Here's a good morning quote from the book- "same kind a different like me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
Ron: "Why are you so happy?"
Denver: "I woke up!"
I'm happy today; I woke up! Outside my window there is a long, rosy spike of light shooting straight up through the heavens in sharp contrast to the dark blue clouds above the horizon. An amazing entrance of the sun into this glorious day!
I begin my day with a touch of melancholy though too, since today is my last good day before chemo tomorrow. Despite not looking forward to tomorrow, gladness remains an underground river flowing through my life. Gladness sustains me through chemo side effects, through up-and- down emotions. When I am shaken or ill or sad, all I need to do is become still and quiet, unite with Love, Christ within, the Ground of my Being, and eventually, no matter what the circumstances, all will be well with my soul.
We received some unsettling news on Thursday. A deep gloom beckoned me, inviting me into a fearful free fall. The gloom caught me off guard; I'd been so positive, content, trusting, living fully. It's sobering to realize how quickly life can change. How abruptly a positive, grateful attitude can wither into uncertainty and fear. I'm not inclined to judge ungrateful attitudes in others as negative. I believe all emotions are valid, and need to be felt, embraced, and processed in order to move on. Yet, when I shift suddenly, I wonder if my responses are immature or somehow beneath my current understandings. I'm surprised how vulnerable I feel. Then, with wise counsel, Centering Prayer, and by the grace of God, I find equilibrium again.
A few weeks ago, Twila stopped in to borrow a Paula D'Arcy book. She gave me a flowering Cyclamen and a small Cardinal bird figurine. Was this a Divine coincidence, or is she aware of my story? She knows I love D'Arcy's book: "The Gift of the Red Bird", but does she know how like the author, I also asked God for red bird sightings during a period of upheaval in my life? Red birds always fill me with wonder, and with repeated sightings, I learned deep trust in God. I now lovingly call all 'God moments', red bird sightings!
The Cyclamen flowers are red, stunningly red. I nestled the plant beside our AeroGarden, a small indoor hydroponic garden, so it could soak up light. I wanted the brilliant blooms to last as long as possible. Now, as I pass the garden, I stop and bless the tiny tomato seedlings, encouraging them, sharing breath with them. I gaze at the red flowers, rising brilliantly above heart shaped foliage, petals delicately thin, but standing strong together. I smile at the red bird figurine perched beside the pot, my heart fills with joy.
I don't want the flowers to die. The thought spoils the moment. Thoughts of future change or loss always lessens my present joy. I want to live gloriously, in the now, as the flower and the seedlings. I want to be like my dogs who live moment by moment. I want to be present, not clinging to this moment, a past moment, fearing a future moment, or wishing this moment held something better.
I'm intrigued with the words of Jesus, "consider the lilies of the field, how they grow." I've always been fascinated by animals, plants, and children; I love their openness, attention to the present, their freedom. Jesus instructs listeners to become like little children too. Very young children love life; they are full of eagerness and wonder. Lilies, dogs and children live life exuberantly, in the present. They love what they are. They don't compare themselves to adults, tigers or trees. My dogs don't have commentaries running through their minds, about themselves, about me, about the possible end to dog biscuits. They simply respond to what life presents them. Lilies move with the sun, finding nutrients to give them life, one day at a time. When lilies die, they die with grace and dignity. Same for most animals. No regrets, no expensive clinging to life. I learn much by observing and interacting with plants, animals, and children.
Problems arise, of course, for lilies, dogs, and children. My dogs have a daily problem. Their pack leader has cancer and doesn't show up for walks every day. They whine, become insecure, pace. But at night, they curl up, sleeping deeply. Next morning they wake up with a wag and a shake, eager to greet the day. They are 'present' when problems arise, when Jay comes for a walk without me. They hesitate, they whine; then after full expression of their distress they accept what can't be changed and respond to the next moment. They find pleasure in moving their bodies down the farm lane, with me or without me.
It gives me both joy and sorrow knowing dog walks, and other aspects of life, go on without me. My desire is for others to be present to their lives, so I lean towards joy rather than self pity. Lean, because I can't always leap into joy! Sometimes mourning comes first.
I love when I'm fully alive, open to life, present to what arises, free from mental commentaries, judgments, clinging, and worries. When I'm present to God this way, to Life, my living becomes communion and community, my life becomes prayer. I live, breathe, grow as a lily does, with joy, Presence, and inner stillness. Free of mental noise and emotional suffering. As a lily, I'm present, intent on growing and blooming, no matter what my circumstances or environment.
In my life, in my writing, I want to be present to whatever presents. So if I don't repress the upbeat, positive attitudes and feelings, I must not repress the struggle, the vulnerability, the times of gloom. It is only human to experience both. If I write about one and not the other, I cease being real to myself, to God, to anyone reading or interacting with me.
I will keep reflecting, asking myself how I desire to be in the midst of whatever life presents. I will keep asking God for the grace I need. I will keep asking what gives me life, what really matters. I will keep needing love, God, friends, family, not fearing being vulnerable. I know joy comes from a well of faith, courage, grace and gratitude of which God is the source. I will draw from this well while honoring my emotions and experiences. I will keep recording my gratitudes, each wondrous 'red bird' sighting, both feathered and unfeathered. I will seek out God's humor and love even in subtle hints of red!