In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Solstice - Happy Birthday - Merry Christmas to come!

 Boulder Reservoir near dusk      --           both from  yesterday's walk     --      On the ice at Coot Lake

December 22nd, today is an important day for me.  First, it is the birthday of grandson Will in Nashville.  Though now a young man, Will is our child who has a sunny face and stories galore.  He is also, at his best, the sweetest of my four grandsons.  He takes after his Dad with this quality, and it's a tough one for a boy in our culture.  His Dad has learned a balance that Will has yet to find.  I have confidence that he will and hope that not many more hard knocks will be needed for him to learn that taking care of oneself must come before one has what it takes to care for others.  This year Will has asked family to wait until tomorrow for his birthday dinner so I can be there, sweet since I paid too much attention to the cost of my plane ticket and didn't get there today.  I am honored and can't wait to celebrate Will's twentieth with him.  Hard to believe that he will no longer be a teenager.
                                               Dressed for his Mom's law school graduation

Today is also the birthday of my long-time friend Elizabeth.  She is not yet sixty--young as far as I'm concerned.  Elizabeth met me when we had very different lives--she, the newly hired Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, a job most had still expected a man to hold, even in the early 90s, and me, the ED of the Enterprise Fund, an experimental small business investment fund in a city where women bankers were a scarce commodity.  She was there--and didn't flinch--when the old dreadful memories consumed my life.  Our lives have evolved.  Now we both live in Boulder County, Colorado, and focus in our own ways on our spiritual journeys.  She is a blessing in my life.

I also like December 22nd because tomorrow the days will begin again to get longer--little by little for sure, but longer, more light.  And it's that light that I focus on today.  As an Episcopalian, I belong to a faith group that looks at the days prior to December 25th as Advent--a time of waiting, the darkness before the light of the Christmas miracle.  There is beauty in that dusk before light, a heightening of perceptions that might go unnoticed in the glare of bright sun light.  That is a bit like the Christmas holiday rush.  We have to stop, find a quiet place, to allow the coming miracle of Christmas to seep into our hearts.

I don't pretend to believe that on a December 25th many years ago a baby named Jesus was born in a manger.  I do, however, love the story.  It speaks to me of new birth, new ways of being in our lives, an opportunity to change directions, even slightly, to allow Divine love to enlarge our hearts and lives.  It is a miracle waiting to happen.  Let's allow for darkness if that's what it takes for that love to explode within and light up our lives and that of those with whom with share this world.  

And for those who light up my life -- below is daughter-in-law Margaret's induction into the Tennessee Bar, which happened this past week.  I look forward to celebrating with her in Nashville!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Ode to Judith -- Changing Times

Hiking with Judith -- Odessa Lake 2012

It is hard to imagine going into a snowshoe season in the Rockies without my companion of twelve winters to venture with me into roaring winds, lightly falling snow, giving me a hand when I can't quite make the step up, sliding down the hills from The Loch or Emerald Lake, and marveling at the beauty of a snow-covered landscape.  With Judith with me on the trail, I would go forward when otherwise I might have stopped.
The Loch, a favorite snowshoe hike, has a steep climb near the top, and on more than one winter hike, I have faltered, but with Judith's encouragement, have taken one more step forward, dug in, and gone on to the top.  The photos above and below are from our hike winter before last when the sun and the deep snow combined for one of the most stunning hikes ever.

Going foward when I might have stopped--that has been true for many of life's passages over the last twelve plus seasons of hiking and show shoeing.  Her amazing listening ear, her patience when it seemed as if I was going through the same inner-journey turmoils that I had going through years before (and I was, only on a deeper level, which she understood--though it must have been tiresome). 

Celebrating beauty even when the ledges were slim and the snow was falling so that seeing ahead wasn't easy reminds me of gratitude, even when life doesn't seem so good.  We stood in RMNP's Glacier Gorge parking lot many times when the wind threatened to blow us backward.  We would remind each other than once on the trail, the wind wouldn't be so strong.  Again, a lesson for life, that when we stop on our paths during a tough time, that moving ahead, even ever so slowly, will ease the angst.  That is a reminder I need right now, when I don't know what comes next. 

Judith was there years ago when it seemed that many of our hikes required me to walk through fear, sometimes fear that required stopping until I could gather the strength to go on.  She never waivered.  We have gone places I likely will not go again.  As she leaves for a sea-level life for the next four months, she will return to Estes Park for a while, but hopefully for her sake, she will be able to live where sleep and breath come easily without the aid of a mask.  That is the plan Judith and her husband are making, the adventure they are setting off to pursue.  I wish you well dear friend.  I will think of you often, but especially when the wind is cold and the steps ahead hard.  I will borrow from your courage and strength and go forward.  Enjoy the warmth, the sea and the beach--and sleep well!