Peeking into the Nest

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As spring crawls slowly up the Northwest coast, and a crocus, like a purple hand, pushes soft fingers through the ground, as well as the cherry trees wink pink blossoms at passersby, I make my way in a couple of days to check in on one of the birds that have flown from my own nest. I go to visit my son. He has flown with fairly agile wings south to live in San Francisco, find work, live with roommates, and look for his life. I’ve heard good reports chirped my way so far.

Though my nest is now empty, I look forward to taking to the air to sit in my son’s nest for awhile, not to hover, or look too closely at the fibers and feathers he’s used to create his own domicile. I hope to quell my eagle eyes, and choose a softer view. Look gently, and realize that fledglings are in the process of wing-spreading, not yet in perfect form. I’m also looking forward to stretching my own wings out a bit. Perhaps not arriving as mother bird, but loving mentor, proud coach, guest. This will be a challenge. We invest so much in our offspring, those we look after so carefully for so long. But the song that keeps singing in my ear this season of my life is a phrase by Ram Dass, so simple: “Be here now”.

Maybe that’s the key to every life situation, every change, every sameness, “Be here now”. And so perhaps learn with this, as spring approaches, how to make this newness, this change, this nest-visiting moment a “be here” moment, in all its messy beautiful feather-filled ways.

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“Extraordinary” time in Ordinary Time

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photo by Ginny Schneider

I was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer very recently. This turned this “ordinary time” of the year into “extraordinary time”, with new things to consider outside the arms of the hourly ticking clock. The prognosis looks good, but it still takes me to the edge of a threshold where I had not expected to go (which I’m sure is true for anybody gazing suddenly over a seeming precipice!)

Being “here” in this moment, at this time, brought me back to an exercise I had created several years back, appropriate for the now of “ordinary” time surrounded by the now of “extraordinary” time.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “milagros” are small pieces of metal, often shaped into parts of the body that serve as both a reminder, a desire for a healing of that place, and/or a token of gratitude after the fact. Fascinated with these little symbols mostly prevalent in the southwest, here is a threshold crossing exercise.

Milagros Exercise

Take some time to write on 5 slips of paper, 5 praises to the part of the body you choose. For example: “I cried out to my______ (hand) and my hand said, I ____ (write messages of stars, hold tiny fingers of bone and flesh, paint the world with colors).

Here are mine:

“I cried out to my kidney, and my kidney said, ‘I am the seat of wisdom, I purify, I hold streams of red life, flowering gifts like flame-flowers on the Red Road of Life.”

“I cried out to my legs, and my legs said, ‘I take you where you want to go, bark-less trunks of determination, bringers of new gifts of new experiences.”

“I cried out to my heart, and my heart said, ‘I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things; when prophecy comes, it might fail, when words come, they may cease, but I endure forever, for I hold Love.”

“I cried out to my mind, and my mind said, ‘I take in the above and I take in the below; I am the great sifter of thought, the great dreamcatcher of wisdom. I will walk with you on this journey.”

I find that marking the places of hurt and of health, and honoring them, gives awareness and somehow resurrects gratitude, even though at times, the going is tough.

May all of your “parts” support you, and may you rise up and call them “blessed”.

Considering the future . . . and planting a big one on its lips!

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Now that I’m standing at the bottom edge of the shining bridge called “middle-age” (a little bit tarnished, I must admit), I realize that before me are beautiful opportunities for more rites of passage, including my own. I look to the upcoming 21-year-old threshold for my daughter with excitement, smiling eyes, and hands rubbing together in creative scheming, but I also look ahead to my own fiftieth (only 2 years away) with rich anticipation.

When we honor ourselves, we pave the way for our children to learn to honor themselves as well. And I’m not talking about ego. I’m talking about honest to goodness self-realization- bursting onto the stage of the next milestone of our lives with bravery, not fear. Taking it by the horns, and then planting a big one on its lips and saying, “welcome!” Honoring is giving dignity and respect to something. And the turns in our lives deserve a little encouragement.

I hope you’re thinking about the upcoming milestones in your life with hope and anticipation. There’s someone standing behind you on the bridge watching, and he or she, daughter or son, is not only observing, but quietly urging you on.

My own rite of passage: cloud break

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Of course, the other side of the cloud mystery, is the cloud break, beautiful, light-filled, but also in its own way, a time of passing. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (from the band, Supersonic).Those lovely, white or grey sky-bodies that created those patches of the unknown, also float away into their own directions, and with that we get to experience both “newness” and “change”.

One of my own children today, sends off his girlfriend on an airplane back to northern California; we watch her cloud float away, his remains here. My daughter will leave the state in a couple of weeks to start her sophomore year of college- her cloud will also float.

I can only watch the sky with wonder. So beautiful those particular clouds. So wide the sky. All we can really do is send them on their way with light and blessing and wait for the next northern wind to bring them back, holding new crystals and colors in their formations to share with the rest of us.

My son will eventually float on as well. Our job, as parents, is simply to be a part of their adoring sky.