It is easy to fall prey to complaining these days when the temperature registers 105 and most people, animals, and plants slow their pace and wilt. I remind myself that the same blistering sun that sears my skin and makes getting into my truck seem like opening an oven door also flavors my herbs and ripens the figs on our tree. Lord, help me be alert to the yes in every day.
i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any–lifted from the no of all nothing–human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
— from E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962, by e. e. cummings
“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”
― Rachel Naomi Remen
After all these years, I am still learning to look before I leap and listen before I speak. The latter is often hard for me. Another’s outpouring of worry, angst, anger or sadness can make us think we are being asked for advice or to “fix it.” Many times, the need for just having someone to listen to what we need to say is greater than any verbal response we can make. I love sitting outside in our garden because it offers both solitude and silence. I also love sharing that space with others and feeling the quieting that comes to us both. The still silence speaks of the centering, settling presence of God.
When I was making some purchases at our favorite garden supply shop, I saw a wall decoration that simply had the words “just as the caterpillar thought its world had ended…it became a butterfly.” For most of us, it is so much easier to admire the beauty in the floating and flitting of irridescent butterfly wings than the bulges of voracious caterpillars or the lump on a twig that is a chrysalis. Yet beauty and wonder are there if we see more than a worm. Maddie brought in tiny larvae she found in the garden. We found a glass jar, supplied extra host plants for food, and watched them grow. Jordann, although a bit skeptical at first, became intrigued as she watched the caterpillars eat and eat and eat.
In her book My Grandfather’s Blessings, cancer physician and master storytellerRachel Naomi Remen quotes Proust by saying that the voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new vistas but in having new eyes. She says that she sometimes suggests to depressed patients that they review the events of their day for fifteen minutes in the evening by asking three questions and writing the answers in a journal. 1. What surprised me today? 2. What moved me or touched me today? 3. What inspired me today? In this chapter, which is titled “Finding New Eyes”, she tells of one patient who told her he answered the questions with “Nothing, nothing, and nothing” in the beginning, but that gradually he realized he was building a capacity he had never used, so that he began to see things differently. Maddie and Jordann have a capacity for seeing that I hope they never loose.
“Most of us lead far more meaningful lives than we know. Often finding meaning is not about doing things differently; it is abut seeing familiar things in new ways…We can see life with the eye, with the mind, with the intuition…But perhaps it is only by those…who have remembered how to see with the heart, that life is ever deeply known or served.”