This week I visited the ocean for the first time in a long while (thanks Matt!), and it reminded me of how lucky I was to witness my niece and newphew’s first time at the beach.
My niece, less than two years old at the time, took one look and yelled, “Oceaaaaaaaan!” and sprinted straight for the waves.
My nephew, just a bit older, eyes big as saucers, looked up and declared, “Mama, the ocean is toooo big!”
These are the perfect reactions, of course – complete delight and complete astonishment.
Dear ones, may we experience both the joy and the awe of our world today.
Our book is already celebrating its first birthday!
If you find yourself wanting to reflect on this past year, or to contemplate better times to come, we hope you might consider turning to Month of Sundays, which can be found at all of your favorite booksellers. One friend recently mentioned that she’s bought a stack of books to gift as she begins to reconnect with loved ones who have been apart, as a way to say, “welcome back.”
Thank you to those who have supported this endeavor to date, where proceeds have allowed us to give more generously than usual to some of the most vital nonprofits around. We designed the book to be evergreen, and hope it will bring comfort and connection through times of ease and times of challenge alike.
Exactly ten years ago, I was at the halfway point in the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route of about 500 miles that stretches from the edge of France all the way across northern Spain. I had spent weeks planning for the journey, carefully selecting socks and band-aids and a hiking pole, determined to pack with mindfulness and minimalism.
Despite my one smallish pack, within the first few hours my legs were aching and my shoulders were sore and it was clear I’d brought too much. I left a pair of sandals by the roadside, along with a sleeping mat. Proud that I was now truly down to the barest of essentials, I walked on.
By the midway point, I had developed huge blisters that covered the bottoms of my feet, making every step excruciating. One night I spread out all of the contents of my pack, and realized I was still carrying plenty of excess. I left a sleeping bag, an extra change of clothes, and some first aid supplies in a hostel, and continued on. Gradually, my blisters started to shrink and my pace started to quicken. By the day that I woke before dawn to enter Santiago de Compostela, my pack was light and my legs were strong.
Dear ones, we spend a lot of time accumulating all we might need for our journeys, and this is often time well spent. But when we prepare with intention, it’s even harder than usual to consider what can be released. The carrying cost is double – our own loads are weighty, and others are missing what might be shared.
Friends, what are the lovely, useful things that are weighing us down?
What might we release?
This week I attended my first wedding in oh so long, and it was magnificent. The bride was glowing and the groom was earnest and the ceremony reminded us that though we are glorious independent beings, we also have the chance to become one. Throughout the day, seeing family and friends gathered, I was thinking how beautiful it is to witness the extension of this oneness… one in family, one in community, one in humanity.
The day after the wedding I hiked up to a little waterfall and as I saw the raindrops return to the stream which formed the falls, which nourished the trees along the banks, this oneness spiraled out some more… one in the whole living world, one in the eternal flow of the universe.
Dear friends, let’s find a thread of connection today.
Let’s follow it all the way through.
Like most subjects, the founding of the United States is so much more interesting and complicated than the version we learned in grade school.
And for those of us who did attend grade school in the United States, this early passage from the Declaration of Independence is still rolling around in our memory banks:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I don’t recall making it to the end of this document in second grade, but this is the grand finale:
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Friends, it is great to recognize our potential as individuals, our independence.
It might be even greater to recognize our mutual pledge, our interdependence.
The first is entirely dependent upon the second.
May we live up to this promise to one another,
our sacred honor.
It’s easy to breeze right by the most astonishing things. A hawk circling overhead. A couple that has found one another. A caterpillar slinky-ing up a leaf. A bridge that spans a river. A newborn of any species.
This week I was tending to my bees. I was expecting a visitor and the clouds were rolling in and it had been a hectic day of zooms and spreadsheets and emails, so truth be told I was not paying too much attention. I swapped some empty frames into the hive and rushed along with my day.
Hours later, I took a quick glance at the comb that I had removed.
Friends, just look.
This was all made by insects, with nothing but water and flowers and some fancy enzymes from their own bodies.
We might miss some opportunities here and there,
but in the end,
if we pay attention,
we will never be un-amazed.
We will be astonished.