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.


Sea-Songs and Silence…

John O’Donahue’s To Bless the Space Between Us – “Before Sleep”

John O’Donahue… “As I lay down to sleep…”

It’s been a long day – most of it spent writing a Shakespeare paper and cleaning the house a bit. I’ll admit one of those things was given more of my attention than the other… (Don’t look too closely at the state of the house!)  :)
I am ready to let my eyes be “freed from the weight of light” soon. They are heavy and weary – tomorrow will be too soon to open them, I can already tell. But they will open to a brand new Sunday, and I will be off to play for Mass — to hear a room full of voices raised in song together… Not trained voices meant to impress, but voices raised for the joy of it — everyday people with everyday struggles… together to sing and pray and share Eucharist together. Eucharisteo – the Thanksgiving. So much to be grateful for…

The sea is waiting to greet me when I get to St. Mary’s tomorrow. I can hear her from my bed tonight — the low rumbling in and out of her tides — breathing, dancing with the shore to the rhythm of the moon.  She will continue her gentle song while I lie in bed tonight – surrounded by my current books, a cat on guard on either side. I will hear her constant presence behind my prayers as my mind wanders the shadows of night… when the way within becomes too loud, I will stop and silence the inner noise with the sound of her presence in the world beyond myself. She brings me back to solid ground when my mind trips into the chaos of worry — those three o’clock in the morning thoughts which are more asleep than awake. It’s hard to quiet my mind when it is tired… But the sound of the sea easily drowns the thoughts that visit without permission. She fills my prayers with her song…

So grateful for the sea-song and my little home here.

#seasongs
#nightsongs
#prayersandpresence

A Blessing for the New Year

A Blessing for the New Year from To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donahue

This week has left me so undone…
I was lead nurse for my team all week — it felt like we were all drowning together — too much to be done and not enough hands to do it…
I am on the other side of exhaustion this New Year’s Eve — hard to think about what the next few weeks of the New Year will be like in my reality — as apparently those of us working in healthcare live in a different world than everyone else — other than those we are trying to help…

As usual I turned to written words for comfort today — Scripture. Poetry. Prayers. Beautiful fonts and phrases…

I’m sending out John O’Donahue’s “A Blessing For The New Year” into this hurting world today – from his To Bless The Space Between Us book of blessings. May 2022 offer us all hope as together we begin another circuit around the sun on this spinning globe.

May those of us beginning this journey again without so many of our loved ones find comfort and courage to go on in the fact that love does not end just because the seat at the table is empty. All the shadows that remain echo the love shared… This coming year will be full of many hard firsts for so many grieving… Be gentle with each other my fellow earth-riders — we need each other.

#NewYearsEve
#nursesnewyear
#JohnODonahue
#ablessingforthenewyear
#loveneverends
#fontsandphrases
#undone

And now July…

Ocean’s Edge

This neglected corner is such a faithful little space.

I have not been here since the turn of the year, and yet it still welcomes me with its cozy quiet when I finally have a moment to pause the rest of the world. Technically, I may have to jump away at any time since I am stealing moments here on this little laptop while my multiple giant work screens glare at me as if they resent the fact that there is a moment of peace in the day. Also, I have another online meeting in about fifteen minutes that will take me away again. But stolen moments with words woven throughout the day may be just what I need right now…

Part of me wants to try to mention all the “happenings” in my little world since I was here last, but in this time of chaotic world events with their constant new stressors and changes, that just doesn’t seem practical – let alone encouraging. It is enough to try to focus on the Peace that manages to walk beside the exhaustion of the day-in and day-out living of life.

I am tired… (sometimes I think if I hear the word “unprecedented” one more time I’m going to lose my mind). The world is heavy with the weight of all the struggle of these crazy times, and we are all bearing this weight as well as we are able… It is understandable that we are all tired, so I am trying to be gentle with myself as well as others. It isn’t easy. While I have had many years of practice gazing on others with “soft eyes” as my old hospice team would say, I find it challenging to turn that same softness upon myself. I have been blessed with a life that has given me the opportunity to practice patience with others on a daily basis for the last 23 years — not that I have already won this particular life race (Philippians 3:12-14), but it is much easier for me to be patient with others than myself. I spend far too much time wishing there were more hours in the day in order to accomplish everything I feel I should… I have many innate strengths, but self-kindness is not one of them.

Today, as I look through the window at our backyard overrun with buttercups and daisies, I am trying to remember the lessons I learned after that fateful tumble down the stairs well over a decade ago. Even though the world seems to be on fast-forward, spinning into the unknown – I do not have to let the chaos of the world create chaos within my soul. Circumstances that surround us do not control our inner-lives if we remember our inner and outer worlds do not have to collide — as easy as it is to allow the one to disturb the other… I just forget this all too often!

And I am soul-weary… it literally feels like I could sleep for weeks…

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But today, The Swainson’s Thrush is sharing his song with us as the sea-breeze plays in the cedar out my window — the tune’s ever upward spiral is such a happy sound. We were so excited to hear it again when he returned this spring, and I can’t help smiling as I listen to him sing a melody that simply sounds like a joyful celebration of life. His song echoes the colors of green and gold in the early summer — it is a song of life and a call to awaken from the weariness…

I am tired — but there is Peace and Hope here…

The scent of summer by the sea drifting through our windows brings me back to the days of my childhood when the world was predictable — still challenging in its own way, but predictable. Days of beach-combing for sand-dollars and sea shells on our summer beach trips — my dream of living by the Pacific began back then… How can that seem just like yesterday, and also like it was a life-time ago? How is it that my life through the passage of time has developed into the form of an iceberg — so much below the surface in my past… a part that grows with every new sunset… and only this brief moment actually revealing itself to the world in the light of the sun? Why is it that life seems to become more of a mystery every time I finish another journey through the seasons? The only thing that remains the same is the knowledge that His Grace is still amazing…

I have been quiet during this new year in the few corners of internet that I tend to visit – I have lingered in the outer rings of Instagram communities like @Elizabeth‘s @Take Up and Read and I have prayed with women like @Stephanie W and @Kristine who are journeying through their own grief… I have begun participating in SoulCore’s online exercises… And I have managed to finish a few more classes at EOU – though for now I am taking the summer off to hopefully get some rest… (The Professor and The Philosopher are dealing with their health obstacles as well as they can, and I need any extra time I can find right now to be able to support them. They have been working on their current projects as they have time and energy – but energy is used up quickly when pain levels are high…) I have basically avoided Facebook except for brief scrolls to check on family — I simply don’t have the extra energy for social tension right now. Like it or not, I am a Community Health Nurse in the time of COVID, and we are all simply spent at this point. The new Delta variant is poised to be a serious health risk for those who are not inoculated against it, and all of us in public health are trying to help our communities stay safe…

There are so many reasons I am so soul-weary…

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And yet… The birdsong and sea-breeze coming through my open window are a very real reminder of the Creator’s goodness — that He is still in control. His eye is still on the sparrow — He has not lost me, He is not sleeping. He is not surprised by our struggles and has not forgotten us. He knows what the future holds for my family, and He knows what we need to be prepared for it. There is no language where His voice is not heard – He is the Father to run to – our soft landing of Grace. This world is hard — but His Beauty can still be found. His Love defends us…and He is the strength of my soul.

Still living in Gratitude when life is hard… and remembering the Breastplate of St. Patrick as I wrote it years ago and recorded after the stroke…

  • The song of the Swainson’s Thrush soaring…
  • Sea-breezes in the summer-time…
  • Vaccines…
  • Take Up and Read Bible Study Plans
  • Sunsets…
  • The Professor and The Philosopher laughing like when they were children…
  • A job I can work from home…
  • Playing piano for Mass at St. Mary’s by the Sea
  • Old friends in contact again…
  • Rest in the midst of the storms…

It’s all still Grace…

And His Grace is Enough…