Nature, “Chance” & Gratitude

From the Sanctuary:

The first cicadas of summer are making their buzzing debut—invoking a sense of relaxation whenever I hear it. Pretty soon the sharp snapping of the katydids calling out to each other will be joining them for the midseason orchestra that I love so much.

Passionately perched in my lanai, pen in hand, I am surrounded by color with my row of tiger lilies exploding in front of me, blossoming white rose-of-sharon with red centers and hanging petunia baskets of red, yellow and white. A new addition yesterday came as a complete surprise, spotted in a Western New York grocery store. There, next to a haphazard display of succulents was a healthy bromeliad. This caught my eye immediately because a close friend in Florida has them decorating her balcony and patio. The bright red flower was calling her and my names, so I carefully tucked it into the child seat of the cart and took it home. It’s ten feet away from me now, happy in its new place.

At dusk, although the sunset is less dramatic tonight, hidden behind clouds, I decide to take a walk by the creek to take in the pleasant stillness. When I reach the stream, I pause by the water to take in the fresh air. There’s a deer on the other side, and we startle each other. I smile and whisper, “Hello Baby.” He/she checks me out for a minute before scampering off, snobbishly waving a white tail. I continue on through the grass, lush from yesterday’s torrential rain. I pass a dirt mound where a solo Queen Ann’s lace towers toward the sky looking majestic, living up to her name. Her tall presence prompts a gratitude memory from a couple of weeks ago.

I was sitting alone in my office when I heard a voice at my door, “I’m sorry to disturb you, but yours was the only open door in the hallway.”   The looming man standing there was looking for a professor. I recognized his bald head, signature bow tie and larger than life stature immediately, yet he seemed out of place in an academic setting. Before I directed him, I said, “Are you a pediatric surgeon?” When he responded “Yes,” I extended my hand and smiled. What I really wanted to do was throw my arms around him in a hug. As tears of joy welled up in my eyes, I explained that he was responsible for saving my son’s life twenty years prior. It was a moment to savor for both of us. He asked questions about my son’s scar, and his condition and updated me on what to look for in future generations. I had the pleasure of telling him about the man my son had grown up to be. When you are alone in a dim recovery room holding a sedated infant and frightened and relieved at the same time, you don’t think about such things or have the words to whisper a proper thanks. So to have this opportunity to exchange the praises of gratitude was magical. When I came home that evening and told my son, he rolled his eyes, and I laughed thinking about how many similar gestures I would’ve missed without him.

I continued my walk past the dirt mound to the edge of the field where I stood with my hands on my hips. I inhaled the surge of love for my kids that came over me at that moment. Always regenerating itself, especially in moments like this when I look up at the sky and the magnificence of its vastness and the Universe beyond. The same Universe that set up a “chance” meeting of which there have been too many in my life to believe they are really chance. I’ve learned to enjoy them. And I did so watching the bats come out to feast and the beginning of the fireflies’ flashy show.

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