Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Rosie and Bucky out to graze
I'm hard at work on an article for Hobby Farms magazine on--of all things--the subject of grazing genetics. In the process, I've learned a lot of interesting things about parasite resistance, why conformation is important (at least for sheep), and how a rumen works.

Fortunately for us humans, parasites aren't usually a big issue, and no matter what our conformation, we can thrive on healthy food. But there is one area that I see a real correlation between us and the walking wool or milk factories of my article: rumination.

First a few details about this process: The cow, sheep or other ruminant stuffs itself with grass, hay, or what-not--just gulps it down without hardly chewing, and all that graze piles up in the first compartment of its stomach, known as the rumen. This place is literally awash with all sorts of bacteria and protozoa, which go to work to soften the load of fiber while the animal tucks in a few last mouthfuls and goes to find a comfy spot on which to lie.

We, too, graze through our day. True, we're not chomping on grass, but we are gathering experiences, conversations, thoughts, information, etc. This may go on for days, even weeks sometimes depending on our schedules, before we find a place and time to ruminate. Meanwhile, things are perking below our conscious mind in the realm of spirit and soul, sort of pre-digesting.

And then it's cud-chewing time. Wad by wad, up comes the pre-softened forage to get a thorough chewing before the final swallow, after which it is assimilated into the animal's system as nutrients. In much the same way, when we take time to ponder all the happenings, feelings, and interactions we've been gathering, they have a chance to be brought up to our minds to be chewed on, processed, enjoyed, and understood.

If the cow or sheep doesn't ruminate, it can't draw the nutrition it needs from its food, and ultimately it will not thrive. I think there's an allegory in this as well, for if we don't pause to process the input of our days--stepping outside of time and into the realm of the spirit where thoughts and dreams and aspirations flourish--we won't receive the insights and wisdom we need to live life well.

Hmmm. Come to think about it, it's been an incredibly full last couple of weeks around here. Yes, and I'm hearing the quiet places calling me to come. To ponder. To ruminate!"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Million Beautiful Things

I was stirred recently by a story about beauty. Not beauty seen, but beauty playing its heart out while people walked by unheeding.

For forty-five minutes, a world-class violinist on his multi-million dollar instrument graced a Washington D.C. subway station with the intricate, perfect music of Bach, and of the thousand-plus people that rushed past him, only seven stopped to listen...

Something tugs at my heart when I ponder that. All but seven failed to see and hear, and in so doing, they passed by treasure unaware, realizing too late that they had forfeited a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How sad!

It's not that I blame the passers-by, or think them less valuable or cultured. After all, one doesn't go to the subway for recreation or relaxation. They were commuting--deadlines to make, appointments to keep. So they walked along unconscious. Rare beauty was in their midst and they did not perceive it.

Perhaps I would have been one who stood transfixed and let the music wash over me, feeling it lift me out of the milling crowd and into a different sphere while the world rushed by. I would like to think so. But I half suspect that the only real difference between them and me is that their failure to gaze upon beauty was recorded. Mine is not. There are a million beautiful things around me everyday, and I so often walk right past them, failing to see or hear as the tyranny of a time schedule of my own making propels me.

But I don't really want to be that way. No, I want to be one of the those that stop for beauty, whether it is the lacey design left in my cappucino cup after the warm, mellow foam recedes, the play of lights on a polished surface, the crunch of dry leaves in the creekbed or the laughter of a passing moment. How full our days really are of rarity and wonder. It's all around us! I want to step outside of my usual time-sensitive existence, stand transfixed by the small things that surround my life, all the riches of color, sounds, smells, tastes, textures; the nuances of relationships and the wonder of people, of cats and horses and singing birds; living in deep appreciation for beauty great and small. I don't want to come to the end of my days and my "to-do" list, and say, "Were there roses? I didn't notice...."