Surprisingly Resilient

When I entered my blog, it surprised me to see just how much time has passed since my last post, and that brought a bit of a cringe upon me, quickly followed by a smile. You see, I've been pondering the idea of surprises lately as that is the topic of the latest Echo challenge. I assume like most folks my first thoughts went to cheers upon entering dimly lit rooms full of family and friends, bright boxes with fanciful bows, the love of your life holding out to you a simple gold band, and even the "+" sign on a pregnancy test . . . all those surprises life hands you as you're strolling along not always paying the attention you should to your own life. I thought to myself, yes, surprises, even good surprises (depending on your position in the matters), but for some reason these things just didn't settle as fine with me.

So, I percolated a while. I do that. I percolate. Sometimes I compost, but that only happens on the really big endeavors. On the smaller notions, I simmer and percolate, and this I did. I started thinking about more intense and unhappy surprises like your best friend moving hundreds of miles away, the engine failing on your only vehicle and you're on thin ice at work anyway, that lump in your breast the doctor says needs "a closer look".

These things certainly didn't settle as fine with me either. I just wasn't satisfied with any of the notions that were coming to mind so, being an exceptionally warm day for late November, I gathered my camera and my dog Delilah and we went walking . . . and percolating.

Now travelling along a country mile always holds a surprise or two no matter the season. This day was no different. First was the orangey-red fungi of which I have no knowledge growing along a downed log. Then there were the lime green hedge balls lying in neat piles under the hedge trees, along with the lone one wedged in a fork of a branch overhead. (As if some late-night fairies had held a rugby match.) Such color for a dead and barren winter pasture! Delilah found her own surprise while attempting to walk into her favorite pond, only to have her feet shielded by a thin layer of ice that had accumulated the night before. To this she growled and scratched until the ice gave way. (Another surprise!) Her antics brought a chuckle, but it was those bright reds and greens springing from the dry browns around me that brought some sort of inkling to my mind, but I just couldn't grasp it and name it . . . not yet.

Delilah and I made our way to the southern most corner of the pasture, turned, then headed back north along the fence row separating the plots of ground. (Funny, we followed the cattle path just like any other herding animal, but that's another story, another post.) Within just a few paces I noticed a tree leaning out from the fence line. At first glance it appeared as any other tree along that country mile. But, for some reason I was drawn to look twice and noticed a scarred notch bulging from its side. It was then I noticed the culprit, the agressor to the scarring which still had it's claws dug in:

And just like any good surprise, there was mine boldly staring right at me. That inkling finally percolated itself to a full simmer and boiled right on over.

"One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do."
~Henry Ford

That tree was exactly the visual metaphor for the notion that had been in my mind that I couldn't quite capture. (Surprises are grand in the way they just sneak right up on you!) For myself, it wasn't so much the gifts and joys, nor the trials and tribulations that are my life's greatest surprises, but how those things and events shaped me, sturdied me, strengthened me. Like that tree, I've seen great springs and times of growth, and like most of you, great sadness and times of pain and scarring. I've sat alone and wondered how in the world would I ever survive. But, I did. I do. I continue to thrive amid my scars. I'm marked, and in my mind, my soul, more alive for it. For me, that is the greatest surprise I've ever discovered.

(The silly part is, and I'll bravely share this here: I could have kissed that tree, and I did!)

Just a day or so after my "surprise" discovery, my new Echo partner Alyice Erdich sent me her Echo post and asked what I had in mind for mine. At first I thought, gosh, she'll think I'm nuts. But, as I've said from the start of my writings here, I'm braving a new path. I shared my idea and she said, "Oh, I have just the photo to pair with yours!" And she did. Long before my own personal "healing tree", Alyice had found her own:

"There is new life blooming from the dead base. It reminds me of how no matter what life throws our way, and no matter how much we feel broken, there is new life and new strength waiting for us--just around the corner."

Left photo © Alyice Edrich / Right photo © Brenda Lynn

And in that I had another surprise yet: my new partner just happened to see things just as quirky . . . or as normally . . . as I did. And that just makes me smile.

Please visit my partner Alyice Erdich's website for more of her Echo entries.

For more information on the Echo Project, please click on the icon at the top of the right sidebar.

Peace to you and yours,


WindandHoney December 3, 2009 at 2:49 PM  

Bren, your writing has brought a much needed calm to my afternoon.

Becky Black Powell December 3, 2009 at 3:29 PM  

Bren, I loved reading this piece. You have a wonderful way of describing things. Thanks, Ruth

ArtSnark December 3, 2009 at 4:55 PM  

wonderful post :D I can imagine you perkily percolating!

Kathy-Catnip Studio December 3, 2009 at 6:54 PM  

Beautiful, thoughtful post.

Maureen December 3, 2009 at 8:12 PM  

This post of yours is exquisite, you are a fantastic wordsmith!

Alyice December 3, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

I love that word, "Percolating". I do that all the time. I'll start an art project, and it will "percolate" in various stages until finally, I've found a way to complete it. I had one such piece of work percoluate for a year, can you believe it? Then an event happened in my life, and just like that the final pieces of that work came together.

My journals are like that too, I'll percolate an idea for weeks then finally sit down to write out my thoughts--thoughts that have changed shape each time I thought upon that idea.

I love the way you went about discovering what the word "surprise" meant to you. I loved hearing how it all came together! It's like stepping into your soul and coming out a better person, alongside you.

Gena December 4, 2009 at 12:22 AM  

Wow Brenda, you write soooo well!! really enjoyed that and as for the "surprise picture", what more can I say?!?!?! Excellent work, especially how it's partnered with Alyice's picture. Excellent, excellent work, ladies!!! Gena

Becky New December 5, 2009 at 6:31 AM  

I love your post! Beautiful and so very thought provoking. Thank you so much for sharing it here.

Shona Cole December 7, 2009 at 1:30 AM  

great thoughts and so well expressed. Love that photo pairing


turquoise cro December 9, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

LOL My squirrel could have gone just right with your tree too!!! I might have to find me a partner! I'm a tree hugger too soOOOOo it didn't surprise me that someone would kiss a tree! I grew up with trees! I LOVE em!

Glenda-TwoCoolTexans December 12, 2009 at 11:06 AM  

Another beautiful post, so much enjoyment reading all of your posts, Bren, you have such talent in the writing field.

Colette December 20, 2009 at 11:55 AM  

I think your echo colaboration is so beautiful!

Chrisy December 28, 2009 at 4:19 PM  

Fabulous photos..oh but it's the do them so insightful...thanks for sharing...

Susan Tuttle February 9, 2010 at 7:56 PM  

gorgeous collaboration -- so glad you participated!

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