March 2014 Features


We Need Natural Light

Enough with CFLs and the glare of tablet screens,
We crave heat and light from above.
Enough with LEDs and the glow of TV screens,
We need rays from the sun like we need love.

Enough with light filtered through a window screen,
We want light that is straight from the source.
Enough with light that passes through blinds to be seen,
We need light that’s taken its natural course.

Give us brilliant sunlight and a bit of fresh air
And soon our spirits will soar.
Give us warmth from above and a sky that is fair
And we won’t ask for anything more.

Photo of the Month: Season of Green

Spring is the season when the color green seems to be appearing everywhere we look—in some places, even the mountain views are celebrations of that hue.

  Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, May 2012.  (Photograph by Michael Riddle.)

Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, May 2012. (Photograph by Michael Riddle.)

Book Review: Help Thanks Wow

Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott is a little book with a lot packed into it. At 102 pages, the book is a quick read, but it has quite a bit of substance. Subtitled The Three Essential Prayers, this volume contains three major sections, one for each word in the main title. Lamott describes prayer as “communication from the heart to that which surpasses understanding.” So our prayers can be directed to a traditional concept of God, or to the entire universe, or to various other versions of that which is beyond comprehension.

According to Lamott, Help is “the first great prayer.” That seems to be because, when many of us think of prayer, what comes to mind is asking for something, especially for some kind of assistance. Thanks, of course, is an expression of gratitude. Lamott writes: “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides.” When you appreciate what you have been given, you can feel in a position to give freely to others. Wow can be a reaction to something marvelous or something terrible. In either case, you’re “almost speechless.”

There are limits to the categories of prayers that Lamott uses. For example, many Wow prayers have an element of Thanks to them. Also, Wow prayers can have an element of Help, when a terrible event has occurred. But those limitations are rather minor, and I am happy to send a “Thank You” to the universe for having provided the opportunity to read Anne Lamott’s book of prayers.

3 Thoughts about Spring

As we welcome spring, here’s a trio of thoughts to consider:

 Iris in spring

Iris in spring

1) For fans of flowers, spying the “firsts” of spring is part of the fun of the season. The first daffodil, the first tulip, the first iris—each of those marks a step in a fabulous journey through this most floral of seasons.

2) For bird watchers, spring marks the return of the petite world travelers, such as hummingbirds. Following their sojourns in warmer climes, they gradually make their way towards the north.

3) For all of us, spring invites us to head outdoors. After the chilly challenges of Winter 2014, spending time outdoors will be especially wonderful in spring this year!

Word of the Month: Wisdom

Where does wisdom come from? It seems to mostly arise from many years of life experience. Occasionally we meet a young person who seems unusually wise, but for most of us, wisdom emerges from the sorrows and joys that we experience over the decades. The author Dorothy McCall noted, “One cannot have wisdom without living life.”

Wisdom is often associated with having perspective, seeing the big picture, being philosophical. For example, after we have dealt with dire circumstances in our lives, it’s then easier to put minor troubles in perspective; we know how much worse things can be. Wisdom can help us to appreciate the high points of our lives—the celebrations, the accomplishments, the rewards; when we are aware of how soon such things will be behind us, we can savor them more as they occur. So in both difficult and joyful times, the perspective that wisdom provides can benefit us.

Wise sayings and writings of other people can also benefit us. But if we don’t have extensive life experience that we can test those sayings and writings against, that benefit can be very limited. When it comes to words of wisdom, one of my favorite sayings is “This too shall pass.” It’s a concise reminder that everything changes: A terrible event eventually ends and so does a happy event. That’s simply the nature of existence. What are your favorite words of wisdom?

See March 2014 article

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