"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 30, 2014


Stillness enfolds me in her healing embrace. The unrisen sun fills the eastern sky with winter-pale light while wind chimes chant a soft morning song. The house is sleeping behind me. Today is the last day of a five day break from school. Today is the first day since mid-August that isn't already spent before it's begun.

I breathe in the air of possibility. I breathe out exhaustion. I breathe in gratitude - so much to be grateful for my lungs could burst. I breathe out fear that I will never be enough. I breathe in this moment of perfect stillness. I breathe out these last months of overwhelming expectations.

This quiet morning feels like a miracle, and I realize that until a couple of weeks ago, I'd lost connection to the daily small miracles that are the touchstones of my life. Those small gifts are the lights along the path that show me I'm traveling in the right direction. When my eyesight becomes blurry with the fatigue that results from trying to be the impossible, I pass by those messages of hope without seeing. And I begin to believe the lie of unrelieved darkness.

Earlier this month I was at the beach with my friend, Lisa. It's a friendship where we don't see each other often, but when we do it's as though no time has passed. There is a knowing in this friendship that eliminates the need for explanations and that provides a sense of being loved and understood. We laugh and we cry, and every bump in the road becomes adventure rather than crisis.

On the drive to the beach under cold and sunny skies I looked up to see a Bald Eagle soaring overhead. Because of my relationship with Baldies, we both took it as a sign that our time together would be especially blessed. We joked for the rest of that day about our expectations that my bird would make an appearance on the beach where we were staying. It was neither a surprise nor a particular disappointment that we saw only gulls. One eagle sighting a trip felt like gift enough.

After breakfast the next morning at a funky cafe where the waitress wore skin-tight leather leggings under a too-big flannel shirt, and the food was both substantial and tasty, we made our way to Manzanita. The beach there is long and open and rarely crowded. We had just crested the berm separating the beach from the road. The ocean arced against the horizon, deep blue water against bright blue sky. We moved across soft sand toward the harder tidal sand closer to the edge.

With my eyes straight ahead and my voice playful, I said, "Where's my eagle?" Lisa's reply had not found air before movement overhead drew both our heads upward. And there, directly above us, soared a beautiful mature Bald Eagle. We stood, rooted, and watched as she followed the coastline north, and then disappeared. There in the air one moment, and the next simply gone as I've seen Baldies do so many time before.

Something in that gift began to work against the darkness, to restore my vision. The days since, while still full of demands I can never hope to meet completely, have seemed to contain more flickers of light. And the more I focus on those small and simple gifts, the more seem to appear.

The sun is up, casting golden shadows against the muted greens of almost-winter in this part of the country. I know we're at the beginning of the long dark - days where shades of gray are the only color and where gifts of light require intention to find. And so I breathe in this moment. I breathe out my fear of the dark and its lies. I look for the next light on the path.