When I Saw Nature Dance

Sunday, June 28, 2020, 6:50 pm

One of the most meaningful things that I have learned during this prolonged time of pandemic is the Power of the Present Moment.

I am such an “interior” person that I miss out on a lot. A whole lot. I only have my patio door/window at one end of my living space, and I don’t look out of that very often at all. Maybe for thunderstorms and blizzards I’ll stand and watch over nature’s most elegant bounties.

So it was a magical morning recently when I was caught by surprise by a moving shadow above my kitchen cupboards. I had been sitting at my counter, where I do all my creative work, my head down and my mind taken up with concentrating on the visible things right in front of me.

I happened to look up. What made me do that? What made me look way up – above the cupboards across my little kitchen – to see the shadows of a four-year-old tree, waving its branches with huge leaves, dancing up and down on the small space on my wall?! The wind waved them to and fro, now stopping its arc for a second before whooshing them down, down and up, up again.

My heart burst open in those seconds. I was filled with such surprised delight! I looked all around me to see how this had come to entertain me on this most amazing morning! There it was – the shaft of sunlight that had reached just the exact angle to catch the dancing tree limbs, flinging their leaves back and forth with abandon, and projecting them into my introverted space, perhaps because I needed this whimsy so much.

I had to save this – for I would want this laughter of the dance again! I grabbed my iPad and began the video. I wasn’t close enough, so I moved into the kitchen to catch the wall without interference. I filmed again. I turned around, then…to watch the shaft of light doing its thing. And in seconds, it was gone. And so was the dancing tree on my wall.

Light and wind have not cooperated the same way since. It was a one-moment deal. And I could so easily have missed it. If it were to come again, I would only laugh and cheer and bathe myself in the wonder of it all. No filming. Just be there. In the moment.

Then again last Sunday, I was caught unexpectedly again by nature’s grand dance in the blacks and greys and whites of the storm clouds that were revolving across our path in my neighborhood. It was a spectacular display, and again, I nearly missed it.

I had fallen asleep in my easy chair to the thunder and lightning that was ruling the world for a while that afternoon. But I awoke when the world became quiet again. And again, I looked up – and also out – at just the right, magical moment when nature danced in the sky and wonder showed up in my heart!

Cloud shapes were in a hurry. The darker, lacy clouds in front were swishing themselves clockwise across the sky at a good clip. Flaunting themselves like eager little children as they rushed by. Behind them was the enormous background of the huge cumulus clouds, gathered in a grand circle, black and grey and white altogether. And they appeared to slowly, elegantly turn the weight of the turning world counterclockwise in an enormous, slowly moving merry-go-round of a Grand Parade. The sun shone on the white clouds to the left, and the blue of the un-stormed space in the middle was lit with gold. I think I stopped breathing for a moment – or two – or more. I heard myself letting out my breath in a wondrous exhalation of pure delight and wonder.

Were they waiting to be noticed, or were they simply flinging themselves out there for the joy of it all?

I was totally caught up in the moments as they rushed by. It was as if I were seeing the storm-drenched sky for the first time in my life. I was awash in the grace of those unexpected moments.

Moving in to catch the sun. 6/28/20, 6:55 pm

Shortly after these delicious dances, the whole mixture had, of course, changed. And now the pièce de résistance appeared: the glorious golden shaft of light, straight from heaven to earth, my little place on this earth. And a whimsical white cloudy dinosaur, heading in to eat the sun perhaps! Did I laugh? Oh, yes, I laughed!

I don’t ever remember being so totally captivated by nature as I was in those two events. Surely not for a very long time. Children see them, perhaps because they’re so much more aware, so much less burdened by their inner landscape.

Awareness of what is right before us can be the key to the deepest joys that we have.

I’ve not been aware enough for too long. If this is the beginning of a better sense of the NOW – then I can’t wait to see what else is going to show up!

 

24 thoughts on “When I Saw Nature Dance

  1. I get this! I am an interior person too or always have been but now it seems that I can write while still being aware of what is going on around me and I too catch the dance of shadows, the many birds that fly over and various insects and animals that visit my garden. To live in the present is such a gift and one that now I know is there, I try never to lose sight of. Like shadows ourselves we must attach part of ourselves to that moment and never let it go.

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    1. From your beautiful poetry, I can tell that you are exquisitely aware most of the time. You have learned how to do that so much earlier than I did. You are blessed! And blessed with a gift of sharing it exquisitely as well.

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    1. As you can tell, I only have one light source coming in, and the sun doesn’t come around to my side of the building until afternoon. But it was just a little before 11 am that day, so it was certainly out of the blue as far as I was aware. You have a clear and lovely appreciation for so many things. You are well acquainted with living in the present moment, and that is why your writing is so good to read!

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      1. Sounds like our 17th floor studio apartment we had for 15 months in San Francisco. There was one east-facing window in the “living” area and a larger window in the dining area where I had my desk and could watch the street below. By late afternoon, the sun was gone to the other side of the skyscraper. Fortunately, we overlooked the Bay Bridge which caught the sunlight all day long. I did miss watching the light pass through the house.

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    1. Thank you, Poppy! I’ve been following your journey and you are certainly full of wonder so often. I pray that your capacity for wonder will keep you company in these harder early days of your new ministry. Your heart is so beautifully tended by our God, and it will see you through.

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  2. Martha, I have moved my chair closer to my large window. I am looking outdoors (through my window) most of the day. I do not have a patio) I love watching the beautiful trees waving in the breeze and the frequent thunder storms we have here in northern Virginia. I loved reading your beautiful description of what you saw. There is so much to seen from one’s window. Keep telling us what you are seeing. The other view I have is the of the memory care building across the street. Hopefully not my future home. Love your posts.

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    1. Thank you so much, Ellen! I envy you your large window! I do have to look across a parking lot to see my trees, but I’m figuring out ways of mentally blocking out the blacktop and just seeing the little woods across the way. We’ve had our fair share of thunderstorms here, too, recently, but I think that last Sunday’s may have thrown the biggest party! But then what do I know? I don’t look out enough, and I don’t have room for my chairs to face out. However, I hope I’ve learned my lesson! Be intentional!! It’s so good to be in touch with you, Ellen! Thanks for reaching out!!

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  3. It is a gift to live in the moment. Nature gives us a glimpse of heaven; God creates a masterpiece every second of every hour of every day. I think He likes to delight us with a personal glimpse…like the experiences you have highlighted. These were moments captured for you in a grand surprise. We must be open to these surprises. Thank you for sharing this…

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    1. Choosing to write about the two Big Shows has been part of the joy of it all, too. I’ve thought of living “in the present moment” as a discipline, but you named it as a gift…I think I like that better! It is so true! Thank you, Linda, for your faithful witness!

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  4. I see the dinosaur! And my vote is definitely for “flinging themselves out there for the joy of it all.” This post resonated SO deeply with me, Martha, especially given the countless times I’ve grabbed my camera to catch a fleeting moment of magic, a breathtaking ray of sunlight, a joyful tree shadow dance on the wall. Nine times out of ten (or maybe even 99 times out of 100), I fail. Thank you for capturing the experience of Joyful Presence so beautifully here, my friend! xoxo TOM

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    1. Thank you, Martha!! And for you, the consummate photographer of all things joyful, the temptation is even harder to resist! While my few photos now remind me of the breathtaking joy that I felt, it does not begin to capture it the same way for anyone else. But if it causes someone to do their own “looking up and out,” then the joy continues! And I agree…they did fling themselves out there for the joy of it all!” xoxoTOM

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      1. You would think that by my age, I would have learned that lesson! I have learned it, but I appear to be slow on the uptake. Excitement gets the better of good judgment. Now I’ve been reminded again!

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  5. Your post is a beautiful reminder to slow down, be still, and pay attention to what’s in front of us. I’m going to put away my phone and go for a walk with my eyes wide open! Thanks for the meditation.

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