It was a beautiful day. The sun angled her morning light—trees casting shadows across the new fallen snow. The temperature had risen to a balmy 25 degrees—a veritable heat wave! More birdsongs drifted over the unmarked snow.

My heart was here—present—slave to the moment—absorbed. My soul sang with joy at the world of wonder that enveloped me.

And then I notice something. The picnic tables, snow laden and waiting, seemed to huddle together as if they were talking. They seemed to be in a winter convention, telling stories of better, less lonely days. They were remembering butts sitting on their benches, elbows leaning on their tops, chicken-fry crumbs staining their wood. 

And they seemed anxious for warmer days when snow would disappear and children would play around their legs while adults sat and spun stories into the air. They longed for the crowds of people, all nationalities, coming to share food and fun in the open spaces.

How is it that I created this fantasy? After all, I was so connected to the icy moment of sun and snow. Joy in the morning light had so overwhelmed me and here I was creating a table convention about warmer weather.

I think we are such complex and interesting creatures. We can celebrate the present with complete absorption—fully present to the world as it is—and at the same time lean into longing for a day that lies un-lived before us. At the same time winter wows us spring seduces us.

What an amazing thing to live this human journey!


Some days my hike finds me lulled to a meditative zone by the gentle arms of mother nature. Clothed in multi-textured, subtly-shaded green gown, her warm breath calms my rattled mind. She holds me in her sanctuary of summer.

But, lately, she has been rehearsing for a new role.  She has been trying on shades of red and gold. She has been drying the leaves for their autumn concert on what is called the “peak” week-end.

Today mother nature began her peak week-end by dancing  a joyful symphony of color.  Reds, golds, mauves, yellows, rusty greens, ragged browns. High in the trees the leaves clap their hands as pre-winter winds whisper through their arms and fingers. The leaves glided and pirouette into the still stream. The leaves lingered this year as the rainy summer has secured them in place long enough to intensify in their shifting colors.

I walk the trails and my boots provide the cadence. The drying leaves under my feet sound like the brush on the symbol or the snare drum. This season mother nature is not in the  business of being a cradle for me to mull my thoughts so I can write them in a blog. Today she is shouting, “LOOK AT ME—LISTEN TO ME—MY SOUL IS JOY AND I AM DRESS TO PARTY.”

I sat on a bench beside the trail looking and listening. A man in shorts and a ball cap with a gray pony tail sticking out the back of his head strolled by and said to me, “It’s hard not to smile today, isn’t it?”

Yup! A smile is about all that seems adequate—and a whispered “Thank you” to mother nature’s autumn concert of joy.



One who can't see with his eyes can certainly help those of us who have eyesight see more clearly.  In her artical "Light without sight" (Christian Century, April 2, 2014) Barbara Brown Taylor introduced us to a French resistance fighter who was imprisoned by the Nazis. Jacques Lusseyran, in his book, And there Was Light shared how he could see light when he went blind. According to Dr. Taylor, "one of his greatest discoveries was how the light he saw changed with his inner condition. When he was sad or afraid the light decreased at once. Sometimes it went out altogether, leaving him deeply and truly blind."

When it gets really dark in our lives, it is hard to see where we are going. Fear of loss narrows our world and swallows light. When we fill in the unknown future with anxiety that tomorrow will not work out well, we become afraid. It is hard to make decisions about moving forward because we have trouble figuring out what the consequences of decisions might be. If we are too anxious that they will be bad, we will narrow our world, moving forward tentatively and haltingly.

But Barbara Brown Taylor then said, "When he (Jacques) was joyful and attentive it [the light] returned as strong as ever. He learned very quickly that the best way to see the inner light and remain in its presence was to love." The Bible puts it this way, "Perfect love casts out fear." Love of life, love of others, paying attention to the joys and pains of others, reduces our fear. Paying attention to our own strength, our own courage, our own resiliency, can give us the energy to step forward into the unknown without as much fear to hold us back and drain our strength. 

Why does love help reduce fear. Because love is the connecting spirit that helps us know that we are not alone. Love is what binds us to each other so that when our hearts weaken, we know that others are there to share our journey with us. Love is that which overcomes our isolation and enables us to live in the strength of shared time and space.

So take it from one who can't see with his eyes. Love your way into the light. It is better than shrinking in fear.