Life is not a straight line. It's a downpour of gifts, please – hold out your hand

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kissing the Ground

Playing with the camera: Amateur shot of autumn berries
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kiss the ground.

Like most of Rumi's poems, this one resonates with me deeply. My good friend, Brooke, sent it to me a few days ago--I'm so blessed to have friends that know what I need.

This poem tugged at me from the first line. For the last few months, I've been waking up feeling empty and frightened. I haven't known which way to turn. I've questioned myself to the point of exhaustion, trying to figure out why someone like me, someone who has read more self-help/spiritual books than should be legal, someone with two beautiful, healthy girls, an amazing husband, my health, a town I love, could feel so damn bad and sad. There has been this emptiness and deep-seated fear. And instead of turning within and breathing and sinking into all the discomfort, I've buried my head in books or in the computer. I've looked past the only place that can lead me out of this darkness. To sum it up in Rumi's words, I haven't been kissing the ground.

But today I did.

This afternoon I found the camera, flung it over my shoulder, rolled up my jeans, put on my muddy tennis shoes, grabbed the dog and headed out the door. We are lucky enough to be backed up to a gorgeous forested area with trails going in various directions. So, I made my way to the woods, knowing that's where I often find my peace.

This heading into the woods with a camera is something new for me. I think a lot about taking pictures, but I never quite make it happen. Like, it's just too much of an effort to pick up the camera on my way out of the house. I'm so glad I did today.

I stepped close enough to tree branches to see tiny droplets of water clinging to them. Close enough to notice where, precisely, the light was hitting the moss. I squatted down to the forest floor and looked at the rain-soaked red and yellow leaves. There was something so deeply satisfying about taking my camera and attempting to capture a tiny piece of all that beauty. I thought of the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words," and really got what this meant.

I so often try to capture what I see in words and, frustratingly often, come up short. But there is this beautiful thing called a camera that can freeze a moment, capture exactly how the moss hung off the tree branch or the way the gold and red leaves were lit up in the afternoon sun.

And I get what Rumi means when he says, "Let the beauty we love be what we do." I've always found my peace in nature--to capture this beauty and share it with words and pictures, feels a little like love to me. In fact I'm giddy about the whole idea of using my photos to help me express what I see and feel.

I've been depriving myself of joy. I've been looking outside of myself, waiting for something external to fill me rather than turning within and listening to my own quiet wisdom--the wisdom that really is only one, cleansing breath away.

I'm realizing it's all about finding ways to kiss the ground, to tune into the abundance of beauty that surrounds. To skip through the woods and breathe deeply the rich northwest soil. To squat down and capture the dew drop just before it falls.

Though there are infinite ways, I need not find a hundred ways to kiss the ground, just one or two will do. But I do need to let the beauty I love be what I do, not just today but every day.

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♥ Julia