Mornings at Blackwater by Mary Oliver, Red Bird
“For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.
What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
Fill your mind and heart with beauty and light to stay positive, to live positive and to never succumb to the magnet of negativity. Guard your heart, keep it soft. Fill your thoughts with love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding – those things that make absolutely no sense and are not warranted. And yet there is no peace without them.
Fight the good fight and live YOUR life. No regrets, unrelenting joy and a peace that passes all understanding.
“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.
“You have to sniff out joy. Keep your nose to the joy trail.” – Buffy Sainte-Marie
Don’t let your guard down. Be intentional. We can easily stray off the joy trail by meaningless distractions, busyness, over-committing, trying to jam one more thing into a minute so we miss the minute that we’re in.
As you enter into these final days of Advent and the dawning of a new year, put on the brakes, pull over and take in the beautiful scenery. Be aware and awake and most importantly, in awe. Choose quality or quantity, essence over efficiency, wow over worry, relationship over transaction, slow over fast, quiet over clanging, depth over width.
“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” – Guillaume Apollinaire
Hunt for joy with vigor, hope and assurance that it is there to be found, not too far in the distance. If there’s a road I intend to travel in 2019, it certainly is the joy trail. Join me so we can take this journey together. Today is the only day promised to us. Don’t miss it.
“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” – Jim Rohn
Bending and not breaking. That’s what we are made of. To flex, to move, to flow, to dance. When we stop fighting change and move into it, we find our strength. There is magic in the mystery of not knowing everything and allowing life to unfold. Set your sails.
“The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.” – Aesop
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl
When we step back, remove ourselves from the chaos of busy to get a more complete and full view, we discover the freedom that we already have right now, should we choose to exercise it. Our thoughts and assumptions can either free us or imprison us. If we live only with a snapshot view that this moment will be forever, we surrender our joy and freedom to be content and grateful where we are no matter the circumstances.
Life is made up of moments that weave together to create a bigger story, a beautiful fabric. Sometimes it makes sense, other times it doesn’t. But it unfolds as it should. Trust in the story as it unfolds and embrace your freedom to choose the next chapter.
If changes need to be made, make them. If they don’t, change your view. And by all means, soar.
“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.” – Carl Sandburg
“Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity.” – Oscar Wilde
“Every thought, word and deed is a pebble in a pool. The ripples circle outward. They eventually reach the shore and then return to us. We are the creators of the life we are living. If we do not like our present circumstance, we have only to look within to see the choices we have made that have brought us here. Only through inner change can we hope to transform our external experience. The work always lies within. – Ann Mortifee, In Love with the Mystery
As the seasons change, so must we. Summer awakens as spring lets go into blooming flowers. Fall’s chill is tempered with a tapestry of vibrant leaves floating to the ground. Each season has its purpose, its job. Transition calls for acceptance so we can move fully into what’s next, into transformation.
Fighting change only slows the journey and steals our daily joy. Let go of the consternation that is rooted in fear of change. Grasp it, fully confident that it is leading you exactly where it should, where you need to be.
It’s within you. Go there and become new.
“Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
“The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them.” – Saint Francis de Sales
Joy is a choice and our highest calling. When we can find joy each day, despite our circumstances, we have found the sweet nectar of a good life filled with gratitude. Float lightly in search of nectar and the honey will follow.
“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.” – Gary Zukav
Abby loves to chase a ball. The challenge and precision of catching it on one bounce. Sasha will watch Abby chase the ball but has no interest in it. Sasha finds her joy in chasing butterflies. Pouncing from one to the next. Looking up and down and all around to share in the butterflies’ delight, in their freedom.
“Metamorphosis has always been the greatest symbol of change for poets and artists. Imagine that you could be a caterpillar one moment and a butterfly the next.” – Louie Schwartzberg
The butterflies dance and then still themselves in an instant and then take flight as if for the first time. Released from the cocoon, conquering gravity. From struggle to gradual transformation in due time into a brilliant, beautiful butterfly. Hope, grace, glory. Repeat again and again. The cycle of life.
Chase some butterflies. It’s good for the soul.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy
“I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed… Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” – Henry David Thoreau
A 5 degree swing and April showers turn into 7 more inches of winter. So often our expectations are out of line with reality. And we get stalled where we thought we should be. But where we are now in this very moment is where we are meant to be.
When we let go of our expectations, assumptions and fears, we open up to joy and delight even in the middle of a third Winter and delayed Spring. And what we thought we should have is less than what we receive in due time.
Under that fresh clean swath of brilliant white snow are seeds on their way to sprouts and buds. Remain in today with assurance and confidence that Spring will spring when it’s good and ready, as do we. Patience and time.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Spring comes softly with a slow melt. Winter holds a bit longer. The transition lingers, unfolding rather than rushing. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, 6-8 inches of more snow. Life ebbs and flows and then turns upside down in a moment. And the only thing promised to us is this very moment.
So whether in the storm or in the slow melt, find the current and enter into the flow. Hear and feel the music in the melt. Running through the puddle season is coming. Slowly but surely.
“Music comes from an icicle as it melts, to live again as spring water.” – Henry Williamson