Tag: gratitude

Harmony

Harmony

SimoneLipscomb (5)There’s an old joke that goes: How can you tell a happy motorcycle rider? She’s the one with bugs in her teeth. As I was cycling in the pre-dawn darkness I remembered the joke. I was laughing, smiling and rejoicing in the dark, quiet stillness and wondered if I had a collection of bugs in my teeth.

Birds were just awakening and were surprised by my whirling by in a blur of neon green, headlamp and red-flashing taillight. There was pure magic in the swampy woods and live oak forests before the sun arose and dissipated the gentle energy of the inky night. How could I not smile…or laugh out loud at the depth of beauty?

Deeper into the woods, deeper inside myself I went until there seemed to be no separation. At one point it was as if I took off dark glasses, so clearly did I see and connect with the energy of the backcountry. I thought of  a verse of scripture that goes something like…Now we see through a glass, darkly; someday we shall see clearly. For a brief moment I saw the Oneness, the lack of separation of this body, my consciousness, my energy field and that of the forest. I felt the deep joy that comes with the experience.

_TSL7676Through the marsh I pedaled with its beautiful openness barely illuminated by the rosy-orange sky. Breathing in….breathing out…the beauty filling me, my love and gratitude going into the marsh…the tall grass, flowers, water, creatures.

Then a turn to the left and a bird flew across the trail and I saw the bird as a musical note.  All of creation is part of one harmonious chord. How lovely this planetary song, I thought.

DSC_8937Onward I moved and the realization came: When a species is threatened or in danger of extinction, the musical note it holds in the whole dims and fades and if that species disappears, there is a minor tone instead of a clear tone and the planetary music sounds mournful. The more species that die off, the more minor the key, the sadder the music of our ocean-planet home.

IMG_1705Likewise if a place is destroyed the particular note it vibrated in the whole chord is gone and the music is more distorted. Imagine the planetary vibration, once in perfect harmonious accord, changed with each act of violence, each act of destruction. Eventually the chord, the vibration can dissemble into distorted chaos.

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Brent Durand took this image of me diving in the Sea of Cortez. My deepest meditations are underwater while diving. Harmony…ah!


The resolution to this disharmony, this destruction, is to vibrate our hearts with love and to act from a place of compassion. As the vibration of the planet changes, humans can restore balance and harmony with the intention of love and by concrete, daily practices of recycling, using less fossil fuel, buying less ‘stuff,’ supporting organic farming, re-purposing articles, helping neighbors, helping animals, meditation, self-healing…..

_TSL3873Light of the rising sun began to illuminate tree branches, spanish moss, and autumn flowers. Palmetto fronds reached toward the light, palms wide open to receive, ‘fingers’ releasing gratitude skyward. They are an example for us. Hearts open to receive, hands giving love back to the whole by our actions, thoughts and the daily intentions we hold. Planetary harmony is in our hands.

Two white-tailed deer stood alongside the trail as I neared the end of my ride. They peacefully watched me approach and moved off as I quietly pedaled past. Such beauty. Such harmony. Such gratitude.

 

Divine Madness

Divine Madness

IMG_1702The sharp click of metal on metal as my cleats clipped into the pedal reverberated in the foggy air–silence broken for a moment as I pushed off, leaving the mundane, the grounded ones in whirling flight. Half bird, half coyote I spun into the pre-dawn light.

IMG_1729The drive down to the park was spent listening to one song played and repeated as I let the music and lyrics fill my mind. I rode with no soundtrack today except the lingering lyrics echoing within my mind and heart.

IMG_1743“Shining light of mercy…coming of the day. Shooting star of promise…the lantern on the way. Picture in the locket, love so near and far. Song your mother’s singing, firefly in a jar…..Coltrane in the 60’s, Blind Willie lost in time….Mahalia, like an angel, the hymns of human kind. Bouquet of forgiveness, the healing of the heart. Redemption of misfortune and the madness of the world. Madness of the world. Love of peace alighting. One moment making sense. Love crashing through the barricade, love reaching through the fence. The Christmas Eve ceasefire, wind beneath a bird. Inebriated choir and the madness of the world. Madness of the World. Madness of the World. Paint brush hittin’ canvas, the dancin’ in the rain. Flannery O’Conner, word on every page. Kindness of a stranger, Prodigal’s return. The absence of all anger and the Madness of the World….The Madness of the World. The letter from your father, the weight of every word. The love that keeps you singing; the sublime, the absurd. The ancients and the mystics, minstrel in the park. Soothers and the sayers, healing ancient scars. Those who came before us, those we’re never heard. Babies breath on my neck, madness of the world. Madness of the world….madness, oh madness, madness of the world.” Will Kimbrough from Mercyland Vol 2.

IMG_1716The first time I heard this song, tears came as my heart opened. Every time I listen the same thing happens…even listening to it on repeat. It mirrors my feelings and probably those of many of us struggling to make sense of this world.

IMG_1739Choosing to pay attention to behaviors human’s choose to practice toward each other, animals, plants, sacred places brings so much grief and sadness we can be overwhelmed. But then the fog is lit by colors of the rising sun….”Shining light of mercy…” or birds surround me as I pedal through their woods….”wind beneath a bird…..” Bursting out in laughter at the rays of light bursting through pine limbs in the fog…”coming of the day….” I realize beauty helps me rise above the sadness…”shooting star of promise…”

IMG_1705Without beauty of landscape and heart, the madness of the world would devour us. But somehow, amid the insanity of darkness we see inklings of light and they lift us above the quicksand of sadness to flight.

IMG_1743Will’s song brings tears because amid awareness of climate change and ocean acidification, social injustices and meanness, we can still find the sweetness of love and laughter. It’s a healing waltz as we dance in the schizophrenic reality of life. I think he reminds us that we can survive and even thrive in a world of madness by being mindful of beauty walking shoulder-to-shoulder with darkness.

——

Check out Will Kimbrough‘s body of work. Find his song, Madness of the World, on Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us, Volume 2

 

 

Sea of Cortez–Whale Sharks!

Sea of Cortez–Whale Sharks!

Friday: Whale Shark Day!
Friday: Whale Shark Day!

Thursday and Friday

We moved a bit north to Isla Sal Si Puedes. One of the dive masters said it means ‘get out while you can.’ How comforting. I miss Capilla de la Mar. Leaving the remote island means we are headed back to civilization.

This mountain island where we anchor is less jagged with smoother, greenish slopes. The softness of the terrain is a nice change and beaches are here, which is also a difference from other islands we have seen.

The warm glow of the sun–orange and golden in hue–set the edge of advancing clouds on fire. The cerulean sky provides the canvas on which this masterpiece is composed. Where else but immersed in nature can one find such beauty while being kissed by the wind?

Chilly temperatures on the first dive but the past two days we had 86 degree water. On the first dive I cannot get my macro lens to focus on the giant jawfish so after watching them for a while I gently lift away and find a starfish crawling over the sand. I spend the next ten minutes hovering quietly, watching a starfish walk about four or five inches. It is perhaps the most relaxing experience of the trip.

SimoneLipscomb (1)On board, between dives, my mind wanders. Perhaps the most important experience on this journey has been to visit these unspoiled places where Spirit and Nature commune with very little human intervention. The experience has unleashed an amazing amount of energy within me. The challenge is to keep it moving and freed as I return to what we call civilization…although I think it’s far from civilized living.

I write a short, humorous story on the giant jawfish and a children’s poem on starfish and then do a couple more dives. We have a nice dinner and then we head for the bay where whale sharks live.

IMG_0400I awaken before dawn and am on the upper deck by 5am. I am not ready to see the lights of civilization even though this is a small village. The twinkling lights of Bahia de los Angeles in the darkness sadden me. The wildness fades and human habitation begins. One more day, I think.

This bay and the surrounding mountains are exquisitely beautiful. Faint orange and gold luminescence of the dawn brighten the sky behind steep, towering cliffs. Flat, calm water reflects the fiery warmth of solar hues.

SimoneLipscombSmoke lies heavy in the air and creates a hazy wall between our anchorage and the village. Oh, that there would always be that smoke-screen barrier between raw nature and human chaos.

Pelicans are feeding in the quiet bay, their wings softly shushing past before they dive again and again for breakfast.

The gathering light reflects on the rock face of the mountain across the bay and now it too glows with magnificence. Definition of the cracks and folds in its face become more pronounced as the light builds.

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Capilla de la Mar….my name for the island where I will live as a sea lion if given a chance.

I have decided that if I have an opportunity to return, after this life, as an animal I will be a sea lion living on Capilla de la Mar. It’s beautiful, there is plenty of fish, I will have many companions and will see few humans.

_TSL5389Whale shark day. Our group begins as six, adds three briefly and then ends with four of us. We are the ones who pretended not to hear the dive masters as we floated after the dives and explored the edges of the rocky shore snorkeling…after handing our scuba gear up to the panga captain. We are the four that had to be begged to get out of the water after each dive. The ones who begged our mothers for just five more minutes of play time. It was the same with whale sharks.

_TSL5498Tons of fun and a great workout! Whales sharks appear to be moseying along, gently and slowly moving their tales back and forth. When the dive masters told us we would have to swim to keep up, we had absolutely no clue what that meant. Especially considering three of the four of us were pushing huge cameras through the water.

_TSL5394Whale sharks are awesomely cool and completely unconcerned with humans. Even when I was eye-to-eye with them or swimming just inches behind them, they paid absolutely no attention to me or the others. I was so closely behind one twice that if she had paused, I would have been slapped in the face with her gigantic tale…providing I couldn’t slam on my ‘brakes.’ There isn’t a connection like sea lions or whales or dolphins make with snorkelers or divers when there is recognition and sometimes interaction. These sharks, these huge plankton feeders, basically ignore us.

So close with my fisheye I can't get the entire animal in frame...but the details pop!
So close with my fisheye I can’t get the entire animal in frame…but the details pop!

“Swim hard!” is the motto of the day. At one point a few of us stay in the water over an hour watching whale sharks come and go, mobula rays leap from the water in synchronized efforts and generally frolicking in the peaceful bay. I can’t imagine a better way to end the trip. Six hours of non-stop fun.

_TSL5368We kid our dive master later about our asking to be in his group on whale shark day. He knew he would be out with us as long as we could possibly play.

_TSL5409Another night spent motoring back to Rocky Point, Mexico and we arrive at sunrise. Within five hours I am experiencing my first indoor shower in a week and am shaving the saguaro cactus forest from my legs. Soap, shampoo, shaving….seems far too civilized for my raw, wild self.  Yet as a human being, I am rejoining the insanity of what we call civilization….kicking and screaming all the way. Can I just have five more minutes? Please!!

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Sea of Cortez I

Sea of Cortez II

Sea of Cortez III

Sea of Cortez IV

Sea of Cortez V

Mermaid Practice…Everything’s Okay

Mermaid Practice…Everything’s Okay

SimoneLipscomb (1)Crystal-clear, warm saltwater caressed my feet and legs. In the gray, pre-dawn light I stood allowing gentle waves to wash away worries, concerns, grief. The Ocean brought me into the present moment.

SimoneLipscomb (5)The morning ritual, while in my Ocean ‘home’ island of Bonaire, is to gather tiny bits of sea glass, tumbled from the constant irritation of sand and movement. It’s a small beach of honey-colored sand, so soft it made me smile with delight. The tinkling sound of bits of coral clinking together was music made by the Ocean…the soundtrack to my morning.

SimoneLipscomb (3)A dry and exposed wall of fossilized coral protected me from the strong and constant winds of this small desert island. I stood gazing into the water and felt someone looking back at me. My eyes scanned the water as movement within a few feet of me caught my attention.

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This is NOT a photograph of a sea turtle…just a nice gathering of corals and sponges.

There, at the edge of the coral and sand, was a small sea turtle. No more than 10 inches across, it was peeking out at me–a lovely little hawksbill turtle.  Mermaid practice started early this morning. The lesson? Everything’s okay. In this moment, at this place…all is well. Time to take a break from planetary destruction, humanity’s hate/humanity’s fighting. Time to allow grief, of loved ones lost, pass into another dimension as the present moment embraced me with such beauty. A juvenile hawksbill friend reminded me of this with her intense gaze from her eyes to mine.

SimoneLipscomb (2)After breakfast I gathered dive gear and headed with my buddy down to the water. It felt magnificent to be submerged again, one with the Ocean, breathing on life-support that would allow me over an hour of communing with my brothers and sisters of the sea.

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Friendly porcupinefish

A friendly and large porcupinefish escorted me for the first half of the dive, looking back occasionally to see if I was still there. One time  he circled back and waited for me when I stopped to look at two spotted moray eels tucked under a coral head. When I turned to head back to the exit point, the sweet, prickly friend waved a fin goodbye. I blew a farewell kiss.

SimoneLipscomb (30)An hour break to hydrate, eat and assemble The Beast–my Aquatica housing for my Nikon D-800 and two massive strobes. I think I should intensify my upper body workouts just to lift the gadgetry.

SimoneLipscomb (22)But once underwater, tools I had only dreamed of in the past became a reality. A big smile erupted from deep within me. This system…this beast of a system…was almost neutrally buoyant…just slightly negatively so. It handled like a dream and produced images with a fisheye lens that made me very happy…finally….I can create images that in some way do justice to the magnificent beauty of this realm, this Ocean of beauty where I find peace.

SimoneLipscomb (12)Before even reaching the drop-off on the reef, three friendly squid played with me and one especially like my dome port. It was a squid dance unequal to any I’ve had in the past. Sometimes they can be shy and evasive but these guys actually invited me to play.

SimoneLipscomb (14)And once again, the larger-than-life porcupinefish met me at our appointed time and posed for a couple of photographs before I turned to head back to dry land….a most challenging proposition for a mermaid-in-training.

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SimoneLipscomb (34)Special thanks to my friends Will and Dolphi for helping me and The Beast into and out of the water. It’s a learning experience…accepting assistance and even asking for it (gasp!). 

Will Tripp dancing with squid.
Will Tripp dancing with squid.

 

Enfolded

Enfolded

SimoneLipscomb 7The full moon hanging low in the pre-dawn sky lit the cool, white sand of the wildlife refuge. The path led me along the boundary of a nesting area of least terns down to the edge of the Gulf. Crisp air caressed my face and a slight breeze stirred, barely discernible.

SimoneLipscomb 4 (1)The still-hidden sun created a kaleidoscope of color in the east as the moon set in the western sky. Balance. Perfect balance.

SimoneLipscomb 4I paused a moment, thankful for the quiet beauty that created such peace. The reflections created by nature opened a doorway for inner reflection and in those moments, before my sea turtle patrol began, my breath traveled deeper….deeper, deeper into the depths of inner stillness.

SimoneLipscomb 5Walking in balance, in peace, the colors of the dawn greeted my hungry eyes. Metallic turquoise and deep orange danced in the gathering light upon the surface of the sea. My heart sang with pure joy.

SimoneLipscomb 3The rhythm of all life pulsed in harmony and was felt with every beat of my heart. As the birth of the day quickened, a blanket of pink spread throughout the sky and I felt completely enfolded in peace and light.