Fresh Snow on New Year’s Eve

Fresh SnowThe snow falls like moments, the flakes covering all that went before.  Edges soften, the brightness of the forms slides into memory.

Here, green leaves unfurled, wee flowers grew.  Here, stories were told, kisses given.  Here, hearts held all that hearts can hold.

Now the snow falls.

By morning, all traces of yesterday will have gone, leaving in their place a smooth and trackless invitation.

The Cave of Yesterdays

Year's End“Mother,” my young son asked, “Where do the yesterdays go?”

Having no idea how to answer, I asked him in return, “Where do you think they go?”

“I think they all gather together somewhere and make a beautiful secret,” he said.

I remember that as I watch the year come to a close.  I imagine it sailing to great Cave of Yesterdays to huddle with all the days gone by, holding this passing year in reverence, protecting its treasure of tears and joys forever.

Go in peace, year.  We send you off with gratitude, keeping your lessons and pleasures in our heart.

Winter Dreams

Winter LakeIn their winter’s sleep, the wild things dream their dreams.  Filtering down from the unseen dimensions, bits and pieces of the larger plan play out in each one’s dreams.  Buds, leaves, stems, and flowers swirl in their dim awareness, and fur, feathers and fins.

Everyone waits for the great awakening.  Even now they creep in response to the great command: “Become!”  Yet tomorrow is still a dream, a hope, within this early winter Now, a subtle direction, a gentle shaping of dividing cells and nothing more.

The larger part is the song of the snow, the quiet rustling of the breeze, the fall of sunlight and shadow across the ice atop the pond, and the burrowing in and the long, patient being right here, right now, in this beauty.

Dreaming of Pink Tulips

Dreaming of Pink TulipsWeary of the cold and the endless gray, I curled, shivering, between the sheets and shut my eyes to the winter’s darkness, wanting to sleep until Spring.

Outside my window, snow fell through the silence, erasing the street.  The edges of my thoughts faded in its falling and I sank with it, down to the frozen soil.

And then I kept on falling until I was curled in layers of darkness, dreaming.

At last a light came, pale at first, but carrying a hint of color.  I felt a stirring, a green pushing outward, a bath of orange warmth and something delicate and pink wrapping around the whole.  And it was filled with a faint fragrance and the singing of distant birds.

And I stretched myself inside its life and danced there until dawn, drinking the happiness of pink tulips.

Invisible Ink

Branches and White SkyHere, at noon, on a black and white day, the Yes pens its love with branches against a hidden sky.

It’s a calligraphy that only the spirit can read, with its bold upright strokes, the filigree of branches, the fine line of snow on the horizontal limbs.

Still, to the spirit, the message is alive and singing.

“The gateway to heaven,” says Merton, “is everywhere.”

The Gatherer of Praise

The Gatherer of PraiseAs the Festival of Light drew to a close, the creatures of the forests and hills, the cities and plains drifted off to sleep.

Their hearts were with filled with happiness and their spirits were singing in praise of the Light that had been born to them anew.

Their songs soared up to the heavens, and  there they caught the ear of the Gatherer of Praise.

It was her duty, and her honor, to collect praise, wherever in the cosmos it arose.  And so she flew to earth and held the small planet in her loving arms.

She listened to the songs rising from the hearts of all the living beings, from the tiniest to the greatest, from the simplest to the most complex.  And she recorded them in her own heart, each and every note, even the faintest.

And when she had gathered every note of every song, she carried them, with utmost tenderness and care, to the absolute center of Paradise and then sang them to the heart of Great Yes.  And its love washed out in waves that spun on and on, forever.

Looking for Rudolph

Looking for RudolphWhen Little Pine leaped onto the ridge of the hill, the doe stopped in her tracks and stood perfectly still, hardly breathing.  Then, recognizing him, she laughed.  “Oh!  Hello, Little Pine!  Happy Festival Day!”

Little Pine was as surprised to see her as she was to see him.  They were both heading to their homes after the Grand Procession of the Animals.  Even those who were tucked in for the winter came forth to celebrate this day.  Mice and ground hogs, raccoons, squirrels, foxes, rabbits and deer had paraded through the forest singing their praises to the Light.  It had been a magnificent display.

But Little Pine had stopped for tea and cakes with the elves and thought all the other animals would be with their families by now.

“Hello, Mother Doe!  Happy Festival Day to you, too!” Little Pine said.  Then he blurted out, “What are you doing way over here on the slopes this late in the day?”

“I’m heading home now, Little Pine.  We deer have had quite an evening.  Just as the parade was ending, we received a universal call from Father Christmas.  Tomorrow is the day that many of the world’s humans celebrate the Birth of the Light, you see, and tonight Father Christmas rides his sleigh around the globe and delivers gifts to them as they sleep to remind them that they are dearly loved.

“But as you can see, a fog is setting in, and Father Christmas wants Rudolf to guide the reindeer who pull his sleigh.  Rudolf has a special nose that shines a red light that can pierce through the fog.  But he had run off because the other reindeer were teasing him.  It was all a big misunderstanding.  But nevertheless, Rudolf was lost.  Father Christmas had asked deer everywhere to try to find him.

“Happily, just a few minutes ago, we got the ‘all clear.’  Blitzen found him and coaxed him to come home.”

That was quite a story!  Little Pine was relieved to hear that it had a happy ending.   And he was glad to know, too, that even the humans celebrated the coming of the Light.  They were strange creatures, those humans, with mysterious ways that sometimes puzzled him.  It warmed his heart to hear that they, too, knew about the gift of Light and celebrated its love.

He and the doe wished each other a good evening and set off for their homes.

Over supper, Little Pine told his mother all about the day’s wondrous sights and sounds, and shared the story that Mother Doe had told him.

Late that night, as he fell into dreams, Little Pine heard sleigh bells ringing through the skies and the call of Father Christmas singing, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!”

Why We Sing

Why We SingLittle Pine fell asleep with the sights and sounds of the day whirling inside him.

How magical it all had been!  And to think that there was more to come!

It had been more beautiful than anything he had ever experienced.   Yet inside him, questions mixed with the images.  What was it all about?  What did it all really mean?

He sensed that he was right on the edge of understanding.  But before  he could find his answers, the dancing images of the day spun him off to the world of dreams.

The dreams finally faded to darkness as Little Pine entered a deep, peaceful sleep.

And that is when the beautiful bird appeared.

“I have heard your heart’s questions, dear Little Pine,” it cooed.  “And I have come to unravel the mysteries for you.

“Everything in your world is but a reflection of something greater.  Only a portion of who we are takes on earthly form.

“Think of the love that you feel in your heart.  Think of the friendships that you hold dear.  Think of the way that music stirs you, and of the thrill that beauty provides.  These things are all a part of you.  And yet you cannot see them.  They do not show themselves in earthly form.  They are too large, too pure, too high.  And yet you know that they are more real than anything that your eyes can see or ears can hear.

“Behind the sweet earthly being who is Little Pine is a vast, magnificent Pine that you might call your soul.  Only a sliver of it can become dense enough to experience this earthly adventure.  And that little sliver is you.

“You know that your Festival celebrates the sun.  Well, the Sun behind the sun is Love, a love so deep and vast and pure, that it causes worlds upon worlds to come into being, worlds as small as the tiniest particle and as large as all the heavens.  This is the source of light, this Love, and of life itself.  And the miracle is that it lives within us, and is us, and calls us by our names.

“And that is what we celebrate, Little Pine.  That is the reason for our ecstatic joy.

“We forget, when we descend into the darkness of our heavy earth forms, that we are the children of this Love and its Light.  We get lost in our illusions of separateness and suffering.   And so, every year, just when the night is longest, Nature sings anew the eternal promise of the Light’s return.   It reminds us that the Light can never die, for it springs from the Love that is everything, and beyond all things and within them.

“And that is why we dance, Little Pine.  That is why we sing.”

And when it had spoken, the beautiful bird faded away, and Little Pine sank into a deep and  dreamless sleep and floated in its peace.

Festival Day

Festival DayThe first song that Little Pine heard as he stopped outside was the carol of the holly tree that grew on the bank of the lake.  Its melody spilled across the gently rippling waters and rose from them, perfuming the air with its sound.

He stood still and drank in the clear, sweet notes.  They filled his heart with tenderness, and once again he was entranced by the beauty of the world and felt its joy and peace.

He bowed to the holly, and she laughed in delight.  He laughed, too, and ran off to see what other treasures the day would hold.

The rows of tall pines stood at attention while chickadees and red headed peckers played their fifes and drums.  And accompanying them, he heard the merry tapping of fairy feet dancing on the decorated drums that the elves had prepared.  The sound seemed to come from everywhere and filled the whole forest.

Before long, Little Pine came to the slope where the Queen of the Fields stood, more radiant than ever with her light dusting of snow.   “Hello, Little Pine,” she sang to him.  “Have a lovely Festival Day!”  He stopped to chat with her a bit, telling her how lovely she looked.  He asked if she might know how he could find the Snow Queen.  He wanted to thank her, he explained, for her beautiful gift of snow.

The Queen of the Fields said the Snow Queen herself couldn’t take on an earthly form, but that she would happily pass along his thanks when she spoke with her later.

“Have you been to the ballet yet?” the Snow Queen asked.  Little Pine told her that he was headed there right now.

As he turned toward Holly Trail, Little Pine came to the great oak that had given birth to his friend Red Leaf, and stopped to thank the mighty tree for that gift, which had so blessed him throughout the past year.  From high in the oak’s branches, he heard the happy chatter of the squirrels, who were feasting today on their Festival meal.

Little Pine traveled on, and as he rounded the next bend, he caught his first glimpse of the delicate tree performing her graceful ballet.  The dance itself seemed to create the wondrous music that surrounded her.   Her leaves were snow-capped now and glistening as she leaped and twirled, the very picture of joy.

He took a seat by his elf friends who had come to see the show, and they erupted in applause and loud whistles when the little tree took her final bow.

Then, to Little Pine’s amazement, the elves themselves took to the stage and danced a jig so fast and intricate and lively that the whole audience broke into laughter and clapped until they could clap no more.

It was beginning to grow late now.  But the elves asked Little Pine to join them as they delivered presents to the birds.  Their mother had packed great bags full of nuts and seeds for all the jays and cardinals and other winter birds who kept the forest singing in the winter.  And so they trooped off, the elves whistling their merry tunes.

A light snow was falling as Little Pine turned toward home.  What an extraordinary day it had been!  He could hardly wait to share its adventures with his mother.

As he neared the door, he smelled the fragrance of the special meal that Mother had prepared, and he heard the faint carol of the holly, still wafting from the lake.  And his heart was filled with tenderness and joy.