Wednesday, June 29, 2011


The Gift of Gravity

All that passes descends,
and ascends again unseen
into the light: the river
coming down from sky
to hills, from hills to sea,
and carving as it moves,
to rise invisible,
gathered to light, to return
again. "The river's injury
is its shape." I've learned no more.
We are what we are given
and what is taken away;
blessed be the name
of the giver and taker.
For everything that comes
is a gift, the meaning always
carried out of sight
to renew our whereabouts,
always a starting place.
And every gift is perfect
in its beginning, for it
is "from above, and cometh down
from the Father of lights."
Gravity is grace.

~ Wendell Berry ~

I first found Wendall Berry's poetry in a collection edited by Roger Housden entitled Risking Everything. The poem chosen for the anthology was "The Peace of Wild Things." In it he speaks of "resting in the grace of the world," and how often I think of that lying in the night's stillness.

When I travelled to New Hampshire with my sisters this spring, it was a gift of grace. We live across the country from each other; so time together is especially treasured. This May's visit is remembered not by the doing, but by the being.

In each other's presence we found this little river. It was clear and swift, carrying gifts, forging a liquid path, renewing our spirits, bringing laughter and light-hearted play. Time stood still, gravity grounding us on this beautiful earth. Every gift is perfect; every gift is grace.

Friday, June 24, 2011

So come... to the river of your imagination

Mornings at Blackwater

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
it was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live your life.

~Mary Oliver~

Sometimes it seems so out of reach, that deep desire of the heart. What is it that I really want...  Mary Oliver reminds me to live my life and to do that I need to find the river of my imagination or the harbor of my longing and know that I can choose. In fact, it is my dharma, my responsibility, my life purpose and I cannot escape from the choosing. Even not choosing is a kind of choosing.

I find myself at a sort of pause, an in-between, just finishing one phase and not quite ready for the next. With a heart full of gratitude, I begin this and each day present to each moment, full embodied and open to whatever unfolds.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Hummingbirds

summer story

When the hummingbird
sinks its face
into the trumpet vine
and the funnels

of the blossoms,
and the tongue
leaps out
and throbs,

I am scorched
to realize once again
how many small, available things
are in the world

that aren’t
pieces of gold
or power–
that nobody owns

or could buy even
for a hillside of money–
that just
float about the world,
or drift over the fields,
or into the gardens,
and into the tents of the vines
and how here I am

spending my time,
as the saying goes,
watching until the watching turns into feeling
so that I feel I am myself

a small bird
with a terrible hunger
with a thin beak probing and dipping
and a heart that races so fast

it is only a heartbeat ahead of breaking
and I am the hunger and the assuagement
and also I am the leaves and the blossoms,
and, like them, I am full of delight and shaking

~ Mary Oliver ~

There is something about hummingbirds that just brings deep joy. Here Mary Oliver talks about feeling herself to be that small bird, full if delight and shaking.  In anticipation of their arrival, I have set out my feeders and my flowers are all in bloom. These wonderful little creatures are so amazing! Their mere presence can bring me to an ecstatic state, dropping all "I" thoughts and languishing in oneness. 

I mean, did you know hummingbirds are so smart that they remember every flower they have been to and how long it will take a flower to refill! They visit an average of 1000 flower per day for nectar and eat small soft bugs for protein. 

They can fly forward, backward, hover in mid-air, fly sideways and even upside down. The average speed of a hummingbird's flight is 25-30 miles/hour and that increases to 60 miles/hour when they are diving! And how cool is this - their wings rotate in a full circle!

Hummingbirds can hear better than humans, see farther than humans, can see ultraviolet light and have no sense of smell. At night as they sleep, they go into a state called "torpor." It sounds a lot like a deep meditative state. Their metabolic rate is one-fifteenth (1/15) of normal sleep and their heart rate can drop from 250 beats/minute at rest to 50 beats.

The more I learn about these wondrous creatures, the more I agree with Mary Oliver when she says: "As for death, I can't wait to be the hummingbird, can you?" For now, though, I will simply enjoy "watching until the watching turns into feeling..." 

Friday, June 17, 2011


Today I found my hummingbird feeder, unpacked and thoroughly cleaned it, prepared liquid food and placed it in the yard for all the hummingbirds to find.  The nectar is 4 parts water to 1 part sugar and directions for preparation are quite specific. Boil the water first; measure exactly; add pure granulated sugar and mix until dissolved; let cool in the refrigerator.

It was interesting to read that inaccurate mixtures could harm the little guys. They are very sensitive with tiny organs so it makes sense, but the directions warned that substituting ingredients could actually kill the birds. Also, it is extremely important to clean the feeder with warm, soapy water to insure all dirt, mold and debris has been removed.

By the way, using red food coloring is NOT recommended because the chemicals are quite harmful. Duh, what does that mean for us! How many foods are in your pantry with food coloring listed on the labels?  And in case you might be tempted, Kool-Aid contains chemicals that may cause death in hummingbirds.  Just pure granulated sugar and water in a clean feeder free of mold and dirt.

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy & celebration. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us:
  • life is rich, 
  • beauty is everywhere,
  • every personal connection has meaning and 
  • laughter is life's sweetest creation.
*from the back of a Papyrus greeting card

I love to watch the hummingbirds; they enjoy each moment and are so full of energy! They remind me that joy and connection are always present waiting to be recognized. I hope to capture a photo or two this summer. More on hummingbirds later...