Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BE STILL, MY SOUL

Silence is that enchanted place where the room empties itself of chatter, time stands still, and the landscape expands like the morning after a snowfall. In winter's silence, fish swim idly under the river's ice and the heart beats on at a slower pace. In the quiet of our private silences, we can fall into higher places and hear the still, small voices of our souls.

January--the Saxon "wolf month," Finnish "heart of winter," and Czech "ice month"--is named for Janus, the Roman god of the doorway, the god who looked in as well as out.

In the doorway month of the year, it's good to succumb to the powers of nature. If we can't go out, we're sure to find ourselves within. It's the perfect time to wrap ourselves in the quiet spell of winter, to be still, to be silent.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Table Grace: Washing Dishes

Cleaning up after a meal is considered time-consuming drudgery best relegated to an appliance. Not in my house.

OK, so I recently acquired a dishwasher...my first (do I live in a cave). I admit that a dishwasher cuts away the clean-up after large family meals and keeps counter clutter down but I still think of washing dishes by hand as a pleasure.

Like offering a toast or saying grace before a meal, clearing the table and doing the clean-up up afterward puts a benediction on it. At least, that's how it goes in my narrow little mind.

Dishwashing purifies my surroundings, making my kitchen whole again. It also slows my rush to join the outside world...this is a chance for a sort of meditation...the act of cleaning focuses my attention on the objects I handle.

Another benefit of washing dishes is the simple pleasure of returning order to my cooking spaces. The physical work of washing and storing dishes, pots and pans, lets me touch the surfaces of beloved objects and practice the art of organization. Thoughtful care of tableware supports my wish for peace, beauty and order at home.

Satisfying.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Simple Bed

Nuns fret not at the convent's narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells.

-William Wordsworth

I confess. The only abbey-style bedroom I've seen is a monk's cell in a monastery museum in France. However, the experience was stunning enough to inspire a similar practice of simplicity at home. My uncluttered bedside table prepares my soul for peaceful, lightly-packed travels into the land of dreams. I like to light a candle before sleep, gaze into the flame, and count the good things of the day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A PARADISE OF SENSES

I slip through the door marked "Massage Therapy" where a young woman dressed in blue and white stripes and a fashionable fuchsia scarf awaits. I like her already--she's wearing my favorite colors.

"Are you Tania?" I ask, clutching my gift certificate for a one-hour massage.

In a few moments, I sign the waivers, leave my clothes on the bench, and slip between soft cotton sheets on the massage table--face up, knees raised.

It's two years since I've seen a massage chamber but it's easy to slide back into its sensual routine: I hear the gentle, relaxing flute sounds of the CD player, close my eyes in the darkened space, and feel my aching body settle into warmth and comfort.

I can choose between deep-tissue or light-pressure massage, the scent of massage oil or cream, whether to talk or not, sleep or stay awake for the experience, or ask for more or less heat in the room.

Tania, a Reiki Master from northern Germnay, begins by lightly pressing points on my face and circling my scalp with confident hands. Then the scent of mint floats in the air as work begins on healing my hands and arms. When she gets to my legs and feet, she discovers sand between my toes (I walked the beach prior to the appointment) and, giggling, we begin to talk.

When I ask her how it was that she came to the US, she says, "Flying". The first trip was to attend an airshow, the second for flying lessons. "The runways are so much longer and cleaner here than in Germany," she says. "Then I met my husband, who is also a pilot. Four little girls later and I'm still here!"

We chat about New Year's resolutions that her friend made...too many, she thinks, her friend needs to moderate her goals. I confess that I never make resolutions for fear of failure but I could think of a good one right now: More massages!

Halfway through the session, Tania says, "It's flip time!" and she lifts the sheet like a tent while I roll my body to the face-down position. Ahhh, back time--my favorite. Breathing in, breathing out.

Near the end of the hour, Tania notes the deep knots in my shoulders and takes extra time to break them up. "I don't like to leave projects unfinished," she says, as she continues for another twenty minutes. Such treatment makes me a client. I will make another appointment.

To finish, Tania swiftly rubs her hands together to create heat and transfers it to my back. She repeats the process three times. Marvelous.

"You must drink a LOT of water tonight," she says as she hands me a paper cup of cold water. I sip and slip out the door, reborn.

Nameste.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Water Temple II

Like the water temples at Vesta and Sunol (previous post), waters converge beneath this rough-hewn temple of stone at Point Lobos. I'm not sure which I prefer--natural or man-made. Which do you prefer?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Morning Mass

Still Life: Ancient Pots Gathering Moss