A Zen Moment In Autumn

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor E. Frankl
A Garden in Autumn

This weekend, I met up with Sarah and Frances for coffee for the first time in three weeks, which included a visit to Park & Tilford Gardens in North Vancouver.

We had just returned from an exciting travel adventure and felt that unmistakable welcoming feeling of being home and with family. It is as T.S. Eliot wrote in the Four Quartets: “We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.”

A Garden in Autumn

As we meandered through the pathways, taking photos of plants and flowers seemingly unaware that Autumn has arrived, Sarah remarked on the sense of peace that pervades gardens. I felt that same sense of being “in sync” which prompted me to capture my thoughts in a short video.

This is your invitation to join me in a Zen moment on an Autumn afternoon.

Sarah On the Poetry of Henry Lawson

Books have the awesome power to transform, engage and inspire.

Three years ago, my sister Sarah invited me to join her on the The Book Dialogue Podcast. Over the years, books have been a topic of conversation whenever we get together. She reminded me that it happens to all of us. Some time in our life we come to know that we will never read all the books that are on our “to read” shelves.

The Book Dialogue is dedicated to expanding our reading capacity by viewing books through the lens of other readers. Two Sisters, two viewpoints leads to interesting outcomes. This is our unscripted discussions on books, poetry, and philosophy!

We invite you to join the conversation.

Rebecca & Sarah on The Book Dialogue

My name is Sarah and I’m so glad that you joined me today.  The Book Dialogue is an exploration of poetry and books, philosophy, and all the things in life that happen and occur in and around us. We have wonderful conversations, and I would love you to be able to join us in the conversation.

We invite you to follow us on thebookdialogue.com or thebookdialogue.ca. As my sister is fond of saying, we like to think that we’re everywhere. So, join us in that everywhere and share what are you reading, what poem strikes your heart. We want to hear from you!

Today, I will be reciting a poem by Henry Lawson.  His words are a powerful reminder of how we must reach out beyond ourselves to ensure that we don’t take people at surface value. But to look beneath that façade they wear to see the heart.

The Things We Dare Not Tell

The fields are fair in autumn yet, and the sun’s still shining there,
But we bow our heads and we brood and fret, because of the masks we wear;
Or we nod and smile the social while, and we say we’re doing well,
But we break our hearts, oh, we break our hearts! for the things we must not tell.

There’s the old love wronged ere the new was won, there’s the light of long ago;
  There’s the cruel lie that we suffer for, and the public must not know.
   So we go through life with a ghastly mask, and we’re doing fairly well,
While they break our hearts, oh, they kill our hearts! do the things we must not tell.

   We see but pride in a selfish breast, while a heart is breaking there;
  Oh, the world would be such a kindly world if all men’s hearts lay bare!
  We live and share the living lie, we are doing very well,
  While they eat our hearts as the years go by, do the things we dare not tell.

  We bow us down to a dusty shrine, or a temple in the East,
  Or we stand and drink to the world-old creed, with the coffins at the feast;
  We fight it down, and we live it down, or we bear it bravely well,
  But the best men die of a broken heart for the things they cannot tell.

Until next time we meet, keep reading and reciting poetry.

The Elephant Child by D. Wallace Peach

I am delighted to share the poem, The Elephant Child by D. Wallace Peach. I know you will enjoy hearing Diana’s voice recite this heartwarming tale of courage and resilience.

D. Wallace Peach

The Elephant Child by D. Wallace Peach

An elephant child, carefree and wild
Walked into the wintry woods
He followed fox tails and jackrabbit trails
Ignoring his mother’s “shoulds”

Of course, he got lost and chilled by the frost
As night began to fall
To his rump he sunk and tooted his trunk
But no one answered his call

Oh, that cold night, to the elephant fright
The clouds began to snow
He sniffled and shivered, shook and quivered
His nose he needed to blow

The blizzard swirled and snowflakes twirled
He plodded on wobbly knees
His head grew stuffy, the snow so fluffy
He blew out a honking sneeze

Losing hope, he started to mope
When in an evergreen tree
He spied a house, just right for a mouse
And he let go a trumpet of glee

Alas the place hadn’t the space
To fit an elephant’s bulk
The lost little guy plunked down for a cry
His head hung low in a sulk

The house was quite nice, chock full of mice
Who whispered quiet and low
What was that? Did you hear a cat?
Lurking out in the snow?

Across the wood floor, they dashed to the door
Flicked on the outside light
In a rodent flurry, they squeaked and scurried
An elephant! What a sight!

Let’s offer a seat for a tea and a treat
Said a mouse who felt overly bold
I think he is lost so covered in frost
And surely his ears are cold.

Full of care and courage to spare
They crawled out on a limb
They slipped on the ice those brave little mice
And their mission turned quite grim

But they held on tight with all their might
And called to the elephant
Come in from the storm, come in and get warm
But the elephant said I can’t!

Though I’m only four, I’ll bust the door
I’ll break the branch from the tree
I’ll crack your stairs and squash your chairs
I’m far too heavy, you see.

You have to try, hurry in and dry
Get up! Please give it a go!
The elephant groaned, he mumbled and moaned
Though he longed to get out of the snow.

With strength galore, he pushed on the door
The tree branch started to bend
The home nearly fell, and the mice had to yell
Please stop, or we’re end-over-end!

The elephant frowned as the flakes tumbled down
His trunk a bright shade of blue
Oh, what a glitch, mice-whiskers did twitch.
What were the rodents to do?

Now, due to their size, mice aren’t very wise
Their brains are as tiny as seeds
They may not be smart, but they have lots of heart
And sometimes that’s all that you need.

They sketched out a plan as only mice can
And piled his back with sweaters
And blankets and sheets, and curtains with pleats
Tiny coats of wool and black leather

With the elephant warm, and safe from all harm
They dialed their old-fashioned phone
We’re seeking his mother, a father or brother!
This elephant’s all alone!

Well what do you know, because of the snow
His parents were suffering fits
They dashed to him fast and hugged him at last
And stayed for some tea and biscuits.

Thus ends the plight of the elephant’s night
Be careful when out in the woods
You might meet some mice who are caring and nice
But just in case…
Remember your mother’s shoulds.

Reprinted with permission D. Wallace Peach©

Sonnet 73 That time of year thou mayst in me behold

Welcome to September, the month that leads into the brilliant autumn colours and the warmth of Harvest and Thanksgiving. September has a mellow poignancy that reminds us of the passing of years.

Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare brings forth natural metaphors to signify the coming of old age. We move ever forward in our timeline and recognize that “sunset fadeth in the west” comes to all. And yet, it is at the moment we face the inevitability of endings that love becomes stronger, more vibrant, more enduring.

Please join me in reciting Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare.

Sonnet 73 That time of year thou mayst in me behold

by William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

“Answer July” by Emily Dickinson

We have entered the month of September, transitioning to a new season that brings a coolness to the night air, and the last vibrant colours before the coming of winter. Tonight I celebrate all the seasons with a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Please join me in reciting “Answer July” by Emily Dickinson.

Answer July

By Emily Dickinson

Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—

Nay—said the May—
Show me the Snow—
Show me the Bells—
Show me the Jay!

Quibbled the Jay—
Where be the Maize—
Where be the Haze—
Where be the Bur?
Here—said the Year—

This poem is in the public domain.

Until next time we meet, keep reading and reciting poetry.

On a Road Trip to Squamish

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Lao Tzu

A few weeks ago, we attended a long-awaited family wedding, held at the Cheekye Ranch, a Sea to Sky Outdoor destination a few miles from Squamish B.C. We were surrounded by pristine coastal forests and unparalleled mountain views. The Cheekye Ranch is the location of the Second Chance Cheekye Ranch (SCCR), a charitable organization that rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes horses in need. It is a place of sanctuary and healing for over 40 rescued horses.

The exchange of vows and the gathering of family and friends was held in a place of peace and refuge. What better way to begin a life together.

Tonight, I invite you to share a virtual road trip which will take us from Vancouver to Squamish on Sea to Sky Corridor. Experience the adventure of being on an open road.

Special thanks to my niece, Alisha and her husband, Ben, for organizing an amazing wedding celebration!