When describing his beloved Sierra Nevada (and I assume the outdoors in general), John Muir once said, “everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” As both my illness and age have advanced, I have taken these words to heart. Whether I choose to turn to the Pacific’s ocean waves, the rolling hills of wine country or the majesty of the mountains, nature and all it holds~its peace, its life, even its stories~is a medicine like no other.
On occasion I go to visit the Sequoias in the Sierra. These are known as the largest trees on earth, different from their more slender brothers and sisters on this state’s north coast, known as the world’s tallest. It amazes me how this one state, this one spot in this one country, is the only place on earth these living beings call home; where so many things had to unfold just right to make their existence possible.
On my last visit I came upon a baby barely three feet tall, overcome with morning rain on its bright green, yearning, yet overburdened branches; like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree bending under the weight of a too heavy glass Christmas ball. And then I looked around to see its relatives, hundreds of feet tall and for some of them thousands of years old; mere babies in the time of Christ, or when other great civilizations existed. A profound reminder that my time here, our time, is a mere blip in this vast scheme of life; but also a reminder of a different sort. One of opportunity, faith, hope, miracles and perseverance.
If you are lucky enough to call California home, or are lucky enough to ever visit, take some time to see the Sequoias of the Sierra Nevada, or the taller and equally as majestic redwoods of the north coast. You will never view this earth, its wonders, and even yourself the same way again.
Your very flesh shall be a great poem.
These seven or so weeks of 2015, unexpectedly, have been some of the most challenging of my life.
The monotony of doctors’ words. Too many days in bed. Friends, or people who I thought were friends, slipping away. All of it like kerosene on this fire.
I mend and break, then mend and break again.
And I mend.
As the rest of the country freezes, I look outside and see spring’s prelude; with temperatures unusually high, my daisies and tulips are emerging from their sleep ~ a reminder that while my mind, body and world will sometimes descend into a cold darkness, life truly is a faithful cycle of pause and renewal. Nature must regularly slow and endure the necessity of repose, and we do the same. With the gift of new chances and joy awaiting us on the other side.
In my few moments of light, when my mind and body are clearer, I create. I am painting. I am working on my novel again. I am doing calligraphy. My camera is no longer buried in my spare room. I look down at my hands and see paint and ink where perfect red polish used to be in my healthy days. And I love it, for how my priorities have changed and how free and new it makes me feel. And this is how I know, while few in number, the moments of light fiercely outweigh the dark ones.
And yes, while my heart has recently felt the wound of disappointment and lost friendship, I want to express my never-ending gratitude and love for my gorgeous mom and amazing husband, who continue to hold me up in miraculous ways. And to my amazing friend D, whose inspiration and belief in my talent and potential have never wavered in the face of my worst days. All three of you, and others I cherish as well, faithfully remind me of the love, bliss, peace and blessings that remain a constant. It isn’t always easy for me to see it.
“Thank you” feels so painfully inadequate.
Thank God for you.
Have a blessed weekend, everyone.