“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – Rene Magritte
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso
As I ran by the Como Conservatory on my 10-mile run on Sunday, the flowers growing from the pond stopped me in my tracks. Every day, nature is a brilliant art gallery, a gift to open again and again as if we’ve seen it for the first time. May butterflies, flowers and bees always command my attention, delight and awe.
Life is either a series of hassles and hurdles or blessings and beauty. While I’m not batting a thousand, I pray that I always choose the blessings and beauty option.
We are only asked to be alive in this moment, fully aware and deeply grateful for simple beauty.
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
“The colors live a remarkable life of their own after they have been applied to the canvas.” – Edvard Munch
“The artist discards all theories, both his own and those of others. He forgets everything when he is in front of his canvas.” –Georges Rouault
Rather than merely seeing an old wall on an industrial building, someone saw a blank canvas and painted a beautiful flower. When we look at the same old things in new ways, the same becomes new, our vision expands and understanding deepens.
Look at each day, each moment with new eyes, with your imagination. Where can you paint a beautiful flower, plant a seed in a heart?
Imagination and creativity are in all of us, no exceptions. Blank canvas, colors in your imagination, flowers in bloom all around. Start painting!
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” – 1 Kings 19:12
In the past few weeks, we’ve had unseasonably warm temperatures so all of the November snow has melted. This week, the weather people have been showing off all of their computer weather models and predicting with confidence and certainty that we will have a “brown” Christmas which apparently happens 70 percent of the time. Lots of pining and consternation amidst the hurry and hustle of what is meant to be a season of reflection, anticipation and joy.
When letting the dogs out this morning, I was surprised by a beautiful fresh coat of snow, laying quietly on the ground. And, yet again, God enters softly and says something much different than our chatter. Reminding us for the 499th time (only an estimate, probably higher, should check a computer model to be sure) of who’s really driving. And if we would let go of the wheel that we are gripping oh so tightly, we might enjoy the ride.
“All of nature begins to whisper its secrets to us through its sounds. Sounds that were previously incomprehensible to our soul now become the meaningful language of nature.” – Rudolf Steiner
On this eve of Christmas eve and in every ordinary day, God is present waiting patiently to be found by us. And when we are spinning like a top going nowhere, He whispers with a fresh coat of snow making the world and all in it new again.
He has already claimed us unconditionally. And when we stop putting conditions, rules and judgment on our life, we come alive. So with moments to spare, what God says has the final say. As it should. Merry White Christmas.
“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.” – Augustus Hare
The morning sky broken open with rain, not leaving much hope for outdoor activity. And then it ceased but the clouds lingered into the afternoon. While not perfect, the pontoon will only be in the water a few weeks more, so we launched to capture one of the last rides of the season.
The lake was windy, offering the perfect invitation for sail boats to harness the wind. And many accepted the invitation. So we weaved around and watched them dance across the water with speed and grace.
The beauty of freedom with the art of holding the sail just right with the shifting winds. One of the sail boats missed a cue and fell over. Boats stopped to check and waited until they went upright. With just the right pull, the wet sails arose, ready to join the others in the pursuit of the wind again.
Soon the clouds dissipated, and blue sky broke through. What started as a rainy day transformed into a beautiful afternoon.
Our start is not where we finish. And when we join in even in less than perfect circumstances and patiently wait for things to unfold, we discover the joy in the wind and the surprise ending filled with blue.
Blue skies always are behind the clouds, eventually and always.
“Silence is the pause in me when I am near to God.” – Arvo Part
When we slow down and allow silence to enter, our own voice in the quiet becomes louder. The noisey voices in your head that tell you to go faster, don’t try because it’s too hard, you’re not worthy or enough are not the real you at all. It’s fear.
When faced with the choice of stepping out of the boat and facing fear or giving up and staying safe, get out of the boat. Every time.
Anything that is of value and worthy of our time and effort will be met with resistance. Push through it with one step, and then the next. Try, make mistakes, get up, try again, repeat, succeed. Don’t let the empty voices from others or the chatter in your head ever stop you from becoming your best you.
Every day, weave quiet and contemplation in, if only for 10 minutes. Take a walk in the woods and witness a symphony of birds singing, wildflowers waving and beauty unfolding. Gaze into the sky with reverence.
And in that awe and quiet, you will hear your own voice calling you to your purpose, loud and clear. Listen and move. Imagine if we all pursued our purpose and used our talents. What a world it would be!
“Do not waste time dreaming of great faraway opportunities; do the best you can where you are. Open your petals of power and beauty and fling out the fragrance of your life in the place that has been assigned to you.” – Orison Swett Marden
Chaos, busyness and circumstances eclipse gratitude, awe and joy. We put off living fully to the illusive someday. When you can dance and sing amidst difficulties, you have triumphed and achieved “a peace that passes all understanding.”
Don’t lose days, months, years waiting for perfect timing to start living. Today is the day to begin anew, to be present in each moment and see what’s right in front of you for the very first time. Hold your gaze a bit longer and witness the greatness in a mere petal of a flower, the solace in an embrace and the ease that grace offers.
In Act III of Thorton Wilder’s play Our Town, Emily views moments in her life after she is dead. “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute? Emily asks this question of the Stage Manager after she has revisited her twelfth birthday. The Stage Manager answers that humans indeed do not realize life, except for perhaps the “saints and poets, maybe.”
Realize your life fully each day while you live it – the sacred poetry.
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful.” – Kailash Satyarthi
It was a two-plow snow yesterday. As the snow softly and slowly fell into the night, the wind did its work to create beautiful sculptures. This is the kind of snow made for childhood fun. The fort-making type to be sure. It stops and detaches you from the complexities of the day to enter into the playground and gallery of nature.
Like it was last week, I remember the delight when a snow day was declared. We geared up in polyester snow suits, hats, mittens and moon boots to make our way out to create our own sculptures of snowmen and angels in the fresh frozen fluff. Skating for hours, sliding down dead man’s hill until dark.
A serious snow that keeps you in the house until they plow the streets and that you snow blow the driveway a few times to keep ahead of it. And, of course, right when you are done, the snowplow drives by and creates a two foot barrier of heavy thick snow that triggers the snow blower again.
Adrift for but a while to be transported back to the simplicity and delight of childhood. To that feeling that remains in us and need only be awakened with a beautiful deep snow. A place to return to often even without the snow.
“It is a great art to saunter.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Every day brings new choices.” – Martha Beck
It was hot today so Abby and I sauntered once around Como Lake. In our sauntering, we came upon the same bunch of flowers we that we run past again and again. This time, they jumped up and down in brilliant deep purple calling us to stop and take it all in.
Familiarity brings comfort and ease, a feeling of being home. We often take for granted that which is most familiar, seeing past what’s right in front of us in hot pursuit of whatever we so frantically chasing.
Spend some time, each and every day, sauntering more. You never know what will jump out to embrace you and pull you deep into gratitude and delight.
“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” – Lao Tzu
When we’re young, we’re agile, flexible. We bend and don’t break. Experience, time, age changes us. We become rigid, rule-following, hard as rock in our ways, leading with “no,” “can’t,” “it’s too late.” Yet we have a choice to lead with “yes,” to choose differently.
So as you enter this day, start with “yes” and follow it with several more “yeses.” Be flexible and loosen up a bit. We become more agile with practice. We become more of what we want to be with practice, actually.
Laugh more, be silly, let go of all the “shoulds,” “musts” and “have-tos.” Be like water, or like puppy Abby. Softer, flexible, irresistible.
“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” – Bernard Williams
“Effort at its most fundamental level is just that commitment to try, to work hard, to give our all, not knowing where that will lead is also a working definition of faith. Life has taught me that, regardless of what we face, effort and faith will lead us into the larger stream of life that holds us. And being held by the larger stream of life is another way to describe grace.” – Mark Nepo, The One Life We’re Given
“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.” – Bradley Whitford
No matter how many times you throw the stick, Grace (my poochie niece) always runs off the dock full throttle with the same level of effort and enthusiasm at the beginning and at the end.
The stick is out of reach but only if you don’t pursue it with all of your heart, soul and being. Yet again, our four-legged friends teach us two-legged over-complicating wanderers how to live well and completely by pursuing the stick and never, ever giving up.