Noticing the Signs

Today my granddaughter and I saw a most unusual sight in the backyard. A red dragonfly landed on what looked like a dead stick, part of a tree I can’t name. The banner picture is not mine. Credit is in the notes. Neither of us had time nor awareness to capture the image. What made it unusual is that we have not seen a red dragonfly, or any dragonfly, in our backyard before. Furthermore, when my Mother died two years ago, so many of us were visited by dragonflies. Let’s face it, this isn’t science. I call it the mystery. So, when we looked out we both said aloud, great grandma, and we were delighted with the little skip of joy that arose in our hearts.

This gentle experience is only meaningful for us. If you saw the dragonfly, it may be just a dragonfly. But when we see one, we think of my Mother. I thought about the different ways we make meaning and how something as simple as this little event can make a day bright. And I remembered: I associate my former husband, who died, with eagles who seemed to gather that day. And at a friend’s sudden death, who loved owls, how one showed up at the entrance to her gathering and stayed for the entire service.

I find it curious and wonderful and mysterious how we can make meaning out of events that have no roots in what we call science but that are somehow healing.

When I went through cancer a red rowboat was my talisman, so to speak. I can’t explain why; my artist friends painted red boats and captured beautiful images of red boats and I simply found solace in my red boats, large and small. In fact, I have one, close at hand that is dear to my heart. The photo doesn’t do it justice but you get a sense of it.

And I had folded cranes, 1000 of them, folded by a friend and her friends.

These things that we give meaning to don’t have magical powers but they can be deeply meaningful to us. And because of that, just like the dragonfly today, they can lift our spirits, even remind us that we are bold and brave and can do courageous things when we need to.

I have a special box of candles, a gift from my son and daughter-in-law. Every Friday I light one for a faraway friend who is ill. They are traditional Japanese botanicals, made from plants  since 1892, and it is one way for me to pause and focus for a few moments on my friend.

These small things have no conflict with science. Rather they exist in the realm of healing, not cure.

I suspect that you too have some small items, or rituals, nature and otherwise that you view with tenderness. They matter.

When I think of the dragonfly, it has been about 18 months since I saw my last one and I may never see one again. But today, I received the perfect gift. The unexpected visit from a red dragonfly, in the company of my granddaughter Sophie.

NOTES

1:) With thanks for the banner photo by Robert Shiflet on Unsplash

2:) Small things mean a lot, and in the end, there are no small things.

3:) Two lines from a Rainer Maria Rilke poem that give us pause for thought. “Love and death are the great gifts that are given to us; mostly, they are passed on unopened.”

4:) “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” Rachel Carson

5:) Thank you for taking the time to read these musings. I enjoyed telling you about it. See you next week. Warmest wishes, Trudy

 

Meaningful Memories Japan

The Human Predicament – Pema Chodron

Two excerpts and a poem. I hope you enjoy them.

The Human Predicament

“As human beings we share a tendency to scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground—something predictable to stand on—seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not.

What a predicament! We seem doomed to suffer simply because we have a deep-seated fear of how things really are. Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we’re part of a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process.

So this is where we find ourselves: right in the middle of a dilemma. And it leaves us with some provocative questions: How can we live wholeheartedly in the face of impermanence, knowing that one day we’re going to die? What is it like to realize we can never completely and finally get it all together? Is it possible to increase our tolerance for instability and change? How can we make friends with unpredictability and uncertainty— and embrace them as vehicles to transform our lives?”  Pema Chodron

Pema has a gift and a skill of putting into a few paragraphs what I might take a few pages to talk about.

There are many situations in life you do not control, but you often contribute to them. (James Clear, author Atomic Habits)

“I cannot control the rain, but I can control my clothing.

I cannot control your feelings, but I can control my kindness.

I cannot control my opponent, but I can control my response.

You cannot control most outcomes in life, but you can usually influence them. Releasing your attachment to the results does not mean releasing your responsibility to the situation.”

 

A Favourite Poem by Julie Fahrenbacher

The Most Important Thing

I am making a home inside myself. A shelter
of kindness where everything
is forgiven, everything allowed—a quiet patch
of sunlight to stretch out without hurry,
where all that has been banished
and buried is welcomed, spoken, listened to—released.

A fiercely friendly place I can claim as my very own.

I am throwing arms open
to the whole of myself—especially the fearful,
fault-finding, falling apart, unfinished parts, knowing
every seed and weed, every drop
of rain, has made the soil richer.

I will light a candle, pour a hot cup of tea, gather
around the warmth of my own blazing fire. I will howl
if I want to, knowing this flame can burn through
any perceived problem, any prescribed perfectionism,
any lying limitation, every heavy thing.

I am making a home inside myself
where grace blooms in grand and glorious
abundance, a shelter of kindness that grows
all the truest things.

I whisper hallelujah to the friendly
sky. Watch now as I burst into blossom.

NOTES

1:) The banner photo is from the first day of my five-day walk in Japan, with friends,  along the Nakasendo Way.

2:) Make time for the great outdoors. She is a terrific healer and teacher.

3:) Just for fun IPhone sounds by Maytree

3:) Stay cool, in the sweltering temperatures. See you next week and many thank-you’s for coming by here. Warmly, Trudy

Summer Holidays

One Year Later

Here I am, a year later, back in the Maritimes with my cousins. Here you find: laughter, love, kindness, organized chaos, lobster rolls, grape nut ice cream, conversation, swimming, noise, delicious food, sweltering heat, shade, generosity, differences, companionship, gratefulness, diversity, beauty, music, discussions, warmth, my cousin Sonya’s best seafood chowder (packed with lobster) and belonging. And a few soap boxes to climb up on occasionally when the urge becomes irresistible. ( and we climb back down too and give others a chance) All roads lead to this small corner of the world and whoever shows up is welcome.

All these perfectly imperfect people that we just happen to be with due to the mystery of life. In-laws too. It is so good to have a chance once again to tell them how much I love them.

Ordinary Moments

In the end it is these ordinary moments that stand out. The summer we… and if we aren’t too concerned about picking and choosing then each summer day is the best one yet.

Yes, there can be lost luggage, long lineups, mosquito bites, near misses and so much more that didn’t go according to plan, but if we live to tell the tale they soon become good stories. Slightly embellished, perhaps, but as John Steinbeck reminds us, “never let the facts ruin a good story,”

August 3rd is already here, the second month of “summer.” You won’t find me down at the dock, basking in the sun, but more likely in the shade of a big tree surveying the scene and happily taking it all in.

Outstretched Arms

Don’t forget to have fun. Ok. Turn a blind eye, now and then, to the foibles of our families and ourselves. Let’s recognize the great good luck that we are still alive.

I am convinced that we are all doing the best we can with what we know, at this time, and within the circumstances that we find ourselves.

May you live with outstretched arms.

Thanks for stopping by and warmest wishes always, Trudy.