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It’s cold now, and dark clouds threaten rain.  A cold wind has picked itself up and is scattering what’s left of the fall compost: a mixture of brittle brown leaves and the brown pine needles that steadily shed from the tall ponderosa pines.  The heater kicks on, the cats bury themselves in the blankets on the bed and the dharma dawgs circle together on the couch – a dharma dawgs sleepingyin and yang of big and little curled into a circle of infinity.

Earlier this morning, before the clouds and wind, the dogs and I went out to watch the solstice sunrise.  The sky burst forth suddenly with what seemed like passionate possibility and the sun spread brilliant fire between the trees, then just as suddenly the light mellowed as it merged with subtle clouds, and the morning took on that soft, almost eery light that is indicative of change – a coming storm, or a passing one maybe.

It is an amazingly beautiful world. Radically Amazing.  And we’re still here, alive on this solstice morning, this day of ending, osolstice sunriser beginning depending on who you ask. I haven’t paid too much attention to the stories of the Mayan calendar, and don’t know too much about it beyond the inevitable jokes that show up on facebook.  The gist, I gather, is that some folks believe it is the end of the world as we know it, and others believe it is the beginning of a new world, a new shift, a new awakening.  Maybe it’s both.

Personally, I like the idea that we are moving into a new age, a time of enlightenment, of awakening.  It doesn’t matter if a cycle is ending, or if prophecies tell us we are in a new age, or if the stars line up just so.  Because the truth is, every day is an end of a cycle, and every morning is the beginning of something brand new.  We can appreciate that, love that, and awaken our own selves to the beauty that this moment gives us.

This morning,  the dogs and I passed a hand painted stop sign that said:  SMILE BE HAPPY and it’s significance was not lost on me.  Moments later, a buck with large rack peered out at me from between two suburban lawns, and later on the trail where we walked a young doe stopped in her tracks and turned to look at us.  We stopped too, the dogs and I, and just looked back at her for what felt like an eternity.  After a while, she turned gracefully and bounded off into the far trees.  Star (big dog) turned her attention back to the trees near us, looking for the more interesting squirrels, and Li’l Bit poked her nose back into the ground, reading her mornings news, no doubt.  smile be happy

Stop, implied the hand painted sign, and smile a moment.  Be happy.  Why not?  There is nothing to lose by noticing the beauty around us. Things might be tough, and life might be hard sometimes, and still…. we are here.  Alive on this day, in this moment.

Smile.  Be Happy.

We’re Still Here.

Wishing you all a happy Winter Solstice, and may the returning light be warm and welcoming, may you know peace, and may your days be filled with joy and laughter.