Saturday, January 30, 2010

May the Magic not Melt with the Snow

Snow is magical. When else do I stand in the middle of my busy neighborhood street after 10pm visiting with neighbors, comparing notes on where our walks have taken us today while another offers his jeep for rides of necessity and fun? When else am I invited to go in search of parking lots large enough to do doughnuts in, creating circles in the snow? When else have I seen the giant blue jay sit an inch from the tiny finch and share bird seed? Never.

Snow births a pureness, diminishing differences, promoting friendliness. No one's a stranger.

Silence, uncommon to the city and much of the planet, blankets the city as well as the snow. It is the silence that I imagine preceded creation. It is the silence that precedes any creation be it a new thought, idea or work of art. It is the silence so lacking in our busy lives and world, the silence in which if we stop long enough we can hear what our particular life holds out before us.

May the magic not melt with the snows.

- Dawn! The Good News Muse

Friday, January 29, 2010

What Hits the Spot?

This morning during a rare Nashville snow fall, I called my favorite neighbors to see if they were up for a stroll. We walked and talked eventually making our way to the grocery.

Enroute Ella made a snow angel and wrote PEACE! in the snow on the trunks of neighbors' cars and on the sidewalks. She caught me up on her nine-year-old life which presently includes learning about Persephone in acting classes as well as the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. (I want to be nine again.)

This of course allowed us at the grocery to spy Posideon, Zeus, Persephone and Hera amongst the many shoppers as well as the Artemis in Ella's mom as she hunted for cocoa butter.

Walking home, Alicia shared how she had made hot chocolate for the girls who had slept over last night, a late birthday surprise for Ella. One of the girls commented how the hot chocolate 'hit the spot.' This led to their talking about other things that hit the spot which in turn led to my sharing with Alicia that being able to call her up and walk spontaneously the way we were doing hit the spot for me. Anytime I feel a sense of satisfaction within, a kind of peaceful, resting inside I know I've hit the spot. It's like smiling inside.

I came inside thinking about how we're told often covertly what will hit the spot for us. We're told through advertising what to eat, drink, wear, where to shop and what to buy that will bring us satisfaction. We're so out of contact with our bodies that we don't even know satisfaction. So we eat and eat, buy and buy, drink and drink, sleep and sleep, watch tv and more get the idea.

So I challenge you wherever you are to find what hits the spot for you and feel the sense of your own inner 'ah' of rest, peace and wonder. Imagine that shift.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Exercising the Heart

This morning I decided to forgo my usual walk/run down Natchez Trace in order to spend time at the Cat Shoppe in Berry Hill. I had an ulterior motive. Yesterday I dropped in to buy cat nip, organic cat nip. As I rushed out with my dollar bag of kitty hooch as it's called, my breath was taken by a little long hair tabby only weeks old. I scooped up Buttercup as she looked intensely with her big golden eyes at me. The overhead music system played a song I vaguely recalled. "De ja vue, could you be the girl that I once knew?"

Our gaze locked as I thought, 'Could this be the cat that I once knew?' This kitten looked just like my dear cat of many years, Templeton, who died around this time two years ago. Likewise Buttercup seemed to size me up. Was she wondering if I was the woman she had known?

I didn't have time for this. I had lunch to prepare in less than fifteen minutes and an agenda to keep. I returned Buttercup to her perch and drove home. I could not have a third cat. I had to consider Mystery and Bogey as well as my house.

This morning I knew I had to consider my heart. I decided it would do me good to read the journal I kept through Templeton's sickness and death. Maybe I'd find noted there something that would help me discern why I had met Buttercup. I cried my way through the month of January 2008, actually I sobbed. Yet between blowing my nose and taking my glasses off and on I found gems, one liners, that I had written during that time. Things like: "The animals are here to partner with us yet we take them so for granted" or "The heart is an alchemical vessel in which sorrow is transformed into joy and gratitude."

By the time I read through January, peace settled over me and the clock informed me it was time to quit reading and run. This is how I ended up at The Cat Shoppe. I intended to visit Buttercup during an afternoon break but I knew going through the motions of my morning run would actually be running from my heart and my journey.

Cross the threshold of the Cat Shoppe and one is met by a tribe of greeters. I immediately talked to a calico who rubbed against my leg then began my search for Buttercup. She was snoozing atop the six-tiered perch near the door. I rolled a rubber ball then tossed a tiny, headless stuffed sheep to a fluffy black and white cat while talking with Wesley, a fur ball of a Tabby.

Buttercup finally became curious and let me walk her around the store. All the while I'm trying to discern whether this kitten is my former cat returned.

You see, during Templeton's illness, I talked at length with her about rejoining me after a period of time in 'rehab.' I thought we had found each other when Bogeysattvah showed up the very week I had requested Templeton return. This has since been confirmed as they share so many attributes although she returned a he.

After a lengthy whispered conversation, I finally freed Buttercup feeling certain she wasn't Templeton. It was then I discovered the real reason I needed to go to the Cat Shoppe.

As I interacted with these dear animals, I realized I was exercising my heart. I felt love, connection and delight and I knew the cats did too.

How is it we make time to exercise our physical bodies, but we don't consciously exercise our hearts? We focus on the exterior and neglect the interior. How is it we relegate exercising our hearts to Valentines which monetarily benefits florists, Hallmark and sellers of all things heart-shaped, red, pink and chocolate? We exercise our hearts by showing love on birthdays, paying respects at funerals and by purchasing gifts at Christmas.

We are built for so much more. Research shows the heart has an electromagnetic field 5,000 greater in strength than the field produced by the brain. This field not only permeates every cell in our body, but can also be measured up to ten feet away with detectors called magnetometers.* We are built for love and its emotional kin.

I am so grateful Buttercup got my attention as I rushed past her. She was serendipitously a partner and I paid attention. Seeing her see me prompted me to reread my journal and in turn exercise my heart through grieving which allowed me to alchemically turn sorrow into peace and joy.

Animals offer us love unconditionally. They are as I realized two years ago partners with us yet we neglect them so. We neglect them because we unknowingly neglect ourselves.

I returned home and walked straight to Mystery and Bogey entwined with each other in their favorite chair. I got down on my knees, placed my hands on them and apologized. Yes, I apologized for our collective ignorance, fear and greed through the ages and what we've done to the cat family through the killing of cats in the Roman coliseums in the name of entertainment, to their deaths during witch hunts here and abroad and the continued hunting of lions and cats as big game by some men who have yet to learn hunting does not make one truly potent.

I exercised my heart and in so doing hopefully exercised the quantum or collective heart of human and animal kind.

How have you exercised your heart today?
* For more on new info about the heart click on HeartMath.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse

Friday, January 15, 2010

Let's Get Engaged

Recently over an unexpected dinner with friends, I asked the person across from me if he played piano daily. His response was an enthusiastic, "I can't imagine not playing every day." He spoke of the peace he experiences when he's lost in making music, how at times he's transported to another realm.

I had two thoughts. I wondered aloud as to how many people really have a passion or pursuit that they can't imagine not doing daily. I also confessed that I don't feel about my craft, writing, the way he feels about his.

Think about it. What in your life can you imagine not getting to experience every day even if just for fifteen minutes?

As our conversation continued, we talked about the role television and computers have played over the years in lessening our sense of true engagement with life. I say true engagement because I don't consider reacting and arguing as often happens in political goings-on as real engagement. Instead we fall prey to sound bites delivered by opposing sides invested ultimately in our not thinking for ourselves. I just heard Americans spend an average of five hours watching television daily. Isn't this called engaging one's butt with the sofa rather than one's heart and mind with life?

I fell asleep that night pondering engaged living. I awoke the next morning thinking of those past and present who inspire us to aspire to living fully engaged. Anthropologist Margaret Meade was actually the first person who crossed my mind. I've heard Jean Houston say Margaret lived with an attitude of expectancy. It seems she brought into her life whatever she needed at the time because she simply expected to receive not unlike the Biblical directive: Ask and you shall receive.

While making note of this, I came across a scrap of paper on which I had recently scribbled something while watching the Kennedy Center Honors. In recognizing Bruce Springsteen the presenter said Bruce "always empties his tank" in reference to the level of Bruce's giving and living whether he's helping someone, supporting a cause or performing on stage. This is someone who's definitely engaged with living his life.

John Hendricks the Father of Vocalese then crossed my mind. Considered by some the best jazz singer on the planet Mr. Hendricks is known for applying sounds and words to instrumental jazz hits sometimes actually substituting his voice as the instrument.) A couple of years ago I saw Mr. Hendricks in concert. He invited the small crowd in the large venue to come close irregardless of our ticket price. This eighty-something year old man danced and yabba, dippity, bee bopped his way through jazz greats, his body the instrument, never missing a beat. At the concerts end I found myself shaking his hand as he leaned from the stage. Actually he kissed my hand as I in tears thanked him for his performance. I'll never forget what happened next. He said, "I do this because it is good for my heart." What do you do that's good for your heart?
Co opted by drug commercials, many folks today would think Mr. Hendricks was referencing a new cholesterol lowering drug.

Many of the people who came to mind used their musical passion as a doorway to enagement with life. Later the same year while in San Francisco, I serendipitously heard Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt in a benefit at Grace Cathedral for R&B singer Angela Bofill. While entering the church to walk the labyrinth, I noticed a sign outside that read: Santana, Raitt Saturday evening. Tickets inside. I laugh about my limited capacity to recognize bands for 60's and 70's songs but there was no mistaking who these two were and there was no missing them since tickets were only $20.

The following night my friend Vivia and I stood yards from the stage in this magnificent church as Carlos Santana transported us into the musical ethers. It was yet again what was said that impacted me most. Between songs, Santana shared that although he loved making music, his greatest mission was finding ways to be of service to the world. He then challenged each of us to find our particular way of being of service in the world.

These four people as well as my friend Bob challenge me to examine how engaged or disengaged I am with life. I want to have a passion, as Bob does, that I can't imagine not doing daily. I want to wake up each morning and go to bed each night with an attitude of expectancy like Margaret had. I want to be consumed like John with living in such a way that is good for my heart whether my words are dancing across a page or I'm just bee, bop, deesinging in the shower. I want to find my mission in the world as Carlos urged and until and when I do I want to give from the bottomless universe from which Bruce lives and gives.

Think about it. We have these mulit-sensoried bodies, hearts and minds wired for interaction with others and the environment around us. We've the capacity for so much more than we realize. How would your days be different if you lived with an attitude of expectancy, if you intentionally did things that were good for your heart? What would you do that you can't imagine not getting to do daily? How would you and your life be different if you emptied your tank through serving with joy? Your tank would never really empty, would it?

I've struggled with how to end this story because it seems rich with so much to consider. I remind myself I can always reengage it at any time and for now I have at least a fun and thought provoking proposal. What do you say? Let's get engaged.

Imagine the shift if we each became engaged with more fully living our life each day.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse 01/10

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Unexpected Gifts

(For those new to Musings, read the Nov. 18 story for my initial encounter with the earthworm.)

Winter use to be my least favorite season with its cold temps and gray skies. And although I still prefer sunny winter days, an inner shift has allowed me to come to experience Winter as the perfect time for reflection and turning inward. Reflecting is what I've been doing as I scan journals from the 2000's as well as read the many notes taken in 2009. It's in this looking back, that I realize the gifts I cherish most from the past year.

Just last week I called a relative to confirm her zip code. I had forgotten that in her Christmas card I had tucked a couple of my "Musings." Her first words were, "I got your stories." I was suddenly so excited. My excitement was short lived when she added: "Now you have to write about our happy times together."

I was speechless at first, then I semi-lied. I told her I had written of the happy times which was true to a degree, they just weren't related to the holidays. Okay, I lied. After which she said, "You write really well but you made me sad" in reference to the story about holiday losses. I didn't know what to say. So instead of just honestly saying to my aunt, "I don't know what to say" I stiffly replied that good writing evokes many emotions. Why is it that saying the truth never crosses my mind in the moment when I need it to? Does that ever happen to you?

I lied to my relative and a split second after hanging up realized the amazing gift this woman on my family tree gave me. Suddenly I knew why I've always felt like a mutant, why I've felt so disconnected and different. I am a feeler. I feel deeply and know that when I shut off feeling sadness, anger or fear I also shut off feeling joy. I quit feeling alive because I'm emotionally turned off and thus tuned out. I am a feeler who grew up in a tribe of people whose language allowed happiness. My question is: Is it happiness or faux happiness when that's the main feeling allowed?

Suddenly I knew one of the reasons I felt so much sadness throughout childhood and why none of the adults ever knew of that sadness. On some level I knew even as a kid they wouldn't know my language if I shared it, that if I were found crying I would be told not to because they would sincerely not know what to do with me...not realizing when someone's sad you really don't have to do anything, it's just about being with them in their sadness.

I also realized a great portion of my sorrow was connected to the generational unexpressed sorrows in my extended family. I come from people of great heart, people who care deeply about others and one another. Yet they are people who do not use their voices to speak what was really true for them emotionally and to own their experience. Ah, there's that 'don't say what's true' thing again.

My aunt's comment birthed a cascade of thoughts related to my heart and emotional self in my family and this world.

The other gift that's been given me in 2009 showed up repeatedly through various people, events and animals. In November I chronicled my encounters with earthworms on morning walks. These encounters didn't cease. Even two weeks before the brutal cold, I continued to find a dead earthworm on the sidewalk during my morning walks. Each time I found one, I'd place it as close to Mother Earth as I could pushing aside the grass and leaves and bless it with a moment of silence. I found the last one just prior to Christmas. Still alive but looking as if it too was about to die, I debated whether to place it in the grass too. Immediately I knew I was to hold it. If it was going to die, I would ensure it didn't die alone.

Bearing witness to this tiny worm touched me so. Before burying it, I opened my palm to look at it one last time. It was in the exquisite shape of an ear. It was gifting me with a reminder to 'listen.' I was giving the earthworm the gift of presence in its passing and it in turn gifted me and reminded me of the gift I gave myself this past year, the gift of listening.

This "gift" first showed up a few years ago when I heard, "Learn French." I was somewhere random when this audible thought zipped through me that said: "Learn French." I thought this odd and forgot about it until I was walking out of a friend's office. As I opened the door to leave, she said, "Wait, I'm being told to tell you to learn French." My heart jumped and I suspect I looked quizzically because she said, "I don't know who's telling me to tell you this, but I'm hearing, 'Tell her to learn French.' The gift reappeared. This time I at least browsed bookstore shelves and bought a cd series for learning French - a series which yes, I never used.

Months passed and one day while walking past a neighbor's house she came out to visit. Midst conversation, she said, "I've been meaning to ask you. Have you ever thought of learning French?" The above tale came tumbling out and she asked if I'd consider taking a local five-day intensive course in French with her.

We signed up and in a few short months I was sitting in a classroom for the first time in years, the only participant I think to have not had any foreign language but Southern English. I was surprised at how easily another language came to me. I didn't want it to end.

This was the summer of 2008. It took me nearly two years to follow the Voice I had clearly heard but I finally learned some French then closed that chapter or so I thought. For later in the year, I received a brochure from an acquaintance inviting me to join her and other women on a trip to France to many of the sites of the Black Madonnas. Despite the fact that I didn't know who the Black Madonna actually was I knew I had to go on this trip because one of the brochure's cover photos was of a place I had seen in repeated dreams years ago. Upon further reading, it appeared I would actually be in the medieval village on the side of a mountain from my dreams for my 50th birthday.

I looked at Jerry and said, "I can't leave you for my 50th" to which he replied, "I think you have to." So this past year, I turned 50 in France. I awoke in LePuy, visited Conques for a few hours and ended up in Rocamadour all in one day, the day I came into this world.

In looking back on the year, it now occurs to me that I gave myself the gift of listening and finally following what I heard and knew, knew not in a rational way, but in a deep, visceral, soulful, body way. I've often said that my GPS is my body for when I'm truly on the path that's charted specifically for me I am at home in my body. Sometimes 'at home' is a deep inner knowing in my core at other times it means being covered in goosebumps and at other times it's crying with tears of deep joy or sorrow.

Listening and following revealed what it feels like to be at home inside myself. Listening and following took me to the Grand Canyon three weeks after returning from France. I thought I was off my rocker when I found myself telling a friend in New York that I'd hike with her ten miles into the Grand Canyon and sleep on the ground four nights. I had never slept on the ground more than two nights and that was in my twenties. I had certainly never hiked ten miles in 100 degree heat.

Listening didn't mean I didn't question. I thought myself a bit crazy as well as financially irresponsible and wondered what people would think of me suddenly traveling so much. A couple of weeks prior to leaving for France, I sat in my chair and told the Universe/God/Spirit that I needed a sign as to whether to make canyon trip. I forgot about asking and got on with my day only to be startled by how quickly my request was answered. I booked a flight West and after France met Karen with whom I hiked into Havasu Canyon and Supai, the village where the Havasupai still live.

It was after this trip that I heard yet again about the gift I was being offered. While hiking out of the canyon, a local man sitting trail side asked us to sign a postcard to the Environmental Secretary asking that uranium mining be discontinued on Native American grounds because the process contaminates the underground water. Supai as we learned he was called began walking with us. At some point before parting, he gave Karen a flier about an upcoming event. After Supai walked away, my friend looked at the flier and said, "This flier says, 'Contact Bucky Preston.' I wonder if Bucky Preston is his real name?" We walked on knowing we had a long, hot hike ahead of us.

Three days later in the Flgastaff museum at the Hopi Festival I felt compelled to go to the museum bookstore. I had only browsed momentarily when I heard a man behind me say to another, "I want you to meet Bucky Preston." I immediately turned thinking I'd see Supai when instead I saw another Native American man with a small frame standing nearby. After the two other men walked away I introduced myself to Mr. Preston and shared how I had heard of him while walking out of the canyon.

Mr. Preston shared a portion of his story, how he's known as a spiritual runner who grew up on one of the Hopi Mesa's and still lives there although he travels (often running hundreds of miles) to call attention to what's occurring to Native lands through coal and uranium mining.

My mind raced trying to figure out why I was meeting this man in such a synchronistic way. Being a connector, I wondered with whom I was suppose to help him connect. My mind went into overdrive and I never actually figured out why I met Bucky Preston until recently.

You see Mr. Preston offered me a gift that day personally that I finally got while holding the earthworm in my hand. In our brief interaction, he looked at me and said, "Most people don't know how to listen. We aren't quiet or patient. We must be patient and listen." (This is one of the things I found noted in my journal from July.)

Mr. Preston offered me such a gift. It is the gift I've been given all along.....messages through listening to my intuition and my body, through others, the animals and nature. But I've not done a very good job of listening. I take that back. I listen, but I don't follow through as quickly as I aspire to.

It appears I had grand adventures in 2009, but it was and still is the inner experience in my travels that was most important. It was and is the willingness to listen to my inner landscape that I value most. This landscape within us interfaces with the outer world constantly whether we're at home or work, the grocery or the gym. If I had been tuned in and listening while talking with my aunt I could have easily said to her: I don't know what to say.

In this moment, I know what to say. It's harder to practice than say, but I pass along to you the gift given me this summer by Bucky Preston: Listen. Learn how to listen. Learn how you listen. Learn how you keep yourself from listening. Learn how messages come to you.....and I don't mean via the news. Really take the time to hear what you're being offered through nature, others, your intuition and however you think of God, Goddess or Spirit.

- Dawn ! The Good News Muse 1/201

* Bucky Preston also coordinates the "Water is Life" run a 30 mile run in its 6th year on the traditional Hopi Trails bringing attention to the areas water that's threatened esp. by mining practices. Last year over 250 people participated. This years event is Sept. 11, 2010. For info go to:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Green in the "Dead" of Winter - Clues from Food

I love how food provides clues as to the deeper mysteries of life. Last night while washing Swiss chard one of those mysteries jumped right out at me. There in the strainer I was met by a tree, a beautiful tree of green with a red trunk and branches. The green, the color of growth, reminded me of leaves each Spring as well as the heart chakra or energy center of our bodies. The brilliant red reminded me of the vessels transporting blood throughout our amazing bodies.

How perfect that here in the dead of winter, as I've heard it called, Swiss Chard reminds me we are anything but dead. We are alive, vibrant beings with the capacity to replenish ourselves cellularly and energetically through the foods we eat, the thoughts we think and the vibration we hold in our hearts and being.

Everything is alive. Everything is coded, especially in nature where it's available to be experienced when we see and hear deeply and imaginatively.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse

Gifting One Another - How I Spent My Christmas Eve

I couldn't let the Holiday Season truly end without sharing one last related story. Oftentimes on Christmas Eve we go to the Green Hills mall, not to stimulate the economy but in search of happiness. Yes, armed with a couple of gift cards from a coffee shop sometimes local and other times Starbucks, we go in search of happy people. This year we took our two favorite girls with us, nine and nearly six year old Ella and Lily.

The only prerequisite required of winners is a smile, one that's not the result of an interaction either from greeting us in our Santa hats or talking with someone in person or on a cell phone. The person has to appear genuinely happy over the course of our somewhat stalking them around the mall.

AS soon as we entered the mall, we noticed our first "smiler," a woman driving a motorized cart with a pleasant expression on her face. Determined to not give a gift card away too quickly, we took a group vote and began our search officially.

Actually we walked and stalked for when we found a potential happy person we tailed them for a while checking the longevity of their smile. We followed a half dozen folks at most for as Ella noted it seemed only the women were slightly happy and there were only four or five happy women at that. True to Christmas Eve's past when we've done this, most folks are sullen and serious. As we stalked the few candidates found, the woman in the motorized cart appeared often and yes, she always had what I would call a soft, gentle smile. Was she truly happy to be alive on what for many adults is the most pressure-filled, tense day of the year as food's prepared, gifts are readied and families anticipated?

As the woman entered a store, we sat on a bench to eat See's candy samples and continue our search. This was how we found our first winner. Unsuspecting shoppers passed our watchful eyes, a few we had seen previously including an African American woman with a friend and children. They stopped nearby as we watched. After an eventual unanimous vote in her favor, Ella gave the woman the gift card and explained what we were doing. The woman opened her arms wide enveloping Ella in a bear hug.

We then followed our initial candidate as she came out of the store and moved through the mall down a hall to the elevator. Not wanting to loose her, we got on the elevator too. I inquired as to the pins on the front of her cart, many which were connected we learned to her military career as a Master Sergeant in the Air Force where she worked on jet aircraft and computers.

Getting off the elevator, the four of us discretely traded affirmative nods, signaling that this woman was a winner. Lily gave her the card as we explained our search for happy people. Our small token or gift of acknowledgment was nothing compared to the gift we were given.

Our new friend, Corina, shared that she was extremely happy to be alive because this time last year she had throat cancer and didn't know if she would live. She spoke of how cancer had taught her to not only appreciate life, but to appreciate and take better care of her body. I choked back tears listening to Corina's story. It was beautiful as was the spirit shining through her.

I awoke this morning thinking about the teaching 'moment' we lost not talking with Ella and Lily later about happiness being found in enjoying life rather than in material possessions. Then I realize they each in their own way 'got it' probably better than if I had gone off on a long Aunt Dawn lecture of sorts.

Upon taking them home, the first thing Ella told her mom wasn't about the many little gifts they had unwrapped under our tree, but the story of the woman at the mall.

Lily on the other hand presented me with a metaphor I'm still absorbing. As the girl's visit concluded, Lily decided she wanted to become a present for her mother. In seconds, a roll of paper, some tape and scissors, transformed Lily into a gift that walked down the street and up the steps to ring the doorbell.

It wasn't until this morning that I realized the deeper beauty in Lily's gift. The best gifts aren't found in stores at the Mall. The best gifts are found in each of us. We are gifts to one another as we share our presence, not just during the holidays but throughout the year. And as Corina's story so beautifully shows, the best gifts are found in the deep joy of being alive or as I experienced on my morning's walk the joy of warm sun on my face in 20 degree weather and the smile of a friend as I stopped in for a quick hello. (And yes, I wore a smile mindful of Corina's smile that day in the mall.)

These are the gifts we give and are given each and every day we live. Children get 'it' while we as adults repeatedly have opportunities to get 'it.' Personally I get 'it then loose 'it' but gratefully keep getting 'it,' the gift of life through practicing presence.

Practicing presence is part of the shift that makes each moment a gift. Thank you, Lily, Ella, Corina and Life!
- Dawn! The Good News Muse

Saturday, January 2, 2010

God Thumped on my Window - Feathered Love

While writing yesterday morning, a loud thump on the nearby window caused me to cringe. As I feared, a tiny bird lay on the ground below. Without hesitation I grabbed my coat and a small towel. I didn't question rushing out into the frigid air. It was the right thing to do.

I sat on the bench in the cold holding the little bird against my heart uncertain whether it was in shock or dead. I held it while energetically sending it love and saying aloud a blessing for all the birds of the earth. Their presence and song are gifts often missed in life's busyness.

I held the little bird and knew I held love. As warm tears rolled down my cold cheeks it came to me. "I am a Mother. I am a mother to nature. I am a mother to the animals. I am love." This is why years ago in a state park I confronted a guy much larger than me who was throwing rocks at ducks in the lake where we swam. This is why not long ago I wept upon seeing a tiny fawn that had been hit and lay on the roadside. As we buried her, I knew we were returning her to the earth from which she came. This is why I had compassion for the tiny gray mouse found in our basement this summer . Uncertain as to whether it was dying or just digesting all the seed it scarfed down, I placed it in the shade and stroked its little body hoping it would live. When it didn't, it too received a loving burial.

Yesterday though as I held the little bird and loved it, I realized it too was loving me, part of a beautiful picture of reciprocity. This had happened the night prior as we walked in the yard on New Year's Eve. I was drawn to a tree, a tall, leaning tree. I placed my hand on it and said, "I honor you" then clearly heard, "Dawn, I honor you." My heart was touched, tears came as I stood with gratitude by this dear tree.

Memory then took me to this summer when I hiked into the Grand Canyon with a friend. We were preparing to leave after four nights camping in Havasu Canyon near the village of Supai. As Karen finished packing, a lone horse in the nearby coral caught my eye. I walked over hoping to stroke its mane when I realized it had a sore covered in flies on its back. With one hand, I kept flies away and with the other I sent healing energy to the sore while the horse and I gently looked at one another. I thought I was giving this dear animal a gift, and I was, but I in turn was being given a gift. The horse looked me straight in the eye. It was loving me and aknowledging the lover in me.

How often do I think I'm the giver, which we Southern women are skilled at, and in so doing miss the opportunity to receive and allow the other to be the giver?

Life offers both. Life offers both simultaneously, giving and receiving as the little bird was teaching me. I held the bird close and brought it inside. I determined it was important to continuing holding this tiniest of God's creatures while receiving all it had to give and reveal.

The first thing I did not want to notice but couldn't avoid was the quality of stiffness in my arms. No matter how I repositioned myself my arms held a rigidness. I was privately embarrassed. I could not relax into holding love. My discomfort was lessened as I removed the towel and allowed the bird's soft feathered body to touch my palm. I could feel its energy and warmth in my hand. How often have I missed an opportunity to receive because of unacknowledged discomfort or fear?

Next came a memory, the memory of being told my father cried whenever a family pet died. I wasn't witness to this. I wish I had been. He and I were much alike. Another memory followed, that of my sister sitting in the basement of our family home while my dog Duchess passed. I was in college, navigating such aloneness at the time, aloneness I shared with no one. I'm grateful my sister's presence allowed Duchess to navigate her life's end while sharing her aloneness.

I held the little bird and was reminded of the many times in the past two weeks of holiday hurriedness that I heard the birds singing outside and how each time hearing them made me smile inside. I thought of my parents, both of whom loved birds and how I still enjoy my mother sharing the goings-on at her feeders.

I held the little bird until 'class' was over. Now I am to digest what I was taught. The little bird died.

Under the moonlight we buried it then sprinkled remnants of beauty I wanted to release it on the first day of the New Year. Not only do I love the Earth, I collect it. At times I think I horde it. Over the grave, I sprinkled bits of earth from the little church in Chimayo outside Santa Fe where many go for healing, rose petals from my father's grave (who died four years ago this morning), red maple leaves from our yard, a smooth stone from the Oregon coast and a few hairs from Templeton my cat.

God or whomever you think of in a God/Spirit/Creator/Goddess/Life Force way thumped on my window. Now I realize the thump was more like a knock, a knock on my heart's door, a knock offering me a choice, a choice to extend myself and open my heart to the little bird lying on the ground or get busy, doing things called 'important'. I choose what for me was important.

Welcoming Life in feathered form, holding love in my hands showed me the love I Am. Welcoming Life in feathered form, holding love in my hands, showed me the love in another.
Welcoming Life in all its forms opens us to who we really are. - Love, Dawn