Sound and Silence: Amidst a wordy week

buckeye.jpg

The week has been full of necessary words – read, spoken, heard, written, thought.  Personal.  Professional.    And it’s only Tuesday.

More than ever silent interludes are claiming my gratitude and replenishing my equilibrium and passion for life.   I linger over teeth brushing.   Relish dishwashing’s contemplation.   Treat myself to meditation under the stars at night and on the exercise bike in the morning.

Slipping into silence reminds me of the spring buckeye poised to unfurl; both being ripe with potential and unfolding beauty.  Both of sacred design.  Both so enticing and pleasing during these busy days of spring.

What do you enjoy most about inner or outer silence?  Or both? And how do you cultivate silence in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food: Yes, You can Feast on This Beauty

redbuds

I wait for them.  Yearn for them, all through winter’s grey.  And then one day, they appear.  A few paces in time behind the ever-brave forsythia, they infuse the still-leafless forest with extraordinary splashes of magenta.

A feast for the eye and the heart. And also, I’ve learned, an edible treat!

Cercis Canadensis, the Eastern Red Bud.

Light and tangy.  Buds and flowers.  Perfect for sprinkling a bit of extra magic on a lush Spring salad shared with friends.

I know folks whose Ozark wildcrafting wisdom expands far beyond Red Buds.  Their resourcefulness, sometimes cultivated across generations, stretches from poke to greens to mushrooms and more.   For them even everyday chickweed and dandelions easily translate into nutritious treasures.  How I admire this knowledgeable, respectful linking with the land and its bounty; this way of being in touch, in harmony, in place, and in the moment with the Earth’s vitality.

Foraging, of course, isn’t a realistic option or necessity for many of us.  But for most of us choosing foods and related rituals (preparation, eating, celebration) that boost and integrate our spiritual, psychological, relational and physical vitality is viable . . . . at least from time to time.

I would love to hear about your wildcrafting adventures and/or the personal foodways which vitalize your everyday life and being.

 

 

Food: Digesting a Garden Smorgasbord

lauritzen

Visiting a northern botanical garden in February with two toddlers in tow hints at limitation — in time, attention, flora variety and color.   Thus, my expectations were set just slightly higher than pavement level when our snuggly packed chevy sedan pulled into the nearly empty parking lot of  Omaha’s 100 acre Lauritzen Gardens located in the heart of the city’s riverfront hills.

My sister and brother-in-law, who frequent the gardens, had pre-chosen two kid-friendly destinations:  the lushly tropical, invitingly warm Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory and the windy bluffs, home to two of world’s largest retired locomotives.

The contrast was striking.

train

Organic vs Machine.   Life vs Death.

exotic

But both evoked awe.

big boyBoth had a story.  An appeal.   A part to play in the modern psyche:  the pull of the exotic, Nature’s enchantment,  power’s thrill, the rise and results of fossil fuel-based  “progress.”

My mind’s been digesting this experience for  2 weeks, ruminating on a smorgasbord of questions about Life’s directing influence and cycles,  creativity and choice, the power of desire, and the inherent human capacity to stand in the present, eyes perceiving, heart open, hands ready, feet on the ground.

hands

Which distilled down to this:  the urgent necessity of tending and feeding our togetherness.   Here.  On this small planet.  Now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food: A Taste of Modern Love on South 50th Street

Modern Love

Roasted Root and Maple Mustard Salad (photo from modernloveomaha.com)

Last weekend I drove north, traveling through rolling Missouri farmland and gradually climbing into the sun-drenched high plains, until finally crossing the Missouri River at Council Bluffs seven hours later to arrive in Omaha, Nebraska, for a visit with my youngest sister and her family.

This journey yielded an unexpected opportunity:  dinner at Modern Love, an all vegan restaurant.

Tucked into a cinder block building enclosed by a triangle of bustling thoroughfares, the non-descript eatery seems, at first glance, hard pressed to fulfill its promise of “swanky vegan comfort food.”   I had my doubts.

But step inside. The staff, the lighting, the aromas all emanate health.  Welcome. Vitality.  Quality.  Omaha, in its commercial revitalization, seems to excel in offering superb experiences in unlikely spaces.

I have eaten a vegan diet for twenty years or so.   To hold a menu where every  single item from robust appetizers to yummy desserts is a real possibility stands as a rare joy!   No need to inquire about the presence of milk, eggs, or meat.   No need to settle for romaine lettuce and a baked potato. Just let the stomach and the intuition decide.

I chose the Roasted Root and Maple Mustard Salad.  Bliss!

And yet beyond the food’s tantalizing texture, color and taste, the greatest benefit of dining at Modern Love, without a doubt, rested in my sister’s heart-full company and our shared conversation.

Indeed, in our technology-centric, disconnecting world, an essential part of modern love certainly exists in appreciating small moments with family and friends . . . hopefully over good food.  Regardless of one’s dietary preferences.  Whether on South 50th Street in Omaha, Nebraska, or in  locations far afield.

 

 

Ideal: Sweating through Chaos

yellow beltAfter 18 months of preparation, I was scheduled to take my yellow belt karate test last Sunday.  Circumstances were not ideal.   I was coming off a few days of a low grade fever, and I had tweaked my shoulder while practicing earlier in the week.  I considered cancelling.   Why put so much preparation on the line knowing I wasn’t at my best?    Why infringe on the teachers’ time?   Or on the effort of the two other students who would be testing with me?

On the other hand, I had entered a psychological sweet spot.  That inner place where countdown planning, commitment, anticipation, and the willingness to step into the unpredictable all converge.  After due reflection, I decided to proceed.

The warm up (cardio, sit ups, push ups, etc) completed in a reasonable 15 minutes. But standing at ready, I suddenly felt dreadfully (I am going to faint or vomit) ill.   To my surprise I actually didn’t panic or self-criticize.

In fact, in that physically chaotic moment, unseen calm and positivity enveloped me.  And I did something I never thought I would do; I asked to leave.

I headed for the bathroom, but after a mere 15 seconds crossing the lobby I somehow felt reasonably better.  I no longer needed the bathroom. I turned around and bowed back in.

Over the next hour plus of demonstration, question and answer, and the final set of push ups, I struggled with speed and form, but again I felt invisibly, yet tangibly supported   By what I’m not sure.  Months of practice?  The teachers?   The shared striving of my fellow students?  The simple ideal of doing my best in each sweating moment?   I don’t know.

What I do know is that I emerged from the experience feeling unexpectedly confident.  In myself.  In the value of chaos.  And in the unseen ways of the karate universe.   Perhaps this is evidence of why the first line of the school’s student creed states:  “To Build True Confidence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ideal: Minding the Gap

February Forest Light

Spring tugged me through the door in my pajamas, out onto the back deck into an unexpectedly balmy February dawn.   The moment’s overflowing freshness, texture and luminosity poured into my eyes and rushed over my skin.  Its enveloping richness exceeded (once again) the mechanics of my camera.

You’re familiar with such spontaneous, Life-infusing instants.  The ones that evoke the all-encompassing, heart-expanding, multi-sensorial Wow!   Whose gifts are preserved far more vividly in cellular and spiritual memory than in megapixels.  It was one of those moments.

Most striking to me was the utter clarity of the trees.  Their bark, indeed their very presence, shone.  Beautifully!

In the midst of my awe and admiration, the phrase “Mind the Gap” zipped into my thoughts.  And I began to notice not just the trees’ brilliance but the light in between.

“Mind the Gap” springs from two sources in my life.  My late father and my mother loved hiking together in Great Britain in May and October.  Over the years they collected tales of soaking rains, lost trails, welcoming landscapes, generous hospitality, and the novelty of public transportation punctuated by the iconic reminder to Mind the Gap.

Brene Brown’s insightful book, Daring Greatly, provides my second point of gap minding reference.  In her encouraging work, she emphasizes the importance of being alert to actual behaviors vs our ideal values and aspirations.

Some days the gap between my current capacity and my ideals feels daunting.  Sometimes draining.  The morning light pulsing between the trees reminds me that connective substance already exists between here and there; between today’s ability and the ideal.  It exists simply because the ideal is sensed and perhaps even pursued.

I’m sure you can add to a list of that which comprises and vitalizes this luminous connection: clarity, caring, Self-embracing, and an intrepid willingness to learn, to change, to grow and to keep on trying.   To close the gap.

 

 

 

 

Earth: In company of a Crescent Moon

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 8.46.48 PM

A Screen Shot From Stellarium

She rested in the gathering darkness to the west.  Offering a graceful sliver of light.  A beautiful crescent moon slowing setting.  I relished her presence, as I travelled home from town, grateful for Hwy 62’s ridge line views.   I wish my cell camera had the capacity to produce a clear nighttime photo to share.  But, hopefully, you were able to experience her company in realtime with your own eyes and wonder.

It’s been a week of enjoying celestial companions.  Have you seen the pre-dawn planetary gathering, arching from horizon to horizon?   Mercury.  Venus.  Saturn.  Mars.  Jupiter.  Prominently joined by the stars Spica and Antares. By some kindness of fate, this entire spectrum has been visible through the still-leafless trees from the quiet solitude of my back deck.  Despite the cold, definitely worth rising early.

We humans tell stories of the moon, planets and the stars, infusing them with character, qualities, myth and influence.

And what do we tell ourselves and each other about our planet, Earth?   And of our relationship with Her?  Dominion? Playground?  Resource?  Mother?  Home?

One story I tell myself is of our interconnection.  Her health is ours.  And ours is Hers.  A relationship to be honored.  Defended.  Celebrated.  With daily choices.  Prayers.  Reverence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earth: Lost in Desert Light

 

 

sabinoThe Earth offers abundant gifts.   One I cherish most is late Winter hiking in the Sonoran desert.  I love the silence, the invigorating air, and the spectacularly hardy flora. From the bold Cholla to the humble, mosslike Resurrection Plant.  But most of all I love the Light.

Cholla

Light. It’s everywhere.  Penetrating.  Surrounding.  Embracing.  Pouring from the sun.  Radiating from the prickly palette of vibrant arid browns and greens.  Inviting exploration.  Immersion.  Meditation.  Healing.

Mount Wasson

For four days at January’s end my Mom and I hiked our favorite Southern Arizona landscapes. Mount Wasson, rising from an expansive saguaro sea.   Madera Canyon’s progression from riparian woodlands to absorbing views of Mount Wrightson’s snow drenched peaks.   Sabino Canyon with its back country trails and gushing tannin-stained stream.

I had encountered a difficult loss and some rigorous professional challenges in the preceding week. The luminous meeting of earth, sun and spreading sky evaporated my concerns and melted my sorrow, creating space.  Where a phrase associated with Capricorn: Lost am I in Light Supernal, yet on that Light I turn my back arose for contemplation.  In my heart.  And mind.

My understanding of astrology and astronomy levels in at basic.  But certain aspects, such as this Capricorn keynote, have experiential appeal to me. The desert beckoned me into its Light and invited me into the enveloping Luminosity of my greatest hopes and interlacing dreams for the Earth, the human family, my friends, family, and myself.  This Light renewed my strength and prepared me to return to the Ozarks and my everyday responsibilities with refreshed initiative, optimism, courage, and creativity.

desert flower

(Note: Capricorn in late January?  No, according to current mainstream astrology.  Yes, in the view of astronomically-based “real time” astrology which looks at the sun’s transit of the ecliptic in relation to the constellations, as they appear in the night sky.  Click here  for more information about this system).

 

Earth: Finding Our Way

Signal TreeAn oak bends and rises just off the north corner of my back deck.  A graceful genuflect.  Or perhaps a forced position.  Word has it this may be a Signal Tree of the sort sculpted by Native Americans or later settlers to mark the way.  This one points to the river valley.

Looking at that guiding tree reminds me that my individual direction and our human destiny is indivisible from Earth.  Thus, we are well served to enjoy time with Her.  To observe and listen to Her wisdom, Her signs and signals.  To find our way in harmony with Her.

You can read more about Signal Trees and the effort to document them here.

Endurance: Consulting the wood stove oracle

Love

A friend invited me to a 2016 personal visioning gathering held last weekend.   She promised snacks and wine.   Also art supplies to give the vision form — an opportunity not directly in my skill set, but playfully appealing nonetheless.

A deep cold surged in the night before, and as I often do on those penetrating frosty eves, I settled into the narrow stretch between the wall and the wood stove.   Ruby, my  wonderfully plump companion cat stretched along side me; together, we soaked up the warmth.

That toasty wood stove nook lends itself to pondering, dreaming, meditation, questions and answers   I hypothesize that over the winter weeks it’s become invigorated with creative expectation.

Do you have a go-to space you’ve super-charged with wonder?  For insights?

Simply thinking of the visioning gathering initiated an easy flow of goals, projects, and initiatives for the coming months.   I jotted down the list in a small notebook I’ve taken to bringing with me when entering the wood stove realm.  At the top of the page I wrote  the heading “Carry the Vibration of Love”, and I re-considered my list in that light.

Love can be an amorphous ideal.  A word often exalted and deprived of  its everyday application.   To love is a gift.  A vocation, a commitment that expands and grows, taking many forms, filling a new year’s list. . . .  challenging, healing, enlivening  . . . perhaps endlessly day after day.

At the 2016 visioning gathering I picked up a magazine from a stack designated for collage making.   It was a random home and garden publication.  I flipped through the pages.   “Love”.  “Love.”  “Love.”   “Love.”    Caught my eye.  Again and again and again.   I smiled and reached for the scissors.