In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Meditation on a Scene

The various colors of the tree trunks in this photo brought to mind how we show or cover ourselves as we meet others on our paths. The center gray trunk represents those times--all for some, part of the time for most of us--when we need to cloak ourselves in anonymity to avoid being noticed or truly seen. The tree on the right has color showing through the gray. What about this as a way to walk through the world--enough protection, but letting part of our true selves show through. That sounds good. Which part shines through? The pretty part? True side? The loving part? Do we choose or does whatever part of us is strongest that day determine what is seen? A friend recently told me that what she saw in her first exposure to me (across a room) was first deep sadness, and second, strong anger. Both were off-putting and made me unapproachable. I have no doubt that what she saw was true, and she made these comments in a loving way--how much I had changed. However, I am sure that other times during that same period, I was kind and loving, though the sadness may have been leeching through. Fortunately for me, there were those friends, new and old, who loved and nourished me anyway. But what she saw that day was what was strongest rather than what I would have chosen to show. On the left, there is the tree trunk split open, it's color blazing in the sun. Is that tree still alive? Maybe not, but for the sake of this meditation, let's say that it is. It represents us when we are able to show our true selves to the world, our Divine selves. Divine compassion allows us to grieve with those who grieve and weep with those who weep. That may look gray at first glance, but looking closer, Christ's light can be seen shining through the tears. Jesus exhorts us to let our lights shine so that the world can see God in us. My prayer is that I can clear the way, put aside my doubts and fears, and let Divine love show through me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Presence --

This morning I am present to the clear blue sky, green bushes, and a large pine outside my windows. The weather has changed and this tiny room encased in windows is again warm enough to sit in--quietly for meditation, thoughtfully for writing, or creatively for painting, such as it is.

The wrens fly in and out of the bushes just outside. Flying away on the wings of the birds was a fantasy escape for me as a child. Being present was hard. My escapes were many. I became a character in a book, I flew on white fluffy clouds, I was transported to another kingdom in Kipling's tales. And I went down the rabbit hole with Alice on a regular basis. I learned how not to be present.

The safest place for presence was with nature. I could be with the woolly worms that I tried to get to climb up my fingers. I felt the moss--velvety or coarse. I talked to the trees in the woods, and examined gooseberries and the colors they turned as they ripened. The woodpecker was a special friend since he continued his work while I stood on the ground and watched.

At Dad's farm the limestone outcroppings were decorated with lichen of various colors. I tried (in vain mostly) to pry them off the rocks. I put a finger in the smooth space between the stickers on the prickly pears (cactus), and followed the small creek through the trees. I made faces over the spring's green water and listened to its gurgles.

It is no wonder that as I have recognized deep wounds from childhood, I have turned to God's creation for healing. Basking in the beauty of the mountains, streams, sunrises and sunsets--noticing the changing shadows and colors as the day moves on, I am renewed.

Are my weekly flights up the canyon to hike or snowshoe in RMNP escapes, or are they simply nourishing my soul and exercising my body at the same time? They are sometimes both. Yesterday I attempted to be fully present to the drive I know so well. As I came home I noticed that the colors of the canyon walls looked brighter in the cloud-covered afternoon than they had in the morning's sunlight.

We had expected a bright sunny day like the one we experienced last week. We hadn't had sunshine at Mills Lake this winter. What we did have was an almost wind-free lunch time sitting on rocks at the lake's edge. Overhead the clouds covered the sky, and as we turned to head back down, the wind picked up and the darker gray clouds filled with light snow moved our way. Soon the hikers we met starting up would be able to see only a few feet in front of them. We had experienced several days like that this winter.

Bright sunny vistas create an inspiring presence. Watching my feet and the path just ahead is more like my day-to-day presence. Just now. The present moment is what is. I was glad to be out in the mountains with my friend yesterday. It was good to be there. But I admit to disappointment that the sun didn't grace us with its light. That sun shining on the snow and glistening on the mountain peaks transports me. It's that light that God has implanted in us. It is with me in the present moment--when I allow its presence.

"Our true home is in the present moment. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment." Thich Nhat Hanh
PS: For a view of Mills Lake in winter (with a cloudy sky), go to the December 18th post about holiday thoughts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dangers that surround us

From the front yard of my hilltop home in Chattanooga, when the trees were bare, I could see the cooling towers of the Sequoyah Nuclear plant, owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. It never gave me warm fuzzes to look at those towers, but the area was so beautiful, overlooking the junction of the Tennessee River and the Chickamauga Reservoir, that I failed to notice them when I bought the place on a sunny early summer day.

A friend's sister worked in an area where she wore hasmet suits while on the job. A couple of times she was exposed to what she was told were tiny amounts of radiation. We had regular practice air siren tests. We didn't check our readiness bags when we heard the sirens. Maybe some did, but I wasn't of aware of those folks. It was simply what was.

I had been an active member of Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM), working against mountain-top coal removal (which we squelched for a few years). Nuclear must be better for the environment, right. Cleaner, yes. The minimal impact on my winter views was much less than that of silt and coal dirt that accumulated in the river beds of East Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia, making the water unfit for animal or human consumption. The Nuclear technology was safe, the cooling towers thick. And at Sequoyah, TVA constructed and purchased NRC-approved storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel. It was done right. We were vanquishing the environment's evil strip mining, making the enviroment cleaner. Yes--unless there was a disaster at a nuclear power plant.

Plans are now underway to produce bomb-grade tritium at the Sequoyah plant although there are loud protests from neighbors and environmental groups. I'm wondering if the deep budget cuts proposed in Congress will have any effect on those plans.

It does seem that curbing our insatiable desire for power is the only safe solution--and that one doesn't seem to be on the table.

We have been given a wonderful, amazing earth to live in and enjoy. It seems that it is difficult for us to find ways to live that allow us to respect and honor this earth.

I am so extremely fortunate to live in a beautiful part of this country and experience the glories of nature often--driving into town or walking in the area, the Flatirons, pictured above give me joy. Evening sunsets provide joy. My conserving practices are small. I must look for ways to do more to preserve this planet.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Endings and Faith

This morning I am thinking of a former brother and sister-in-law after learning that she died last evening. End-stage renal disease was the culprit so this had been a process. She had a deep faith as does her son who let us know through Facebook. Brother Bob has been a part of her faith tradition for forty some years so I suppose he does too. Though their way of thinking about faith and mine are different, that faith must help.

I didn't begin this writing with the intention of writing about faith, but that's what's showing up.

Her son wrote on Facebook to cousins and aunts (of which he still considers me one) that his mother had passed into the arms of her Savior. That provides a beautiful image, one of love and

I'm more concerned with faith in this moment by moment existence than with the end-of-life faith. I think of them as one. Today is when I need faith in God's love, the Divine Wisdom of which we are all part. Selfishly I suppose, I want my share of that faith and Divine Wisdom.

The Gospel writers all quote Jesus as saying, My love is sufficient, in various ways.

I ask for clearing of the muck that prevents that love from shining through me as part of all my prayers, the openness to let the critical voice go quiet and Divine love pour through. Compassion is the name most often assigned to that Divine love in my world. Faith in that compassion and its striving for the best in all of us is the faith I most need.

I also need faith that the Holy Spirit, my inner voice of that Divine, will show me where and how I'm to use my talents, a way to share Her healing message--if that call is true and not my old self showing up to give me a sense of mission. Faith when the mission doesn't seem to have a path, when the way is unclear; faith to take a step and trust that if it isn't the right one a correction will come before I've wasted too much energy or time--that's faith I need today.

I want to be wrapped in that Divine love now. Is that asking too much?!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Music Everywhere

I realized as I sat down to write this morning that I had two subject sloshing around in my head--as opposed to mornings when my head feels empty of anything to share. I also realized that because I pair writing and photos that I haven't written about other passions, music being an important one.

Recently I have been blessed to hear live music that has been creative and inspiring. It has included the Met's live HD performance of Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride in a Boulder theater, a concert by a local chamber music orchestra, and several of the weekly free concerts by Colorado University's College of Music faculty. There have been evenings when I thought I was too tired to drive to CU for a concert. Then I would remember that I would be tranported from my daily activities to another realm, one of beauty in which I could wrap myself.

The talented violinist, the Chinese pianist, the baratone singing Odgen Nash's poetry all took me with them as they used their talents. However, I was most stirred and inspired by faculty composer, Daniel's Kellogg's program. I also recently heard a CD rendering of a composition by Joseph Landers, a Montevallo University (in Alabama) professor, whom I knew as a young boy. These young men create music that's new, sometimes edgy, both vibrant and shimmering.
How blessed we are to have their creativity in our midst.

Music in my early childhood was primarily that of hymns and children's Sunday School songs. Deep and Wide, Climb, Climb Up Sunshine Mountain, and Jesus Loves Me are examples. We looked forward to the birds' return each spring, to their songs. Mother's favorites, the blue birds, came to the kitchen window, where Mother whistled their tunes back to them.

I learned to tune out screams and cries, even sniffling. I didn't know that in shutting out sounds of pain and grief, that I would lose ability to discriminate close tones and replicate notes of music. That in ignoring sounds that were bad to me, I wouldn't have the acute ability to hear beautiful sounds. This is another rung in the "it takes darkness to perceive light, despair to enjoy hope--all of those truths that are not what we want to believe. As I've been willing to remember the harshest sounds of my childhood, I've recovered some of that fine discrimination, but with age, not all of it.

The sounds of crickets and frogs were evening music, sometimes a chorus in the night. The rooster's crow rose above the birds singing in the pear tree by my bedroom window and signaled that it was time to get up.

Water's music was and is today one of the most soothing or energizing sounds--as long as it is not rushing to overflow its banks in the spring thaw. As a child I begged to go with Dad to his farm, the other place, for several reasons. One was to trudge to the spring and listen to the sound of the water as it bubbled from wherever its source and flowed over the rocks and into the little creek bed, down through the trees that held vines strong enough to hold Billy and me as we swung, pretending to be Tarzan and Jane of the jungle. The spring and creek's music was quiet in the winter, robust in the spring, leisurely in the summer--until with August's heat it dried to a trickle.

I look forward to spring's thaw and hikes along side rushing creeks, their roar sometimes so loud that talking must cease until we come to a quieter place. In the meantime, I will enjoy live music as it's presented around Boulder and fits my budget, and I will play more of my CDs at home and in the car. There is music for every mood and any occasion. And I will enjoy the music of laughter, especially that of grandson, Sam. I am blessed with the sound of music.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Anticipating Spring

Yes, I'm ready for spring. Here in the Rockies one can imagine on these warmer days that spring is around the corner. It is, but not around an immediate corner.

I had a start this morning when I looked through the photographs that I had transferred to "pictures" from my Olympus site. Many of those that aren't of friends and family are titled "end of" something. Some of these photos I have used on this blog. That sounds a bit depressing, even when titled "beauty at the end of ...."

Today I'm fast forwarding to spring and thinking of new beginnings. Yes, the flower photos are from last year's early hikes. Those of you from the South have a jump on us. Some of you have blossoms in your gardens all year around. My photos are of last year's early wildflowers--my only garden these days.

Wildflowers. Wild blossomings. Perhaps this later in life time allows for tapping into our natural wildness. I'm referring to our deep Divine selves that are willing to risk trying out new things, putting ourselves out there in new ways, risking failure, dissolving walls and extending our love and compassion.

For me this means risking more rejections from agent queries to represent my memoir. It means reminding my friend who said she would help to find time to keep her promise. It means finding places to give my nature and healing talks--and including photos that represent the stark side of nature as well as her beauty. It means extending a hand in a different way and allowing myself to identify with others who have been damaged in similar ways.

I've stayed in easy places--centering prayer groups, church groups. Even in my role as a board member of our local CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) non-profit, which works with neglected and abused children in Boulder County, few know how much I could have used a CASA in my childhood--not that such programs existed then.

I like to look good, to cover my scars, to talk about healing as if it comes easily (and perhaps for some few it does). Being vulnerable in new ways is a challenge. Telling my story in ways that let those who hear reach deep inside themselves and find their own buried wounds and bring them up for healing is a delicate balance. Telling just enough--not so much that feeling sorry for me is the reaction. Understanding which stories resonate with a particular audience. It would seem that I need a series--so on one occasion I might use numbers 1, 3 and 5. On another nos. 2, 4 and 6. Something like that. Then the photos would have to be versatile too. Just brainstorming.

What in your life has a new beginning, a new way of seeing or being? Where is a place that you have been hiding and might be willing to be seen?

Anticipating spring makes me smile. Warm sunny days are comforting. Wildflowers bend in the wind and straighten back up. They share their beauty indiscriminately. Can we do the same?