Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An "Important" Reminder...

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

On my way out the door to the woods far too early this morning, the phone rang.  Reluctantly I answered.  It was "business".  Something "important" to do, more than one something actually.  With a sigh, I "had to" stay. 

Before long, the computer froze.  I had to restart it.  Then I found myself printing and printing and printing the same "important thing" multiple times, a form to fill out by hand.  My hand wasn't working so well, so I had to redo it.  And redo it.  And redo it.  And redo it.  (About 6 times of redoing!  And each time, I had to reprint it again.) After enough "important" iterations, the printer jammed and stopped altogether.

We can choose to let "the important" be told to us.  Or we can choose to decide what is actually The Important.

The instant I decided I needed to leave, the printer cleared, and within just a few minutes, the form was completed and sent.  There was another task waiting, something also "important".

I left anyway. 

I stood by the stream a long while.  There is only one place where I find my way down to the stream.  It's not a spectacular view there, not particularly.  Most people pass the spot without even looking, as you can't see the water at all from the trail.  I could sit there for hours, listening and listening...some views are meant to be heard more than seen.  And the more that you hear, the more that you see...

As I "listened" today, something came through....out of the blue, there it was...the very thing left undone...I wrote it by the stream, no printer required, "office space" provided by Earth, Unincorporated, on lease in a far different sort of a way.

Breathing again, I took to the trail, the weight of "the important" so very much lifted, the knowing of what is truly Important made abundantly clear....We often forget, but The Important reminds us.

Near the river, I saw her, a bit in the distance.  

The woman with a walker.  

A companion patiently, cheerfully walked along by her side.  At least a half a mile in, bundled up for the cold, what appeared to be a very old woman made her way step by step, her walker miraculously sound on a path filled with rock.

It seemed I wasn't "late" after all, my walk perfectly timed.

We so often think we must rush our way through our lives, "the important" stealing our very best moments away.  We don't need to rush.  Our Hearts know the pace.  We are fully supported every step of the way.

In the forest I stopped off the path to do some more "work".  And then I heard laughter winding its way through the trees.  There she was with her mother - a child of no more than three, joyously stomping through golden leaves at her feet.  I imagined her bringing smiles to the woman with the walker, this dear lady it seems not yet making it to the woods.

Losing track of the time by the river, I eventually got to the end of the trail.  Guess who was sitting on a bench at the viewpoint?  The woman with the walker, enjoying her lunch.  She looked to be in her mid-80's at least!  Young, old and everywhere in between, we had chosen together on this unusually cold day.

Life is astonishing if we allow it to Be.  We can choose to hear and see Beauty, breathe as much as we can, every day, every moment, from beginning to end.  Today I was reminded of what's truly Important.  (Yes, perhaps next time I'll take along my lunch too!)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Finding Lost...

"Not all those who wander are lost." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." ~ John Muir

I wandered a completely unfamiliar series of trails early this morning with a wonderful friend I hadn't walked with before.  

It was as if everything conspired to ensure we would have no maps to follow.  When we arrived at our destination (slightly lost on our way there), a rather large group of young people persisted around the map, cigarette smoke unpleasantly filling the air.  We both decided not to linger and headed down a trail.

It turned out to be a loop, fully paved, and although we still didn't exactly know where we were going, our path quickly brought us back to exactly where we began.

So we chose yet another trail, this one all dirt and far more promising, still with no idea of where we might be heading, and perfectly happy with that.  It was a park in the city after all - how "lost" and how "far" could you actually get?  But when that city is Portland, Oregon and its very near outskirts, what one might consider "city" is quite beautifully redefined.

I don't get into "the city" very often, and definitely not on its trails, as I usually walk in what really is "the country".  So this was a bit of a new adventure for me. 

The next trail was somewhat wilder, as wild as these trails tend to go, perfect really, winding through wonderfully wooded hillsides.  There were plenty of people on it.  We chose a couple branches here and there, each with promising names about forests and trees, names I now have completely forgotten.

Eventually after a few miles, we ended up by a road, on a paved trail again, anticipating breakfast.  We saw just the sign we were looking for, surely right next to the place we had started. But it wasn't at all where we thought it was, as we walked just outside the park by homes tucked into the hillsides.  

We resorted to our phones, which weren't working so well, not really overly concerned, just now realizing we were "lost".  When our phones managed to work, they weren't very helpful, except to tell us we weren't really where we were supposed to be.  

Soon we came upon a couple women (and at the very least, 4 friendly dogs) who knew exactly where we were and where we needed to be.  We had misread a sign and gone the opposite direction.

Joy existed in every direction because we chose to be free, 5 or so miles of it, fully earning a wonderful breakfast at a place neither of us knew.  

Some might say we were "lost" from the very beginning, but "lost" is precisely what we wanted to find.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Escape from Monday

"There is no race if the rats refuse to run." 
~ Origin uncertain, attributed to R. Amiton

There it was, out of place yet very much in place, an office building towering over the suburban trail.

So engaged I was in the midst of discovery, so focused on the beautiful beyond, I didn't even see it sneak up on me to one side.  This was yesterday...

Today I walked the trail again.  This time it was very much apparent on a sunny Monday morning, expected as it was.  Remembering another life of mine, I wondered how many eyes shrouded by darkened windows wistfully watched.  How many had watched even on Sunday?

What had they traded to sit there, day after day after day, at the shaded windows with a view? 

What might they trade to be free?

On my walk back, casually playing with shadows, I saw the narrow path.

A few, just a few, had apparently managed a lunchtime escape.

But is that really enough?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

To truly embrace freedom, we must first release our fear of it...

I saw the moth immediately first thing this morning above my kitchen sink.  Alternating between resting and frantically throwing itself against my window, it clearly knew the sight of freedom but not the route to get there.  Some would choose to let it be or even kill it.  I immediately chose to set it free.  

Opening the window screen can be a rather complicated thing, so that I didn't attempt.  Instead I did what we always do with the occasional bug or spider we find.  I set about capturing it in a cup.

I caught it right away, and I even thought to write about it later, pondering this Independence Day.  How so often we see freedom, see an illusive (and elusive) way to get there, but the real route is something we can't even begin to know.  Liking the sound of this lesson, while holding the cup in one hand, I grabbed my iPhone in the other, planning to document the journey with a picture. 

Lately, Nature has been attempting to teach me a lesson about my camera.  I love to take pictures out in Nature with my iPhone, a practice that spontaneously skyrocketed all by itself in November (though with deep roots going all the way back to childhood).  It is a sacred practice.  And I have taken well over 3000 in about 8 months.

A couple days ago, I encountered deer on the trail, just as I had the day before.  The day before, I was so hasty to take a picture, I hardly had a chance to enjoy the presence of the deer.  But I got another chance.   The deer appeared again, immediately on the trail before me, astonishingly close, an open invitation in the eyes of one I have come to know.  

"Follow me..."  

I couldn't help but listen, a mystical moment - yet Real - my camera at rest. The deer gently walked around the bend and paused, waiting.  Sacred.  Still.  Magic.  I allowed the moment to BE for as long as it needed to BE.  And then as if by permission...knowing...I snapped a picture, only then...

The deer disappeared right after, as if on cue, and I stopped to immerse myself in one of my favorite groves of trees.  A particular tree caught my attention as the trees often do, the light of the sun on one side, so I did what it is I do and took another picture.

I don't always check the pictures I take right away, but for some reason, I did this time.  What was it I immediately saw?  Magic.  Pure Magic.  Captured on my camera.  The image of the deer as clear as day, even clearer than the picture on the trail, a Magical Presence gazing peacefully in the midst of the Light.  This was the Gift of my sacred forest, which frees my spirit almost every day.

I have since learned this image is rather elusive for the rest of you, but trust me, it is as clear as clear can be.  Keep looking...it is Real.

That was yesterday.

So today, as I carried my frantic friend from Nature in a cup to the door, about to take a picture of the cup in my hand, the moth immediately escaped of course.  Lesson learned.  Again.  Let the camera be.  

Determined, I captured it again in the living room and this time raced to the door.  When the door opened, the moth disappeared so fast, I didn't even see it go.  Free!

Independence Day doesn't always arrive in the way we expect.  As souls, we even choose to trap ourselves to better know what it might look like.  Love will set us free, no matter what the route.  Love sets us free each and every time.

P.S.  Might I mention the doe and two fawns I saw for the very first time today in the meadow by the forest?  This time, I didn't even try to take a picture.  But they surely set my spirit free...

I will be talking about the remarkable picture of the "Light Deer" with the wonderful Tracie Mahan on a radio program she is guest hosting Monday, July 14 at 11 AM Pacific.  Stay tuned for details on FrontierBeyondFear.com.

All photographs copyright Susan Larison Danz, 2014.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Amazing Grace

"Field notes" from my walk this morning....

"Acceptance" can be an active word...one need not accept any sort of consolation prize in this abundantly miraculous world!  Joy...

It has everything to do with your perception of what comes your way...

It is the deeper meaning of Amazing Grace...

It's not salvation we must accept. It is Joy.

It is Love...

Friday, June 6, 2014

"American Veda" author Philip Goldberg leading Saturday workshop

Philip Goldberg, the author of the award-winning book American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West, will be leading a workshop Saturday, 1-4 PM, at The Movement Center.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Philip on my radio program The Frontier Beyond Fear, in which he described a pivotal moment in history when the Beatles went to India in 1968.

Read more on OregonLive.com ...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Wings Are For...

"No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings." ~ William Blake

I was about a mile down the trail when a woman approached, wearing a "California State Parks" jacket.

"Did you see the bald eagle?" she asked, her binoculars in hand.

I never bring my binoculars on my walks anymore. I prefer my Nature the natural way - up close and personal. Why I took the binoculars this morning, I really couldn't say, but in my rush out the door, I just knew I had to grab them.

She was also in a rush. She said she had never been to Oregon, and she had to check out of her hotel soon. But she had heard there were eagles here, so she had made a special stop.

And sure enough, even without binoculars, there it was, quietly sitting on a branch. From the stark jaggedness of where it perched, one might think it was a vulture.

I have seen the eagles before, but not every day. When they fly above my head, it is always a miracle. My life is filled with miracles lately, and eagles seem to follow.

And then the woman had to run. I asked her if she had seen the forest. "No."

My sacred forest is a magical place, somewhat like the entrance into Narnia. It doesn't look like much at first until you wander in. It was not something to be missed, even for 5 minutes. And so she hastened off, eager to stop by the forest, leaving me alone.

This time I needed binoculars. Yes, there it was. The eagle. Still as could be. Always distinctive, always impressive, the white contrasting with the black, without a doubt an eagle. I could have stood there and enjoyed that view for hours. Nothing moved.

I shifted my view to the nest. I had seen it many times, far too distant to make out any real details. But I had my binoculars today. I had listened...

And to my surprise, there it was. The baby eagle appeared in the nest, staying safely inside, yet tentatively stretching out and testing its beautiful wings. It was a kind of an awakening, as if easing into knowing just what wings are for. My eyes filled with tears, understanding...

And then I saw her, on a branch below, yet another. "Are You My Mother?" came to mind, a favorite long ago. Was she guarding? Or showing the way? When would her baby fly?

The moment was sacred, as if frozen in time, until I thought to reach for my camera. By the time I had it ready, the baby was suddenly up on a branch. How did it get there? Did it walk? Did it climb? Did it jump? Or did it Fly? The mother knows...

Look closely....yes, there are 3...this is the best my little phone could do...yet perfect.

Photo Copyright Susan Larison Danz, 2014