“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.” (Richard Bach, Illusions)
2012 – In so many ways the worst year ever, certainly with too many spectacular lows; in theory, glad to be behind me.
But the gift of time and a quiet walk in the winter woods shifts my perspective somewhat. There is a peace in the solitude of the woods in winter, where even birdsong is rare, and stillness the norm. The snow falls softly now, and the whiteness and emptiness makes those that inhabit the winter woods that much more precious. The subtle red crest of the ruby-crowned kinglet might be missed in the explosion of color in spring, but sparkles like a gemstone against the snow.
I come to a barren hillside in Boyce Park, its trees and forest devastated by the reclaimation after a mine fire a number of years ago. It has stood barren for a number of years now, at first forcibly gouged open by mechanical blades; it will be a long time before the hillside regains its former hardwood forest glory, if it ever does.
But pioneering grasses and scrub trees are taking root and sprouting from the cut. The burgeoning scrub trees, edges and fields of this hillside will offer a new habitat soon; a different habitat for sure, perhaps not a varied and deep as its forested neighbors, but with color all its own. Yellow-breasted chats, indigo buntings and common yellowthroats will move in soon, providing spring migrant color and sound to those willing to dig a little deeper and see the beauty this hillside has to offer, despite its permanent scars.
2012 – It was certainly the most amazing year ever, despite the scars. It has opened my eyes and my heart, and life is alive in high definition clarity like I’ve never experienced before – the good, the bad, and the ugly. 2012 taught me that joy and sorrow are the same, and that only the depths of one make the heights of the other possible.
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Kahill Gibran
2012 – There were also – amazingly – incredible highs, for which I am forever grateful, and some of which truly sustained me. But most important, 2012 taught me to recognize these gifts now, as I am experiencing them. A red cardinal perches in a thicket, amidst the snowfall and barrenness of the season – there is beauty even in winter.
2013 – I do not wish for anything in 2013, for I know now that wishes aren’t ours. But I hope for, and will actively continue to cultivate, the true gifts of grace and love. The simple prayer that I earnestly started a little over a year ago continues – “Lord, Light, Debbie; please open my heart to your grace and love.” May I simply continue on my hearts’ path in 2013…