Frozen temps and snow
do not stop
even the scrawniest of plants
for the sun.
Frozen temps and snow
do not stop
even the scrawniest of plants
for the sun.
Savoring outdoor time during my recent reprieve in the temperate Caribbean, I hoped the warmth would cradle me through another 72 icy winter days back home. Mother Nature’s wizardry transformed the oppressive grey I left behind into sparkling and vibrant blue, a welcome relief in this world that seemed worlds away.
Lounging on the balcony at night with vast stars washing over me, I felt an incredible sense of wonder. This feeling continued through daytime gazing on a tryst of blues from sea to sky, the all-embracing horizon suggesting I was worlds away. And in some aspects, I was.
The Andromeda galaxy at 2.6 million light-years from Earth is visible with the naked eye. With one light-year equaling nearly six miles, I find this almost incomprehensible — that I could indeed be seeing a world trillions of miles away. Viewing the horizon at three to four-and-a-half miles — or even 30 miles at night, dwarfs in comparison. But when considering that mileage in terms of traveling from my hometown to the next one, I’m still awash in wonder.
Waleba mengi komenzi genyanza
Awe-inspired, I pondered how long have humans contemplated the sea, the sky, the vastness to a place far beyond imagination? My search revealed this Longo (Tanzanian) proverb: Waleba mengi komenzi genyanza. Translated into English it means: “The water of the sea is only to be contemplated.” A worthy proverb and so apropos to the universal social issues of today, but not exactly the information I was seeking.
Many philosophers, however, regard the universe in similar terms of human insignificance. They feel loneliness and worry. I felt none of that. Completely opposite, actually.
The Whole Package
Viewing vastness soothes me — whether ocean, sky, stretches of white sand, even fields of green grass, rolling hills, and mountain ranges at home. Their expanse is an aspect of a power greater than ourselves, offering an infinite abundance of support, a glint of life everlasting.
A blanket of peace and calm is only a blink away. Let Mother Nature freely wrap herself around you. Go outside and wander in wonderment.
“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan in Cosmos
Shadows on the road
are like those moments in the future
you cannot yet see.
Starring the close of each year and darkest, darkest night, the Poinsettia’s striking winter appearance hails worldwide wishes of generosity and good cheer.
Rooted around miracles and the power of love, Mexican legend paints a heartwarming story around the Poinsettia. While details vary, it’s essentially about a meager child having nothing to offer the baby Jesus except some roadside weeds. Once placed on the Christmas Eve altar, however, they miraculously transformed into brilliant red and green flowers. Can you imagine witnessing the unfolding of such beauty, like the ugly duckling turned swan, or springtime buds bursting into bloom? You know, it’s how your heart feels when overflowing with love. How you feel when giving (or receiving) from the heart.
Exemplifying the giving season, Poinsettias achieved stardom once sold under the botanical name Euphorbia Pulcherrima. Nearly 70 million plants now sell from Thanksgiving to Christmas, generating $250 million in sales.
The Poinsettia garners its name for world traveler, botanist and diplomat, Joel Roberts Poinsett. He introduced the plant to the U.S. in the early 1800s after falling in love with it near Taxco Mexico.
Today, more than 100 varieties of Poinsettias range from burgundy to red, salmon to apricot, yellow to cream and white, and solid to marbled, not to mention the dyed blue and purple ones or those speckled with glitter.
The United States commemorates December 12th, the date of Poinsett’s death, as National Poinsettia Day.
As much as I love gardening, and can rarely bear discarding any broken plant stems (several cuttings are rooting on my windowsill now), I admit I never gave Poinsettia’s their proper care. Sure, I didn’t toss them after the holidays when their bracts (often called flowers) fell, and a few hung around awhile as green house plants, but I didn’t keep them in total darkness so they would turn red for the holidays next year — a process Certified Nursery Consultant, Rick LaVasseur calls photoperiodism. A process I call a miracle if I remember to do it.
Also known as the Christmas Eve Flower or Flowers of the Holy Night, some Christians symbolize the plant’s shape as the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Wise Men to Jesus, and the red color as the blood of Christ.
The meaning of the Pointsettia reflects standard Christmas and New Year wishes for Joy, Love and Hope – my universal wish for the coming year.
God gave me a memory so that I may have roses in December. But, I have the Poinsettia too.
What do you think about when you think about squirrels? Ravaged bird feeders? Acrobatic acts? Rabies? The park? Nuts? Well, yes, nuts. That also comes to mind when I think about the December holidays.
Not just the type of nuts we eat — like roasted chestnuts, walnuts on that sumptuous apple pie, or honey coated peanuts in the snack dish, but nuts as in gathering frantically like a squirrel, and nuts as in foolishly excessive holiday behaviors. It’s a bountiful season for sure, but will it fill us up or leave us feeling exhausted, robbed and empty?
Filling Up More than Stockings
Each of us can choose to step back and celebrate in simpler, more meaningful ways. You can create a holiday celebration of choice and one that enriches, rather than depletes, you or loved ones — physically, emotionally, and financially. Take time to think about what Christmas really means to you.
Do your actions make sense? Do they seem a little nuts to you? Be honest.
If you own a bird feeder, you’ve witnessed a squirrel’s analytical creativity accessing it — including those supposedly “squirrel proof” feeders. Be as innovative.
If others are involved, ask each person to select the one thing about the holidays that makes their heart sing. Avoid the inner critic’s beleaguering to add just one more thing then another because you’ll be right back to the overload you tried to lighten. Determine what is absolutely necessary then sew those pieces together to broaden smiling faces around a more joyful holiday. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover it’s not a holiday of lack but one of overflowing abundance from the spirit within.
Apply Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh‘s sentiment to the holidays… “Once you identify your deepest intention, you have a chance to be true to yourself, to celebrate the kind of holiday you’d like to have, and to be the kind of person you’d like to be.”
Trudging through Tradition
Several years ago I happily exchanged some traditional activities for what means most to me. Quieter gatherings, tuning in to nature and the gifts she generously offers day in and out, gladden my spirit. (This is not to say I don’t host or attend holiday parties. But I keep them manageable, not falling prey to Madison Avenue’s message that I must decorate my house with a thousand lights, bake cookies, and overextend my bank account purchasing lavish gifts.)
A friend, looking frazzled and slumped in her chair, told me yesterday how overwhelmed she felt filling out 300 Christmas cards! Three hundred cards? Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed? But, was it really necessary? It’s important to connect with others and tell them how much they mean to us but if it adds a layer of stress it doesn’t make sense to me — it’s nuts.
All in a Nutshell
Make the holidays what you want them to be and create cherished memories. Don’t worry or fret. Otherwise you may become like the red squirrel whose coat turned grey from stress. 🙂
And a time to rest.
The frozen pond
and ice encrusted grass.
The whole is some of everything
if we but open our eyes to see.
do not require suffering.
Instead of shooing away challenges
welcome the fortitude of character
as an expansive, cleansing belly breath.
Out. In. Up. Down.
We are the sum of everything —
thoughts, feelings, paths taken.
The Prickly Fine Print
I often viewed challenges as problems, headaches, when in reality my narrow perspective was the constricting chokehold. My limited vision obstructed a panorama of possibilities in what appeared a seemingly bleak situation.
Hearing someone say they were so busy looking at the thorn that they missed the rose, wiped the spattered looking-glass for me. Working in the garden and studying the Tao pryed open the door to a scopic reality.
While I now see both the roses and the thorns, I am learning to not judge either as good or bad but as a unified connection, one simply needing the other in life.
Some people say expectations set us up for disappointment. But as a gardener I say, “I must have expectations for the fruits of my labor. Otherwise, why would I plant?” And more often than not, the final product — of abundant produce and beautiful blooms — far exceeds my expectations.
Still, sometimes plant wilt. Sometimes they become diseased. Sometimes it’s excessive heat or too little rain that hinders the intended outcome. But, while there is no guarantee, the end result is more true for plants than people.
How do you handle expectations? Do you allow them to create a vision? Do you have a blank slate, throw your hands up in the air and accept whatever comes? Do you reserve expectations only for plant life or allow them to carry over to relationships?
A joyous heart in newfound love…
paying no attention to shadowed pretense and allusion…
until reckless carelessness taints the heart
and withers the spirit…
leaving only an apparition, a ghostly memory
of beguiled love.