Summertime Blues (the cure)

We unlearn desire. Quietly, over time, we succumb to the dependable script of the expected life and become masters of the middle way … after a while we no longer even notice the pathways off to the side … John O’Donohue (Beauty)

The summer is almost over,” my 91 year old mother declares with authority on our weekly Sunday IMG_4182phone call. I already know her next line: “Before you know it, it’s going to snow. It will be Christmas.”

A writing course had occupied my spring and when I hit “Submit” for my final paper on June 30, I also hit “Break Free” for the summer … and here she states the truth: Summer is Short.

In Canada it is very short, and also the reason it is full of outdoor activity. Canadians know its brevity. As if to verify my mother’s words the picture of last September’s snow came to mind. For the sake of the course, I had put off my summer and now my days were numbered.

Three days ago I picked up a friend from the airport, who is returning to be in the presence of an aunt in the final stages of cancer. The struggle was closing in. Last summer, another dear friend lost the battle with a heart issue, her family motherless before the end of August.

Oh the summertime blues. The life time blues … it comes and it goes. Life, breath, beauty, flowers, illness and departure; like the river current moving toward a final destiny.

My own grandchildren come to visit in a week. I have been anticipating this time for what seems ages, and before I write my next blog that moment-in-the-sun will have passed.

The elusive speedy nature has me either lamenting or rejoicing.

So what will I do now that the summer is almost over? … I plan to enjoy every remaining moment as much as I can. It begins with cleaning off of my small patio, setting up the deck water fountain, planting the flowers I got on the end of the season sale.

I want to build good memories that will warm those cold winter days. I want to connect with nature as much as I can. Listen to the music. Enjoy the richness with those that cross my path. There is only one summer of 2015. I want to smell the flowers.

Above all else, I want to practice gratitude.

IMG_4084That gratitude that started July first, where in a moment of unprecedented Canadian patriotism, I joined a small town crowd for the raising of the flag, the singing of Oh Canada, the picture taking with two handsome red-suited mounties. To quote my mother: “I am so thankful for the country that we live in.” She is thankful; she has health care, she feels looked after. She feels safe. My only on-the-planet daughter lives in a region where recent terrorism has taken a deadly toll.

Below a black squirrel hops across the traffic filled street, only mindful that he needs to live in this summer moment, oblivious to the cars that will soon sweep his path … he pauses in the middle of the street, I think he winks at me and scurries to his destination. My pot of recently planted petunias smile at me in shades of blue-lavender. A dahlia from a friend adds the exclamation mark.

Life like summer is brief.  Gratitude precedes the joy … The thunder heads will roll in, we had hail on Saturday, but for this moment, this brief spell, I want to Be in The Beauty, the beauty of a summer morning ripe with anticipation.

Silence & Sacred Idleness

Work is not always required …there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.

George MacDonald
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Silence is scary … I am left with my own thoughts. The voices in my head.
I think one of the reasons technology does well is that few people want to be alone with their thoughts. In fact it’s difficult to get the peace and quiet to be in that space. Being (Over)busy, has become the accepted hallmark of value and approval.
But when something desperate or traumatic happens in life, be it a big or small desperation, the necessity of silence and the need to address the inner voices becomes inescapable. At that time I have the power to stifle the voices, to run from them, or to ask them – what is it I really need to learn from you?
Being alone with my thoughts … I confess to not minding my own company … I value times of silence. A dear sister and I expressed the mixed fear and delight of becoming these eccentric mature ladies-didn’t want to say old. I would be vividly odd, and she would be cerebrally offbeat, and strangely enough we think it would be ok. It’s the freedom to not care what others think anymore, and the urgent desire to listen to and give voice to that too long silenced inner self. One of my favourite images comes from a U2 song line …
she is running to stand still.
Be still and know that I am God ….IMG_5687
Those were the words that came to me many years ago, in the middle of a snow storm … My daughter Kristen and I were speaking at a Mother Daughter retreat … and I was contemplating the busyness of life, a possible new career direction, or a decrease of same. Options weighed on my mind as I took a short walk in a Nov snow storm and came to a clearing in the woods … in that small magical space, snow whirled all around me and here I was …. Calm and Silent, as though I was in the eye of the storm. The silence spoke powerful peace into my soul … and the ancient words came to mind …. Be STILL and KNOW that I am God. How could I know? I’d been so busy running, flapping on the spot … the way I see the ravens in a strong wind … flapping before they soar.
At that moment I knew I could not take on one more thing, as good as it was.
I often remember what the silence of the snowstorm did for my soul.
No longer do I apologize for my time to sit by the river, to absorb the beauty, to let the chaos of mind seep out of my body.
Although it’s been a tad hard to buck the norm, I have never regretted a moment of Sacred Idleness . IMG_7562_2

Silence does not exist in our lives merely for its own sake.
It is ordered by something else. …
Silence is the strength of our interior life.
Silence enters into the very core of our moral being.

Thomas Merton
from his book No Man is an Island