Gratitude in the storm…

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“Now we step into today – open armed and open hearted. Every morning is something new, something unbroken, something curious and full of the rare and radiant. This is not a cliché; it is just simply true. Courage is not about being fearless, it is about loving so much you’ll brave what is hard or scary. Have courage, love this life and this morning. Your heart was broken open not apart.” — Carrie Newcomer

These words have been my daily meditation of late; something to hold on to.  A reminder to look for gratitude — to seek out the rare and radiant.

I had plans to spend the day with Pippin and my camera–I needed a day of quiet reflection…a day of peace. The skies were cloudy when I awoke and as I began to gather my hiking gear it became clear that the odds of getting stuck out in a thunderstorm were high.  In the end I scrapped those plans and headed out to the Town Lake Hike and Bike trail to get Pippin and I some exercise and some time with nature.  The sky was threatening so the camera would have to stay behind.  Undaunted, as Austinites can be, the parking lot under Mopac was jammed–everyone had the same idea.   Quiet reflection…not likely.  There were people everywhere, runners with their dogs; some pushing baby strollers; bikes rolling by.

Nevertheless, I found a sense of peace in the boats gliding quietly by on the lake; the steady rhythm of the kayakers and stand up paddlers on the water.  The sky was dark; the air thick with a cool wind — a rumble of thunder in the distance.  We walked some; ran some; listening to the birds in the trees around us.

At my faith community we have been doing a series on the power that God gives to us.  Truth be told, I haven’t been feeling very powerful lately.  And yet, being out in nature–seeing the power of nature as a storm brews gave me hope that I can find that power in myself.

As we ran the last half-mile stretch to the truck the wind was whipping the trees in earnest; giant raindrops splashing on my face.  We made it to the truck and I put Pippin in, grabbed my phone and ran out onto the bridge to snap a couple of shots of the storm coming in.  As I got back in the skies opened; bringing healing rain to this land that has been dry for so long.

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I am grateful for this day; grateful to live in this beautiful city where the chance to be in nature is all around me.  The blessed rain is still coming down as I type this and I am thankful.

Namaste…

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Finding gratitude…

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Ever have one of those weeks that calls into question things that you once believed were fundamentally true?  Of course you have…silly question.  We all have if we’ve been around very long at all.  We are all broken people and we let each other down.  But how many times do you choose to trust again before you finally say enough is enough?  Forgiveness and trust are often hard to reconcile.  Forgiveness can come; I believe that it must, but trust?  I just don’t know right now.

It’s long past time for me to fill the pages of this blog again.  I confess that I’ve been struggling with gratitude lately.  Gratitude needs to be an intentional thing.  A spiritual discipline.  It is a gift I can give to myself as well as others and it’s high time that I begin to focus on it again.

As rough as the past few weeks have been I have much to be grateful for.  If I pay attention as I should there are things big and small everywhere in which to find gratitude; the friend who listens without judgment when I need a caring ear; my dear, funny Pippin who gives me a reason to smile and to laugh every day; a job with people of integrity who understand when I’m having a rough day…so many things…

I loaned my truck to a friend this week and he brought it back with an assortment of things repaired; things I had been living with for quite awhile, such as the broken driver’s side door handle and the missing knobs on the handles that roll the windows down; now replaced.   Heck, I drive a 20 year old truck–a few idiosyncrasies come with the territory.  The gesture was totally unexpected and unnecessary but he did it anyway and I am grateful.

I stopped to visit with my friend Mark early this morning on my way out for a power walk with Pippin at Town Lake.  Some of you will remember Mark from a blog I wrote last August.  Mark is homeless.  Visiting with Mark always brings to mind a laundry list of things I have to be grateful for if I’ll just get out of my own head long enough to notice.  Mark’s life is harder than I can possibly imagine and yet he always seems grateful for the chance to have a short conversation; perhaps a Clif Bar and a bottle of cold water; a simple acknowledgment of his humanness.

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One of the ways that I decompress during stressful times is to spend time with my camera.  I have found my muse in the birds and squirrels in my backyard and on my hikes with Pippin.  It’s a chance to be quiet and still — birds don’t stick around long if you make a bunch of noise or move too fast.  It’s a chance to be in nature and a chance to use the creative gifts that God has given me–a form of meditation I believe.  I’ve had some time to do just that this past week and I am grateful for it.  I’ve been rewarded with some decent photos, some new birds to add to my life list and the gift of encouragement from friends who share my passion.

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My plan is to be more faithful to this practice of gratitude and to recording it in this blog.  Perhaps in doing this I can find my way back to forgiveness and trust.  I am grateful for your time and attention in reading and my wish for you is that, through all of life’s ups and downs you find a reason to be grateful.

Namaste…

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