Let me peer out at the world
through your lens. (Maybe I’ll shudder,
or gasp, or tilt my head in a question.)
Let me see how your blue
is my turquoise and my orange
is your gold. Suddenly binary
stars, we have startling
gravity. Let’s compare
scintillation – let’s share
~ Naomi Shihab Nye, Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25
It has been cloudy for the past few days here on the Eastern Shore. Maybe more than a few days. I’m not sure because I haven’t been keeping a record of it. Yesterday I mentioned to M that it has been cloudy here for so long that it was like living in The Bogs (NE Ohio) again where the clouds move in sometime in late October and hang around until March or April. Sunshine was always greatly appreciated there during the winter months. As I noted in a comment on Trail Walker’s blog, I think we were like winter flowers, going out to turn our faces up to the light whenever the sun would bless us with its presence after days and days of cloudiness.
It is not the same here, no matter how much it felt like it for the past week or two. Even on our cloudiest days, the sun puts in an appearance. It might be for just a few moments here and there when there’s a slight break in the cloud cover, or it might be at sunset. Late autumn and winter sunsets can be glorious, and they also require a bit of faith. You never know if or when the clouds will part enough to provide light and color. All you can do is show up and enjoy whatever Mother Nature and Father Sky have to offer. Today the sky is offering blue and clarity and sunshine. I think it’s supposed to stay that way for a few days. If the weather predictors are correct, the run of cloudy days has ended for now.
So here we are, at the end of another season, and the end of another year if, like me, you think the year should begin on the Winter Solstice (which is tomorrow). It is time for me to reflect on the words I picked (or the words that picked me) for this year. Those words are curiosity and reverence. Usually it’s one word or theme for the year, but this year wanted two words, and I think those two words complimented each other quite well. There is a kind of humbleness to each of them, and a willingness to be open to whatever comes along. It is hard to say much more about them because the experiences that came with them are the type of experiences that are beyond words.
Every year I think I will be “retiring” the words, but that is never true. The words ride along with me into the next year. I think that’s because the lessons I learned from them are still being discovered and integrated. It is a continuous process. Along with faith and playful, gratitude and many other words from over the years, curiosity and reverence will be with me long after I’ve moved on to a new word or theme for the year.
I thought about skipping the word or theme ritual this year, but the words have presented themselves and there’s nothing to do but go with them. Once again, there are two words. Love came first, then kindness. The two can be –and have been– put together to form the word “lovingkindness” also known as metta.
Kindness is a force that breaks open your heart even as it heals — and in that healing sets you free. Perhaps one of the Buddha’s most radical teachings, metta or “lovingkindness” is much more than common niceness or charity. It is a real-world practice to awaken your empathy with all beings and then radiate the fire of that compassion into the world.
~ From the back of the book jacket of Sharon Salzberg’s “The Force of Kindness”
I read “The Force of Kindness” a few years ago. I will probably read it again as this year moves through the days, the weeks, the months, and the seasons. I pulled the book from my bookshelf after the words kept repeating themselves to me in various ways over the last week or two.
Many of us long for an underlying sense of meaning, something we can still believe in no matter what happens to us, a navigational force to pull all the disparate pieces of our lives together into some kind of whole. Perhaps we find ourselves feeling helpless when even a little too much of the unexpected occurs, defenseless when we find we don’t have control over a situation and can’t fathom what might happen next…
To explore kindness as that thread of meaning requires finding out if we can be strong and still be kind, be smart and still be kind, whether we can be profoundly kind to ourselves and at the same time strongly dedicated to kindness for those around us. We have to find the power in kindness, the confidence in kindness, the release in kindness; the type of kindness that transcends belief systems, allegiances, ideologies, cliques, and tribes.
~ Sharon Salzberg, “The Force of Kindness”
“Lovingkindness” is a lot to explore, a lot to live up to. I think small steps are in order here, starting with the curiosity and reverence of the past year and moving on to kindness in everyday encounters.
In other news… The wildlife around here has been quite active. Deer come to visit at dawn and dusk, and sometimes even in the middle of the morning. I think deer hunting season ended last week, but don’t quote me on that because I’m not sure. I’ve seen a rabbit or two, but they have been mostly staying out of sight since the hawks returned for the winter. The bald eagles have been circling around, chatting and whistling and on the hunt. Two Great Blue Herons are warring over fishing rights in the pond.
Thank you for visiting with me today, and joining me on a Tuesday version of my Monday meander. I’m going to head out to the Point for sunset this evening. Join me, if you like. It’s cold (in the 30’s) and somewhat windy so you’ll want to bundle up. I dang near froze my face and hands off the last time I went to the Point. Sunset is at 4:46 PM. I’ll be there early. I’m hoping the eagles will be there, or maybe a flock of blackbirds. You never know who or what you might see at the Point. That’s part of the fun of going there.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 76) A day filled with sunshine and a deep blue sky after a week or so of cloudiness. 77) Watching the antics of the herons throughout the day. 78) Butternut squash soup to warm the body from the inside out. 79) Letting go of that last shred of hope. It leaves me free to let go and move on. 80) Beauty, everywhere. You just have to look.