Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy heaps

A simple pile of blankets sits upon the sofa.  Velveteen and fluffy, each one provides more than warmth and coziness.  With the help of two creative kids, these squares of soft cloth become elaborate tunnels, the roof to a toddler-sized house, cushions for jumping into, and togae or capes.

With the vast array of kids' toys that are on the market today, it always amazes me that the most fascinating objects to my boys are often the most common.  Blankets, shiny pans, wooden spoons and whisks, a painted turtle crawling through the yard, a bit of yarn, tinkling bells, and books gallore.  These bring more smiles to their faces than most of the toys we have for them.

Life is like that for adults, too.  Think of what brings you true moments of joy?  For me, smiles on the faces of those I love, freshly blooming flowers in the garden, a colorful sunrise or sunset framed by deep blue mountain crests, and the magical beauty of transformation - the emerging butterfly, a cicada skin, the reawakening of a tortured soul.

How does happiness creep into your life?  Which simplicities matter most to you?

Perhaps you could share some of life's beauties with a friend that may need reminding of how much you care.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Authentic attempt

Imagine you are painting a picture.  The feel of the brush in your hand is comfortable and sure.  Bright white canvas, freshly gessoed, anticipates your masterpiece.  Vivid colors blot your palette and seem to whisper the elements of life: blood-drop red glistening, clay-rich orange red that clumps in calloused hands, yolky yellow that seems to cling like a cloak to fluffy chicks, greens that creep through an array of hues depending on the season, bountiful blue shades braiding skies and dancing along riverbeds, indigo stains like velvet twilight, purple plumes present on mountains, eggplants, and even dawn-breaking cloud-wisps.

Each stroke captures an intricate image from your mind, whose storehouse swells with memory.  Emotion creeps into the arrangement of color: some reverberate joyous occasions; others, hellish recollections.  But overall the picture is an amazing creation.  It intertwines moments in such a way that a grand pattern emerges in staggering complexity that appears with such simplicity.

Now, close your eyes.  Imagine what your painting would be.  What colors would bedeck your palette?  Which imagery would impress upon the viewer?  How would your life whisper from the folds of time? 

With a sigh and a smile, dare to really look around you: does the day dazzle your eye even amidst the trudgery?  Does your perspective need some readjustment to scatter inspiring prisms about you? 

Let yourself limn an authentic attempt at a life well-lived.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Myriad Messes

Lush soil pools into the palms of eager toddlers.  More dirt spills onto the tabletop than the containers for transplanting seedlings, brimming with the promise of smooth-skinned eggplant, tasty tomatoes, dark green zucchini, broad basil leaves, and sweet Mediterranean melons.  The bare wood floor seems to sprout a dark brown carpet under the footfalls of enthusiastic tykes.  I pull out the vacuum and vroom about the kitchen.

Joey tips a spout.  A stream of water pours into an advancing puddle, which threatens to overtake the available space on the table.  He adjusts the watering can and soaks the soil engulfing tiny sprouts, instead.  I blot the liquid spread with cotton cloths and ring water into the sink.

We return the trays to the covered porch, where sunlight slashes slits onto the baseboard, and keep them in a well protected location.  Ezra chases bubbles that Joey creates with a sticky wand.  Bubble solution trickles down the canister, crosses over fingers like cars over speedbumps, and drips onto the gray porch boards.  Inside, Ezra takes a turn and spills soapy solution on the floor.  Miniscule bubbles froth and foam as I wipe them up. 

Tension tightens my shoulder blades, then froths and foams inside like the bubble solution.  Motherhood is constant motion; there is never enough time to finish the tasks at hand.  Taking time to teach my sons life virtues and skills saps my own patience now and then.  It reminds me of the human propensity for messes.  Do you ever feel tension mounting and patience dwindling, friend?  Do you ever feel that there are more messes around you than not?

Each day holds ample opportunity to make a mess.  Sometimes, we moan and groan and make it worse.  Other times, in quietude, we clean it up.  Either option has varying results, depending on our bearing.  Sometimes, just pausing and reminding ourselves of the direction we want to take can make a huge difference.  A difference that, when internalized, can also impact the world.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Backdoor blessing

The kitchen has a back door, which yawns open to overlook the honey-hued morning sunlight dribbling on leafy rhubarbs, a white-washed storage building that emits as much hum from boring bees as from the drone of a freezer, and a simple porch that allows easy access to a flagstone walk edged by a mob of mint.  The door is not seen by passers-by.  And yet, it is the most gracefully adorned exit from inside the house.

Lace-edged curtains seem to droop a profusion of daisy-looking flowers, that part just enough to show the swaying green trees mingled with blue sky outside.  A silvery white, diamond-shaped bead garland stretches across the doorpost and sprays a gleam here, a glint there - something pleasing to glimpse.  A gold-lined frosted-glass angel, with wings whispering mid-flight and a held breath about to create the first notes from a musical lute, hangs from the curtain rod.  I imagine a blessing sprinkles down as someone leaves through that back door.

But, I wonder, am I always receptive to that blessing?  Often, my shoulders are tensed with the day's concerns and irritations - the long list of items left unaccomplished.  Is it like that for you, too, friend?  Do failures and nonfulfillments distract you from that which you did do, today - no matter how few those achievements have been?

Let's imagine a blessing sprinkling down on us, today.  And, instead of passing by unaware, lift your head and smile - knowing that if nothing else today, you let some joy seep hope into your heart.  A hope that is sure to grow and spread like mint.