Waterfalls From Heaven

I feel differently when I am outside. I think differently. I see differently. I hear differently. I smell things differently. I feel the air around me differently.

I change. I slow down. Calm down. I shed wants and unknown fears.

Nature heals.

Our part of NYS was in a pretty bad drought last year. There was briefly talk of having to truck water in to our community.

About 20 minutes from my home is a narrow, 215 foot waterfall. Not tall by some standards, but still beautiful. During the drought, the water stopped. The waterfall had become just a cliff. The thundering water was silenced. The mist vanished.

This spring we have had rain. And rain. We are now in a flood warning. Our lake is high, yards and homes are flooded.

Easter morning we walked the gentle trail to our waterfall, Taughannock Falls. The water was flowing.

easter taug4

Taughannock, photo by me 4/16/17

The mist purified and baptized me in a way no organized dogma could. The thunder of the raging water muffled noises in my head of worry, fear, doubt. I could smell the scent of the earth, damp, decaying and, also, alive. I focused on the force and power of the milky water launching off the side of rock cliff that was too old to comprehend. Somewhere in those rocks and cliffs are fossils of life from ancient sea beds.

The Waterfall at Lu-Shan

Sunlight streams on river stones.
From high above, the river steadily plunges–

three thousand feet of sparkling water–
the milky way pouring down from heaven.

Li Po

Surely our little waterfall is a tiny bit of the milky way pouring down from heaven. Heaven reaching down towards Earth. A reminder of things inter-connected. A reminder to seek beauty and tread lightly. A reminder to look up in wonder and awe at the stars in the universe. A reminder to look all around this biosphere called Earth with humility and and respect, gentleness and stewardship. A reminder to live in moderation and care, balance and understanding. A reminder to pause in gratitude and appreciation for our Mother Earth and all the life she supports.

**It’s spring!! That means Earth Day, marches and standing up to protect the only home we have: Earth. Here are some readings to ponder This Week




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.