Blessings of the flock

What the woods looked like last Tuesday

What the woods looked like last Tuesday

Tuesday.  Blessings of the flock.

You’re walking up the road.  The air feels still.  Silence reigns between tall trees with lingering yellow leaves.  Fallen leaves smell crisp with childhood memories of burning raked piles.  In the distance, a logging truck whines.  Otherwise, you only hear your footsteps slapping pavement.

Suddenly, up above, all around, dozens of chattering birds surround.  From treetop to treetop they call, they tattle, they sing.  They dive, they wing between branches, they dance.  What kind?  You hear chickadee, you glimpse juncos, you see a nuthatch.

It’s the blessing of the flock!  All around they create bird magic for you. They sing until you remember your dream-wings, the heft and tilt of flight.  Don’t they remind you of seeds everywhere, hidden in bark crevices, to be found when needed and not a second before?

Later, down the road, silence returns.  You catch your breath at the mystery of it, the way the flock surrounds and dissolves.  How it teaches in a language of feathers and how it can change everything, simply in the arising.

Artist Mike Sluder art exhibit at Michigan Tech

Artist Mike Sluder art exhibit at Michigan Tech

Wednesday  This morning one of Barry’s Isle Royale fishing buddies dies.  His heart, increasingly weak, finally beat its last.  Barry grieves the passing of his friend.  He shares story after story of his fishing exploits, his laughter, his uniqueness.

I think how friends bless and enrich our lives so.  What would our lives be like without others shining their own selves as they bait hooks, as they drink beer, as they act exactly as themselves, in all their strengths and weaknesses?



Thursday  Speaking of the flock, our phone rang all day.  Such blessings to talk to friends and family hither and yon, nearby and far away.  My daughter carved a pumpkin in the shape of a kitty cat, my mother-in-law survived cataract surgery, my mom and I chatted about all the news at the condo in Florida.  A taxpayer called to change his address and we discovered at least twelve connections–including that his son played basketball with my nephew downstate ten years ago!  I love the phone.  I love how it connects souls, I do.



Friday  Nine eager elementary age faces stare up at me, their substitute Spanish teacher. “Como te sientes?” I ask them and we learn the names of feelings in Spanish.  Happy, sad, bored, scared, worried.  They color masks of feelings on paper plates and I quiz them . “Yo estoy feliz,” one of the little ones reply.

I read them a story about the Day of the Dead.  Many of them can’t believe the picture of families picnicking among gravestones.  I explain how mamas and tias in Mexico often create delicious treats beloved by abuelas (grandmas) and abeulos (grandpas) who might be lured back to loved ones by the smell of cinnamon or pumpkin.

I pass out pumpkin bread.  We lather our bread with honey butter and eat.  Two of the boys beg for the recipe.  Really?  Really?  My blessings shined their innocent faces upward.  Day of the Dead…   Day of Life.

Metalwork by Sluder

Metalwork by Sluder

Saturday Barry and I planned to experience something different tonight.  We opted to attend the Ninth Annual Northern Lights Film Festival.  This year’s festival featured the film “Fifty Lakes One Island” about 80 days on Isle Royale.  (Barry’s favorite place in the whole world as many of you know.)

All week we grinned and gabbed about it.  We drove up to Houghton on Saturday.  We wined and dined and shopped.  What a blast!  A friend bought us drinks at Habaneros Mexican Restaurant.  What a lovely autumn afternoon away from our Little House in the Big Woods.

We finally drove over to the Rosza Center.  A jazz band warmed up in the main theater.  We decided the festival must be in another theater.  A nice usher-fellow guided us through back hallways.  The second theater lay cloaked in darkness.  We turned to the usher.

“But where is the Film Festival?” I asked.

“Umm,” his eyes darted up and down, “That was last weekend, ma’am.”

Why, you ask, am I listing this as today’s blessing? All our expectations were dashed, weren’t they?

I am listing this as the prime blessing of today because–even though our expectations turned out unfulfilled–we both just smiled at each other.  We laughed at our foolish mistake about the date.  We viewed the metal sculputre exhibit. We drove home.

I love it when it’s possible to yield to Life instead of expectations.  To me, that easy yielding was one of the gifts of this week.

Still, Barry sighed over his Sunday morning coffee and wished we could have watched the film about Isle Royale.

Life's twists and turns

Life’s twists and turns


A quiet day.  Tree branches click against each other like skeleton bones now.  Still, many yellow leaves remain, an oddity for early November, when usually the skeletons wear only brown bark.  My blessing for the day?  Peace.  This last week shone with peace.  My heart feels home.  It seems it’s taken most of a lifetime to feel this deep peace this thoroughly.  OK, OK, maybe tomorrow I’ll be whining or upset or annoyed, but let’s not steal that away from today, shall we?

Fallen autumn leaves

Fallen autumn leaves


You’re walking up the road.  You’ve no blessings that beckon for today’s story yet.  The mind fusses.  Suddenly, what’s that?  To the left, to the right, dozens of birds chirping, singing, frolicking in tree tops.  It’s the Blessing of the Flock again, seven days later!

A raven appears at the head of the road and flies silently, flapping giant black wings, directly toward you.  You look upward and see it cross your path directly above.  The flock sings in the silence of raven wings.

You walk further and there, to your left, lies a raven feather, stuck straight up with the quill in the earth.  You feel its smoothness, its gift, before returning it to the rainbow quilt of leaves.

Do you, dear reader, dear bird, wish to share a blessing today?

My purse (a gift from an Indian friend.)  Just because...

My purse (a gift from an Indian friend.) Just because…

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in November 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Blessings of the flock

  1. Sounds like you’ve had an exceedingly busy week–even had a stint as a substitute Spanish teacher. Wow!

    I’m thinking this morning about the blessing of friendship. How they enrich our lives. So sorry to hear about the passing of Barry’s buddy. It’s painful to lose a friend!

    Hope your week has gotten off to a good start!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Kathy says:

      Kathy, I shall tell Barry of your condolences. Yes, friendships bless our lives so much. Maybe even more than we often notice. This morning I danced to Journey, AC-DC and Guns and Roses. I have never even liked these groups that much but, gosh, they make good work-out music. Hugs to you…

  2. you are a phenomenal writer–I enjoyed your week of blessings–so sorry about the loss of Barry’s friend–love your description of the birds–so lyrical

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, LouAnn. I decided to make it a “writing” post. Pretending I was a bird flying through sentences and paragraphs, lol. Wishing you a week with many blessings!

  3. sybil says:

    Dearest Kathy, I feel like I have my daughter back. She talks to me. She sometimes smiles. She speaks of the future. I feel blessed.

  4. Susan D says:

    What a lovely offering of daily blessings and occurrences, Kathy, although I’m sorry about the passing of Barry’s fishing buddy. Your descriptions are stunning and I can see, smell, hear, and taste your days. It’s wonderful to start the day with this blessing … here … with you. Thank you!

    • Kathy says:

      Good morning, Susan! It was kind of fun to write a little “blessing snippet” every evening and later tie them together into one larger blog. Can you believe about that film and us getting the wrong date? lol! How silly. Thinking of you across the trees & bay and hoping you have a blessed day.

  5. lisaspiral says:

    Give Barry my condolences on the loss of his friend. It’s one of those aging things, those losses become more frequent. You sound like your week of blessings was delightful. The metal exhibit looks really beautiful based on your photos. Thinking of you in friendship.

    • Kathy says:

      Lisa, you are certainly right about losses becoming more frequent as we age. It was actually quite a delightful week. Not sure I would have realized–or remembered–half of these without writing them down daily. Many blessings to you…

  6. Heather says:

    I feel blessed by your blessings. Thanks for sharing, for reminding us all that we are blessed indeed, even if we don’t notice. I’ve been blessed by the flock a few times this week, and by friends. Thankfully, I’ve not had to grieve the passing of any – my condolences to Barry.
    This morning I’ve been blessed by a warming fire. Soon I will be making birthday cookies for my number 1 blessing 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Heather, I feel blessed by you being blessed by my blessings. Ha ha ha, sorry, just grinning away. Aren’t warming fires wonderful? They do take the chill off during this *ahem* certain month of the year. Please wish your number 1 blessing a loud Happy Birthday from two of his UP friends!

  7. Kathy – I’m going to wrap your list of blessing around me like a cape today and wear them. I especially enjoyed your observation: “How it teaches in a language of feathers and how it can change everything, simply in the arising.”

    My most recent blessing? Len had the day off yesterday and we enjoyed the bajeebers out of it by raking leaves and then reading the day away together.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh how sweet, Laurie. What a nice thing to say! Also appreciate that you liked the language of feathers part. Gosh, it’s also a very good thing you married your best friend so you can have fun doing little blessings together like raking and reading on a day off!

  8. Please tell Barry that I’m so sorry for the loss of his friend…
    It sounds like you had a very nice week, and even though you missed the film festival, you still had fun and in the end that’s what really counts, right? 🙂 As for the phone….. I’m glad that ours doesn’t ring very often, I don’t like talking on the phone and much prefer e-mails or texts LOL

    • Kathy says:

      Michaela, I shall tell him. Gosh, it’s nice seeing you out & about the blogging world again. By the way, a certain someone in this household feels exactly the same way about phones as you do! You two would both shake your head together at my love of phone conversations. (It’s only rung once all day today…)

      • Thank you so much Kathy, it’s nice to be back and catching up with my blogging friends again. I’ve missed way to much while I was gone.
        It’s too bad that I don’t like talking on the phone, or I’d call……or maybe I’ll just call and hang up and you can at least say that it rang twice today 😉 (No, I won’t really do that, so if you get a hang-up call, it’s NOT ME!!)

        • Kathy says:

          Ha ha, Michaela–well, no one called and hung up–so I knew it wasn’t you! (How’s that for logic?) Am going to be mostly off-line for a while but will try to visit your blog later on this month. Visiting Florida, you know…

  9. You’ve had many blessing this past week! My mother would envy you your bird blessings as she would watch them through the cottage window for hours on end. I think she may be one of those birds, flying up high on the wind, reaching for the clouds. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Withershins, I am smiling thinking of your mom watching birds from her cottage. When I was younger I couldn’t imagine how the–errrr–“older” folks–could watch birds with such attention and delight for so long. Am learning how now. 🙂

  10. debyemm says:

    Love your thoughts about blessings, all kinds, even those that on the surface might not look like a blessing, the silver linings. Love the way you teach Spanish, so sweet. The year-round resident birds chase me on my hikes each day, flitting from tree to tree, loving it when I am singing, or so it seems. There seem to be a lot of passings these days and my mind is filled with them, at the moment. Decided to reconnect with Diving Deeper and dive deep into what it would be like to know with relative certainty that I really am going to die – and very soon – too soon in some perspectives, I would believe. I am doing this for NaNoWriMo. Had no plans at all to write about that topic, until I suddenly decided to do the November thing this year. It will be only my second time participating, the last in 2009. It feels scary powerful to contemplate this and make it as real as words typed into the computer. The words are flowing so much easier than I initially expected. I didn’t know I had so much to say, just as I have too many words here, to be simply a comment on someone else’s blog. But the biggest blessing this week is a new sense of peace – surprised that something I already felt about the topic could deepen the way it has – in contemplating the reality that I will die. It is inevitable and the when really isn’t the issue, whenever, there would be a letting go. I almost think now, that I would really want that brief time of foreknowledge – rather than a sudden, unexpected death. It doesn’t scare me at the moment but seems more like grace to be willing, and to have preferences granted. Not that I am intending to really face dying anytime soon. I’m superstitious enough to want to make that point entirely clear with The Universe, or The Divine, or Source, or God. Whatever one wants to name that as.

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, it does sound like the Universe wants to share lots of words through you! So glad that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo. I did so enjoy doing that last time in 2009. Might try it again sometimes, but am going to Florida to celebrate my mom’s birthday and it does feel like the right time. What an interesting topic for you to be exploring! I like what you say “seems more like grace to be willing” about death. Imagining what insights you will garner through the upcoming days. Wishing you much joy with it all.

  11. Gee whiz. I had a “winded” reply and then somehow I decided to scroll back up to make sure that I was not making a fool of myself and then I did not copy and save and then when I came back it was all gone and now I have lost the impetus to begin anew and now i have lost my “train of thought and jumped the track.” Are you laughing? I hope so! 🙂

    Yes, Kathy I have many blessings and just need a prod now and then from your lovely words to remind me to be grateful and thankful. Let the “amen, amen, amen,” chorus begin.:-)

    • Kathy says:

      Yvonne, instead of laughing I went scurrying to the spam folder in the hopes that your comment really wasn’t totally lost. Alas! It’s not hiding in there either. That can be so challenging to lose a long comment like that–no fun.

      Glad you are enjoying the blessings series. Am going to be doing this weekly until the end of 2013, so we’ll see how it keeps going. Glad we can all prod one another when we forget.

  12. Carol says:

    These past few days I am having to look harder to find blessings. Your words are my blessing for this morning. Thank you.

    • Kathy says:

      Some days it’s really hard, isn’t it, Carol? I am so sorry you are having a hard time these days. But to think you can look at this post and acknowledge it as a blessing–and make me feel positive. I thank you and give you a long-distance hug. My daughter and I are going down to Florida in a few days to meet with my folks and celebrate my mom’s 81st birthday.

  13. john says:

    This afternoon I will be baby sitting my youngest granddaughter. I get to hold this curious little four month old who rests on my shoulder with her head up amazed at the magic of a can opener. I feel so blessed when she snuggles against my chest and nods off to sleep when we lay on the couch. She has no anxiety, she feels safe in my grasp. I can feel her heart beat and her slow gentle breathing. A heart that will be beating long after mine has stopped. There is a spiritual chain forming between us that will last for eternity and a day. I pray, I believe that she knows she is loved and if that is true, and I die tomorrow and she knows no more about me than that I will rest at ease.

    • Kathy says:

      John, you do write so beautifully. I think you have just shared the one blessing that may pry you away from the shores of Lake Superior. She sounds like an amazing gift of peace, comfort and love.

  14. msmcword says:

    My sympathies to you & Barry in the loss of his friend.
    Today I have two blessings to share: This morning I had a consultation with my doctor about a test I had last week, & he did not charge me for the consultation (& the test was negative).
    And the second blessing is a family member invited me to her house for Thanksgiving.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Nancy. Barry will appreciate the sympathies here. Congratulations for your good news! What a relief for the doctor’s visit and your health–and now you know where you’ll be on Gratitude Day. Blessings!

  15. P.j. grath says:

    For me, two days in a row (Saturday, Sunday), there was a blessing of the flock. It was a flock of wheeling snow buntings, and my son and I saw it together. That was part of the blessing.

    • Kathy says:

      Pamela, glad you were the recipient of the “blessing of the flock”. Not sure if we have snow buntings up this way. So happy to hear that you and your son were blessed together with the miracle of flight.

  16. Robin says:

    Ah, well… reading this post is a blessing for today. It is so full of life, and everything in life. I’m sorry about the loss of Barry’s friend.

    My other blessing for today: I finally saw an eye doctor and will be getting new glasses so that life will have some clarity. 😀

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Robin, I am glad you liked this! It was strange to put together a blog like this, writing little snippets each evening. Happy to hear you will be getting new glasses–but, Robin, I am truly convinced that you already see life with a LOT of clarity!

  17. The snippets are wonderful! I like the format…and the words flow seamless as do the the days of your life with Barry in the Little House, or so it seems. My condolences to Barry on the loss of his fishing buddy and friend. Yes, they come around sooner these days.

    You continue to lift our we walk through the leaf laden road with you, always looking up for our guides, be they what they may.
    I had planned to do NaNo, etc. however, I thought it had to be fiction and I am not so good in that genre, not that I am good in any except research.

    My attorneys have suggested that I write on the inequality of the justice system…haven’t finished the wisdom research; and am knee deep in the early rocket scientist…these are all blessings ….that I can pick and choose what is the most important to me and do only those.

    Like debyemm, I look at the numbers on the calendar and realize that my days are also numbered and I will not have finished all the things in my head. Fragment does not even come close to describing my days!

    • Kathy says:

      Good afternoon, Linda. It was nice reading your comment. So glad your spirits are lifted by these blessing posts. What a gift to be good at research–the planet needs more who like to do this. Writing on the inequality of the justice system seems a really good task that might help others. I’m headed south really soon. Will wave when flying over. 🙂

  18. Lovely post! Thank you, Kathy! You see blessings in the everyday, and encourage all of us by your example.

  19. Barbara Kass says:

    I love these snapshots of your life, capturing moments like pictures in words, forever carved in your/our memories

  20. me2013 says:

    Lovely post Kathy, my blessing for today happen in the dentist. While I waited to go in I chatted with an elderly gentleman man about the way our little town had gone down hill, the state of the world and about how pretty the trees looked. Just before he went in to see the dentist he said if he were 20 years younger he would have asked me to run away with him, I laugh out loud. When he came out of his appointment he shook my hand and said what a pleasure it was to meet me and have a chat. That little chat left me on a high.

    • Kathy says:

      I got such a kick reading your comment earlier today! What a wonderful blessing from that gentleman. To receive such a flirting compliment from him. I am still smiling.

  21. Barb says:

    So many blessings and so much gratitude. Returning from a cross country ski, i heard a musical warbling. I couldn’t see the grouse, but their murmurings surrounded me. A gift from the flock for me, too, Kathy.

  22. Stacy says:

    A view from my bedroom window – that’s my blessing today, Kathy. The colors are so warm. ❤

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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