Sunday, November 3, 2013
All Things Holy
Last weekend I was feeling that sense of rightness and ease and joy that comes from physical movement and a choice to release expectations. Exploring Vashon Island with five friends for our second annual retreat at Lavender Hill Farm, we'd been to breakfast, the farmers' market and on a long hike through gorgeous terrain full of fall's glory. We'd finally found Wingehaven Park, a tucked-away beach that was the site of a former estate, and were spread out, each woman engaged in her own reflective communion.
As we walked back toward the stairs that led us to the narrow beach, two things happened simultaneously. I heard a loon cry. A bald eagle flew directly overhead. Both birds are voice of God for me, and to get them both at the same time on a day full of love and laughter and acceptance—it was overwhelming in the best way possible.
We watched the eagle for a long time before making our way back to the cars. Six women (Sandy, Sally, DJan, Jann, Linda), all of a certain age, brought together last year by a desire to meet blog friends whose words spoke to our hearts strongly. Returned to our place this year by some undefinable pull (and a shared spirit of adventure) and joined in a comfortable sisterhood more like that of lifelong friends than internet acquaintances.
Everything glowed last weekend. Even more brilliant by contrast in the sharp gray air, reds and oranges and golds radiated from dying deciduous leaves. The small-town family feel of Vashon infused every interaction (a sign on the trail to the beach said dogs off leash only if they don't bother others). The returned-home ambience of Lavender Hill where the six of us settled in almost like we'd never left. The faces of women who have suffered much and have found ways to live in joy and gratitude, including giving ourselves the gift of time together.
In the week that's followed, gifts have continued to swirl around me like leaves blown away to make room for next year's buds. An abundance that I'm so grateful for—both for its presence and for my ability to recognize it.
Yesterday was a perfect illustration. A day spent with my brother, Mark, working in his space at an antique mall, cleaning and rearranging everything except the furniture. Five hours of hard work spent in mostly quiet camaraderie reflective of our adult friendship, one of the greatest treasures of my life. A dinner after, arranged by Mark, with our two brothers and their wives. Our fourth annual dinner celebration of my birthday—an accidental tradition that is the only time we're all together in the course of a year. I sat in the midst of people who have known me longer than anyone, so happy to listen to the conversations, so grateful that in spite of odds that might have sent us in an entirely different direction, we love each other. And would do anything for each other. A return home to Walt who hadn't joined me because he wanted to surprise me with the new computer I'm working from right this minute.
I turn 62 on Tuesday. It is a time of life full of loss, so like the autumn I love best. And just like autumn, a time full of bright promise and the flaming, unmistakable glory that leaves no doubt that I live held in the wings of holiness and love. I can hardly wait to see what comes next.