Friday, August 21, 2009

Take a Walk With Me...

My day started with a walk in the woods behind our home. Nothing spectacular happened...unless you count just being in the woods as the sun climbs over the ridge...and I do.

Come with me...

Spider webs abound. I didn't have the heart to damage this one. She'd already taken a hit (near the top) and her tasty breakfast was trapped in the center. I changed my entire route to avoid tearing up her web...

...and because I changed routes, I met this little guy on the path. We always talk about turtles being slow, but his one was right spritely! He slowed down a bit when he figured out I wasn't going to grab him, but not before he covered some ground.

Sometimes the simplest things are really pretty. I don't even know what this plant is, but the gracefullness of the slender stems and tiny leaves just caught my eye.

Another gift...a tiny trumpet vine blossom...very small but the bight orange color jumped out at me.

And I got to indulge my fascination with leaves. There is something just so damned beautiful in the lines and patterns. Blackberry leaves, I believe, and don't you love those sawtooth edges?

Finally, my favorite sight of the morning...a dead branch hosting a lively bunch of lichen and moss. There are at least three different types on this one branch, and they're so pretty. (click on the photo to get a better view) The branch is "dead"...or is it? It's supporting all that life. Who's to say?

Thanks for letting me take you along. If you get a chance, go take a walk outside and see what you can see. It's an amazing world.

Photos by Linda Davenport, August 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Red Tailed Hawk

I work downtown, and we have some of the most interesting wildlife here.  Yesterday, a red tailed hawk who frequents the area perched and posed for me just outside my office building. What a treat! Click on the pictures for a larger view. 

Click here to learn more about these beautiful birds.  Red Tailed Hawks are also powerful totem animals.

These hawks are exceptional hunters, and falconers prize them.  Experienced falconers prefer to acquire a red tailed hawk in the first year (it may actually be illegal to take them for falconry after the first year). Beyond that first year, the hawks have picked up "uncooperative adult habits." 

Isn't it the same with us? We have such potential, yet often our "uncooperative adult habits" prevent us from taking our talents and gifts as far as they can go. It's harder to unlearn behavior in later years; paying attention to wisdom and shaping our talents early in life is easier than overcoming years of thought patterns and behaviors that don't serve. We have such power if only we can shed our uncooperative habits!

Thank goodness it's never too late!  An adult Red Tailed Hawk may never become a falconer's bird, but I can keep working on me to the end of this life and beyond. That's good...I'll need all the time I can get.

Gracious Goddess, help me to say yes to this day and the lessons it brings, to pay attention, and to turn around the less-than-productive behaviors I've stockpiled through the years. If I can get rid of the years of accumulated crap, I should have room for just about anything you want to send me...but I'm going to need help clearing out the space.

"For all that has been - thanks. For all that will be - yes." (Dag Hammerskold)

Photos by Linda Davenport, August 2009.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Photo published in Schmap!! San Francisco

Everyone likes a compliment, and I just got a nice one.

The folks at "Schmap!! Beyond the Map" selected one of my photos for publication in their online city guide to San Francisco. That's a very nice compliment!

It's also a rather interesting business model. They apparently search Flickr and possibly other photo sites for pictures. When they find ones they like, they create a "short list" and invite photographers to submit those photos. They don't have to pay for photography, and photographers like me get a photo credit and some exposure. That sounds like a winner all around to me.

You can view the guide and my photo here.  And I have to say the Schmap people do a great job with their guides. Their walking tour information for San Francisco is excellent, right down to guidance on which bus to take if some of the hills on the route are a bit daunting.

Thanks for letting me share the joy!  Oh, and here's the photo used in the guide:

Remodeling Progress!

I've found a great new WordPress template for the Hymnal, and I'll be calling on my friend and web crafter extraordinaire, Julie at LadyCelt Designs, to help pull it all together soon. I'm so excited!

The move will take a little while, but I don't want to dally long, so please watch this space for news of our new address. Getting fancy new digs for the Hymnal won't be any fun if you don't come along!

Back to packing!

Pay Attention...Just Pay Attention

I was running a bit late this morning. That's not terribly unusual, sad to say, but this morning my lateness was compounded by a need to run an errand five miles in the opposite direction from my usual work route, and to stop for gas. 

My errand route took me almost due east. As I'm racing along, I top a hill and catch the most beautiful sunrise...a true take-your-breath-away vision of gold, cream, white, grey, blue, and silver.  I gasped out loud and immediately reached for my camera, remembering almost as quickly that another errand on my list for today is getting batteries to replace the absoultely dead ones in the camera. I reached for my cell phone to grab a quick snapshot, remembering that I had left it at home and, in the interest of time, declined to go back into the house and pick it up.

It was about then that I heard that quiet little voice saying, "Just enjoy the sunrise!" And I felt a little embarrassed that I was, indeed, so caught up in trying to capture the moment that I was letting it get by me. I was forgoing the beauty of right now in my frenzy to save it for later. What kind of sense does that make?

Fast forward ten errand complete, I raced back in the other direction and stopped for gas at a little country convenience store near my home. I was looking ahead, trying to figure out if there were pumps open and which one to aim for...and not noticing the enormous bump-and-dip combination at the edge of the parking lot, the one that I rolled over just slightly faster than I should and nearly ripped the bottom out of my car.  Beneath the cries of, "Oh, s*it!" I heard a by-now familiar voice saying, "There you go again. Pay attention to what's happening now and let the next few minutes take care of themselves!"

Embarrassment gave way to chagrin and edged toward humilliation when I realized the nice gentleman about to enter the store saw the whole debacle. He cringed and hollered (that's the only word for it), and I immediately flashed with anger, assuming he was laughing at me. My little voice was having a very busy morning, and once more nudged me. "You did it; why are you getting mad because he saw it? Just own it, Linda...just own it."

I went in the store. The fellow was standing in line with his purchases. He must have known I would be embarrassed; he didn't make eye contact. I said, "Did I scare you when I nearly took the bottom out of my car?" He relaxed, laughed, and said, "No, I was just hurting for your car!"  The laughter took the tension right out of the moment. He and the clerk shared stories about how many people have done the same thing, how you have to slow to a crawl to cross that spot without bumping, and how one young lady ripped her bumper off going over that spot. I felt a lot better by the time I'd paid for my gas.

Sorry I don't have pictures of the beautiful sunrise to share with you, but I think maybe I needed the lesson more than you needed the photos. Maybe next time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

All Gratefuled Up and No One to Thank

Church signs have caught my eye several times of late. Here's the latest:

Pity the poor atheist who feels grateful and has no one to thank.

If you've been reading here for any time at all, you know that gratitude is one of the fundamental spiritual principles of my life. There are times when I am so filled with gratitude, with appreciation and receptiveness, that I feel like I might just burst, a somewhat rounder than usual human shaped nova of golden light, a giant gratitude sparkler sending little bits of happy light everywhere. It's an intense feeling, as close to ecstatic communion with the divine All as anything I know.

I don't know why someone would think that not having a specific entiy toward which to speak words of thanks would reduce the beauty or intensity of the emotion.

If you receive an anonymous gift, something that you really need or want, are you miserable and piteous because you have no one to thank?  You might be driven mad with curiousity. You could, if you're the cynical, suspicious sort, be so consumed with identifying the source that you fail to appreciate the gift. Or, I suppose, if you're one who absolutely cannot rest until you've sent a couteous thank you note, you might lose sleep until you've fulfilled that obligation.

In my spiritual path, gratitude is not a command and thanks is not an obligation; neither are they optional. Gratitude is not a religious tenet; it's a spiritual principle, both an action and a result, a universal cause-and-effect that applies to everyone. It's a state of open, receptive awareness, one that allows blessings to flow through our lives and opens the way to connect with the Divine in everyone and everything. It is also the emotion that results from that connection and from awareness of our many blessings. And the idea that people who don't believe in deity deserve pity because they feel gratitude and don't have a god to whom they can express that gratitude indicates a lack of understanding of the principle.

There's more than one way to express gratitude. Saying thank you to the source of our gifts is one way, a good one, but I'm a bigger fan of "paying it forward." What better way could there be to acknowledge our gratitude and expess our awareness and appreciation for the good things in our lives than by helping others, by being a blessing in their lives? A personal thank you to your Source is nice; allowing that Source to work through you in the lives of others is divine. If you serve the All, what does it matter if you call on a god or not? Whether you serve in the Name of Love or in the name of love, the principle is the same.

There is no need to pity the athiest or anyone else who feels gratitude. Gratitude is its own reward, a self-fueling cycle of awareness, appreciation, and action.  A person who is truly grateful is open to receive and willing to repay, with or without a named god to thank for it. The universal principle of gratitude doesn't recognize labels like theist/athiest, believer/non-believer. Like the sun that shines on both good and evil and the rain that falls on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45), the joys of a grateful life are available to everyone.

That's something we can all be grateful for.

Do You Speak 'Mater?

Do you ever have those moments when something you don't even know you know comes gently into your mind, into your set of knowledge, as if it had always been there? Comfortable, old knowledge...something you know in your skin, in your breath...know without effort.

I am not a knowledgeable gardner. My beloved is far more knowledgeable than I am about these things, and even he will quickly tell you he's still learning.  But once in a while, I feel so intimately connected to and aware of the plants, the soil, the blossoms and the ripening fruit. It feels like knowing a person, someone you're so intimate with, even if you can't articulate what you know about them, you just know. Ya' know?

Yeah, sounds a bit woo-woo...but it's a real feeling just the same. It's like a language I think I've forgotten that floats back into my conciousness from time to time. My father spoke that language. He loved growing things...loved the dirt, the green, and the beautiful harvest that fed his family and his soul.

I feel him the other day when I placed the umpteenth tomato in the kitchen windowsill to ripen. The window was full and I swear I heard him chuckle, "Whatcha' gonna do with the rest of them 'maters in the garden, gal? You need a couple more windows!"

Dad, I've only got one kitchen window, but I have lots of friends who are enjoying these tomatoes, just like your friends did. Briana and Sarah both love 'em warm, fresh off the vine. We eat 'em with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I even made spaghetti sauce with my own fresh tomatoes last week.

Ah, but what am I telling you all this for. I'm sure you already know.

Photos: Linda Davenport 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Big RE-RE

Since I started this blog a few years ago, I’ve managed to attract a smattering of intelligent, thoughtful, regular readers and a fair number of equally delightful drop-ins. I am grateful for each of you and for each visit you make to my little choir loft. My posts have ranged from personal rants, to pedantic lectures in print, to sharing things I find on the web or photos from my ever-present camera. In everything, I’ve tried to have a positive impact, but I’ve never had a definitive goal or purpose for my blog. I’ve simply shared whatever has been on my mind and in my heart.

Lately, through introspection and fantastic conversations and examples with/of my 3AC writers’ group sisters, I’ve realized that I do have some specific goals for this blog that are very important to me, goals that reflect what I believe and how I live. I’ve also realized, through interactions with readers here at the Hymnal, that what I say here is heard and makes a difference. Since those goals I mentioned are all about making a difference, what better use for this blog could there be?

It appears, then, that it’s time for a big Re-Re: Revamp, Relocate, Redecorate, and Reintroduce. In the next few weeks, Heartsong’s Hymnal is going to get a complete overhaul, one that will allow me to keep singing about things that matter most to me. Your voices, the comments that make such beautiful music here, will have a more prominent place in the pages, more visible and more conducive to good conversation.

One of the things I will be doing is reintroducing myself. I may offer you more than you want to know. Feel free to put your fingers in your ears, squeeze your eyes shut, and sing, “La la la la la!” until the uncomfortable moments pass. It won’t hurt my feelings. ::grin:: On the other hand, if you’re going to sing with me, you deserve to know who I am. I hope you’ll feel free to share yourselves with me, too.

Updates are coming! Be patient, my friends…and thank you for adding your voices to the choir. I hope you’ll keep singing as we turn the page.