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Tag: stillness

Ask Me

Ask Me

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me

mistakes I have made. Ask me whether

what I have done is my life. Others

have come in their slow way into

my thought, and some have tried to help

or to hurt: ask me what difference

their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.

You and I can turn and look

at the silent river and wait. We know

the current is there, hidden; and there

are comings and goings from miles away

that hold the stillness exactly before us.

What the river says, that is what I say.


William Stafford


We all have our secrets, if someone tells you differently they are selling a mistruth of the highest order. Each person harbors shadows and darkness that linger among the embers of the light. It is because of these shadows one can see how extremely fragile we are. This life is living as if a delicate flower waiting to bloom yet instead choosing to close off out of fear and a need for self protection. No one leaves this world unscathed, in fact we are all marred by missteps, regrets and an underlying sadness for what we had hoped life to be.


Nothing speaks more beautiful to the irony of this condition than William Stafford’s Ask Me. He states, “Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life.” Having always cherished time spent hearing others stories and words of wisdom, it is difficult to comprehend that I too have a plethora of life experiences, yet feel less than worthy of imparting any wisdom earned onto others. Simply put, I am still trying to figure it all out and am doubtful that I will ever have complete understanding. Can it be possible that life continues to ramble along leading one further into the clouded beneath of uncertainty and fear? Is the only true meaning of it all persevering regardless of uncertainty?


“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön


I am not alone in holding illusions and fantasies of what living a storied life entails. The house with a picket fence, well behaved children excelling at everything they undertake, a job that is both satisfying and financially rewarding, physical health the sustains throughout the years and love. All possible scenarios but not always accomplished in the same stride as others. The frustration of delays, detours or missteps along the way can lead one to doubt what if anything holds meaning and true value in the wells of our soul. What if anything matters at the end of days?


As a young girl I pictured myself experiencing a great love affair with someone that held my heart just as I held his. This love would know me from my earliest of days until my ultimate departure from this world, a familiarity that would be both comforting and enduring. As fate would have it, this was not in the cards for me. I did in fact have a long marriage that proved to be barren of love and appreciation.  A dear friend once told me that nothing is more painful than indifference and this did, most sadly, prove to be true. I made myself small for two decades of my life and for that I harbor deep regret. Stafford’s line, “ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made” speaks to me like no other. Hate can be as transformative as a powerful love in ways that reverberate throughout a body and soul. Hate and indifference block energy, creating barriers that can only be overcome with much time and self work. Pains such as these will be worn for as long as the river runs deep.


“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

― Gautama Buddha


Staying with the metaphor of a river,  I can review  my life and see that I continue to flow whether under the ice, in the depths or on the surface. It is never a matter of time standing still but rather a rushing forth of water the proceeds all else. Water can move mountains and so too can time. In fact, the only constant I see thus far is the march of time. Stafford continues with, “and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us.” What may seem like only the distance from one side of the bed to the other or one chair among many in an open room, is an acute representation of stillness often left unspoken. Distance is palpable even if only a few feet when defined by emotional numbness.


One of my main regrets is remaining in this space, this stillness, this separateness far too long. I am imperfect as are all others, yet I now choose to stand and speak my voice regardless of imperfections. If only I had known this a few decades ago, my river may have represented a much gentler flow with far less rapids and undertows. One might say however, that without all of those rapids I would never have reached this point of letting go. This may be true and as Stafford says in completion, “What the river says, that is what I say”. Here is to many more years of gently floating down the river of life, observing, learning and living.

May All Be Beautiful All Around Me

May All Be Beautiful All Around Me

Speak For Me

Watch over me.

Hold your hand before me in protection.

Stand guard for me, speak in defense of me.

As I speak for you, speak for me.

As you speak for me, so I will speak for you.

May all be beautiful before me.

May all be beautiful behind me.

May all be beautiful below me.

May all be beautiful above me.

May all be beautiful all around me.

I am restored in beauty.

Navajo Shootingway ceremony prayer (20th century), USA


I was having one of those days, you know the kind.  I woke up to an onslaught of texts from family, my gym friends were especially chatty, I dropped just about everything that I picked up, I ran into my pantry door bruising my head and my hair dryer sparked and shot electricity at me all before 8 am. This was on the heels of an earlier day filled with unusual workload and an evening filled with a multitude of texts and phone calls resulting in less sleep. Those who know me well are aware that if I answer a phone call, the caller must certainly hold a special place in my heart. I have been known to let my phone go to voicemail on more than one occasion. Sometimes, I just need the sound of silence and on this particular day was ready to throw in the towel, head for the hills and take a vow of silence by hiding from the world.


Thankfully with time and life experience,  I have finally begun to recognize the universal signal for “STOP”. In this instance I knew that I had been working too much, burning the candle at both ends and allowing my mind to run the show by analyzing everyone and everything. All of my stumbling and misfortune that morning was a sign telling me, “Lavinia, slow down and breathe.” When this happens I will often look up and say “Okay! I get the memo”, in a exclamation of resignation for what I already know to be true.


No one is meant to be over burdened with things to the point of collapse. Yes, work ethic is a good character trait as is the willingness to cope well with a certain degree of stress. But, busyness for busyness sake is not commendable and certainly does not denote enviable character in my book.  Excessive busyness is white noise that acts as a distraction from the things in life that are more deserving of our time, energy and talents.


In moments such as these, The Navajo prayer is one that I often read, relishing its peaceful energy and remembering what matters most in the grander scheme of things.  The idea that we are all protected by a Divine power, walking with us when our world feels as if it is imploding, is comforting. Everyone craves protection, security and the experience of being deeply loved. These are all universal desires. When circumstance makes a person feel less than safe or even unloved, this prayer gently reminds that we are all walking this journey with support. We are never alone.


I personally find peace in the second paragraph. Finding beauty in even the smallest of things can be difficult when experiencing a series of “unfortunate events” that leaves one feeling shaken. By stopping for a moment, breathing deeply and reminding myself of the beauty of this moment and this life, I can let go of the agitation and unrest of present circumstance with a knowing that everything is well, I am well.


Take a few moments, sit on the park bench, read a book in the grass, hug someone a little longer, smell the spring flowers, walk in the rain or sit quietly with another feeling their energy and loving spirit.  Do not consider this time wasted, it is nothing of the sort. Gently repeat, “May all be beautiful all around me. I am restored in beauty” and know that you are loved and life is beautiful, always.