Grace on Mother’s Day

Two days before Mother’s Day, delicate cherry blossoms and elegant dogwood and magnolia flowers decorate neighbourhood trees in full bloom. Even azalea and rhododendrum shrubs, big and small, burst forth with vibrant splashes of colors. Mother nature has brought an abundance of colors to celebrate the one special day of the year that honors all earth mothers.

This rhapsody of colours reveals a sweet song of its own. Varying intensities of deep rich tones flow rhythmically in gentle winds alongside softly muted shades of pastels. As if a great symphony were being played before our very eyes, this orchestra offers no sound but amazing grace!

This was magnificently demonstrated in the late afternoon, following a typical Spring morning of bright skies and warm temperatures. Mid-afternoon revealed dark looming clouds which had quietly rolled in, bringing thunderous roars and bursts of bright light in the skies overhead. Then an instant deluge of hail poured down, pummelling rooftops, bouncing off trees and blanketing the ground with millions of mini ice balls. And still the flowers radiated their natural beauty!

This magnificent display revealed the splendour of grace. Unfettered by storms and chilling ice pellets, the flowers held their shape and continued to radiate without effort, allowing the winds of life to blow through them. And although eventually the flowers will fall apart, although they will eventually be blown away or float to the ground, they will still maintain their beauty for a while more as single petals are discovered in perfect form on curbs and cars, in rain barrels and gutters, and even atop a mound of frozen ice!

Celebrate the beauty of grace this Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers who share love on this planet!

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Cycle of Life

Spring is one of the most delightful seasons as surprises in nature emerge everywhere you look. After a long, cold, dark winter, life is once again revitalized with the arrival of tender green shoots and buds high and low. Birds return with sweet songs to celebrate the new season. Insects buzz joyfully from bloom to bloom while worms slither out of water-logged gardens to dry out upon higher ground.

April showers are abundant this year with many days of heavy wet rain soaking everything under the clouds. My gortex shoes are my best friend these days. They are light blue, like the sky and their bottom is encased with a thick black rubber soul, which keeps both my feet and heart warm! As I trod through rain-soaked terrain, mud oozes and squishes beneath every step I take. Looking downward, I see mini marshes, tiny rivulets, and ambling waterfalls on either side of the path. Skunk cabbage, wild ferns and flowers decorate the way as I meander up and down, left and right, over and around giant tree roots sprinkled throughout the inlet trail. Tide is in. Ducks, geese and other water fowl swim happily together, splashing, dipping and squawking their usual chorus of cacophony … or maybe it is really the phoney cackles of spectators young and old!

Looking upwards is another sight to behold. High above in the trees is a community of herons. There are at least 11 nests and over 18 herons perched high upon the branches. Each large nest is growing, with male herons flying to and fro, gathering more branches to add to the nest. It is an awe inspiring sight to watch them maneuver freely through the grove of trees. Their large wingspans glide effortlessly as they circle outwards and back with new branches in their beaks.  Heron babies will stay in their nests for 2 months after birth. This new generation will support the continuation of the species, renewing another new cycle of life. Spring is in the air, high and low. Everything is visibly changing. Witnessing this cycle of birth and rebirth rejuvenates the human soul!

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Gifts of the Night

In the darkness of night, the skies thundered its power upon the earth. Deafening cracks opened the skies, sending a deluge of rain over natural and man-made creations. Like the sound of millions of hands clapping in unison, then beating soulfully on a drum, our senses are captivated. We are washed and cleansed, enlightened under brilliant flashes of light, perfectly synchronized in a performance like no other. Jagged bolts of light tear through the darkness alongside roaring cascades of sound … and then there is quiet … and then there is calm. The sky settles, the wind blows, the clouds drift across the sky in a glorious dance. Gradually, the infinite sky overhead reveals itself as the sun begins to rise. A new day is born. The birds return, chirping a chorus of sweet melodies. Trees are refreshed. Plants glisten. Dew drops sparkle in the morning light.

Each night leads to day. Each day returns the night. Darkness always leads us back to light and vice versa. This is the rhythm of life. There is beauty and abundance in darkness.  Look up into the evening sky. A shining star is there to guide you! Revel in it. Appreciate it. And be ever thankful for its luminous presence!

“There they stand, the innumerable stars, shining in order like a living hymn, written in light.” – N.P. Willis

Flow

Mid-winter afternoons are beautiful. The sky is a brilliant blue. A few clouds are scattered above, mirroring patches of frozen white slushy snow on the path below. At the foot of the trail is a wooden bridge that crosses over a rapidly flowing creek. Walking over the foot bridge, one can’t help but stop to marvel at the roar of energy below.

Water rushes over giant boulders, cascading down to crash onto smaller rocks, wending and winding its merry way downstream. At the sides of the creek, pockets of calm water sit where the flow of water is a mere trickle. These little ponds are speckled with tiny white bubbles that flow ever so slowly down, like autumn leaves floating downstream. Some congregate in pools, like a frothy ice cream soda, an effervescent champagne, or mountainous whip cream extravaganza! Away from the roar of constant activity, these havens are a hidden oasis that peacefully co-exist in their own blissful way.

Where the water is most active though is where there are least obstructions. The water flows effortlessly over and through areas that nature has exquisitely designed. Areas with highest activity are where millions of bubbles dance and leap upward, as if in a joyous celebratory dance to honor the magnificence of the moment. These are the most joyous water droplets on the planet as they dance and sing to their very own tune!

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The variety of water-scapes are endless and the dramas within are remarkable. The flow of water beautifully assimilates an entire lifetime. We can all relate to times of action and rest. We can also relate to times of joy and quietude. The flow of life presents surprising blocks and detours, an ebb and flow that mirrors unknowns around the corner. The creek is a wonderful metaphor as it holds one of the most valuable lessons for us to absorb: Go with the flow! Take the path of least resistance! When possible, rest in your secret oasis and enjoy the quietude! Then continue down the river of life … being natural and allowing the flow of nature to lead you to more great wonders in your wondrous life! Let go and love the flow of life!

New Vistas!

The Coquitlam Crunch is a popular exercise route.  With over 450 stairs and an elevation gain of more than 240 metres, streams of people of all ages regularly walk, run and jog up and down the route.  But recent snowfall accumulations and wintry conditions have changed that.  The stairs are now covered with ice and the highest flight of stairs are deeply blanketed with snow.  There is so much snow on this section that no stairs are visible at all.  It is just a diagonal sheet of white ice, much too treacherous for climbing up safely.

Looking around, there are alternate routes created by sunken footprints.  Some of these were created by humans and others by animals of various sizes.  A few paths lead off into the bushes, another leads directly up alongside the staircase, hemmed by a row of thorny bushes.  And one other path veers off to the right, eventually looping back to meet the path at the top of the stairs.  This is the route I chose to take and upon arrival at the top, I was greeted by warm sunshine and a fresh new vista to behold!

Life can sometimes feel like an ascending staircase.  When you reach a point where no more stairs are visible, do you turn back, forge a new trail, or look for alternate routes?  These are the choices that life offers.  Make choices that lead to outcomes you desire.  Reaching new vistas is something you will never regret but only cherish for years to come!

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Cookie Heaven!

The countdown is on.  Only 12 shopping days left until Christmas. A buzz of frenzy is apparent in every shopping plaza.  One young woman is on a mission. She needs to purchase 15 boxes of a specific brand of maple leaf cookies for family members overseas.

It is the middle of the day and she visits 4 different stores, clearing out inventory on 3 of the 4 stores’ shelves all in a very short time.  How did it work out so well?  Many factors contributed to this amazingly successful outcome.  One of the biggest factors was her ability to stay focused on the task without getting distracted by other things, such as the sight of mouth watering decadent chocolates, brightly coloured baubles and hordes of people shopping everywhere!  The next biggest factor was her enduring patience to overcome whatever happened, including parking lot mayhem.  And last but not least, quelling her negative doubting voice within was a large part of her success.  Shouts of “This is ridiculous!”  “I’m not waiting in this line-up!”  “I’m going home!”  “I give up!” echoed inside her, but the overwhelming love in her heart prevailed and as a result, magic unfolded!  She came away with not only 15 boxes, but also 4 boxes more and an immense feeling of joy and satisfaction.  The young woman was in pure cookie heaven!  And heaven was soon to board a plane to her tropical hometown 8,000 miles away.  Cookie heaven is indeed world wide!

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Say “Wow!” to Life

Cycling through the forest during damp Autumn days can be an interesting experience. Not only is the ground a haven for soft slippery mush but there are also many other surprises lurking about.  Colourful mushrooms of all shapes and sizes decorate the forest floor while tiny birds flit in and out of shrubbery and little animals scurry high and low on trees.

Riding along a wide path, I spot a black squirrel ahead of me sitting at the edge of the trail.  I wondered if it would suddenly bolt in front of me like they usually do when I am driving my car.  Just in case, I slowed down and sure enough, the squirrel darted in front of me, just  barely missing my front tire!  A woman walking towards me witnessed the entire event and shouted in surprise: “That squirrel just barely missed being hit!!”

I too marvelled at the outcome.  Life is sometimes a mystery. We cannot predict what lies ahead or the outcome.  The only thing we can do is be fully present in the moment and mindfully tread through the marshes of life.  What could have been a disastrous experience for both the squirrel and I became a wondrous moment to hold in awe.  Little miracles like this happen everyday and everywhere.  Stay open to seeing them and be prepared to say “Wow!!” to life!

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