Balance Point

So fellow travelers, today is the equinox (autumnal for northern hemisphere and spring/vernal for southern hemisphere travelers)

I greeted the semi annual balance point of day and night hours from a different vantage point this year. A high desert sunrise more than makes up for anything it lacks in colorful foliage.

My time here has become an annual tradition. A gathering of spiritual explorers in a sacred space. We come to renew our connection to each other and to the Light and Peace within us.

On my last walk from the Zen Garden to breakfast I heard the signature hum of tiny wings and spotted a bright Anna’s hummingbird darting in and out as it drank from a fountain . A different offering of color for this change of seasons.

Winged gem dancing
with bubbling healing waters
harbinger of joy

A bright reminder to live from joy and yes, to stay hydrated.

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

Morning Glow

So fellow travelers, this morning Delilah and I headed out to walk just after sunrise to beat the heat.

Dew drenched grass sparkled in the early light. Cool, moderately humid air felt reminiscent of morning walks in my older daughter’s neighborhood.  Their house is located near the foot of Powell Butte (Portland, OR) so the air is blessed by mist which descends every night from the forest above. 

Early light has a radiant quality, hard to capture but oh so wondrous to behold, giving rise to some gentle words of gratitude 

Geraniums glow

Morning dew blesses the grass 

Birds sing hymns of joy

In the midst of diligent attention to the many details involved in coordinating a wedding for two very dear friends, this moment comes as a gentle reminder. The gift of peace can be found in the simplest things.

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

Winter in Whiskey Hollow

So fellow travelers, the transition from Autumn to Winter has been grey, damp and chilly here in Central New York.

Slight differences in temperatures determine whether it’s raining or snowing . Thick mats of wet leaves create slick patches almost as treacherous as ice. The sun is obscured by dense clouds for days at a time; even the briefest of appearances is cause for celebration.

Quick look ! Do you see what we see?

Delilah and I spy the distant glow of sunshine far down the road we walk almost everyday in our neighborhood.

In the midst of gloom I received some heartening news; I’ve had to reset some hoped for plans lately, so I am going to hold this one close to my heart until it is more certain to unfold.

Meanwhile I opted for a mental health day, which initially included plans to finish Christmas shopping. This era of online purchases with direct recipient shipping is easier but lacks the personal touch which I try to bring to the gifts I give. There’s a simple joy in scouting craft shows and small shops to find the right something for each person on my list.

When the day dawned bright and clear I shifted gears to allow for a visit to a favorite birding spot.

Upon arriving , I remembered why it’s a not a frequent stop on my winter walking destinations. Early snow already covers the minimally maintained roadway; eventually it will become impassable until spring.

For now I was granted passage through and I drovecarefully along the winding road marveling at the transformation winter has made.

The little brook still babbles free and blissful it has not frozen over yet

Everything has become something new unto itself, familiar and yet not, a reflection of the path I am trying to navigate right now. I think I can see the way forward and yet, a sudden change leaves me on less certain footing.

Tracks in the snow leading to the little pond

Wrapped in the deep silence of these favorite woods blanketed in snow, lost in thought the bright chirping of a chickadee called me back.

High on a pine branch
One bird sits and sings alone
Joy cascades like snow

A simple, familiar reminder. Stop, look, listen.

What we seek is closer than we think.

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

As the Crow Flies

So fellow travelers,  the other morning, while refilling the bird feeders in my yard, I heard crows calling back and forth from the tall pine trees in a neighbor’s yard. The raucous uproar was probably an alert that breakfast was being served. The sound immediately brought me back to the residential neighborhood where my family resided during the years they lived in Tokyo.

 

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I spent several months there after I graduated from college and the crows which lived through out the city were an iconic pervasive presence. I could not set foot outside the house without setting off a cacophony of ominous calls. Annoying as that was back then, this is now one of my favorite sounds.  It creates a cascade of memories, all of them rich with emotions.

Crows call suddenly

I ‘m transported back in time

Tokyo dreaming

 

 

I dream often of returning to the land where I was born, a place which has always felt like home but never actually been my home, at least not yet.

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

 

 

The Crow Who Came to Dinner

So fellow travelers, our first day of events came to a close with a marvelous dinner and concert by the band at an open air venue by the beach.

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Sitting around the tables, hearing the stories of how people first found Switchfoot’s inspiring music, what song was their favorite and why, where they came from and how they came to be at this event – so many connections made, fans becoming friends and family.

Switchfoot is a faith based band with the rare ability to express their beliefs inclusively. They have been criticized by so-called christian groups for not being more outspoken in their music; in some areas of the country fundamentalist christian protestors demonstrate outside the venues when they perform. Jon usually goes over to talk with them, to engage in a dialogue about love, acceptance and being defined by the compassion (or the lack thereof) in our actions and how we live our lives.

People who know me, or who have been following my thinking out loud here know I am more likely to seek wisdom and grace on a hike than by sitting in a church pew. I am more a follower of the Way than the Word. As I reflected a few posts back, if I have to identify as a believer in something, I say I believe that Light and grace and healing are found on many paths and no one teaching has the answer for every person.

To be immersed in a faith based community for five days of close interactions and feel completely at home with being myself, with sharing our stories of struggles, losses and hopes, to feel accepted without judgment is a rare experience. No one proselytized, no one questioned my beliefs or tried to impose theirs. It is a measure of the genuinely accepting spirit these talented musicians and their support team truly embody.

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During the dinner, we had an unexpected visitor at our table, when a large black crow landed on one of our tablemates. The bird literally seemed to fall out of the sky and just crash onto her. Jessica screamed in panic because it turns out she is petrified of birds. While the people on that side of the table helped her, I turned my attention to the crow, which had taken shelter under our table. It appeared stressed and possibly injured, as it hopped around with one wing askew. We did our best to gently encourage the bird to move away from our terrified tablemate, eventually we were able to guide it towards open space where other people helped it reach some bushes near the trees. Reassuring Jessica that the bird had moved away from our table helped her calm down. She told us she has no idea why they scare her so much, there is no specific reason, no point of trauma to explain it; birds just scare her into a panic. Naturally this incident wasn’t helping to ease her fears. I watched with great concern for both Jessica and the crow, until that bird gradually got to higher trees where it sat vocalizing as if laughing at us.

Ah! zen moment!

A message of how the things we fear will find us and confront us and challenge us to face them.

When I saw Jessica the next day and checked in with her, she said she felt a little shaken still, but was ok. She even laughed a little at how, of all people, this bird had to land on the one dinner guest with an intense fear of birds. From the moment comes this haiku.

 

Fear is like a bird

Crash landing when least welcome

Taking flight when faced

 

 

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

Photos courtesy of Switchfoot Getaway staff.

Crow image from stock photos and sketched in photo editor.

Coasting

So fellow travelers, grab some sunscreen and a towel, we are going to the beach!

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There is something sacred embedded in that moment of catching a first glimpse of the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.  This time, that first glimpse came while riding the Coaster, a local train which runs between San Diego and Oceanside. The train is a local icon; numerous residents I met spoke of how much their kids/grandkids loved to ride it. Jon Foreman has song in his repertoire called Southbound Train, it ran as a continuous loop in my head while I took in the scenery up to Oceanside.

Those moments of sacred connection would manifest in unexpected ways through my week on the coast.

 

Blessings and grace beyond anything I could have anticipated or dared to expect.

Bookends

So fellow travelers, today marks the start of a new solar year in this grand adventure of life. Reflecting on the bookends of the first and last days

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Team Fairbanks-Rahalski at the summit of Pinnacle Peak Trail in Rainier National Park

I can see the origami of insights and growth created by the challenges weathered in-between two foundations: friends and family. As I embark fullspeed into the coming years of this sixth decade of solar returns I have my sights set on the adventures made possible by that foundation.

The road we travel

is made lighter by the Love

carried in our hearts

To all the beautiful points of Light in my community of family and friends here is a heartfelt haiku of gratitude for the love and support which has and will continue to bless my journey. You are the best gift anyone could ever receive.

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

Zen Moment: Deep Freeze Sunrise 

So fellow travelers,  a deep cold  snap has settled over our humble home.

My little pond has become a skating rink for the resident squirrels who slide across the surface to drink from little pool which forms around the heated aerators. Below the ice, fish sleep suspended in hibernation until Spring.

Last night when howling winds woke me I thought I was hearing voices singing. The clock showed just past 3am but no ghosts of Christmases past, present or future appeared. Still the eerie chorus must have echoed in my sleep, strange images swirled in my dreams until dawn, fueled a bit by the dynamics of  processing the stress from the last month at work and balancing the logistics of family gatherings throughout the holidays.

I’ve been feeling the impact of some personal losses this season too so when I caught the radiant light of sunrise this morning it stirred a desperate longing for peace giving words to this haiku styled prayer.

 

I want to believe

In every sunrise promise

Dig deeper for faith

Breathe in reach for hope

Deep in my soul I know each of us will find our way forward through challenging times.  We have strong bonds of love woven by family and friends near and far. A new year is coming and although it is “just a flip of a page on the calendar,” as someone rather jaded recently pointed out, for me at least it is still a chance to review our direction and reset our course as needed.

The glowing Light of sunrise is my daily reminder every day brings the hope and promise of  a new beginning.  I will greet this coming year holding strong in my resolve to believe the journey always brings us to where we belong.

 

 

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

 

 

Christmas 2017

So fellow travelers, the last of our Candle Night lights has been lit.

Christmas Day has come.

Beautifully wrapped gifts from my dear friend Lisa.

There will be gifts and greetings shared with family near and far. We will linger over hearty meals and hugs. Thanks to the technology  of Skype we will be together with all our kids for a little while later today.

Outside winter winds howl and lake effect snow adds more and more inches to the holiday card scenes in my yard but no weather can lessen the warmth and Light of the joy in my heart on this blessed morning.

Treasured ornaments

Lifelong memories shine bright

Bringing peace and joy

Walk gently on the path my friends and may blessings of the season go always with you.

Zen Moment: Sunset Calls

So fellow travelers, it is sunny and 53° (F)  outside today.

It’s also December 3rd.

About two weeks ago when a deep plunge in temperatures brought an early round of Lake Effect snow, the garden around the edge of my pond took on an early air of Christmas decor.

Today, I spent most of the day clearing out the remnants of the prolonged garden season and tending to a little bonfire in the backyard fire pit where I was burning off the piles of yard debris and many branches which had come down during recent windy days.

All around me, little birds chattered at a few lingering blue jays demanding their turn at the feeders I filled just this morning.  Every now and then the nasal “hwonk hwonk” of our resident nuthatch could be heard as it dug into the fresh suet I’d also put out. As temperatures have begun to dip down to freezing most nights, I’m mindful of keeping the feeders stocked with sunflower seeds and suet to provide good energy to help my feathered tenants and visitors refuel after the long cold nights.

Days end so quickly now, as the Solstice approaches, that I am often caught off guard when shades of pink, gold and purple begin to tint the drifting clouds overhead.  Today, when I caught the firstglimpse of color I jumped in my Rav and dashed down the road to a field where I knew I would catch a clear view of the setting sun . I was rewarded with this image.

After getting a few photos, I sat in my car and watched the sun sink below the treeline, painting a thin red orange line of light along the horizon.  For the first time in several days I felt completely in the moment and totally at peace.

I’ve reached that point of the work year where I am feeling the full impact from the loss of the daily writing time my summer break allows me to follow.  I’ve been struggling with a few different pieces of writing for a few weeks, pushing myself to finish something I felt was post worthy, but whatever I was trying to say was encumbered by undefined purpose and heavy emotions. As I drove home with the zen of this moment still wrapped around me like a forgiving hug, I gave myself permission to simply sit down and write about this and leave the other pieces be.  In time they will either coalesce or not.

Meanwhile, I will be more mindful of being present in the simple moments of joy, reminding myself they matter more than the “shoulds” on the “get done” list I might impose on myself.  Which reminds me the last full moon of the year is about to rise.  I’ve got some more joy to fit in before this day is done.

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