The winter air was still, icy. More silent than usual. The only sound; my boots crunching in the snow.  Then I heard it. A scratching, a dry leaf rattle. I looked, and there on the white ground a red tailed squirrel, head in the snow, feet frantically scratching the brown leaves under the snow. It pulled out an acorn and ran up the dry limbs of a bush.

There, hunched over against the cold and with its tail wrapped, shawl like, over its back and looking like a mohawk on top of its head, it peeled the nut, dropping shells onto the snow. It worked its magic till finally it nourished itself on the nut.

When winter comes in our souls, we sometimes need to dig deep to find nourishment. When the icy wind of disappointment or betrayal freezes our hearts, we find it hard to get under the soul’s hardened ground to something that would nourish our hope. Fear piles up like snow over  the heart’s vulnerable membrane and we can’t find courage to move forward.

So, we have dig deep. We know life will wither in the winter if we do not dig through the cold and find the food that is hiding under the dead leaves of fall. The ground of our being harbors life in its dark and frozen soil. There are tastes of light, whispers of hope, scents of love. They may be small and hard-shelled, but when we take time to look, when we take time to unwrap them, they will give is enough to get through till the thaw comes. 


Sometimes it is just a picture. The winter sky chills. The sun, shrouded by faded, feathery clouds, struggles to do it's heating best. But, alas, to no avail. The frigid north wind reaches its icy fingers into the atmosphere and rips sun's spreading light. 

I watched this unfolding sky with fascination and curiosity. I was so overwhelmed with its contrasts and  the cloud's solar runway that I couldn't erase it from my mind. But, thoughts about it's meaning would not come unstuck so I could write them. So, today, it is just a picture for your reflection.


Where we live it is hard to see the stars. Outside our door I look up and there are only a few stars. I can see the big dipper by looking at the bright stars and drawing a line in my mind between them.

The problem is light pollution. Ambient light and humidity limits what I can see. Only the brightest stars are visible in the city.

But when I come to the sea and stare out into the black night, the sky is a cacophony of stars. I don’t see just a few stars, but see millions. I see what we used to call the Milky Way. It is a ribbon of glitter across the canvas of black.

And I also see the black spaces beyond. I know that there are trillions of stars, the light of which has not yet reached our eyes. And beyond that dark, I know there are thousands of galaxies made up of trillions of more stars.

These stars are like the stories of our lives.

There are a few stories we tell ourselves that make up how we know who we are. They are often stories that shine bright in our memory. They may be stories of sharp pain, trauma, ecstasy, love, achievement, betrayal, shock. These stories form our identity.

But, beyond the few bright stories we tell are thousands, yea millions of events that make up the galaxies of our lives. There are stories of subtle care, of tender touches we take for granted, of kindnesses that embrace us, of fears that haunt us. There are stories of smiles from strangers, of snuggles from grandchildren, of quiet silence with lovers. We are more than trauma, more than the bright stories we tell. 

And sometimes when we are driven out of the light of our lives and into the black night of our souls we remember those stories. We open ourselves to the fullness of our lives when the ambient light of normalcy fades and we are staring into the abyss of a dark and unknown future.

When you wonder about who you are, take time to listen to the quiet stories of your life. Allow new constellations to be formed and draw new lines of connection between those stories. Chances are, you will discover that your life is much richer and fuller than you might have thought.


It was early this morning.  Valentines Day.  Cool for Florida but pleasant for us Northern types.  I was taking my daily hike.  Only a few fellow hikers.

And on this day I saw love on the beach. There they were.  A man and a woman. Two children—twins(?) maybe 3 years old. Curley hair, brown skin.  The Daddy took each in turn, held their feet up and they walked on their hands to the edge of the surf.  He then lifted them up, tossed them into the air and caught them.  They squealed with delight. “Do it again.  Do it again Daddy.”

I applauded and shared a moment of delight with these children. They may not remember this day when they get older but love will be in their flesh as their parents spend time loving their kids on the beach.

Further down the beach I heard a small plane. I looked into the bright blue sky and saw a bright yellow Cessna. It was dragging a sign behind it.  The sign read, “Erika Will You Marry Me?”
I looked ahead of me and there were a couple kissing.  A little girl stood and watched. The woman and man then took out their cell phones and took a picture of the plane as it circled out over the water. As I got closer the woman jumped up and down screaming with delight.  I went over, applauding.  She was grinning from ear to ear holding up a shiny ring and showing the little girl.  She said to me, “He’s crazy—an airplane.” 

I applaud crazy love in all its forms. Parents with children, commitment of lovers.  This love on the beach made my heart sing as I smiled my way down the beach.



Valentine cards. Never quite right. Words never capture the sentiment.

So, I sit by the sea. And my mind remembers a line from Pablo Neruda , “Give us this day our daily fish.” (Ode to the Sea)

And as I sit and ponder Pablo’s prayer and how hard it is to capture love in words, I write my own lines:

The sea, like love, is relentless.
It comes close and then fades away.
It returns to its source and then again, the sand.

Sometimes its dangerous, wild and unpredictable.
Sometimes calm, giving and forgiving.
Pressing in, paying attention.
Backing off, running from shore, hiding in itself.

It is mostly deep and unknowable
But surfaces to share a moment of furious foam.
In its depths it cradles unique treasures
To tease us with their scent on the surface of the sea.

It is courageous, pounding its chest 
And then holds its breath, waiting.
Expansive it swallows ships and souls, 
And then it salt-waters each creature with life.

On the horizon the sea touches the sky
And with a ribbon of green blue
Weds infinite space to finite sand.

Love, like the sea, cannot be contained.
It can be experienced and described, but never captured and held.
We glimpse its gifts, taste its offering, and rest in its song.
And we wait for a taste, a scent, to feed our hungry heart.

Maybe love, like the sea, is always there,
Eternal ebb and flow.
Maybe it offers its gifts in glimpse and whisper,
And we must but notice and let it in.

Pablo Neruda says, “Give us this day our daily fish.” I say, “Thank you for our daily love.”