We walked, still

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We walked, still, even
after her energy had
waned far, unreplenished
by the ordinary grace of
food once consumed easily
and by most simply taken
for granted

And in the walking saw
and felt again and again
that nourishment may
be drawn for the soul
though the physical frame
tires and slows and evening
firelight glows

illuminating kaleidoscopic
memories and warming
hopes long held and yet
aspired to. Yes, we walked
still. And as though they had
been aware of a greater than
usual urgency

on Christmas Day in rain
around mid-afternoon and
a five mile tramp from our
beloved fireside she stooped
to feel snowdrops newly
raised from earth between
her fingers

Not too late this arrival –
not too late – it was a
timely coming
and is now a photograph
developed upon the backdrop
of my mind. Souvenir
We have come. We remember

And we walk, still
again and again

SRM

I am grateful for …

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… lingers awhile along borders for a translator to savor secretly,
borrowing from both sides, holding
for a moment the smooth round world
in that cool instant of evening before the sun goes down

William Stafford
from Walking the Borders
The Way It Is – New and Selected Poems

I write a few lines in my meditation journal each day, and from time to time review what I’ve written – looking for patterns and repetitions. One of the most frequent notes that appears in the ‘I am grateful for …’ sections is what I often describe as ‘nature’s art and light’.

And I realise that the poets I regularly turn to have eyes and ears for the detail in the natural wonders that surround them; some having especial penchant for the sky, or sea, or lakes, or mountains, or sweeping plains, or animals and their particular, chosen, encouraged or given habitats, flora and fauna. I delight in all of these.

But most of all I am entranced by light, always changing, writing, painting, softening, sharpening, defining, reaching, touching, listening – full from earth to sky with metaphor and parable, reaching onwards, upwards, and into the heights and depths of the Universe. And into my soul.

So it was during our after-supper walk this evening. So it was a million aeons ago. So for a million, million more. Meditating in and upon light I stand time and again in awe.

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What calms and settles …

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Today we’ve enjoyed the company of a friend who sought a day’s peace and quiet. ‘Just a little bit of stillness.’ And I knew just the place, close by, to find some stillness – the kind that facilitates the quietest sort of conversation, unrushed, with plenty of silence between words and sentences (if we don’t count the racket created by three hugely enthusiastic woodpeckers!)

So we headed uphill. On foot. The drystone wall pictured here was chief among the features of the landscape that my friend alighted upon quickly. This landscape helps people breathe life deep. And I recalled a poem I penned, on a similar walk, in the autumn of last year. A friend’s quiet seeking led me too, once again, into ‘a little bit of stillness’.

What of vast realities do I see,
gazing on lake and fell and drystone wall?
What do I hear here, deep in my soul in
this present, and my soul’s memory hall?

What calms and settles my undue haste and
whence the touch, smell and taste on the breeze?
What in wide and expansive openness
places me thankfully, deeply at ease?

What about this being here restores me
to an ancient and forgotten knowing?
Here in high magnificence I now breathe
life deep and am both come and going.

SRM

After dark :(

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Largely indoors as a friend visited today, so my wanderings didn’t get underway until after dark. But there was a certain charm in it.

The iPhone in my pocket not only captured this image but apparently had miraculous and informative chats with my Fitbit wrist tracker, cheered me along with favourite songs (Andy Williams’ Born Free is great when you’re chugging uphill!), kept a check on heartbeat, pace and coverage, (am I dead or anything? – let me just check: no, says not, thankfully, but my flat feet hurt!).

Clever though it be, the iPhone didn’t quite capture the peace all-around as flocks of sheep, chewing still, as though someone had given them each a pack of Wrigleys, finally lay down. Some inner clock had told them ‘it’s time to rebuild your strength.’ My inner clock told me it was time for supper, even having had a sizeable lunch …

Still a bit bleak

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Hmm. Still a bit bleak and grey this morning but I hit the road anyway – cheered on by the family and friends who are themselves engaged in post-festive efforts to regain their former shape! Flat-footed, I’ve never been a hugely enthusiastic walker (hence the bike). But, recognising walking’s health benefits, I’m also beginning to recognise the joys of morning meditation ‘on the hoof’, accompanied by birdsong, and with lungs full of good fresh air. Even when it’s raining! Five and a half miles after breakfast, and home by 10am. A car journey tomorrow will give my poor blisters a chance to heal.

Blue sky days

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The forecasters tell us that rain is headed our way tomorrow. But we’ve had a few wonderful blue-sky days and our neighbourhood has shone in all its (granted, slippery!) glory. I wonder what it is about blue sky that cheers us all up so? Or what in grey sky has the opposite effect? Still: if it turns out to be a grey day tomorrow I shall try to remember to be grateful for the ensuing melting of the ice. To everything its season!