Silence. I love it. Neither afraid, nor uncomfortable, that proverbial sound of silence is one of my favorites. In a hyper-stimulated, noisy world, I don’t need all the sounds. I’m good with all the quiet. As much as I love music, silence has a sound that I can hear and it’s one of my favorites.

Many people require noise or stimulation…for some it is the equivalent of validation or the antidote for loneliness…for me…not so much. Perhaps I appreciate the sound silence makes because it took me years to actually hear it. I love running through Bull Creek and being keenly aware of the water trickling through the huge boulders. I listen to the branches rub against one another in the breeze and I hear the flapping of that amazing blue heron who I see on the edge of the creek. I hear the wind and even the silent echo and I feel blessed. I meditate in silence and love the cacophony of sound.

But right now…the silence is way too loud. It’s unsettling. I want to know that they are all ok. I miss their sounds and if this new silence means they’ve grown and literally flown the coop then I’m ok with that…and I suppose that’s what I have to believe yet I wonder…where are they…where did they go.

We have a beautiful porch. On it sits a rocking chair with a decorative pillow and a little table; there is a matching rug. It isn’t Norman Rockwell (because this is Texas and not New England) but still…it’s just plain ol’ lovely and worthy of a painting. Our front door is a cheerful, welcoming yellow. All along the edge of the porch hang healthy, lush ferns. In the tree nearby hangs a bird-feeder that is kept filled. And up until this evening there was a mother wren who worked to feed and care for her babies who were living in one of the fern plants.

Pine Cone birds

Pine Cone watched the mama wren feed her babies while hiding under her bedding.

I’m not sure how long they were there. Not long enough.

I love to keep the front door open because Sunny comes to sit and play through the glass with Pine Cone. When I see her, I let Sunny in for a treat (or two) and lots of hugs. And because I’m in the habit of keeping the door open, I noticed the mother wren. She called out a lot and worked diligently to feed her babies. They spoke a language and I although didn’t know what I was hearing, I had begun to recognize the different intonations. I watched her come and go and was amazed to hear the chicks cry loudly when she was there with food (“me, me, me”) and then go intensely silent as soon as their mama flew away.

Nature is wise and those little baby birds knew to stay quiet and safe until mama returned. I suspect they knew when their mama was near because I had begun to discern a different call when she was perched nearby. Respectful of the process happening before me, I chose not to sit out on the porch or get too close in an effort to not disturb her as she cared for her chicks. I loved coming home from work and opening the door to hear them and see her flying in and out. It was special and I knew it.

Today I came home from work and opened the front door to an eerie quiet. No calls, no flurry, no sound. Too quiet. I went about my routine, taking care of what I needed to do all the while wondering why the silence was screaming at me from the front porch.

They are gone. Mama is gone and so are her babies. There is no fluttering to and from, there are no tiny squeechy sounds coming from the fern plant. Silence. Perhaps they have grown and flown away, perhaps this new silence which I do not enjoy is gifting me with the opportunity to understand what silence may be like for others. I’ve always enjoyed the quiet until tonight. And now, the silence is so loud it is hard to turn down, there is no mute. I have to listen to the quiet. Tonight, I think I get it…maybe for the first time…why so many of us need distractions, noise and constant stimulation. If this is what silence feels like for some, I now have compassion. I now understand. The silence that emanates from the front porch is loud enough that I’ve grown uncomfortable, unsettled and concerned.

I don’t like this new version of silence. I want mama wren back. I want her to flutter and call. I want to hear her babies. Finally, when I could no longer tolerate the screaming silence, I checked. I climbed up and peered into the thick fern for the first time. They’re gone. No one is there. It’s like they were never there. The silence is deafening.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven

Neil

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Sitting in the sold-out performing arts center listening to Neil deGrasse  Tyson lecture, teach and entertain us with his brilliant mind and well-  developed sense of humor, I admit to being initially awe-struck as I sat  in close proximity to the renowned Astrophysicist. It was fun to watch  as he unceremoniously kicked off his shoes and comforting to realize  that as big of a fan as I am, there were those in attendance who  practically held ‘groupie’ status. I was not the nerdiest person there  and nowhere near the smartest.

As we collectively settled into his presentation my attention was  focused as he discussed the Universe. And as often the case when our mind puts energy toward a thought or notion, a lesson, message, or validation is reflected back to us. Sometimes we refer to it as déjà vu and oftentimes we’re amazed that someone will mention the very subject we’ve been contemplating.

And so it was as I sat absorbed listening to one of my fantasy dinner guests (You know…in response to the ‘If you could invite anyone to a dinner who would it be’ question…), Dr. Tyson referenced something that has been on my mind. As he discussed science fiction movies, time and relative dimension in space (TARDIS) and yes, even Mary Poppins’ carpet bag…he explained the notion of being ‘bigger on the inside’.

His point was well articulated as he described that three-dimensional space can be curved in the presence of energy and matter which results in an ability for a spatial opening to be bigger on the inside…just like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag.  Meanwhile, my mind had been contemplating the notion of ‘Inside Out’ rather than ‘Outside In’.

mary-poppins-bag

What did Mary Poppins pull out of her carpet bag? A lamp, mirror, coat rack and a rubber tree plant!

In many ways, we were speaking the same language.

Outside In seems to be the popular choice despite the fact that it does not serve us well. Outside In judges someone on the outside before having knowledge of who they are on the inside. Outside In thinking makes assumptions based on where someone is from, the color of their skin, their job title, what kind of car they drive, their physical appearance, their belief system, and their mannerisms…the list is endless and we’re doing it backwards. Outside In limits us to small, negative and fear-based thinking. It’s time to make an effort to transform our thinking to Inside Out.

Inside Out thinking is a happier, healthier choice and I believe Dr. Tyson would agree. Just like Mary Poppins’ bag, we are bigger on the inside. When we welcome Inside Out thinking into our comfort zone, our experience lightens and our perspective broadens. We get to know people who don’t look like us, don’t dress like us, perhaps they have different jobs, different views and different beliefs. We become richer because all sorts of options and opportunities emerge. We have the ability to expand our personal Universe by simply thinking Inside Out!carrot no words

As Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed the Universe and its components scientifically proven to be bigger on the inside, I smiled in recognition at the energy reflecting back to me. We are all components of our vast Universe and just like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, we too are bigger on the inside.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven

Driving the familiar road home from the horse farm recently, I was listening to Guy Clark sing about the plight of people who are homeless. In typical Guy Clark fashion, the famed song-writer, story-teller expressed a simple message and thought-provoking questions…”When did this start making sense?”…”Don’t give ‘em no money, they just spend it on beer, homeless, get away from here”. As I approached a traffic light I saw a man sitting in a wheelchair in the median holding a cardboard side just like the one Clark described as he softly sang his lyrics. His voice, despite being played on a CD in my car, conveyed more than compassion…it imparted sadness and disappointment. The man’s sign, written in black marker read, ‘please help, homeless, veteran, god blest’.

God blest.  Sign

As I listened to Clark’s lyrics, I caught eyes with the man who had only one leg holding the sign and I wondered about his story. Perhaps he joined the military at an early age with very little education and even fewer options. Perhaps he served his country and had his leg blown off in the process. And perhaps he came home to a future of marginalized prospects, marginalized care and a marginalized life.

When I was a kid a teacher of mine was in the hospital. I don’t remember why she was in the hospital, I don’t even remember the teacher although I remember my mother commenting over the years about my choice of words to her in a card I have no memory of writing: “How did this happen?”.

Apparently I’ve not evolved much beyond that childhood innocence. I see the homeless veteran sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of the road and I read about a man so full of hatred for people whose skin color doesn’t match his own that he walks into a church and kills nine people and I hear defensive politicians more concerned about their rights to have a gun rather than their concern for the lives lost and I look around and see people who are disengaged and uncommunicative yet checking their phones for messages and Facebook posts as if in an operant conditioning rubric, and I wonder, “How did this happen?”.

Our society encourages people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps but not everyone happens to have a pair of boots. And then what? What happens to the proverbial bootless? What about the veteran with one leg who comes home to nothing and falls prey to the brain disease of addiction? What about the kid who is so disconnected that his anger turns into hatred and he lashes out by killing people? What about the divisiveness in our country, the stereo-typing and labeling of those who look different or come from a different culture, the choosing of sides with little compassion for others while being mired in the self-absorbed tenets of anxiety and fear? When did we become so afraid? How did this happen?

As I continued my drive home listening to Guy Clark, toward the end of the song he sang, “When the final line unfolds it don’t always rhyme.”

Yes sir, you got that right Mr. Clark. Right now, ain’t nothin’ really rhyming. We’ve got a lot of fixing to do.

God blest.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven

Leap and the Net Will Appear.

The simple card with the heartfelt note penned inside arrived in my mailbox a couple of years ago. Those six words spoke to me immediately. Sent by my two supportive and beautiful friends who had done the same thing a year before: they leapt, the net appeared and they created the life they wanted. Leap image

Before the card arrived I was mired in uncertainty and wondering whether or not to trust a gut feeling that kept saying, ‘move to Austin…move to Austin’. I questioned whether or not I was running away or running to. All the while, that internal messaging continued, ’move to Austin…move to Austin’.

Clearly, I was at a crossroads. I had finally found the strength to end an almost 20-year marriage that had robbed me of my financial security and drained me of my energy and joy. My job was ending because my newly single boss had decided to close a highly successful business to start a dating service. A serious bike crash had rendered my body sensitive to freezing temperatures yet I was living in a culture where it was common to keep gloves, ice-scrapers and snow shovels in your car at least eight months a year.

Leap and the Net Will Appear. The black card with the white lettering sent from Cele and Ann arrived in my mailbox at exactly the right time and has been prominently displayed on my refrigerator door ever since. The words seemed to jump off the paper and lock proverbial arms with my internal voice…’move to Austin…move to Austin’. Without certainty of any details yet filled with more faith than fear, I took the leap. And sure enough, nets appeared. They appeared in the forms of old friends, new friends, family, strangers and vets. And familiar nets I had never before considered or fully appreciated in the form of pets and animals, nature, bikes and tennis rackets, music and fiddles, food and wine…and even cowboy boots.

During a time when I was leaning on my dear friends the most their message never wavered. They assured me that the leap may seem scary but the nets are there and you have to trust it. It’s ok to feel fear and it’s ok to do it anyway. Cele and Ann understood that and now so do I. Fear will be there lurking in the shadows and that’s ok but we can choose not to feed it, we can feed faith instead. And once you leap the first time, each subsequent leap is easier. Starve the fear, feed the faith…leap and keep leaping.

Cele & Ann My beautiful friends leapt from the cold, harsh Maine winters to warm,  sunny Florida where they thrive and laugh more than any two people I  have ever had the privilege to know. My visit with them was fun, restorative  and healing (just like the music Ann would send me). And as for me post  leap, oh yes…my joie de vivre has returned, my faith far larger than my  fear.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven