Share the Road

On a cold, rainy October night I found him coming home from an extracurricular trip. At the last minute, I swerved to miss what I thought was a crumbled up brown paper bag on the edge of the road. As I passed it I thought, “Gosh that looked like a kitten. Could it have been a kitten? But it didn’t move. Please don’t be a kitten”.

A short way up the road I turned around and headed back, parking behind the object to see if I could distinguish what it was with my headlights without actually heading out in the rain. It was indeed a kitten, an orange tabby, head drooped down, body close to the pavement. I hurried out of the car to the listless kitten then slowed, unsure if it would make a run for cover in the ditch. There was no need for fear. The emancipated kitten had little life left. I assumed it had come out onto the road to absorb what it could of the days’s heat from the pavement. Gently, I scooped the wet dazed kitten into my warm hands and held it close to my body.

Once in the car, I began delicately drying it off with a blanket from the back seat. Each wipe across its body revealed the severity of the kitten’s condition. Every vertebra in its backbone was visible, its skin loose, eyes sunken. In the car’s dim interior light I could tell the kitten could take it’s last breath at any moment. I thought, I won’t let it die alone. That’s when I heard it, the faint sound of a purr. Tears gushed out of my eyes. It must have taken all its strength to purr. That was it; I was going to do all I could to save this one little orange life! Home we sped.

I stayed up with the kitten all night, locked in the bathroom because our than, two-year-old yellow lab, Wally, thought it was a chipmunk. I fed it whenever it woke. I was honest with my children about the kitten’s condition. My son, teary eyed, kept telling me to save it. My daughter, a bit older, had no doubts that I’d try my best.

That was eight years ago. We named the male orange tabby Glow because if it wasn’t for his “glow” in my headlights I would have passed him thinking he was a brown paper bag. Glow’s feet didn’t touch the ground during the first month he was with us. He was my daughter’s real life “baby”. He was content to be swaddled in her doll blankets, taken for stroller rides around the house or snuggled with up with in her bed. I attribute his strong desire to both give and receive affection to this time of bliss.

Glow left this world unexpectedly on February 15th. The road brought him to our family and it took him from us. Our hearts are heavy with grief. There is a palpable emptiness in my day. His beautiful soul light  will be dearly missed. He was my constant companion, a keeper of my heart’s secrets, a source of great joy and forever my orange crush. We gave him  a good life and he made ours better for it.

Glow was one of those special  cats with a personality. He took pleasure from the catnip plants scattered throughout the yard and keeping the rodent population on our farm in check. When you held him, he melted into your body, gently kneading and purring in contentment. He gave abundantly of his love but demanded the same depth of affection be reciprocated whether you felt you had the time or not. He taught our family much about unconditional love, joy’s simplicity and the innate ability of playfulness to brighten your spirit.

On the road of life we pass by many opportunities to show compassion and kindness to other beings. Pay close attention to those that spontaneously place themselves onto your path. They are a special gift. This road of life we are on is meant to be shared. It’s the caring we share along the way that makes the rewards of our earthly journey real.

The Lakota have a word, Toska, which is said when parting. It is not goodbye. I understand it to mean I will see you again. Maybe that will be tomorrow, next year or in the Spirit world….. but I will see you again.

Toska Glow….Toska.

Holy Hive

Reluctantly, I turn up the edge of my wool hat, exposing an ear’s tender thin skin to the air’s frosty bite. I feel the white flesh turning pink then bright red as the sharp prickle travels down deeper and further into the ear tissue. I momentarily suspend my breathing as I firmly press the naked ear to the hive wall. Sealing out all the noise I can, hoping to funnel in the familiar soothing hum of the hive, hinting that winter’s wickedness hasn’t desecrated the hives holiness.

Early on in our beekeeping venture, these late-winter checks filled me with strong worry. Six years and four hives later, my faith and trust in our ability to keep bees alive over winter has grown, but with the abundance evil’s rising against the bee, I still rely heavily on God’s ear hearing the hum of my prayers.

One of the biggest contributors to a hive’s winter survival is having ample food stores. Bees create a substance in the hive known as beebread. The secret recipe is a mixture of honey, pollen and bee saliva. A process of fermentation breaks down the pollen’s protein which is indigestible in its natural state. Beebread is an invaluable high-energy food source.

Beebread is also known as “food of the Gods”. How appropriate! A bee’s life work is creating a space to unite the gifts of light with the gifts of darkness. They are Creator’s original light workers! Bees show us that when we bring our Spirit’s light into our soul’s darkness, we can make a honey of a life.

May you receive honey’s sweet sacrament. Take communion from the buds and blooms of Creator’s Divinity.

Blessed be thy bee.

Holy is thy hive.

Old Life

They came before the sunbeams pierced the darkness. Two sets of heart-shaped foot prints lead to, around and then away from the small hills of corn I placed at the woodland’s edge, an offering to the wild things to gather strength and sustenance during an extended period of subzero temperatures. No remnants of the corn’s golden shell remain. To see my small hills of goodwill consumed fills my heart with joy.

From the size of the tracks, I decide it’s a doe and her off-spring from last year. Others have come, too; a rabbit, a field mouse, and several crows but it’s the deer tracks that take hold of my imagination. It’s safe for me to assume the doe is eating for two or three. The burden of nourishing the new life in her womb and her own life is greatest at this time of year. The shrubs and forages they have been eating over the long winter are depleted and spring growth hasn’t begun. It’s truly a time of life or death for some in the herd.

Soon her instincts will cause her to drive off the yearling. She does this to focus all her energy on raising this year’s vulnerable fawn(s). The yearling’s old life will come to an abrupt end. I’ll probably see it wandering around the fields looking lost and confused for a few weeks. Independence will come at a high price for some, crossing roads safely is a skill taught by experience. Others will adapt well to this time of transition, venturing out into a new way of living without hesitation, being an example of gentle strength and resiliency for all of us.

The thoughts of the big changes ahead for the yearling stayed with me as I walked on. The enduring trust the doe placed in her instincts is indomitable. She has clear knowledge that it is a lesson she can’t teach her yearling. Trusting its instincts is something the yearling can only learn by being driven off to live a new way. Nature reminds me of life’s continual cycle of renewal. Harsh as that may be at times, life never gets old.

As the years pass, I am beginning to understand that life doesn’t grow old. I do. And if the aliveness in this old life dies away, I will find a new way to live alive.

Note: The photo in the featured image is of an unusually friendly yearling that seemed to find comfort hanging out in our yard and around the horses last summer.

Kiss and Tell

Over the years, as my writing expanded, so did thoughts of my freshman year Creative Writing teacher, Ms. Mary Manning. She was the person that inspired me to look at the outside world with words and the inside of me with wonder. The passing thoughts of her began to rest and collect in my heart as the possibility of publication grew closer. I told myself if I ever got published I was going to write her a thank you letter along with a copy of my book. Exactly one year ago today, Sweet Wisdoms was released by Shanti Arts Publication. With a little PI work by our school district’s superintendent, Ms. Manning’s, contact information was found. As promised, a copy of my book  with a thank you letter placed between its pages was sent off to Ms. Manning. Included in the letter was my contact information in hopes that we could get reacquainted.

Soon after, I received an e-mail from Ms. Manning. It began with, “Ah, Angie you kissed my heart.” Her voice in the email was just as I remembered, a rhythmic soft tone, calm and supportive. I could picture her rising from her desk and wiping her hands down the front of her skirt to smooth the wrinkles. Something she did out of habit every time she wore a skirt. Her mannerisms matched her classic beauty, make-up never overdone; clothes complimenting her figure but also chosen for their comfort. Her hands bore the evidence of her summer job cleaning hotel rooms. She was a timeless beauty inside and out.

Through our correspondence I learned she married late in life. She and her husband are snowbirds, spending their winters in Florida and their summers in Michigan. Once they were back in Michigan for the summer, we planned a reunion. She ended the e-mail with this; “I have always believed people come in and out of our lives for a reason. I am most grateful for this gift”.

So am I.

In late July of 2017, I headed to Kingsford, MI with high school yearbooks in hand to reunite and reminisce with Ms. Manning. I arrived at 11:30am and departed when the night’s cool air drifted through the screen door. As you can imagine our conversation’s path twisted and turned through 40 year old memories, skipping occasionally to wonders about the future. Such a delight to be in this beautiful soul’s company again!

I wish you all have an opportunity to “kiss a heart” in the eloquent words of Mary. Gratitude is the gift-wrap around our hearts. When thankfulness is expressed, we open ourselves and the world to receive the heart’s gift of tenderness, a gift that reaches through all time and never expires.

Your heart should be kissed and often, it makes the world soften.

I’m Listening

Child #1: “You’re not supposed to do that!”

Child #2: “I’m not listening to you!”

Child #1: “Yes you do! I’m 5 years old!”

Child#2: “I don’t have to listen to you!” (Child #2 is 4 years old)

Child #1: “Actually…..I’m 5 ½ years old.”

Child #2: “I’m not listening to a 5 ½ year old! Bus driver, how old are you?”

Me: “I’m 52. Actually…I’m 52 ½ years old.”

Child #2: “I only listen to old people like the bus driver. Humph.”

The conversation reminded me of the times I yearned to be old enough for someone, below or above my age, to listen to me.

Now that time has passed and my childhood is far and away, I’ve learned to choose wisely which voices I allow to influence my decisions. What matters most are not the voices I listen to but the one voice I try to silence. That voice, which is so easily quieted, is the keeper of our deepest knowing about ourselves. Our intuition. Whenever we say, “I don’t know or I can’t,” we are communicating to our higher self in no uncertain terms, “I’m not listening to you!” There is nobody telling you  to listen except yourself. We’ve all felt our intuition’s silent shouts, “Yes you do!”  echoing in our gut at one time or another.

Experience (age) has a way of gaining this understanding. If we could all simply take a breath and feel what we are feeling before tying up our knowing in a “not”, there would be no stopping any of us from reaching the unlimited potential untangled in an I do know or I can! Listen to your gut and you hear your heart.

Do make it an imposition to listen to your intuition.

Beautiful Beat

This happens frequently when I’m driving on my morning school bus route. As I head East, I watch in awe as the sun slowly awakens. Brilliant hues of pink, purple and orange peek over the night’s black blanket with blinks of hope and promise for the day ahead. It’s difficult sometimes to draw my eyes away from its radiant beauty. My first thought is, “I need to take a picture of this!” I want to remember this beautiful sight and share it with everyone I know! But of course, I can’t because I’m driving—a school bus.

I found a better way to capture the moment. I open my heart’s lens and let it focus on the beauty before me. In long slow breaths, I inhale the sunrise’s hope and promise and drop it into my heart, the one place where the colors will never fade and at a moment’s thought, the beautiful feeling can be be retrieved. Making every heartbeat a Kodak moment I share with the world.