Today is not a day for strolling. The autumn rains have come and will stay with us for the next few days. But yesterday, and a trail of days before that, were wonderful for walking.
Everywhere I went I noticed evidence of the changing season. First to catch my eye were patches of brilliant crimson—Red Maples. They are the most glorious, offering dramatic change to all who see. Then I spied pockets of gold—Sugar Maples. These sweet trees are more discriminating when it comes to color change. 'Subtle' is the best word to describe them. They make a gentle transition from green to yellow to orange to red.
If truth be told, none of us is too fond of rapid and unexpected change. We don't like our world rocked in sudden, unsteadying ways. In fact, I've read that most people don't like change at all. Which is rather surprising when you realize that millions of self-help books are sold each year. All those book sales would seem to say that we like and want to change. Actually, I think most of us like to read about change rather than doing it.
Unless you are a Sugar Maple, because you are lucky enough to make a significant life transition more slowly. I like to imagine that these maples get to feel their way from green to red, with plenty of time to get used to the change. That they are fortunate to experience the gradual withdrawal of chlorophyll from their veins so they can manage life (and leaving it) much better. Not such a shock to the system you know?
If I come back in another life, I might just choose to be a Sugar Maple. I prefer subtle over shocking.
The trees of autumn model change, how we too can change: surrendering to the will of the world that sources and shapes us. And to do it with dignity and grace because everything changes. Everything. All the time.
May we accept the invitation of change with aplomb. Like the trees.
When I take my city strolls, I have favorite streets I like to meander. I sense this is because they feel especially welcoming to me.
As I walk mindfully and pay close attention, I notice there are certain ways that people landscape their yards or decorate the exteriors of their homes that offer a note of invitation.
Which brings me to a place of pondering. How welcoming am I? Do I invite others in or do I fence them out? Everyone wants to feel welcome, don't they?
A well-placed bower shading a sidewalk says, "Come in."
Delicate blooms reach through the slats of fences as if to say, "Hello there."
Some even reach so far as to gently touch your leg as you walk by, offering a flowery hug.
Larger spaces, intentionally planned and well maintained, offer a deeper welcome.
"Sit, rest, stay a while."
Indeed, everything speaks to us, inviting us deeper ... if we have the eyes to perceive and the heart to receive. Today, I'm thinking about hospitality and how I can be more open and welcoming to those who enter my world.
© Photos and text, Janice L. Lundy, 2014
A blog post on corn? Indeed!
For me, it has always been the most ordinary of things that bring one to wakefulness; to gratitude for life as it is. Corn on the cob is no exception.
We were getting ready for company. Two folks I didn't know, the man was a work colleague of my husband. We hadn't entertained "strangers" in a while so I was feeling a bit nervous and pressured. I noticed these feelings when I stepped onto our deck to peel the homegrown corn I'd just purchased at the farmer's market.
In my hurry to get everything completed in time, "just right" for guests, I started to roughly rip the shucks off an ear of corn. I noticed how violent this felt, this ripping away. I got in touch with the tension inside of me. I took a breath, several actually, and brought my full attention to peeling the corn carefully. Mindfully.
As I progressed, I was overtaken by feelings of delight. How attractive each ear was! How unique! Kernels of gold, yellow, and white randomly housed on a sturdy cob. I marveled at the beauty of each ear. I found myself slowly, lovingly, removing each shuck to see more of each ear, like a peeling back to reveal a hidden treasure. I felt appreciation rising in me; grateful that one of our local farmers took the time to grow such nourishing food, one that was non-GMO, at that. (A rarity to find in the world of corn.)
I noticed my mood lifting. A sense of deep relaxation coming over me. With deeper seeing (because I was relaxed), I saw all the tiny silken threads that needed to be removed. Thousands of them! My anxiety-prone mind wanted to make a big deal out of this, but with breath and intention to staying fully present, I avoided derailment. I held each ear up to the sunlight, turning it this way and that, rotating it, so I could clearly see the location of each thread framed against a background of blue sky. I gently lifted the threads from the meaty kernels against which they lay. Even the silk that rested deep within the rows bore a certain fascination for me, and each was removed with care and kindness.
I lost track of time, I was so enjoying the mindfulness of corn ... and shucking. All sense of work was gone. Only wonder remained.
Mindful awareness is magic. And it is equally quite ordinary. All we need do to access both is to be here now. Being present, the future takes care of itself.
And it did. We had a lovely dinner party. The corn was greatly appreciated. Our appetites and hearts were sated with goodness and friendship.
When we walk more slowly, look more closely, the world holds many surprises.
As I set out to walk the path of an outdoor labyrinth the other day, I was so set on getting started that I nearly bypassed this sacred hiding place. My eye spied something painted and peeling tucked in amongst the leaves. Imagine my delight in finding this:
a sequestered sabbath seat. The perfect place to rest and seek respite from the bright sun that poured over the field where the labyrinth lay. What a blessing to feel its cool embrace!
It made me wonder what other secret hiding places I'd bypassed in the busyness of my days. What do I miss when I am going too fast to see clearly? How often we hurry and worry our way through life not slowing down enough to notice what's here waiting to offer us ...
welcome, clarity, refreshment.
In that moment, I recalled the words of Wayne Muller, the author of Sabbath, "It is hard to be blessed if you don't stand still."
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.