Sunday, May 22, 2016


This morning I went paddle boarding. Carrying my board along the path from our house to the water, carefully setting it down to float, stepping onto it's wide body, and pushing off away from the land has become a very spiritual practice for me. When I'm on my board life slows way, way down. The sound of the paddle dipping into the water is a lullaby for my soul. May awareness shifts from anxious thoughts and plans and lists to a place of right here, right now - being in this space of explosive life and meditative stillness.

Today, for whatever reason, I was shaken with the many creatures that call this small body of water home. As I watched the fish swim about, dashing from surprisingly shallow waters and into the deep, I was overcome by this sense of wanting to know their names. All of a sudden it was really, really important to acknowledge who they are.

The other day my daughters were dancing around in princess dresses singing about how beautiful they look. I watched on with expectation. I knew within moments my husband would come around the corner, lift them onto his lap, and ask them what their names mean.

"Sunshine." my eldest replied with a smile. "FLOWER!" yelled out my youngest. My husband nodded in agreement and then told each of them that they were created to bring warmth and kindness and beauty and compassion and color and light to this world. That there is far more to beauty than a dress or sparkles or shoes, although those are fun to explore. That what makes them beautiful is how they respond to injustice and hurt and fear. That their beauty goes far deeper than their skin. It begins in their hearts.

Naming things is an ancient art, one that has grown up with civilization. From our earliest roots, there's been something within us aching to know our name. Needing to understand our place and figure out where we fit in this great expanse of life.

As I paddled around the pond, guiding my board gently along side the reeds, I was aware that everything around me had a name, and with it's name came a place in this world.

I'm learning the more I observe, the deeper I walk into a place where it all matters. Everything has meaning. Watching fish has led me to acknowledge they have a name and existence as important as my own. Watching people has led me to believe we are not all that different. That we each have a name and a light within us and, at the very core, we all want to be seen, to matter, to find our place in the world.

As the wind picked up and rippled away my view, I looked off to the side and found a nest hovering precariously over the water. In it were 4 tiny eggs, white with brown spots. The mama bird hovered nearby, anxiously waiting my decision. Would I watch on quietly or choose to imprint on her life in an unkind way? Would I see first our commonality or respond with carelessness and apathy? Would I live into the meaning of my own name? River. Flowing water, bringing life.

I took one last glance, lifted my paddle, and thought to myself "You are important and good and kind and have a name.You have a place in this life and mine and it's my honor to see you."

Saturday, May 7, 2016


A few weeks ago I found myself at a 4-day anatomy training, away from my kids and traveling solo for the first time in just under nine years. I was all at once anxious and excited, terrified and electrified, wanting to jump all in and drive home as fast I could. It was a very visceral tension of opposites.

I cried when I got there, setting these emotions free and then promised myself to be as present as I could in every moment. There had been days prior to my trip when I fantasied about this time to myself. Time without dishes and laundry and whining and cleaning and the demands that come with having a family. I knew that if I longed for what I'd left at home I would miss my opportunity at what this space could offer and abuse such a beautiful gift.

So I sunk in, allowing my entire being to expand and grow and learn and be challenged.

A couple days in I wandered outside during lunch, found a grassy patch, and planted myself for an hour or so to enjoy the sun and food and quiet. I opened the book I'd been reading and a few paragraphs in realized something was walking across the page. The closer I looked, I noticed many somethings. Somehow I'd been reading the words but completely missed what was actually happening on the page.

I looked on as a tiny round bug made its way across the top of the binding while a yellow one walked up the side and a small ant zigzagged over the words. The more I watched, the more I got this sense that everywhere I looked there was life and wonder. These tiny little micro-balls of atoms were making a life for themselves in the same way that every other living, breathing, pulsing thing does. How did these things, no bigger than a grain of sand, survive? And yet here they were. They do. We do.

At once I was overcome with a sense that I could no longer separate these tiny creatures from myself. That somehow we were related and our survival depended on each other.

Awareness does this. Seeing changes things.

Sometimes I wonder if holy and worship, for me, are found less within a set of walls and more in my choices and responses and actions and the quiet spaces within the world. In the past my tendency would have been to smash these little bugs and move on.

But I really saw them.

For a few brief moments in the space of my life I watch them create their own. They worked and tended and searched and took in air.

For a few brief moments much of our lives looked the same.

These tiny insects were created, like me. To fulfill a purpose and have a place, like me. Were their lives any less precious or unique than my own? To irrevocably take this from something because it was on my book and in my way now seemed like a direct insult to the One who created us both.

Smashing was no longer an option.

That's the thing about life and relationship. This humble ecosystem of plants and bugs and bacteria and dirt that I had sprawled out upon existed in faith. Faith in my ability to see us all as one through eyes of kindness and respect and honor.

I think that's how we all survive - faith in the goodness of our neighbor. Faith that love might actually be a better way. Faith that small acts of kindness matter. That respect actually makes a difference. That the tiniest things of this world may actually be important.

I was annoyed by and even feared the bugs. And then I sat and watched them. Somehow I found myself lonely when they left.