Stop the Car!

It hasn’t been a very pretty spring where I live, mostly overcast and dank. Flowers have tried to brighten things up, but the sun hasn’t been encouraging, and they’ve mostly given up after a half-hearted effort. I was therefore taken by surprise when a field of color caught my eye as I drove on a busy commercial street past the library one day. It was not my usual route, and I had no idea this treat was waiting for me. Sometimes you just have to stop the car, and take a walk on the wild side.

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Small Steps

Easter is over, guests gone, laundry done, leftovers tossed. Return to routine, a check of the calendar to see what’s next. A let down, really. And then I have to think again. I don’t believe the Easter story included a “back to business as usual” message. The disciples had just been through the worst experience possible with their friend and the dreams he brought, and, as our Rector said in his Easter sermon, they weren’t thinking “resurrection” when word came to them that the tomb was empty. They were experiencing desolation, fear, shock, anxiety, anger. An empty tomb created disbelief, a tinge of hope, confusion, the need to regroup, reassess, wonder, talk, wait…. Time was required to process this disaster, taken in small steps, to perceive not only what had taken place, but what they were supposed to do about it. Their lives had been changed, and the trajectory of world history altered, but how much was it possible to really comprehend then or now?

I’m not likely to change my life, and definitely won’t change anything in the world. But I’d like to stay open to new possibilities along with a return to routine. My small steps have to be taken within the world I know and see, and happily digital photography offers me a route to a more receptive mind. Imagining a spring poppy again and again through simple filters (new eyes) is a lifeline to unveiling the renewable, creative energy that permeates our world, as it seems to do endlessly with humor and beauty. I can see “resurrection” every day in small things, no matter how slowly comprehension evolves as to what it all might mean.

 

National Happiness

You may have read that Norway is the happiest country in the world according to the 2017 World Happiness Report (http://worldhappiness.report). I can completely understand that it might consider itself the most beautiful, as its close happiness competitors in Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland could do as well. But happy? Its weather can be grim, taxes are high, and I can imagine considerable financial and physical challenges to living there, having found it an expensive (but fabulous) place to visit.

The World Happiness Report looks at the role of social factors as contributors to life quality and evaluates a data base of 155 countries to reach its conclusions. The United States this year dropped to 14th in rankings, “largely because of poor social support and cohesion” quoting The New York Times in The Week Magazine.

I suspect it is easier to develop cohesion and social support in smaller nations than ours, but I still have to wonder how happiness enters a national psyche when a country tries to achieve those goals, particularly at high tax cost to its citizens. Perhaps our Congressional denizens should review the federal budget from a new perspective and adapt a thing or two from countries who seem to have a novel definition of what “quality of life” means. My guess is it has something to do with different values and ideals than we currently seem to prefer. Norway contributed to my personal happiness; my national happiness has some questions to ask, some pondering to do, and some lessons to learn.NorwaysmallNorwaysmall-2Norwaysmall-3

Unimaginable

Just as I stand speechless when privileged to view the natural treasures of this nation, I am beyond words when told that protection of our environment is less important than other economic interests addressed in the federal budget. How can that be? What amount of money, what project, what pressures, what argument for or against climate change, is of greater value than being awestruck by the wonders that have dazzled for centuries? Have we lost our sensibilities for that which is not man-made? Do we feel no responsibility for walking lightly on this earth, protecting humans and animals and plants from the carelessness we seem willing to tolerate from industry? We are fearful of so much these days; why are we not fearful of compromises to our air and water? We want governmental protection of our borders; why do we not demand government protection of our land?

The incredible nature photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) said it for me: “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” Horrifying, and completely unimaginable.

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Irish Reverie

On a grey day like today, when my spirit is low, I often think of Ireland and the gifts it offers to mood shifts. Every day brings its own colors in which to pleasantly lose one’s thoughts. Thank you, Ireland, for your very rich and nourishing green.Ireland 1Ireland 2Ireland 6