Friday, February 7, 2014

Something Small has Hatched

I walked outside yesterday and discovered a tiny white bird shell on the ground. It was so small that I nearly missed it, and yet so beautiful that I had to pick it up.  "Something small has hatched," I thought.  

Today, my family and I are celebrating something small that we hatched ten years ago. We invited people that we didn't know over for dinner.  It doesn't sound like much, and yet it changed everything. 

We didn't know a soul here, in fact, when we bought our first house here in Eagle Rock. Our BC ("Before Children") friends were all still going out to happy hour, and our families lived across the country.  It's what happens, I suppose, when you wait until your late thirties and you live two thousand miles away from where you grew up to have your first baby.  

I thought our kids' preschool would be a great place to find new friends, since their parents would, naturally, have children the same age as ours.  Knowing how unpredictable life with babies and toddlers is, however, I hatched the idea of a casual monthly gathering with potluck food and a babysitter to watch the kids ~ no RSVPs required.  Ten years ago today, two families that we didn't know arrived on our doorstep.  The rest, as they say, is history.

For ten years, we've opened our doors on (almost) every first Friday of the month to welcome our "preschool friends" and a few more families of school friends that we've adopted along the way.  It seemed like such a small idea, at the time, and now I can't imagine my life without the FFC.

Small things matter.  That's the theme that keeps resonating with me lately, and the FFC story is a perfect example.  And so is the little shell.  It was such a tiny thing that I almost didn't see it, and yet, without tiny egg shells, there would be no songbirds.

I can't help but notice that "small things" are not often  celebrated in our culture these days.  I'm reminded of that commercial where a man, seated at a child's size table, asks the youngsters seated on either side of him, "What's better: bigger or smaller??" The kids all clamor for BIGGER.  While the children give interesting reasons why bigger is better, the overall message is clear:  even young children know the obvious.  "Bigger is better" flashes across the screen.  Case in point.

We supersize our fast food, our homes, and vehicles.  We pump animals full of steroids to make them bigger and bigger, some to the point of no longer being able to stand up unaided.  It's as if we think we can chase away the devil if only our stuff casts a big enough shadow on him.  It makes me wonder how much of our many environmental crises are due, at least in part, for our endless obsession with having More and Bigger.

This past year,on the other hand, has been an exploration of many Small Things for me. It's been a journey to re-program my own mind that thinks only an event with a big turnout is a success.  Last Saturday, three of us showed up for the first-ever Earth Goddess Adornments event, after several last-minute cancellations (and one later arrival).  After all the excitement before the event, the size of the group was disappointing.  Truth is, we enjoyed a more intimate, creative experience because of our small number.  One more reminder to be grateful for all of the small things that hatch.  

After a meeting with a wise friend and creativity coach on Monday, another new idea has hatched:  Love Earth Emissary.  Many people have said, "I wish I could support your Love Earth work if only I had the ....{time, energy, focus, proximity}."  It occurred to me that I have the time, energy, focus and proximity, and it's something I can offer.  I will hold, share and activate all of the blessings, hopes and positive intentions for Earth on behalf of all the busy and far away people, in sacred ceremony, once a month.  I can be their voices.  I can deliver their messages.  I can be their Love Earth emissary.  

It sounds like such a small thing when I write it.  Another something small has hatched.  I don't know if it has the longevity of the FFC or the sweet song of the sparrow.  I do know that it is my soul's calling, and I'm excited to see how it grows.  First ceremony will be ....on the day we celebrate Love, of course, February 14. Got a message of love or hope for Earth that you'd like to share?  Let me know.  I'm the Love Earth Emissary, at your service. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Champagne to Cider

I'm at Los Encinos State Historic Park today, sitting under a lovely little orange tree, bursting with fruit, contemplating the pond before me.  While it would be easy to be distracted by the man-made artifices - the chain link fence around the pond and the  mechanical fountains spraying in its center - my intention is to connect within the depths.  The pond, it is said is fed by a spring, a "remarkably fine spring," Ben Truman wrote in Semi Tropical California in 1876, providing water  that  is "very palatable and as soft as water can be."   He claimed that horses and cattle came from miles around to "drink from this spring, which compared to other water, to the quadruped, is like champagne to cider, with man."

There are no horses or cattle here today but a bevy of friendly ducks that float by placidly, the geese honking loudly.  They seem quite content to be here, though I'm not sure if they are reveling in the quality of the water or the steady supply of food proffered by visitors willing to put a quarter in the birdseed vending machine.

There is some disturbance now as a flock of pigeons swoop in, lured in from the telephone poles just outside the park, by the crank of the coin mechanism of the seed dispenser.  The duck pond crew is not so immune from the disturbance of city dwellers as I had imagined.  Even now, the sound of a table saw and the chug-chug of a generator from a neighboring construction site pierce the would-be tranquility of this park.  

The food gobbled up, the pigeons retreat to their pole. The ducks show no sign of resentment for the intrusion as they return to their graceful water ballet.  Neither the sounds of the city nor the invasion of a few outsiders is any reason to stop doing what they do: swimming,  diving for fishes, bathing in the spray of the fountains, and resting, bill tucked under a wing. 

Such is the opportunity for each of us, I suppose, to appreciate what is immediately before us, enjoying the peace and grace of this moment, letting go of resentment for intrusions, tuning out not only the sounds of the city but also the busy-ness of the world.  There's nothing any of these ducks can do to stop the noisy sawing or the pigeons swooping in to steal their bounty, and it would be fruitless for any of them to try.  May we learn from their examples.  

When I first arrived here, I was annoyed by the sounds of the saw and the generator, and yet, I too, am helpless to make them stop.  And so it is my challenge and opportunity to tune in more deeply with the stillness of the sweet orange tree in whose shade I rest, the beauty - and comedy - of the downy ducks, as they turn butt-up to fish, and the deep serenity of this spring-fed pond whose waters are so delectable as to be champagne for quadrupeds and (perhaps) bipeds alike.