Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Unexpected Bliss of Author & Spiritual Mentor Janice Lynne Lundy

This week, my Inner Introvert needs some serious down time and rest, so I have the honor of presenting a series of guest bloggers writing about Unexpected Bliss.

Today, we are joined by author and spiritual mentor Janice Lynne Lundy, who has two blogs -- one here and the other here. The thing I admire about Janice is her openness and her accessibility, and now I find out she is a fellow Bird Watcher.

I have a sacred space I created for myself—a special place just for me, where I can sit comfortably and enjoy a little slice of paradise. I can breathe and “be,” nary a “To-Do” or “should” in sight.

My Eden is a small porch, overlooking a 50-year old perennial garden, complete with a hand-built fieldstone wall and an array of ever-changing visitors who inspire and delight.

Finches and mourning doves fill the garden with song. Hummingbirds, jays, and cardinals arrive in a flash of color. Chipmunks scurry along the wall, and an occasional solitary fox sneaks through to the field beyond. My fondest desire is to sit and savor the glory that is here: pale, pink climbing roses, waving purple iris, nuthatches and chickadees flitting around, building nests in the cedars that line the yard.

I am in heaven on earth in this place.

Any one of us can create something similar—an outdoor sacred space that fosters peace of mind and heart. In fact, it just may be one of the most important things we can do for our self and our well-being.

“The impulse to carve out a zone ... for reflection has its roots in ancient cultures,” writes Ruth LaFerla in Spaces for Silence, “yet it flourishes today with a new vitality ... An oasis of calm amid the myriad distractions of contemporary life is important ... More than that, it may serve as a refuge, a place to come to terms with the pressures and anxieties of an uncertain world."

My garden-view porch has become that for me: a doorway into the peaceful places I know lie just below the surface of my ever-busy mind.

And when I can get quiet, really quiet, miracles happen. Bliss arrives.

One day, a few summers ago, as I sat there in my wicker rocker, quiet prevailed. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a slight flicker of color and feather. A white-breasted nuthatch had come to call, resting its tiny body upon the fountain less than six inches from my hand. He sipped from its flowing waters and sat, just as I was, taking everything in. Minutes passed and together we savored the morning, two contented souls at peace with ourselves, one another, and the world.

Since that day, I have taken my porch sitting to a new level: as a form of spiritual practice, to see how very quiet I can make myself, in body and mind. And if I’m succeeding, they come.

A tiny chickadee will land on the climbing rose near the fountain. She’ll wait to see if I am calm enough for her to pay an intimate visit. I sit, breathe, observe, and attend to my inner self to create a landscape of peace. She hops in, taking delicate sips from the pooled water. Be still my heart!

Then just the other day, I was extra still, effortlessly so, and it invited the birds to something more. After drinking, my little visitor hopped into the fountain and took a bath, just inches from my arm. She allowed the water to trickle over her back. She did a little dance around the rim and flicked off the excess with a flap of wing. Unexpected bliss! I shared a shower with a chickadee.

May inner peace prevail within you, for the gifts—such as these I’ve experienced with my feathered friends—are great. May you find your bliss today.

(Photo Credit: Janice Lynne Lundy)


Julie G said...

Jan, I Love, Love this silent, sacred space that you have created for yourself. Nature always brings in the Divine Spirit closer. I have created a "peace garden" this fall. As I planted iris bulbs in the ground I prayed for peace in my heart, peace in my neighborhood, and peace in my world. A statue of St. Francis oversees my garden as the birds and squirrels come in and out all day long.
I find bliss in the calm and quiet of my backyard too.
Thank you, Jan for this beautiful sharing of your "heaven on earth" Blessings, JG

Ribbon said...

I've had a few hours of bliss today with beautiful black swans and their friends at a large city lake.

Lovely to read of your bliss :0

best wishes

Amy said...

I MUST create such a space. Thanks for the inspiration.

Jan said...

I am so happy about your St. Francis garden. May it bring you much peace and respite. Everyone of us deserves a space as lovely as this...

I saw white swans this morning, aren't these creatures glorious? Glad you had a soulful start to your day!

I hope that you will give yourself permission to create some sort of sacred space for yourself. Everyone needs a place to just breathe and be. Blessings!

mommymystic said...

So happy to see two bloggers I love connected!
I love birds also...a spiritual mentor I once had wrote a poem (which I'm sad to say I can't find today!!) about how getting to know God was like getting to know a bird...with enough stillness and humility, both will 'come to you' (he said it much better, oh well...)

Nadia - Happy Lotus said...

Hi Jan,

What a great story. I felt like I was there with you. There is something peaceful and magical about watching nature. You are right, it is a gateway to bliss.

Jan said...

Oh, I love that thought. It offers such a compelling invitation. Thank you for sharing this! xo

Yes, nature is a gateway to bliss if we are willing to open the door. You know, I've only met one person in my entire life who told me she felt absolutely no connection to nature. Which completely surprised me because she was very devout in her "faith." I do wonder about that and such a lack of connection. Sort of sad, actually. Nature has brought me such joy and clarity in my life...And I feel so blessed to live in a place of great beauty. :-) Glad you feel the same. :-)

joydiscovered said...

Bliss Chick--great topic and thank you for having Jan guest post here!

Jan, this article was so enjoyable. I love it that your inner peace is rewarded in your garden...I like when you write about your backyard. I enjoyed your article from a while back on what the plants and flowers say to you, too.

Cheryl Wright said...

Hey Jan,

I had a busy day. A few minutes ago, as I settled in for my usual evening writing session, I followed you here. Well, so much for writing, at least for a while because I am heading to my porch. It is dark out but solitude and silence awaits. No birds will visit but me, myself and I make such good company.

Thank you for this inspiring post.

Joy said...

Your bliss is contagious! I love the idea you express that your sacred place is also your place of spiritual practice, and if you are quiet, surprises come in abundance! That's quite a truth! I find the same on my "comfort beach"; it's great to have a spot to feel comfortable and safe and be completely open to the beauty of nature and the hands that created it. And I'm learning to delight in all of the little surprises I find there--lately it's watching the dolphins play in the surf:)

Joanne said...

What a beautiful post. It is a privilege to be so close to nature, but so possible if we are in tune, connecting through our stillness and quiet. Your porch sounds like a very special space, and if I lived closer, I just might ask if I could join you and your feathered friends for a few moments of that wonderful peace.

patricia said...

lovely post on mum loved to sit and look into the hundred year old apple tree in the months before her death at 94 yrs. I just felt all the little birds were called to dance and enjoy the blossoms and the bugs - just for her.
One day she said how does one meditate? - I said by watching the birds...that day about 15 Gold finches spent the morning with her - we have hardly seen one before or since. My mum said: "ah now I know!"

Jan said...

So nice to hear that "garden talk" resonates with you. :-) Nature does have so many lessons it can teach us. Thanks for stopping by!

Oh so nice to know you will be out on your porch enjoying this evening. We had a bit of sun today, so even though it was only in the low 50's, I pulled my rocker off the porch, wrapped myself in a blanket, to catch some rays and bird antics. It was wonderful! We are definitely kindred!

Yes, porches can be magical places. I loved your porch series on your blog. I'd always welcome a little sitting company. The birds would too! Come on by.

This is a beautiful story about your mom, thank you for sharing it. I'd like to imagine the birds heard her heartfelt request and answered by showing up for her. Lovely!

Jan said...

Thank you so much for having me visit, today. What a treat! I hope you are well and rested and enjoying unexpected bliss!

Jan said...

I apologize, I scrolled past your comments. I would love a comfort beach like you have, as I am a Leo, beach/sun girl born and bred. Yours sounds delicious, esp. with dolphins playing. I'd love to visit. Be well!

Stacy Hurt said...

Love the bliss you created & what came to you in that creation. Birds are so magical and yet remain so distant from our understanding. Lovely to read of trust mutual trust there.

I adore my backyard; it's such hard work (sweaty chicks unite!) but in spring; nothing beats sitting quietly and having hummingbirds zoom by, dragonlies hover & all my favorite mantids hatch! I don't plant flowers & bushes for myself; it's all for them. Oh, and butterflies! Though I must admit, I take evil pleasure in knowing that the grasshoppers are all 'big bird' food! :)