Free-range Children

Yesterday I’m sitting by the bay when four children pass by – four boys.  They are serious, and the older one is explaining how to catch fish. The younger ones ask questions.  This is serious play.  

I don’t know why they aren’t in school but I’m grateful they aren’t.  They don’t catch any fish while I’m there but that’s not the point.

A seal frolics; boats pass, and birds float and fly.  Peace twines.  

Trees

In Timothy Egan’s book, A Pilgrimage to Eternity, he writes of walking through a section of the Via Fancigina where trees are revered.  

I love this passage.

The people of Lazio have long known that trees have feelings.  Recent studies suggest that many species experience pain, communicate with one another, send out distress signals, and lead complicated sex lives. None of this is a surprise to the forest dwellers of Etruria.  Every May, a Wedding of the Trees takes place atop nearby Mount Fogliano in front of thousands of dancing women and men. Two sturdy hardwoods, chosen for outward virility, are draped in ribbons and garlands, and sealed for life by a priest. The marriage is notarized, a way to ensure leafy fidelity through troubled years ahead. The union is pagan in origin, though that hasn’t kept the monks who live in a local nearby monastery from blessing the entire event.”

Last week I was in Mill Valley watching as trees were decorated for the Holiday season.  We embrace many traditions this time of year.  

Remember the words of Maya Angelou:

“Survival is important, but thriving is elegant.”

Draping Lights for the Holidays

Listen!

I walk outside at 5:30 this morning.  Stars are shining and an owl hoots.

I come inside to be with Tiger and Bella who are grateful the heater is running.

It’s the week of Thanks Giving – giving thanks.

I finished Timothy Egan’s book last night, A Pilgrimage to Eternity, about his pilgrimage on the Via Francigena, the path from Canterbury to Rome.

As I processed the book, I traveled in my dreams, trying new things.  I hit a home run though I haven’t held a baseball bat in years.

At the Abbey of San Caprasio, founded in 884, Egan asks Father Gilvanni Perini what kind of pilgrim stops at his outpost.  Father Perini responds that people are searching for something and they learn how to think clearly. He says people used to take a siesta in the afternoon.  Now they work, work, work, all the time. They don’t have time to think.

“Then they start walking on the Via Fancigena.  Now they have time. More time than ever in their life. They are not used to having time to think.  They are out of practice. A lot of people on the Via, they won’t even go into a church. They say that they’re walking to practice mindfulness.”  He stifles a chuckle. “Mindfulness.  They used to call it living.”

And in the Cathedral of Santa Margherita, the author has an experience I won’t describe, but it makes one wonder, or believe more firmly in what surrounds us, in more than we usually see.  

The book honors kairos time, which opens a door to forgiveness, as it’s not linear time, but a time for action. What can release?

And these words “The way is made by walking. There is no way,” seem to be attributed to a great many, which may serve to thread the universality of giving steps to land.

Savor this week of gathering. Step out of linear and into kairos time.

Receiving

I spent yesterday with new grandchild.  Mainly I sat and held him, and looked into his eyes, and watched him sleep.

What is the enchantment of a new being in one’s arms?  It’s incomprehensible that such a being exists, such a culmination of evolution, and combining of generations from the past.

I’m with these words of Pir Elias Amidon:

 Every time you think you’ve got it, it goes.

    Every time you let it go, you’ve got it.

Lately, there’s something in me knowing the words of Rilke are so true.

How surely gravity’s law,

strong as an ocean current,

takes hold of the smallest thing

and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing—

each stone, blossom, child—

is held in place.

Only we, in our arrogance,

push out beyond what we each belong to

for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered

to earth’s intelligence

we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves

in knots of our own making

and struggle, lonely and confused.

So like children, we begin again

to learn from the things,

because they are in God’s heart;

they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:

to fall,

patiently to trust our heaviness.

Even a bird has to do that

before he can fly.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

Trust

When my son was three or four, and even now, he was, and is, passionate about  sea otters. All he wanted for Christmas was an otter to come live with him. In his stocking Christmas morning was a letter from A.T.O.O.T.W, also known as “All the Otters of the World” saying they couldn’t come live with him, and he couldn’t come live with them, but he could always visit, and they gave their locations.  All of this was cleverly composed in rhyme, a cadence like The Night Before Christmas, though perhaps not as crisp because otters live in waves and so writing and thoughts go up and down.

I was reminded of this when I read a story this morning of Franz Kakfa who met a little girl in the park who was crying because she lost her doll.  He wrote letters where the doll explained she was exploring and seeing the world.

The girl was comforted, but when Kafka needed to leave, he gave her a doll.  The girl pointed out the doll looked different. She wasn’t the same. He responded that we are changed by travel, and we may lose what we love, but in the end it returns in a different form.  

Yesterday I saw my neighbor.  She lost her twin brother a few months ago.  We talked about how we continue to grieve and be changed by the loss of our brothers.  It doesn’t feel right, and of course it doesn’t, and still the heart pumps, and expands and contracts, and we absorb and adjust as we’re changed by our travels and the travels of those we love.

A Monarch butterfly patterns my walk


Peace

I was up early for lab work, not early enough, as three people were ahead of me waiting for the doors to open at 7:00.  Required fasting is an incentive to be out and about. It went easily though and I saw the traffic go from light to a little heavier, and heavier still after I stopped at the store, though I was home by 8:15.

It’s an odd thing, this watching the world and day come to life and light. In summer, it would have been bright, but this time of year, the darkness and the light dance a slow, blended exchange.

I’m reading A Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan.  He travels along the Via Francigena, the pilgrim’s trail from Canterbury to Rome.  His motivation is his mother who has passed. He wants to understand her belief in Catholicism even though after birthing seven children, the Church said she shouldn’t have a hysterectomy even though if she didn’t, she would die.  She stood by the Church when the abuse of children by priests was exposed, even when abuse was exposed in their home.  

I’m intrigued with the book because my father was a faithful Catholic.  Of course, he passed in 1969, years before the abuse was exposed, and yet, though his father died when he was young, he only received guidance and support from the priests in the church.

What’s most shocking about the book is the conflicts, wars, crusades, often Christian against Christian, and here we are today, still arguing and fighting, led and misled by those who benefit from division and discord.  

Egan is on this journey because he feels a “malnutrition of the soul”. He says we are spiritual beings, and he’s motivated by the words of Saint Augustine.  “Men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the vast compass of the ocean, the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”

We are entering a sacred time of year.  We gather for the holidays and give thanks. Oh, how long the list when we pause to consider all the gifts.

My grandchild is now one month old, and pronounced “perfect” by his pediatrician.  He’s quite a little being, and my heart floats with the desire that this world he’s now part of can come to the listening, understanding, and compromise that nourishes and nurtures education, communication, and peace.   

Still Rocking

My father was a pilot in WWII, and he loved planes, and he loved boats.  He built our first boat in our garage. I loved to sit on the steps and watch him work, and I loved to motor on the Des Moines River in Iowa and then, the Mississippi.  Over time, we bought boats and rode in the Atlantic and the Pacific, so childhood memories flow on days and nights sitting on the front of the boat being carried along on dreams and song.

Perhaps that’s why the San Francisco bay area ferries are so thrilling, relaxing, and calming for me.  I’m carried, and this is the one week of the year that seems less touristy than other times. Yesterday, I traveled both ways, Sausalito to San Francisco, and back, on a lightly filled boat.  I felt cared for.

When I bought coffee, I stood next to a little boy who didn’t have enough money to buy what he wanted.  I signaled that I would pay but the man behind the counter said, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. It does cost $2.00.”  It brings tears to my eyes even now. There’s such goodness in the world, and then after the child left, the man said to me, I almost told him he gave me $3.00 not 2, and gave him back a dollar.  Later, I saw his family on the boat, clearly visiting, planning what they were going to do.  

I pause here for breath, and suggest you do too.  My day was like that all the way, beauty, kindness, and grace, and then I came home to the news, news I knew, and there’s sadness too.  I don’t want there to be such corruption in the world. I knew there was of course, and …

I’m looking forward to Nancy Pelosi as president, because if we truly are a democracy, as I hope we still are, both Trump and Pence are tied and have to go, and she is next in line.    

Meanwhile, I’m still rocked and carried on the waters of the bay as they connect to the ocean, all oceans, and this precious planet, united as One.  

Riding the Ferry

Carried,

Dissolving

Skin, the sea