it's the little things...

...that make my day.

 Like yesterday when Yuki and I walked to Sligo Creek Park... 

See, lately I've been walking around with thoughts of Australia bouncing around like kangaroos in my brain, and this day was no different. Although this time the thoughts were more like a koala hugging my brain, so warm and soft and comforting. (I won't even venture to say what was on Yuki's brain, though my best guess is not much) and anyway, I found this:

And a few moments later, an older English gentleman walked by us and noticed me noticing the beautiful dogwood blossoms and also noticed the camera I was holding. He walked by us at first, making a passing comment on the loveliness of the tree, but showed back up about 7 seconds later with a smile and an idea! "Ok, look I want you to stand behind the dogwood and I will take a picture of you looking at it," he said with confidence. "Alright, cool. Are you a photographer?" "No, just creative," he replied quite matter of fact-like. He directed me to his liking, took the picture, handed the camera back to me, and quickly walked away. I could barely get a word of thanks in, but I smiled as I watched him walking away, smiling, the sun illuminating the top of his head like a halo... 

I'm so thankful to be living in this world, where beautiful fortunes lie waiting to be found, where strangers lend a creative hand and a smiling face, where I find myself wondering on a fine spring day, "Is heaven really this near?"   


Happy National Arbor Day!

In honor of National Arbor Day tomorrow, here is a picture show from our trip to the National Arboretum last weekend:

(If you click on it, you should be able to watch a larger version.)

And because a lovely you post is never complete without a poem...


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner


Throw Down Your Heart

I strongly recommend this:

Bela Fleck took a journey to Africa to trace the roots of the banjo and to jam with some damn fine musicians. He brought several of the folks he met and played with during his trip over to the States for a short tour. Well, Jason and I got to see Bela and The Africa Project perform the other night and Man-o-man how we dug that show! It was literally one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. We were grinning ear to ear the entire time. We felt so fortunate to witness some of the best musicians in the world on the stage together, jammin' their big, beautiful hearts out and then throwin' them down at our feet. A few days later, we got a chance to see the documentary. I was afraid that after seeing the live performance the documentary wouldn't compare. I was wrong. It was beautiful. While Bela doesn't say much with his mouth, his hands say it all. You could tell he was touched, scratch that, BLOWN AWAY by the beauty of the land, the people, and the music. We were, too. What a place Africa is; I can't even imagine the magic of being there. Someday, some fine day... Until then, you can bet I'll be dancing and throwing down my heart over and over again to the magic of this. 


The Faces of Deer

Deer are and have always been very special to me.  They appear at times I need them most, when I need to be a witness to Grace and Beauty, to be reminded of Mystery and Freedom, to be led across the bridge from Fear to Love, or to learn the simple pleasure of communicating Peace to another Being. I have stood in woods for eternal moments in the silence of trees staring deer in their bewildered eyes, basking in their essence, asking for their Wisdom. Each time I walk away feeling Beloved. The day after my Grandmother passed, when I was overcome with grief, I stood in wonder in the backyard of the house where I work as several deer convened in the grass. This was a rare occasion to begin with, but what was even rarer was the way they stayed when we came near. So, there we stood, me and my three year-old sidekick and his mother, probably ten feet from the nearest deer and up to our ears in amazement.  These were young deer, perhaps too young to know the danger of coming so close, though I like to think they were just feeling adventurous that morning. I was reminded of the last conversation I had with my Grandmother. It was my wedding day, and just hours before the fall that finally broke her. And as we talked about the wedding and my upcoming move to Australia she said to me: "I've had my adventures. Now it's your time." How can I tell you then what it was like for me to see these young deer, so free and fearless, stopping and staring at us with such fierceness of spirit?  My soul was at its knees. And what those deer communicated to my soul in that moment of connection, I lack the perception to say. All I know, is in that moment, healing began. All I know, is whether you are a three year-old just learning to say hello to life, an eighty year-old learning to say goodbye, or somewhere in between, whether or not you have ever looked into the eyes of another Being and asked for them to teach you something, you are Beloved. 
When for too long I don't go deep enough
into the woods to see them, they begin to
enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the
pinewoods of my inner life. I want to live a life
full of modesty and praise. Each hoof of each
animal makes the sign of a heart as it touches
then lifts away from the ground. Unless you
believe that heaven is very near, how will you
find it? Their eyes are pools in which one
would be content, on any summer afternoon,
to swim away through the door of the world.
Then, love and its blessing. Then: heaven.
-Mary Oliver

(The picture was taken at Shenandoah National Park last summer on Yuki's first camping trip. You can click to enlarge.)


For Grandma

Virginia Long
May 13, 1928 - March 31, 2009

(I took this picture the day before I married, 
the day before she fell,
the day before the last time I heard her voice.
Now, it is the day after her life.)

(Adapted from the Zenrin)

Here are words through which I find comfort and meaning:

Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran