spirituality

Gratitude (noun) The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. From the Latin, gratis, meaning, "pleasing," "thankful"

As one year transitions into the next, I like to stop and take time to appreciate the gifts of the year about to pass before I make my list of hopes, dreams and resolutions for the year to come. (If you can't stop and appreciate where you've been, you won't really be able to appreciate where you're going either.)

So here's my list of gratitudes from 2014:

My special cobalt blue solstice candle-holder My special cobalt blue solstice candle-holder that has traveled with me for decades....

Today is Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. For me, the day when Earth's tilted rotation brings the sun to its farthest south arc across the sky marks the year's turning point.

The biologist out in the field before being promoted to desk work and people-management. The biologist out in the field before being promoted to desk work and people-management.
Sunrise at 7:52 a.m. near Winter Solstice. Sunrise at 7:52 a.m. near Winter Solstice.

Winter Solstice, the day the sun "stands still" in its apparent journey southward, is the turning-point in my personal year.

The first page of the two-page current issue The first page of the two-page current issue
Sandhill cranes flying over a marsh, Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado

Two extraordinary hand-made books have landed on my desk recently, one printed conventionally but written in the author's fluid calligraphy and illustrated from her field-journals, and the other entirely hand-made, even the paper.

A sheen of moisture on the paving stoves of my bedroom patio before dusk fell.
The courtyard between the lodge and the hot springs at Joyful Journey as winter sunset colors the Sangre de Cristo Range in the background.

"Begin as you intend to continue," my Scots grandmother used to say. Which to me means,

Richard and Molly with Isis on a hike.

Some years back, I wrote an newspaper column titled "Learning Forgiveness" about our Great Dane, Isis.

Luminarias line the walks, colored lights shine from the front porch, and Salida's "Christmas Mountain," a 700-foot-tall outline of a tree with ornaments on a hill across the river, glows in the left background.
Family photos and special objects in an everyday altar-grouping in my bedroom.
A waterlily blooms at Denver Botanic Gardens
Rain-splotched hollyhocks in my kitchen garden this morning
Richard talking about his sculpture work, Salida Artposium, Colorado Art Ranch. (Photo by Grant Pound, courtesy of Colorado Art Ranch)

Sunset over the Sangre de Cristo Range on summer solstice

The antique Indian basket with the strangely plain inside

(Warning: This is a long post, in part because the story takes place over decades. As one of the participants in this tale said: Everything takes time.)

Richard's sculpture, "Matriculation" at Salida's Steamplant Sculpture Park