Vulnerabilities and Blessings

Like so many folks today, I am trying to make some sort of sense of how the world has shifted below my feet. I’m no smarter than anyone else, probably less so than many. Still, I have taken a lot of breaths on this here ol’ planet, and have come to a conclusion or two.

One realization is that admitting to my own vulnerabilities holds value, both for me and for those I am willing to share those vulnerabilities with. When I willingly express my fears and my sadness, there is a palpable hissing discharge of energy, a sort of pent up steam that has built up in my psyche that sighs with exclamation and relief when allowed to escape. If I take a moment and share with you how sad it makes me feel when I hear of the thousands dying alone, there is a brief moment when it seems we can share the burden of that sadness. And then, as if I am holding a large bag full of sand that has a leak allowing the sand to sieve out, I slowly begin to feel the loss of weight.

One of the fears that is present for me is concern for people that I love a lot who have not totally taken the socially distancing policy seriously. I fear that their continued connection with people outside of their own home exposes them and perhaps others needlessly to infection and heartache. I have no control over others, and my fear is real. I have fear that others who I know and love are in jobs that require them to remain active and “out there”. No control, only feelings and opportunity to pray and to let go and turn it over to Creator. Until the fear rises again.

Perhaps the larger piece I have come to embrace is the value of seeking and discovering the various multitude of blessings. In spite of the challenges that we all face at this moment in history, I gaze around me at any time during the day and recognize that I have enough, right now, in this moment. A wise friend once told me that if it doesn’t affect my breathing right now, then it doesn’t really matter. How apt in this time when breath is what is indeed so precious.

I have discovered that a cleared calendar is something that I have not enjoyed in several decades. A less structured day is both a challenge and a blessing. Now, I can take an hour to plant a row of peas in the vegetable garden if I choose. The feeling of getting “this job” done so that I can move on to the next, endless one in the que has well begun to fade.

Taking some time daily to walk the woods was something I last did 20 years ago when taking a naturalist training course. One of the cornerstone requirements of Kamana was to visit a sit spot in nature every day for a year. That experience changed me in immeasureable ways. Although I have spent large portions of my life in the outdoors, never before had I witnessed the daily change and morphing of fauna and flora as I did in that year. It woke up an awareness and a close paying attention that had not previously existed in me. Now, with the changes so fundamental in all aspects of life, I once again find myself straying out to the woods and field and pond and stream on a daily basis. There, pausing for no particular reason other than to be, I find my gaze landing on the ripple on the pond, the flutter of a leaf over there, the sound of a cardinal calling to her mate. It all serves me to be present, to allow my thoughts to wander, to tap into those answers that lie within.

Balance has long been a quality that I strive for. Indeed, a mantra that I do my best to live by is “balance is the key”. I learned a long time ago that seeking balance is a bit like a hamster on a wheel. The pursuit is ongoing and takes effort. Even in those rare moments when I am able to achieve true balance, it is like a slippery eel, squirting out between my fingers. Then the chase begins once again. And, the chase is a worthwhile endeavor. Much as the old saying that “success is a journey, not a destination”, I have found that the quest for balance is in itself rewarding on many levels.

Yesterday was one of those days when I felt so gratified at the measure of balance in my day. Beginning with prayer and meditation, coffee and breakfast, it was followed by a long phone conversation with a friend in distress. The sun shone bright and clear all day, and Mary and I joined in planting peas, lettuce and spinach in the garden. A long leasurely walk in the woods, the two of us and Trip happily sniffing every few feet was a great celebration of the 50th anniversary of our engagement. I did a bit of farm work, watched a flock of turkeys, soaked in the hot tub, shared dinner preparation with Mary and got on a zoom call with my men’s circle in the evening.

I have made it a point to reach out to at least 3 or 4 people every day via phone or facetime. Doing so has been a blessing in two directions. I have enjoyed making contact, sometimes with folks I have not connected with in some time. And without exception, each person I have reached out to has expressed gratitude for the connection and effort.

One last blessing I will bring up, though there are countless others I could mention. My mind often wanders in directions I would prefer it did not in these more than uncertain times. That little “monkey brain” can really get carried away, and chatter like a mad parrot if I let him run amok. Still, filtering through the chatter has come the realization of just how precious every day is, what a gift has been granted one more time. I lost a dear nephew last week. Tens of thousands of folks have lost family in recent weeks, mostly unexpectedly. Part of the reason I am reaching out to so many is because I wish I had talked with Andrew one last time. I thought about it, and it slipped by me. I refuse to let any day slip by without intention and connection.

All my relations, Steve

The Wandering Bobcat

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