As the pandemic continues to reach out and wrap her fingers around all that she can touch, and as the weeks of quarantine and social distancing stretched into months, I found myself becoming more keenly aware of the preciousness of life and the beauty that exists in what may seem like simple everyday moments. These moments have become so precious, and so comforting in a time when there has been so much uncertainty.
Moments filled sitting side by side with my love while reading, sipping coffee, lingering in bed, watching movies.
Moments filled with the sweet softness of a warm cat curled and purring on my lap while I sip tea and watch as the snow falls outside the window.
Moments filled with the wagging tail of a golden retriever as she bounds down the trail in the woods that follows the river.
Moments of quiet introspection and reflection as I wander the neighborhood in the small town that I call home.
Moments of cooking meals and feasts to be packaged and left on the porch to be picked up by friends and loved ones who cannot sit down to share a meal.
All of these beautiful, everyday, seemingly simple moments began to reveal what the Christian mystic Thomas Merton knew, “Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable. This is true.”
Nostalgia can be defined as a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.
What you cannot see in the painting is perhaps more important than what you can see. On one particular day before COVID settled into our daily lives, my beloved and I drove to the Country Girl Diner in Chester, VT for lunch. I have a love of diners. I have a love for vintage and retro aesthetics and I had not yet visited this particular one. We sat across from each other holding hands, listening to the bustling sound of diner customers and the clinking noises of the preparation of diner food. We people watched as booths filled and emptied. I looked around wondering when I had begun to find vintage and retro imagery so appealing. I was content in that everyday moment. I also had no way of knowing just how much everyday moments would grow in their meaning and in my appreciation.
As I worked on the painting I thought about how it is understanding and remembering that someone’s hands had built the walls, table, counter and stools in the diner and that somehow this understanding and remembering was what really seemed to be of importance and mattered. I thought about how someone’s hands had filled the salt, pepper and sugar shakers. I thought about how someone’s hands had tended and cut the flowers in the bottle and how someone else’s hands had placed them in the bottle and on the table. I thought about how someone’s hands had turned over the closed sign to open early in the morning hours. I found myself wondering how all of those someone’s were doing in the world. I wondered if they were nostalgic for a life that once had been. I wondered if they too were noticing all of the precious everyday moments. I thought again about how what is not seen in the painting is in many ways more important than what is.
I do not think we will be able to return to the happiness of a former place and time. The world is changing and I believe we must change with it. I also believe that happiness can and will be found in those most beautiful and sacred of seemingly simple everyday moments. So...I am going to keep looking into them and welcoming the understanding and beauty that is shining through.
Maybe, just maybe, when the world opens up again and we can safely share spaces I will find myself sitting in a booth in a diner somewhere next to you and, if I have used my time wisely, and I have done my job well enough, I will be able to look and see the divine that is shining through you.
Until then, I wish you millions of beautiful everyday moments.
"I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprises of its own unfolding."
Rivers have been flowing through my dreams and conversations. They always seem to call to me, and in their powerful and mystical way, they always seem to be calling me home to myself. There is no definitive thought or tidy conclusion in the writing that follows. Perhaps, as you proceed, you could think of these words as a winding river. There is no end destination that you or I need to be aware of. Rather, we will move, flowing together. I suspect that we may still be in mid-current by the time the words cease to move across the page.
I once had a teacher who spoke to me of rivers. Pointing down to the flowing river and then pointing up to the sky she told me how, "as above, so below" is a truth revealed by watching and knowing the movement of the river and its sister river flowing in the sky - the air stream. They move along the same currents. Did you know this? A body with circulatory systems in the ground and in the sky.
I used to believe that I fell in love with rivers when I lived in New Mexico, however. I have come to understand that I have always been drawn to these winding fluid bodies. Perhaps, it is more accurate to say that the time I spent in the desert illuminated my love and longing. Interesting how time spent in a desert was the inception of my actively seeking the footpaths that follow their movements, always on my way to or in search of spots along the bank where I could rest myself and wait. Wait until I could begin to hear the song and sit in moments when time is intersected by eternity.
Each river has her own language and each river sings her own song. Movement over the rocks, the formation of the riverbed, the direction in which the waters run , the creatures who move within her waters, along the banks, all in relation to one another, all contributing a thread of the melody of each river's song. If you sit still and listen she will sing her song for you. If you ask, she can assist in carrying away heaviness and the worries which tug at the corners of your heart and soul. If you are patient, curious and respectful, she will reveal herself and her nature. When her movements are just so, and you see the light jumping across the surface of her skin and her shimmering scales, do you feel wonder? I do.
The Banks of My River
Will you sit by the banks of my River?
If I welcome you to my shores
Will you wait until you can hear the rhythm of my blood?
If my heart begins to beat in the knowing of you
Do you know your presence can change the banks of my River?
If I swell, if I recede, If I rise to meet you, If I quench your thirst
Do you wonder where I am moving to or where I am moving from?
If you look into me and see your own reflection
If you leave will you return?
When I am tired and the rains do not come
If you learn my song will you remember it?
When I no longer remember my name
Rivers have been flowing through my thoughts and through my body. I have been practicing noticing, becoming aware. Aware of the sensations that arise within me. Aware of where I have constricted the flow. Aware of where I have built dams and diversions. In much the same way as I have sought out the banks of rivers to listen and come to know their song. I am attempting to tune in and listen to my own.
You see, if it should be that there comes a time when I am called to your banks, to your river, I wish to know how to be in your presence. I wish to know how to hear your unique and beautiful song. This means that I must come to know my own. If I am welcome and you offer me a seat at the bank of your river and I look into the surface of your waters I want to have befriended the stillness that would allow me to see my reflection in you.
When I rest my head on the pillow tonight I wonder if I will again dream of rivers. I wonder if I will dream of you, waiting with me by the river. I wonder of we will be waiting for the rains to come.
I Am Carried by the River, The Saxtons River, VT,
The Language of Rivers Collection, Vision Shift Gallery
“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?" That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
In Love, Beauty & Hope,
There is a Wind Horse that runs through my Soul.
I am learning to recognize the sound of its approaching hooves
by listening to the thundering echo that remains when yours passes by.
First, thank you for taking a moment, pausing your day and being willing to stop and step into mine.
I am blessed. Every morning I wake between 4 and 4:30am. I make my way downstairs, fill the kettle with water and go about the early morning business of feeding Pebble the cat and Sadie the golden retriever. If there are dishes that have waited overnight in the strainer I will often pad around the kitchen and the pantry returning cups, bowls, plates, pots and pans to their various locations. Next, I pour the steaming water over the waiting coffee and chicory and as it makes its way through the grounds, I prepare the morning meal for Disco Kitten who is patiently waiting in the studio, staring up from behind the most beautiful blind eyes that see more than most.
Once the coffee is ready, I make my way back upstairs and enter the studio. I sit at the old desk that was once my great grandmothers, I turn the light on next to the desk, light a candle and then I begin. There is always 3 pages of stream of conscious writing in the journal. Dreams, thoughts that are caught in corners and refuse to let go. Questions that continue to be asked. Cycles and rhythms. Stories of love, joy, grief and the everyday. Next is the writing that is done as reflection and self examination. This is the writing that allows me to examine my character and keeps me in touch with what I know to be my truth and, to the best of the ability, live a life of integrity. As I engage in this process, I ask that God continue to hover over me.
This time before the sun rises, and while the world is between sleeping and waking is my favorite time of day. The magical pause before the rest of the world comes to life. Sometimes as I am writing I can hear the squeak of the bedframe down the hall as my beloved rolls over and sinks deeper into sleep. Sometimes, the gentle snoring of Sadie who has followed me in and lays next to my feet on the floor keeps time to the rhythm of my moving pen. Sometimes Disco Kitten rolls between my feet and playfully sinks her tiny razor teeth into my toes and ankles. My extra fine point pen continues carving the lines that form the words that comprise my life across the page as I sip coffee. To me, this is a truly delicious life and I am poignantly aware that I am blessed.
This morning as I moved through my morning routine, I was both grateful and comforted by the ritual; the tending to the seemingly simple nuances of my everyday life. I also moved slower, feeling into the surrounding sadness and beyond. I, like many of of us in this country, slept tenuously last evening. We are such a deeply polarized and divided people. I sat at the writing desk that was my great grandmother's and I wondered what my ancestors would say...what they are saying. I wrote about children in cages separated from their parents. I wondered what my ancestors (only a very few of which came from this land and the majority of whom immigrated to these shores) faced upon their arrivals. I wondered about families and friends whose lives and configurations have been altered by a pandemic and who turn to face empty space where loved ones once stood. I wondered about many things (pepper spray, confederate flags, boarded windows and storefronts, climate change). I opened my most recently completed journal and reread the poet's words that have continued to remain with me throughout the last month.
I want to love more than death can harm.
and I want to tell you this often
that despite being so human and so terrified
here standing on this unfinished
staircase to nowhere and everywhere
on this night
we can live forever and we will.
Among the list of things that I thought about this morning is love. Truth be told, I actually think about love a lot. What does it mean to love your neighbor? What does it mean to love your fellow citizens? What does it mean to love those who are less fortunate? What does it mean to love this beautiful planet, our home? What does it mean to actively practice choosing love?
I wonder, what is the sound that remains after our lives touch another, once we pass by?
I will end this blog post in the same way that I ended my writing and prayers this morning.
God, please, hover over all of us.
Yours in love, creativity and art,
Heather J Geoffrey