“Set Your Heavy Heart Aside”

IMG_0301 It used to be on my birthday I’d take a daylong ride on my bicycle—70, 100 miles. For the last several years that’s not been possible—my body and my bike are on the outs. My feet and nature are on the ins!

Yesterday though my heart was heavy, weighing my body down, I went for a long walk. I took a new course along the trails of Jacks Peak from which to begin navigating a new year. The twin sadnesses I walked with were the murder of Maddy, the little Santa Cruz girl and the death of my old father. All day his was the phone call I waited for that didn’t come. IMG_0313What did come was a fallen flicker feather on the path right in front of me. Such a find is always fortuitous. There was further proof the bears really are wandering Jacks Peak—very fresh scat that made me cautious. Of course, people walk in lots of places where the cinnamon brown bears do and likely they aren’t afraid, but here this is new. Part of what had my hackles up wasn’t only the confirmed presence of the bears but what their arrival in the park makes all to clear—that they are thirsty. Mostly though, I felt honored to walk where they’d walked only a few hours before.

Later in the six-mile walk a noise in the brush got my attention: an antlered buck stepped onto the trail and I don’t he think even noticed me. To walk in the presence of these animals calmed my heavy heart.

What also came were many, many birthday wishes! They lifted me and reminded me of my self and of my purpose and of joy, unrelenting, coursing joy. IMG_0311

As did the words from three friends:

Julie, who was such an important teacher when I was young, who helped me set the path of my life, wrote: “Celebrating life is one of the strongest ways we can face death.”

From Helen, with whom I traveled many happy miles via bicycle, offered: “According to the Talmud when we die we will be accountable for all the joys we missed in life.”

And, lastly, from my walking friend Margaret: “Set aside your heavy heart for a few hours on this special day and enjoy the gift of life you’ve been given.”

How healing and how right. Michael walked in the door at the end of the day, his arms full of flowers—two-dozen reddest roses. He scooped me up and took me to dinner. We toasted life and love, clinking our glasses.