Reflections From My True Self

Remembering Who I Really Am


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Softened

I visit the dunes and the lake again. Now the snow is gone, the mountains disappeared and the landscape is barren, cleared. In spite of the warmer temperatures and stiller winds, it appears colder than when the snow heaped into canyons and the ice extended out, far over the water. 

The lake, my old friend, is unrecognizable, a different lake. Instead of that being of slate gray, of frozen convulsion, it lies placid, almost still. What was hard and dark is teal and aquamarine, and if I didn’t know better, if the cold of the winter were not still nipping at the back of my neck, it could convince me that it is as warm as the Caribbean of my childhood. 

I gaze at it in wonder, recognizing that this one, and the lake of my memory are the same, even as they seem so different. 

And I am reminded again, as I have been so often before, that this is a reflection of my Self. Or is it I who reflect it? 

Either way, I too am unrecognizable, my cold, grey edges have softened into lapping waves.

Photo by Renee McGurk

Photo by Renee McGurk

Photo by Andrea Friedmann

Photo by Andrea Friedmann

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Gratitudes

I am grateful that I am here, whole, present, alive… and taking this time. I am grateful that this day that threatened chaos has moved me to center myself, to remember what is important. I am grateful to remember that my only job is to align myself with my Deepest Wisdom.

I am grateful to realize that what is before me is what I must attend to, and that whatever is important and not before me, is also already unfolding. Therefore, I am grateful for the promised scent of toast and coffee.

I am grateful to trust enough to relax, even though I could cringe in fear for one hundred thousand reasons. I am grateful for Reiki, for the warmth it spreads through me, and for the love I can extend through it to others.

I am grateful that I serve. And grateful, too, that I don’t need to understand how I do. I am grateful for the connections I experience each day with the people whose paths I cross.

I am grateful for the awakening that my loved ones open in my chest: my children, Brujo, the friends of my soul. I am grateful for their help in expanding my experiences, my awarenesses.

I am grateful for beauty: in the white sky brushed by naked branches, in the music of laughter, and the stark silhouette of a high rise by the lake. I am grateful for red: in my Oma’s shawl, and the cardinal in the window.

I am grateful that this day holds so many treasures that I cannot sit here and enumerate them, that I must go now and waken my children with soft kisses to warm cheeks, and feed them, and begin again the dance of the day, that wearies me, and enlivens me, all at once!

 

Photo Credit: John Boyer

Photo Credit: John Boyer


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Hiking, Then and Now

When I was growing up, my father often took my sister and me, and sometimes friends — of his, or ours— on beautiful hikes of varying length, through the green patchwork of the Colombian mountainside and its cloud forest.  Occasionally, there was a defined path to follow. Most often, there was a starting point and a destination (a lake, a mountaintop, or a town), and, if we were lucky, the remnants of the ancient native paths or a few scattered cobblestones and the sporadic boundary stone remaining from the colonial caminos de herradura, built for pack mules.

We would be up with the sun and drive to our starting point, carrying some water and a picnic lunch, and we’d set off in the general direction of our destination. We never knew how long it would take to arrive, or where we could end up if we strayed from our course. I remember many times when asked for directions from a campesino tending his fields or feeding her hens. More often than not, especially if we were heading in the direction of a town, they would point us towards the highway, where we could catch an inter-municipal bus that could take us quickly. More often than not, they would chuckle at our foolish obstinacy for wanting to go the long, “old way,” through the fields and forests.

We had no cell phones in those distant days of last century. No way of letting anyone know where we were, or, more importantly, no way to contact anyone if we needed help. We didn’t know CPR or wilderness first aid, and I am pretty sure our first aid kit consisted of my dad’s Swiss Army Knife. There was little certainty regarding our hikes, other than that we would eventually arrive, somewhere, and that the journey would be beautiful.

The potential dangers we could encounter never stopped us —not even when we had to slither, single-file, along a fallen tree trunk to cross from one bank of a river to the other (with a couple of babies in tow, that time).  The uncertainties were simply part of the experience. We hiked in rain, through mud, and under sweltering heat. And, surprisingly, we never did have a situation where we needed help we couldn’t get!

Today, when I think back —especially since I have had kids of my own— I think of all the things that could have happened, all the dangers we could have encountered and lost to. Nowadays, I take gentle walks along wide gravel paths with a wide shoulder of mowed grass on either side, keeping the wilderness out of arm’s reach.  I travel with my cell phone and follow carefully placed, colored trail markers at each junction. Today, I check the weather before I set out.

No wonder, then, that I feel a captive of caution. No wonder that I seek certainties in all that I do, on the trails and in the quiet of my sacred space. It is time to reclaim the sense of adventure of my childhood hikes. More importantly, it is time to exercise the unseen powers of orientation and intuition.  It’s time to see past what danger could appear, set aside fear —or invite it along, as a passenger, not as a leader.  It is time to remember why it is we took those back roads, instead of the convenience of the highway: for the gifts unfolding out of that unique experience, for the excitement of the unknown and the beauty in the landscape, for the company and the satisfaction of testing ourselves, and for the stories we could tell once we arrived, before we slept the deep, untroubled sleep that renewed our sweetly tired bodies. For those same reasons, and in order to reclaim my Self, I must stand at this starting point and set my direction for a destination I may reach, eventually, sometime.

Typical Colombian landscape on a rainy day. Photo by Pedro Szekely on Flickr.com

Colombian landscape on a rainy day. Photo by Pedro Szekely on Flickr.com


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City River

I arrive at my downtown destination earlier than I expected and find myself passing time on the river-walk. The sounds of city life circle around me. A highway crosses the water and the bridge clatters as each car crosses over it, keeping time. I hear brakes and the repeated beeping of a truck backing up. And the continuous drone of indistinguishable sounds that make me think of frenetic movement, busyness, doing-ness.

I look down at the water and it shines the sky back to me. A slight breeze shuffles the reflection away from this shore towards the liquid mirror at the other side. I think the white dots floating there must be trash. Then I realize it is a gaggle of ducks suspended alongside an “s” of current where two branches of the river meet.

Although above me the city drones on, down here, at the water’s level, I am drawn into a quietude of being. Instead of shaking me out of the stillness, the surprise of a small splash, a fish jumping slightly past the surface, only calls me deeper.

Photo by Andrea Friedmann

Photo by Andrea Friedmann


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Vine

The vine in the garden

pushes its way

up the trellis

hungrily.

Stretches past it,

reaching for

something.

Support,

to grow further.

It finds

only

air.

New tendril

reaches

up.

Twine

together,

growing

upward,

out,

further still,

leaning

on

each other.


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My Heart Closes

How is it that my heart closes?

Surreptitiously, silently, when I am not looking.

And then, unexpectedly, I realize, I can no longer feel with the same intensity, the colors in the world around me have dulled slightly, and its sounds are dampened.

When my heart closes, there is a buffer around me, and everything coming towards me slows it’s course, loses its vibrancy, its zest.

I tell myself that my vigilance is what keeps my heart open. I try, so diligently, with a million cheap tricks, I try to remain vigilant.

But my heart closes silently, surreptitiously, when I am focused on that tool that will keep me vigilant.

And how do I open it again? Not with a crow bar, not with a mantra, sometimes, not even with the soothing energy of Reiki.

My heart opens with gratitude. And grace.

And then the world is alive for me again. The morning glory’s delicate tendril, stretching for a hold on the trellis, stops me in my tracks. And the rumble of my children laughing together inside the house. The scent of earth after the rain fills me with wonder, and the flame, flickering through the nail holes punched in an old can.

Photo credit: YSWong@RGBStock.com


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For the Lake

The kids and I go to the lake in the morning. It stretches, vast and shining, beyond the horizon. I am overcome with its stillness and quiet. And yet, it’s waters are in constant, rhythmic movement.

Others arrive, many of them children, with long limbs and bouncy energy; they explore the water’s edge, venture briefly into the cold of it. We gather on the sandy shore and, together, we listen, to what arises from within each of us, for the lake, from it. And we play drums and rattles; one sunny child knocks rocks.

When quiet rises up amongst us again, we build mounds with the rocks, and a bird. The children quibble about the wing: it’s too long, too thin. They move the rocks, bring some sticks, open their minds. The bird is done to our collective satisfaction.

Then we line up where the waves end, and fill our cups with lake water. We hold those waters against our hearts. I think of all that we receive from it. I feel my gratitude radiate out of me, all around me, filling the cup and enveloping the children, the women, the couple sitting on a bench and enjoying their morning, the workmen tearing up the street on the other side of the park, the whole of this sprawling city and the corn fields beyond it, and further, further, where there are no edges, where nothing ends and all is beginnings.

I pour this all back into the lake with the water in my cup. One sprite-child begins a dance, slowly, magically, flinging her cup’s water out in an arc over her head, circling her body that dances and turns. The others follow suit. Everyone at their own pace, pouring water back into the lake, pouring healing and love back into the lake.

When we finish, a child speaks, from her heart, and says that we have made something beautiful, truly, because we brought only ourselves, and used what was given to us by the Lake.

Afterwards, at home, my son remarks that it’s usually girls who think about the Earth, about doing it service. But he thinks of it, too. And my heart is larger than my body on this day.