Manna Meditations

when the light in the woods falls like a hand on my shoulder …

… and I turn to look…

… and suck in my breath…

… and see this:

Grateful. ūüíõ

(Manna Meditations Day 16)

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Everyday Wonder

signs of spring …

The green begins slow, like someone waking up after a long nap.

It spreads subtly across the forest at first: the tiniest leaves spangling the understory.

But then the grass on the lawn grows long.

The wood moss puts out furry wands tipped with tiny capsules of new life.

As for me, I go out to the back yard and cut down an armful of forsythia blooms. I bring the long stems inside, and stuff them in my great-grandmother’s blue Ball jars. Suddenly, every corner of our tiny cottage is filled with the color and scent of sunshine, green things, growing things… Life:

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I rest, and say It Is Good.  ‚̧

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Everyday Wonder

the thaw …

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When the thaw happens, it happens all at once.

*

Almost two months ago now.

We go walking in the woods:  me, T and two dear friends.  New-fallen snow lines every limb and leaf.  The light is pale silver; the air cold, but not too cold.

Like Winter is making up its mind.

*

We have the dogs with us, and they go tearing through the underbrush ahead, leaping and yelping with delight. ¬†We watch them kicking up mud and wet leaves, blackening their muzzles, and we can’t help but laugh.¬†

After awhile, I let the others go ahead of us, chasing down the dogs, and I hang back on the trail, just looking.

The forest is profoundly quiet — the deep quiet you only hear after it snows — and I push back the furry hood of my coat just to listen to that¬†emptiness.

I stand there for a few moments. ¬†I’m waiting for something without knowing what.

And then it comes:  the thaw.  

Almost all at once, the air temperature must tick up a half a degree or two, because suddenly all the snow dotting the branches liquifies.  Tiny dewdrops spangle every twig.

And then — oh, God! — the sun. ¬†It stabs a long scar in the clouds and comes tearing through in solid gold bars: ¬†shooting through the treetops. ¬†Bouncing off the trunks. ¬†Catching and sizzling in the million dewdrops. ¬†

Setting them all on fire.

*

The forest
is filled
with diamonds.

*

And now I am sitting here, months later, trying to put it into words:  how paper-thin the membrane, between the dark and the light.  The cold and the flame.  

How fragile the cold.  

How fierce and strong the Spring.

How deep and wide the joy, when at last — at last — it comes.

*

Happy Spring, friends. ¬†I think we made it. ‚̧

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Everyday Magic

A Monday-morning call to look again …

Can I tell you something? 

Can I say it here — now — before the noise of the week presses in and drowns out my words?

Oh, friend. Hear me: this world is full of magic. And I believe the best magic waits for those of us who see things a little differently.

There’s mystery for those of us willing to stand on our heads to see the sky …

For those willing to get on our knees — the gesture of  prayer — to look closely:

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And closer still:

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Dear friend: I hope you take a little time to marvel at the world around you today.

Marvel standing on your hands…

Marvel praying on your knees…

Marvel with your lens pressed to the leaves…

  

Whatever you do, just marvel. ‚̧

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Musings

An elegy – almost – for the wild children who grew up…

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Where I grew up, the forest was full of children.

We grew out of tree trunks like lichen, wound round branches like vines, and¬†leapt limb-to-limb like wild things … for this is what we were. ¬†Half-wild, at least.

We hung upside-down in the canopy — eyes full of stars, faces streaked with earth — and watched the world below with wonder. ¬†

We slipped canoes and kayaks into the swamp; paddled for miles; held torches aloft and saw what the forest looked like in the dark, with its thousand yellow eyes gleaming back at us.  

We dragged dead limbs into clearings, onto islands. ¬†Built shelter. ¬†Tore it down. ¬†Built thatch-roofed huts in the limbs of the trees. ¬†Strung swinging bridges trunk-to-trunk through the stands of cypress, so that you could teeter out over the black water, ten feet up. ¬†Sometimes, we imagined building hundreds of bridges into the distance … for this was a true forest, one that seemed to float, and if you faced a certain direction and kept paddling, you could paddle¬†until nightfall and not reach the end of it. ¬†

We were half-wild creatures, messy mistake-makers, just beginning to understand how to live lightly.  Hooting and hollering through the forest.  Leaping and dodging through the brush.  Bird-calling and doe-stepping.  Howling like wolves.  

In the forest, I was never alone.

*

I am older now, and I live near the edge of a smaller wood — a citified remnant of a forest, stretching between orderly¬†neighborhoods. ¬†

Even so,¬†there are certain stretches where I’d be startled if I saw another human.

More¬†than once I’ve come face-to-face with a herd of grazing deer, who lift their large eyes to me in surprise, blinking and gaping at old Two-Legs. ¬†I’ve heard hawks scream. ¬†Seen a raccoon fallen from the canopy, lying still and silent in the most peaceful-looking, sleepy sort of death. ¬†The place is within shouting distance to civilization, but it’s an emptier¬†wood than¬†the raucous¬†place of my childhood.

Solitary, in the way of human company.

*

I putter through the house.  Make tea.  I am thinking about what to wear to a party:  black stilettos.  A bracelet full of white stones that catch the light.

I plan a dinner for friends.

I check my calendar to see where a birthday gathering can be shoehorned in.  

I’m a social creature, these days — civilized and surprisingly grown-up — but I am still half-wild, too, and wishing for a little humanity in whatever wild places I have left. ¬†I plan dinner and almost wish I could serve it on a summer night, in the forest of my youth — seat my friends at a long table crowded with candles and moss and stones. ¬†

Teach these friends of mine how to whistle like the whip-poor-will — whose song I haven’t heard in years.

*

For so many reasons, this is impossible.

*

I go out walking in my woods.  I walk for hours.  The place is empty of children.

Every now and again, I’ll pass another adult human, looking purposeful and intent at walking a dog or finishing¬†a run. ¬†These do not look like wild creatures — not even a little bit — and for them, the woods are a place to finish a task, check a chore off a list. ¬†The telltale white wire hovers at¬†their throats, and as they flash past me, I hear their tinny electrified tunes¬†jabbing through the birdsong, for just a moment or two.

And there is no doubt that these people are more put-together than I am.  Their days more ordered than I can imagine, or want to.  

Still:  sometimes I almost want to grab an elbow as they pass, and whirl them to a halt.  Jerk the white wire free, so they can hear the stream slipping over the stones.

I want to, but I don’t.

*

Winter overtakes the woods, and the bones of the trees sink into earth.

I walk long, in the cold air, under clean-limbed shadows.  Skeletal black stripes.

At the edge of the woods, I look out onto the close-cropped lawns of the humans who live so very near me.

The woods are silent.

The woods are empty.

There is no shouting, no hollering, no howling.

Still:  the forest stretches her shadows out across the lawns, out toward the houses with their lawn mowers and empty swingsets, and I open my arms, calling out without saying a word:

Come back.

Come back…

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We are still here, waiting for you. ‚̧

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