In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gems: Friends, Fall Colors and a Lake

Yesterday's hike was a chance to walk through golden Aspens with two friends. The three of us don't have that opportunity as often as I would like.

We stepped through golden leaves above our heads and beneath our feet. We remembered other hikes, other times we'd walked those paths.

The path to Gem Lake is steep in places, but just under 2 miles. We felt so good when we reached the lake. The sign just beyond reminded us that the trek on to Balanced Rock was over two miles beyond--not such a short hike after all.

We have walked some of life's long roads together too. Some have been bumpy, rocky, with hills that were hard to climb. These women represent deep friendships that any would be fortunate to have. Others have walked rutted and muddy roads with me. Others have shared my spiritual journey. But these two have shared hikes that allowed me to walk through fears, climb paths I would never have thought I could, in reality and metaphorically. They have been with me through life-changing spiritual awakenings--and during the upheavals that have accompanied those awakenings. Another friend commented recently on how often sadness comes with peace--that giving up of a dream--with an end to striving for something that's time has passed. Wisdom that is hard earned.

We relished the beauty of the fall colors, the aspens that were approaching red-orange. The hike to Gem Lake seemed new and familiar at the same time. Our cameras gave us new eyes. We marveled at the small and the grand. It's not balanced rock that drew us to that spot, but the grandeur of fall's forest. And we followed each others steps as we made the walk out. Our separate paths came together for a time of joy and wonder.

I am blessed to have wise women friends.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Awe and Wonder

The ones of me was taken by my hiking partner, Judith Chandler, on her camera.
Awe and wonder -- and there's no way -- even had my camera's batteries not died as we reached the huge meadow we had aimed for above Black Lake in RMNP -- that photographs convey the vastness and the stark glory of that landscape. The golden grasses this time of year enhance the rocky surfaces. The mountains above (which are beyond our climbing abilities) stand in stark shadow over the streams, lakes, red bushes, and golden grasses.

Some might see this as too barren, too stark. Why it speaks to my soul is not something I can explain. There are four named lakes in this meadowland. On this hike, we did not visit them. Instead we simply reveled in the splendor of the area. I sat and absorbed while my friend took photographs. We marveled. It was exhilarating. God's creation is marvelous!

Then we had to hike out--down steps, passing by Black Lake, across meadows and down more steps, past Jewel and Mills Lakes, on legs that were feeling pushed. The walk out seemed longer than the six or so miles we had hiked in. That's often the case. For the splendor and awe, I was blessed by my body's ability to make the trek, blessed by the company of my dear hiking companion, and blessed by the experience of my inner child's wonder.

Some experiences in nature are beyond words. We are blessed! I am grateful!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slogging Through

Slogging through life seems a good title for where mine has been lately. The photo, taken by my hiking companion on her camera, is of me slogging my way through the krummholz in a high meadow on last Friday's hike. A friend reading one of my last blogs dubbed me a "wrestlin' woman."

Wrestlin' and slogging both sound like challenging ways to make it through life. However, getting to the feelings of my early childhood seems to require wrestlin' and slogging.

The gold in this part of the journey has been unexpected. I did not consider that I might understand not only the decisions I made as a child, but which of my basic needs (as a child) motivated those decisions. Little Margaret, who met her Daddy's inappropriate needs as best she could, did it to gain affection--a natural and basic child's need. This realization allowed me to finally clear my guilt about heeding Daddy's requests and doing the best I could with them.

I had felt responsible for Mother's emotions and wanted to make her feel better. As a child, I believed I had that power--if only I did the right thing. I found myself acting that out in a friendship--surprised that this part of me hadn't healed. And naturally I had engendered hurt and resentment in myself and my friend. With Mother if I made her happy, if I helped her be well, surely I'd get the love and affection I desired and needed.

I had experienced Mother's jealousy during childhood. That jealousy erupted with venom over the years at me, then at my daughter, and even a friend's daughter as each entered puberty. I never believed I would understand what triggered those emotions. A recent experience reminded me that sisters (I don't have one) are sometimes jealous of each other. Then a light bulb went on. Mother was jealousy of her sister--four years older. We saw that jealousy, not that she could admit it, but this must have been especially strong when her sister entered puberty. We must have triggered those emotions as we reached that period of our lives. When it happened to me, I thought it was about me, but by the time it happened to my friend's daughter, it was clear that it wasn't about any of us. I'm aware that when I feel stronger emotions than make sense, it's about something old. I realized that was true with Mother, but only now can I see the probable cause.

Helping that little girl part of me deeply know that she couldn't heal Mother is a huge relief. I can finally forgive myself for not making Mother well.

All this slogging and wrestlin' counts. Hopefully, I'll put these and other insights together in a way that will help others. If I do, it will be their understandings of their feelings, with the Spirit's help, that will heal. My work could only jog those realizations.

In peace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What we see -- and clarity

We see through the lenses of our experience. Had you been with me when I took these photographs, you might have aimed your camera at a different scene. You might not have noticed the moss that was growing on the top of a boulder beside the Black Lake trail (in RMNP). You might have had your eyes on the trail--or on the stream on the other side of the path, or on the mountains ahead. The moss might have seemed unworthy of a photograph. (Moss housed the little people I pretended understood my life as a little girl, but that's for another writing.).

I've brought out colors and closed in on details by enhancing these photographs. It was fun. The water's edges turned blue violet as I brought out the green grasses growing around the boulder. The day I took the picture, I barely noticed the green and the water looked white as it rushed over the rocks.

How and what we see makes such difference in our attitude about each day. I'm skilled at finding the beauty, the good, and letting that be my focus. That has often meant ignoring peril, and not planning for illness or old age. A friend once said that I saw clearly the danger ahead. Then, he said, I walked right into the fire, as if I didn't know the house was burning. My spiritual journey has forced me to see evil as well as good with clarity. I didn't find a photograph to represent evil, but the rocks and pebbles in the bottom of the stream are brought into a much clearer focus (see the same picture in earlier blogs) by cropping and enlarging their images. The fall image, which I couldn't resist putting in, shows the rocks with clarity without enhancement!

Notice that in the photos with bright light, there is also darkness. The darkness looks like a void so the light will stand out. Are there days when the darkness obscures the light? When darkness would color the bright--take away from it? And what about color? Can we enjoy the gold leaves without remembering the cold, dark days that will follow?

Last Saturday, when the fall photograph was taken, we started up Boulder Canyon in light fog and mist. We didn't know what the weather would be when we got to the Hessie Trailhead. We had been told that the aspen leaves had turned beautiful yellows and golds. My positive thoughts were that they always looked brighter against gray clouds. That way of thinking reflects the way I coped in childhood--look for the pink skies that transformed the gray farm buildings, suck on the sweetness from clover "straws." My friend didn't want to back out of her commitment to our hike (as I had expected her to).

As we drove past about 6500 ft. elevation (Boulder is 5430 ft.), the sun blazed down on us. When we got to Nederland, we stopped for my friend to buy sunglasses. She hadn't expected to need hers. The aspens were glorious, the sun warm and the fall light's slant was magical. What a reward for going through the fog and mist--for persevering on the path!

Fr. Thomas Keating says, and I'm paraphrasing, that without evil we could not begin to understand the depths of Divine love. We might also say that darkness enhances the light.

On my journey of spiritual and emotional healing, I have days like this one, when fatigue and dis-ease signal emotional memories. Those new on the path at our meditation group last evening sought to console and make things easier for me. But I've been on this journey long enough to know that for whatever it is that's pushing hard (for more time than it usually takes) to come to the light, that after the encounter with new clarity, I will experience light in a new way. The fall light, yes it's that, for I'm at least in the fall of my life. It can come sooner, but for me it didn't.

Needing to see clearly the evil perpetrated to and around me during childhood has meant letting go of perceptions that comforted me. My whitewashed Daddy has had to fall away. Memories I had secured in a hidden storage place have needed to come clearly into focus. During this journey of healing and spiritual growth, I've also needed clarity about my own shortcomings. I've been given the insight to understand from where my reactivity to certain people, institutions and events come.

Clarity allows for seeing the shapes of the rocks over which the water flows. It allows for understanding the water's depths, its currents, and its power. It calls for noticing where the rocks on the path are solid and sustaining and where they are wet and slippery and could easily cause a fall. Clarity calls for seeing and feeling our buried wounds, letting them rise to the surface for healing and evacuation. It calls for seeing with compassion our shortcomings, our own tendencies to cause others pain

Then, with the non-dual thinking that Franciscan monk Richard Rohr proclaims, I must hold the good rocks and the slippery ones in the same focus--understanding they have different surfaces, are planted in different ways, that neither is always good or always bad. With rocks, I find it easy to see. With people, holding their good and evil deeds as part of the whole has been more difficult.

My memory of scripture as contained in the Bible is mostly from the verses that Mother quoted (for various reasons). In the first chapter of John, there's a verse about the light shining in the darkness--and the darkness not blotting it out. That's how I see this journey of seeing clearly--being aware of evil as well as good, but not letting the evil overcome the good. We have no power to change that which we cannot or choose not to see.
(The actual verse for purists who might be reading this: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:5. NRSV) The King James version, the one with which I grew up, says "the darkness comprehended it not." That translation didn't speak to me with the same clarity.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Real Change

Awareness, dedication, perseverance--big words that my Enneagram "thought for today" used to describe what we as individuals need for real change. Those words describe for me what it takes for us to change our habits so that we can protect this amazing and wonderful earth that provides us a home too.

As I look back over this year's hiking season, I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of our mountains, lakes and streams on many amazing paths. The wildflower season was one of spectacular beauty and lasted well into August.

We are losing more of our lodgepole pines to the pine bark beet. Our forests won't be the same. I don't know if we humans created conditions that allowed those beetles to flourish. I hope not. Perhaps our forests needed change and this is nature's way.

I am grateful for all who have hiked those paths with me, especially Judith, my faithful trail companion for these past ten summers. I give thanks for my feet, legs, knees and hips, that after 72 years still take me into paths above treeline and allow me to commune with lakes and meadows such as ones I've shown on earlier blogs. I could promise not to push them hard, but that might be a promise I wouldn't keep even this week when we look forward to a hike we've missed the last couple of years.

The season is changing. The aspens in their glory predict that their leaves will soon fall. As a child I believed the trees in our woods, that like Britain's Prince Charles, I talked to on a regular basis, needed a rest. I did feel a touch of sadness when their leaves of color--more orange and red than in our mountain forests--fell to the ground. I gathered my favorites--those with gold, orange and red with even a touch of green--and pressed them into a book so I could remember their beauty during the winter when the trees lost their decorations.

On Saturday's drive to the Hessie trailhead beyond Eldora, we saw trees whose leaves had already fallen, as well as glorious hillsides dotted with splashes of bright yellow aspens tucked into the pine forests. Those bare trees reminded me that we expect our first signs of snow in the mountains before this month is past.

As I think of the seasons of the year, I also think of seasons of life. I'm certainly less decorative than I was in earlier seasons (assuming I was then!). I'm slower in speech and no longer keep the frenetic pace I kept for so many years. To many, I'm old. Interesting--I don't think of myself that way. When I smile, many of my wrinkles disappear (briefly) so my photos look younger than I look to those who see me when I'm tired or sad or stressed.

Oh yes, I titled this writing "real change." Today I'm grateful for time to let the little girl Margaret, who suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to protect, grieve. I'm grateful for time to let her know how sorry I am for what happened to her, for time to help her heal. I'll add another word to those in the Enneagram thought--surrender. I'm grateful for time to surrender to the process of Divine healing--the healing that brings real change.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Unexpected Color (in weeds?!)

Have you ever felt like a weed--the one who was ignored while the flowers got all the attention and praise? Or are you a weed as a wild one--doing things that others dare not do?
Growing into my teen years, I was definitely a weed--skinny, underdeveloped (still am in some places!), and shy when thrown into a sea of new students in a big town junior high and high school. Mother didn't let me forget that I had skinny legs, didn't need a bra, and that my shoulder blades stuck out. I would come to enjoy my redder than blond hair, but Mother had wanted brunette, brown-eyed children like Dad (she forgot that he had 4 reddish-haired siblings as well as the three others who were dark). I wanted that dark hair and those big brown eyes and felt like the biggest weed around those who had that coloring. At the new schools, I stood on the sidelines socially. I was the weed in the midst of a flock of flowers. Like a bee, I was attracted to the flowers and had no interest in hanging out with other weeds.
As an adult, I was more the weed who didn't mind standing out by having career positions that men usually filled. Often it didn't make me popular, but I didn't mind being different in that way. Had I changed colors from the masses? Yes, but they weren't the colors of transformation. They were the colors that made me feel better than.

The weeds/plants pictured above were all green earlier this summer. Their sizes and shapes were different, but they were recognizable as the same species.

As we develop spiritually and shed our need to be who someone else wanted us to be, as we allow our divinity to shine through, our colors change. We can be the person we were planted here on earth to be--the colors that are ours. As the plants pictured above, we can be as different as our talents. We still belong to the same family--that of human beings, but our unique selves define our shapes and sizes.

I love the colors of the "weeds" in these photos. They made me think of our colors as human beings. Do we show up as light when we walk into a room? Do we bring darkness and gloom with us? A woman recently told me that I brought so much of the Spirit into the small room where we were meeting that it got in her way. An interesting concept--right? Perhaps she was in the Spirit's way? It was, however, a different way for me to be seen.
This morning I am aware of the origins of a couple of my huge pet peeves--ways that others irritate me by being their false selves. I hardly have room to talk. Centering prayer continues to allow me to be in touch with my various false-self parts--to notice them until I can't stand myself in those areas, to allow my opinions, anger and jealousy formed in early childhood to come to the light and be available for Divine healing. It's work--sometimes worth a laugh, often causing tears--but transformation isn't intended to be easy.
As I look at the beautiful colors of fall plants and leaves and know that they are about to fall and die until another season, I ask the Almighty to let those false-self parts that are present to me this morning die too. I pray that in another season, I will be more compassionate with my fellow travellers on this journey.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Making Peace

Peace with change, peace by accepting our powerlessness and giving over to the Divine power to bring about peace--in our lives, in our communities, in our country and in the world--this calls to me at this time in the life cycle of nature, and with the loss around us here in Boulder County.

I acknowledge the need for this peace on the anniversary of 9/11. I know this peace with the passing of a truly great Episcopal priest who was the Rector at St. John's in Boulder for 25 years and a priest in the church for over 50 years. I'm praying for hope and peace for all of those who lost so much in the fires which are not yet out in our mountains.

All of us who love our mountains so deeply will suffer in this loss, but in different ways than those who lost homes--some that had been rooted in our canyons since the late 1800s. My favorite drive up to Gold Hill to enjoy the golden aspens is now gray with ash and ruin, but I'll drive up another canyon to enjoy the aspens. I'll look for another road. Others must look for another home.

The fall color show brings with it the realization that those leaves will fall, dry up, and the berries will either be eaten or turn black and drop to the ground. Fall depressed Mother. She stood at the kitchen window and watched as "her birds" ate their last meals for the season, readying for their flights to warmer climates. She had difficulty enjoying the red, orange, and yellow maple leaves as she projected us into winter. I try to be present to each day's beauty--and I'm able most days. My camera pushes me to see beauty in all things, all people, all places.

Our blue Colorado skies arch over blackened trees and smoldering ashes where homes once stood. I can remember when those blue skies angered me as I dealt with loss. How dare the maple leaves put on such a show when I am feeling such pain, I thought the fall my brother was killed in an automobile wreck. How dare the sky be so blue and the roses so lovely as long buried memories spued around me, destroying who I had thought I was? The artist whose show and party is celebrated tonight is worrying that people won't want to attend because they are grieving their losses.

Peace for me is about holding the dual realities of death and destruction together with the hopes and joys of new life and unfolding blessings on our paths. Without the losses in my life, I would not have had the compassion I needed to listen to the woman who was crying as she chose new linens in a Boulder store this morning. She was ending a 24-year-old marriage, knowing it was the right thing for her, yet unable to stem the tears flowing down her cheeks.
Without unearthing the fear I had as a young child when Mother was too sick to take care of Bill and me and Daddy had gone out to the fields, I wouldn't understand the fear of not knowing how to do what was needed, the fear that whatever I did, it wouldn't be right, be enough. I wouldn't understand the sister who wants to scream at her younger siblings to shut up when they asked for their Mother, one who can't for whatever reason, be available.
I'm allowing for grief and loss--emotions of the child Margaret whose Mother was crying so loudly that she couldn't hear her daughter--to bubble up from within so that I can hold them up for Divine healing, thus allowing me to be more peaceful. My contribution--the only one I know how to make--is to allow God's peace to emanate through me to those with whom I come in contact in my daily life. God's peace--available to all, not to one religious group and not another, but to all. Blessed peace from within.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Loss & Home

No, I didn't take photos of the smoke. I could have. I still could. There's plenty around. It smells of smoke in my condo.

My thoughts are of friends who were among the first to lose their home--a new one for them. And my thoughts go back to neighbors a few houses down the street who lost all but the shell of their home back in Springfield, MO, when our children were toddlers and babies.

Homes are so important. They are our places to be. The place that is ours. While we may think of ourselves as citizens of the world, home is our place. I chose my parents house in town as home for many years. I didn't live in that house until I was a senior in high school. The house I had grown up in was on the farm my parents sold to allow us to move to town. It wasn't a place I wanted to call home. But my attachment to that house in town lasted long after it housed my parents. It was hard to let go. I kept it past it's maximum dollar value. I was deeply emotionally attached.

I expect that it has been torn down now. The neighbor's son-in-law bought it, planning to tear it and his inlaws house down (after they both died) and build an office building there. I know it didn't happen as soon as he had planned, but by now--probably the scraping has been done whether or not the building has been erected. That house was the one I was most attached to. It had been my first safe space.

I have moved often enough that I have left a number of houses behind. Two I had lived in when new, had chosen paint and wallpapers, fixtures and flooring. One I left too quickly (it almost sold out from under me) and other deep griefs left no space for grieving the house that I had so enjoyed. The second was my home in Chattanooga--space I loved as much because the huge windows let the lovely out-of-doors in as for the finishes I had chosen. I was awakened by the sun rising over the lake through the sliding doors of my bedroom. I looked up from my computer at my rose garden--one I'd put in myself. Unexpected tears well in my eyes as I remember it now. It was the only home I've had that spoke of me. If you knew and visited me, you knew that was my home. It may be the last one I'll have.

I have made peace with having only a rental home--space that can't be really mine as I can't paint the walls or change the finishes. I've noticed some spurts of grief as I'm writing, but acceptance is present. My space is filled (crammed you might say) with my "stuff." I have stuff to share. I've downsized dramatically from the rambling ranch on Trimble Road--the home my adult children and their friends miss. (I miss living in that neighborhood and all the activity that took place in that home more than I miss the house.) I've left furniture with my son and daughter-in-law--some they are using and some no longer of use. I have boxes and chairs in my garage. There are photos everywhere. I am reminded to spend some winter days working on photograph books.
The first years I lived in Colorado most of my things were stored or in my daughter's living space. I actually got along fine without them. I was, however, glad to have them back in my space when that was possible. Many of those things have since been let go as I downsized a couple more times.
The photograph is of my Great-grandfather Wood's rocking chair, one he made, according to the lore. It was in our farm house but was painted white. Mother had it moved, along with a pie safe, also painted white, to the old farm house on Dad's farm when we moved to town. I rescued them, thankfully, as the other piece that she had stored there that was an antique had been stolen. Mother had thought they were oak--a wood she considered worthless. When Dad and I began to strip them, we discovered they were both walnut. I got them when we closed the house, years later. I've used that image because it's of a piece of furniture that holds family history, one I would mind losing. I would mind losing the orange vase too. I blew it from a piece of glass so it's a sentimental decoration. Neither are worth a lot of money. It's the things that hold memories that are hard to lose.
A removing clutter expert once said that we should take photos of things we want to remember and save the photos rather than the things. I am taking pictures of my historical pieces, but am not yet ready to part with all of them. On the other hand, there are things that I've kept because I needed a little table or a chair here or there. So my living space is comprised of things I enjoy and things I think I need. I'm wondering about those needs. Are they real? And might not GGWood's rocker be better off at my son's home? And that china cabinet made of cherry wood from the farm where three generations of Wood-related people were born (including me)--what about that huge piece that towers over a corner of my living space? Those aren't decisions for today, but as I let go of attachments, I have more work to do.
Home--it is where I am, right?!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Falls Fires

I had pulled the photograph of the flower in its final stages of life and planned to write about fall in relation to the changing cycles of life. However, I first went to reading and editing my memoir as I'm getting ready to send a blast of queries into the Ethernet. As I wrote, I noticed that the building across the parking lot had taken on a strange orangy color and out my high windows on the north side, I saw clouds that glowed as if the sun was trying to shine through them and somehow couldn't. I was curious.

I stepped outside and smelled it. Smoke. I walked to the street and looked across the fields into the hills where I saw the smoke billowing into the sky. One of the late summer and early fall dangers in Colorado is that of wildfires. This year we had such a wonderfully wet earlier summer that what was lush grass has yellowed and the high vegetation is fodder for any spark that lights on it.

Back inside, I switched on the TV. What is being called the Four Mile Canyon fire was being reported on by Denver reporters still on their way to the fire site. They had already spoken with a family who had lost their home. A woman from a nearby canyon community called in to say she was evacuating her home. I had considered driving up Boulder Canyon past Nederland to hike today. I would have been on the other side of the fire zone and my easy access to Boulder would have been blocked off.

Smoke has now covered our recently blue sky. Ash is beginning to float in the air as if it was very light snow. That is little hardship compared to those who are trying to save their homes. It is cooler today--down from the high 90s yesterday to the 70s today, but the winds have been whipping around the 30 mph range, up to 65 mph in gusts. They say the humidity is under 10% in our area.

Those of us who can see and smell the smoke from a safe distance cannot help but realize how lucky we are. It takes such a short time for fires to whip around hills and from tree top to tree top--for lives to be changed.

It is with gratitude for my safety and that of Michelle and her family, and with prayers for those who are fighting the fire and those who have and will suffer losses, that I go back to my memoir. I'll write about changing cycles of life on another day. And I'll be checking on the status of the fire with friends and the news media--and praying for the winds to calm.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Water & Fall Light

Fall's light on the stream that runs beside and crisscrosses the Butler Gulch trail was stunning. The photos barely reflect its beauty. Sitting beside the small waterfall surrounded by a high meadow and mountains was inspiring. My sandwich tasted better! I was grateful to be alive and able to hike and enjoy such beauty. I had been on this trail only once and that was in the midst of the season when flowers bloom profusely by the trail and across the high meadow. I wondered, when a woman I had recently met suggested this hike in early September, whether I would enjoy it without the flowers. She reminded me of the water and said that it was a beautiful hike at any time. Right she was! The perfect day and the fall light enhanced an already lovely trail and high meadow and made the water dance before our eyes.

We did find flowers--the mountain gentian in the photo blooms in August and early September. Their bright deep blues caught our unsuspecting eyes as they blossomed beside the trail. But the water carried the day for me.

I have many photographs of lakes, waterfalls and streams from this summer's hikes, and want to make a photo book of my favorites. For a woman reared by a pond on our farm, a wet weather stream flowing from a spring on Dad's farm, and a creek that flowed through pastures on my best friend's family farm, my connection to water seems unlikely. However it was formed, it is strong--from the white sand beaches of the Gulf to high mountain lakes above treeline, streams meandering across meadows and those rushing down mountainsides, I am nourished, inspired, healed.

We stopped on the way down and sat near the water that rushed from above. It was mesmerizing, satisfying in a way that I can only call soul nourishing. On longer hikes there isn't time on the way down to stop and sit. I will remember (hopefully) that some hikes need only to be along stream beds where sitting and being is possible. We were alone at our lunch spot and had plenty of space as we stopped on our downward hike. It was a good time to enjoy the water and fall's exquisite light. I was blessed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Little Gems on Daily Paths

I don't have to hike mountain paths to find little gems. The dew drops caught in a web were in my daughter's yard. The butterfly was resting on wildflowers on the Walden Ponds trail near my home. And the red leaves and berries were beside a trail where I often walk in Boulder.
I wasn't hurrying or I would have missed each of these compositions. I was on ordinary walks in ordinary (well maybe Walden Ponds are not so ordinary) places, stretching my legs, breathing the air, glad to be alive.
How many times do I hurry past the beauty of small things? Even on the steepest part of our hike to Shelf and Solitude Lakes, we needed to be so present to each of our steps that we missed more little gems than we noticed. Always there is beauty around us. There may not be roses, but stopping to see, there is beauty.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Standing Out from the Crowd

A morning walk at nearby Walden Ponds caught this late-in-the-season blade of grass waving alone in front of the greenery around one of the ponds. It reminded me of how many ways I have felt as if I was out in front. Good ways, yes--among the first to have visible professional positions in a man's world in the 60s, 80s, and even in the 90s. Those opportunities were exciting--and yes, often stressful. I was visible, an easy target.

I live in a condo complex with lots of other people. Yet I don't have neighbors as such. It's been years since I had neighbors of the kind where it would be easy to borrow an egg or a cup of flour (do we even do that now?).

Last night at our meditation group (centering prayer) one spoke of being alone, even in a crowd. Others agreed. Yet we are aware that the Divine Presence is always with us. Being present to the Presence can become a positive habit. Not all believe this Presence exists, but my experience knows that it does--and that if I am aware, that I may be lonely, but I am not alone.

I resonate to the grass that's blowing in the wind, bending, but not broken. Yellow, but not dead. Standing in front, exactly in the spot it calls home. I'm older than most. I don't have the vital coloring of the young. I know that it's okay to stand in front. My feet are firmly planted. I'm at home wherever I am.

"He drew me up. . .out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." Psalm 40, Vs 2.