Close-up

To get close-up to Springtime unfolding in nature is to encounter experience of awe and wonder. Every tiny hair and stem and vibrating atom invites me to deep contemplation: why such beauty? Why such variety? Why me, and this capacity that I have, and you have, to experience our environment in such deeply affecting ways? And my sense of gratitude, my awareness and observation, my being here, reaching out and reaching in – is something akin to love …

Those who notice

they are gathered around me, heads bent to watch me take each too-light breath, willing my lips not to turn blue again. I am too small and always cold, but my people are looking at me as if I were the sun

My teachers are people who notice things and are somehow moved to share what they’ve seen and heard and felt and learned with others. So Margaret Renkl noticed many noteworthy things and shared them with the New York Times and with other publishers. David Kanigan read the NYT, mentioned reading Margaret on his blog, which was spotted by my friend Mimi in the US, who mentioned it on her blog, which I’m always delighted to read, and so some of all that Margaret Renkl knows, along with some of her brother’s stunning illustrations, by way of electronic ether, arrived here in the UK – with me. Late – but great – migrations.

Now I’ve never imagined that many people notice what I notice. I don’t imagine that I’m the kind of writer who attracts tens, hundreds or thousands of readers. I don’t imagine that some things I think important will matter much to others. I own that much occurs in this world that is of little interest to me – on football fields, for example. But yet I honour all who are willing to share what they have noticed (and thus may honour some of my own intention) because I do believe that everything that has been, or is, or will be, matters to someone and ought therefore, having been noticed, to be shared – though it may forever thereafter remain unnoticed. Still the life of a pond, or a long married couple, or of a bluebird, or of a nation matters. And what matters can help us all as we contemplate, meditate, and migrate, early or late.

Not everything matters to everyone. But everything matters to someone. And I resolve anew to try to notice more, to communicate more. And to be kind.

🙏🇺🇦🙏

Weathered

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

This beautiful photograph reminds me very much of one I stopped to capture (below) while visiting San Sebastián de la Gomera in January this year. I’ve been wondering what caught the eye of two photographers, in different places, each looking at weathered boards through a lens? And of course I can only speak for one of us!

What I think beautiful in these images is, precisely, the weathering seen in them. Once upon an unidentified time a painter stood before these shutters and they were beautified and made to look like new with shiny coats of paint. But as surely as the new exists in this world so too does ageing – and I contend that the beauty of the history brought to bear on these shutters – sunshine, wind, rain, heat and cold is shining today.

And further, that’s how it is for us. The rosy cheeked beauty of our human infancy is subject to the weathering of our days, and we must learn to recognise the ageing beauty in our unique stories. My friend Lori and I were conversing about the late, great poet John O’Donohue recently. Apparently, John was fond of posing the question ‘what would some of your unlived lives say to each other?’ We agreed that this would be a super discussion starter for a small group of close friends. Perhaps another question, for the same group of friends, might be ‘what would the lives you have lived say to each other?’

There’s history in these shutters, reaching all the way back to the rootedness of trees in the earth, and to the skills of glaziers, joiners and painters. And there’s history, rootedness, the works of craftspeople, and weathered beauty in each of us, too. Were the shutters to be flung open wide, what of life and love might be celebrated, contemplated, learned from, mourned, or otherwise reflected upon, inside?

San Sebastián de la Gomera, Canary Isles

The colour in reflections

screenshot credit @gingerandpicklesbookshop
screenshot credit @gingerandpicklesbookshop
screenshot credit @gingerandpicklesbookshop

Edinburgh is a city with whom I am engaged in perpetual discussion! – with architecture, with colour and line, with suddenly come upon and breathtakingly startling vistas, with bookshops, with birdsong, with history (mine and the city’s), with music (I’ll walk a quartermile out of my way to trace the source of the sound of the Pipes), with poetry, wind, hills, coastline – and anticipated conversations with others who are haunted and delighted and vivified by it as well.

Engaged too with the reflection that settles in one’s soul’s having been calmed, and drawn, and enchanted by her colours and her reflections. Edinburgh may certainly be spoken to, but there’s immeasurable benefit to be celebrated in deeply listening to her too. Hers is a hard won, long won, weft and wisdom. And in such slow contemplation there’s a seeing sunrise, sunlight, sunset, moon and starlit spaces behind – whilst simultaneously seeing sunrise, sunlight, sunset, moon and starlit spaces ahead.

Windows into the soul are so important. Here we find ourselves sustained by what’s behind us, and by what is – here in this city, in this ‘window’, right now, and by the light that calls us forward. All this, so often seen in one and the same windowpane. In a bookshop, or a stationers, or our own home, or our own dreams, or – most beautiful among the firmament of the windows of the soul – the eyes of family or friend or beloved.

All this discussion, contemplation and reflection steadily leads us inexorably to metamorphosis – gives wings to ‘The Extraordinary Life,’ to ‘The Boy (or Girl) Who Loved,’ to what ‘Bunheads’ might think of as the Dance of Life. And a certain being at home with oneself, be the days warm or cold, happy or sad: all the while growing …

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