Manna Meditations

gratitude in the winter dark…

(Manna Meditations, Day 23)

In these gray days, let us not forget to look for the ordinary wonder …

To see beauty in bare lines and broken places, in cracks crazing the sidewalk like fine china:

To see color in subtler shades — the blonde of afternoon sunlight. ¬†The burnished bronze of fallen leaves, shining against wet dark asphalt:

Let us see warmth in the naked white limbs of sycamores, which reach out to embrace each other across streets and lanes, unhampered by their green-leaf summer clothing:

And let us see sunsets — one for every day, astoundingly aflame, the gift as predictable as clockwork:

Ah, Lord. ¬†This place is cold and dark…

And also, it is beautiful. 

ūüíõ

Standard
Everyday Wonder

The beginning of something good …

I don’t know about you, but summer brings me to life: the honey-colored light and the slow silken heat. The sight of children let loose for the holidays, running barefoot in fresh-cut grass.

On the greenest of summer’s days, I feel like running barefoot, too.  

I’ve spent the past several days celebrating the beginning of all that. There were twelve of us bedded down in a giant cabin in the Smokies, laughing and screeching, reveling in the heat and the mountain air and the goodness of human company. And it seems like the right time to simply drop in here and say: I’m grateful.

The first day back from such a beautiful holiday is always hard, but I thought I’d begin with a simple snapshot I caught from the car window on the road home:

  
As we re-enter our ordinary lives today, let’s not forget to find the magic there, too. 

It’s summer.

The world is alive and shimmering with warmth. 

The winter is a distant memory. 

And the future is full of possibility…

Hope you’re celebrating, too. ‚̧

Standard
Everyday Wonder

gratitude…

  
Tonight.

It’s late. The rain falls on the house for hours without stopping — a slow, steady rain. The kind that brings the world to life.

Meanwhile I’m here inside, listening to the drumming on the roof. 

The dinner guests have gone. 

The dishes have been cleaned, the wine glasses placed back on the shelf, upside down, glinting in the yellow light.

After all the laughter, it’s quiet, and suddenly I have space to draw a breath and take it in.

And I realize: it’s enough. 

The echoes of conversation and laughter.  The fading image of myself with my head on a friend’s shoulder.  My husband, now asleep in the next room, his breath easy and slow. 

The summer, so wet and green and full. 

And oh, God, there is so much more I want to build and be and do. But if this is all I ever have time for — well, then…

It’s enough. ‚̧

Standard
The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Fourteen

foodcherries

This evening, I stand in the kitchen and chop.

And saute. 

And stir.

And smile.

There are friends coming for dinner, and that makes me happy.

These days, food makes me happy, too.

*

There was a time in my life where food didn’t make me happy. ¬†In fact, I was downright¬†afraid of it. ¬†

And that fear persisted long after I made my recovery from my eating disorder.  It persisted so long that, one day, I decided to do something about it and just plain fall in love with food.

If love is an arrow, I wrested the bow out of Cupid’s hands, took aim and fired. ¬†

I didn’t miss.

*

In the absence of new photos on my reel lately, I’ve been scrolling through some of my older shots. ¬†I scroll all the way back to 2009, when my love-affair with food began, and I find lush, shockingly colorful images like this:

foodstrawberries2

And this:

peachblueberry

And this:

foodchard

My mind takes me back to that season when a love of eating was new — a rich, wildly sensory experience — and it just plain makes me happy. ¬†

Because that was the year I¬†taught myself where food comes from, if it’s raised right — out in the fields or the woods, in places where light is plentiful and the soil is rich:

foodharvest

 

I learned what it felt like to eat a blueberry or a blackberry straight from the brambles. ¬†I discovered scapes, and I met my all-time-favorite food, Chicken of the Woods — a wood mushroom that magically soaks up whatever you cook it in (hello, chardonnay!) and transforms the flavor into something unspeakably divine:

foodchickenofthewoods

I learned to can and vacuum-seal and freeze and pickle. ¬†I took a job as a baker’s assistant, and I learned to make meltingly soft scones, dense crusty artisan breads full of nuts and berries, and my personal favorite, galettes:

foodgalettes

I learned that food looks best in the sunlight:

foodnectarine

Most of all, I smiled a lot, and laughed — right there in the presence of the food that used to scare me:

foodlaugh

Today, I’m thinking back to those days and finding myself overwhelmed with gratitude…

I open the bottle of wine.

I let it breathe.

I toss the salad.

I wait for my friends to arrive. ‚̧

 

Standard
The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twelve

I find the rose almost by accident.

decemberrose1

It grows along the stairs to the backyard, struggling to bloom against the warmth of the concrete wall, right now, in the middle of December. I lean over the railing and finger its pink petals in wonder:  Could this be possible?  Now?

The rosebush is one of the ancient ones planted by our home’s original owner — its name a mystery, its scent headier than that of modern roses, so that the scent drifts¬†through the yard like a cloud each June. But now … even now … it tries again.

I cut it and take it inside with me, into the warmth of the kitchen, where I stand quietly, stroking its velvet bloom down the curve¬†of my cheek. ¬†Its petals are crinkled by cold, darker than they should be, but still: ¬†just a hint of that June scent. ¬† I can’t get over it.

*

decemberrose2

It’s a funny thing — isn’t it — the way some gifts come not when you’d expect them, but when you need them most? ¬†And that’s what my life has felt like lately: one rich out-of-season¬†gift after another. ¬† A bloom in the darkest month of the year.

This is what I am thinking as I trim the stem and fit my undeserved gift¬†into a milkglass vase. ¬†Set it under the kitchen window, where its half-furled petals can open slowly in the sun. I breathe in the scent and think: God — oh, my God — I am grateful. ‚̧

///

{Wonder what’s happening here? ¬†For thirty days this December, I’m challenging myself to¬†enjoy this body I’m living in: ¬†to take pleasure in all my senses, to explore it and use it in new ways … and most of all, simply to cherish it. ¬†I hope you’ll join me for the journey. <3}

Standard
Everyday Wonder

Good Words for Thanksgiving …

Today, as so many of us here in the States board planes or toss¬†bags into cars to rush home for the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I’d share this little snatch of a poem from Mary Oliver.

Somehow it just seems right:

thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, friends … Today I’m wishing you a little space to draw a breath¬†… to¬†take in some quiet magic.

Me, too.¬†‚̧

Standard