The Gift of Transitions

Sunset of Scarlet FlameJuly rides into memory trailing scarlet bands of flame.  A whisper of starlight, a turn of the globe, and in will tiptoe August, her arms full of crickets and midsummer dreams.

Midnight turns to morning, days to weeks, months to years.  And before you know it, the seasons have swept a half a lifetime away.

Maybe that’s why we invented names for the days and months, why we number our years: to remind us of  how swiftly they pass.

They’re good times, these moments of transition, to write your thanks on what’s passing, to proclaim your intentions for the time to come so that you may use the swiftly flowing hours wisely and well.  Transitions let you pause and consider that time is your greatest gift, the tablet on which you write your experiences, the keeper of your memories, the giver of hope for the fulfillment of your dreams.

Transitions have the power to kindle your awareness of your mortality, of the value of each breath you take, of the importance of your choices and of your freedom to make them.  This is your one life, they say; create it as you will.

August is dawning.  What will you write across her skies?

Sunrise Celebration

A Golden Black-eyed SusanHere comes happiness again, dressed in its celebration suit, riding on the morning rays.  It dances into you with every respiration, hurling protons willy-nilly, splashing in the liquid of your cells, tumbling through your tunnels and networks all giddy and smooth.  It pushes open your eyes.

Stroking you with its neon fingers, it tickles at your notion that it’s just an ordinary day.  “If only you knew!” it breathes into your ear.  It stares at your face from the mirror, melting at the sight of you and laughing in your hair.

It’s strewn the hours with miracles, custom made.  “Look for them,” it whispers.  Everything you need.  All the answers, all the signs, every step choreographed to lead you where you need to go.  “Watch,” it murmurs; “Listen.”

Something that tastes like a promise licks against your tongue and turns up the corners of your mouth.  You feel oddly lucky for no reason you can name.  You square your shoulders and breathe, deciding it’s going to be a good day.

And quietly, somewhere deep inside you, happiness hums a love song.  Just for you.  Just for you.

How to Become Your Best Self: A Simple Recipe

Vine Climbing UpwardEnvision yourself being your best.

Name your primary roles in life, however you happen to see them:  partner, parent, student, salesman, accountant, business owner, seeker of truth.  Now imagine you had perfected that role, become the very best at it that you could ever be. Picture yourself as the best parent, the best partner, running the most successful business, enlightened.

Wrap the image in light.  Make it big in your mind, and radiant.

Stare at it for awhile.  Watch it move through its day.  See how it moves, what it does, how it walks, how it interacts with others.

Imagine how it feels.  Pretend you feel that way: confident, at peace, aware, responsive, at ease.

Now imagine what you’re seeing is a true image of yourself a little distance down the road.  Then see the road, bathed in light, leading right back to where you are right now, and connecting to your heart.

Ask yourself what one thing you could do to advance yourself farther down that road.  Ask yourself what one thing you could stop doing to make the journey smoother, surer.

Repeat.

Rampant Happiness

Bright Flowers EverywhereImagine a rampant happiness leaping, wild and unrestrained, from one heart to another.  Imagine a contagion of joy.

Imagine it bursting in boisterous grins, untamed giggles, wanton winks, for no reason at all.

Imagine all it took to ignite it was one exuberant spirit flashing her smile with abandon, one impetuous soul flinging his laughter into the crowd.

Imagine it grew out of control and spread everywhere until the whole world was infected with happiness, and no one could stop it or wanted to, because suddenly everyone was awake and seeing the flagrant truth.

Why, light would tumble from everyone’s eyes and flowers spring up wherever anyone stepped, and joy-cookies fall from the heavens.  And we would all be healed, and the world would dance around its star to the melody of love songs that would never, never end.

The Patience of Cabbages

Cabbages in a Red FieldDespite the powerful urge that sent their leaves unfurling in the morning sun, the cabbages felt no sense of hurry.

The day would feed them in due course.  And meanwhile, how pleasant it was just to stretch their roots into the red, moist soil.

They were eager, of course, to know how it would feel to be grown, to have made the whole journey from seedling to full flower.  Even now, as they woke from the night’s slumber to the calls of the crows  from the lone tree at the edge of the field, they could feel the current of energy expanding all their cells.  It was thrilling just to awaken to its rush and they loved how it whetted their anticipation.

Yet, as great as their future dreams might be, nothing could top the majesty of this very morning.  Right now, this very moment, they were bathed with shimmering droplets of dew that sparkled in the light of the rising sun.  Right now, they could feel its moisture sensuously soaking into their leaves.  Right now, the morning breeze caressed them, carrying the scent of the grasses and wildflowers that edged their field and the songs of the wee birds that flitted through the weeds and sky.

Theirs was a vibrant growth.  But so content were they that they settled into it with deep ease.  Theirs was not a strained patience; they felt no frustration, no sense of wanting things to go more quickly or to be anything but exactly what they were right now.  Theirs was the patience of peaceful joy.  They reveled in the moment, delighting in its details, savoring its infinity of pleasures.

And so they grew, tall and proud and strong.

Imagination – Not Just for Kids Anymore

Wormhole to New Dimensions“Make believe.”   Check out its definition at dictionary.com and you’ll see that when you use it as a noun, it means “pretense, especially of an innocent or playful kind; feigning; sham.” And when you use it as an adjective, it means “pretended; feigned; imaginary; made-up; unreal.”

Well, that’s pretty much what I learned growing up.  Imagination, the capacity to make believe, is a function designed for our amusement, a kind of built-in toy.  It is great fun to imagine.

Yet if you read about the word “make,” the definitions say:

“to bring into existence by shaping or changing material;” and “to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about.”

(Hmmmm.  Sounds like some kind of alchemy to me.  I think we have a clue here.)

Leaping over to “believe,” we find “to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.”

So if you’re doing make believe, you’re causing something to exist or happen and you have confidence in the truth and reality of it.   And what was it that Napoleon Hill said?  “What your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  That’s some pretty heady stuff!

I say grab your big shiny “What If” hook and go fishing in the Cosmic Soup of Possibilities.  There’s no telling what you might find.  Imagine!

Savoring Summer

Summer at the WetlandsEvery moment, every hour has its beauty.  Every season unfolds with its own unique pleasures and delights.  But today I found myself falling in love all over again with summer’s color and burgeoning life.

Yes, its temperatures sometimes climb to uncomfortable extremes; but so do winter’s.  And spring and autumn have their wild sides, too.  We live in a world of contrasts, one extreme testing us, the other bringing joy.

And today I drank in summer’s beauty.  I feasted on her mild side and it tasted like perfection.  The sky wore billowing clouds that cast great swaths of rolling shadow across the landscape.  The roadsides and fields were decked with wildflowers.  The air carried the symphony of insect hum  and birdsong.  And everywhere, a heady, changing perfume floated—of hay, of grass, of pavement, of pond.

How alive it all was!  How dynamic!  And how seamless was the web of life breathing through it all, orchestrating it, integrating it, and calling each piece of it to fruition.

Its seamlessness stretched behind it to spring, and ahead to autumn and to winter.  It was all an endlessly transforming spiral, a dance of the life force through this wondrous confluence of time and space that emerges as planet Earth.

And here we are, a part of the great web, gifted with the capacity to sense that it lies beneath and within all that we perceive, animating it, supporting it, endlessly transforming it in its infinite, inexhaustible play.

And look!  The crickets are masterpieces.  The wildflowers are jewels.  The scents, floating on the summer air, are pungent and fresh and perfumed.  The breeze dances in my hair.  The sun caresses my skin.  In the pond, a bullfrog croaks and I erupt in laughter as little tears of joy well up in my eyes for the precious gift of being alive, and awake, and savoring beautiful summer.

The Glad Relief of Rain

Rose of Sharon with RaindropsIt was one of those late July days when the heat came straight from the sky’s oven, full of steamy humidity and heavy as lead.  Not a leaf was stirring.  Even the hardiest weeds drooped in thirst.

Warnings came on the hour: take care of the very old, the very young.  Watch for signs of heat exhaustion.  Go to a shelter or to the mall if you needed relief.

My 200 year old home is shaded by giant pines and built into the side of wooded hill.  Usually it is much cooler than the summer air outside.  But today even its coolest rooms were uncomfortably hot and damp.

Tink, my normally playful cat, searched for a cool surface, and settling for the dining room table top, stretched out for a day-long nap.  I drank a gallon of iced sun tea as I did my household tasks and ran my fans at full speed.

Finally, just before the sun set with a hard red glare in its white hot sky, a wind came, and with it fast, thick clouds the color of charcoal.  Tink and I walked out to the yard and I stood for awhile drinking it in, watching the trees dance, smelling the fragrance of imminent rain.  Tink took off to chase fireflies.

What a glad relief the rain brought!  What pleasure we find in such simple things!

I sliced a freshly picked tomato and cucumber for an evening treat and watched lightning play in the sky as I ate them, feeling happy, and blessed, and content.

Tomorrow’s sun will bring another scorching day.  But tonight, my neighbors and I will sleep in comfort and peace.

Why the Robin Sings: A Happiness Tale

Robin on a Tree Branch“Listen,” she said to her son.  “Do you hear that bird singing?”

“Yes, I do,” he replied.  “I hear it every morning.  What is it?”

“It’s a robin,” the mother said.  “Look, it’s up there, on that branch.  See?”

“Oh!  Yes!  I know the robin.  I see them hunting for worms on the lawn.”

“Do you know what it’s singing?” the mother asked.

“What?” asked the little boy, his eyes big with anticipation for learning the secret.

“Well, my mother told me that it’s singing  ‘Cheerily, cheerily!  Cheer up!’”

As if on cue, the robin sang, and the little boy laughed.  “Cheerily, cheerily!” he chirped, mimicking its song, and to his delight, the robin answered back.

“Why does it say that?” he asked, still giggling.  “Cheerily, cheerily.”

“To share its happiness with us.  To remind us how sweet happiness is.”

“I like being happy,” the little boy said, twirling around.  “I like it a lot!”

“Me, too,” said the mother.  “It’s one of my favorite things.”

“Mine, too!  Maybe it’s my bestest thing of all.”

The mother took his hand and they walked on.  “Cheerily, cheerily!” piped the boy as they left the park.  “Cheerily, cheerily! Cheer up!”

An Invocation for the Innocents

White Rose of Sharon

Even as we celebrate our own joy, let us offer an invocation for all who have not yet found their paths to happiness.

May all who suffer undeserved pain
(for all pain is undeserved),
who unwittingly fall into strife
(for all strife is unwitting),
who wrestle with nightmare monsters
(for all evil is an unreal masquerade)
find comfort, healing and peace.

May all who suffer misery awaken.  May all who live with falsehood find truth.  May all hardness be met with mercy and all harshness be soothed by kind hands.

May those who are caught in arrogance be humbled. May those who think themselves low find their worth.  May those who are forgotten be recognized.  May the alienated find belonging and the lonely find friends.

May our darkness give way to light, our doubt be turned to faith, our fear to strength, and our confusion to understanding.  May we be touched by grace, opened to beauty, moved by goodness and surrendered to love.

For we all are children of the universe, of the illimitable, omnipresent Yes.  May we know its truth and dance in its glad song.