I have been seeking words for birdsong pouring full-throttled from small feathered throats pulsating strands of layered tone neither drifting nor wafting but tumbling, lifting, braiding rhythmic clarity that spring is not arriving but here anticipating unencumbered walks into coatless sun.
Emerged from winter’s dark over-long cold, I unwrap the fur pelt, stretch heart to warming sun grateful for the open sky of birdsong returning after long silence, rising free on nature’s urgent rhythms.
For a dozen years, she walked, ran, leapt by my side, her constant vigilance a comfort, source of joy and inspiration. Last Monday afternoon, my beloved dog slipped quickly away, leaving one more gap in a life with ever more departures. But she well knew how to bridge each chasm. Her gifts were many, her demands few. I carry her arcing leaps across the neighbor field as I walk; her frenzied plunges into pools after ball or stick; her soulful eyes that held mine as long as I asked in our daily pre-food ritual of ‘Loki, look!’ In those moments, we were one intention, one spirit. She is missed and yet present in every aspect of my life. I am truly blessed.
Evensong for Loki 7/13/08 – 3/29/21
No moonrise tonight in the dark starry sky.
No great orange orb peering over the rim of the bay like dawn’s
eager brown eyes rising at bed’s edge bearing bright morning cheer.
Last night I lit the fire not against cold but to feel us curled snug together.
Today, against your disinterest I offered my hand with some kibble. You carefully lifted each
one crunchy morsel at a time as to savor every last bite.
Not three days since we walked both beach and meadow of a dozen years’ rambles.
And holding you now I cradle your soft length, hands stroking your chest,
drawing your velvet ears through and through my fingers again, once more, again.
Had I known that night – this morning – would be your last, I would have done the same.
In lieu of goodbye, let me honor and bless all the years of you – steadfast devotion
Today’s WP Daily Prompt challenges me to think of the concept of ‘mask’. To me, the usual interpretation of wearing a mask entails intentionally hiding something. Keeping a cheerful countenance, for instance, to hide despair. Or appearing grim so as to hide the unbearable joy about to explode that might, in so doing, undo an important business transaction. Of course there’s also using tape to protect an area from the paint to be applied beyond it, so that you can create a crisp clean interface between the two.
But what if wearing a mask in fact works toward the reason for wearing it? Something more along the lines of ‘fake it until you make it.’ Wherein the mask itself becomes a helpful tool moving you toward the desired state. If you smile even when feeling down, you tend to elicit smiles from others. This, in turn, makes you want to smile more in response. Until, before you know it, smiling has become second-nature and a gift to all involved.
Yesterday’s surprise heavy snow — well, not all that surprising for late April in northern Vermont — masked the myriad green shoots pushing up from cold ground. Some of them I recall planting last fall. Others seem welcome interlopers. None seemed to welcome the snow that bent their just-opening faces as they sought the anticipated sun. Yet, they poked up even through the density of the surprise snow. And today it melts (as is the wont of late-season white). Those blossoms continue to exude sunny joy despite unseasonably low temperatures.
I appreciate their tenacity, their telling of the fact that winter WILL end, and soon. They testify and reassure that seasons still turn, though in oddly shifting and unpredictable patterns. Their perseverance gives me both hope and gratitude for what can emerge because — and even in spite — of masks.
“If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.” —Andrew Weil
“Shallow breathing is a reaction to the unyielding stress of modern life—and is itself a cause of further stress, which leads to more shallow breathing. To stop this downward spiral of shallow breathing and stress—even in the midst of the daily mayhem—I can take three or four deep breaths and enter an upward spiral of deep breathing and calm… All I need to do is gently, without strain, fill up the space of my belly, and then slowly and tenderly breathe out.
I take a first belly breath—breathing slowly and deeply, expanding my stomach as I breathe in—and I focus on centering, on being present in the here and now. I take a second deep belly breath, and while doing so focus on my purpose—whether for that day or for my life as a whole. The third deep breath is dedicated to something for which I’m grateful—thinking about a family member, a meeting I had or am about to have, or anything else.
The physiological impact of deep breathing, coupled with the cognitive component of focusing on something positive, provides a powerful technique that can change the way you feel. The technique is particularly effective in bringing about calm and joy if you do it a few times a day.”