Extraordinary light

Summer once ignited thoughts of lazy beach days, great adventures, and endless pockets of time. As a parent, summer has become an extension of the ever crowded school calendar. Chiseling in the breaks becomes part of the hectic job description of a working mom (an oxymoron, I know). Recently, one of those breaks came in the form of a walk in the woods on the grounds behind my daughter’s day camp.

Walking continues to serve as a great meditative escape (Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh writes about it in “How to Walk”). Setting upon the path, my feet stalled as my head began to race. Be in the moment, this moment. But, plan for the next. Be present. Be mindful. Be loving. Be on guard. Be yourself. Be confident. Be wary. One thought crashed into the next until the boom of the camp leader’s voice, “KUNGALOOOOOOOSH!” rang in the woods. like a war cry representing freedom, goodness and community. I froze, listening to the voices return the traditional camp call with as much veracity as had been offered. Continuing my walk, with slow steps, an enormous grin broke out on my face as I was thinking about this present, this gift that my daughter and I have been given. I felt the wholeness and fleetingness of the moment. It was the sound of my daughter’s childhood with summers spent in these woods. It was the sound of joy, of life, of love and I was lucky enough to bear it witness.

We often walk around in ordinary light, not seeing clearly what is truly the extraordinary of the everyday: the relationships, the words, the gestures, the hands that offer support and friendship. The subject of the library’s Summer Page Turners July discussion, Pultizer Prize winning poet Tracy K. Smith’s memoir, “Ordinary Light,” is an examination and exploration of the author’s life, and the impact that her mother, who died of cancer when Smith was 22, has had upon her. It’s a testimony to what happens in the seemingly ordinary light of day that works to carve spaces filled with light in our hearts that forever make us who we ultimately are. If you haven’t already read it, there are a group of us who would highly suggest you do.

Photo courtesy of the author.

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