Take a look at this fun, original take on life here in the Cedar Valley. The latest edition of Mag Pie, published by our own Emily Stowe.
And by the way, (shamless plug) I have an essay and art in this edition!
Everything reaches its zenith in July.
The sun swings to its peak in the sky, pausing before retreating in its arc. Shrubbery, trees, and garden, even the lowly weed, revel is downy youth.
Hot summer afternoons fill with the sound of children at the pool, racing to catch the ice cream truck, the buzz of mosquitoes, power saws, neighbors mowing.
All summer sounds reach this cocoon of hammock stretched out under the sheltering shade of the oak. The cricket and cardinal preach their summer sermons. Soon the full-throated cry of cicada with all its missionary fever will join this summer Chautauqua.
Gone are the floral notes of spring, replaced by the heady scents of summer: coconut suntan oil; sun-burned, sweat-soaked skin, chlorine, campfires, and burgers on the grill.
Out there, a flurry of activity: fireworks, parades, festivals. Here in this blissed pause of July, there is a hammock, thick book, cold drink, long nap.
Mind swings from one thought to the next in a lazy, hazy summer way of cattle lowing in the meadow, berries ripening on the hill, the slow waxing, and waning of the moon.
The trees applaud July’s performance. The brook murmurs its approval. The book lowers to chest, eyelids heavy; a pause
a July Pause.
June’s full moon is called the Strawberry Moon. Here in the Midwest, strawberries ripen as this month’s moon waxes and wanes.
In a good year, we’ll get two, maybe three, weeks of sun-ripened sweetness that shows the sham of store-bought berries.
Many of us make annual pilgrimages to the local berry grower. We either pick our own or buy quarts of early summer sweetness distilled into small red berries.
Thank goodness there are still things that capitalism, with its relentless tactics of anxiety, envy, and distraction, can’t touch. Field strawberries naturally ripened are too fragile to ship even a hundred miles, let alone thousands.
Tasting a strawberry plucked from the dirt, ripened by sunshine under an open sky, reminds us of the difference between eating and tasting.
It reminds us too of the cycle of seasons. Seasonal ripening speaks to the reciprocity inherent in nature. Nature grants us rights to harvest only so long as we bear the responsibility to nurture and protect soil and water.
This past year brought home to all of us how interconnected we are. Hopefully, we learned that our well-being depends on everyone’s well-being. Maybe we’ll yet remember that our well-being depends on the planet’s, our only home, well-being.
Back home, I pause to savor this annual pilgrimage. This ancient process of recognizing the season, taking time to harvest, and listen to bird songs. The pulse of wind and sun on my skin reminds me home is bigger than the walls around me.
It’s easy to fret and worry. What will become of us? But slipping a plump strawberry into my mouth becomes a promise of more springs and summers to grow wiser. A promise of future Strawberry Moons shining on a planet where we’ve learned to care for each other and our home.
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Click here to download EarthWhispers Abbey Shalom Spirituality Retreat homework and resources for week 1.
A new year is dawning. What will you make of it? What will it make of you?
I invite you to sit here for a moment. Take in the tide ebbing and flowing. Take in your own ebb and flow.
I leave you with this blessing from my EarthWhispers sister, Sue Schuerman:
Like birds sing the day into being, may you, too, break into song at the mere appearance of dawn.
The first class sold out! Only a few spots left for this beginner watercolor class at Hawkeye Community College. Join me for watercolor magic on Wednesday’s, Oct. 14-28, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Click HERE to register
Without kindness we go sour. Kindness forces us out of our narrow concerns, usually about ourselves. Kindness reminds us that self is rather narrow and constricting. When we escape the confines of self into something bigger like family or community or a cause, we spring ourselves from self’s prison.
Kindness isn’t extravagant or showy so we often miss it blooming. It’s the invite from the neighbor for a cup of coffee, the timely message of care and concern from a friend, your spouse doing your “chore”, a nodded hello to a stranger.
A friendly, tender or well-disposed effort on behalf of others makes both giver and recipient happy. Kindness leaves a trail of goodwill in its wake.
I keep a daily gratitude journal as a way to practice noticing. I recommend the practice, if, like me, you tend toward nursing grudges rather than gratitude. Documenting gratitude lightens your psyche. This month, I kept a kindness journal. Kindness stuns in its regularity and diversity.
Kindness isn’t going to radically change the world, even if it makes everyone’s life a titch easier. Practicing kindness doesn’t deliver particular or extraordinary results. Some days kindness just lets us happily hang out.
Kindness isn’t magical, it’s magic.