This time of year always brings memories of vacations… more often than not of one National Park or another. The mountains and the canyons, the rivers and lakes, the deserts and the glaciers, the forests and the meadows. These places refresh the spirit, speak to the soul and call to us. They live within our hearts. We’ve been very fortunate to have experienced so many of nature’s wonders. The photographs and snippets of time that recall the days our family spent in the presence of such grandeur bring us peace at times when there seems to be none.
John Muir, the naturalist who was the voice for so many of our parks including the woods that bear his name and whose quote is the title of this post also said “The sun shines not on us, but in us.” The strength that is not currently in Rich’s muscles is certainly within his spirit! Outside forces are not what define us but it is what is within. We are blessed.
As Rich recovers from his latest hospitalization, we see that this virus did not do as much damage as the ones before… progress! His lungs still have a long way to go and prednisone and nebulizers are still a force in our lives. But there is progress and we rejoice.
As our minds begin to clear and bring us healing peace, we can’t help but reflect on friends, family, visitors to this site and those not known but who are also on their own path to find health and healing. Some have gone on before us, too soon, and we celebrate their lives and remember; some remain and continue their journey and to those touched by illness: we send hope for strength and spirit and the sun to shine within them. To the patients, the caregivers, and the ones who love them… we know your life. It may not be the same path, but there is a shared knowledge of striving to live life in spite of illness. We walk with you. Our naturalist and environmental philosopher also said “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” We are together on this journey. We are connected.
“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,—a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal.”
We can’t get to our beloved mountains, rivers, canyons and woods right now, but we can, in the meantime, enjoy our small patch of garden right outside our door. Japanese gardens are symbolic of a larger landscape. A rock to represent a mountain, bonsai trees to mimic ancient pines and deciduous trees that have been shaped by weather. So our garden will represent to us the larger world until we can get ourselves, once again, to the majestic vistas we adore.
To make it easier on Rich, he of the unsteady gait and numb feet, we’ve had a patio made outside our kitchen door. Now when he goes to grill I won’t have to worry quite so much of a fall. The former uneven slates and grass that covered the area are now gone. For one night there was a vast sea of wet dirt that squished underfoot as we explored the space. Today, the patio is finished. While we look with pleasure at our new outdoor space, made friendlier to neuropathic toes, we do mourn the loss of our mud wrestling opportunities… gone before they are realized.
One more lesson to seize each moment as it comes.