Tag Archive for: winter

what does dove mean dove spirit animal

Spirit Animals: DIVINE DOVE

What does dove mean?

The term “dove” actually refers to a whole family of birds that includes both doves and pigeons. There are many species of doves of a variety shades of brown, gray, rose and slate blue. Dove species include mourning doves, rock pigeons, Eurasian collared doves, white winged doves, and band-tailed pigeons. One of the well known species extinctions caused by man was that of the passenger pigeon. Hunting and habitat destruction by European settlers wiped out some 3 to 5 billion birds around the turn of the 20th Century.

The white doves we frequently associate with the name of dove are rare in the wild and are white varieties of normally pigmented rock pigeons or ringneck doves. There is no actual species of white dove or pigeon. White doves are mostly bred and raised in captivity to serve as pets, release doves or racing pigeons.

What does dove mean? Dove spirit animal is most often associated with love, purity, nurturing, spirituality, and peace.

Dove Medicine is Love Medicine

The phrase “lovey-dovey” explains well the unabashed way that dove nibbles at her mate’s neck and erupts into a synchronized dance of beak grasping and head bobbing with him. We have borrowed a lot from dove, saying that lovers “coo” over each other. Male mourning doves are the ones that do the cooing to attract mates.

The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology) is often depicted holding a dove in her hand or surrounded by a flock of white doves. Aphrodite’s seven daughters were called a “flock of doves”. Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love is known to ride a dove.

Dove chooses one mate for life and forms strong pair bonds which contributes to her associations with romantic love.

We tend to downplay the importance of the honeymoon period of relationships, calling the lovey-dovey mood an infatuation that will not last, but dove teaches us that this outward sign of affection strengthens bonds and is critical for a successful relationship. If you find yourself swept up gazing into your lover’s eyes, dove totem animal is in your corner. Dove spirit animal is a great companion as we abandon ourselves to romance.

Dove Nurturing

The love of the doves extends beyond that of romantic love into the excellent care doves give their young. One example is that both mother doves and their mates produce “crop milk” for their young. The milk is secreted from the lining of the dove’s crop (organ in the throat), regurgitated and fed by mouth to the chicks. This is a relatively rare ability in the bird world with only flamingos and a few penguins able to do the same. Dove parents are also very attentive and often raise multiple broods in a year.

When considering what does dove mean, ask what you are nurturing right now? How can you partner with others to be more successful?

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

Purity & Dove Spirit Animal

The color white is symbolic of purity, so it follows that white doves are too. This link between doves and purity goes back to biblical times: “Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold,” – Psalms 68:10. In this passage, we are “my dove”.

St. Teresa of Avila affectionately called the soul a “little dove”. A person who is called a dove, is often seen as innocent, sweet and pure of intention. It is a compliment.

This is an interesting paradox to consider given that white doves are typically a strain of rock pigeon. Rock pigeons are the exact same species of pigeon that lives in cities. These are the pigeons that people call flying rats. It never ceases to amaze me how much power is in a name. Change the color and name and the exact same bird with the exact same habits turns from clean to filthy.

Consider your reputation right now. Are you trying to portray the image of purity? Do you want people to think you are honest and impeccable? Are you having issues with others seeing you as disgraced or dishonorable? Or do you know of your own baseness and you’re trying to hide it? When dove spirit animal comes on the scene, it is time to consider your struggle between beauty and ugliness and realize that we all both. The potential for either good or bad is within us no matter what color we wear.

Dove Spiritual Meaning

In the same way that butterflies are seen by human souls in Japanese mythology, doves are seen as symbols of the spirit in Christian theology. Even further, the dove is representative of the Holy Spirit as seen when a dove descended from heaven during Jesus’s baptism.

The love and strong pair bonding of dove is often used as a metaphor for spiritual devotion and union.

Do you feel the presence of the sacred in your own life? Are you waiting for a visit from your Creator? Dove spirit animal reminds us that communications from Spirit can come in very obvious forms. Do not dismiss a sign just because it is clear as day. If a sign does not come, know that blatant divine favors are not given out like candy. Some of us will only receive an unmistakeable sign once in a lifetime. Dove spirit animal is here to help us maintain our faith no matter how few or far between gifts from God are.

Peace and Pacifism

Dove brought Noah an olive branch to show that the great flood had ended. Since then, images of dove holding an olive branch demonstrate the peace that comes when the flood waters of emotion subside. Water is symbolic of emotion and wars are sparked by an excess of emotion. Where can you extend an olive branch in your life?

Remember that what is in one is in the whole. Whatever feelings of vengeance you harbor are contributing energetically to the larger conflicts between nations. Your forgiveness is needed.

Mourning Dove Symbolism

In the United States, the main species of dove we have is the mourning dove. Mourning doves are also known as “turtle doves,” which we hear about a pair of in the famous “Twelve Days of Christmas” song every holiday season. The morning dove’s slow and melodic song eases the pace of the otherwise chaotic and fast-paced birdsong that fills our world. To us the song may seem sorrowful, but for the male bird singing the song it is full of the excitement and anticipation of another year with his beloved. It is a song filled with longing and love.

 

Spirit Animals: POLAR BEAR

Polar bear spirit animal’s world is frozen, with landmarks often hard to find. To make matters more challenging, the wind constantly moves the drifts and the floes carrying his plans and thoughts asunder. He does not have a preference for one way, the way, but rather relies on the wisdom of the ages and the abundance of the underworld to carry him through. He’s been doing this for a long time you see. He was the one who knew who we were before we did.

Polar Bear Spirit Animal’s Coat

When we see a polar bear’s coat we assume that the individual hairs are white, but they are actually clear. The translucent hairs scatter sunlight with no preference for any particular color ray and, thus, they appear white. This brings to the fore an incredible truth as the color “white” is often associated with goodness and purity, but “white light” is interpreted differently. White light is synonymous with Source, God, and divinity.

Polar bears, like the stark, snow-covered landscape they live in, reflect divine light. If a polar bear has walked into your imagination, dreams, or ordinary world , now is the time to pay homage to the blinding beauty that is the Creator. The immense size and presence of these apex predators gives additional gravity to the message.

Polar Bear as a Channel for Grace

The longer guard hairs of a polar bear’s coat are hollow as well as transparent. The hollow hairs were originally thought to conduct the sun’s warmth down to the  bear’s black skin, but this theory has proven false. Most of the heat from the sun doesn’t make it past the polar bear’s incredibly dense coat. Through the qualities of his hollow fur, polar bear spirit animal demonstrates how being a hollow reed can reflect divinity out in to the world. It is so clever that scientists used to think the hollow hair conducted the energy of the sun to the bear’s skin to warm him, and now we know this is not true.

In your own life, examine your beliefs about why you have decided to be a channel for grace. Do you believe allowing joy to move through you will bring you more joy? Are you afraid to allow the light to move through you for fear you’ll be overheated or overwhelmed? Do you spend all of your time trying to clear yourself so that you can be a channel for healing? The polar bear spirit animal has come to guide you through this process, and before we barely get below the surface we see the first set of lessons about appearances and beliefs concerning channeling divine energy. Being perfect or pure or good is not the goal, radiating the divine is.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

Connection to Snow Symbolism

There is a compelling parallel between the polar bear’s fur and snow. The multi-faceted ice crystals of snow flakes cause all color rays to bounce around, not absorbing or reflecting any color with any consistency, which causes us to see the snow as white in the same way we do the polar bear’s fur.

Many dream interpretation guidebooks define snowflakes and snow as “frozen emotions,” but I particularly am interested in the less common idea of these representing “spiritual truths”. The spiritual aspect coming from the white light they reflect and the truth coming from the concrete form of an ice crystal. Also, like any spiritual truth, snowflakes are temporal and infinite in nature. We all know that no two snowflakes are alike. Being of the land of snow, polar bears bring an innate ability to connect with the nature of spiritual truths.

Contrast of Scarcity and Abundance

There is intense contrast in the realm of the polar bear. He lives in a white, seemingly barren landscape, but just below the surface he has easy access to a dark, fertile underworld. The ocean that he navigates as effortlessly as the top world is teaming with life.

His own physique mirrors his outer world as his hollow, transparent fur hides a black skin covering a thick layer of blubber over 4 inches thick. He has a hard time staying cool in one of the coldest environments on earth. This shows that although you may appear to have a stark life on the surface, you hold vast resources below/within. How can you begin to see your life inside-out so you may honor this abundance more fully? Is the contrast jarring you at this time? Polar bear spirit animal has come to help you walk and swim the duality with grace.

Polar Bears in Folklore and Art

In the mythology  of the Inuit, polar bear spirit animal is known “Nanook”. Many northern tribes say polar bear is the one that taught man how to hunt and survive. In Greenland he is known as “Tornassuk” the master of helping spirits and the main agent of initiation for shamans. The Inuit too saw him as the primary guide for shamans. In many traditions, he is rumored to take a human shape, being a human while inside the igloo, which he also taught humans to build, and a bear while out on the ice.

I’d like to highlight one artist has dedicated her life’s work to depicting the white bear. I’ve known since childhood and always adored Barbara Stone. In the 35 years she’s been captivated by the polar bear’s presence, she’s traveled to the north to observe them dozens of times. Her whimsical artwork shows the bears taking baths, sitting down to tea, and out tending the garden, and readily demonstrates how these massive creatures can easily assume our form. She has tapped in to an archetypal, subconscious knowing of how we are linked with these animals.

The Polar Ice

Ice plays a critical role in the life of polar bears. Their migration follows the flow of the polar ice pack. Polar bears need the ice to ambush their surfacing prey from. When ice is less prevalent polar bears will swim hundreds of miles to new ice floes in search of hunting opportunities.

This speaks of the usefulness of having a solid, but fluctuating boundary between our outer and inner worlds, to trusting that what we need will come from the unknown of the dark depths below, and to knowing when to put in concerted effort to seek out new nourishment.

Ice being more permanent than snow, it represents frozen spiritual truths, and polar bear can show us the need to freeze some of our beliefs into the ground we walk on for a time. When the seasons change and the time comes, those beliefs will naturally break up or move on and new floes of ice will form to support us. Polar bears will fast for a time when the ice floes are absent. This is a reminder that it is okay not to have beliefs to stand on for a time, and that you have the reserves built up to last you until you are supported in freezing up a new belief system.

Association with Seals

The diet of polar bears consists mainly of seals. Seals are linked with creativity and the imagination. Thus, we see here the need to harvest the fruits of our creative endeavors rather than solely allow them to surface for breath on occasion. Time to haul that beautiful gift of yours up onto the ice and allow it to provide the sustenance you need to take you into the next length of time between projects.

Mother Polar Bear

Mother bears typically have twins which again highlights the dual nature of these white beasts. The number two is significant here and it may be worth your time to look into mythology surrounding twins. Have you given birth to two ideas at once? How will these creations co-exist? Mother polar bear may be able to help you with these questions. Just know that she does not wean her young for 2 and a half years, so this process of raising two dreams at once may take some time. As always with the polar bear spirit animal as our teacher, patience is a virtue not to be forgotten.

Spiritual Masters

It turns out these great beasts have a great amount to teach us. It is even worth looking in to what spiritual masters and mentors have made a difference in your life. Which of these teachers radiated the divine without preference for a given color, way, or understanding? Who was willing to offer guidance without attachment to the outcome, purely for the bliss of sharing? Who gave support and knowledge to you without asking anything in return? These are the polar bear spirit animals that have wandered into your life in human form. Watch carefully what they do for they will teach you how to survive in an otherwise inhospitable environment.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

 

“No Sense of Direction” from Gracious Wild

The following is an excerpt from the book Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks

I went in to see Thalia around noon. I was able to coax her onto the stump near the front door with a piece of chick. Once her appetite was whetted, she was eager to come to me. The first pounce on my gloved hand was pure bliss. I watched her slender, long legs dance as her fierce talons gripped my fingers hard. She bent down to tear at the meat with her beak. Now I could absorb the scene rather than worry about how it looked to bystanders. I carried her to a perch with fluid steps as she picked the glove clean, asked her to step onto the perch, and returned to my post in the open corner of the mews. We danced, moving and flying from different perches to avoid routine. I wanted every moment, every pounce to be fresh. She chirped a few times in excitement over the tasty activity. It was all I could do to take in her features through the blur of hunger.

Once I finished feeding Thalia the meal I’d prepared, I stood by the door for a while to bask in her presence. She stood quietly on her perch, her crop bulging with food, and set to preening her lovely coat. The mixture of colors in each feather was exposed as she chose one and then another to zip into place. She roused (shook her entire coat) and a shock wave of release coursed through my body.

Instantly aware of herself, she turned her head to look me in the eye. It was as if to say, “Who is this strange woman in my company today?” I felt her legs and wings tense just before she leapt to a perch inches from my shoulder. I held my breath. She released her firm grip on the perch and went back to preening. I exhaled. Her feathers relaxed across the contours of her frame and she cocked her head to meet my gaze. My steady breath was all that broke the silence. The maiden harrier subtly lifted the foot furthest from me while curling it in a loose ball. Her ebony talons disappeared into the thick down on her belly. She was far from the anxious hawk I’d seen pulling feathers from her legs. Likewise, I was miles from the frightened woman trapped on an island. Here stood our window to salvation.

Our next month of training was plagued with paradox. The times I spent alone with Thalia in her mews were serene, heavenly hours. This is where I fell hopelessly in love with this harrier’s unbound spirit. She was at once confident, aggressive, and friendly. I worked tenaciously to gain fluidity and strength in my raptor handling skills while she patiently walked me through the process. Even the simple task of accommodating the weight of this one-pound hawk on my outstretched hand could not be taken for granted. My shoulder and arm ached for weeks. I had so much to learn. I could only use five fingers to manipulate her leather ankle jesses through a swivel and onto a leash. It was just like knitting one-handed—the highly tuned muscles in each of my fingers could only remember the motion through repetition. Thalia allowed me to train my right hand over and over. She would often use the time to pick any hint of meat she’d missed off the glove.

The days I met with either Annie or Sandra for training outside the mews varied from hopeful to nerve-wracking. Both women were superior teachers and lovingly supportive. Not for a moment would I ever fault their skills at falconry or at coaching, but regardless of our best efforts Thalia easily slipped into distress. My first attempts to have Thalia step to my glove from a perch outside ended in her flapping wildly at the end of her leash. Sandra was able to work with Thalia and the perch with no incident. Annie diligently walked me through the process on our next outing and Thalia was perfectly calm. Another day, Annie and I had tried everything we could do to get Thalia to step on the scale. To the hawk it was a leg hold trap and there was no way to convince her otherwise. After the struggle over the scale ended, I was able to stand with Thalia resting quietly on my glove while Annie and I talked.

During walks to and from the raptor barn, Thalia would waver from patience to panic. Sometimes the five-minute walk took twenty because we had to stop and wait for her to settle every time she jumped or looked like she would jump. When the wind was unnerving Thalia, Sandra suggested I face her into the wind. For five minutes, this worked fabulously. Thalia roused and was pleased, but then she took back to crouching and holding her wings out—both clear signs of anxiety. Encounters with strange people or dogs also stressed her, but the worst was when we had to grab her, wrap her in a towel, and do health checkups and maintenance. I did my best to hold steady, but the fight or flight response coursing through Thalia’s veins automatically raced through mine.

Secretly, I wondered if it was my fear that Thalia was picking up on or vice versa. Regardless, I found very quickly that whatever emotion moved through the hawk also moved through me, often in a physical sensation. Her releasing rouses shook tension from my body. Her panicked body posture froze fear in my muscles. The swings between comfort and fright were severe. Through my experiences with Thalia I was accessing layers of joy and fear I never knew existed in my being. The moments of joy were exhilarating and the flashes of fear were paralyzing. I wasn’t sure if Thalia’s anxiety was inextricably linked with mine or if it was coming from those around us. I yearned to walk the grounds of Willow Brook alone with her to unwind the mystery.

At the same time I was working out this new relationship, I was still trapped in a struggle to find gainful employment. I had no a sense of direction. Galena suggested I do a journey and ask, “What is my major block to finding my path at this time?”

I went on a shamanic journey to lower world and met a wolf that led me through the maze of dead-end paths in the dense forest that I had been wandering for years. The paths were worn to dirt from all of my pacing. This time the wolf led me to a grassy path that led out of the dense brush and into an open, old growth coniferous forest. There were no more choices to make along this path—just the squish of soft grass under our feet. Then everything went black and I knew that I was at a point where the landscape was going to be different. First I saw dapples of light and then deciduous trees. Then a whole different forest of shorter trees with an open understory came into focus. It was autumn and the trees were ablaze with red and orange. The wolf disappeared and the fawn, my life purpose animal, was with me. As we talked, I learned that this was a metaphor for where I currently was in my life. I turned around 360 degrees and was surrounded by the colors. The fawn suggested that I paint a picture of what it looked like to me. A blank canvas stood on an easel below an oak tree. It was clear that this place was where all my options were. There was no clear path on the ground. I talked to her about how frightening fall was for me. It was cold, the sun was far away, and the end of the year was near.

“All of these things could bode poorly,” I voiced.

“For your future, you have to let go of your fears,” she reassured. “There is still plenty to eat this time of year, and the temperatures aren’t life-threatening. In the end, winter is not so bad. Most animals find food and enter spring to start anew.”

Then an image of a great gray owl swooping down onto an untracked field of snow came into focus. The owl reached out its massive feathered feet, dug them into the snow, pulled out a mouse in her talons, and silently slipped away. I understood then that I needed to find a space clear of fear to paint an unbiased picture of where I was and, thus, where I was going.

The medicine wheel and the qualities of each cardinal direction.

Calling the Directions & The Medicine Wheel

Working with the Medicine Wheel

Honoring the directions within the framework of a medicine wheel is a common practice of shamanism found throughout the world and at the root of each of our ancestral lines. This prayer to honor the directions can be called a number of things depending on the culture and preferences of the person praying. Some say we are “calling in the directions” while others state we are “calling ourselves to the directions”. Others just see that we are setting up sacred space to do sacred work.

Regardless of the nomenclature, it is important to take a moment and reflect on why you have chosen to enter in to this practice.

Intention for Calling in the Directions

Are you worried about negative energy entering in as you open up to meditate or journey, so you feel compelled to set up protection around yourself? Do you wish to offer your gratitude to the seasons and rhythms of nature? Is it just because you learned it in a class and you’re trying to explore the power of the medicine wheel practice? Are you asking for help from all of creation for a healing? Are you offering yourself as a channel for the Divine? Would you like to call yourself back to center so that you can be your authentic self and be grounded in your being? Do you intend to set up a quiet space for meditation free from the chaos of the everyday?

The good news is that calling in the directions using the medicine wheel does all of the above and more. Your intent will shape the content and power of the chants or prayers you say. So take the time to reflect on your intent and then be willing to allow that intent to shift over time. The beauty of a shamanic practice is that it is personal and place based. Depending on who you are, where you live and what stage of your life you are in, calling the directions will look different because your relationship to nature will be different.

Directions of the Medicine Wheel

The medicine wheel can be broken into five or seven parts depending on your inclination, but always contains the four primary directions: East, South, West and North and a central point or axis.

“Above” and “Below” can also be recognized individually or not because the central axis is seen as inherently connected to these two spaces. As you determine what qualities, gifts, elements and power animals to acquaint with each direction of the medicine wheel I have a simple framework for you to start with.

  1. Path of the Sun: The medicine wheel is laid out in relation to the path of the sun. The East is the place of dawn (beginnings) and the West is the place of dusk (endings)
  2. Seasonality: The medicine wheel can be laid over a seasonal calendar which for us places spring in the East, summer in the South, fall in the West and winter in the North (see photo above). If you lived at the equator you would only recognize two seasons, rainy and dry, or if you lived at the poles you would recognize light and dark, so your associations would be different.
  3. Diurnal Cycle: You can also overlay the wheel with the a 24 hour clock with the East being sunrise, South being midday, West being sunset, and North being midnight.

Qualities of the Directions

To help you determine your own, unique blend of qualities to associate with the directions of the medicine wheel, I offer the following ideas that I’ve accumulated from studying a number of cultures and nature herself. You may see some qualities listed in more than one direction. Feel into the quality and see where it fits for you.

  • Qualities of the East: dawn/sunrise, spring, new beginnings, birth, infancy, mental body, element of air, seedling plants, new shoots, fresh start, innocence, play, childhood, the Sun or Mother Earth, blue, yellow, green, swords tarot suit, astrological houses 1-3.
  • Qualities of the South: midday, summer, adolescence, physical body, mature crops, abundance, element of fire, the Sun or Mother Earth, passion, drive, vitality, fullness, ripeness, maturity, red, orange, wands tarot suit, astrological houses 4-6.
  • Qualities of the West: dusk/sunset, fall, adulthood, emotional body, leaves dropping from trees, letting go, harvest, gathering resources inward, the void, discernment, element of water, the womb, the Moon, surrender, trust and faith, the unknown, black, blue, cups tarot suit, astrological houses 7-9.
  • Qualities of the North: midnight, winter, elder, spiritual body, frozen landscape, silence, communion with Spirit, element of earth, the Moon, death, union, intuition, complete understanding, being filled with the Divine, white, pentacles tarot suit, astrological houses 10-12.
  • Qualities of the Center: Heart of the matter, in the moment, timeless, ageless, integration of all bodies, openness, channel/hollow reed, grace, connection to above and below, trees, mountains, inspiration, rainbow, all colors.
  • Qualities of Above: Cosmic currents, collective unconscious, movement of the heavens, wisdom of planetary bodies, future, possibility, stars, galaxies, expanded consciousness, God, angels.
  • Qualities of Below: Planetary currents, collective history, ancestors, roots, creation, fertility, the womb, the cave, Goddess.

 

Want to learn more?
Read this article about How to: Prayers to the Directions

 

Degrees of Frozen

It seems just such a short time ago I was carrying on about noonday sun and flower petals. Enough time has passed somehow that all the vegetables have been put up and all the tinctures are brewed and bottled. The snow has come early and blessed the Earth with its quiet breath. So why has my life been caught up in the whirlwind when the air outside is so still and crisp? When my activity level does not mirror the seasons, appearances show that I am living out of harmony, but is this so?

Somehow, some way I don’t feel in discord. Disoriented maybe, but discordant no. There are these heavenly moments in the day when everything stands still, when the truth comes from my lips, and my heart is open wide. The subject of the conversation doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who I’m speaking with or who I’m speaking of. As I dash from one task to the next all the details spin together like colored paint in a blender. There is no time in this melee to ask who I am or who I would like to be, there is just doing. I don’t even remember breathing once today, but here I am still moving through the world, enacting change.

Many spiritual masters teach stillness and observation as the keys to enlightenment. Most of us envision harmony with winter as a quiet, peaceful turning in. But, how many other manifestations of winter have we explored? We make assumptions and form static definitions of what each season is. Nature does not conform to such Platonic ideals.

An observation comes to mind that Sandra Ingerman expressed during the Medicine for the Earth class I took last month. She told us that when she merged with the Earth during winter she expected to find everything still and quiet. In contrast, she experienced a moving, shifting Earth, one very much alive and in motion. The concept of being “frozen” is relative. Absolute zero is hundreds of degrees below our current winter temps. That is how far we are from absolute stillness, hundreds of degrees.

My current degree of motion and activity may seem like madness to some. To a restless hummingbird that’s just traveled across the Gulf of Mexico, I am resting. It’s all a matter of degree and what experience of this season we choose to have. Somewhere along the way I choose this experience. Bewildered? Me too.

But, then I stop to consider. This winter has not been that still. We’ve had plentiful snowstorms that flood the warm ground, turn it to ice, then melt it to mud baths the next day. Winter is busy remaking the landscape with furious vigor and it seems, so am I.

into summer

Into Summer… Imagine Winter?

Given the lovely promptings of a dear friend I made it a goal of mine this season to partake in summer. For perhaps the first time in my life I decided to fuel summer experiences with my own imagination.

As a single child, a part of a two-home family I spent a lot of hours indoors waiting for my mom or dad to make it home from work. My eleventh summer I was trapped indoors in a full body cast. We titled the cast and the experience the “summer bummer”. So, needless to say I have a tad of seasonal agoraphobia. While everyone else is out loving the sun and abundance, I’m often inside searching for the motivation to leave the dark cave of a cool house.

Part of it was cellular memory. I just didn’t have it. I had learned how to enjoy the summer on camping trips and vacations, but I didn’t have the countless days of hours on end playing at who knows what outside. There were few other kids to play with and even fewer to romp careless with me around the relatively sterile suburban neighborhood I grew up in.

Given that most outdoor excursions I had in my youth required some sort of reason, as an adult I was left without one. Who was I going out to play with? Where were we going? What time would we be back? What was I going to do?

During my years as a field biologist all of these questions were taken care of for me. I got to play on the beach and in the woods as part of some extrinsic scientific plan. I was in heaven and didn’t realize that this lack of responsibility was a large part of it.

As my profession changed in favor of a steady income, my reason to go outside was no longer outside myself. I had to generate it from within and found it a troublesome chore. It was a heavy weight I couldn’t shake.

So, this summer I just kept going out against the doubt, the resentment, the apathy, and a lovely transformation came about. I stopped worrying who would entertain me. I quit fussing over the finish line because the weeding is never done. I found the sun flooded all hours of the day and took up with whatever small task caught my fancy.

I picked bouquets of flowers to decorate our table, lulled around with my mare in the noonday heat, found solace in the morning shade on our garden, picked bowl after bowl of lobelia and chamomile, and watched colorful new bugs come to visit our plants.

For the first time in my life I’ve gotten so caught up in summer that I’ve absolutely forgotten what winter is like. What a strong lesson about being in the moment. May the children of today trapped in video games, cable TV, and air conditioning find it sooner than myself. May those of us that have lost the memory find it again.

In Gratitude, Stacey

In response to “Into Summer… Imagine Winter?” you may choose to journey and/or journal on the following questions:

1. What season am I least familiar with?
2. What has kept me from partaking fully in this season?
3. When have I most appreciated this time of year?
4. Am I prepared to seize the next opportunity I have to partake?
5. How will I know I’ve fully immersed myself in the time?