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Drizzle hiccoughs through lowering clouds that resemble circus elephants at play.

Occasional splats on my slicker intrude upon the stillness and quicken my breathing. Languid breezes muss my hair, and my nose twitches with smells of musk. Alive to the freshness around me, I pause.

A solitary crow caws, as it flaps its wings against the leaden sky and soars to the upper reaches of an evergreen. Ahead of me, the slick asphalt road snakes around the bend, lined with a grove of yellow bamboo. Heaps of luminous leaves by the curb, their stems upended, smack of exhausted gymnasts after a tournament. A few whole acorns, unlike others crunched by passing cars, draw the toe of my sandal.

I resume walking, slowly—So much to take in—In the distance looms a mustard- yellow maple; from its brown-to-black-divided trunk articulate mothering branches that offer more inspiration, more protection—Droplets hug shriveled leaves of shrubs—A calico cat darts for cover in a nearby yard—Glistening jack-o-lanterns grin from front porches, and spent chrysanthemums brown and list sideways in gardens.

In every cell of my being subtle rhythms resonate: within them, I surrender, anew, to the multiple changes occurring within and around me. I give thanks.

 

 

 

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It happened again. No, not another school shooting—Something more profound, despite months of near-drought hardening the soil, intent upon imprisoning the emergence of all growth.

There was a reprieve. Days of dripping rain began juicing the soil and softening thirsty fissures. Faint hues of green patchworked lawns. Buds swelled, enhancing the tips of shrubs and trees. Even more wetness penetrated parched roots of bulbs planted in late autumn. Indeed, this quickening would not be stopped.

And today’s sunshine has energized the solitary gold crocus blooming in my flowerbed, one that I had not planted, and one that has given wiggle-room to my spirit for many springs.

Such is our hope in the greening Power that restores life, within and without. With the winter’s bluster waning, let us give thanks …

For eight Februarys, a single gold crocus has pushed through the mulch in my flowerbed, preening its petals within the morning sun. Its blooming, in the same place, seems to proclaim, “I’m back! Take heart!” Solitary in its uniqueness, it streams hope: beneath winter’s apparent grip, life does persist.

Its burst of sweetness evokes deep questions. How does one learn to stand apart from collective norms and witness to ultimate truth? How to express one’s findings in the face of killing winds? How to relish one’s solitude in pursuit of the Sacred?

Responding to such questions opens many doors, perceived as locked; behind them, untarnished treasures abound for still further exploration.

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