Nature’s Jewels

Summer rain brings nature’s jewels.

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Questions Before Dark

I’ve had many “This Is Summer” moments over the past week. One of them happened as I was paddling down a slowly meandering creek and another on my first dive into my favourite swimming hole.

I’d love to hear about your “This Is Summer” moments! Share yours on my Facebook Page.

How do you feel each night as you come to the end of your day?

This poem by Jeanne Lohmann entitled “Questions Before Dark” sets the tone for a time of gentle reflection to ease you into sleep.

Questions Before Dark

Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun’s midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?

“When the sky dies down”, reading those words brings such a sweet image to calm you down in preparation for sleep.

“Has this day changed you?” No doubt is has in some small or profound way.

“Are the corners sharper or more rounded off?” What a good question! To follow up with that “What could you do right now to smooth some of those corners or learn something important from the sharpness?

“Bewilderment that invites the possible”, ahhh, it frees me so to imagine that bewilderment could invite the possible.

“Did you live with death?” Yes, I lived (if only for a few moments) with the richness that knowing I’m going to die some day brings.

One of my favourite lines is “What did you learn from things you dropped and picked up and dropped again?” I don’t know exactly what that means to me yet but I know it is important so I will live with the question and see if it eventually leads to an answer.

They say that poems were the original magic. I think there’s some truth to that.

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As sweet as honey…

I wish you could smell this rose!

It is blooming just one block from my house and I have stooped down low many a time in the past week to put my nose up to it and really take it in.

Its aroma, rich like honey or a fine liqueur, is divinely inspired, I am quite certain.

Take a moment this weekend to stop and smell the roses and take in the sweetness of your life.

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Sweet Summer Practice

The Summer Solstice has ushered us into a time of warmth.

It’s truly summer again!

This warm weather only lasts a few short months here in southern Ontario.

Are you ready to take it all in?

Take a look at this 3-minute video with a sweet practice called “This Is Summer”.

Enjoy pausing in the moments to store up all of summer’s goodness.

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Do you cherish your humble and silky life?

I’ve noticed whole peony bushes in bloom around town. Mine are slowly making their way open and I can hardly wait to put my nose down in their soft petals to take a good long whiff of their aroma. Today seems to be the perfect day to share Mary Oliver’s exquisite poem called “Peonies”. Enjoy!

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open–
pools of lace,
white and pink–
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities–
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,

and there it is again–
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,

fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

-“Peonies” from Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press).

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Moon Blessing

Last night my partner Scott invited me on a full moon walk.

In all of the 10 years that we have been together, he has never asked me to go on a full moon walk so I said, “Yes!”

We walked on the night path that he usually takes with our dog and went places I would never go alone in the darkness.

We walked through a dusty parking lot where a few cars were still parked. We walked along a rugged road that led up to a water tower. We walked past shapes that rose out of the darkness and warnings to “watch your step”. We walked close to a once giant tree’s trunk and a field of grass that seemed to be awaiting the fireflies of July.

And we ended up gazing at the moon on a boulder big enough for the 3 of us.

I came home feeling blessed by the moon.

And you can too…

Go outside tonight and spend some time with that giant orb that lights our night sky and pulls the ocean tides.

It only takes a few moments to stand in the light of the full moon, breathing gently in and out, to receive its’ blessing.

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Under the Rainbow

Early last evening I glanced out my front window and I was surprised to see a rainbow with colours so vivid against a grey sky.

I went outside to get a better look and stood there awed by the beauty of life on our planet Earth.

Listen to this song and let yourself be carried away for a few moments.

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This Green Day

Today I walked by a stream in a world of green and I saw…

a carpet of green

lacy green leaves

underwater green

a black rock framed in green

a perfect resting spot covered in green

And I remembered a poem by e.e. cummings that I memorized as a child.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
e.e. cummings

Go outside and let the colours of nature bring you alive.

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Nature’s Blessing

Nature saves me at some point almost every day.

It saves me from rushing, overwhelm, preoccupation, dissatisfaction, criticism, unhappiness, anger, misunderstandings and on and on. The list is endless.

And on days when I’m not any of those things, at the very least, the natural world uplifts me out of the ordinary.

Nature stops me in my tracks and invites me to notice earth’s magic.

It stops me with the smooth flight of a bird, the sound of the wind through the leaves on a tree, the unfurling green of a fern, a tulip opened wide revealing its hidden beauty or by a soft or dramatic cloud formation.

These words by Mary McLeod Bethune say it so well, “I have had more than half a century of such happiness, a great deal of worry and sorrow, too, but never
a worry or a sorrow that was not offset by a purple iris,
a lark, a bluebird, or a dewy morning glory.”

Just yesterday when I was going out to empty my compost, which I consider a slightly icky job, I was awakened by pink petals; pink petals that were sifting down from above through the warm spring air to offer me blessing.

Nature gives me a fresh new perspective.

How have you been saved by nature today?

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Instruments of Grace

At times our everyday lives can seem troubling or tiring; when listening to the news is a never ending litany of despair, accomplishing our To-Do list is an impossibility and taking action on our intentions seems thwarted by the uncertainty we feel toward change.

It’s at times like these that we are desperate for some reassurance that all is well.

This quote by May Sarton rings true,“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”

Lately I’ve been noticing the many things in my day-to-day life that slow me down and force patience, such as cooking, cleaning, walking and being in the company of others, as instruments of grace.

Things that used to seem mundane have taken on a whole new proportion.

I enjoy cutting up a kaleidoscope of fruit every morning for breakfast and the process of making a salad for dinner. Preparing meals is an instrument of grace.

I enjoy washing dishes in a sudsy sink and sweeping the kitchen floor as I watch it change from messy to clean. Housework is an instrument of grace.

I enjoy walking my dog in the woods. Being in nature is an instrument of grace.

I enjoy lingering in conversation over dinner with my family, watching a play with an attentive audience and attending choir practice a few times a week with someone telling me exactly which notes to sing next. Being in the presence of others in simple activities is an instrument of grace.

Take a moment right now to acknowledge the things in your life that steady you.

When your life feels complicated, turn to these every day activities that slow you down and force patience. Let yourself rely on these mundane activities as instruments of grace.

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