Warmth of the sun

lawn in the sun

Sitting in the sun in the back yard, a cool breeze blowing across my face, hearing the rustle of the leaves overhead.

It’s not often that we allow ourselves a few minutes pause to absorb the warmth of the sun and hear the rhythm of the neighborhood: a few birds, cars braking at the stop sign down the hill, a distant lawn mower.

Mostly, we’re consumed by the need to be doing something — or feel like we’re doing something productive. It’s good to make a positive difference. Yet it’s nourishing to pause occasionally, allowing ourselves to feel the warmth from our nearest star, the coolness of a dry breeze, to hear the bird songs.

We need that perspective to give us meaning.

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Changing seasons

Leaving the office just before 6:30 last night, I was startled to find it nearly dark outside.

Although the weather remains nice, and the leaves of the trees are largely green, the season is changing. Deep within, I sense my childhood melancholy that came with the arrival of fall.

Turning the calendar to October, I can’t deny the course. Yet there are still vestiges of summer to appreciate and enjoy.

The front flowers are holding on into fall

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Another deck moment

Green leaves against a blue skyNo better than this: Blue sky, green leaves, warm sun, chorus of birds. Stealing a few moments just to be.

I recall a minister who preached on our propensity to be doing all the time. She noted our self worth is defined by how much we accomplish, reflected by too many e-mails, too many business trips, too many meetings to attend and calls to make and take. We spend ourselves, rushing from project to project, commitment to commitment, just in time.

With this frenetic lifestyle, we too often sacrifice the time and lose the opportunity to listen deeply to another person’s story, even to discern our own story. And at the end of the trail, will the busy-ness and long list of activities and accomplishments be worth the loss of relationship, the loss of balance?

Hard to say. The motivation to make a positive difference in the world is surely good. And there’s so much to do.

If we can’t get off the merry-go-round &#151 if we’re not sure we even want to &#151 let’s at least steal a few moments now and then just to be.

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A few quiet moments

Capping a long week,
I settle into a chair on the deck
and close my eyes.

The warmth of the afternoon sun
plays tag with a dry, cool breeze
across my face.


The birch rustle gently,
occasionally overpowered by
the wind mimicking the surf,
pushing through the pine branches.

How many different bird calls?
One playful, one incessant, one urgent.
A car going through the neighborhood,
now a plane far overhead.


My eyes open to a flood of green, spring green,
the white blooms of a dogwood,
and the golden hue of a sinking sun,
warm upon my face.


House empty,
dog in my lap.

Let these moments last forever.
Life need be no more.

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I leave my heart in San Francisco

Crossing the Golden Gate BridgeBusiness took me to the Bay Area this week. I’ve usually spent my time in and around San Jose, but this trip took me further north, to Santa Rosa and the wine country.

I have a reverence for the Bay Area; it’s always a joy to go there.

Silicon Valley has been the technology center of the world for the past fifty years, arguably spawning the innovation in semiconductors, personal computing, portable electronics, software, and the Internet.

These human endeavors spill across an incredible natural environment: mountains, hills, bay, ocean, and a Mediterranean climate. The best example of the wedding of human with landscape is the Golden Gate Bridge, an inspiring structure that connects San Francisco with the communities north of the bay.

I’m grateful that business brought me across the Golden Gate this week, with reason to come back from time to time. And I’m particularly grateful that a couple of unexpected coincidences allowed me to spend a night with my brother and sister-in-law, enjoying a few relaxed hours visiting.

Standing on the balcony of their beautiful condo overlooking the bay, I imagined what it would be like to actually live there, in the heart of the city, amidst the bustle of traffic and the cycles of fog. Not likely, but like Tony Bennett, I can leave my heart in San Francisco.

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Seeing eternity

Hilton Head
An afternoon walk along the beach: warm waves lap over my feet, wind tugs at my hat, water extends to the horizon, the surf’s incessant rhythm drowns out the cries of the gulls overhead.

For eons past and for eons to come, the sea will wash upon this beach or the one that replaces it. My footprints in the hard sand last only moments, a metaphor for the transience of life.

Walking along the beach, I know why people fall in love with the ocean. It’s hypnotic. I can see and feel eternity.

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Meditation on snow

Backyard draped in snowWith the second storm in three days upon us, we decided to forgo church this morning.

As the snow fell outside, our family gathered in the living room, lit a chalice, and shared contemplative readings. Despite our frenzied holiday schedules, complicated by the weather of the past two weeks, we captured a few moments of quiet togetherness.

One of two readings I shared was part of the poem Valentine, written by Elizabeth Tarbox, from the collected meditations What We Share. Her reflection is so appropriate for today’s storm and this first day of winter.

“Creation gives us snow.

“Lest we imagine beauty was only for summer, or trees for leafing; just in case we thought cold was for winter or, at best, firesides or pots of pea soup, creation gives us snow.

“Creation outlines each slender twig with snow, a flake at a time. With divine patience, winter writes a character, a syllable, a word, until nature’s grace is there on every tenacious surface.”

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