearning

listen

calling

hear me

find me

see me

 be me

heart lit

holding

mem’ry

soul filled

 Thank you

 

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

 

 


 

 

 

Becoming Conscious

So fellow travelers,  have you ever committed to do something and afterwards realized you have no idea how you are going to pull it off?

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Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

In one of my first posts of this year, I wrote about not allowing fear and anger to cloud compassion.  Compassion fuels kindness and kindness is my chosen focus in life.

Being a rather strong willed human the gentle aura of kindness might not be the first frame of reference people associate with me.

After all, “Though she be but litte, she be fierce” * was the runner up choice for my Senior Yearbook quote. One does not hear people described as fiercely kind and compassionate.

Com~passion : communal(shared)~ strong emotions.

Passionate emotion comes easy to me, compassion has taken more focused practice. On so many levels this is why I feel the increasing weight of my choice to act from compassion, particularly because I have yet to master the art of managing anger with compassion.

In a TED talk given in 2015,  psychologist Russell Kolts describes the practice of using compassion to empower oneself to deal with the things which frighten us most about our world and ourselves. He considers compassion as a form of courage which helps us face our greatest fears and recognizes anger as a way of avoiding the things we fear most.

Anger is exhausting. Fear is debilitating. They take a tremendous toll on our spirit. Yet, how do we not feel aggravated when facing an increasingly mean-spirited wave of self centered oppression, when invoking kindness is labeled cry-baby liberalism, expressing concern for those less fortunate is equated with socialism and women speaking up for social justice are told to sit down and mind their place?

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Eye in the Winter Sky February 2017

Mindfulness– the practice of training oneself to become fully aware of the experience within each moment. What am I feeling about what my senses are taking in? What are those feelings telling me about myself?  Mindfulness allows me to acknowledge those feelings and recognize the fears and hopes within them. This process slows the impulse to react, giving me a chance to rebalance,

breathe

to BE

and by BEing I consciously choose the feeling that infuses my actions.

Anger becomes determination, fear becomes temperance, impulsive reaction is replaced by conscious action; taking action becomes easier because the weight of negative emotions has been lifted.

It’s taken a two week battle with a flu-like respiratory infection to make me fully aware of how far I had wandered from my balance point.  When a day at work required a hour of sleep to garner the energy to heat soup for dinner and a walk around the neighborhood with our dog felt like the three mile lake loop we are accustomed to hiking in warmer seasons, being flattened to such a state of simply exisiting, brought into sharp focus the cumulative effect several months of stress has taken on my body, mind and spirit.

Time to hit the reset button.

Walk gently on the path my friends for kindness matters.

*Shakespeare: Midsumer Nights Dream Act 3 scene 2. No, I did not play Hermia,  to whom the line refers; I was perhaps not surpringly cast as the mischievous pixie Peaseblossom.

peaseblossom

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Blessings

So fellow travelers, a bit of Light and Winter Wonder found on a late afternoon.

 

Distant Light glistens

Hidden fairy pond revealed

Secret cache of joy

I discovered this gem on a walk last week before endless steel grey clouds locked the skies in dreary monotones. It was one of those days when bone chilling cold tries to snatch the air back out of your lungs as you breathe but brilliant sunshine bids you take the risk. Blinding snow crunched under foot like broken glass as I walked this trail lost in somber thoughts about the changes the coming year might bring. A solitary chickadee called from an distant barren tree.  Clarion notes which sang a reminder that “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”*

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

* Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2~  I don’t quote The Bard often, but when I do it’s because we are analyzing Shakespeare in an English class one of my students is in. The line seemed a fitting reminder as inauguration day approaches