“Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.” ~ Giovanni Giocondo
A few days ago as I sat on our back porch after watching the sunrise, I noticed a dragonfly near the edge of Bougainvillea planted nearby. Something about it made me get closer to pay attention. Then I saw the dragonfly was trapped in a strand of spider web and had beat the edges of one wing to fray. Now it hung suspended with only an occasional wiggle. I called to my husband, who reached up and gently disentangled the lacy wing and held him in the palm of his hand, then placed him on a begonia leaf. We watched happily as awareness came, wings lifted, and the dragonfly flew away. The photographs tell the story.
Gifts are a part of our days before and after Christmas, both the ones that are chosen to give, wrapped with a bow – and the ones that we can’t hold in our hands, only our hearts. Come to think of it, even the ones that do come gift-wrapped are ones we hold in our hearts if they come to carry messages of love and caring.
The stones in this photo carry messages of the gifts offered in the birth of Christ. They are prayer stones that I keep in a basket on my porch and I often use them as touch reminders of God’s gifts that I need. The top photo was made some years ago. The picture below is the stones today. As often happens when I photograph something, surprising truth shows up when I look closely. Some stones obviously show more wear than others. I don’t doubt that the most worn stones reflect my past year’s need and requests. As you can see, Patience, Hope, and Peace have often been in my prayers. Courage and Strength show wear as well. The stones may gain refreshing from a Sharpie, but the gifts themselves are always clear, always there. I am thankful for all of them.
“I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you ~would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to the other senses. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense; glory in the beauty which the world in all the facets of pleasure reveals to you through the several means of contact which Nature provides.” .~ Helen Keller
The commonly believed myth regarding the loss of hearing or sight is false. People who are blind or visually impaired are not endowed with a sharper sense of touch, hearing, taste, or smell. To compensate for their loss of vision, many learn to listen more carefully, or remember without taking notes, or increase directional acumen to compensate for their lack of functional vision. In other words, they pay more attention, using their senses in a more mindful way. They make choices.
If I am never silent, if I surround myself with the noise of machines and electronic entertainment constantly, I will most likely never hear birdsong or water trickling over rocks. I have the choice to “unplug,” go outside for even a brief walk in the garden and make the most of my senses, to “relish”, as Helen Keller phrases.
What are some of the ways you practice this?
Like snowflakes and bubbles
no baby is like any other
bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh
each son unique, each his own
butterfly kick in my womb
breath and yell
word and step
never the same
in a doubling unlike repetition
You lie in my arms
I look deeply into your shining eyes
and think for the briefest second
Nora, March 19, 2014