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Landscapes of texture


Winter is an invitation to notice texture instead of color, subtlety instead of vibrancy – in the landscape around us and within us and between us.


Today, I noticed what I can only describe as a frozen cloud encrusting the mountaintop trees in this valley I’m lucky to inhabit. The ridges were brilliant white – not with snow, though, or with frost, but seemingly with condensation that had settled on each tree branch and then frozen.


As I took in the wonder of arriving winter all around me, I noticed an eagle soaring overhead, then two, their dark shapes engaging in slow, synchronistic patterns above my head. Flapping and dipping, circling in unison, coming together and going apart, they reminded me of impermanence. They reminded me of play. They reminded me of the zoomed out perspective of this life and this time we’re living in. They reminded me of zoomed in moments of beauty, too: snow falling in silent woods, the exuberance of a dance party with little bodies brightening up the long, dark evening, the soft breathing of a cozy cat curled up in front of the radiator.


My internal landscape is as textured and complex as the mountains, fields and rivers around me.


What if it’s all okay? Every unwise thought, every flicker of anger, every impatience, every frustration, every wondering, every thought, every emotion? What if I could see each as a gift, to welcome them in with compassion, to see that the flame that rises as anger is the same flame that rises as passion? What if torrents of grief receive the same love and acceptances as the gentle, warm soft rain against a parched August field, grass reaching up in thanks to receive what it needs? The grass doesn’t feel bad for needing the rain, doesn’t wonder if it’s putting the rain out, doesn’t judge its reaching arms. The grass just is.


And so it can be within us, too. What if need was met with the same welcome and compassion as giving? Grief as joy? Hope as despair? Patience as impatience? Can I notice the leaving of ease as much as I notice the coming of dis-ease? What about the coming and going of my own self-imposed freedom or narrow constraint?


If it’s all okay, then it’s all okay. If the freedom exists in the sky above me, as the eagles showed me, then it exists within me, too. I’m reminded of a favorite quote:


Wishing you quiet noticing of your own inner and outer landscapes, the textures and beauty in each moment, each breath, each flicker, and each pause.