Most mornings, I take pictures of the sky. This may seem an odd ritual for connecting with the world but it works for me. I arise before dawn to have my quiet time. I sit alone in the dark and watch the day begin. I cherish this time. It is mine alone, but not really. There are others, friends and family, scattered around the globe, which see my sky, and say hello. This connection fills me with warmth. Just now, I stood outside for the third time this morning and stretched up my arms and said “Good Morning World! I love you!” This is a true statement. I am corny.
Earlier this week I saw dolphins in the clouds. They were in a pod as I have seen them in the ocean off Butterfly Beach. There was a bird too. It was a lovely robin. I think I am lucky to see such beauty just driving home from getting my hair done. I stopped at the water reclamation basin near the mountains to snap a picture of these afternoon phenomena. Then I drove home to eat lunch and take a nap.
I have always been in awe of the sky but I think this is not true of everyone. I remember one Sunday over thirty years ago when I was driving away from Mission Bay in San Diego with a friend. We were leaving a weekend retreat where I had been a speaker. The sky was covered with buttermilk clouds and I remarked to my friend “how beautiful.” I was shocked when she replied, “I don’t really like those kinds of clouds.” How could that be?
I think we see what we expect to see. I think we find what we expect to find. I expect gifts, treasures, secret messages from the universe that tell me I am loved, connected, on the right track. When I walk on the beach I ask the sea to give me what it wants me to have. I find sea glass and large, unusual, “just for me,” shells. I know someone is listening.
My daughter Stacy finds heart- shaped stones on the beach and the mountain trails. She has a whole collection. My daughter Shelley finds fossils. They, we, never go out without finding the beauty, the gifts we expect and hope to find. Never.
I thought about feelings of expectation and entitlement. Where I come from, these are not a good thing, or are they? Things always work out for me. This is different than always getting what I want. Sometimes I do not get what I think I want but still, it always works out for me. What I want changes into what I receive. It works out for the best.
My daughter Shelley told me yesterday at lunch that when I add the word "gratefu"l to the pictures I post on social media, it annoys my twelve-year-old granddaughter. I can see how that would be annoying but I don’t care. I AM grateful. I haven’t always been grateful. For one thing, I now know that I have not earned the right to be here to witness all of this. I am here only at the pleasure of a benevolent universe, a power greater than myself. I am an invited guest. I don’t yet know my “check-out” time.
Several years ago Tom and I traveled to Botswana on Safari. I knew I would see wild animals; that was expected. What I did not anticipate was the sky and how connected I felt to this place. We flew in a small plane to the camps in the bush, where for hundreds of miles there were no buildings and no roads. When we landed on the small gravel airstrip, we were transported to the camp by jeep over sand ruts rather than roads. Along the way a large bull elephant ran out of the bush, trumpeting his alarm. The driver pushed down hard on the gas and as we sped away, I realized we were not at Disneyland. This was real!
When we drove into camp we saw more elephants eating the Mopani trees right next to the open-sided bathroom where I stopped before lunch. That night the main source of light on the ground came from the blazing fire in the center of camp. Looking past the fire, I had never known such darkness. But later from my bed, I looked out of the screened-in side of our tent to see a swath of stars that reached to infinity and back to the earth. It was the densest blanket of stars I have ever witnessed. I do not know why I did not take a picture.
I am in awe of my life. Every spec of earth and sky, every living being is a gift beyond naming. Grateful? Thankful? Writing those words feels like cardboard.
In a little while Tom and I will fly to Denver to share Thanksgiving with one of our daughters and sons in law, three grandchildren and more family we love. Twelve more, plus scores of friends and loved ones are scattered all over the world. I will be posting pictures and checking my phone for their posts and knowing that wherever we are, one sky is above us. We are all standing on the same blue planet, at the same party given by the same host. Wishing you all a beautiful day of love and connection.
My life is so glamorous! It’s just not fair, lucky for me!!