The Orchid Blooms Again

orchid bloomsThere are 26 blossoms on the orchid on my desk. This is only the second time it has bloomed in the almost five years that I have had it. The first time it bloomed, I watched the stalk that would hold blossoms emerge daily. I observed each bud as it expanded into a small orb and eventually into a bright purple pink blossom. And I kept track as each blossom emerged, opened to the light, and then turned translucent, withered, and fell to the desk. You can read about the first time it blossomed here.

This year, I have barely noticed. Well, that’s not quite right. I have absolutely noticed that the orchid is blooming but I have been avoiding its gaze, unwilling to be pulled into its brilliance. I walk by with my eyes averted and haven’t sat at my desk all summer. Over the last few days though, I have been drawn to the orchid’s brilliance, curious about what it has to teach me — both in its splendor and in my avoidance.

I think there is something here of abundance that I can’t quite face. And something of beauty — and of the pain and joy of love — and of finitude…

Today, I am sitting at my desk for the first time since the orchid began to bloom again in June. It is time to take it in. I have looked each flower in the eye, counted the blossoms growing on 4 stems, appreciated the nine evergreen leaves that are feeding them, and watered the woodchips that hold it all. I am basking in the glow of these 26 blossoms. Radiant alone and a stunning celebration together, there is a reminder here to hold my arms open wide to the fullness of life.

For months, I have been managing the abundance in my life with my head down, unable to meet its gaze or embrace its fullness. Afraid that the busy-ness of work and life coupled with the mess we have made of our planet could overwhelm me, I have only been able to look at it all sideways. I have been skirting along the sidelines, doing my part to keep all the pieces afloat but not allowing myself to notice or appreciate my own immersion in the water.

Today, as I bask in the abundance of the orchid, I recognize that in the immersion, there is a fullness that invigorates. There is no doubt that it also feels overwhelming, but I feel assured that the fullness holds me even as it pushes at me. I notice both great joy and great sadness and I feel my heart stretch to accomodate them both at the same time. In this immersion, I feel myself carried away into something that is beyond myself. It is where and how I can give myself away to all that is beyond me. It is then that I can meet life in its fullness. It is what I am here to do.

As I step away from the desk and the orchid (for now), I can face my to-do list and the disturbing news headlines with new energy and capacity and renewed commitment to be fully present to all that is. This abundance of need, hope, and possibility ~ in the garden, in my work, in my family, and in the wider world ~ can be met with clear eyes and a complete gaze. I will return to the orchid when I need a reminder.

Where can you turn for reminders of abundance and capacity?

An Offering

When the song bird sings,

She puts her whole body into it.

 

High up in the crabapple,

Serene and unblinking one moment.

 

In the next blink, mouth agape

Her whole body is convulsing 

 

As sounds of summer

Pour forth

 

Her body is no bigger than my hand

But her voice seems to completely fill

the still morning air

 

Watching,

I think I see the build up, anticipation, effort

 

And the joy of release

 

I hear the song as celebration 

And as offering

A gift of voice given to the new day

 

I give thanks.

 

And I recommit

to leaning in with my whole body,

to pausing with utter stillness,

to raising my voice

to offer the song that is mine to sing.

Emerging in Love

At Beltane, the mid-point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, the gathering light and heat of the season are coaxing growth from the warming soil and nudging us out of our winter cocoons. In this season, we celebrate fertility and look forward to the growing season and harvests ahead. Our own energy, nurtured by a winter of reflection and dormancy and stimulated by sunlight and warmth, is also ready to burst forth. To me, this is love – emerging from the ground, blossoming in the trees and singing from treetops – swelling in my heart.

At the same time, we are preparing to emerge from just over a year altered by Covid-19, a year marked by grief and loss, isolation and fear…and also by incredible acts of generous and creative love. Individuals have stepped forward in countless ways to support one another, keep one another safe and advocate for one another.

We have been reminded that love is not only a disposition, it is a discipline. Love manifests in our daily acts of kindness and generosity – our work for justice, getting dinner on the table for our loved ones, bringing dinner to a lonely neighbor, holding the door for the person walking into the store behind us, smiling gently at the driver who cut us off on the highway.

As we take our first tentative steps toward re-opening, it feels useful to reflect on how we got here. I recently re-read a long list of questions that emerged last March when we first began to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

*I do not have any answers, but I am sitting with openness, curiosity, and a strong belief in our capacity for change. Hope lives here. I offer some of it to you:

As we spend more time in our homes and local communities,

         What bridges will we build?

         What support will we offer to others?

         What support will we need from others?

As we notice the impact of our lives on the lives of others,

         Will we claim our participation in the web of life?

         Will we remember the legacy of survival that ensured our lives?

         Will we remember that we will one day be the ancestors in someone else’s story?

As we recognize our depth of responsibility to the interconnected human family,

         Will we also notice our connection with all living beings?

         Will we notice our interconnection with the living, pulsing earth?

         Will we notice that we are, in fact, One?

The lily and tulip spears nudging their way through the barely thawed soil in my yard are a prelude to the new season. May we also enter the season as neophytes, open to the promise and surprise of our own unfolding.

*Excerpted from  Arriving Here: Reflections from the Hearth and Trail.

Spring Poetry Series, 5

5

This aching body

Is familiar and brand new.

It arrived slowly

over forty-eight 

Years and thousands of miles

Bones, blood and muscles

Full of accumulated

Work, play, exercise and rest

This body knows things

This body knows when

Recovery is needed —

More often these days.

 

For today, I will

Pause. Soften, Relax, Retreat.

A treasured fullness.

Spring Poetry Series, 3

Enter the house with

Arms full and mind weary

Still holding the day.

 

Let it all go now.

Arrive to this new moment

That rises to greet you

With a breathless word,

A need just barely hidden 

To hold and be held.

 

Enter the house with

Heart open wide, prepare to

Give and receive.