Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Fulness of Spring

Thursday night, after a beautiful and warm spring day, I sat on the slope of the yard in that twilight zone just before dark and silently waited for the full moon to float out from behind the hill and climb that lone fir that stretches up so tall it almost scrapes the sky and that the moon barely escapes getting caught in before it rises over the valley. The world is so ugly the past two weeks, it can hardly be borne. And then a beautiful spring week. And then the full moon.

My mother is in her 52nd spring at her home in the
woods on the side of the hill. She knows where all the random trillium will come up, if not when to watch for it. I’m sure she once knew not to start the vigil many weeks too early, but when you are waiting for your 97th spring and don’t know how many are left you might get just a little impatient, too. We all want one more spring.

News came this week that a young couple at my church in Raleigh were victims of violence. The 29 year old woman died the next day. Even when you are only 29 you don’t know how many springs are left. Probably we should all be a little impatient and stop putting off whatever we dream about. If you want to sit on the grass and wait for the moonrise, you should do it.

In a rare display of asking for what she wants, Mama asked my daughter and daughter-in-law to take her for a walk in the woods when they were visiting last weekend. She wanted to visit the trillium and see if the toothwort was blooming.

I walked through the woods this week, too; something I haven’t done enough since my return to my childhood home. As is often the case, Mama inspired me not to wait, or spring will end without having seen it. The toothwort is blooming, the trillium is dying. The white trillium turns pale pink and then deep rose as it leaves us. (Just as an aside, I watched an interview with Raquel Welsh that afternoon; she isn’t fading as she ages, either.)

While I have vivid memories of young childhood at our home by the bay in Olympia, my little sister’s playground was this woods on the hill. Mama told Emma and Wynne the story of walking Rebecca through the woods and down the hill to catch the school bus when she didn’t want to board at the end of the driveway and ride the long route around the back of the hill. When they would get to the spot where the vine maple arches over the trail, she would say, “Let go of my hand, Mommy, so I can skip through my fairyland.”
Things change. The fairyland is brighter since the surrounding area was clearcut, several years ago now. There is a lot of blowdown from winter storms over the years since, without the big trees for protection. Forked branches hold up weak ones, just as friends support loved ones no longer able to stand alone. The ancient puncheon road on the trail finally rotted away to nothing. Some of the trails have been allowed to return to the wild and there are some new ones. But the thin branches still arch across the trail right there in that spot. The birds still sing to each other in the trees as I pass quietly through. There are still fairylands, if we can let ourselves believe.

We did warrior pose in yoga on Wednesday, first toward Capitol
Lake glistening through the windows under the spring blue sky, then reversing to face East Olympia unseen beyond the back wall of the room. It was a reminder that though the confines of the room often feel safer, more contained and manageable and known, we can’t stay here inside the four walls. There is no warrior self where there is no risk. We are all part of the world.

And the fulness of spring is out there, too.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kindness Love Believing Joy Beauty

It doesn't feel like these words apply to this week. Hate Pain Despair Fear Mayhem are more in keeping. Boston, Texas, airline technology meltdown, a trespasser walking past my open window after bedtime (don't tell Mama), a friend's husband diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, floods and stormy weather, a congress making unbelievably bad decisions.

In fact, kindness, love, believing, joy, and beauty are hard to apply to any week in other parts of the world, where violence and poor health and senseless death are facts of daily life―a truth we in this country like not to think about. My friend Christina Baldwin's blog this week is a reminder of the stories we don't look at, on a day we are glued to one story playing out in Boston. "Let’s have a moment of silence, not dancing in the streets. Then let’s talk more deeply about these issues than we did a week ago."

But there was light in-between, too. Another writing friend, Joanna Powell Colbert, posted her own Reverie in Between that brought tears to my eyes (and includes chocolate). And there was patience at the airport (at least the one I was in). And positive energy for the sick. And hundreds of helpers in Boston and Texas. And generosity of spirit in times of tragedy. And cooperation. And a quick 911 response (blasting my recurring nightmare―that no one answers 911―out of my subconscious). And there was spring.

Sometimes the ugly side of life is more in our face than other times, like winter is a season that is more in our face than the other seasons. Winter is hard work, physically and emotionally. And then comes the flash of faithful spring. Sometimes we overlook it in our relief that an end to winter is in sight, and in our rush to just get to summer. It would be easy to overlook beauty in this week of heartache and ugliness. It would be easy to think we don't deserve spring.

Still another friend, Elizabeth Hudson Willingham, says in her recent blog post that sometimes we just have to take a break from all that wants to pull us into the depths. Spring pushes us toward love and kindness. It just can't help it. We need spring's renewal now more than ever. And the beauty in the world deserves our attention. The words of my friends and others that came to me this week and the evidence of spring in Washington and North Carolina make my heart sing.

"Kindness covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out" (Roger Ebert).

A brilliant speech by Maurice Williamson in New Zealand's Parliament in support of their gay marriage bill surfaced on the internet this week. "All we are doing here is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognized by way of marriage...I promise you right now, if we pass this bill the sun will still rise tomorrow...'Be ye not afraid' (Deuteronomy 1:29)." Take a listen here.

"There comes a time in our lives when we are called to believe the unbelievable. If we allow ourselves to believe, we open the door to the infinite possibility of who we might become" (Ann Linnea).

"5:30 a.m. The sky is pale,
not gray, not white, just the color of a cool glass of water.
I walk through wet grass, my toes getting wet through my shoes,
soon my pant legs are soaking.
My cheeks become moist as my breath condenses on them
and my hair clings to my neck.
Finally I just stand in stillness and drink in the morning.
What is it about seeing more light at daybreak that fills me up and sends me off into the day with joy bubbling like soda pop beneath my skin?" (Amelia Bacon, Wake Up and Write)

As I write today, I am so grateful for my writing friends and their words filled with kindness and love and believing and joy and beauty. And for the dear ones who turned their lives over to spend time with me on my recent trip to North Carolina; and for those who made it possible for me to go. And for the promise and beauty of new life in my two home states. I am a lucky girl.

"Somewhere each day we have to fall in love with someone, something, some moment, event, phrase. Somehow each day we must allow the softening of the heart. Otherwise our hearts will move inevitably toward hardness. We will move toward cynicism, bitterness, fear and despair. That's where most of the world is trapped and doesn't even know it" (Richard Rohr).