Earth Teach Me

Ute2

(photo by me)

Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as the old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.
                                            UTE Prayer

Stillness. Suffering. Humility. Caring.Courage. Limitation. Freedom. Resignation. Regeneration. Forget. Kindness.

In the quiet of the morning I find stillness. I know my own suffering has created some scars, but it has also tempered me with strength I would not have otherwise found. I ask for humility in all things, never wanting to be proud or boastful. I strive to be a caring person. I have found courage has many forms.  I understand limitations can sometimes open other doors. Freedom is something that does not come without responsibility and compassion. Resignation can represent patience. Regeneration means we can be restored, revived. Forget myself means to understand I am one thread of the tapestry, a part of the whole.  Kindness is what makes me human.

When we look to the earth, we can find all these lessons. All we need to do is heed them.

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Star Dust and Rainbows

A few days ago I posted this quote on Facebook:

“The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible

and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.

It is a little star dust caught,

a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”

Henry David Thoreau

I really think this quote is beautiful. In the mornings I’ve thought about it and have had some ponderings about it.

I go through day to day life like most everyone else. When someone asks, “How was your day?”, I answer like I do when someone asks, “How are you?” “Fine.”

Why is that? How can a 24 hour day be diminished to one word? How can we express the complexity of our entire being into one word?

I know I am fortunate to have a job I love. I work with 3,4 and 5 year old children. If I didn’t see magic and wonder, hear giggles and laughter, comfort tears of sorrow and hurt, I wouldn’t be able to do this job. Almost every moment I am caught off guard by the beauty, magic and surprise of childhood.

 When I think about it, I realize I laugh hundreds of times each day. I sigh at least half as often as that during a day. Sometimes in wondrous disbelief, other times in frustration. I am challenged daily to be better than I think I am, or think I can be. I am called to find an overflowing well of compassion and patience inside of myself. Creativity and spontaneity have to be my middle name. I have to believe I can sing when I know I can’t and I have to pretend I am graceful getting up off the floor when I know I am not. Every day I have to put the needs of 21 other people before my own.

When someone asks me how my day was, hundreds or more flashes of thoughts and moments dart through my mind. I tend to think most people would not find it interesting that a 4 year old spent 3 days learning to tie his own shoe and is as proud as a peacock, or that a little girl read her first word and thinks she is the most special person in the world. No one is interested when I get thrown up on or peed on. Few people would understand that my whole adult being is effectively challenged by the sheer will of a three year old everyday. So the summary of my day tends to be condensed into the nondescript answer “Fine.”

I’m just like you. Some days I am tired. Perhaps fighting a headache. Occasionally my heart is heavy with worry or concern about a loved one. I have days where I feel like I’m on the hamster wheel and can’t actually accomplish anything or see an end to the list of to do things. I wish some days I could retire or win the lottery. Things bother me. People bother me. When someone asks “How are you?” I believe the sincerity is there. I also know they don’t want to know too much. So the short, condensed answer is “Fine.”

Back to the quote:

“The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible

and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.

It is a little star dust caught,

a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”

oct 17 5

(Sunrise Oct 17 from West Hill, photo by me)

We find great comfort, beauty, joy in the indescribable colors of the sky as the sun rises or sets.  We’ll drive out of our way to catch just a moment longer of a rainbow arching across the sky. And yet it is so difficult for us to see the other moments in our lives that are just as awe inspiring. I love the word “harvest”. How many of us think of having harvested anything in the course of the day? How many of us take the time to see the very real beauty in our days in the form of a smile, an act of kindness, a melody, a falling red maple leaf or a petal of cherry blossom? What is the true harvest of your day?

The muddled, chaotic moments of our days, of our lives, sometimes overwhelm the softer, more gentle, deeper moments of our days. Some moments seem intangible and indescribable. Their fleeting sweetness gets brushed aside by rushing, stressing, worrying, pleasing, routines, lack of sleep, lack of relaxing. But in our mind, heart and soul, those softer moments do linger, and can have the most profound effect and meaning for us.

Please don’t be blind to, or forget the little bit of star dust you caught, the piece of rainbow you held during the day.

Before The Sun Rises

As I get older I wake up earlier. At first this caused me worry and upset. Why was I up so early? How could this be good? Waking up early began to be associated with worry and anxiety.

sunburst

(sunrise winter 2013, by me)

After I calmed down, which took years, I realized I woke up early because that was what my body wanted and needed to do naturally. It helps, I imagine, that now I am fortunate enough to be able to go to bed and fall asleep fairly easily. During the night my body gets the rest it needs to wake up on it’s own. Rested and refreshed. Whatever the hour may be.

Having gotten through that, I worked on using that dark, quiet time and allowed myself to begin to go inward consciously and take care of myself in another way. I have no name for it.

You can call it prayer, contemplation, reflection, introspection, meditation, being present or mindful, you can call it what ever you want. I call it listening to the songs the sunrise sings.

I listen to stillness and silence. I listen to the music only the sun absent darkness sings. I listen to my breath. I listen to my heart beat. I listen to the song of my husband’s breathing. Of the purring of the cat. I listen to every thing I cannot hear during the noise of the day.

“The only journey is the journey within.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

I come to terms, find peace and closure with thoughts and emotions. I listen to all the stories filled with drama that my mind creates about the past, which is gone, and the future which hasn’t’ even happened yet. And then I close the book on those stories and put them away.

And I return to experiencing the gift of the early morning. I discover things. About who I am. Who I am not. Who I want to be. Who I do not want to be. I sort through crap and gunk, and discard them. I think about choices I have and choices I can make. About being kind. Patient. About what it means to respect others. Especially people who are very different from me. I think about the choices I can make in working with young children and their families and how I might make a difference in their lives. I remember I can choose the way I respond to things, to worry, to fear, to anger and disappointment.

I think about the kind of person I want to be.

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.

~Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun

As the sun rises and light slowly pushes the night away, Nature begins to sing and hum. Birds call to one another. Bees get ready to do their dance of information sharing, trees bend as strength against the wind.

Presented before me is a new day. A day with no story written. Oh sure, I have to go work, do the grocery shopping, make dinner, pay bills…..but within those things, the script can be new, different. If I make that choice.

I am such a small, small thing in this great, infinite universe. I am really not significant. All I can do is to make a choice each day about the kind of tiny speck I want to be. I want to sparkle and make someone smile. I want to open my arms to embrace and comfort. I want to champion compassion and hope. I want to foster respect and generosity of heart. I want to be the speck that nourishes and sustains.

“When your heart speaks, take good notes.” ~Judith Campbell

Do I succeed with all of this every day? No. Of course not. But every day is a new day. The sunrise reminds me of this. I don’t get so caught up with the not succeeding part. I hold on to the possibility part.

So this morning when I listened to the songs of the sunrise I thought perhaps I should explain the title of this blog and why I listen to these songs. About why I am grateful to wake up early. I had a whole other blog entry ready, but today was not the day for that one.

 

 

 

Sounds

I wake up quite early. No matter the season, it is often still dark outside. Our bed faces the east, and there is a double door along the wall that is almost centered with the bed. Over the years the bed has faced many directions, but this is my favorite, east. I like to have my yoga mat facing east too. When I contemplate this, I think it is because it represents the beginning of the day, the coming of light, waking up. Looking out through that door in near darkness, complete darkness, moonlit darkness, fog, sun light, rain, snow,…..brings me a sense of peacefulness.

Sunday

During any season, with the door opened or closed, I can hear the murmurings of wild life waking up as the sun slowly begins to show her light at the horizon. Depending on the weather, the wind may make the leaves sing or the trees groan as they bend in response to the forces. A variety of animals trill, squeal, snort, howl in the early morning as “breakfast” is caught and consumed. Birds wake one by one. The slow, soft start of a myriad of songs and sounds gradually grows to a wild cacophonous symphony of Nature.

This is one of my greatest pleasures. Listening to all of Nature on Turkey Hill Road awaken.

The past few weeks there has been a new sound, a bird call that I am unfamiliar with. I think it is perhaps a young hawk circling the barely light sky looking for a small morsel to fill it’s belly. One morning I opened the screen to the crisp air and looked upwards, hoping to catch a clue as to the bird. I couldn’t see anything. I know I could use a bird song/call identification website to figure it out. But I haven’t and most likely will not.

Why?

In day to day life I like to “know” things. What’s next, what’s the plan, who will do what, when do I need to be somewhere, the answer to a question, how much money is in the bank, do I need gas, are my children safe and happy, is there life after death, why am I here? I NEED to know. Not knowing is not okay. Not knowing often brings Anxiety. Stress. Worry. Fear.

What ever this bird is, I do not NEED to know. Knowing if it is a hawk or another bird will not make a difference to or change my enjoyment and wonder. Lying in bed, in darkness, and just listening and not knowing, and not needing to know is comforting. The comfort takes away the tightening that comes with organizing, planning, preparing, thinking about, enacting, being responsible, worrying, anticipating, supporting, problem solving, all the activities of the day and leaves me with being okay, for a moment or several, with not knowing. It is difficult to find times during the course of the day when it is okay not to want to know for the purpose of feeling prepared and informed, safe and secure, at ease and calm.

It is a small, trivial thing, yet I accept the gift of this bird and her call as she flies through the barely lit sky. Unseen to me. Unknown to me. And I accept gratefully this moment, and this small  gift of not knowing.

“The less you know, the more fresh things become.”  Toni Packer