Receiving the Gifts

“Life is not measured
by the number of breaths we take,
but by the number of moments
that take our breath away.”

Most mornings find me on a trail at sunrise. Those walks help me to stay present and grounded. They remind me of who I am and all that I am connected to. On any given morning there are countless things that take my breath away and send a little thrill through my soul. The waning moon and Venus shining bright in the eastern sky as I hike up the hill. The coyotes howling in the distance. Seeing my breath in the cold morning air. A herd of deer crossing the trail right in front of me and then heading down the hill to join another group in the field below. A pair of song birds singing to each other. Windows across the valley catching the first rays of the sun and filling the hills with shining rubies, topaz, and diamonds. An owl hooting and a hawk taking flight. And as I pay attention and notice all these gifts my life is enriched and expanded because I remember that I am a part of all of it. I’ll keep walking the trails with an open heart, ready to receive the blessings which are always being offered.

The Uniqueness of Each Moment

“This too shall pass” is a phrase I have heard and spoken over the years. This morning I had a shift of perspective insight that reminded me the phrase applies to the good things in life as well as the challenging stuff. All of it shall pass. Our life on this planet is a transient and finite experience. And I get to choose how I will experience it. I can fret and fixate on the hard and unpleasant stuff. I can cling to the positive stuff. Or I can hold it lightly and gratefully as it flows in and through my life. I want to appreciate and celebrate the uniqueness of each moment. Every bit of it is a gift. Denise Levertov put it this way –

Only Once
by Denise Levertov

All which, because it was
flame and song and granted us
joy, we thought we’d do, be, revisit,
turns out to have been what it was
that once, only; every invitation
did not begin
a series, a build-up: the marvelous
did happen in our lives, our stories 
are not drab with its absence: but don’t
expect to return for more. Whatever more
there will be will be
unique as those were unique. Try
to acknowledge the next
song in its body-halo of flames as utterly
present, as now or never.

May I be fully alive and fully present in this and every moment.

What Is Real?

There are as many kinds of photography as there are photographers. Each of us has our own reasons for pursuing this art form, and our own ways of bringing those reasons to life. For me it is about seeking to allow beauty to shine through. I’m not as concerned about “did it really look this way?” as I am with “does this capture at least a hint of what I see behind and beneath the surface?” Over the years folks have occasionally respond to my photos with some variation on “oh, you used filters to manipulate the image” or “it didn’t really look like that, did it?” Which is OK. Everyone gets to have their opinion about such things. I don’t expect everyone to appreciate what I’m doing. We each see the world in the ways that our eyes, and our minds, and our hearts reveal it to us.

“Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.”

– Georgia O’Keeffe

Lately what I’ve been seeing is light. It shines through in every moment, or at least has the potential to do so if only I will notice. I’m trying to pay enough attention to notice. Most mornings find me walking the trails as the new day begins. Today I watched as the sun rose over the eastern horizon and spread it’s light across the landscape. To the west, in the the mountains, there are houses which cannot be seen except in this moment, when the angle of the sunlight allows it to be reflected in the windows. Suddenly the mountain is filled with shining light that looks like stars. The same thing happens in the snow covered fields when the sun sets the ice crystals ablaze. Occasionally I can capture such moments through the lens of my camera. Often I can’t. And sometimes I can make use of some photo software (like the Tangled FX app I used on the photo at the top of this post) to offer at least a glimpse of what I’m seeing with my mind and heart.

There is so much more to this life than I can even begin to perceive or imagine. It really is light and magic, and I will continue to strive to remain open and present so I can allow that light (and that magic) to shine in me and through me in ever deeper, fuller, and richer ways. It’s all pure gift, and I intend to spend the rest of my days learning to unwrap it.