Moments of Joy

Capisic Brook invisible cardinals

I saw a group of cardinals on my walk today! I haven’t seen them all winter, but as I stood still, watching the beauty of Capisic Brook, first one and then another and then more appeared in the distance.  You can’t really see them in the photo, but after the brook bends to the right, and then to the left–they were there in the bushes near the water. Then, as I was walking home, I heard a cardinal sing in the trees nearer my house. Joy!

I was thinking more about the fun wheel I created the other day. I put “Walk” as something to do under the element of fire, but really, my morning walks include all the elements. Fire is for the movement of my body, and sometimes, the bright sun rising.  But I almost always walk to the brook–which is water.  And I am connecting to the trees and the land and sometimes little animals–which is earth. Hearing the songs of birds, breathing in the invigorating air, well that is air.

Sometimes the walk feels like a chore–getting out there in the cold–it’s exercise, you know, good for me, I should do it, etc.  And my usual definition of fun is something I don’t have to do–no “shoulds.” But often, even usually, once I get out there, a walk is a doorway into moments of delight, moments like seeing the cardinals today, or finding turkeys in the street, or sometimes near the brook, catching a glimpse of a fox or a raccoon. Moments of surprise and moments of joy.

What might you do today to open a doorway into possibility, into moments of joy?

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Another Reason I Love Maine

Our appraiser rescues injured birds!

As part of our search for greener housing, we are applying for financing with our local bank, based on our equity in our current house.  That way, we don’t have to exactly synchronize the buying of a new house with the selling of our current house. Yesterday, an appraiser came to our house, as part of that process. We had de-cluttered the house and tidied and cleaned before she arrived.

Window MJ DSC00331But what I love about Maine is that people don’t stay on topic or on task. She noticed the striping we had put on some windows to help prevent birds from crashing into them, and we got talking about birds. It turns out she cares for injured and orphaned birds. She has been doing this for many many years, in conjunction with a local vets office. She spoke about her robin that can’t fly, but hops around on the enclosed porch, and sometimes releases the earthworms instead of eating them. She has cared for bluejays who could speak words, and a crow who liked to wait for the fax machine in her office to get an incoming fax so he could tear it apart. When possible, the birds were released after they had grown up or healed, but a few she kept on.

She described each bird by name and I love how much she appreciates their intelligence and their unique personalities. I love that she searches for the perfect beach to release young seagulls who are now able to make it on their own. I love her story of the crow barking like a dog because he had been raised around her dogs.

You never know what little delights a day will bring, and I love that in Maine, folks don’t stay on task, and you can discover kindred spirits when you least expect it.

Waking Up to Joy

I realize not everyone is attuned to rise at dawn. We each have our own circadian rhythms. Scientists have found that individual rhythms have a genetic basis and are incredibly difficult to change. Some people naturally rise early, they call them the larks, while others are tuned to a later cycle, they call them the owls.

So I am not suggesting that everyone should start rising at dawn. I am still not even sure if I can shape my life in that way. But what I notice is that whenever I take some small step toward attuning myself with the larger earth, I feel blessed by it—I feel more beauty and joy.

And yet, for each small step, I also feel challenged—aware of how broken off I am. Aware of how broken off we are as a people from this earth that is our whole life. I have to believe that awakening to this beauty and brokenness is the essence of the spiritual journey. We cannot have one without the other. My greatest hopes trigger my greatest fears. My greatest fears call forth my greatest hopes. I believe that when we enter that place between our greatest fears and our greatest hopes—when we encounter our own vulnerability, and call out for help, something can rise in us like the dawn… and this is the place where God lives.

I am still on this journey. When the days are shorter, the dawn comes later. But then it is too cold to go sit outside like I sat outside during the summer. So I am not sure how it will unfold. Sometimes I sit by the window and watch the sunrise from the comfy chair in my room, a tiny black cat curled up in my lap. But I remember the message of the cardinal singing at dawn: Come outside! May sadness be dispelled, may joy and beauty be awakened in us.Snowy Sunrise