A moment of contemplation
watching a lone seagull soar silently
wings shimmering in the morning sun
the call of a solitary song bird
barely audible as busy traffic whirs by
This morning, Ojibwe wisdom comes to mind
“Be moderate in all things –
“watch, listen and consider
“your deeds will be prudent”
act only when the time is right
After a long cold dark winter
the days are warm and sunny
calling me outside to prepare gardens
neglected last summer and fall
when the weight of the world was too heavy
Balancing action and contemplation
is an ever-challenging choice
when it’s so easy to lose oneself
with distractions to escape constant noise
or engage in purposeless busyness
If we’re lucky our lives will be blessed
by those whose sparkling sprits
light up the room when they enter
reminding us we’re all connected
indispensable parts of the tree of life
The Tree of Life, a treasured gift from a former student
This post was inspired by JC, one of the kindest people I have been honored to work with during my career. She is the most tenaciously committed person I have ever encountered when it comes to learning, discovering, and applying liberatory praxis principles (knowledge-guided action). This is my way of expressing my deep gratitude to her for her kindness and for sharing her compassion and light with all those whom she encounters.
Dear Sherri I doubt that you remember Billings Montana in August Air filled with smoke from the fires burning just beyond the ridge But I think of you fondly smiling almost every time I stand by the sink doing dishes
I remember our laughter in a bar after a long day when you were among the few to treat me like a friend even though I carried the heavy isolating distinction of keynote speaker at the BIA human services conference
Others looked at us our tears streaming as we laughed while you recounted stories about your nosy neighbors who reported you for feeding deer a nuisance to their sculpted yard and your creativity and humor watching their response to your latest prank peeking with binoculars through your kitchen window by the sink to watch them watching you through their binoculars to surveil your latest visitors
Life-sized sheep you crafted out of paper maché and placed in your yard as if they were “grazing” repeatedly moving them when you knew the neighbors weren’t watching to add to the illusion
The authorities finally grew weary of your neighbors’ fallacious complaints and left you alone to live as you wished feeding wildlife you loved
I am sorry I lost track of you after so many jobs and moves but I will always be grateful to you for bringing kindness and laughter into my life and forever brightening the mundane task of washing dishes as it did again this sunny morning
When my daughter was born,
my view of the world forever changed.
“To have a child is to decide to have your heart forever walk around outside your body.” (anonymous)
Life was no longer something I peered at
from a safe distance
I felt it deeply – glowing in my heart
Powerful, shifting emotions
forced me to realize how precious
and precarious life can be
Holding each of my grandchildren for the first time
intensified my sensitivity and commitment
to do all in my power to be a loving presence
Watching them as they grow
amplifies both joy and pain
celebrating their accomplishments
suffering when they encounter challenges
Sometimes all I can do is
to simply try to be a loving presence
In times such as these it’s not easy
to believe the future holds bright possibilities
Let our hearts awaken and glow
with celebratory joy
“Our planet is a lonely spark in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.
“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” (Carl Sagan, from “The best speech about humanity”)
When my beloved dog Cookie died, my heart was broken. We had weathered many challenges during our eleven years together. She survived many moves from her prairie home – to the northwoods, Rocky Mountains, and different Great Lakes region cities. I knew as we shared our last walk together in October of 2013 that no one else would ever take her place. I had no intention of ever adopting another dog. I hoped my grief would pass with time, but instead of diminishing, it only deepened.
By the end of October, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter went with me to see if I could find a larger female dog. (I’m sure I wrote about this adventure, but I can’t find the story anywhere.) When we entered the animal shelter to look, the first dog we saw was Pinto, then tiny, a Papillon/Chihuahua mixed-breed.
My granddaughter fell in love with him at first sight. Who wouldn’t? I promised her that we would walk him after we tried the two large female dogs that were waiting to be adopted.
I did walk the two larger dogs, Barbara and Ginger. They made me aware of my age and physical strength limitations. Both were powerful, spirited, and emotionally wounded. My daughter laughed heartily at the spectacle of me trying to control Ginger when she started jumping and tugging to avoid going back into the shelter. When I was eleven years younger, Cookie could pull me over and drag me. Ginger almost did the same in the animal shelter parking lot on her maiden walk.
“Maybe a smaller dog would be wiser,” I thought, so it was finally Pinto’s turn. And he was a joy. He didn’t jump and pull. He merely trotted proudly with his butterfly ears in constant, graceful motion and rolled over so my granddaughter could pet his belly. It wasn’t until I went to pick him up a couple of weeks later that the shelter listed his challenges. He had been abandoned so they knew very little about him except the health issues when he arrived and his behavioral challenges. Many of his teeth had to be removed because they were too badly infected to be salvaged. And he was too dangerous to be around children.
We’ve been together for a little over three years now. I’m glad to say it’s been months since we’ve had to deal with a feral incident. Because I’ve agreed to listen to his “no brushing my ears command,” his feral fits only happen occasionally over some forbidden outdoor “treat,” like rabbit or deer droppings or a twig that will be sure to make him choke. His timeout kennel is still in the living room just in case, although my special leather gloves for handling him have been repurposed for outdoor work.
He really is very gentle with my granddaughter.
I made a choice early on that accommodates my personality. I don’t like to fight or try to bend others to my will. With Pinto, I haven’t tried. I can only imagine why he’s so terrified when the grooming brush approaches in a gentle trusted hand. He snarls and fights for his life. I would rather be the safe person who gives him a place where he can sing even if he’s grown a little plumper and his lovely fur is a little dreadlocked. He really is a gifted singer.
The frozen image on the video clip above doesn’t do him justice.
I’m truly grateful for his mellowing presence in my life.