West Virginia Morning: Red-shouldered Hawk

There is a pair of red-shouldered hawks mating in the meadow behind our house. This morning, as I poured the coffee, I heard the distinct key-yeear, key-yeear, echoing in the sky. I quickly put down my mug and moved to the bay, searched the sky for the wide-winged soar. I spotted him just in time to see him land in the top of one of the walnut trees, where his mate awaited. I watched for several breath-stopping moments as they stilled, side-by-side, communicating who knows what kind of intimacies?

Hawks are monogamous and red-shouldered hawks often nest in the same area from year-to-year, sometimes reusing the same bundle of sticks labored over strenuously in past years. As far as I know, this is the first year this couple have graced us with their presence, so I was careful to stay still, out of sight, in fear they might determine our little meadow a lackluster place to raise their brood.

I watched, barely daring to breath, until they departed—the male with his boastful cry, the female in smooth silence. Even after they left I continued to search the sky, willing their return, longing for a closer glimpse of feathered beauty. This is not the first time I’ve seen these lovelies. Last week, before we took Ted back to school, he came clamoring down the stairs one afternoon.

“Mom, did you see that guy?” he asked, pointing out the window into the back yard. There, perched in the maple tree, was the Mister, greedily eyeing all my little finches who were enjoying my feeder. He was so close I could see his red shoulders. I could see the individual feathers on his rusty breast. I must have swooned because I could see the precise moment he noticed me watching through the window. It was an almost imperceptible twitch of his eyebrow before the most magnanimous lift-off. Suddenly, I was the air under his wings, lifting, lifting, until full in flight.

This is what it means to be fully present in a moment. How can I keep my eyes from searching the sky?

About that Extra Five Pounds I Gained Over the Holidays

A reminder from the archives; because I need it!

::

It’s still hanging around.

I can feel it, and I know when you hold me, you do too.

It was unfortunate that the elliptical broke mid-September and attempts to collect on that warranty proved fruitless. It became a monstrous clothesline—convenient for hanging jackets and sweatshirts on arms and pedals and console. And then the cold snap, with temperatures so low these running legs became paralyzed. Remarkable then, that my right heel bruised tender with plantar fasciitis, protesting with each step. We were sequestered inside with Christmas cookies and muffuletta sandwiches and that extra, unnecessary cocktail.

Those little treats remain with me, reminding of the making merry—echoing laughter around my waist. Sometimes hospitality means a second helping. And so around mid-December I began to feel it—the slight snugging of my clothes, a gentle softening around the edges of me.

We are getting back on track, of course we are. But slowly. There are more important things. Like the way you still think I’m beautiful. How you pull me close, and the way our bodies melt like wax together. It’s a thick kind of love that breathes under fingers, a love that sees beyond the skin, beyond the years, and peers back into the wedding day.

You still look at me with fire in your eyes, because you see the “imperishable” beauty that Peter talked about (1 Peter 3:3-6). And because you love me this way, I also can. I can love myself enough to feel beautiful, to see with God eyes and embrace beauty from the inside out.

I can love myself enough to embrace these extra five pounds. But also enough to take better care of this fragile vessel, this temple for the Spirit I carry within my skin.

So about that five extra pounds I gained over the holidays? I’m not too worried about them. They may be here for a little while longer. But I’m taking my eyes off the scales and looking through Love.

And I doubt I’ll even notice when they’re gone.

West Virginia Morning: Gathering Light

IMG_8454

IMG_8455

IMG_8456

IMG_8460

The summer storms these past few days have left us waterlogged and droopy. This morning the air is heavy with moisture and the Queen Anne’s Lace in the meadow collects the memory of rain. I tiptoe through the sodden grass in flip-flops, try not to disturb the family of House Wrens in the nesting box. The day begins with thousands of drops of light, dripping from leaf and bole. The grass is littered with yellow leaves from the Walnut tree, tiny boats sailing this wet land. I watch a baby rabbit disappear through a door of bending grasses.

It’s been a while since I’ve welcomed morning this way.

I feel my spirit quicken within me; my eyes begin to open fully. So many days lately I’ve been sleepwalking through life. Too many things on the to-do list and there is never enough time. I’ve let that list become too big again, gotten lost in the checking off the items. This is a danger I live with constantly: I lose myself easily.

But this morning I promise to only lose myself in beauty, get lost in time. At first if feels like swimming underwater, awkward, muted. But my body remembers quickly. It just takes practice. Practice. Yesterday I listened to an audio book by Clarissa Pinkola Estés—that esteemed cantadora who woos my heart with story. She talked about that word, practice. She said how sad it is that it has come to mean “to do the same thing over and over” in our world. She shared an old Latin word that is a synonym for “practice.” This word means, “to sing aloud in order to remain close to.”

éYes. That’s my kind of practice.

I begin to hum quietly as I search for light.

Welcome, Morning, I sing. Welcome.

Welcome Spring

spring meadow

 

IMG_8236

IMG_8241

IMG_8246

 

I am re-entering this place gently, feeling something inside me awakening with the spring. This morning, while the house still slept, I stared long into the meadow beyond the backyard. I remembered when this land was clear and freshly mowed, when Mrs. Casto would ride her lawnmower over to our fence to say hello as my boys played on their swingset. Now, it is a wild thing, fruit trees spilling out over brambly earth.

As I looked on, the robins sang their morning songs and I thought what a gift that brambly meadow must be to them. I wondered what it feels like to peer at the world between branches lit with the light of a thousand white blossoms. And then I thought, why not find out?

So I hopped the fence with my camera, braved the sticker bushes and pokey weeds, and found the place where the deer bed down beneath the trees. I sat on a cushion of wild violets, reclined my head on a pillow of moss. And overhead? A white-blossomed canopy framed up against blue sky. The sun broke through the branchy chuppah all at once and I was held in warm hands. The breeze stirred the trees as I lay, cupped and happy, and a shower of petals fell over me—white mingled with purple on my bed and I breathed the fragrance of beauty.

Life used to be more fresh-cut grass and orderly meadows, but I am finding there is beauty in the wild-brambly. How about you?

Happy spring, Beloveds. Where will you find beauty today?

West Virginia Morning: Doxology

Jesus is honey

I awaken before the sun touches the meadow, drift out onto the frozen grass, breathe deep of glory. John Calvin believed theology must begin and end with praise and this morning I cannot disagree. All the world is kissed in white. Except the red of the cardinals at my feeder—crimson flashes on the edge of vision. They chip-chip at me from hiding places as I trespass into their doxology.

IMG_7903

I hop the fence, briefly thinking of Christmas cards and boxed up nativities and how only one side of the lights out front are working. When did life become a race? I want to amble slowly to the manger, savor each step, let my senses delight in scent of straw and flicker of candlelight. Calvin said the world is a theater for God’s glory but lately, I keep forgetting my lines. My eyes are hungry, my soul thin. I don’t know what I am looking for in this ice-meadow, shivering through my robe, standing beneath a roof of lacy gossamer. Delicate crystals of ice rim the memory of autumn and the beauty of the Uncreated One shines before me. I feel the wonder of advent settle into my skin.

IMG_7898

IMG_7901

We wait amidst glory upon glory, this beauty dropped into our lives as gift. “The world was founded for this purpose,” said Calvin, “that it should be the sphere of divine glory.”

Overhead, a red-tailed hawk soars on the waking wind and, I, below, lift my small voice and sing the doxology.