this sunrise is the only sunrise

sunrise, nature, life, gratitude, loveHappy New Year!

January is here in all its quiet and subdued glory.  After all the hoopla of the holidays, I always think it feels just right to get back to the routines, to embrace fully the structure of this first, uneventful month of the year. In our home, on this farm, this month is, like it is for so many people, completely under control.  We have lots of goals and lots of plans, and for now, we have the time, space, and energy to keep to them, the path clearly laid out.  This is a beautiful thing.

The tricky part is–and we all know this well–not all of this is likely to hold a whole year through.  Life will have its way, too.  There will be detours unforeseen.  For us, no matter the plan, there is that moment every farming season when the only control possible is to let go of control, to simply let the water pull us under, knowing that the only way to make it out alive is not to hold our breath or struggle against things, but to instead just become the fish. To let ourselves be fully immersed.  We will be there again, I know, busier than busy, lifting so much life in our arms from this ever abundant earth.  That is part of our goal, after all, even if that itself becomes its own force to be reckoned with, a force that our neat and tidy days of January can scarcely hope to keep shackled to the shape we’ve drawn for it here in this stillness.

Right now, we make lists, order seeds, plan and schedule, and it soothes our human instinct to have order, to be in control, just as much as the times of feeling out of control beautifully humble us each year when we find ourselves at the mercy–in ways both wonderful and challenging–of the natural world.

mt hood, farmscape, sunrise, beauty, life, love, gratitude, natureRight now, waking in the dark, writing every day, having the time already for a break at sunrise to watch the red sky awaken the world around me–believe me, there is a part of me that wants to stay right here.  This feels perfect.

But this isn’t how life works, and why should it?

Life is a force to be reckoned with.  All we have is this moment.  The real resolutions, each year, the ones that matter to us most, the ones we hope to keep true at their core and really want to bring to light can’t be heavy with their own stomachfuls of stone.  Sometimes, what may masquerader as strength in January can end up being a mere veneer, hiding underneath it a brittle underbelly that just can’t weather the storm.

After thirty-seven years and so much paying attention, this is one of the good lessons I know I’ve learned, but the kind that I need to always remind myself of, especially now, in sweet January.

Don’t forget to tie up those hopes and dreams and innumerable plans with the highest quality rubber bands you can buy. 

The kind of strength this ship needs is the kind found in elasticity, not rigidity.

Wrap me around this life, a million times over in any sort of direction, and I swear I won’t break.  And when I’m unwound, I’m still the same still thing I was, not bent at all.  The shape remains.

I swear this to myself, right now, in this peaceful, perfect moment, this one sunrise.  And, I’ll try, at least, to say it with each other predictable morning sunrise I get to see.

rilke, sunrise, nature, beauty, gratitude, flexibility“If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.”

Alan Watts.

between the moon and the sun

full moon, field, farm, sunset, moonrise, summerA quick trip to the greenhouse to grab some tomatoes for dinner last night, but I came back with more.  A gift given~golden light and the big moon rising.  A chance to see things from a different side.  Me on fire like the grass, ablaze from the sun, but in shadow, so still.  Perfect.  I almost always watch the sun set from our home.  Last night, on the other side of the farm, it was a different view.  A new perspective.

summer, sunset, field, farmWaking on Saturday morning to find the pet snake escaped, the snake whom I was only barely convinced I could, in fact, share a home with, unseen, and my skin so uncomfortable from then on, I should have known it would be a challenging weekend.  Challenging in everyday kinds of ways. Challenging in big ways.  Bickering kids, disagreements in finding things for everyone to enjoy, struggles with finding time to get some work done too.  Heath concerns and questions.  That whole day was a wash that I couldn’t wait to be clean of.  Sunday, we mellowed.  We found the snake.  We worked together and played together and ate coconut-lime ice cream.  We swam.   And then, just to really top it off and clear the gunky residual of any tension that remained, five minutes of quiet out in our field, just me and the moon and the last kiss of the summer sunset.

moon, black and white, photography

It only becomes more clear to me, as time passes, that in this life we have to be able to hang with both of these kinds of days. The good ones and the bad.  The flow and the ebb.   And I don’t have a hard time with this in theory, at all, but I do have a hard time with this in practice, if only because I feel the pressure of the world around me, not allowing for such.  And maybe it shouldn’t.  I want to say that on our shadow days we get a free pass to get less done, slow things down, and just do whatever it takes to make it through that day.  But we have to do more than that, everyday.  I probably shouldn’t have let the tiny troubles of our Saturday make such a big impression on me.  I don’t know.

But when I let it all go last night, as I centered myself between the moon to the east and the sun to the west, I knew this for sure, that it feels a whole lot better now than it did then, thankfully.  And I knew, just as certainly, that no matter how wonderful, I could not hold onto that perfect moment forever, make it last, forever.   I could only breath it in and hope to keep it stored up inside me to call upon the next time I needed to remember so much goodness and beauty, and me, a part of it.  And that the flux, the vacillating, only helps me to feel so damn alive in such a moment, squared off with the heavens.