Looking into Nature’s Mirror and Finding Grace

(Spring Break:  Regular Posts Will Return in April)

Waverly Larch Spring Nubs 0313The cycle of seasons is nature’s mirror, ours for the viewing. Mostly, we celebrate a new season but not always the length of time nature takes to make the change.

We assign spring a date, anticipating an event that may or may not arrive as assigned. Arrival is always a mystery. In a moment of grace, nature unfolds in its own time, in its own way.

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” Anne Lamott

I do not understand the mystery, either, but I am content for the experience of it. All I do know is that grace transforms. And like spring, it is its own mystery.

Grace flows with the majesty of a meandering river. Part of its mystery is the gradual eroding of its course, without beginning or end. We do not know the precise moment we are transformed. We only know that we are.

In grace, we do not wallow or stagnate but discover and re-discover the spring of our lives not so much as to re-live but to be reborn in yet another season.

Spring is not a one-time event.

Grace moves us to deeds we once thought impossible. In each spring of our life, we emerge anew. Grace allows us to bare ourselves as we are—to take the risk again—to meet each new spring we are allowed.

We are given only one body to grow but we have the gift of grace to transform, to meet yet another spring. Our seasons cycle within our hearts, bold with the opportunity each affords.

We need not remain wrapped in winter, blanketed in its protective shell. Like nature, ours is not to stagnate or to wallow but to transform from a winter’s day into a spring’s blossom. It is the way of grace.

The bud opens, and life begins anew, yet again. There is grace in this falling away of one season for another, a radical change replete with uncertainty.

As we are revealed so are we seen. Grace unlocks our softness.

 

A Day in Search of the Theory of Everything

I am at the point in my life where I can appreciate every day of the week as just another day.  I keep plans to a minimum. It keeps me open to just what any day can bring.

Every once in a while, a day does take on a life of its own. Often, when there is a plan involved. So it was with last Monday and my plan to see the movie, The Theory of Everything.

The day began like any other Monday as I perused my WordPress reader for a #MondayMusing post to share on my Twitter feed. The first post I read–Core Spirit–made an indirect reference to the Theory of Everything.

Far and Away 0315

It is a thoughtful essay on consciousness, in particular the differences between the scientific perspective and the spiritual experience. These differences are centuries old.

To me, science confines itself to the natural world, what it can prove/observe.  Those in the spiritual community—poets, philosophers, religions—confine themselves to the experience of just being alive.

In the Core Spirit essay, scientists seek to define the natural world; the spiritual seek “communion” with it. Yet, it is a world we all share. That we have unique and different perspectives should serve to broaden understanding—fuel curiosity—ultimately, it still divides rather than informs.

As for the Theory of Everything explaining all the laws of nature and accounting for all that has ever happened? The essay ends with: “Einstein said that knowing this equation would be reading the mind of God” (Core Spirit).

Closer 0215

To my mind, agreement upon that equation will not come readily but then I am one who immerses herself in the wonder of the moment. Science may  find the equation; some say it already has. For me, science only adds to the awe.

I was pleased at the coincidence of coming across the post on the day I planned to see the movie about the Theory of Everything.

I checked the movie’s show time once more before leaving but paid no attention to the movie theatre location. That, I was sure I knew.

When I arrived at the third movie theatre location, I was told the movie is now out on DVD. The movie theatre employee looked at me askance, of course, but she did have to make a phone call to discover that information. We both learned something.

If I had read the complete movie listing, I would have discovered the fourth location where the movie was, indeed, playing at that specific time, out on DVD or no.

Of course, it was too late to drive to that location. I was not dismayed. There might be a day to see the movie but it was not that day.

Perfect Shell 0514

Once home, I checked my email. Within the last twenty minutes, I had received an email from the Washington Post, asking to re-publish “Learning Zen from a Beagle,” my post about a blind beagle showing me the way.

Had I gone to see The Theory of Everything, I would have missed being available for a back and forth email session with the Post editor. I would have missed this moment in my life. Maybe, I would have missed everything now unfolding.  Maybe not.

As for my next plan to see The Theory of Everything, my name is in the local library queue. On another day, my name will come up. Who knows what will unfold.

 * * *

For a thoughtful and concise post on the equation and the Theory of Everything, here is Matthew Wright’s “How Stephen Hawking Reconciled the Irreconcilable.”

For a considered discussion on consciousness, here is “The Akashic Field and Consciousness.”

If you are interested, here is the link to the Washington Post’s republication of “How My Blind Beagle Taught Me Zen.”

Upon Closer Reflection, Comfort in Chaos

Last week, I wrote of finding balance and the ongoing shifting of left and right until balance arrives of its own accord. Osho refers to this as a “graceful” shifting, which for me it has never been.

Rather, it has been a struggle, one worth taking on but very like sitting in a cave of chaos. I have not found grace there—not yet—but I discovered comfort, thanks to reader comments on last week’s post.

Comfort comes from accepting that balance is in constant motion. It is impermanent. When I start to squirm, I know I have shifted too far one way. It is time to let go and begin to swing back.

Balance is not identifying with left or right because in balance, I am both. Standing in the middle of a moment is mindful, and I have all the time I need.

Closer Reflection 0215

I experience moments I wish would stay forever. There are others I am convinced will never leave but being alive is being in motion as no moment ever stays. Life touches us—painfully, indescribably, unbelievably–myriad experiences ever in motion.

It’s chaotic. And it seems I have found comfort in that.

The reason everything looks beautiful is
because it is out of balance,
but its background is always in perfect harmony.

This is how everything exists
in the realm of Buddha nature, losing its balance
against a background of perfect balance.

~Shunryu Suzuki~

In looking at past posts, variations of the Suzuki quote appear in one form or another at least annually, sometimes more. Yet, this year is different. Why? I have a physical sense of balance.

Regular readers know I recently explored northern Florida with a dear friend. We covered over 500 miles in four days, which for a person with lupus is too much sustained activity. I am grateful for every moment, and yes, I was exhausted.

I am used to the routine of resting that usually follows such an outing. I  break from life, including blogging and writing. I shift from full days of activity to days of complete inactivity. Always, that has been the way.

Not. This. Time.

Peeking 0215

I do not remember consciously thinking of Suzuki’s “perfect balance of existence” but it seems my subconscious decided to trust it. I shifted my resources, not gracefully but gradually, with a certain awareness of the ever-changing balance in each moment.

Oh, there were moments of despair but they were brief, not worthy of support. I could not rouse myself to give in, give up, and wait. There was no life in that.

Rather, I immersed myself in each day, looking to the balance available to me. I communicated with my pain—sensing its signals—without struggling but with shifting.

When I went to my acupuncture appointment, my meridians overflowed with energy. An acupuncture point full of Qi (energy) signals stagnation; the needle is the stimulation to release it.

Point after point, Dr. Gold’s needles provided relief. I did not want that treatment to end–the release was that deep and that immediate. When I arrived, my overall pain level was a solid 8, my knees a 10. The treatment reduced my overall pain to a 3; in some locations, the pain was gone.

Resting came easier as did my sleep. My level of body energy, no longer trapped, shifted to the daily balance available. The body is graceful when allowed to do its work in its own way.

Acupuncture opened me to trusting the chaotic nature of balance. It is not the nature of balance or mine to stagnate. Ours is to be in the constant chaos.

My readers’ comments opened me to just how exceptional that is. Thank you, dear readers.

Every Day 0215

Maintaining Moderation Requires Graceful Shifting

For me, moderation is elusive. I struggle for balance—the measure of moderation—at times, my struggling is painful.  When I become aware of pain, however, is when I cease suffering from it. I aim for even on the day I have rather than going in search of the day I want.

[When] balance comes of its own accord…

[it] has tremendous beauty and grace.

You have not forced it, it has simply come.

By moving gracefully to the left,

to the right, in the middle,

slowly a balance comes to you

because you remain so unidentified.

~Osho~

Osho’s words remind me of Michael Singer’s observer: “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind. You are the one who hears it” (The Untethered Soul).

I find his image of the observer quite helpful in finding the balance in any moment but especially in those where I am on the edge of right or dropping off far left.  As the observer, I have an immediate distance and thus, a broader perspective much like what happens in writing.

The thoughts are in my mind and with my fingers on the keyboard I search for consonants and vowels to create a physical representation of the thought.

The distance between the ever evolving thought and its concrete representation—the word(s)—moves me closer to the center. I am not identifying with the left or the right as I move to the center–not always with grace, I admit.

ocean pine 0215

That may be the overall process of moderation—each of us has our unique way with it—and at one time or another, we struggle with it. Why? We have to let go of what we have to receive what we are given. To me, that is the grace of moderation.

It means keeping the “big picture” in mind.  Whether we are discussing diet, climate change, or the world future generations will inherit. And that’s difficult to do. In terms of global issues, the big picture now looming is an ominous one.

In seeking a balance for a better world—finding moderation—we have to change the way we live, maybe even who we are. Balance—the measure of moderation—is a constant shift, an adjustment to the world as it currently exists. That will determine the world that is yet to come.

Often, the task feels overwhelming, especially if we anticipate a future we cannot know or gnash our teeth over a past that cannot be changed. All we have is the moment to gracefully move a little left or right to maintain our balance.

We begin with observing the life we know best–our own—ever aware of doing no harm to no thing, to no one. Then, we move gracefully to the right or to the left as life comes at us only to leave us. And when we leave, ultimately, both left and right are increased rather than diminished.

The Beauty of Being is the Truth of a Woman

This week, I am participating in August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blog Fest (IV). It is an honor to support boaw-logo-2015-originalAugust in her tireless work to help women recognize how remarkably beautiful they are—just as they are.

The beauty of a woman is in her having the freedom to be who she is, free to evolve as the unique human she was born to be.

The unfolding of the beauty of a woman knows no barriers for it is within her body to give life, should she choose. In this, she is one with the earth.

Yet, the world of a woman is not equal in opportunity or access. That we still cannot find equanimity in the most basic difference between human beings—gender—speaks volumes about where we are and how far we have to go.

If we cannot equally support men and women in their pursuit of living their truth–and what else is beauty–how we can possibly eliminate the other labels that diminish each one of us?

We are one, each of us a unique thread, our own blend of beauty that is our moment in the tapestry of existence. That the beauty of a woman unfolds with all other human beings is the only opportunity she ever needs.

Perhaps beauty is the key to the door of equality that we cannot seem to unlock. Far too often beauty has been seen as a barrier rather than as an avenue to equanimity.

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth, -the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

~Emily Dickinson~

We are one in our humanness more than we are separate. Unique, yes, but we are not diminished by each other. Rather, we are truly increased. Our truth is our beauty—our path.

As of yet, we are not comfortable in our beauty so we cannot lie down with our truth. We are not yet on the path of equanimity but that we have not given up is to our credit.

To realize the full potential of humanity is to see the beauty in every woman as her truth, her unique contribution to the worldwide web of human beings.  There is no one path for everyone but for everyone there is a path.

Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj ~

In the ecstasy of life lies equanimity.

Path in Mic 0713

(The Blog Fest runs  through March 1, 2015. You can read other blog fest posts here. )

An Interlude…of Sorts

This post appears a bit late. It is an interlude of sorts–an interruption of my usual posting schedule—to revisit St. Mark's 0215some recent travel along the north coast of Florida, beginning the first weekend in February.

For me, the first weekend signals the promise of spring. If nothing else, this first weekend is the WHO festival–Wildlife Heritage and Outdoors–at one of my favorite places, St. Mark’s Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge.

Each year, spring’s promise seems a bit soggier and maybe even a bit colder but  my memory is less sharp. I always remember the previous spring as warmer but then, I seem to A Winter's Day 0215require warmer temperatures.

This year’s WHO festival kicked off a week of exploring. A dear friend had come to visit. It was a true vacation, our visit of north Florida, its Gulf coast, its rivers and an occasional inhabitant.

We enjoyed winter temperatures—I complained; she did not–but the promise of spring never left either one of us.

It is one of the many treasures of long friendships that in seeing new lands, old lands are remembered, different as each is. In the discovering, memory relays moments long forgotten. In the creation of new memories, the old is perhaps even more golden.

We grew up knowing rivers of the Rocky Mountains, clear and chatty, sometimes white in their rapids. In north Florida we visited blackwater rivers mostly, their own southern brew of organic acids and tannins.

ochlocknee river 0215

 

On a particularly brisk day we “went down upon” the Suwannee River; she is deep enough that steamboats once paddled her strong currents. In these days, wooden gliders afford the visitor a comfortable seat for reflection.

The Ochlockonee River (“yellow waters”) intersects with the Dead River, perhaps so named because its movement isWho Has My Back 0215 barely perceptible. Together, the two make their way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Ochlockonee State River Park is one of the most pristine parks I have visited in Florida and is particularly rich in wildlife, some whose existence were unknown to me such as the white squirrel.

The “history” of the white squirrel is rich and varied, sometimes involving King Charles of Spain (1499) while other explanations are more scientific and involve gene mutation. We enjoyed all the brochure stories and went in search of the white squirrel.

After some time on our own, we decided to ask a park ranger. Memories of past searches reminded us we might not be in the right location but we were among the live oaks, prime squirrel territory regardless of color.

What we did not have was a bag of chips to shake. Yet, we are a resourceful duo and are not given to giving up. While I rested, my friend walked among the live oaks, crinkling a bit of cellophane from a tissue package.

It was only as we began to drive away that we spotted a bit of white at the base of a live oak. It did not move—we almost did—before it did. While the squirrel snacked on acorns— aware of our underwhelming presence—we worked with the digital overload of our cameras.

For me, focus is always a challenge. Mine is the “aim, shoot, and hope” philosophy of photography. That may be why I prefer shots of the sea for no matter where I focus, there is always a wave.

large waves 0215

On some days the Gulf chopped, white capping in stark contrast to its tannic underbelly. Near the lighthouse of St. Mark’s, spring seemed a distant promise.  Off the shores of St. George, a barrier island, the clear Gulf waters lazily made their way to shore as if to say spring is on its way in its own time—as always.

Nary a wave 0215

On Monday, February 23, this blog is participating in the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest, which my next post will feature. On March 1, regular Sunday blog posts will return. For now, let’s enjoy the interlude.

Every Day 0215

 

Testament of Friendship

The past ripples round me. It is a time of reflection—one last look—before I let go. In reflection is the unchanged past but looking through the eyes of the present, I am changed.

kmhuberimage

Sometimes, it feels like we are not remembering as fully as we might those loved ones who have died. It is the nature of life to evolve, one experience after another, changing us as we learn to live with the love from loss.

We cling to our memories. Our reluctance in letting go is as physical as it is emotional. It is a mind and body hold. Our cells store the emotion of a memory, often as pain. In letting go of the emotion, we release pain. The cell is changed.

Our body and mind are what we eat and how we meet each moment we live. In letting go, it is not that we love less but that we love completely.

My recent blog posts have been awash in memory. One post was about finding anger long forgotten; the other remembered the Zen master who taught me acceptance. That the anger has been denied longer than acceptance learned does not surprise me.

Both posts lead me to this one as this week marks one year that my beloved friend died of endometrial cancer. Our friendship spanned more than half a century. We grew up in the Rocky Mountains and eventually we both moved east, she to the north and I to the south.

I still think of her as frequently as I did when she was alive. Often, I have to remind myself there are no more conversations for us. I search my memory for the conversations we did have. They are a comfort and sometimes, I learn something new.

Weather in weather 0314

I was not able to be at the celebration of her life service but her partner sent me a DVD of images and music that completely capture her life. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched it, especially in the early months.

Always, I stop the DVD at one particular image. It is a long quotation, in her handwriting, regarding friendship. It is the opening and ending sentences that stay with me. It opens as:

Never cast aside your friends if by any possibility you can retain them. We are the weakest of spendthrifts if we let one friend drop off through inattention, or let one push away another, or if we hold aloof from one for petty jealousy, or heedless slights or roughness….

This was not how she talked but it is how she lived. It took me a while to locate a source for the quote. The words have changed a bit over the centuries—language evolves with us–but the meaning is unchanged.

We accept our shortcomings and our strengths, knowing that sometimes one becomes the other. We lean less on distinctions and more on acceptance.

And while I never knew the quote before Maurya’s death, it is what I have now, a testament of friendship for the life I still have to live, as the closing line of the quote reminds me:

It is easy to lose a friend but a new one will not come for the calling nor make up for the old one.

(Mother’s Magazine)

I do not know that she ever lost a friend. And yes, the diversity of her friendships is a rich legacy. I am changed by her death but more so by the way she lived. I hold close this testament of friendship for the years left to me, for the life I have yet to know.

We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

Thich Nhat Hanh

In letting go, I find forever.

Sun and Sand 1013