Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Harsh Beauty

Shenandoah Valley's subtle blue ridges, further softened by fuzzy pines and emerald cedars and rustling deciduous trees, have always brought me inspiration. Patch-worked fields, spotted with the silhouette of cows or drizzled with verdant crop rows, interweave with little burgs and stretches of southerly-facing white farm houses or red barns or even the slow sprawl of various developments to create a cozy area where life simmers. Sometimes it's loud and streaks across the sky like a male cardinal or wild canary; other times, that life surprises you like the waterfall around the bend on a hiking trail.

Often, no matter where we live, the beauties of that place are so mesmerizing that we forget other places hold different, but just as bonny, inspirational views for us. In Meteora, the elegant heights of monasteries on tall, bleak rocks still haunts my mind's eye.  There, too, is the melding of ancient with modern in Athens, Greece; the intricate trails and cityscapes from NYC's Central Park; the simple view from a turret window of birds nestled on a roofline in Cincinnati's Ludlow area; etc. The Mojave desert views, flora, and fauna are far different from Massanutten Mountain's sleek peaks, but no less beautiful. Instead of towering oaks and pines, smaller Joshua trees dotted the landscape, creating an other-worldly feel. Piles of jagged rock mimicked the intermittent cairns that mark rugged trails there. And yucca spikes and scrubby brush whisper tales of the harsh beauty forming from the clash of opposites.

What memories mingle in your mind, friend? Let the beautiful ones overpower the painful ones and inspire a smile today. Then, consider how you can share that experience in a positive way for a positive result.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sticker Parade

"Stickers," Ezra says in a semi-sedated drone. Then, as if awakening from the trance that turning pages in a book affords, he exclaims, "I have stickers on my pants!"

"Do you want a sticker, Mommy?" And, with determined effort, he comes up to me and plops Jupiter on my arm.

"Save some of your stickers, love," I say, glancing down at a wedge of cheese and a centipede that have joined the parade on my arm.

And then, I feel the weight of it. No, not of Jupiter. Nor the empty weight of an Ash Wednesday fast. Nor the chill the resides in my feet on a cold, cloudy day. It is the weight of being a mommy.

Children are delightful and bring such joy, but there are those sticky moments of molding a child's character amid the whines, will'nts (as Ezra says for will not), and wild places that need pruning. For every success, there seems to be myriad more moments of apparent set-backs. And yet...

And yet, is not that life? What would life be without the set-backs or challenges or practice that living requires? Perhaps you, too, would be quick to say Save some of your stickers, love. But should we? Or rather, should we encourage our loved ones to give them away? To share in life with those they love?

So, my prayer for you, friend, is that someone lavishes love on you today. May Saturn or a snail or even strawberry shortcake plop on your arm today.