Let There Be Praise

Orange barked tree with snowFor the mottled orange bark beneath the silky snow, and the hundred limbs the snow etches against the pale sky;

For its reaching and its leaping dance, frozen in time, and how it sings to every eye that sees it;

For the eyes that see it and the hearts that thrill to its song; and to those who walk beneath it unaware;

For the sky that sends the snow and for each sparkling flake heaped on its branches;

For the day and its light and for the sleeping wind and the utter silence that surrounds it;

For the snowy ground beneath it and the ground beneath the ground that give it all birth, let there be joyous praise.  Let there be thanksgiving and praise.

Snow Dance of the Flowers

Spent flowers in snowAll summer they had blossomed, and into fall.  They were but a spot of color in the corner of the courtyard, lending their ambiance to the hotel’s atmosphere.

None of the guests really noticed them, except in passing, on their way to conferences or to dinner or to the pool.

But they didn’t blossom for attention’s sake.  They blossomed because it was their nature and it gave them joy to bloom.

They reveled in the sunshine and in the rain, and they loved unfolding their buds and their petals and their leaves.  They loved the way their color danced with the colors of their neighboring flowers and perfumed the air.  For them, every day was a celebration of being, whether anyone noticed at all.  And they were beautiful in their gladness.

When the frost and snow came to usher their spirits back to the realm from which they had come, they left behind a legacy of grace, a dance of lines etched against the winter’s snow.

Now, as a gift of serendipity, that legacy has come to dance across your vision and mine.  And as the quiet beauty of it sings in our awareness, a wave of peace and fulfillment washes through the dimension where spent flowers go and they echo it back to us with their appreciation and joy.

Waking to Ecstasy

Snowy Pines.

I wake and the day shivers through my being.  My cells sparkle with joy.

I inhale the morning; my eyes greet its soft light. I sense the possibilities waiting for my choices. I am rich beyond all telling.

I nestle into the warmth and wiggle my toes in joy.  Snow is falling outside the window, shimmering in the rising sun.

I stretch full length, marveling at the easy motion of muscle and bone, moved by a single thought.  I rise and dress in soft garments.

In my kitchen, I cook oatmeal with raisins and watch blue jays flit in the snowy branches of the lilac as the sun falls through the pines.

I pour fresh coffee into a mug and pull open the thick  skin of a tangerine.  It’s juice rolls down my fingers.

I am awash in miracles and thanksgiving and the holiness of the morning sings on.

The Dreamtime of the Trees

Trees Dreaming in Snow

As the last weeks of winter spread themselves over the land, the trees fall into a world of dreams.

Soon their sap will begin to rise, their buds to swell.  Soon the birds will come to sing in the early dawns.

But now, while the snow dances softly around them, they can indulge in their dreams.

They dream the kaleidoscopic colors of earth’s sky and of her jeweled insects.  They dream of the symphonies of the birds who play hide and seek in their leaves, and of the burst of life as new birds break through the colored shells of round eggs, high in their leafy branches.

Their dreams are both memory and rehearsal.  They pool with the dreams of the ancients whose shadows fall across the centuries.  They inform the tightly curled seeds, still sleeping deeply on the very edges of being.

They slide down their roots into the rocks and soil and mix with the dreams of the hibernating animals.  They rise up to the sky and merge with the snow, and fall into the dreams of lovers and babies, singing rock-a-bye, sweet ones, rock-a-bye.

In the last weeks of winter, the trees dream their dreams and the woods sleeps in their sheltering peace.

For Your Joy

Sun breaking through cloudsEvery liquid moment is given for your joy, for your comfort, for your peace.  Even when you cannot hear it, the Great Yes is singing for you.  Even when you cannot see it, it is pouring out its light.

Even if you doubt it, suppose it is true.  Suppose it is only a matter of letting go of disbelief, of allowing yourself to suppose.

Suppose you could simply choose to inhale it. Suppose you could breathe it into your lungs, feel it coursing through your blood, bathing your cells, dissolving all your brittleness.

Imagine that it’s hidden in the photons, shooting throughout the cosmos, bombarding your DNA.  Imagine that it knows you, that you are the whole purpose of its being, called into existence so that it could share its joy.  Just suppose.

Sacred Ground

Snowy FieldAll that we see, touch, and taste, all the sounds and fragrances that flow so sweetly around us begin in it, rising like mists in the morning.  It knows our entire history: every foot that ever touched earth, every feather that ever danced in its air, every creature that ever lived in its waters.

It blazes in the molten center of planets and strews itself in gasses that flow between the sparkling stars.  It holds the universes in the space between its thoughts, and all the dimensions and planes.  It breathes its light out to the farthest edges of darkness and, reaching them, creates new worlds.

And yet, how intimate it is, tenderly enfolding every beating heart, caressing each one with its compassion, singing loving tones that the heart alone can hear.

I sense its whispering in the sky on this February morning, and see it writing its name in the snow.  It surrounds and pervades me, this sacred ground of being, and I taste its Yes and inhale its endless joy.

The Fun of Feeling Pretty

Snow covered little pineThe morning dawned bright and glorious after last night’s big snow, with blankets of shimmering white covering the earth and decorating the trees’ branches.

“How pretty!” I said aloud, as I pulled back my bedroom curtain to greet the day.  There’s nothing like a sun-washed morning to start a day in style.

I walked to the kitchen with a smile on my face, and when I spotted the little pine tree outside the window, I laughed right out loud.

I have been watching her grow from the time she was a small seedling, so I have a special place in my heart for her.

Today she looked for all the world as if she had just traipsed down from the attic in grandma’s wedding gown.  It was a little large for her; the sleeves were much too long.  But she looked so happy and proud that I couldn’t help but fall in love with her all over again.

There’s something about seeing a girl who’s feeling pretty that just fills your heart with joy.  If you spot one today, make sure you let her know.  And if you are one, revel in it; you’re lifting more spirits than you know.

Ice Cream for the Azalea: A Happiness Tale

Snow on AzaleaSmack dab in the middle of winter, the teeny, tiny buds began to dream.  It was their first little inching toward waking.  And it was a very delicate time.

Their mother, who had raised several generations, smiled as she sensed their quickening.  Right now, she knew, their dreams were little more than soft, pink wisps.  But as the days went by, the color would deepen and take form, casting before the little buds the images of the flowers they would become.

That was how it worked.  They dreamed how they would be and followed the images into the tomorrows until one day they found themselves shyly opening into the light of the springtime sun.

But along with her joy at their first sign of life, the mother was a little concerned.  A mid-winter thaw had come along, you see, and was lasting a bit longer than usual.  The warmth was exciting the buds and speeding up their dreams.   Unless they were cooled down a bit, the buds would open too soon.

It was vital, she knew, to let a dream find its direction.  If you rushed off in pursuit of it before it had gained some solidity, you risked skipping over some important steps.

She shielded the tiny buds from the sun’s rays as best she could with last season’s remaining leaves.  But still, the warmth wore on.

One morning, just as the mother was beginning to feel some genuine worry, a fine, red-tailed hawk settled in the tall spruce above her on the hill.  She greeted him and as the two of them talked, she told him about her concern for the little buds growing on her branches.

The old hawk kept a nest in the spruce and he was quite fond of the sight of the azalea blossoming in the spring.  He thought for awhile about her plight, and then suddenly he had an idea.  He would go speak with his friend, the North Wind.

With a few flaps of his mighty wings, he launched himself from the spruce’s high boughs and, catching an updraft, soared high into the air.  Off to the west, he had seen a weather front developing.  Maybe his friend could nudge it in the azalea’s direction.

The next afternoon, the mother plant saw the hawk again, circling overhead. “Don’t worry, Little Mother,” he called.  “I ordered a treat for your babies, and it should be here any minute.”  Then he disappeared from view, laughing.

A treat?  The mother was still wondering what he might have meant when the first few snowflakes drifted down from the sky.  Then more came, and more.  And she opened her leaves wide to cup up the frosty white flakes, smiling with gladness.

The Textures of Joy

Creek Side Still LifeAs we ascend through the dimensions, I once read, rising from heaven to heaven, our bodies acquire new capabilities so that we can perceive the multitudinous wonders of our ever-expanding experience.   Instead of merely five senses, for example, we would one day have seventeen.

Imagine!  I think I’d need a different body  – much larger, much stronger – to hold that much joy.

The beauty that is here before us now is almost too much to withstand.

Look, right here, in a couple square feet of creek bed: sky spread across smooth waters, the papery layers on a fallen branch of birch and the deep shadows it casts, strewn pebbles, wet leaves, the glints of sunlight on the dancing wavelets, the colors meant for an artist’s eye.

And oh, the music of it all, the clicking of the rolling pebbles, the roar of the rushing, snow-fed creek, the wind in the branches of the trees, the sharp cawing of crows.

The cold air brushing against my cheeks and my skin soaking in the sun’s warmth despite it.  The wind whipping my hair and carrying the fragrance of the leaves and the water and the soil.   The give of the earth beneath my boots, the smooth slipperiness of the mud.

All this, in the lowest of all heavens, the one where the light barely shines through the thickness of our darkly clouded minds at all, except in rare moments.

I walk along the creek bed and practice.

The Ice Ghost’s Farewell: A Happiness Tale

Melting Ice PatchShe was little more than a ghost of her former self.  Each day the sun had been staying longer in the sky, gently dissolving her edges.

And while it was pure pleasure to melt in its glow, evaporating into the free air and sinking into the riverbank’s soil, she had come to love the pebble children with whom she had spent the winter.

It was time now, she knew, to bid them farewell.  And so she sat, the smooth one nestled on her lap, the dog-faced one nuzzling her neck, the little beech leaf curled into a cushion, and spoke.

“Oh, my dear children,” she said, “What a delight it has been to spend the winter with you here beside the singing river.  I know that for you, a winter is but the blink of an eye, and that you will see hundreds of them come and go in your lifetime.  But for me, winter is a lifetime of sorts.

“Remember when I first came to you?  I was water.  And soon I shall be water again.  It is my nature, just as yours is the nature of earth.

“All things change form.You were once one with great mountains.  Someday, you will be sand.  And as you know from the stories I have shared with you, I have been one with great oceans.  I have danced with the sky and made clouds.  I have been rain and snow.  And for this little while we call winter, it was my joy to be ice and to live among you.

“All of us are teachers for each other, you know.  From you, I have learned patience and endurance.  I have come to admire your strength and stability.  Because you dwell in one place ever so long, your stories are deep with history and detail and I leave you enriched by them.

“I hope the stories of my travels have done as much for you.

“I thank you for your hospitality.  Your home here is lovely, with its dancing waters and whispering trees.  They and you will be a part of me forevermore, just as I will be a part of you, for all hearts that share love are joined together in the always of the Great Yes.

“Isn’t it beautiful that things work that way?  We are the children of such grace.

“One more night I will dwell with you, and together we can sing to the stars.  Tomorrow the sun will return me to the air and soil, and I will be gone.  But always, we will be living memories to each other and our hearts will always be one.”

Then the ice ghost was silent and lay among the rocks, glad to be ice for one more day, and glad to have had such sweet companions.