Tag Archives: gratitude

Water, wind, earth and fire (and cyclones)

Tropical Cyclone Marcia, off the coast of Queensland Australia, taken 20 Feb 2015 by NASA

If my soul had a natural setting, it would be the densely treed Australian Snowy Mountain ranges, grey fog a draping necklace in the cleavage of the mountains and valleys. There is a particular palette of greens and luminous browns that create it, a eucalypt mossy tang to the air, a hitch of woodsmoke and rain that bundles me up in calm whenever I think of it.

Of course, nature doesn’t care much for calm.

Today tropical cyclone Marcia is creating havoc, damage and flooding all over the bottom half of Queensland, Australia. Normally I love rain – the slow waddle and roll of clouds across the sky, the countless musical ways rain can fall to earth – but today, not so much. Not only because over a hundred schools were closed in the state, not only because a delightful driver swerved into a puddle to thoroughly dapple me with a pool of rainwater as I walked by, but because too much of a good thing really can be too much.

But I do love rain, and the incredible wonders and beauty weather produces on this planet of ours (and other planets in our solar system!) Flamboyant sunsets, foggy winter mornings, moonlight sleeking shadows to silver, the dry lavender dawn that warns the day is going to be a scorcher. The tangle and ebb of the colour of oceans, the fluff and nonsense of kittens and ducklings, the curl and flaunt of flower petals. Then there are all the marvels I want to see. The auroras (australis and borealis), coral of the Great Barrier Reef, the cliffs at Calais, the hot natural pools in Finland, Irish wolfhound puppies. Creation in full throated, bizarre, exuberant song.

Too long ago I drove along a mountain road with a dear friend, where we stopped countless times to soak in the view of mountain, sky, tree and air. I stood under an aspen tree for the first time, and stood blinking hard at the weirdness, the utter uniqueness, of the sounds of its leaves. Each new corner turned would have us breathing “Wow!” or struck gloriously mute at the magnificence before us. It was a holy experience that drive, our sudden miniscule recognition and gratitude at how incredible creation really was.

So today it’s raining. Flat grey clouds dumping water without style or finesse, hiding the moon and whatever sunset may be happening far above me. But I know – as sure as it’ll rain tomorrow, as sure as this summer is starting to curl into sleepy autumn – that seeing grey for days will draw my attention and thanks to the colours and splendors that will eventually return, and sharpen my memory for the beauties I have already experienced.

“For the beauty of the earth… of the skies.. of each hour.. of the day and of the night.

Hill and vale and tree and flow’r, sun and moon.. stars of light,

Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”

(excerpted from Hymn 92, For the Beauty of the Earth)

Is there a part of creation that fills you with wonder, gratitude or surprise? Which part or wonder of the natural world do you want to see for yourself? If your soul had a natural setting, where would it be?

Making Your Calling and Election Sure

I’ve been stewing about this blog post for weeks, because I mean it to be provocative. I want to write about one of our most important Mormon doctrines, but it’s a topic that seems to be shrouded in a cultural taboo, like Heavenly Mother or polygamy. They used to sermonize about having your calling and election made sure a lot more than they do now. “They” being our church leaders. It was a naturally accepted piece of doctrine back in the days of Joseph Smith and the early saints. I imagine that every alert saint was keenly aware of whether or not they had personally been sealed up into eternal life by the Holy Spirit of Promise. I don’t know that we later latter-day saints give it much thought or attention anymore. But maybe we should. Continue reading

your best surprises of 2014

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A few years ago, in December, I was wrapping gifts and– with the melancholy that sometimes visits during the holidays– letting tears slip down my cheeks as I mourned things that hadn’t happened that year, carefully crafted plans come to naught (primarily, a baby). I continued to wrap and cry, grumbling a bit that I wasn’t getting the gift I really wanted, when I remembered the friend who’d handed me tickets to a Christmas concert the week before. One by one, I began thinking of all the good things in the past year that happened without my planning, without my goal-setting. Joys, successes, new friends, small victories…handed to me with no effort on my part, wrapped up beautifully and tied with a bow. I ripped a piece of wrapping paper, turned it over and wrote down everything that had surprised or delighted me in the previous months. Continue reading

As Ye Have Done It to the Least of These

Piano_KeyboardThe author of this post lives in the Mormon corridor and owns two pianos. And a keyboard. Because even though her piano skills are Primary-song level, her children must. practice. every. day.

He’s sitting on the piano bench, utterly refusing to play anything. We wait, the piano teacher and I. For twenty minutes, twenty minutes which cost about three dollars a minute, till he decides to play the sightreading. With those tedious practice instructions. And we can finally get to the songs he and I have labored over all week long, hurrying them into our remaining ten minutes of lessons.

At the end of it I feel drained. I wonder if wrestling my ADHD son with piano lessons is worth the power struggles. But he was named after his grandmother, a musician, and when we first started this journey he talked about that. “I’m just like Grandma, and I’m named for her,” he said. “I’m playing the piano and composing music too.”??That was when I knew we had to stick with it, in spite of the practicing battles, in spite of the challenge of helping his ADHD monkey mind to stay focused and still. In spite of twenty long minutes of time without him playing a note. I want him to feel connected to the woman we named him after, my husband’s mother, who he’s never met, and if piano does that, I will keep going.

But I can’t do it alone, helping this wild and brilliant child tame his inner demons long enough to focus on rhythm and notes. The piano teacher who sat patiently beside us, encouraging him, applauding him with sincere joy when he finally complied, she’s a part of this too. Continue reading

Not Putting Off the Natural Woman

natural woman pic

I had day surgery recently, and while the procedure itself went well, the post-operative pain medications didn’t work. They didn’t even touch the sides of what I was feeling, except to make everyone sound as if they were talking to me from a sealed spacesuit. It got to the point that I was pacing, panting with the ripping nerves and rolling pain, when the nurse took out my IV line, rang my friend to come collect me, and let me go home “since we can’t do anything else for you here. Make sure they know next time those meds don’t work on you.”

I don’t remember much of the trip home, because the natural woman I share my body with was counting down the minutes until I’d be behind my front door. And I’ll tell you what, that natural woman is LOUD.

But that natural woman also knows what’s she’s on about. For the previous hour she’d been growling “We need to have a shower. A really really HOT shower. We need to go home. To have a shower” constantly. It made no sense to me, but I could feel the gravity of the need crushing my bones, twanging along my gut and legs, her sure confidence soothing my intense, nauseous unhappiness. And as soon as I got in the shower, the mirror already blank, the air fogged, she and I both groaned – deep, guttural and grateful.

This is what I needed. The thought flopped, exhausted, out my ear and floated away down the drain as my eyes closed in weary relief. Sure, the scriptures say to put away the natural woman, but right now I love her beyond words and coherence.

I prayed, curled in on myself, cheek against the shower floor, thankful for my body, albeit rather critical of the particular design flaws involved in my pain, for instant hot water, overwhelmingly and repeatedly muttering thank you for my natural woman.

My natural woman demanded raspberries last week, for self-medication and reward after an emotionally gutting day. She also squealed when I was cleared to start running again, and her eyes roll back in delight when I moisturise. My natural woman tells the holy spirit to stuff it when my answers to prayer are decidedly sideways to what I wanted, screams stress into pillows and sulks before sidling up to God, kicking the ground and muttering “Sorry. I’m sorry. But it still sucks.”

My natural woman loves life, loves me, loves God as a result. She’s like hope – loud, wearing big boots and laughs like a waterfall falling on your head.

Do you listen to your body, to your natural woman? What makes your physical self happy, and does it make YOU happy as a result? Has there been something in your life lately that has made you thankful for having a physical self to wrap your self in?