Sunday, 22 February 2015

Being With What Is

"I seem to be waking to a larger world of wonderment- to catch little glimpses of the immensity of creation.  More than at any other time in my life, I seem to be aware of the beauties of our spinning planet and the sky above.  Old age is sharpening my awareness."

Ram Dass - Being With What Is


When I read Ram Dass's quote early this morning, I thought, yes, I understand this.

And then I went out with my camera.

At 7:15 there were no other cars at the Henderson Recreation Centre and I walked towards the area I had visited yesterday, to find the little tree that had so captivated me.  

Where was it?  

I couldn't believe that I did not immediately recognize it-  I had downloaded more than fifty photographic portraits just the day before!

I had been so focused on one tiny portion of the tree, that I hadn't really noticed its overall structure. I was enthralled with the jewel-like richness of colour in the crook, nestled between several branches. In this small area, covering perhaps eight inches, there was a rippling and puckering of wood and tiny concentric semi-circles. The colours seemed part of a rainbow.

I had moved closer and still closer until my camera's lens-protector touched the wood.  Each time I pressed the shutter, I moved ever so slightly, sideways and then onto my toes.  For almost an hour I was receptive: the heart of the tree and I were in perfect harmony.

                     click any photograph to see a full-sized image

Today, when I finally rediscovered the tree's location, the light was at first too dim and then too harsh to truly capture its beauty. 

While I have walked along this chip trail, perhaps one hundred times, it was only yesterday that the tree's radiance held me captive.  It was as if yesterday I had entered a sacred place, and that today, the magic was gone.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

a pause from gardening

This morning, I discovered a perfect way to pace myself in the garden. I don't need to set the timer for 30 minutes, as the Arthritis Centre recommends, rather, I find the perfect subject to photograph, and then abruptly cast aside my work gloves and go inside for my camera.

Here is a selection of this morning's photographs.

click any photograph to see a full sized image

Monday, 16 February 2015

All The Light We Cannot See

In Anthony Doeer's most recent book, Madame Manec says to her long-time employer, "Don't you want to be alive before you die?"

She is talking to great-uncle Etienne, who has, for decades, lived solely within the confines of his tall house, in the company of his fears.

This morning I tuned into the Vinyl Cafe just as Stewart Mclean was recounting one of his wonderful Dave and Morley stories.  It took the form of a letter written to Dave, a reply to a sympathy note he had sent to the wife of his childhood baseball coach. In this moving letter, the widow recounts how she and her husband spent  their last vacation together, describing how, unable to sit, her husband lay on a yellow inflated air mattress which she dragged down to the lake every morning and again in the afternoon, so they could be together by the lake and hear the loons.  This was a dream holiday they had talked about for years. This was a trip about love.

There is a strange popularity of books listing the places you need to see before you die;  'life lists' with itineraries of things to do and places to go. The Smithsonian  website notes that 'bookstores brim with the titles such as 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die' ...and the more esoteric, 'Fifty Places To Go Birding Before You Die.' 

I particularly like an entry on Barnes & Noble's site that announces Patricia Schultz's 1.000 Places To See Before You Die, 2nd Edition: completely Revised and Updated with Over 200 New Entries. Were 200 entries dropped from the must-see list to make room?  Had people travelled to places that they need not have visited?

While  articles and books and websites write a great deal  about what to do before death- seeming to imply that until you travel to these places, your life will be lacking-  I haven't noticed one that quite simply says, be. here. now. 

Be with yourself and with treasured ones of your own choosing; be open to love from unexpected sources; continue to do what you love most, even if it's for shorter periods of time and perhaps adjusted somewhat.   

Continue wondering. And seeing. And being delighted.



Love yourself.  

In her book, Comfortable with Uncertainty, Pema Chodron talks about loving-kindness towards ourselves, about how this maitri doesn't mean we need to toss out how we feel- whether it be anger or jealousy or feelings of timidness or craziness-but rather, she writes, loving kindness is about 'befriending who we are already.'  

While Madame asks the initial question in All The Light We Cannot See, it is Marie-Laure who nudges her great-uncle forward. It is because of her that Etienne, sequestered for nearly 24 years, becomes fully engaged in life. 

        **                   **                                **                             **

'Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'
(All The Light We Cannot See)

A Lakota Nation saying is that 'forgiveness is about giving up all hope for a better past.'