Crisp leaves crunch underfoot as I walk through the woods and get glimpses of the sunshine glistening on the pond beside the trail.
I slow my pace and find a clearing.
The water is calm and it reflects the bronze colours of the trees with exquisite beauty. I am struck by the artistry in nature, and I take the first of many photos on this autumn day.
My mind wanders as I keep walking. Reflections. So beautiful in nature, and such a gift to me as I walk along. I wonder how I show up in the world. Do I reflect beauty by my actions? Do the folks who interact with me see behaviours that remind them of joy and peace?
The words of the poet, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, have inspired me as I seek to reflect positive images to the world around me. In her poem, ‘The Question,” she asks, “Is this the path of love?” She describes how having this question as a guide in our daily activities transforms the way we show up in the world.
As I focus on this approach, my mind goes to ways in which I can show love for others. This can be as simple as giving space for the car next to me to merge in ahead of me on a busy drive home. Being patient in the grocery store line up as the person ahead of me methodically counts out their change reflects my respect for them.
As I ponder these ideas, I am aware of how difficult it can be to see life through this lens. If I truly want to establish a practice of walking “the path of love,” it will take more than just thinking about it.
How do I build my capacity to act in these ways?
1. Reflecting love and kindness to others begins with me.
When I first look in the mirror in the morning, what do I see? How do I greet the self that gazes back at me?
I am learning to speak to myself with kindness. I smile as I look into my eyes and thank my body for how it has carried me all these years. This is a choice each day, and even though it isn’t always easy, I know that this practice sets the tone for a day filled with goodness.
2. Receiving from others with graciousness strengthens my ability to shine.
I say a simple thank you to a compliment rather than shrugging it off. When I do this, I am reflecting back to the person the gift they are giving me. I have found that this creates a connection between us, which adds joy to our lives.
3. I am a sleuth for goodness as I go about my day.
I smile as I pass someone on the hiking trail. I wave in appreciation as a dog walker stops to give me space to cycle past safely. I notice the kind actions of parents with their children or someone who assists their elderly companion across the street. Even though there may be no words exchanged, there is an energy of goodwill that happens. I am reflecting my love for humanity and my desire to be in partnership with others.
4. Practising being thankful enriches my experiences.
I find that the more specific I am, the deeper my gratitude. Who am I appreciating today? What is an accomplishment I am thankful for? What place is especially important to me? Even difficult situations can turn out to be opportunities for gratitude.
5. Asking for what I want sets the tone for clarity and authenticity with others.
This is a learning edge for me in my relationship with my husband. Recently, we were headed for a major upset. Over time, patterns get established in our household routines and it seemed to me that I had become responsible for most of the cleaning. Rather than simmering in blame and resentment, I chose to talk with my husband about what was going on for me. This was a chance to resolve potential conflict and clarify roles around our household. Blame and anger are not the attributes I want to reflect in our home, and being able to work these issues out resulted in a joint cleaning day that led to partnership and a sense of pride in a clean house.
6. Ensuring there is play in my day creates a context of joy.
If I am not having fun, laughing, and doing things I enjoy, I will not be reflecting life-giving energy. I play with paints, make photo cards, take daily walks in the woods, and plan times with my grandchildren. I learn that a mistake is not a failure as I try something new. As I dance to blues music while baking bread, I feel a lightness that is a welcome playmate. Play reminds me to be open to a child-like sense of wonder no matter what I am doing.
What does your presence reflect? You have the opportunity to bring joy and love to the world as you mirror the goodness that is within you.
I welcome you to join me as we ask, “Is this the path of love?” and act with this as our compass on our life journey.