Sunday, 28 February 2016

hidden in the woods

I've been walking through the woods near my house a lot lately.  It's one of those magical places where I can lose and find myself all at the same time.  

The moment I step into this world of soft, filtered light, evergreens and pine needles, rotting branches, and fallen leaves, I am filled with a sense of wonder and delight.  My heart beat quickens, my senses awaken and I feel especially alive.  I know that even as I walk, the big white Jack rabbit I saw a little earlier is still watching me, waiting to bolt if I come too close. I can hear a squirrel up high in a nearby tree.  Maybe he's checking his secret winter stash.  And sure enough, there are deer in their winter camouflage, standing beyond the bluff with their ears perked, listening to my every footstep.

It's easy to feel like I can get away from rest of the world when I'm hidden in the woods.  But these days I've been looking for the opposite.  Instead of wanting an escape from life's daily rhythms and minutiae,  I've been longing to enter my life more fully, to see it more clearly and to live it more attentively.  This moss covered forest is a quiet, sacred place where I can actually pay closer attention to the subtle ebbs and flows of my own inner world.  It turns out that this is what I really need, because what inevitably follows is a greater understanding and appreciation for God's simple gifts of grace in my life, whatever shape or form they appear in.

Do you have your own version of "the woods," a place where you love to go and be alone with your thoughts?  A place where you can let peace and quiet wash over you, where you can ask some tough questions or listen to some answers, where you discover by surprise some new ways to enter your life more fully with gratitude and eyes open for gifts of grace?

I hope the answer is "yes."  If you are looking for a place like this, just follow your eyes and heart (all my non "romantic" friends groan and roll their eyes!!!)  But, really!!  You may not have to go any further than your own bathtub or bedroom, a nearby park, a long ride on the train/tub/subway/bus going nowhere, a quiet corner in a cafe.....

I would love to hear of your special places and the things that you've been discovering in your times spent there.  (I know this blog is a pain in the butt to try and make comments on.  Please give it a try and if it doesn't work, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ) case you'd like a tiny glimpse into the ideas that have been percolating from my time in the woods... Here are a few of the gifts I am grateful for:

- the art and beauty I find in my daily life.  I love that I notice beauty in unexpected places.  I think that is one of my gifts that I can share with others
-that I can choose my own attitudes and emotions -- they really are having an impact, good or bad.
-that I am dearly loved by my husband, and while there are ways I wish he could express that love more frequently (adoring words :), a million kisses and hugs and touches...) his faithfulness and kindness is a gift I never want to take for granted.
-that my body is strong enough to let me live an active, healthy life -- despite the injuries, and weird, random aches and pains
-that my mom, at almost 89, sleeps over most Tuesday nights and it is a treasure our whole family enjoys
-that I have faithful friends who always have my back, see and believe the best in me, and will continue to love me when we're old, old ladies.
-that I have a sister and brother to share life's joys and sorrows with
-that my kids love me, talk to me, trust me, laugh with me, and even occasionally share their secrets with me too.

(I love to keep copious lists of's just what I I will stop now and let you work on your own list.)

And here are a few thoughts coming into sharper focus for me:
-Transition is exciting but tough! And since we are smack dab in the middle of it, extra does of patience and grace will go a long way towards keeping a happy home.
-Time with my children is precious.  It used to seem like our days together stretched forward endlessly but I'm realizing that this is not the case.  I want to enjoy today, right now.
-Simple moments together with friends and family matter.  Small gestures add up.  I am reminding myself to take those few extra minutes at bed time to rub someone's back, to hear a story from the day or listen to a favourite song.  I want to have time for coffee or a walk with a friend.
-I can give myself a little slack.  There is room for my mistakes.  There is forgiveness for all of us.
-I am unhappy when I procrastinate.  I feel burdened when I procrastinate.  I want to do it less.
-I actually feel downright happy and giddy when I do the things that need doing -- this feeling of accomplishment could become addictive if I'm exposed to it enough.  Haha!!
-I realize that I sometimes let fear of failure (meaning: not meeting my own high expectations) stop me from trying to attain certain goals.  This is NOT how I want to live.  So.......I've got a little work cut out for me on this one!!

and with that.... let me send you all hugs and wishes for a lovely, joyful week.

xo. melody

words and images©copyright Melody Armstrong 2016 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

waking in winter

There was another amazing sunrise this morning.  (Is it really the third day in a row that I've barely made lunches in time because I'm too busy taking photos out on the snowy deck in bare feet??)

Another moment to draw in a breath of pure wonder.  And exhale thanks.

What a crazy gift it is that morning after morning, the blazing skies draw our gaze upwards,  urging us to see past the circumstances that squeeze in so tightly, and fix our eyes on the expansive possibilities beyond our yesterday.  Each fresh wash of color and light across the canvas sky comes with a promise that new beginnings are possible again, even today. 

Each morning masterpiece offers a glimpse of the numinous in the ordinary.

It's so much more than my mind can comprehend, but my heart response is effortless.  

It instinctively knows to stop and oooooo and ahhhhhhh and call everyone's knows to give praise to the Promise-Maker, the one who paints the sky to remind us when we forget.

When my sister arrived at my house this morning, I just knew she would have seen it too.  And sure enough, I couldn't help but laugh a little when she exclaimed that the sky was so beautiful it brought tears to her eyes.  

She thinks He did it just for her.

words and images © copyright melody armstrong 2016