Category Archives: Reflections

By The River Side

image A few days ago I experienced a beautiful and blessed day. I thought I’d share a picture and a few words about it with you in this blog post.

The day included much – but a river, blades of grass, sunshine and God’s gentle touches all figure prominently.

The day was especially appreciated as my experience of God of late has been, well, let’s just say, He’s been seemingly quite remote. And it was after a few weeks of physical and spiritual suffering, that I won’t detail here as we each have our own variety, that these events unfolded.

It was a sunny but brisk fall day in rural New Mexico. It was one of those days when each event and encounter seemed especially created for me in love. Even the little meditation spot along the river I stumbled upon seemed to be carefully prepared with clean, fresh and dry hay. Such a place to sit. Just sit.

Perhaps it WAS all prepared for me? The God of my understanding is like that, you know. Loving, providential, present. Have you ever had such a day?

I sat on the side of the river bank and meditated. Just sitting.

Once, on a months long retreat at a Benedictine monastery in Vermont, it became difficult for me to sit and to meditate so I asked a friendly monk brother for help. I asked him what he thinks about when he is meditating. He responded by saying he tried not to think too much and he allowed himself to “just sit.” Sometimes when his mind wandered he would gently say to himself, “Just sitting.” And then he returned his attention to his breathing. I tried that on the side of this river. Just sitting.

When I opened my eyes after some time sitting, the nearby blade of grass jutting out into the air seemed to pulsate with the glory of God. It seemed for a moment all the mystery and beauty of nature was captured in that blade of grass. I could have meditated on that blade all afternoon.

“Heraclitus would have loved this river,” I thought to myself. He was known to have said, “You can’t step into the same river twice.” This river, flowing strong and always changing, reminded me of the impermanence of life.

When I considered the river with it’s flux and turbulence, I was also reminded of something I heard many years ago. God is in the rapids and in the flux as much as He is in the rocks and in the banks. No need to cling to safety and comfort. Let go. God is there.

I was captivated by all the beauty surrounding me near this river. The beauty didn’t seem to surround me so much as it penetrated me. It was moving through me. Piercing me.

All alone with God. It was a nice moment by the river side.

John Muir once wrote, “Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.” Nature’s peace flowing into you as sunshine flows into trees and cares dropping off like autumn leaves. True this, eh?

Do you know the Rio Grande was called El Rio de Nuestra Señora before it was called “Big River?” I suspect it had an even more majestic name prior to that. Subsequent to being named El Rio de Nuestra Señora, it was called El Rio Bravo, The May River and even The Turbulent River. I like the name Our Lady’s River (El Rio de Nuestra Señora) best, how about you?

As I carefully made my way up the river bank and back into civilization, a lone photographer walked by. A protective sun hat and a camera with a large lens indicated his pursuit. He said, “Beautiful colors and nice light today ‘eh?” I replied with a warm smile and a definitive, “Yes!” He recognized that my brief response was not an anti-social stance but rather a recognition, in silence, of the true awesomeness of the moment. He returned a smile and, understanding the moment, joined me in contemplating (alone but together) El Rio, the Cottonwood trees and the desert cacti at the base of The Mountains of the Holy Day.

May your day today be filled with such an adventure, mystery and beauty. It’s all there.

Where is a spot that you find health, healing and a communion with the Divine? Please share by leaving a comment.

O Mio Babbino Caro – Oh My Beloved Father

Starting, I’m told, is always the hardest part in any endeavor. So, it would seem, with this first blog post, I’ve passed through “the hardest part.” We shall see if that bit of wisdom holds true.

Music, my father, and love are the themes discussed in this, my first, blog post.

Originally, this blog post had a video-link embedded in it of a Puccini aria as performed by Joshua Bell. The song is entitled, O Mio Babbino Caro. Evidently, I violated some internet rights and it was removed. I do hope you have a chance to google it and listen to it. It’s really beautiful.

I presented this music video because the music by Puccini – as performed by Joshua Bell – is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard performed and it is one of my most favorite.

Although I am no expert and hardly know my andantes from my adagios, I do know I am transformed into a better person and transported into a better world from the very first note of this aria. Does music do that for you at times? Why, I wonder?

On a certain, far more hum-drum level, I’m hoping my writing might help me and you to become a bit more transformed…going from where we are to where we might be. Perhaps, simply growing in friendship.

Art in general and Italian opera in specific often help a person transcend the present reality and enter more deeply into a different reality. The story behind this aria does this and is most touching to me.

This evocative melody was written for an Italian opera and is sung by a young love smitten girl, Lauretta, after tensions with her father and the family of the boy she loves reach a point that Lauretta might be separated from her beloved. This song of tender devotion captures Lauretta’s love for her firm Italian father and a plea for him to show mercy.

The name of this aria in English is, “Oh My Beloved Father.” The title gives you insight into the story. It is particularly touching to me, and perhaps to others, because, like in the operatic story from whence it comes, I, too, have experienced “tensions” with my father and now, like the beauty of this music proclaims and the name it carries, my heart feels nothing but love and tenderness for my beloved father. How good it is to be transformed.

IMG_0050My father is now elderly and a stroke from a few years ago has perhaps slowed him down and softened him a bit. As he walks his last few miles (a great heartbreaking distance from me), I think of him often, pray for him regularly, thank God for him near daily and delight in the great gift he is – especially as I listen to Joshua Bell perform this magnificent rendition of “O Mio Babbino Caro.” My beloved father, indeed!

So, as I begin my meanderings and musings in the blogosphere, I introduce you to my favorite piece of music, share with you the love I have for my dad this music evokes, and ask you to consider what your most favorite piece of music is and why.

Joshua Bell is one of my favorite performers and I share this music with you to elicit a response and to dedicate this song and my blog writings to my beloved father.

And so, with this post, I have started my blog. Enjoy the music video again, and please share, if you are so inclined, what your favorite piece of music is and why?