It started with mystery; it always does, called out of my dreams by the fog-piercing rays of earliest light stirring the layers of mist dust sky river, kaleidoscope greeting of gold rose and amethyst-colored music, and the muted rustle of resettling geese; I intook the outflowing perfume of night scents, distilled and released, redolent of hay, decay, promise; life stood at the edge between summer and fall, drenched in the gifts of farewell and welcome. Still, on the bridge, I breathed myself into all that, the all I am part of, and then there was movement upriver, distant and haze-softened, as though a piece of land had dislodged from the bank with sentient intention to cross the water in shadow, harboring secret desire to witness the world from the opposite side. Squinting, my stunned vision sun-cleared, surrendering fantasy for the magic of what is: a deer silently fording the river, traveling through blue and green into the dawn, wading to the gold-leafed shore beyond. He moved as one in prayer, bowed down, communing, aware of being known and beloved, his journey held. And everything transformed again. Tell me what you believe or do not; I’ll honor it, but know that for me there is a voice and it is Love, just Love, urging me to be its constant pilgrim calling me awake every moment, asking me only to open my eyes, to meet the world as kin and allow it to fill me with peace and feast on my entranced and grateful joy.
If we listen, opened wide, there is music in the tide, there are tones beneath the tones, there are dreams within our bones, there are riddles in the earth, incantations for rebirth, there are omens in the air, sending answers to that prayer we keep silent in our heart, if we’ll only choose to start. Only choose to sing our story, ease the world of crushing worry, love is energy and light, and the source that fuels sight, go within and share without, bravely shout our needed shout: we are here, we are here, and astonishingly now, to connect some holy how, to create, again and more, from the magic at our core, what was always meant to be, what was always there to see—we are artists meant to fashion an existence of compassion, here to heal and cradle pain into fire once again, we’re alive and we flower, joyful anger is our power, we will rise, we will grow, balance stillness with our flow, and we’ll listen, opened wide, to the music in the tide, hear the tones beneath the tones, and the dreams within our bones. Intuition sent its note: synchronicity, it wrote, is awareness of the real and the truth it can conceal. Spirit whispers on the wing that the world’s a changing thing and the new calls to the new: who we are is what we do. There are riddles in the earth, incantations for rebirth, there are omens in the air, sending answers to that prayer we keep silent in our heart, if we’ll only choose to start. Go within and share without, let us shout our needed shout: We are here, we are here, and astonishingly now, to connect some holy how, to create, again and more, from the magic at our core, what was always meant to be.
A pleasing night past summer’s rise, the fireflies draw closed day’s curtain; we note how purple dusk flows into darkness earlier each evening, and faintest smells of autumn begin to interweave with all the garden’s ripened fruits. The heat retreats before the cooling air’s relief and hushing stillness grant their peace. And then, across the dozing river, out beyond the farmer’s field, sudden music detonates, to bruise the night with noise. “The County Fair,” we say, accepting shattered silence, and listen to the program beneath indifferent stars. The drummer pounds and hours pass and now we are in bed awake, and longing for the concert’s close; it comes at last, a slower song, and gentle end; we sigh and still, to welcome waiting sleep. And then, along the river’s bank, Coyote’s pack begins to howl, piercing, clear, poetically; a choral gift, an answer to the raucousness endured. My spirit fills, I bless the song, its aching reclamation of nature’s right to sing the night into her fragile dreams.
I remember a mild early summer day spent reading an ancient copy of Under the Lilacs, sitting beneath my grandmother’s lilacs, great drooping branches of swaying purple and amethyst blooms surrounding me and scenting the air with their heady perfume. The memory never returns without the fragrance of lilacs and the sensation of pages so browned with age they felt crisp and fragile in my hands. I remember my peace, enveloped in words and sweet smells and the feeling that the magical possibilities of summer had just begun. And I recall the embracing music of security and love, as the laughter of my parents and grandparents carried from the kitchen and across the lawn to my secret lilac-veiled haven.
Deep, clear, and precious recollections like these–small moments of my life, really–float down memory’s corridors and come to me like returning dreams. I can enter and rest in them and feel my spirit and energy completely restored.
And it intrigues me that very few of these memories that gift me with such peace are connected to or evoked by photographs. In fact, I can often look at old photos of myself, of family gatherings, holidays, college friends, past jobs and colleagues, and not recall a thing about the time or place they were taken. That’s not always the case; there are photos that instantly capture and flash deep memories, but many do not, much as I may enjoy seeing them.
I’ve been taking photos since I was 9, when my grandfather gave me his then-obsolete box camera, so I’ve spent a lifetime deeply pursuing the ways film can immortalize what I love and treasure about the blessing of physical existence in a material world. I’m an extremely visually-oriented human, thrilled by all the artists and art-related posts I can follow on Instagram, where I can also share photos from our little daily round at Full Moon Cottage. But I think, especially with the advent of digital cameras and the evolving human appendage formed by smartphones, we have begun to neglect the wholly holy and deeply full moments of our lives that retain their intimacy and magic precisely because they enter and reside only in our memories, sans photographic perpetuity.
Photographs can deceive. They may obscure more than they reveal, and can now be manipulated so adeptly they reflect fantasy more than any reality. A picture’s worth a thousand words but may conceal a million. Perhaps. The constant selfies and interruptions and poses they require are excessive and, for me, can intrude upon the lasting joys of being present to a personal and sacred encounter. Every moment of our life does not require or benefit from a corresponding photograph.
Yesterday, one of my dearest friends visited after an absence of almost two years. She relocated and the pandemic has kept us apart, so I had been anticipating this visit for months. When you share more than 20 years of your life with a friend and then can’t meet face-to-face, such reunions are a very. big. deal. For me, anyway. While I’m grateful for Zoom, it will never touch the light that yesterday offered my spirit.
We were blessed with a temperate day and cooling breezes, so we could sit on the back deck beneath the maple tree, remaining safely distant and yet near enough to spend the day together, maskless, laughing, crying, sharing our stories and feelings, and celebrating her coming birthday. I’ll always remember her bright sundress, the way the breeze lifted her hair, gentled the wind chimes into music, and made the maple leaves dance. I recall how the hummingbirds darted to the feeder and rested on the tree’s lower branches, and can revisit the memory of my darling Phillip serving us champagne and cheesecake, joining us for lunch and conversation and then allowing us private time together. The day could not have been more perfect.
As my friend drove away, heading back to her family’s home, I felt the day’s joy diminish and familiar sadness tugged at my heart, as it does with such partings, especially as those limitless years of our youth telescope down towards their inevitable end. We say we’ll meet again, but realize that truthfully, the odds are not ever-in-our-favor regarding such future meetings. And, for a moment, I regretted I hadn’t taken a photo of us together, a sweet memento of a wholly holy day.
But then I realized the day had held no room for a photo; there was no moment I’d have yielded to a smartphone’s intrusion or surrendered to photography’s inability to capture the day’s joyful fullness. It would have broken the flow of perfect presence we’d been gifted to breathe together in the two years that have made sharing space and breath too rare. Not every treasure needs to be exposed to the world’s scrutiny; not every experience has to be reduced and confined to an image. Some moments can be held intact solely by the gratitude felt for them, for the peaceful and profound embrace they offer when we return to them in memories only our hearts can ever truly record and preserve.
PS: Happy Full Moon from Full Moon Cottage! Enjoy tonight’s third Supermoon of the year. And, if you haven’t yet seen the images shared from the James Webb Space Telescope, they are enchanting and awe-inspiring!
And if we are living in darkness let us trust its goodness and power, for life uncoils in unlit wombs and black cocoons. In the Stygian depths and dampness of soil, or bodies, seeds erupt, pierce time, and find the light of new homes; our shadowed nighttime dreams bend thoughts, blend patterns beyond the known, invent-create-originate, but first there is the breathing in darkness, abiding in silence, awaiting language yet unformed, still traveling through unwinding insights and revelations; there are raw blessings and mysteries to name and shape, and there is the reaching for healing buried in chaos, the discovery of puzzles only loss and grief can place in our hands. All is change; all is gift. Do not call the beginning the end; release. Now is the moment we must transform. See what the darkness has made of us: we have become the answers growing in the light.
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. The villagers cried, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!”
To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.” ~Traditional Chinese Wisdom Story
Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure. ~ Rumi
My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon. ~ Mizuta Massahide, seventeenth-century Japanese poet and samurai who studied under Matsuo Bashō.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ~ Yeshua, Bible, New Testament; Gospel of John, 14:27