Peace, Like a River

Driving through Chattanooga, TN is always one of my favorite parts of any road trip these days and since I was traveling with dad ( he and I are fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of people) we decided to stop for a quick paddle board down the river.  It was early afternoon, and the board shop across from the river had just freed two spots for us.  So we changed into the sportiest attire we had in tow (we just came back from a dressy graduation) and headed out for the river.

We ran across the street through the short-lived walk sign and went down the steps to the dock. We turned the corner  of the stairs and at the first sight of the river my spirit was at ease.  I felt the muscles of my face relax into a half smile, my step quickened and spring-ed a little, and I lifted my closed eyes toward the sunlight above me.  The long awaited season of summer has finally arrived and I have welcomed it by the riverside!

I shook off my shoes and hoped onto the board, feeling the soft swaying of the waves beneath me,  dipping my fingers into the cool water and lingering to make ripples. Soon we were on our way to the island upstream, laughing and talking about the day, the trip, just the full of life.   The water glimmered all around me and motor boats made sharp waves as they went by. A mamma duck and her ducklings cut across our path as fast as they could.

We got off onto the island that we usually go around, spread our bare toes into its  ground, rushed along its trail between branches and towering tree trunks. The air was intoxicating with honeysuckle, it smelled like summer, and I felt like a fairy wondering the woods barefoot and happy. I look at these days that fill me up and somehow ready me for the ones that feel not so carefree, as the memories that make me get back outside when all I want to do is sleep, these are the times I treasure.  But the thought  reminds me of  a passage  from The Book Of Summers ( Emylia Hall),  my companion to coffee shops just a summer ago, which read:

If only we could learn to celebrate the ordinary days–the ones that begin unremarkably, and continue in unnoteworthy fashion. Days like yesterday, and the day before, when the irksome things were slight and passing–the fuzzy edges of an early morning headache, the spilling of a little coffee as I stirred in the sugar, the sudden recollection that I had cookies baking in the over and their sweet smell had turned a touch acrid. These are the days to prize. The days on which to pause, to give thanks. And in doing so to acknowledge that we’re ready, we’re poised.  If the skies were to fall, we’d have a chance of catching them.

It’s a learning curve, this thankfulness in the daily grind.  And while I relish in these simple days by the river in the sun, I am reminded to laugh a little more at my self on those key forgetting, coffee spilling, dinner burning days and practice the poise for truly difficult circumstances and embrace the fact that life is just so full– of sadness, mistakes, gladness and mirth.

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