Sustaining words

As I turned the pages of my academic planner from April to May, I discovered a quote from Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön…

You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.

The implication is to just be. To remain. To not worry about things beyond your control. The storms of life may rage and wreak havoc, but not indefinitely. They pass. And they’re interspersed with moments of incredible beauty. The sky exists above clouds. It is the sphere through which the sun, moon, and stars pass…what would it mean, then, to “be the sky”? I feel more posts coming on this later…

Meanwhile, more Chödrön:

Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.

On Mother’s Day my family gathered for lunch. Sunday afternoons have an ethereal quality; they are not your ordinary afternoons. They beckon sleep, or reading, or other quiet pleasures; they also offer an outlet for expending physical energy and embracing joie de vivre, joy of living. After lunch my granddaughter, age five, needed to “run and get her wiggles out.” Her mother and I watched her running through a sea of white clover in my backyard. I’d been irritated that our lawn service hadn’t yet cut the grass but as I breathed the sweet, clover-perfumed air, I thought How perfect is the fragrance of this day. My daughter-in-law and I began identifying all the different types of plants growing with the grass in my yard with the “Picture This” app on our phones: Tall goldenrod. Spreading hedgeparsley. Ryegrass. Bluegrass (who knew?). Posion ivy on the far corner of the fence under the pines (lawn crew must be notified). Woodsorrel. Wild geranium. And wild mock strawberries, which enchanted my granddaughter. She picked them and carried them around, tiny red fruit in a tiny pink hand… my son said, “I never knew those grew here!”

There are a lot of things we never realize. Such as the value of simple moments, in the living of them. We cannot imagine how the memory of these will remain with us, like the sky, for our lifetime.

One more quote…

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.

One of the thick, spiky weeds we identified on our backyard exploration is a species of “Everlasting.”

I said to my daughter-in-law: “I had no idea so much poetry lived in the grass.”

I think about all that would have been lost in these dappled Sunday afternoon moments, if the grass had been cut like I’d wanted. My granddaughter didn’t complain. She savored it all, blue eyes as brilliant as the sky above.

I do not know what tomorrow will bring. For now I only know we stand as we are, in our shared sky and story, moments in the making, entering the warrior’s world, a family of everlastings like those growing in the universe beneath our feet.

Where nothing is ever really ordinary.

21 thoughts on “Sustaining words

  1. Fran, your words and Pema’s were exactly what I needed to read this morning. I am actually writing an essay about coping with life’s challenges so I’ll be using the first quote to help me develop my ideas. Also, I love the line: “I had no idea so my poetry lived in the grass.” It makes me wonder about all the other places in our lives where poetry lives!

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  2. “I do not know what tomorrow will bring. For now, I only know we stand as we are, in our shared sky and story, moments in the making” is the grounding we all need everything once in a while reminding us to stay present. Thank you for this. Tuesdays have a way of bringing my “moments in the making” come to life in mySlices of Life.

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    • Thank you for your words, Patty – yes, these SOLSC Tuesdays tend to draw the magic out of our moments by making us reflect more deeply, and maybe more gratefully. I find that’s what writing often does for me!


  3. Yes, the value of simple moments!
    My younger brother and I used to eat those berries straight from the ground as kids. I didn’t know they were considered strawberries until now. One day, my neighbor saw me eating them and yelled at me not to eat them. I had to spit them out because they were poisonous. Obviously, they weren’t, but that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw your picture of them. 🍓

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  4. Fran, thanks for a wonderful post and some thought-provoking quotes (Chödrön’s and yours). Lawns are a funny thing, aren’t they? Because we have chickens, we’ve never used anything more powerful than a lawnmower on our yard, and I’ve always been amazed at the beauty (poetry!) of what there is to be seen if I’m willing to lie down on my stomach and look closely. Really, there’s no such thing as a weed. Hopefully, your granddaughter got her wiggles out!


  5. What a precious post. I thought it took having my son to slow down and notice, but I’ve been reflecting that perhaps it was quarantine. Or perhaps cutting interactions. Or perhaps seeing less people. Whatever it is, I noticed this past year just how important and worthwhile it is to celebrate and relish the “ordinary.”


  6. Oh. I needed this. We ARE sky. And we are shared sky and poetry all bound together. And my guess, knowing that granddaughter of yours? Had that grass been cut, she would have made her way outside. And she would have roamed around that back yard. And she would have STILL found something to fill her with wonder. To fill you with wonder. As for the the fearlessness of celebrating the small, how we enter the warrior’s world? YES. There is courage in embracing awe and wonder without shame or irony. Thank you.


    • The quote about “entering the warrior’s world” through the “ordinary” struck so deep, Lainie – for you know awe is my word for this year. A word that chose me instead of vice versa. A word that manifests itself, somehow, every single day. Fascinating that it should assert itself thus, in the year that the new grandchild is to come, and before we knew it should come to pass. Children and wonder — are inextricable. ❤

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  7. am running behind this morning…but had to pause and read this post. I needed to, as it reminded me to remain in the present, even I as we are in full-on prepare for summer-and-beyond mode. (I am already looking at 2022 planners, imagine that.) I took the time to porch sit yesterday when the cooler temps calmed down the mosquito activity a bit.—Thank you for transporting me to your yard, those blue skies, your granddaughter’s joie de vivre, a breath of fresh clover-scented air this morning.

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  8. Thank you so much for writing this. That’s what I mean by escaping the ordinary. When you see everything as ordinary, labeling it as just ordinary, you really don’t see it. You pass it by. You let it slip away like dead sand. When you sit still and watch the child awaken to the wild strawberry, you are awakened. It is only then that you are truly alive.

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