Small and Beautiful Things

I am reading more now. The challenge currently remains being able to remember what I read. So, now I have a notebook where I can write things down to help facilitate the memories. I looked through the notebook this morning because I did remember there were things I had written down that spoke to me when I initially read them. This post will be a melding of two thoughts I found in my notebook this morning. The first is from Project Happiness, a site I follow on Facebook.

I hope I never tire of night sky, of thunderstorms,
of watching cream make galaxies in my coffee.
I hope I never grow to be someone who
can no longer see the small beautiful things.

***Project Happiness

And, the second:

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked,
in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
***Henry David Thoreau

Spring has finally come into her own around here. Trees have unfurled their tender, bright chartreuse leaves, red bud, cherry, lilac, dogwood and magnolia are heavy with buds and blossoms. Their heady scents travel on soft breezes and make us inhale and then sigh. A kaleidoscope of birds bicker over the perches on the bird feeders. In the distance the Baltimore Oriole chimes in.

Here and there around our property flowers are beginning to raise their tender heads towards the spring sun. Daffodils, Hepatica, violets, trillium, coltsfoot, toadshade, Solomon’s seal, dog tooth violets, bluebells…….it is a pretty time of year.

So, these two quotes came together for me and here is what they whispered to me:

On whatever path I am given or choose to travel on,  it is important to always walk alongside reverence and wonder. I hope I will never lose sight of the “small, beautiful things” that are on the path my feet, heart and soul walk along.

Even on the uneven and challenging parts of the path, there are reminders of wonder and hope everywhere. In seeing and feeling them, a rough and bumpy patch on the path may seem to not be so long after all. Sights, sounds, sensations cascade over us with delight and wonder.  The fragrance of the lilac carried to us on a soft breeze that caresses our cheek. The song of the warbler that makes us look up to see the yellowy puff ball perched on a branch calling to his partner nearby.

Even when the ground we walk on, the path we are taking becomes tiresome or challenging, there is some small thing, always, that can make the effort so worthwhile and not just unavoidable, or just a necessity. If we can but give ourselves permission to see/ experience these gentle moments with awe, love and reverence, we will find comfort and encouragement.

So it is these days here as I slowly heal, recover and regain myself. The hard parts always hold a thread of hope, promise, encouragement if I can only allow myself to see the offerings as hopeful, inspiring and meet them with reverence and gratitude my walk gains a bounce of lightness and even wonder.

I still need to give myself a pep talk when the day seems to present obstacles and discomfort. I am nudged by birdsong, bright yellows and pinks, and the unmistakable scent of lilacs and my focus and thoughts shift, just like that. It isn’t really work, or hard to do. All I need do is be mindful of these moments and pause long enough for awareness and appreciation to be sensed and brought to the forefront of my thoughts, and then gratitude trickles into my heart and being and I am comforted and calmed even as I stand on a bumpy path.

No matter the path I am walking, chosen or not, I can always strive to walk gently, mindfully, with reverence, even when the way seems foggy or unclear. There will always be a song, a melody, a spoken word, a flash of color or a hint of rain scent or flower perfume to remind me to allow space for wonder, hope, and beauty even as I feel off balance and a little lost.

Let me be clear, I can write these words but struggle in the living of frustrations, sadness, grief, pain just like everyone else. Recovering from this aneurysm has been a challenge and sometimes painful, often uncomfortable, and the final outcome remains a mystery.,

It is too easy for me to wallow in frustration, even anger. I got myself two “mantra” bracelets to help remind me of where my choices lie. Now, during a moment of frustration or resentment I glance at my wrist and find the reminders to take a deep breath and pause to become mindful of the beautiful things I am surrounded by. It helps. When I am grieving and long for pre-aneurysm Kathy, when the future seems unclear, when I have to have yet another painful procedure, when I am too tired to do anything, when I can’t remember what I just read, my bracelets remind me to pause, walk with love and reverence, and there I do see (hear, feel and smell) the small, beautiful things. And with hardly any effort, I turn off the path I am on and go instead along the one lined with love, reverence and a quiet and gentle gratitude for being here, able to experience  this at all.

 

 

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That Which Is Timeless

First of all, salutations to all mothers and mother figures and women with the heart of a mother. Today is the day someone decided we should make sure to appreciate these women in our lives…..but I hope your love and respect for these women shines upon them every day.

mom and me mother's day

My mom holding me.

Today as I look out the window I see Nature is cloaked in chartreuse, the first color of spring. Although I have music on in the background I can hear the bird song. In these observations comes the gentle reminder of being grateful. Sometimes we have to make a conscious effort to remember the many blessings in our lives. Even the blessings that aren’t quite blessings yet because we are struggling with accepting them a little bit. Sometimes the reminder is a full on encounter as in the chartreuse colors. I couldn’t ignore it if I tried.

I have spent many hours and days in the company of gratitude—-recovering/healing seems  with brighter with the light of gratitude shining on it. It is a soft glow, but it is enough to wake up the over active monkey mind that sometimes puts blinders on so that the obvious is not always seen. In coming into these memories we have and apply the filters of  gratitude, prayer and blessings. We may experience a very tender softness in the perhaps quiet moments of an awareness of these. A space of renewal and comfort. We may feel the gentle rhythmic beating of our heart and be reminded that our body blesses us by beating regularly with no reminders from us. We are taken care of by a whisper quiet process with no extra thought on our part. In these moments we take a deep breathe and experience the gratitude we have for these things. In these pauses of gratitude we may also find ourselves coming into awareness of other things which bring joy, blessings, gratitude, mystery to our lives.

Who would think that recovering from and aneurysm would bring so many of these pauses of awareness? But here they are, sitting with me. There are numerous times during the day, and even at night in dreams, where this awareness whispers to me. Just softly enough that I have to pay attention and focus on what message I am receiving. Within this, it comes to me that this awareness is not the end of the message. The rest of the message is to go further. It whispers “Stop and taking a deep breath, open your heart up, see that the whole planet, and everything on it, is holy.”  The message gives voice to the desire that wants to bring the awareness of these beautiful reminders to everyone I  meet. In  making and taking the time to find or return to this soft whispering regularly, I  remember this is life fulfilling its promise to me. The mystery of grace is heard in these quieter moments.

In the quiet of sitting here now and letting the memories bubble up I think of my mom. I can hear her voice and see her beautiful auburn hair and remember how I loved to brush it for her. Like all of us, she had joys and sorrows. Sometimes the sorrows spilled out and her hurt became ours too. Today I reflect on what it has been like for me to be a mother, and as I honor who my children are, I find myself thinking of my mom and believing she knew my love for her as I knew her love for me. Perhaps not always patient or perfect, but full none the less.

So, on this mothers day I will make time and space in my day for the quiet and listen. And perhaps this will give birth to a stronger sense of community and our interconnected-ness to each other and the planet. Blessings are all around us, and if in the pause we can see, feel and acknowledge them, perhaps our own bubble of life will be brighter, softer and lighter. Perhaps we can rejoice in the understanding that we are not alone, that we matter just as other person matters. Maybe we will find a new gentleness that allows us to open our hands up in friendship, care and concern.

In my quiet times of healing I do a lot of thinking. I am here because a “medical village” cared for and about me. (As in “It takes a village to raise a child.”) I was not ignored, not left alone, not cared about. I was cradled in the deep love of family and friends. I was treated, bathed, fed, provided for, by a legion of people I didn’t know.

And yes, there are times I am impatient with the slowness, or what seems to me to be slow recovery. Yet, even on the most frustrating days, in those moments of pause I am reminded that there is so much to be grateful for and to ask for the peace of heart and grace to always have a sense of these blessings and to remember that I too can be open to hearing and sensing the needs of others and in reaching out through my own experiences, I will become one of the builders of community. And like my recovery, I may not always have clear sight of the community that is being created, but if I can remember to pause to hear the softer whispering, I will understand that connecting to others in big or small ways, is community building and it matters.

Gratitude is timeless. It is eternal and everlasting. It’s always there, but sometimes we have to be nudged into opening the door for it and to welcome it in to our lives and make room for it. The more we acknowledge it and make room for it, the more often it will come around. And just like the chartreuse, the first color of spring, we will welcome gratitude with open arms and generously share it with others in the bonds of community.

Encircled Fully

“When we pay attention to nature’s music,
we find that everything on the Earth contributes to it’s harmony.”
Hazart Inayat Khan

butterfly world

by Kathryn Beggs Howlett

I woke up this morning to Nature’s music, bird song. The Baltimore orioles with their bright orange, sang to welcome the rising sun. It was comforting and peaceful and the feeling was one of harmony and an awareness of cycles. The world engages in a beautiful dance all the time.

There is a beautiful chant/song based on the Navajo  I sing with my preschoolers, we call it, “May There Be Beauty in Front of Me”. It’s real name is the “Blessing song”.

Walking in Beauty: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony
In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo
T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful…

dancing hoop girl

Dancing girl by KBH

 

I Walk in Beauty Libana

Walk In Beauty 

Whether sung or chanted or simply remembered, these words are powerful…..as we walk through our day, be aware of the beauty of the connections in life. The things that bring us life, love, awareness…walk in beauty with love for all.

This morning before I opened my eyes, listening to the Baltimore orioles, I remembered these words. Within the circle of these words I lay wrapped in love, resting in comfort and security, the sun just risen, the smell of freshness coming in through the open windows and I felt deep in my bones the desire and commitment to walk in beauty today……to be aware of it all, before me, behind me, above me, below me, all around me.

I found a variation on this chant that is equally as moving:

Looking behind I am filled with gratitude,
looking forward I am filled with vision,
looking upwards I am filled with strength,
looking with I discover peace.”
~Sukhraj S. Dhillon

In recovery from a ruptured aneurysm, I have to be very mindful to carry these words into my life every day. It’s too easy to get lost in my head and lose sight of the moments of beauty, gratitude, peace, vision, hope, and joy that I walk next to every day. We are always step by step together if I can only remember to lift my head and my eyes up and forward. Then I not only see, but understand that I am always encircled fully by love, gratitude, vision, strength, peace, hope, beauty and so much more. There is a harmony that is truly ever more balanced than I can always understand.

There are gold finches at the bird feeders, looking in through the window singing and chirping. They bring a smile to my face, and a flutter to my heart and a sigh with my breath…..beauty all around me. No matter what I may think or feel at any given moment, if I can only pause, I find I can regain the feather lite balance between “this Moment” and with “Beauty. ”

I still have to use a map to stay on this road and not get lost. There are many forks in the road and not enough road signs with arrows directing me or information to let me know I am, in fact, on the right road. But, I sense that I am. I need only trust the way and keep my awareness awake.