"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, November 3, 2013

All Things Holy

Earth, ocean, air. Every once in a while the elements come together in a way that makes it clear that life is a sacred event to be experienced with wonder and awe. Fall is the time of year where that's most likely to happen for me, and this fall is exploding with 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.


DJan said...

What a beautiful post. It's filled with love, contentment, and that glorious picture. I too feel the love and connection we shared last weekend, and I feel the sense of beginnings as well as endings during the fall season. I am so blessed to have you in my life. Happy birthday, dear youngster! The oldest and the youngest of the Vashonistas. :-)

Sandi said...

I agree wholeheartedly with DJan! So loving, warm, and lyrical, as always. You captured the ambiance of the weekend. I find my thoughts repeatedly returning to moments last weekend that exceeded by far, any expectations I had brought with me.

While I hoped to post this morning, it hasn't happened yet, and may not, as I look at the pile of papers to look over next to my chair.

Love and big hugs to you today, and always!

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

You're fortunate to have so many friends and the where-with-all to join them for special celebrations.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Beautiful thoughts beautifully expressed. You make a very important point, we are not only blessed by the good things in our lives but by the ability to see and acknowledge those things. Amen to that!

yaya said...

Happy Birthday and I'm glad you had that wonderful weekend with your blog friends....they sound like amazing women too! After reading your beautiful words, I feel like I was there too. Have a good week!

Sally Wessely said...

I will never forget the time of hear a loon, which I don't even know if I heard, and seeing the eagle, and standing there with you and DJan and Sandi on the shore. It was a moment where I felt a deep companionship to the earth, the sky, and to the women who were with me.

This post on holiness is full of gifts. I love the gift of friendship that you have with your brothers. Not all of us have that. I love that you have the gift of your wonderful husband who gifted you with a new computer. We are blessed with the gift of you. Happy birthday. I will be thinking of you on Tuesday.

Linda Reeder said...

I do so enjoy hearing from the Vashionistas about your weekend. What with the photos from others of you, and a knowledge of the area, I can fashion a good mind movie of your gathering of the sisterhood. Each of you expresses your experiences and feelings differently, matching your obvious personalities, from the matter of fact to the almost spiritual (like you).
Eagles soar, loons call, leaves fall, and we soak in the beauty of the seasonal transitions with mixed emotions, with a sense of loss and of anticipation.

Deb Cushman said...

It is such a joy when good friends gather! Thank you for the lovely visit on Sunday. It was wonderful seeing you again. And, a very happy birthday to you.

Laura said...

Happy birthday dear Deb… you sound quite content… this is a deep blessing.

Please consider yourself officially invited to participate this year's 5th Annual Gratitude (word) Quilt. Instructions (it is very simple) and a link that explains the origin of the word quilt can be found at the top of my blog. In past years there have been participants from every continent except Antarctica.It wouldn't be the same without you:-)

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Happy Birthday, you youngster!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

BEaUtiful Post! Happy Belated Birthday to one gorgeous chick--inside and out!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Deb - a beautiful post- thank you for sharing it.