Summer is usually a time of celebrations with invitations to graduations, weddings, and reunions. The requests for my company were a little different this year – they were both celebratory and serious. I did what was necessary to be able to accept all the requests from my family in South Carolina, Germany, and Minnesota and have been blessed by each day. The first leg of my journey took me to South Carolina where I spent time with my niece as she adjusted to a serious diagnosis. I had her all to myself in the early mornings. We talked about the hard stuff as well as the fun stuff, crying and laughing before anyone else was awake. Her 14-year-old son Hayden and I bonded during a late afternoon ride on their skiff. He’s so proud of his boating license and wanted to show me around the waterways near their home. We jumped in the little vessel out back, and off we went toward open water. Charleston is a unique place where the Atlantic Ocean mingles with rivers at various points in the city. As the river widened, I relaxed and let my fingertips drift into the water over the side. Imagine my delight when a small dolphin brushed my hand as it sidled up to the boat. Two others who dived under the boat and reappeared in front as we moved slowly through the water soon joined him. I won’t forget that adventure; my mind, body, and spirit were moved and renewed by the unexpected gift of those moments. Hayden and I had great stories to tell when we returned.
My latest trip has brought me to a small German village in Bavaria. While settling into my hiatus routine, I’ve come to enjoy the rhythm of life here, especially the peal of church bells every quarter hour. They lend structure as well as a reminder of the preciousness of time. Slowing down my pace has given me space to appreciate my daughter’s garden, where I spend mornings catching up on my reading, my beloved grand-puppy snoozing at my feet. I’ve set up a spot for sparrows to feed on a table nearby. They’ve grown used to the dog and me there and eat their fill just a few feet away. Of course, if I move, they are gone in a flash. The village is a short walk to mail letters and buy groceries. As I follow the winding streets, I’m charmed by the architecture of the homes. The trip to the village is fast, all downhill. The walk back is therefore – you guessed it – all uphill. My last climb back home was energized by the sounds of a lively Mozart waltz pouring out a window just above my head. I can’t remember the last time I was that close to a real person playing a real piano. It certainly made my walking meditation very special. This time I’ve spent being of help to others has turned out to be healing for me as well, especially the unscheduled time for meditation. The moments I’ve spent going inside to connect with my heart and soul have reminded me how important it is to listen to my intuition. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown says, “Intuition is not a single way of knowing – it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight.”