It was the Tuesday after Memorial Day. I decided earlier that week to go to my parent's grave site after the weekend, mostly to avoid the crowds but also because the forecast called for a cool morning. Twenty-three years ago, when my mother died, my father asked me to design the headstone...something one isn't asked to do very often...but I took the challenge. I've always hated the fake flowers put out as memorial decorations, so I designed a chunk of marble (close to my mother's favorite color) that has a cutout in the middle. In this small space I put a live, drought tolerant plant each year, hoping against all hope it survives. This year I potted up a Lantana flower, again, in a color I think my mother would love. I stood back and thought how glad I was to have been a creative part in this memorial to them.
After telling my parents good-bye and that I loved them, I picked up lunch and went to share it with my best friend at her workplace. Time with friends is precious. I always thought that as we got older, we would have more time for one another. You know, kids are grown, there's a bit more discretionary income, we start to value the important things, and learn to say NO to the energy-suckers, etc., but I think my calculations were off. So when a moment breaks free or the inspiration to initiate a connection happens, I try to take it. And in that short hour together, we had such a lovely and bonding time.
My friend is a therapist and we have known one another since college. She has lamented on several occasions how often people tell her they have no one to confide in. No one they feel safe enough with to be vulnerable. No one who "gets" them. Such is not the case with many of my friendships and this friendship in particular.
After eating and sharing our "life updates," she began to show me fabulous photos from the Juneau Photo Group on Facebook. We scrolled her phone photos, reminiscing about her living there as a young girl, and the vacation we took there together. We literally passed tissues and wept at the indescribable beauty, and then for the fragile balances we are aware of being destroyed in our lifetimes. We wondered aloud why these images and everything in nature touches us both at what seems to be a cellular level, while other people barely notice or are minimally moved. We also wondered why having this sense of awe has sometimes leveled the "worshiped the creation instead of the creator" criticisms from others. It makes no sense to us because we see it as gazing into the face of God. When I needed to leave, we hugged good-bye, silently acknowledging our shared love of the earth and of one another.
Then I went to Starbucks to write. Lately I've hit a good groove when it comes to crafting my short story trilogy. Having the Antioch Writers Workshop as a deadline in July really motivates. So, after settling in with a Chai latte', I got to work and lost myself for over an hour in the writing. I absolutely love that state in the creative process...being so intensely focused that time and place are forgotten. I used to experience it painting...when the theta brain waves would kick in for an hour or more...and then I would literally "come to," as I called it. That's what happened for the first time in a very long time in Starbucks in Kroger in Beavercreek.
After writing, I decided to check email and Facebook on the computer. I remembered that two CD's had recently been downloaded to my Cloud Player, so I clicked on K.D. Lang's Recollection CD and put my ear buds in. Within minutes I was weeping again. Something about track #3 - The Air that I Breathe - touched me very deeply. The song is such a perfect combination of melody, harmony, lyric and voice that the lump in my throat finally let go and tears rolled down my eyes right there at the table. I think this time it also had to do with the personal longing to sing even half that good. In the past, I've tasted the joyful kinship of singing harmony with others but to be able to belt out a song like that leaves me breathless. Then I listened to her duet, Crying, with Roy Orbison and was nearly beside myself. I decided it was time to head home.
Needless to say, on that unremarkable day my heart had been opened to see, hear, smell, taste and feel beauty everywhere as I drove. It was filled with gratitude for such Beauty...the one thing that makes little sense if there is no God and all is completely random. I was also grateful for the place I was headed; a place filled with peace and connection, and one last time my eyes welled up with tears. Finally, I knew my whole being was thankful for the healing that has allowed me to reach any measure of depth in friendship, marriage, spiritual living, creativity and nature. I hope this lesson sticks and I carry it with me, at least most days, and keep learning to never take anything for granted; to see the beauty everywhere.