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Journal

Sometimes the Universe Conspires

Sometimes the Universe Conspires

Sometimes the Universe seems to conspire to ensure that certain works are accomplished or (in my case) images are captured. You can call it intuition, inspiration, or various other names. It’s the voice that might literally wake you up so you can be in the right place at the right time and sometimes employs unwitting accomplices.

That happened to me yesterday morning, after staying up late doing research. At 6:00 a.m., my phone rang. It was the director of a private school calling to ask if I could fill in for the day. I had to decline because I had promised to care for my granddaughter for a few hours. After taking the call, I realized I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep, although I closed my eyes to try. But something about the misty morning light compelled me to get out of bed, despite not feeling as rested as I wanted to be.

It had been a while since I’d photographed a river sunrise, mainly because of my late night work habits. It was a shocking 7° (F) outside and a morning when I’d prefer to stay indoors. But something wonderful was about to happen. I could feel it and (as I’ve said before) have learned to trust that feeling. So I put on my warm clothes, coat, and shoes and went to the chilly river’s edge to photograph the sunrise, which looked rather like a painting.

Sunrise 4-5-16-4

If there is a way to predict the “wow” value of sunrises and sunsets, I have yet to discover it. But the pink-orange mist was intriguing, so I stayed outside to see how it would develop.

Sunrise 4-5-16-2

As the sun began to climb the trees, the way it played with the trees and appeared to stretch their branches with golden light was phenomenal. In my four years of photographing sunrises on the river, I’d never witnessed that particular effect so intensely.

Sunrise 4-5-16 detail

It made me think of Moses and the burning bush – for the trees were “on fire” with brilliant light but not consumed. I hoped I could capture it exactly as it appeared so as to express what drew me to it and stopped me in my tracks – because when a sight grabs you like that, there must be some kind of spiritual nugget in it.

I selected the image below to share online because the way the various elements came together was most pleasing to me. The deciding factor was the relationship between the branches stretched by sunlight in the center of the image and the branches across the river in the lower right corner that seemed to reach out to them. That spoke to me.

Sunrise 4-5-16-1

After I shared the image, people reported being drawn to different elements of it and seeing certain shapes and symbols in the sunlit trees. I’m fascinated by how we gravitate to certain images or elements and discover meaning or satisfaction in them. When we gravitate toward an image, it’s an invitation to go deeper. We can consider what calls us to it. What is our connection to it? What does it stir in us? What longing does it satisfy? What does it reflect that is alive in us?

As I contemplated the above image, the words that arose from it were: Source it higher. Fuel your life from a higher source. Gas station and food metaphors came to mind. Tapping into ordinary consciousness is like filling up with regular gas or fast food that makes you feel jittery. But there are higher quality options, like premium gas or farm-to-table, organic meals containing a rainbow of nutrients that leave you feeling truly nourished and energized. A beautiful soul who adopted the name Peace Pilgrim said, “Junk thoughts can destroy you even more quickly than junk food.” That is the idea I’m trying to convey.

My infant granddaughter, Ava, arrived soon after I photographed the sunrise. She napped a few times during the course of our time together. She fell asleep in my arms, when I swayed gently with her, and when I lay her on my bent legs so we could face each other. As she rested in her human cradle, I found myself feeling bad about conditions in her life. But then I heard, “Source it higher” and recalled the luminous image of the sunrise trees – and lifted into a state of trust. I thought of how many challenging circumstances I’ve lived through and realized that my own life experience will help me to trust in her strength and guide her to discover her own strength and resilience. It seemed the spectacular sunrise was the source of the energy I was giving Ava – the energy she was feeding on, even as she slept.

“Source it higher,” backed by the sunrise image, has quickly become my new mantra that helps to dispel worry and fear. It reminds me to unplug myself from a lower source of energy and tap into a higher, more luminous source. Without a mother or grandmother in my life anymore, it seems to be up to me to hold the faith and nurture subsequent generations. Connecting with that light eases my worries and allows me to trust what is and what is in the process of becoming.

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

When Snow-Covered Daffodils Speak

When Snow-Covered Daffodils Speak

When I opened my eyes this morning, I was surprised to find the landscape covered with snow. I’d heard talk of snow in the forecast for this weekend but never checked the forecast for myself – and after yesterday’s warmth, chalked it up to an April Fool’s joke. But sure enough, the ground and the trees were white.

I sprung out of bed with my sights set on the daffodils I’d photographed yesterday in the park. It felt Really Important to photograph daffodils blooming in the snow, although I didn’t know why. I have learned to trust that feeling and didn’t waste a moment getting to the park.

Daffodils-2

As I spent time connecting with the snow-covered daffodils, it dawned on me why it was so important to photograph them. They carried a message of hope that seemed relevant to challenging times in general, and to my daughter’s current situation, in particular.

Some daffodils were fully bloomed. Others were working on opening up more. Some were still closed, with tips swollen and yellow. Most had some snow on them, and some were more weighed down than others by snow. The message that came through is: Don’t give up because you wake up one morning and find yourself weighed down by a clump of snow on your back. It’s not going to last. The snow that is weighing you down at this moment is temporary. It will melt. In the meantime, keep your face to the sun.

Daffodils-1

I photographed one daffodil that had what looked like a petal of snow hanging from it.

Daffodils-3

The instant after I snapped the picture, a small twig broke free from being tangled up with other twigs and smacked the snow petal off of the daffodil. Just like that, the snow was gone.

Several minutes later, a gust of wind came along and blew the snow off some of the other daffodils.

Meanwhile, the sun was rising in the sky and becoming warmer and would melt the rest of the snow in time. But you might not even have to wait for the warmth of the sun to melt the snow from your petals because the wind or a twig – or even a person or animal passing by – might come along and remove your burden in an instant. Your situation can change in a heartbeat. New information, possibilities, and answers have been known to fall from the sky. Be aware and receptive.

Daffodils-5

As these associations came through the snow-covered daffodils, I spoke them into my voice recorder. I thought of my daughter and felt eager to share my daffodil insights with her, even though I realized it might be one of those “you had to be there” instances that wouldn’t transmit as powerfully as it was experienced. As I was recording, I looked up, and a woman appeared walking on the path hand-in-hand with a very young girl. They were heading in my direction, and I guessed the little girl was younger than two years old. The pair instantly brought to mind my daughter and infant granddaughter. They also brought tears to my eyes because it felt like a serendipitous occurrence. I sensed the Universe was both reinforcing my insights and assuring me that my daughter and granddaughter would be okay by showing me this woman and very young girl walking peacefully along the path.

It turned out they were the only people I saw the whole time I was at the park.

Keep blooming. Don’t become discouraged. We have no idea how quickly circumstances – like the weather – can change. Yesterday, it was sunny and warm. This morning, the ground is covered with snow. But it will be gone soon. Don’t give up, even when the cold stings your back, and the weight of it all pushes you down.

Daffodils-6

You have the warm sun – whatever source of light you have in your life. (There is a source of light in everyone’s life.) Trust it. In time, it will melt the snow.

Ava Portrait-1

Don’t become disheartened. You never know who will cross your path and what conversation might change your course. Be receptive to all the assistance that is available to you and discerning about what kind you are willing to accept. Be wise. But don’t wait for someone to come along and rescue you. Show up. Do what you can, without overdoing. Put all your energy into blooming. Have faith that the Universe will help you do it. Even when there’s more snow in the forecast, realize it won’t last. The sun grows stronger every day.

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

Boys on Bikes

Boys on Bikes

One sunny afternoon last week, while walking the labyrinth in a nearby park, my walking meditation was interrupted by two boys on bicycles at the top of an adjacent hill, between two slides. My guess is that they were about nine years old. After some consideration of the bumps they might encounter on the way down, they decided it was a good idea to ride their bikes down the grassy hill (with a large bump midway down) and through the labyrinth. Although I prefer uninterrupted solitude when I’m walking the labyrinth, I enjoyed overhearing their conversation.

Clearly, the first (presumably older) boy was thrilled during and after the daredevil mission. The second, more cautious boy seemed to enjoy it, too, and after he came to a stop on the other side of the labyrinth, exclaimed, “Boy, that activated my nerve!” – which I found amusing. His words were so honest and sweet.

The boys enjoyed riding down the bumpy hill so much that they decided to do it again. After their second trip down the hill, the first boy called out, “Isn’t it fun?!!”

The second boy responded, “Yeah, it’s fun, but isn’t it terrifying at the top?”

Their energy was entertaining. But even more than that, I found it inspiring! There they were at the top of the hill, curious and scared. When I overheard their initial conversation about whether or not to go through with the feat, I felt a little nervous about how it would turn out and hoped the outcome wouldn’t be unfortunate. After all, there was no path down the hill, which would soon be covered with daffodil blooms. (Poor daffodils!) At least the boys were wearing helmets…

But they went ahead with it, and they did fine. They looked jubilant, presumably because they took the risk and conquered their fears. It was inspiring to witness. And I wondered: When do we stop taking risks, give in to fear, and refuse to step off the well established path to follow our curiosity into unpaved territory – and miss out on the wild and empowering ride? The thrill of it.

After their third time down the hill (and through my labyrinth walking meditation), their parents returned. I realized I had passed this small group of parents on the trail about 20 minutes earlier and was drawn to their vibe. They allowed the boys the freedom to be out of their sight and to explore on their own. To bring their experience and knowledge to a new situation, weigh the benefits and risks, make a decision (intelligently, not impulsively), and gain confidence and/or wisdom. Obviously, the parents had enough faith to allow the boys to explore rather than remain at their side, afraid of them making mistakes and getting hurt.

Earlier that same afternoon, my son passed his road test. Like the boys on bikes, he, too, was thrilled. Since my son is 18, his driver’s license is not restricted, which means he can drive after 9pm. So I asked him, “Is this the chapter in which I won’t be able to sleep at night when you’re not home?”

He replied, “No. This is when you must learn how to sleep at night despite your son being out doing all kinds of fun stuff.”

He’s right, of course.

It wasn’t until several hours after watching the boys ride bicycles down the hill with exhilarated expressions on their faces that it occurred to me how perfect it was to witness that on the same day my son got his driver’s license. It was also the day when I had a major breakthrough during seated meditation. The breakthrough was something I had been hoping for for a long time, and it left me feeling that I would now be able to push through a barrier that had been blocking me for as long as I could remember. That feeling filled me with an expansive sense of freedom. Only moments after I finished meditating, my son called me to announce he had passed his road test. It felt like we both graduated to levels of greater freedom simultaneously, along with the brand new grass that covered the trail with a noticeable carpet of green and the tiny, emerald tree buds that decided it’s time to burst forth. And the boys on bikes.

Before the boys came along on their bikes, I had been walking the labyrinth thinking about how there are times to focus on a certain thing, times to expand your vision and notice what else is around you, and times to focus inward and pay attention to your footsteps touching the earth without getting distracted by outer influences. I would add that there are times to allow whatever arises during meditation without resisting it and to learn what you can from it – in this case, boys on bikes with exhilarated smiles shooting straight through the labyrinth, modeling a sense of excitement and adventure that is downright inspiring.

Note: The featured image for this post was captured nearly three years ago, in early June. Our grass is not that tall at the end of March!

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

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