Finding Peace in a Broken World

Finding Peace in a Broken World

This morning I read a Facebook post that included a long list of what politicians and oil companies have planned for the Mobile, Alabama area. After reading about the super-tankers that would carry Canadian tar sands oil from Mobile to China and all that would be done to accommodate these carriers of dirty, poisonous, toxic nastiness, I felt myself…my entire being…sort of give up. It was as if something snuffed the light of hope out. How can we continue on the path we are on without disastrous and dire consequences? The all-too-familiar question bounced around in my head.

There was no answer, no comfort–no warm, supportive, comforting arms to embrace me and no voice saying, “It’s gonna be okay.” Alone with my despair, grief and frustration I turned to a tool I use to unravel confusion…writing.

SimoneLipscomb (1)I grabbed my laptop and headed to the hammock swing on the back porch. The grandmother oak tree stands silently yet filled with life: birds twittering, squirrels hopping and leaping, insects droning. Water is splashing in the little pond where a large, quartz crystal sits in the center holding a quiet presence among the ferns and flowers and banana plant. Live oak tree leaves shimmer in the morning light against a blue sky and rays of sunlight find their way through the thick canopy, illuminating moss-covered pavers. Birdsong fills the air…cardinals, wrens, titmice, chickadees all bringing me back to this present moment, this sacred moment.

SimoneLipscomb (3)Living only in the darkness of the possible, disastrous what-ifs is a sure way to drive myself crazy…or at the very least isolate from everything in a quiet corner of a deeply wooded, protected (is there such a place) corner of beauty. While the idea of being a hermit is enticing, it would be self-serving. And let’s face it, this is not the time to hide our light. This is the time to sparkle and let our inner light shine brightly.

While it is easy to become overwhelmed with everything that’s wrong and could potentially destroy life as we know it, we must balance that darkness with good, with light…with what is right. Now is the time to share our voices, our talents, and skills with the planet. There is no more precious gift we can offer than our own light.

SimoneLipscomb (7)This day I am grateful for birdsong, the grandmother oak tree who shelters my home, my cat friends, the wind gently moving the wind chimes to song, my recent re-wilding retreat to the mountains and the awareness that others create in their efforts to let us know what is happening to our beautiful planet….to us.

SimoneLipscomb (9)We can balance the darkness with light, the sadness with joy, and fear with courage. We do this through consciously caring for ourselves and finding peace within our hearts…even when it’s not easy to find in the world.

Coyotes and Deer and Bears…Oh, MY!

Coyotes and Deer and Bears…Oh, MY!

SimoneLipscombThis morning’s visit to my sacred grounds was off-the-chart with good soul medicine. With better light today, photography was easier. And I suppose the animals liked the sunnier weather as they were out and well-represented at dawn.

SimoneLipscomb (15)I had a nice visit with a white-tailed buck who cared less that I was photographing him. There were other deer and a doe that showed off her jumping skills as she cleared two fences in apparent nervous flight. I’m guessing the star of my morning, a wily coyote, is what spooked the little girl. Not long after she cleared the second fence, Mr. Hilarious trotted out of the field and got in front of my car and escorted me down the gravel road.

SimoneLipscomb (12)He finally angled off the road and was headed into a thicket of trees. I had just caught up with him as he entered the woods so made some little whooping sounds. He sat down and started scratching. I hurried to set the ISO, aperture and shutter speed on my camera and got a few nice shots. He stood up to leave and I made the same funny whooping hoots and he sat down again and scratched. It was probably coincidence but it made me laugh just wondering if I accidently discovered a secret coyote sitting spell.

SimoneLipscomb (36)Later, after visiting a beautiful little roadway in another part of the park and finding my bliss in photographing and sound-recording water, I went back to Cades Cove. The traffic was a bit trying (code for: I lost my patience) and a bear jam didn’t help matters. I managed to catch a glimpse of a mother and two cubs as the park volunteer scared them up a hill. I’ve seen people act completely stupid with bears, forgetting that they are not tame, cuddly creatures but very large mammals with four-inch claws. However, those are stories for another day….and they do explain how the gene pool gets cleansed on occasion.

SimoneLipscomb (16)The wildness here, even with many visitors, is what calls to me. I find quiet places where few people go and spend a few moments completely lost in the creative process of capturing the essence of a stream or flower or dew-soaked spider web. In the quiet, when it’s just the crickets and birds and wind singing the story of this place, I am at peace. I am connected to something grand, magnificent. I am home.

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Listening to Earth

Listening to Earth

SimoneLipscomb (16)It’s quiet here. Or perhaps I should say it’s still here. In the pale, pre-dawn light, the soothing sounds of crickets and other night-singers serenade me as I sit in the car, waiting in line with anticipation for the gate to open and allow a visit Cade’s Cove at sunrise.

Blue-gray fog hovers just above tree tops. Drops of moisture slide down tiers of leaves and finally on to soft, rain-soaked soil. Staccato drop….drop….SPLAT! Cool air caresses my face as it tentatively enters my open windows, soundless but equally pleasurable.

Softly, slowing the morning arrives. There is no place on Earth I would rather be than in this wild and protected place. I too feel safe here, protected and free to connect with wild acres of forest, meadow and stream…and resident wildlife.

SimoneLipscomb (37)Finally the gate opens and the line of vehicles slowly disperses, each of us going to our own sweet spot. With no particular plan, I am guided to the Primitive Baptist Church. It’s down a gravel road and sits, front door open, welcoming me.

SimoneLipscomb (1)I walk in timidly, checking to see if a bear family or, even more scary, a skunk family might have used it for their morning napping place but there is nobody here except me and the beautiful spiritual presence of this place. The potent nature energies weave through the building and invite a balance of human and nature.

SimoneLipscomb (3)As is my custom, whenever I find myself alone here, I sing. Today I notice how the notes and words roll through the large room, how the sound moves in waves…wave upon wave reverberating through old rough-hewn lumber.

I move on as other humans began to arrive and find myself, once again, alone.

SimoneLipscomb (38)This time I am sitting on a large rock, with a large fuzzy-covered microphone in hand and headphones over my ears. I am recording nature sounds–specifically…rushing water. I explore how sound bounces off of large rocks. It seems some rocks hold sound and I find myself intrigued and hold the mic beside a beautiful moss-covered gray rock sitting on the edge of the creek. I’m listening to Earth, I think. How sweet it feels to connect so deeply with Her.

SimoneLipscomb (42)At the end of the day fatigue from lack of sleep and long travels has disappeared and been replaced with an inner calm that is profound. Vision usually guides me in my explorations into the wilds but today sweet sounds of Earth were the guide. Something within me that was asleep has awakened and I feel more alive, more present…simply from listening to Earth.


Staying Open

Staying Open

photo 7Today was the last day of sunrise sea turtle patrol for me but I was fortunate in that I got to sub for another team member on Friday so two sunrises on the beach this week. And that’s when it started…two days ago…a nagging question.

Six o’clock found me struggling through soft, white sand as I walked the mile and a half route. It was a lovely morning with the Gulf of Mexico sending small, sweet waves onto the shore but I felt nothing. And I noticed that nothingness. It surprised me. Usually I’m in tune with the salt water and happy vibes are pouring out from my heart and mind but that day it felt like a vacuum where my heart was. I couldn’t connect.

photo 2It bothered me and as I walked I pondered that feeling of the ‘booooinnng’…like the beauty and light and delight bouncing off a closed door. Why am I closed? What’s happening, I wondered. So I journeyed inward and explored a bit.

I felt the sea reaching out with her watery fingers, trying to find an answering response from me but I remained shut down, distracted. My mind wandered and found a question: Am I closed down because of fear? Do I fear losing this beauty and so I’m acting like it’s already gone?

photo 4And then I wondered if we do that with each other. Do we allow fear to close our hearts and minds rather than remain open? Is this what keeps us from connecting with friends, lovers, partners? Are we so afraid of getting hurt that we refuse to open our hearts?

Today’s walk was better but if felt like I was in quick sand. The fluffy sand seemed to suck my feet so I stopped several times and just stared out over the water. What’s happening? I’m strong and fit so why is this so difficult?

photo 5During one of my pauses I thought of the list of sad things happening to and on our planet: Hurricanes in the Pacific, tropical storm in the Atlantic, earthquake in California, volcano erupting in Iceland, ebola in Africa, Russia invading a sister country, Israel bombing apartments and schools in the Gaza strip, the Middle East about to go up in flames, fracking by the fossil fuel industry, oil spill fallout in wildlife species, police officers shooting unarmed kids, people fighting each other over other violence…..dear God…how are any of us sane? And I don’t watch the news….this list is simply from an occasional view of NPR news.

I realized that part of my not connecting to nature is a deep concern that we’re basically going to reach a tipping point from which we cannot recover. The emotional toll of the BP oil spill was gruesome in my life yet I clearly see what can happen if we stay closed and refuse to work together for solutions…for the environment, social ills, violence. Closing myself off is a protection. But it does nothing to make positive change.

photoIt’s difficult keeping an open heart and mind when it appears as if everything is failing; yet, there is no more important time to be open and allowing of the connection between myself and nature, myself and others than now. The challenge we all face is staying open when nothing is scarier. Now is the time for courage. It is the time for love and open hearts…and minds. How can we create a safe place to be open?


How Can I Keep From….Smiling

How Can I Keep From….Smiling

simonelipscomb (1)I felt the dolphins before I parked my car. Before my feet reached the sugar-white sand or my face felt the warmth of the pre-dawn salt spray, I sensed their sleek bodies slicing through sea water. When I crested the top of the path leading over the dune the first thing I saw was several dorsal fins moving up and down through golden water. It was perhaps the most glorious morning I’ve ever spent as a sea turtle volunteer.

simonelipscomb (4)Clouds were building all around. The towering tops of some reflected the sun, not yet above the horizon. Their flat bottoms hung close to the Gulf as if teasing the surface with the sweet kisses of raindrops.

As the light increased the surface of the water turned that metallic slate-blue-turquoise highlighted by flecks of orange or gold or peach, depending on the angle. This is when the shore is at its most magic, at least in my mind.

As I strolled the sand looking for sea turtle tracks and gazing at the magnificent clouds I felt immense peace….and joy. At one point I realized I was grinning widely and even laughing at the beauty of it. A dear friend and teacher recently told me the Ocean had claimed me as Her own. Never have those words felt so true.

simonelipscomb (6)I thought back to the decision that brought me back to the Alabama Coast. My significant other had decided to move back to Iraq and I didn’t want to spend any more time alone in the overly-large home I owned on a mountain in Asheville. I had also grown weary of snow and ice and howling winds that seemed constant in the winter. I knew it was time to sell the house and move…but where? The man in my life followed his Path to work in Iraq. Where was my Path leading me?

I thought about purchasing a smaller home in the Asheville area at a lower elevation. I pondered moving to North Georgia. But the example set by my partner made me think…where is my heart calling me? When I put it that way, I narrowed it down. A coast. And even though I explored other coastal areas, it was this beautiful place of my birth that tugged on my heart.

simonelipscomb (5)There is no magic ball that tells me what’s next, if there will be a man and partnership in my life, what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be living in a year..five years . But I do know this…I am happy. I am joy-full. I am smiling in my heart. The Ocean has claimed me as Her own. I rejoice to have such a mighty Mother, Teacher, Friend.