Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Gasping at Serendipity

Early one Spring, before any green leaves had appeared in Toronto, I noticed in a nearby park a bush whose branches were lined, every inch, with vibrant purple-pink flowers. From a park employee I learned that, contrary to its colour, the bush was named, “Redbud”. In all of my Ontario life I’d not seen this gorgeous magenta bloomer. 
Imagine my surprise, then, when recently I drove past acres of Virginian forests decorated with vivid Redbud bushes.  Here and there the woods were dotted with other trees blooming white or yellow, accentuating the Redbud's neon pink. I could hardly cope with the beauty as we sped along, gasping in grateful awe.
During one stop on the same road trip, I walked through the colonial village of Williamsburg, VA, and happened on a sheep pasture. Two cute lambs stayed close to their grubby, waddling ewe-mothers. Our random group of tourists and locals smiled as we fondly watched the babies. At one point the lambs trotted down a small hill and, as they ran, one leapt straight up, with all four hooves off the ground. Anyone who’s seen new lambs in Springtime knows that these sudden hops look like the little animals are jumping for joy. 
The best surprise was hearing the sound all around me, as complete strangers joined in surprised delight. No one leapt into the air, but pure joy generated our spontaneous chorus of  “Aww’s.”
This, I thought, this is the kind of united “Yes!” that our Creator wants for us.  L’Chaim!
At a hotel elevator, I stood waiting silently beside another guest. I noticed his shoulder bag, looking a bit incongruous on a middle-aged man. Hanging low at his side, the raggedy patchwork of cloth had been worn into a wonky art piece.
“I like your bag”, I said.
His face opened in a big smile,
“Thankyou! This is my favourite bag. I saw it at my brother’s house and admired it and he gave it to me! I’ve used it for seven years!” 
Charming enthusiasm.
At Okrakoke Island, NC, a National Park beach borders miles of the Atlantic Ocean. On the Outer Banks in April, few locals or tourists visit the shore so I was alone with the spectacular expanse of sky, sea and sand. Feeling the breeze on my skin, and hearing waves whooshing rhythmically, I noticed Nature’s extra garnish of the scene. At high tide mark the hard, damp sand was lined with a mosaic of seashells, each one a detailed design of stripes, ridges, multicolours and curves. Gasp. 
Extravagant abundance.

This web address will let you enjoy Jane Sibbery’s song about life’s beauty: https://youtu.be/Pj0eSfz7YZM

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Gobble, Gobble

It wasn’t Thanksgiving or Christmas but “gobble, gobble” is the sound I heard in my head.
I realised that I was hurrying through the several subscription emails I receive daily, gobbling them up quickly by only skimming their content.  
This behaviour makes no sense because the point of these particular emails is inspiration. 
I have chosen to read, every morning, a few good writers who carefully craft short pieces about intentional living. This is my attempt to follow the wise advice from the Bible and from current behavioural psychologists: We will be healthier, happier and more productive if we fill our minds with positive and true thoughts, avoiding the negative self-talk that results in discouragement and self-centred wallowing.
Good idea, but too often I rush through these writings in order to get on with my day. I don’t have the excuse of employment or babies that demand my time so why do I gobble up five emails without taking time to think at length about any of them?

I also gobble food when I’m alone. Instead of savouring one cookie, I reach for a second immediately, as long no one’s there to disapprove. You’d think I’d been deprived as a child, or that I’m scarce on resources. Why this tendency to eat far more than necessary?

I gobble up books so fast that I remember little of what I read and often draw a blank if someone asks what I’m reading these days. I was amused and convicted by one author’s admission that her way of avoiding life is to make sure she has another book ready for when she finishes the current one. Uh-oh. Luckily for me and my book lust, the Toronto Public Library system is reputed to be one of the best, so there are always more books available. 

I consider myself a contemplative who has learned (mostly) to focus gratefully on the present moment, whether I’m waiting in a checkout line or chatting with a neighbour on the street, so what’s with the hungry gobbling? 
Back to school for me!
“…the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, will teach you all things
 and will remind you of everything I have said to you." Jesus 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Squirrel Synchronicity

Ah, the first joys of Spring! 
On a still-cold walk through the neighbourhood I noticed her, sitting on a low bushy branch, a red-breasted bird. Hurrah for this year's first sighting, “Hi Robin, welcome back!” 

I moved along to feisty little Mimico Creek. Now crowded by development and buttressed by ugly gabions, it winds through Toronto’s west end heading for Lake Ontario. Careless garbage mars its banks, and yet it offers the luscious sound of water tumbling over stones, as mallard ducks ride the current. How can it never, ever, ever, ever  stop flowing? This constancy always seems like an impossible miracle and reminds me of when I was intrigued in elementary school by the "precipitation cycle".

Aha! I almost swooned when I saw some green shoots in a  sunny garden warmed up early by a stone wall’s backdrop. No blooms yet, but I recognized the first new leaves of tulip, iris and hyacinth. Three cheers!

The crisp quietness was interrupted by a vehement “CAW” from a king of the world on a high, bare branch, no reticence for him. Shout it out - Hallelujah!

Outside the daycare, toddlers in parkas pushed plastic lawnmowers across their snow-free asphalt play yard. Like sprouting bulbs those miniature bodies were growing toward adulthood. 

Suddenly, from out of a driveway rushed two squirrels, barrelling right toward me on the road. I froze in panic; which way should I move? Just in time, they noticed me, slammed on their brakes and pulled sharp right turns with parallel synchronicity. I laughed as they dashed away in their spring fever.