Tag Archives: death

Circling Around The Heart

As I sat down at my little table the other morning facing the still white fields with the intention to write, a movement outside caught my attention: high in the sky birds were circling… and so many of them.

Rushing outside with my camera the birds were now even higher in sky and further north and looked like tiny moving dots. Their white tail feathers flashing in the sun revealed that these were bald eagles gliding upwards in a thermal. There must have been thirty or forty or more.

Running back inside to get my binoculars wanting to have a closer look, they all disappeared behind the clouds by the time I returned.

Standing on the melting snow and taking in the beauty of the day the birds were singing a happy melody reminding me of Spring, when suddenly four eagles reappeared performing their dance in the sky. Mr. Kitty also joined in, circling around my feet as the eagles were drawing spirals in the sky.

Thinking of the beautiful heart cloud that presented itself just before Valentine’s, a gift of Love appearing out of nowhere, I see how my mind likes to put every experience I have into neat compartments of “like” or “don’t like“. The heart cloud filled me with joy, while watching a seagull kill a little duck was heart wrenching to say the least, while an eagle was keeping a close eye on Mr. Kitty who had followed me down to the beach. I decided to stay and protect the cat rather then try to rescue the duck. It was a very weird moment recognizing that we are all predators and prey and that attaching any kind of label seems rather pointless.

This morning waking up from a dream with my heart pounding, I was glad to see the golden light of the new born sun shining on my pillow. Taking a deep breath and releasing the feeling of sorrow that I took with me from my dream in which I had met up with my golden companion Frodo, I jumped out of bed with excitement, feeling happy to be alive and have a day off on such a beautiful day.

The dancing light on the ocean was not to be missed and it didn’t take long before I made my way to the beach rejoicing in the pattern the freezing cold night had painted on the pond and the one single leaf left on the tree made me pause in wonder.

Discovering more delights on the beach, but also noticing the contrast between the pine tree so ladened with seeds announcing new birth while its branches are hanging low over dead logs littered all over the beach for as far as you can see. Trees that were cut down for a reason, but that never made it to their destination or intended use. Maybe not everything has to make sense like the seagull killing the little duck and then just flying away or so many trees ending up on our beaches never used for anything. Perhaps it is in the noticing and being with what life and death are offering that changes the lens through which we see the world. Certainly some experiences change us forever almost instantly and others, perhaps like the rocks being polished by the sea, take a long time to round out the sharp edges and letting in new awarenesses.

I’ve been loving the gift of winter that February has brought us here on the island with so many magical moments, but also the reminder of stillness and death. Yet I can almost feel spring waiting in its wings, ready for it’s turn to offer us its beauty and unique expression. I am looking forward to the changing of the season, ready for the new greens and buds bringing in new life.

Nature has so much to show and teach me and being in the moment is one of the greatest lessons I am learning. And in this moment the sunshine outside is encouraging me to get on my bike and give my body some much needed exercise, even if my mind needs a little more convincing.

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Tending The Inner Garden

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This summer seems to be going by so quickly.  Once again I find myself housesitting in a lovely cabin on the south side of Cortes Island with a beautiful ocean view. I am feeling very blessed indeed. Coco, the cat, comes and goes as she pleases. Yet the smoke in the air from all the wildfires covering this part of the world in a thick blanket of haze, makes everything appear unreal and strange. The thick air paints the sun and moon deep red or glowing orange with temperatures that are surprisingly cool.

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This morning I found myself thinking about the Orcas that I had seen one foggy evening earlier this spring when I was housesitting not too far from here on the same beautiful beach. I was having a deep conversation at the time with someone when we spotted the whales. There was a male with a much larger fin in the distance moving up and down through the water and a couple of other Orca whales much closer to us that seem to be resting or perhaps waiting. I had heard before that the male will herd a school of fish towards the waiting pod. Then my thoughts turned to the Orca mother who had carried her dead baby for over two and half weeks recently. How can one not be affected by this display of love and deep grief? I couldn’t help wondering if it was the same pod of whales.

With my heart aching for these giants that are suffering and struggling, I got up to put my mug into the sink and looked up to see where grey ocean meets the grey haze. In that very moment my eyes discovered in this endless see of grey a big white spray of water. A whale rose from the water in that instance, letting itself fall back into the depth of it. The feeling of deep surprise is hard to describe as I watched the whale breach a few more times. What are the chances to be looking out the window right in that moment! This recognition of our connection and the many events of synchronicity that keep pointing that there is no separation brought tears to my eyes.

P1260020As a tiny spider climbs up my computer screen I wonder what her message is. Perhaps it has to do with the web of life that we all weave together and that every action, every thought effects the whole web. When we open our hearts to those suffering regardless if they are two-legged, four-legged, finned or winged, we are each called to respond just like a mother responds when her child cries out.

A few weeks ago I came across this mushroom breaking through the earth. It made me pause and take in this moment of birthing, watching earth opening, as a new life form pushes through into the light. Isn’t every birth worth stopping for a moment to witness this tremendous miracle of something new being born? And isn’t every death worth pausing to honour the being that is leaving, who has given it’s unique gift to the whole web?

P1250585As the summer’s harvest is in full swing and I watch many around me busily collecting and processing what they have planted and tended since early spring, I have to say I miss my garden, but not the huge amount of work that harvesting can be.

I recognize that right now I am tending my Inner Garden. I feel a softness as I write these words and yes, I can see and acknowledge to myself that I, too, am harvesting from my inner garden. A few days ago I picked up my art supplies from home and spend some sweet time in the garden pulling the long overdue garlic from the earth and tying them onto bundles to dry. What bliss it was to see the towering sunflowers and the abundance of beans…

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Photo by Dancing Wolf

Yet it is also fun to play again with colours like I haven’t done in a long long time. And it is so freeing to not have any goal, to just let creativity express in whichever way it wants. There is almost a childlike pleasure of discovery and joy in the moment. I just watch as something unfolds with no preconceived notion what it might turn out to be. This drawing named Inner Garden Goddess that came into being a few days ago is part of the harvest of my Inner Garden.

Elke's Goddess #1Holding out my finger to the little spider it jumps fearlessly onto it, not just once but a few times, before I carry it outside where it happily climbs onto the clematis leaf. Once again I am reminded “I can trust life” and feel deep gratitude for the whales and what they are here to teach us. May we all open our hearts to receive their gifts!

 

 

 

Embracing Life As It Is

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With summer in full bloom I feel constantly called to try and capture the vibrant beauty with my camera. Some of these moments are only meant to be captured with the heart’s eye like the tiny speckled fawn following her mother into the bushes. While others like the butterfly resting on vibrant blooms or the incredible abundance of berries after the rain may be shared here with you. I have never seen such an abundance of berries and marvel at the green lushness on each walk through the forest.

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Last week a different kind of experience left me feeling rather unsettled for a few days challenging me once again to accept life on it’s own terms. For me dragonflies, like butterflies and hummingbirds, have always felt like messengers of joy and magic, delighting me with their beauty as they whirl through the air.

That perception was deeply challenged when I found a dead (?!?) dragonfly on the path to the garden. Stopping to glance at it briefly after another dragonfly had flown away from it, I intended to just walk by to get to the garden to fulfill my mission of checking on the plants and do some weeding.

However as I was stepping past the dragonfly body, a movement near it caught my eye. Thinking that it was perhaps a spider, I curiously turned back to take a closer look. Crouching down I noticed the spider was turning to look at me. My mind reeled when I recognized that the spider was not a spider at all, instead it was the severed head of the dragonfly with two of its legs attached. For a moment I wondered if I had stepped into some kind of Sci-fi movie.

As I moved around the dragonfly in disbelief, it’s head kept turning so it could see me, which was a bit unnerving. Then witnessing the body starting to move as well, I wondered what was happening here. It seemed liked the two parts were trying to move towards each other. All my concept of life, death, dragonflies, nature and beauty were turned upside down in that moment and my mind (head) did not know what to do with this information. 

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Later after grounding myself in the garden with weeding for an hour, I decided to go back to the house to do some research. Noticing my deep reluctance to go passed the dragonfly, I made myself stop to look at it again. This time neither the body nor head moved. Part of me was greatly relieved, while another part of me (my head) wanted answers.

At home I looked up all kinds of information on dragonflies. I learned a lot I didn’t know, but only found one other person online speaking of a similar experience of the detached head staying alive for quite some time. Now several days after the event I am able to share this without feeling disturbed by it. It took some time to come to terms with this and now I can honestly say, I am glad that I had this experience. Once again something in me needed to expand, let go of fear and not only accept something that felt so bizarre in the moment, but find the gift and wonder in it.

I even asked myself what this might mirror to me. Reflecting on this, I am now able to see how often my head (logic) is in charge and how we are so conditioned to let it make the decisions in our lives, often not taking our heart, body or spirit into consideration.

Taking the world in through my eyes (like the dragonflies does with it’s 30,000 lenses in each eye) I instantly put reality into certain boxes of reference and sense that these boxes narrow my experience of life. It also made me wonder if life is asking me to slow down, instead of listening to my mind’s constant nagging “but you haven’t done this…” and run around like chicken with its’ head cut off. This saying has a whole new meaning to me now and I don’t say this lightly.

It also made me look at beauty and how my mind keeps it neatly in a box: This is beautiful! This is not beautiful! I am grateful for the many gifts this experience brought me from challenging my perception of life and nature, looking  much deeper into myself and how I meet the unknown and how I meet life, as well as finding beauty in dying and death.

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The greatest gift however is the realization that I can trust life to bring me the perfect experiences I need to expand and welcome life’s gifts with an open mind and heart. That is not always easy like this experiences showed me. Yet I know that as I open to what is different and unknown, I take another step on this journey towards greater love and wisdom.

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The Journey Home

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Photo by Dancing Wolf

Owl was calling softly the other night as I stepped outside with a dishpan full of dirty water for the thirsty flowers and trees. Listening to the haunting call for a while, I stood there with the now empty dishpan in my hand. I had asked owl to come the night my dog Frodo died. Here she was now a week later on the other side of the bay hooting loudly and persistently. I wondered what she was trying to tell me. Perhaps that he had made it home alright. As soon as I had that thought, owl fell silent. It felt like a confirmation, she had delivered her message.

He left in the night before the Lunar Eclipse full moon. Even though we knew it was his time, it was still not easy to let him go. P1170472I am so grateful he died at home and I was able to be by his side as he made that transition. It felt like he was labouring, birthing himself into another world. Day and night blurred together as I sat with him, holding him. No, it was not easy to see him struggle, part of him perhaps wanting to stay for me, the other ready to leave. Exhausted I feel asleep beside him in the early hours after the moon had risen and woke up with a start. I knew instantly that he had gone.

It will take a while to get used to him not being here. Fifteen years is a long time and I am so very grateful for every moment. There is an emptiness in the house and inside me, that is not easy to describe. But most people know what that emptiness feels like after losing a beloved pet or person in their lives.

P1150416[3]There have been so many beautiful signs from beyond since then, that even though there is sadness and grieving, there is also a knowing that he is well and free wherever he is now.

I want to mention some of these signs, because for me it is one of the most comforting things at this time and also one of the greatest gifts.

These little messages from beyond included the many heart rocks I found while digging his grave, to let me know this is the perfect spot for my friend. We were guided to bury many meaningful objects with him and this made the ceremony we held for him extra special.  Then there were the two eagle wing feathers I found while walking on two different days and paths, both within a week of his passing. One is from a left wing and one from a right wing and both are the same size. These were the first eagle feathers I have found here on Cortes and it felt so perfect to have one from each wing. Another deeply moving experience was a dream I had a few days after Frodo left. In the dream he and I were going for our last walk together, crossing over a large bridge. Frodo ran ahead of me and into traffic. As a young woman was holding him, I watched myself walk towards them knowing he was gone. I felt strangely comforted by this dream and grateful for that last walk together. On another day I spontaneously decided to go for a hike after work. So many memories came up for me during that hike of the many adventures Frodo and I had shared over the years. It felt so strange to be hiking without him, when suddenly this beautiful lit up dead leaf caught my attention. As I took a closer look, I instantly felt his golden presence.

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Today when I sat down to write this, I noticed a little bird sitting on the big heart rock outside my window chirping away while hopping exuberantly. It made me laugh like Frodo used to do, when he did his crazy runs through the forest running in circles and figure eights around the trees as fast as he could for the sheer joy of it. I thanked my little messenger for her sweet and potent encouragement to write again. It may not be a coincidence that the heavy rain that fell while writing this match the tears that are falling on my fingers.

Farewell, my friend!

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Photo by Dancing Wolf

Death is not extinguishing the light,
it is only putting out the lamp
because the dawn has come.

     ~Rabindranath Tagore

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