Blog ~ Spiritual Renewal

March 19, 2017

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Spring approaches bringing the slight scent of sage

Warmer winds alleviate the chill of winter’s storms

I approach the woman of years ago

With new beginnings on her horizon

Her monthly goals achieved and then some

Creativity born of yoga practice and re-education

Bodily healing and bodily challenge of new physicality

Her breath interprets things blooming within

Not of pain but of passion

Her own, not his nor theirs

She was discovering herself anew

And smelled flowers of birth

The sweetness of kindness toward herself

Secure not

Spring breezes and counterparts to reason

She asked herself through philosophy, books and questions

Then stood summer, a completion of change

Unfolding even more boldly than she presumed

 

©2017 Laura E. Garrard. Multimedia art also by Laura E. Garrard, 11×14″.

 

November 5, 2016


The Heart Sees Rightly

Today I watched a 1974 film I loved as a child, “The Little Prince.” It’s a musical based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book of the same title. At a point in the film, actor Gene Wilder, who plays the Fox, cites a “secret” he provided to the Little Prince, who tamed the Fox and also learned an important lesson from him about relationship and responsibility. The Fox gave the Little Prince this parting wise gift: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

I quickly came to tears, as I had forgotten how I must have first heard one of my favorite sayings. Later in my teens, I cherished this same quote that artist Mary Englebreit incorporated in the drawing “Invisible to the Eye,” featured above. For years I saved this drawing, printed on a notecard, and reflected on the whimsical little girl lying stomach down on the grass in the moonlight, as her face gleamed in a mystical energetic glow from a daffodil. The whereabouts of this notecard are now unknown, probably tucked away in a well-loved book in my old room back home. However, the saying stuck with me, as I quoted it in my final master’s project in 1995 and again on my business website launched in 2006.


Invisible to the Eye


When I made this connection to my childhood heart while watching “The Little Prince” today, I cried in recognition, knowing that this phrase expressed who I was as a child and who I am now. I realized that even though the saying followed me most of my life, I have spent too much time and effort trying to prove myself in life and love, and to others. This truth struck me strongly. It was a punch in the gut, and one of the grandest “ah-ha” experiences I’ve ever had. I have strived to succeed in my talents and have often viewed success through the approval and patronage of others. Economics and achievement often trip us up. As we reach adulthood, many of us have learned that what others value also must be what we value in ourselves.

As I watched “The Little Prince” today in my 40s—a story that exposes superficial, inconsequential adult agendas, melts the human heart, and reminds us of our deep, instinctual insights and childlike openness, or the beginning of things—I learned, finally and fully, a remarkable message: The only person I ever had to please was me, for I am a complete individual. We are only to be and further become our unique selves. The only enjoyment of my talents that I needed was within my own experience; the most important relationship is the one with myself, for Spirit already knows my true and complete essence. In an effort to share what’s inside, I sometimes became limited by those with whom I attempted to share. I withheld my light to shine in a degree acceptable within constructs. What a conundrum we humans face, for sharpening and sharing our skills may alter our creativity and unique perspectives!

Art: “Invisible to the Eye” published with permission from the publisher. ©Mary Engelbreit Enterprises, Inc.

©2016 Laura E. Garrard

January 4, 2016

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“Where I Meet God” 11×14″ Acrylic on Canvas By Laura E. Garrard

He Asked

I did as I was asked

I took a walk alone in the forest

To listen to God

I doubted my internal ears, the ones supposed to hear

The direct communication of a God

I knew through reading, through faith, through prayer

But to hear words from God, mustn’t I be grand, a bigger man?

More important, more historic?

Mustn’t I be different?

A deeper person, a more intuitive one?

So I waited a while, and what I heard was a question

“Why are you so angry?”

And at once, I knew I had encountered something great

The voice must be of God because I hadn’t realized

God told me to look at my life

And He was right

He knew me

I was angry

Angry about work, angry at myself, angry about my circumstances

As a religious man, I believed in the existence of God

But now, as one who has heard from beyond myself

I am a man who believes

By Laura E. Garrard

©2016 Laura E. Garrard

July 15, 2015

When I graduated from massage school in 2005, people were just beginning to recognize the benefits of therapeutic massage beyond a vacation luxury. Energy medicine seemed to be popular just among my colleagues and “New Agers.”

Just seven years ago, some clients looked at me crosswise when I mentioned energy work had assisted them in their healing. “What do you mean by energy work?” was a common question.

“You received healing energy from the Universal Energy Field through me as a conduit,” I tried to explain. “Then your body released an energetic block that had created an imbalance. Now you are progressing with healing much faster.”

If they appeared confused, doubtful, I would back off and relay simply that the bodywork sessions were assisting them. They understood that they were feeling better, and they related more readily to the physical techniques I performed. Years ago some clients couldn’t quite accept that there is an energetic body and how healing on the energetic level set their physical or mental healing in motion. Now, energy medicine is taken much more seriously, and our local hospital offers Reiki and Healing Touch to patients.

Learning to Heal With Energy

I became a Reiki (universal life force energy) teacher in June of 2009. I had finished my level III Master Teacher certification in 2008. I started teaching because someone wanted to study with me. I began to see positive reward in teaching people to work with energy, first to heal themselves and progress more profoundly in their lives, and secondly so that they could assist others and eventually become teachers. However, some of my earlier students couldn’t come into confidence that merely by receiving the gift of attunement, they could begin to use healing energy connected to the Universal Energy Field.

reiki

Even though these students wanted to believe, and were hopeful and curious enough to study Reiki, they doubted their abilities to recognize energy and didn’t think they could access and utilize it as I apparently could. So they often wouldn’t use it after their training. I would run into them and ask them how their Reiki practice was, and they would confess that they hadn’t used it in a very long time. What a pity!

No matter my reassurance or feedback, naysayers in their lives, or their self-doubt, discouraged them from using a powerful self-help tool. They would sometimes say, “I don’t know if I’m doing it right.”

I emphasize in my classes that Reiki is a non-harmful practice and that energy works intelligently on its own accord with the practitioner as its assistant. Setting intention for healing is all that is required. There really is no way to do it wrong. There are just practitioner techniques that create even stronger results.

Utilizing Reiki more often teaches and guides the practitioner as well. Can something this easily accessible be real? In this country, our belief that anything worthwhile takes hard work sometimes gets in our way.

Energy Medicine is evolving

Now, there are recently published bestselling books that lead people toward recognizing and using healing energy. How wonderful! This summer, when I began teaching Reiki I to six already energetically connected adults, I provided several reputable references regarding healing energy. I no longer feel the need to substantiate its existence.

The students I have taught over the last two years have been more apt to discover their abilities right away. It makes teaching and learning more effective and exciting.

It’s becoming the same with clients. I don’t often have to describe what energy medicine is or how I knew exactly what techniques to incorporate into sessions. Clients understand that we’re working as a team. Their bodies relay what I need to do and for how long, and energy work is the most important tool. When they thank me, they accept wholeheartedly when I give their bodies most of the credit: “I’m so glad that your body is responding well to treatment, and I’m happy to assist.” Healing is happening more quickly for clients.

So what can students learn from a Reiki Master Teacher that they cannot from books? Teachers share their approaches, experiences, demonstrations, and feedback to encourage confidence in their students. In addition, teachers assist students in reconnecting to their energetic bodies and in increasing their unique abilities to channel energy for the purpose of healing. The attunement of the energetic systems, or “chakras,” serves to open students to higher acuities with energy practice. This helps students reach their goals more quickly.

In addition, Reiki learning provides proven effective healing techniques. As teachers continue to attune students, become further clarified in their energetic bodies, and use energy for healing, they continue to progress and grow stronger in their abilities. They can then pass these skills on to their students.

What a wonderful era of discovery is ahead of us when energy practitioners are becoming MDs and more research is being conducted on energy medicine and its effectiveness. I can’t wait to learn of scientific discoveries in the future that will explain in material terms what many have been using for thousands of years. If you would like to be an explorer of the ancient healing techniques, I would love to teach you.

May 8, 2015

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Relearning Trust

Trust, I can help you through it

If the worst were to happen, I’d pick up the pieces

Nothing can come between you and me

With me, you are safe

Freedom and feeling happy can wait

Use this pain for your benefit

Let go of all you’ve ever heard about trust

And begin again with a new heart

Love me with expecting nothing in return

No blessings, not even love

That will be your first step

Into trust, God said

How, how do I love you, I asked

By being you, He said

How do I do that, I asked

By being loving, He said

Be loving, and you are loving Me

 

And so I begin again, in great pain

How does my heart unlearn who I am

So I can love without expectation

As I am

©2015 Laura E. Garrard; 14×11″ acrylic “The Constant Deep River”

March 16, 2015

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Trust in me

When you doubt

It makes no sense

For I am here

At no expense

To love you, care for you

Show you the way

When you hurt

I make it go away

To tell you lies

Would be a farce

It’s me who created the truth

Why doubt to your loss

By trusting, you love me

And others, for you are love too

When all cry wolf

You know who

Stands by your side

Whether up or down

There’s no telling what’s true

When it’s been found

Please pass this message

To those who will hear

My daughter, my love,

My forever dear

~Love, God

©2015 Laura Garrard; 11×14″ Acrylic Painting “My Heart Grows Lighter” by Laura E. Garrard

 

November 29, 2014

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Nothing But the Soul I Wear

The self I found in that empty space

Where there was just me and God

And me experiencing me

A me I needed to rediscover

Because I was empty

I no longer knew myself

When God and I finished talking

All that was left was He

I arose a blank slate, at peace

Free and vulnerable, feeling new and clean

Asking new questions, seeing with new eyes

I ordered ice-cream for dessert because I was a child

I talked openly with a stranger

In a distant place I possessed no shield

The stranger was drawn to me and misunderstood

I told him I had become empty in the presence of God

We said good-bye and hugged

I slept well and when dawn approached I traveled far

There’s always more to learn and accept

Yet I will never forget the moment when I released everything

Left all and gained all

In that peaceful empty place

Where I met God with nothing but the soul I wear

 

©2014 Laura Garrard

July 25, 2014

A Wasp Bath

I Watched A Wasp Art Sample 2-Garrard (2) (700x900) I Watched A Wasp Art Sample 1-Garrard

I watched a wasp clean itself this morning. Lately I’ve become curious about creatures and natural processes that we humans tend to avoid. We turn from, even swat, those entities we’ve learned to fear. Perhaps we’ve missed out on much. We all get stung, no matter our attempts to avoid pain. But we do it—we fear and we run.

I am sitting outdoors and reading on an unusually peaceful Sunday. The sun has not yet overcome my neighbors’ pine trees, and so my back porch is still shaded, providing cool warmth. This morning there are no plans for church; my mate wants more sleep; and I am surprised that I have time to pick up a magazine outside my field, a luxury often set aside for airplane rides. As I read article after soothing and thoughtful article in Yoga International, quiet and contentment grow within.

Finding the time to pause, refresh, and breathe has paid off again. I smile into my soul; finish reading; and notice that a wasp has landed to the right of my shoulder, alighting on a tarp-covered fire stove not a foot away. It finds moisture there. Instead of becoming alarmed, I receive the wasp into my realm. I am relaxed, breathing with ease. After all, it apparently doesn’t fear my presence. I am rewarded with a wasp bath.

From a minute tarp puddle the wasp gathers water into its mouth. It washes its face and then its hind fifth and sixth legs. Afterwards, it uses its first and second to bathe the back of its midsection as a cat would do, and finally its wings. After a full washing, it remains on the tarp and appears to doze awhile. With a slight jerk it awakens from its short nap, and after a few seconds begins to fly, hovering in my space. My fear of being stung returns. Will the wasp decide to protect itself? I move quickly from my chair to a safe distance until the wasp leaves the scene.

At least for a brief time, I allow myself to become still and, with a different perspective, focus on what poet Kabir defined as God: the “breath inside the breath,” or the miraculous presence of God in what’s smallest and nearest to me. I discover something new about wasps. I let go of fear and the need to protect myself, and I witness an act that connects me to a creature I typically avoid. It too enjoys an outdoor bath while the sun is still low.

©Laura Garrard

These works will show with Garrard’s writings and related art in “Breathe,” an art show event at Intencións Gallery, which opens August 21 and continues through September. “Breathe” will also feature works by artist Erin Ashlee Smith and photographer David Bowers as well as opening night special performances by musician Nancy Alfs and dancers of the Teton Valley Dance Academy, a reading by Garrard, and a sound bowl experience by Daniela Botur. “Breathe” will expand in September to include an artist work in progress event as well as a yoga breath workshop. Keep checking back for a complete calendar of events. http://www.attunedhealing.com/art/art-exhibit-events/

June 11, 2014

Meditation Photo (color warmed up) for Finding the Way Back to Joy - Garrard article

Photo by Amy Collett.

Pause the Storm and Approach Your Day with Peace of Mind.

As we navigate experiences in our lives, we often come to moments of frustration, doubt, insecurity, anger and sadness. Sometimes the waves of emotion are very transient. Other times, our minds spin on circumstances, interactions with others, financial challenges, loss and grief, and fear.

Here is a tool you may use to regain clarity and peace within. Find a few minutes to sit alone in a comfortable position with no distractions. Knowing that things are on your mind, close your eyes not with the attempt to vacate your thoughts completely but to place them on pause. Take deep breaths and place one hand on your forehead and one hand over the middle of your chest. After a few breaths, move the hand on your forehead to your belly. Take a few more deep breaths feeling your tension melting if even just a little. When you feel your breath becoming more expansive, place both hands on your low abdomen resting at your hip creases.

At this point, you may begin to feel calmer, less tense; and the mind, although knowing there are challenges in your midst, may begin to stop its spinning on what you should do or what you should think about it all. This pause in the midst of your “storm” is a temporary release of taking action; it also permits a release of your need to do anything in this moment in time. This pause is freedom from feelings that have you bogged down, perhaps, and is a departure from the need to control outcomes and, most importantly, the uncontrollable.

Within this pause, clear thoughts may begin to surface. Most likely they are not the same thoughts as before, the “need to do” or the “I don’t know what to do” thoughts. They may be thoughts of “oh well”; “I can’t change this”; or “there’s nothing to do right in this moment.” You may sigh and find healthy resignation fill you as you realize there’s no way to control or handle it all. In this place of letting go, you may find that tears begin to come as the true feelings behind your thoughts surface. If so, let them flow and then subside. Or, you may find that in letting go of what you cannot not perfectly control, that you feel relief in this realization. Now you are getting somewhere! Letting go can be the beginning of truthful, helpful guidance and peace within.

Continue to breathe deeply as you let your center self open, accepting the lack of control and resignation. After all, we can’t possibly handle everything on our own. We need assistance from God, from the Source of truth and love. When you feel a sense of calm, you may decide that is enough to assist you for now; with a few more deep breaths you are ready to move forward with your day; nothing may be solved and that’s okay for now. At least you feel calmer, less stressful, or more fortified.

Or, you may sit a while longer. You may find that thoughts begin to rise in a more linear, clear way, even providing a solution or at least a next step. We can’t possibly do everything on our endless lists. So perhaps the top priority has risen in your consciousness; you have narrowed your focus and postponed other secondary tasks or issues for a time.

You may choose to end this pause with thoughts of thanks, or say a prayer to assist you with what is at hand. Give thanks knowing that we aren’t alone, that we can let go of control and trust that everything is going to be okay, and that love is the most important accomplishment. These thoughts help to put things in better perspective. Love is larger than everything we’re dealing with right now and can encompass everything in our storm. We understand that we are okay or are going to be; this time will pass. The pause we take during the storm is allowing us to reconnect to our Source, to God, to the importance of who we are as loved beings on perfect paths. We are certainly more than our tasks and troubles, and we will always be.

If a smile or relaxation comes with your pause, accept it. No matter what we’ve done or not done, feel the love that is your inheritance. Acceptance of God’s love will assist you to filter out what’s not important right now.

©Laura Garrard 2014

February 11, 2014

As this week’s Teton Reiki Circle approaches (Thursday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m.), with its theme of “Finding Your Voice,” I am feeling pulled to comment on how we are failing to squelch the lie fed to us on a daily basis: “You aren’t good enough.” I just watched a couple of videos on this site (http://brenebrown.com/2014/01/31/what-we-dont-know/), which substantiate that we still promote the violent acting out of men and low self-esteem and image problems in women. Really?! Are we still idolizing unattainable perfection and degrading male emotions? What century are we in?

Happiness and joy from within come from setting aside others’ expectations of us and allowing love to assist us in being fully ourselves. If we continue to place emphasis on the things that don’t matter, we are furthering the lie and preventing humans to fully participate in their life purposes. Distracted infinitely by the lie, “I’m not good enough,” takes precious time away from fully evolving into one’s unique self and contributing important unique gifts supported by love. If we are constantly “not right,” then we are distracted, belittled. After shrinking, suddenly our talents don’t seem worthy of sharing, and so they don’t evolve.

Can we finally refuse to accept and spread the lie? Can we challenge ourselves to further our internal gifts first and foremost? Can we let love flow and increase our capacities for creating a positive joyful change in our communities and nations? These shouldn’t be lofty goals but commonplace.

©Laura Garrard

January 26, 2014

Phone photos 2012-13 174

North 036Our Missed Fury Girls Abstract 1 001 (707x900)

I would like to share a poem I wrote in memory of our two female dogs who passed away recently. Hannah was a white lab, age 14, and Sally was a Siberian husky, age 15-16. The abstract paintings were inspired by this poem, and express the feelings a dog owner has for their pet–the feelings that fill an owner’s heart when they think of or pet their best pal, which are love, fulfillment, joy, and calmness all at once. This relationship is, in my opinion, the purest love affair on our Earth.

We Miss Our Furry Girls Abstract2 001 (715x900)

 

Our Missed Furry Girls

We miss them, our girls of kind heart and independent mind

Adoration never ending, it’s expressed in their eyes

And in everything they exude

Mashing their faces into your legs, your lap, your soul

They’ll take whatever you give, don’t give, and back for more

They know, don’t they—your life, your patterns, your feelings

Even when not expressed

They come, witness, love and cherish, every moment and every outing

With you—you, the imperfect blessed by the perfect

God’s helper to humankind, reminding us of what’s important

This moment, this pet, kindness and love

And that is all—they know

We miss them, our furry girls, not living long enough

And yet within their short time with us, they gave us everything

More than we could imagine giving even though we live their lives times seven

Their spirits still linger, their quiet peaceful humors that permeate the house and heart

We will reunite in time, our girls

Until then, your comforting smells and adoring eyes will not be forgotten

©Laura Garrard

 

 

December 7, 2013

imagesThe Teton Reiki Circle Empowers Locals to Assist Others and Themselves

It happens every week doesn’t it? We all touch base with the need for healing. We often receive news about friends or acquaintances in our community who need support. Just as often, we learn of family, friends, friends of friends, and populations who need assistance and yet who are beyond our immediate reach. And we feel isolated here in Jackson, unable to respond with direct assistance; we are far away from those needing care, and travel is sometimes cost prohibitive. Sometimes we feel our own need for healing isn’t priority, yet our health and balance are important if we are to assist others and also fully contribute with our given gifts.

Every second Thursday of the month, at 5:30 p.m., a warm group of locals, and sometimes visitors, meets for about an hour to give and receive healing energy. Empowered through distance healing to affect those beyond its reach, the Teton Reiki Circle sends energy to others and the planet. We then provide an energy session to each person attending that evening, in support of an intention for healing in his or her life. Yes, both men and women attend. We begin each circle with a theme and focus for healing; however these bend toward recent happenings in our community, world and personal lives when we meet. Refreshments are provided as some enjoy lingering and visiting at the circle’s conclusion.

Our next circle meets on Thursday, Feb. 13, at 430 S. Jackson St., with a focus on Finding Your Voice. Afterward, we will share food and drink; bring something to share if you would like. We will also send our collective healing energy to those who need healing elsewhere. You can follow the Teton Reiki Circle’s schedule on my website: www.attunedhealing.com.

No experience is required to attend the circle, just the desire to participate and contribute. Many in attendance are energy and Reiki practitioners, and receiving a session from a group of them is uplifting, supportive and even transformative.

The evening transpires like this: The Teton Reiki Circle literally gathers seated in a circle to focus healing energy for those beyond its reach. We first center ourselves with a short meditation to set aside the day’s concerns and pulls. Having taken some deep breaths, we mention those or situations in need of healing, or keep them unspoken, and direct energy with our hands toward the center of the circle for a few minutes. In symbolic release, we raise the collection of energy with our hands above our heads and send it to those intended to receive. Distance healing works because energy connects all beings through space and time. I have worked with family, friends and clients who live across the country, and they have reported its efficacy and assistance in concrete terms.

Following the distance healing session, we move aside the chairs and replace them with a massage table. Each person takes a turn reclining on the table while everyone else encircles them and provides Reiki (Rei: “universal” or “source”; ki: “life force energy”). While practitioners gain skill to assist others the more they use energy work, the person receiving utilizes the energy without effort for their own highest good.

Reiki is accessible for everyone to give and receive. Because energy flows through and connects us all, and is limitless and pure, energy practitioners just focus what is already present: the energy does not come from them. It cannot harm and only supports one’s healing processes on all levels—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual—according to what the receiver needs most.

Initially, Reiki feels like comforting radiating heat and slight pressure next to one’s body.  When received within, it feels like an increase in flow or circulation. Those receiving often express a peaceful calm within, become completely relaxed, and feel joyful no matter what may be happening in their lives. They feel reconnected to life, more centered. Often a smile grows across their face, and their countenance appears clear and free of stress. Areas that hurt often release the pain. There is a feeling of wholeness as every part of the physical body feels more connected, vibrant and energized and the deeper self feels supported, full and content. Most express a feeling of overall well-being.

The Reiki tradition of energy practice comes to us through a Japanese man in the last century. It has spread widely and there are millions of practitioners in the world today. However, energy practice has most likely always been available to humans in all cultures; many of us just lost knowledge or awareness of its presence. Although tools and philosophies may be somewhat different, I believe all types of energy work are similar at their root and in, well, the energy. No one culture or school can claim ownership of what is universal.

Our group tends to be spiritually minded and is a blend of people with differing belief systems and backgrounds; as energy exists for everyone and is universal, we do not discuss individual religious beliefs. In this setting, we simply focus on serving one another and the larger community through healing energy. Reiki is not a form of worship or a religion. As a Reiki practitioner and bodyworker of over nine years, I have extensively utilized energy practice in assisting others with healing; sometimes it the most important element encouraging positive change in physical and mental/emotional conditions.

Energy exists as our bodies depend on it and function best in its open flow; it is abundant in our natural world. In the Teton Reiki Circle, we don’t focus on how it works; we facilitate it because we know from experience that it does work, can only assist, and does not interfere with receivers’ other choices for treatment. If there are personal reflections mentioned following receiving, we assume them to be confidential and don’t share these thoughts with others outside the circle.

If you are interesting in studying and learning skills within energy practice, I teach Reiki one-on-one and also conduct classes for special groups. I will teach an introduction to energy practice course at Spirit Bookstore in Wilson in the early part of 2014.

Reiki is already available within every person; a Reiki master can assist others to access it more strongly and provide them with skills and tools. You may find out more information about Reiki and Reiki training at my website, www.attunedhealing.com. You may want to read what others have written about Reiki at http://www.reiki.org/reikinews/reikinews.html; the website for International Association of Reiki Professionals may also be helpful: http://www.iarp.org. Finally, I encourage you to experience Reiki at the circle every second Thursday.

© 2013 Laura Garrard

Laura Garrard is a writer, artist, nationally certified massage and lymphatic therapist, and Reiki master teacher. She has taught Reiki and has facilitated the Teton Reiki Circle for over four years. She owns Attuned Healing Massage & Bodywork. You may reach her by phone (307-690-5308) or by email (attunedhealing@gmail.com).

 

1-29-13 Express From Within Art Class 045November 3, 2013

 

This Morning, Being Late Was On Time

This morning I had forgotten that it was Daylight Savings, and so, early to choir practice, I grabbed a book from our church library and sat in the front row as the musicians warmed up. A player’s granddaughter was present in the sanctuary, showing pride in her grandmother’s gift. As they played, the little girl, about six years old, leaped elegantly from the stage in a grand jeté.

“I take gymnastics and ballet lessons,” she told me.

She wore a pink net-trimmed skirt that mimicked a tutu. “Do you want to see my gymnastics routine?” she asked.

“Yes I would,” I responded, setting down the small book I had selected, The Lessons of Love: Rediscovering Our Passion for Life When It All Seems Too Hard to Take by Melody Beattie. It appeared that I was about to receive another sort of lesson of love.

I intently and joyfully watched the gymnast with missing teeth as she posed, jumped, fell fluidly, and bent into a backbend. Performance was her gift. Now I understood why I was meant to forget the change in time and arrive early to choir practice. God comes to our paths in many forms, especially in the steps of dancing little girls and light-filled smiles with missing teeth.

An angel she was, an angel of the human variety, just going about life, dancing, and moving to music in the presence of her grandmother and a few strangers. She wasn’t aware of the impression she was about to make. The joy she expressed hadn’t required deep introspection or the lessons of adulthood; it just radiated from within.

“What do you do in the morning?” she asked me.

“What have I been doing this morning?” I tried to clarify. I felt a little silly describing it, “Well, I exercised, ate breakfast, and then…”

“No, what are you doing here now?” she asserted. The question was meant to be more present, more immediate: What are you doing right now? Why is an adult just sitting here watching me dance? Her parents had gone to take a class; her grandmother was practicing. Their time right now had purpose. What was this woman’s purpose for being here, she wanted to know.

“Oh, I arrived early for choir practice, so I’m waiting and I’m watching you perform your gymnastics routine. Which you are very good at, you know.”

She smiled. She then asked if I wanted to see her ballet part in The Princess & The Pea. “Yes,” I said excitedly.

“I’m playing a skunk,” she said.

She told me that her part was meant to cheer up the main character and make her laugh. She jumped to the side while looking back over her shoulder, wiggling her skunk bottom and “tail.” She finished the sequence by wafting the “smell” away from her hindquarters with her arms and hands. Repeating the steps, she played the part well with her pouncing pigtails and missing teeth smile.

It worked. I laughed. I had not been sad or dull this morning; I was just waiting. Apparently I needed a little more joy, a little more skunk, a child’s version of living? Perhaps I had been waiting for a sign, a communication of some sort. As is typical, some things had been on my mind. Yet this morning I had rushed to church for the purpose of practicing our choir anthem. Sometimes we don’t know what we need until we receive it. What was my purpose for being here early this morning? Apparently it was to watch a skunk dance. And so I was on time this morning for my time with God.

When she stopped performing for me, I went back to my book.

Beattie wrote, “ ‘You don’t blast a heart open,’ she said. ‘You coax and nurture it open, like the sun does to a rose.’ ”

Further, I read the author paraphrase mythologist Joseph Campbell. “He talks about God, about loving God. He says when we open to loving a person, whether that person is a spouse, friend, or child, we open our hearts to loving God. He says when we let someone love us, we’re opening our hearts to God’s love. He says the acts are the same.”

I was imagining my heart a rose gently caressed open by God’s warming autumn sunshine when it suddenly became time to practice our song.

 

© Laura Garrard