Sunday Reflection & Practice
In The Hay Field Reading & Dec 4th Online Concert
Sunday Reflection - In The Hay Field
Hi Everyone, This is the next in my serial reading. This is a poem called In The Hayfield from my “A Permeable Life: Poems & Essays” collection. I was driving at dusk along a road that runs through the small valley where I live. There was whisks of mist hovering and moving like schools of fish over the hay fields that framed the road. I had an encounter that evening with something that opened my heart completely and unexpectedly. Poetry and songs have always helped me describe what cannot be said easily in words, and so I went home and wrote this poem.
My life is filled with such moments. But as described in the poem, that particular moment might have been missed had I not pulled over and got out of my car. I needed to stop my outward forward motion to be able to sense an inward movement. Only then could I catch something beautiful, transcendent and poetic in an utterly ordinary Indiana pasture. Honestly, I think that might be why we are here, to watch and be ready for those heart opening moments, to hold them close and carry them forward.
I have a practice of picking up and carrying smooth stones in my coat pocket, backpack or purse. I pick them up everywhere I go. I have stones from the creeks near my home, from prairies and forests, from along the shores of the wide Great Lakes and wide oceans. I have stones picked up along busy urban streets, one from a quiet monastery in the redwoods and a midwestern farm, from states and countries far away from my home. I pile them up on ceramic plates and platters and in my little home altar. Sometimes I make little cairns from them as a meditation. There are a few stones that symbolize parts of myself that I want to nurture and hold close, some that represent experiences when my heart opened and the memory vibrates still. I often carry a few in a little medicine bag that I keep in my pocket or purse or backpack. I appreciate the weight of the bag, the worldly evidence of memories I cherish. It is not a burden, it is a feeling strength and a hope that sustains.
I remember a first meeting with a woman who would become one of my dearest friends. At some point in that first conversation I mentioned my love for stones and pulled a good sized geode out my purse. She laughed and pulled a smooth green stone of about the same size and weight as my geode from her purse. I’ve been known to have original things in my purse - you never know when you might just need scotch tape or a blue crayon or some random bit of guitar gear. But, I remember that it was such a delight to stand there and nudge one another with utter amusement and then explain to one another the meaning of the stone and why we loved carrying them around. She gave me that green stone before she passed from this world to the next mystery. I keep it in a home altar I’ve created of stones and symbols. Sometimes I’ll let it rest in my hand, feel its weight and power. Loss is real, harm is real, injustice is real —but joy is also real, a cherished moment is real, laughter, connection and the unexpected delight are all real.
I’ve been reading the works of Viktor Frankl this past week, pondering his powerful stories and messages about how humans rise or fall, learn or don’t learn, but especially about how we make meaning - even during the most difficult times. I’ve been pondering his encouragement to not just pursue happiness (which so hallowed in the American Way) but live more deeply into what gives my life meaning. Happiness is transitory, but joy and meaning are faithful. Hope is an action, a muscle we keep building. Hope is continuing to find meaning in service and kindness, in large and small moments of connection. Awe is a renewable willingness to stay open.
“Our attitude towards what has happened to us in life is the important thing to recognize. Once hopeless, my life is now hope-full, but it did not happen overnight. The last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one's own way.” - Viktor Frankl
Have you ever experienced a moment when you sensed your heart breaking open, from love or gratitude or something you can’t quite name? Is there a poem or song that helped you give it language? Do you have a memory that makes you smile or feel sustained whenever you pull it out and hold it in your heart?
Go outside and find a small stone. Hold it in your hand and feel the weight of it in your palm. Recall a moment or experience that gives you comfort, that always reminds you of a sense of hope or wonder. Now place it in your coat pocket or your purse or wallet. Sometime in the next couple of days, touch the stone in your pocket, or sense it in your purse or wallet. Breathe in the hope, wonder or meaning found in that stone and in that experience.
If you journal about the question or try this practice, please comment and let us know about your experience!
In the Hayfield Last evening, As I drove into this small valley, I saw a low-hanging cloud Wandering through the trees. It circled like a school of fish Around the dun-colored hay bales. Reaching out its foggy hands To stroke the legs of a perfect doe Quietly grazing in a neighbor's mule pasture. I stopped the car And stepping out into the blue twilight, A wet mist brushed my face, And then it was gone. It was not unfriendly, But it was not inclined to tell its secrets. I am in love with the untamed things, The cloud, the doe, Water, air and light. I am filled with such tenderness For ordinary things: The practical mule, the pasture, A perfect spiral of gathered hay. And although I should not be, Consistent as it is, I am always surprised By the way my heart will open So completely and unexpectedly, With a rush and an ache, Like a sip of cold water On a tender tooth. By Carrie Newcomer
A Very Special "A Gathering of Spirits" Online Winter Concert with Allie Summers & Gary Walters!
This will be a cozy, informal, and interactive show for the holidays! Including some old favorite & new songs as well as a downloadable pdf of some favorite cookie recipes!
SPECIAL OFFER - If you are a Supporting Subscriber to my Substack page, you will receive a FREE ticket to this show (with lots of other fun perks like new demos, song labs, videos, and more).
If you upgrade to a Supporting Subscriber you will immediately get a welcome message with lots of gratitude and a code for your free ticket.
Also, you can give the gift of a supporting subscriber membership to someone you know! They will receive a free ticket to the show AND all The Gathering of Spirits Perks :-)
If you would like to just join us for the show without subscribing, you can purchase your tickets at MANDOLIN at https://mandolin.com/events/c267a434-1623-4d98-b5cc-a2c30e3b9db1
A Heads Up That My Holiday Sale Starts NOV 24th!!
Ella and Lily love their new caps :-)
Sunday Reflection & Practice