By Jennifer J. Wilhoit
More than a handful of my closest loved ones have birthdays in this glorious springtime, in the months of March and April. As I sent out two birthday greetings early yesterday morning, I felt great gratitude and celebration for the day of birth that allows me to specially recognize and honor these sisters, friends, nieces, companions, and mentors on the journey we share on this earth.
Somehow, now, I feel more elation and gratitude than on my own birthday (typically a selfish affair wrought with thoughts of me, me, me). Yesterday I looked at the just-opened, small yet brilliant green fresh leaves on the alders in my yard, and I wanted to sing a song for each leaf, each person in my life, each birthday in this blossoming spring! Perhaps it is selfishness now, too; because of these dear ones whose birthdays I pay close attention to this month, because of the beauty offered to me by the alders' seasonal attire, I am filled and made whole. I am offered blessings unimaginable. I am richer and deeper; I am supported, loved, filled, entertained, humored, held and can feel part of the inextricably woven threads that have brought us into one another's lives. Because of the birthday celebrants, my life is better.
I want to dance a small movement, write a beautiful song, string together words that can honor these loved ones - to share with others the joy and comfort they bring to me, to pass along the bounty that so freely has been laid at my feet, the most precious gifts of friendship, attention, camaraderie, intimacy, shared sorrow and bliss. Never before have I imagined the giddiness in my gut of another's birthday; these days I realize it - make it real and tangible inside me - and it is growing like those green offerings on trees outside my cottage.
I went outside a while ago to pay homage to those new crisp accordion-pleated leaves…it was almost palpable, the feeling of growth and life that each leaf carries within it. It is an unseen miracle, the invisible juicy life energy that will slowly encourage the lengthening, thinning, enlarging of each leaf. I went outside to touch one of these alder leaves, but I ended up touching many. I held them between my fingers, caressing and running my fingers along the ridges and valleys of each pleat. As I did so, I felt a prayer rise to my lips: part gratitude, awe and wonder; it was also part entreaty to whatever it is that causes trees, people, cherry blossoms to grow and cycle through life with vigor. I asked that I be able to rise to the occasion, to offer in turn to others those blessings I so readily receive from the spring birthday-ers in my life.
It only seems right to add love from love, to offer compassion in the face of compassion-received, to greet others with the same bounty of grace that my loved ones offer to me. Besides, I can hardly stand not to: I am overflowing with the goodness that my loved ones’ beautiful lives bestow on me…the oceans of blessings I receive become waves running over me onto others. (If we cannot at least pass on love from love, how will we ever learn to pass on love in the face of adversity?) I am awash with the spirit of celebration and I have found myself greeting strangers and acquaintances yesterday and today out of that vibrancy. Beauty begets beauty, love begets love, and wholeness flows even through the interstices of pain so that those who feel fragmented, hurt, fearful are made more complete as the salty ocean’s water cleanses them, too.
Perhaps now, you could take a moment and reflect on those who fill you: offer up gratitude for them, and to them…and then pass along the bounty to others on your path today. Many new spring leaves, abundant blessings from loved ones, cyclical waves of gratitude and compassion rising like the tide…
**All blog photographs taken by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted.