Tag Archives: Memories

Messenger Outside

Discovering a young buck lying peacefully outside my door was such a sweet surprise this morning. Peeking from behind the window I watched him for a long time just chewing his cud. It was strangely meditative observing him bring food back up into his mouth and slowly chew it before swallowing it again. Suddenly the elusive answer to a question that my mind had turned into a complex mess popped up out of nowhere. Here it was, right in front of me and so simple. Watching the buck also inspired me to finally start sorting through my boxes, full of things from the past, deciding what to let go off and what to keep.

Flashes of memories of visiting my grandmother and her people on their little farm easily came to mind as I stood by the window gazing outside. I still remember the excitement and fear I felt of helping my great-aunt “Tante Bärbchen” with the cows. We would take them out onto their pasture in the morning and bring them back in the evening. Recalling the loud sound their hooves made on the pavement, as we walked through the tiny village, I always marvelled that they didn’t just run off. Instead they listened carefully to my great-aunt and were happy to come home to the barn, which was attached to the house, to get fed and milked. I loved seeing them lie peacefully in the straw at night chewing their cud.

These memories must have prompted me years later to get my own goats. Again the joy I felt milking them and taking them on their daily walks in the wilderness is still with me. My son was just two at the time and I would take him with me on these walks. Everyone would join us: the horse, our dog Mika, our two cats Cinderella and Tinkerbell and most of the chickens and Mr. Rooster as well. It was a funny looking herd to say the least.

The goats were very protective of my little boy and wouldn’t let anyone except me get too close to him much to Mika’s irritation. After all he was supposed to protect us. Instead he had to watch out that the goats didn’t succeed in butting him if he dared to come too close. He barked with outrage at them, but they kept their tight circle around my son whenever they felt some perceived danger.

Afterwards we would hang out with the goats in their shelter for a while. It was warm and cozy as we watched them peacefully chew their cud. So grateful to have these memories…and yet there is this funny dilemma with memories when you don’t remember who you told them to already. So please forgive me if you have already heard this. These were the images that came to the surface while watching this beautiful wild animal lie so trustingly near my door step. Perhaps in a way it is me chewing my cud in the form of these vital memories from what now seems like a long time ago.

Well, of course I had to try and take a picture of this magnificent animal. It took about ten seconds for him to jump up after I opened the front door and make his way to his brother or buddy who also had been lying down nearby. It was such a powerful sight seeing these two look back at me. You just never know what unexpected gifts, messages, answers or memories are brought to your door step…

Christmas Spirit

 

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Christmas has always been the holiday I have cherished the most and for me the Christmas Spirit is a celebration of love. As I grew older and moved to Canada, I sadly witnessed it becoming more and more commercialized over the years, with Christmas songs now being heard right after Halloween and shelves full Christmas decorations in the stores and streets.

Growing up in Germany my mother would make a wreath with four candles and we would light up first one, then two, then three on each Sunday before Christmas and all four candles were lit on Christmas Eve. In my family the Christmas tree was not put up and decorated till the day of the 24th of December. Not seeing the tree lit up in its magnificent beauty till after a special dinner, made this event always extra ordinary. The moment of entering our dark living room and seeing the Christmas tree fully lit was every time beautiful beyond words. There were gifts under it, yes, but it was always the tree and the lights, that stood out for me and embodied the Christmas Spirit in its green coat and smell of deep forest and lights that looked like candles. We honoured it with songs before we went closer to receive the gifts, often made with love for each other.

P1200759As I woke up yesterday morning on the 24th, realizing that there would be no Christmas tree this year, my heart sank till my gaze was drawn outside. The magnificent trees outside my window were beckoning and I got up and looked at the incredible view. Each and every one of those trees were holding out their long green-sleeved arms to me and I got it: they were offering me the Christmas Spirit from my childhood: it is living in all of them. Tears filled my eyes, as I quickly threw on my coat and stepped out into the delightful cold crisp winter air and said Hello to my green friends with a heart full of joy: I was home again!

P1200798In the evening as I sat alone in front of the fire, gazing at the beautiful altar and Christmas lights in the room, feeling the Christmas Spirit so deeply and love filled every room in my heart in the stillness of that holy night.

Stepping out that night in bare feet onto the cool white carpet, watching the snow gently falling, I stood there with those trees and told them how much I cherish them and their gift to me.

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Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas!

And may the Christmas Spirit fill your heart with so much love and joy!

 

Daily Prompt: Cherish

 

Return, Return, Return

 

P1190884Waking up to Kingfisher’s loud and distinct rattling call, I opened my eyes to see what was going on. The little ducks, that come to stay in the bay and grace us with their presence every winter, have returned and for some reason this is either not to Kingfisher’s liking or perhaps he is just very excited that they are back to keep him company during the darker winter months. As he is announcing their arrival to the whole world, I watch him fly low over the ducks from shore to tree and back again, over and over while rattling away.

This summer to my delight I was lucky enough to capture three of them sitting together on the rope by the dock, a favourite resting place in the mornings, after diving in and out of the water many times for their breakfast. But lately I have seen only the one coming to sit there, pruning itself in the sunlight after the morning swim and meal.

P1170257Looking at the Kiwis lying on the table being kissed by the early morning sun, it is hard to describe the joy I feel looking at their fuzzy bodies and also felt while I was picking them as the snow was coming down in silent reverence a few days ago. Standing on the ladder twisting and turning to get those hard to reach treasures, while icy cold drops from the leaves dripped on my face and neck, running down and making me shiver with aliveness, I could feel joy spreading inside and filling me, as I picked one by one and carefully placing them in my basket.

These old Kiwi vines are a huge tangled mess and I had to laugh when my hat kept getting pulled off by the branches and pretty soon my long hair also got tangled in the vine, making it at times impossible to move. It felt good to laugh out loud, slowly untangling myself and filling the basket with so much abundance. It wasn’t lost on me as I freed my hair of how it was reflecting the untangling that is happening in my own life. Now seeing the hundreds of kiwis lying on the table, I feel awe and gratitude for Mother Nature’s incredible generosity and teachings.

P1200005While picking the fruit I was singing a favourite song I learned in choir: “The Earth, the air, the fire, the water….return, return, return!”  Standing on that ladder while snow and rain were taking turns to awaken me, I couldn’t help but hear the elements around me calling to become truly present: Return! Return! Return!

As my awareness deepened, I saw pictures in my heart’s eye of how we used to honour and celebrate together the elements, the seasons, the sun, moon and stars, and our mother…how we used to dance together around the fires celebrating all that sustains life and how deeply connected and intertwined we were with life itself.

The earth, the air, the fire and the water are singing their invitation to all of us to return, return, return…

 

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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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Weekly Photo Challenge: shiny

 

May Offerings

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The month of May has always been my favourite time of the year. Perhaps having been born in the fifth month makes me a little partial to it. This year May has been much cooler and wetter than I can remember. Still it does not take away from it’s special beauty. The birds are singing wholeheartedly while Mother and Father Goose are cautiously showing off their three little offsprings for the first time, yet almost to the exact day every year.P1240842

After a restless night I could feel my body was more than ready to get out of bed this morning and release some of the aches and stiffness. As I slowly rose, the first thing I noticed was the water in the bay shimmering emerald green with the sun about to rise above the tree tops. I got quickly dressed in order to get in the kayak and be part of the magical moment when the sun bathes everything in its golden light. Well, I made it out in time, but the clouds had quickly covered up the sun, hiding it’s magical rays behind them.

It did not matter! It was so sweet to just be gliding through the clear water that had looked so green from a distance. I headed towards the channel between the little islands that protect Reflection Cove and create a sheltered lagoon. Noticing the pink hues on the little island closest to me, I had to stop and investigate. Soon finding myself totally enthralled by the abundance of wildflowers covering the islands. Everything was bursting in full bloom and many colours from a sea of pinks IMG_0507with sprinkles of whites and yellows to the mysterious checker lily that completely stopped me in my tracks with its unusual beauty.

Every step I took there was more to be discovered. Even the things that looked dead surprised me, like the skeleton of a small Arbutus tree with it’s haunting beauty. Yet on closer inspection it had one shoot coming from it’s root that was very much alive. Life and death seem to be intimately entwined on these little islands where the harsh winter storms show little mercy to the plant beings that are brave enough to live there.

Suddenly the powerful call of a loon rang through the silence. I rose from where I had been captivated by the pink flowers growing in the midst of a young juniper bush beside a much larger one that had not survived the winter. My eyes searched the sea for the lonely caller. There it was! The Loon was keeping a safe distance from the little island, but kept me company till it was time for me to leave the little paradise I had found.

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As I turned around towards home I looked upon my beloved bluff where I often sit and where Sea, Earth and Sky meet. From there I often admire the snowy white peaks of the mountains rising up into the heavenly blues and on a few rare occasions whales or dolphins can be seen. Now looking at the bluff from this different viewpoint made it appear so much bigger, more real, yet mystical at the same time. It made me wonder how often I look at something through the narrow lens of a certain perspective. What would it be like to see something from many different perspectives and viewpoints? I have a feeling a whole new world could open up for me as it did for me on those little islands today. Everywhere I turned another gift was waiting for me. It brought back many memories of exploring as a child, lying on my belly in some field to see something really close up or climbing on cliffs because something was calling to be discovered at the top or perhaps on the other side. I remembered that May for me has always been a month of delight and discoveries, where the natural world is bursting forth with so many colours and scents and without holding anything back, celebrating new life in the most magnificent ways.

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When I arrived back to where I started out from, I sat for a while looking out at the familiar view of the islands that I had just visited. Somehow they didn’t look the same anymore. After exploring them in much greater detail and having found so many treasures that delighted the senses to no end, I know I see them differently now. They have come to life for me in a whole new way, just like the wildflowers in their undisguised wild beauty. Two hours had passed there as if there was no time at all. As I began writing about my experiences, the faintest scent caught my attention. I looked up immediately, my whole being becoming alert. Instantly something in me recognized this scent, yet not in the way that I could say it came from a certain plant or the sea. Instead it triggered a memory of beingness that I experienced on my first visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I had the magical experience of feeling completely free to just be me, where for the first time I completely trusted and felt so loved and taken care of by the Universe. It is this freedom, innocence and trust that was awakened once again in me on my magical journey to the little islands so close to home at my favourite time of the year, when the lilacs bloom, Beltane is celebrated and people still weave ribbons in dances around the Maypole. It is the month where we celebrate and honour our Mothers, who have given us life, and for me it is the month that I came to be here. There is so much to be grateful for on this May day.

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Mysterious Connections

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A Great Blue Heron is sitting perfectly still on the walkway to our little dock. It has been there for a few hours now. The possibility of capturing this rare sight made me rush outside in my nightdress early this morning, only to find that my camera has stopped working. As I stood there shivering in the breeze, I noticed my resistance to accepting the reality of my camera having died without warning. It had served me so well. Then I remembered my commitment to trust life. Making my way back to the warmth of Elkenwolf cottage I considered the joys and possibilities a new or slightly used camera could bring.

Watching the sun illuminate the tidal water, the vibrant spring greens and the Heron’s feathers in the most magical way, I gratefully witness this morning’s offering. As I find a picture on the computer that I took last summer (see above) the Heron starts walking up to the land, talking softly with each careful and graceful step. Spreading it’s wings for a moment, calling now loudly, he then turns around and goes back to the same spot in the middle of the walkway hovering over the glistening water. There he begins his preening ritual, calling every now and again. I can’t help but wonder if he is calling for a mate on this unpredictable Spring day. Silently watching and writing, I feel a deep sense of connection and being a part of what is here.

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Last week I began walking to my car which I park over two kilometres from our home near where the pavement ends, rather than driving our old pickup truck on the off-road section. On one of these walks I noticed myself being caught again in the torrent of thoughts about work and the busy-ness of my mind, almost missing what was actually there for me in that moment. So I looked a little closer at a ditch filled with rainwater and a leaf beneath the surface beckoned my attention, as did a robin on a storm-topped tree. We gazed at each other curiously in the stillness of the morning.

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However it was the bubbles in a little creek further along that were the most unexpected gift and reminded me of a favourite childhood delight and the mystery of blowing bubbles out into the world. As I entered fully the here and now, the discoveries were numerous and some astonishing like the face that stared out from the rushing little stream. If you look closely perhaps you will see it too. P1160149 A sense  of wonder spread through me and I became aware of another strong memory, one I’ve been getting glimpses of on these walks.

It is a fluent memory of a walk last May to the Panau-nui Pu’u Loa petroglyphs on Hawai’i. Pu’u Loa, means the “long hill” or “Hill-(of)-long-(life)”. It is a sacred place with over 23,000 petroglyphs carved into the hard lava stone. The hike to the petroglyphs had a very special quality to it. It was something I knew I needed to do on my own. As I hiked to the site I met a few tourists on the path, but soon found myself completely alone. It felt like each step took me further into timelessness and something so ancient and yet so vibrantly present. I remembered reading about the old custom of the Hawaiin people that were connected to this sacred land whose families brought the umbilical cords of their newborn babies to this ancient site, leaving each in a carved hole covered with a rock and special symbols praying for a long life for the child.P1100165 I couldn’t help but wonder how many had walked this path in reverence and had prayed here asking for their child or grandchild to be blessed with a long, well-lived life. I felt myself being called here and there, standing before each carving and just being completely present in the mystery and the story that each one contained. One of these carvings stood out in particular and spoke to me in a very deep way. I heard myself speaking words of prayer and gratitude with tears filling my eyes. It was hard to leave, but when I finally turned to go, I heard people arriving filling the stillness with their voices. To this day I have no idea why this particular carving spoke to me in such a way. But on these walks to and from my car, as I put one foot in front of the other, the memory of that particular hike on the black lava stone and the mysterious connection I felt there, comes alive in me, leaving me in the great wonder of how it is all connected.

The Heron is still here, gazing now quietly out over the bay while standing on one leg. It’s complete calmness and balance calls me into the centre of my own being. May the wonder of these mysterious connections stay alive in all of us, open and guide us on our individual and collective journeys.

And once again a poem wants to be shared. This one is called “Stone” written by David Whyte.

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 The face in the stone is a mirror looking into you.
 You have gazed into the moving waters,
 you have seen the slow light, in the sky
 above Lough Inagh, beneath you, streams have flowed,
 and rivers of earth have moved beneath your feet,
 but you have never looked into the immovability
 of stone like this, the way it holds you, gives you
 not a way forward but a doorway in, staunches
 your need to leave, becomes faithful by going nowhere,
 something that wants you to stay here and look back,
 be weathered by what comes to you, like the way you too
 have travelled from so far away to be here, once reluctant
 and now as solid and as here and as willing
 to be touched as everything you have found.
  
 ~David Whyte