Around four o'clock in the morning a certain bird starts to move and sing, starting with a random note. Perhaps the sound of this single bird is what brings the sun into the world.
"It is you who must start the day for us, my lovely," the bird was told. "For you are wise, and see deeply in to all hearts."
And so, each day from then until now, the sweetest bird begins all our days. Other birds gradually chime in. A rooster crows. Morning doves coo. Nocturnal creatures start to put themselves to bed for the day as everything else begins fresh.
An alarm goes off and a student groans. A cell phone vibrates and a runner reaches for running shoes. The sun rises and shines on the infant who then wakes up. Someone opens their sleepy eyes upon hearing the sounds of their baby. The bird that starts the day loves them all.
The holy person starts their meditation prayer. The surgeon pauses to focus before making the incision. The librarian puts the book in its place for the next reader. The sweetest bird is so glad to have started this day.
The barista designs a heart on top of the coffee. The steaming cup is handed to the police officer who has had a long night. The parent makes sandwiches for the family and wraps them in plastic, recalling as they do what they read yesterday about wrapping food. The bird is so pleased with everything it sees.
The physical therapist watches their patient work hard to regain the mobility they lost in the accident. It was not their fault. The pawnbroker accepts the ring off the finger, and wonders why the customer has become desperate. A family chooses words to memorialize the depth of their loss. The bird is always there, open to what the new day brings.
The teacher is notified and searches for the words to say. Anxious eyes stare up and wait. A group gathers, and the professor watches from the window on the fourth floor.
Sometimes it is hard for us to hear the bird.
Yet the day starting bird does not hesitate. It starts each day, holding no story about others. The bird holds no male, no female, no country, no religion, no race in its heart. It is simply a bird, who sings because it knows that goodness, love, and community are mostly what is in this world this day. "Let's start the goodness," the bird might sing.
The store clerk wonders why the white men are buying so many tiki torches. A movie scene comes in to the clerks mind; one where people march out into the night with flames held high above their heads. The angry villagers were dissatisfied with themselves so found an "other" to label scary and unwanted.
The day starting bird does not hesitate. It starts each day. It is simply a bird, who sings because it knows that goodness, love, and community are mostly what is in this world this day. "Let's start the goodness," the bird sings. I know, because it sang the song to me.
Let us stand and sing together, with the bird.
Johnny K took me to a secret Lenape Indian spot when we started dating. Places like this is how love begins.
Now, when I get a chance, I take people I love to this secret holy place. Yesterday I had a chance to bring my mother-in-law.
This little pond is still, like a mirror. And yet this silent, serene pond feeds this ever running water fall. Feeds it through rainy season, heat wave, and drought. Feeds it at the rate of two thousand gallons per minute. The water springs up after traveling through limestone under the earth. It flows and flows and flows and flows and flows from this silent pond. The Lenape Indians once had villages here and it is still visited today. Things are left that are meaningful to people.
Here I am reminded of the eternalness and magic of things.
Perhaps when you are as big as God, you are happy with everything. You just love. You have no needs. You just experience. You are filled up with every perfect needle on each pine tree; every little feather on each bird, every little hair on each head. You love every sweet pond and every drop of water in it as it travels the path that you love.
You understand totally the feelings of all and where the feelings came from.
You love the woman who is choosing an abortion and you love and hold the spirit that was going to be born in that baby that will now be born into a different one. (Would a dream of God's be lost forever? Never. ) You root for no team, no country, no religion, no race, no sexual orientation, because you are happy with everything. You do not need to cheer for anyone to win, because it is all eternal. No thing is ever lost. All wonderful dogs, missed by masters, rest right at your heavenly feet. Unless they have decided to come back again to play. No thing is ever lost. No thing. Nothing is ever lost.
You just hope that everything feels love and therefore learns to love. But you do not need to even hope that, because you are God. You know it is all good. You know that everyone will have opportunities to get loving.
I mean that two ways; to get some loving and to get on to the job of loving.
Joseph Campbell wrote in his book "The Power of Myth" that the basic theme of all mythology is that there is an invisible plane supporting the visible one.
In the whole book, that is a sentence that I return to again and again. Let me whisper it in your ear so your ear might hold it for you:
The basic theme of all mythology is that there is an invisible plane supporting the visible one.
I loved that so much.
ever in the world,
had a story to explain "that there is an invisible plane supporting the visible one."
I take such comfort in that. That somehow, every one of us knows.
The water flows and flows and flows and flows and flows from the silent pond.
I hope the idea of it reminds you of the eternalness and magic of things.
I will take you there if you want to go.
Random thoughts about Grandparents and this life and its endings:
My Johnny K's cousins talk so often and so highly of their Italian grandmother that I have a living breathing sense of her in my head. Pretty amazing for she has been gone a long time. I have been thinking about my grandmothers and how I have sparkles of both of them within me. As I write this I picture them hovering, and nudging each other happily in a way they never would have actually done here on earth.
I read somewhere that the reason we grieve when people die is because they exist still in a place we cannot reach. That if we were not grieving so, we would be able to reach it better. That if they were truly "gone" we would not feel the grief so. This comforted me.
I do not think we lose people and I do not think they "rest in peace." I think they exit this movie theater and find themselves "home" and exclaim "Wow...That was something else!" Hopefully they appreciate what went on when they were here no matter what happened or how it ended. They have a chance to soak in what they gained from the experience. I believe they can still see us. When my Little Gran died I dreamt that my mother and I were standing face to face talking, and my Little Gran was right there listening. Gran was in a "Glinda the good witch travel bubble" just to my right, but if we turned to "see" her she was just out of our earthly sight. This comforted me.
My grandparents greeted you first today, in the above photo. This was before my mother was born and decades before I came along and then more decades before my Little Gran died and appeared in my dream. We had decades of time to play with her.
"It is into us that the lives of grandparents have gone." ~Charles and Ann Morse
Isn't that lovely.
Meanwhile, we are here. And sometimes we claim that it is good. Sometimes we claim that things are sad and bad and we are mad. We are all over the place with what we claim about it. However if we thought it was going to end next week for us, what would we claim? We would love it! We would eat and dance and drink it all in and be on the phone making spontaneous plans and get out to the mountains and the ocean and the woods and surround ourselves with connecting with friends and family we love most. We would talk to strangers and knock on our neighbors door to say how much we appreciated them. We would feel the rain and the heat and the snow and admire the birds and the flowers and have so much admiration for children and how wisely they embrace play. We would LIVE BIG for the week. When really, every day we can LIVE BIG. Do you need a death sentence to do it?
So come dance with me and listen to music and hug way more people and have that dessert and make the very best of it. Reach. Stretch. Appreciate. Love. Permission to choose a new path if the one you are on is not doing it for you. Live as if you would be gone next week.
They say everything at the root is love or fear based. What is at the root of you?
My grandmother, Elizabeth Stewart Gilchrist and her brother Arthur Bruce, approx 1910
Years ago, two sisters had written in to "Dear Abby", asking for advice about something that was destroying their close relationship. The mother of these sisters had died suddenly and she had left a lifetime collection of valuable jewelry. The daughters were trying to decide which of them got what, and they were finding it impossible to divide these emotional and valuable items fairly. Their emotions were raw to start with, and trying to decide who got each lovely thing, one piece at a time, was just too difficult. Their crying was spiraling down into anger and harsh words. Their mother would not have wanted them to act or feel this way about her jewelry and each other. What to do?
I do not have a sister and my mother does not have a vast jewelry collection. This exact question did not apply to me. But wisdom knocks at our door in all ways and that day my door was open. "Dear Abby" had a wise answer, and I added the essence of this answer to who I am as I live my life. To me, this answer was a diamond.
-Take the entire collection and give it to one sister. Have this first sister divide all the jewelry up into two piles.
-The second sister gets first choice of piles.
D-A-2-P-R. The "Dear Abby 2 Pile Rule". DA2PR made me a better parent, spouse, and friend. DA2PR was my ticket to the fair ground, but not the kind with ferris wheels and games of chance. This is a much more important kind of fair ground. A happier life is one grounded in fairness.
Think about that a minute. Imagine the care the first sister would take, knowing she would want to be happy with the pile she was left with. And for her to be happy, her sister had to be happy. She would be weighing all the different ways we value things, wanting it to be fair to both of them. She would be weighing both tangible financial value and intangible sentimental meaning.
I used this with my boys when they were little, taught them this was the way to divide things, when choosing toys "one by one" was not working. It always added some fairness to conflict.
DA2PR is a great way to split that last slice of pie. The one that divides it will be so careful to make the portions even, as the last bite left is the one they get. There is pressure on the slicer to get it just right. There would be three heads bent over that pie plate or that last ice cream sandwich, watching the chosen slicer do this delicate work. No one rushed the slicer! Accuracy and integrity cannot be rushed!
It also taught them that sometimes, picking "one by one" was what they wanted. I want THIS pirate and you choose that pirate, I want this hat for my pirate and you choose THAT sword for yours... step by step to a fair afternoon of play. They did not fight about it because they did not want to choose a ready made pile. At times they wanted more control over small things. Their favorite action figure might be in one pile and their favorite sword in another, and that would be no fun at all. So instead, step by step they would find a balance.
This is how I taught "the art of the deal" at home. This is how I taught partnership and companionship and relationship and stewardship. All these life values began at pirate ship. This is how we create a generation of honest business owners and politicians and leaders and workers. One tiny child at a time at home, learning how to get along as well as possible with whoever is in the house. Life in the world is just more of THAT.
One of my sons was in a city with a few friends a few years ago. They were out socializing and trying new places and it was late and they walked into a bar that was not familiar in a part of the city they were not usually in.
They entered innocently, probably laughing, probably not paying clear attention, went to the bar to order, in their own world. And then. Suddenly he noticed something was off. They were being watched by a few big, scary looking guys.
They were clean cut college boys. The only ones of that type in this bar. And as he turned around, only a few feet away now, there was a group right there. Maybe not wanting their space invaded. Maybe not wanting their "kind" in there. Maybe wanting them to leave.
The biggest guy had many spiked piercings in his face. My son was 6 feet tall and this man was inches taller. His shoulders were almost twice as wide. The tall, pierced man had a leather jacket that was covered with metal studs. He was like a modern day knight, ready for battle, silver glinting from his face and his upper body. I mean, nails and needles and studs all over. Intimidating. Can you see him?
I am not done. He had done something with his eyes. They were coated or covered or tattooed ... I have no idea but they were all white or gray. I cannot remember now, but they were scary and different and monster like. You could not "see" this man.
Now my boy is good with people. And open to difference. But he was nervous. He knew the group right there was not going anywhere. They had positioned themselves to interact.
My son noticed this. He noticed a few things. My son spoke first.
"Hey, man. I love your jacket. Where did you ever get a jacket like that?"
The bar was quiet. Everyone waited. And then.... it had to happen.....bam!
The big, scary, studded guy told him all about his jacket. He had made it himself. He took great pride in it.
My son listened to the history of the jacket's making, for he was interested, he had noticed the patterns in the studding, the artistry, no detail left undone. His comment had been genuine admiration. He was not surprised when he heard of the hours of time that had gone in to getting the jacket "just right."
The studded guy took his jacket off. He never let anyone touch it, he said; and his friends laughed and agreed. But he offered to let my son try it on. And so my son did. He put the scary eyed man's studded, still warm, and maybe even sweaty, jacket ON.... It weighed a ton, he said. It weighed a ton. They took a side-by-side, smiling selfie. He took the jacket back off and gave it back. They all had a beer together. They shook hands goodbye.
I loved this story and I love my son and I learned so much from him when I heard it.
We had our first cup of coffee.
I was thinking I could wish for spring weather but today I choose to love the cold while it is here. This morning I decided to suddenly trim some ivy in the backyard- so I got the kitchen scissors and clipped through it. I was in my bathrobe and had my little old dog with me on his long leash.
Today though, why brace against the cold when we can let it be and feel alive in it? When do we reach for new places and when do we stay put? What gives us clarity and what distracts?
Meanwhile, the little dog grappled with his own worldly perspectives. He sniffed the ground despite his intermittent heart cough. He kept me company. When he had enough he walked as far as he could into the garage and gave his "I have had enough" bark, that remains strong despite his age.
Winter. A season of clarity and quiet to consider clipping away what might entangle us, what we have had enough of. May we consider wisely when we need to change and when spring comes have the energy to reach and grow.
We went in for our second cup of coffee.
The other day I experienced such a spring treat. A young boy in our neighborhood went past the house on roller blades. In his hand he had a yoyo, and he was not just holding it while he skated, he was making it go up and down. Yoyo-ing on rollerblades! What a great celebration of spring.
Today I picked out some chocolate things at Wegman's. The girl who rang my things up looked at each one and announced out loud what it was. "This is a rooster. This is a bunny. This is a different kind of bunny. This is a hen." She did it for all 7 chocolate things, and I appreciated her little girl enthusiasm for the Easter items.
The other day I waited for Johnny K to drive home from work. We sat on the front porch and each had a Fat Tire. Neighbors walked by. The air was almost warm, the sun was out, and we were feeling like we made it through another winter.
The other day my friend Sandy did me a huge favor AND brought me one of her home made peanut butter eggs. I am still reliving how perfect it was to eat. She gave it to me at 9 in the morning and I started eating it at 9 in the morning. Sometimes you just gotta.
Reese's has a new kind of peanut butter egg... Little hard shelled ones. I never had them before. If you loved peanut butter and Fluff as a kid you should get some. OR if you loved peanut butter and Fluff as a kid you better not get any of these. Your pick.
When I was a little girl in Massachusetts Easter would come and sometimes you would have a patch of grass peaking through mostly snow. It would still be winter. And I would make my way with my patent leather shoes somehow to the grass spot, to stand on it and just smell the dirt grass smell.
I loved wearing a straw Easter hat with ribbons that trailed down, a little elastic band under my chin to hold it on.
Today my friends son was in a video reciting Bible Verses on Facebook. He is getting so big and is such a sweet boy. Meanwhile my niece is pregnant with her second baby and we will find out Easter Sunday if it is a boy or girl.
All this is just tiny little moments of life. You have to pay attention to these tiny moments though. I like to count them up, and realize them as they happen, make sure I do not miss them.
As Mandy Hale said,
"Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go."
Lives should not be taken by sudden bullets to the head. And yet they are. I have such love for the mothers left to pick up the pieces.
I sat on the floor of my kitchen yesterday with my little dog. I fed him a clementine. For years he has known when a clementine was being peeled. He would promptly find me and sit reverently at my feet, waiting quietly as I bit the last few sections in half. I would hold out his side of the piece. He would swallow it and then be an alert little sentinel, patiently waiting for the next slice.
He is a smooth black and tan miniature dachshund, who was born in rural Pennsylvania on May 14, 2001. Now he is gray and white and black and tan. You can picture him as an elderly gentleman, winding down from life. If "a dog year equals seven people years" rings true, this May he will be 105.
A few days ago he lost his footing and fell down the stairs, and though he is okay, he has been quiet for the several days since.
One busy morning a few weeks ago I took him out to start his morning, and I was already an hour into mine, important thoughts whirling in my head. He walks slowly with a swaying lilt. I was urging him to be faster about his to do list. I told him I had so many things on mine. I was wanting the walk to be over so I could get on to my next thing.
I remembered why I wanted a dog, why I pushed for a dog, why I looked for a dog, why I found a dog, why I reserved a dog, why I drove hours to Hillside Kennels in rural Pennsylvania to pick up our new dog.
I wanted to have someone who would make me get outside to play. I wanted someone who would take walks with me, and never say no. I wanted someone to listen to me talk about adult things when I was lonely. I wanted someone to be a loyal friend to my boys. I wanted someone to snuggle with.
Oh my little friend, I think. Oh my little friend. You have gifted me with everything I ever asked you for.
So, yesterday I sat and fed him a clementine. Or I should be more clear. Yesterday he was propped in his own bed. I sat reverently at his feet. Waiting quietly, an alert sentinel, I hand fed my honorable little friend his very own clementine, slice by slice.
"Now, before we get too excited, I want to pause for a moment and ask you to consider all the negative conclusions that I could have drawn about this incident, had I been in the mood to ruin my life."
Write to me for the details and to reserve a spot:
Come and play.
Melissa Regan has approached grieving families about Organ Donation for over 12 years. She is a wife, mother, lifelong learner, and lover of the wonder you can find in a single moment. Recently she changed her life by studying Positive Psychology and Let Your Yoga Dance®. Join her in taking a day to be thoughtful... the rest of your life is here.