New Perspectives…

The summer is coming to an end. The days are shorter and the nights are growing longer…

This past Sunday afternoon, my bookend-sister wanted to show me the walk along the other side of the river — and we were pleasantly surprised to see how far Autumn had advanced over there. The river’s cliff-side near my childhood home I know like the smile of a close friend – but it’s really not the most common one to visit – the other side that brushes up against the town of Estacada itself is the one most people know. There are benches and picnic tables to accommodate visitors, and there’s even a beautiful dock to aid in the enjoyment of the river. It’s the side that many of the kids I grew up with are likely to think of when they think about hike-walking along the river during their youth.
It’s a little funny to admit that I’ve spent so much of my life here, but I’ve never actually explored  that side before…  I was surprised at how it gave me an entirely different view of the river that I know so well.   The air was still heavy with the scent of the river and warm earth, but also carried the evidence of town – like the aroma of someone having an end-of-summer Sunday Barbecue, and the hum of the nearby highway. The river itself seemed so different from that side that it almost felt foreign…

Dock in Estacada on the Clackamas River

It’s funny how so much of the view of Life’s path depends on the perspective you have as you are walking it. Every once in awhile – after climbing a particularly steep leg of the journey – sometimes you can turn around and get a different view of where you’ve been…  it can be eye-opening to see things from a new viewpoint.

The Clackamas River from the North side

Lately, I have found myself at one of these points — only it has re-viewed a huge portion of this life I’ve been living, and so much of it appears very different from this new perspective than it was while I was walking through it.  So much of our Reality is shaped by our perspectives  — I’ve found mine has suddenly been turned inside-out and upside-down.  It’s like I’m suddenly living in a new world, but even in this world much remains the same — tomorrow keeps coming. I just desperately need to get my bearings…

Be gentle new world – I’m weary from this journey…

It’s all Grace.

Of Caterpillars and Hope…

Tiny Teddy-bear Caterpillar

Our first “teddy-bear caterpillar” sighting of the year. He was crossing our gravel road when my sister and I stopped to pet him, and he curled up into himself — protecting his softness from the harsh unknowns of the world. He was gently carried to a place of green far off the road, and we continued our evening walk.

Today, I found myself envying this tiny one’s ability to freeze and bring himself a sense of safety — in his little world everything stopped — there was time to just be still. I, too, feel like curling up for a period of rest — I find myself unable to think, unable to function well, unable to ponder this journey. I am tired…

It’s a night to yearn for peace rather than marvel at it… My eyes burn with the build up of fatigue and emotion from this past summer. A couple days ago we had to evacuate since the state park I grew up hiking to from home became the site of a wildfire… Thankfully the winds pushed it the opposite direction from my childhood home, and we had firefighters from districts all over the state as well as civilian volunteers from the area, come to conquer the flames. They won. We survived our evacuation adventure – five of us at my other sister’s place, with five cats (and two fish!) – no one really slept. It was so wonderful to return home safely — and we’re all so grateful! Not everyone was able to return to their home safe and sound…

Tonight I am weighing the balance of my losses this summer alongside all the ways Light shines in my world — all the Goodness that simply is… Life is hard… but it is good. There is Hope. Tonight I will sleep — and tomorrow I will hope again.

Veni, Vidi, Amavi.

It’s all Grace.

America the Beautiful…

The Sea at St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea after Sunday Mass

The sanctuary was packed at St. Mary’s by the Sea this morning. Our small town has been inundated with visitors for the 4th of July holiday weekend, which means our Masses were full… It was like playing piano for an army — every voice raised in song together… so intense.
We  sang America the Beautiful as our closing song — every verse at the top of our lungs —  with spontaneous applause at the end and happy murmurs echoing among the crowd as they began to make their way outside. It wasn’t necessarily the song itself — it was the fact that everyone knew it well from their childhood, and everyone felt the joy of an entire building singing together… that connection…

Outside the sunlight was blinding, and everything it touched felt bright and beautiful — the faces of strangers, the grasses on the knoll above the beach, the waves in their retreat at low tide… the statue of Mary overlooking us all as a mother does… And myself – still trembling with the leftover adrenaline from the intensity of playing for everyone to sing — my heart still racing with the fullness of it all.

Our world can often seem full of darkness — but then, there are moments that remind us there is so much Beauty here — this world is truly charged with Glory… each person lit with Life – shining with the Love they were created to be… to know… to give… 
I’m afraid so many of us are missing the point — missing the mark… there really is no room for anything but Love in our interactions with others. We were made to bring Peace.

Be kind — it’s All Grace.

“O Strength in the flight of the heron,
Joy in the song of the lark,
Peace in the mists of the morning,
And Light in the leaves of the Park!
Everywhere shineth Thy Beauty,
Yet everywhere only in part –
Come, Holy Spirit, I pray Thee,
And dwell with Thy Flame in my heart!”
John Bradburne, Angelus (1958) [547]

Sonnets and Sunshine…

KitKat and Little-Bit sharing a patch of sun

Summer term began today – conveniently on the first day of Summer.

This term I gave myself a treat —

Shakespeare and a piano class — though I’m not sure how we’ll do the piano class online. Still, learning a bit more about making music on the instrument I play every weekend for the choir can only be a positive thing. And Shakespeare — well that’s purely for me. The comfort of an old friend in the guise of a college class during a difficult time… I remember so vividly when I met him when I was six or seven — it was “The Flying Karamazov Brothers – The Comedy of Errors” — I thought the utter confusion caused by the two pairs of twins was hilarious. It still makes me smile thinking about it. :) (And it’s still my favorite.)

I should pick up Jane Eyre for a bit of comfort reading as well. Though I’ll probably be steeped in Shakespeare during any free-reading time this term. (Not that I mind. :) ) Still, a nice, cozy afternoon with Jane could be just what the doctor ordered… and I have such a lovely copy too — a beautiful little hardback that fits right in the palm of my hand. Second-sister would agree that Jane could be the perfect comfort read right now.

We are recovering from covid… still feeling the fatigue, but hopefully that will pass soon. The sunshine has been glorious for the past few days, and that has really helped. I know that part of this heaviness is just being plain heart-sick… Sometimes the only way from point A to point B is straight on through a valley. There’s a reason “it was not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18) — life is harder without a partner — harder when there’s no one around the corner who has your back.

But —

There are still sonnets and sunshine…

And warm cats snuggled beside me…

There’s sunlit waves and sunlit leaves…

Summer is here — and I am home.

Somehow, it’s all Grace.

A Gentle Place…

Jasper at work

Jasper is resting up after playing with Sable.

Well, that, and he’s keeping me company in “his” spot by my work desk. In some way, he considers this helping me work. :)

I admit it. His presence does soften the rough edges of my day, and I can’t help smiling when I glance over at him.

In the early hours of this morning, when the world was still quiet and dark, he climbed into my lap as I sat here with my prayers – and quickly fell asleep as his breathing settled into my rosary’s rhythm. 

We rested there – my fingers of one hand in the softness of his fur, those of the other gently passing along the beads – and his little soul totally at peace. 

For that brief moment the world was a gentle place…
a place of prayer,
and presence…

It’s all Grace.