Posts Tagged ‘peace’


Of all the hours in a day, the Magic Hour is the one to savor. It is the hour preceding dawn, before your part of the world fully stirs and gets on with business. Streets are empty, traffic light, neighboring houses dark and snug. The sky is a curious mixture of night and day. Just enough darkness to keep life’s difficulties in the shadows and just enough light to feed optimism’s hypnotic allure. The only sounds probably come from within your home – a curious pet in search of an early breakfast, your soft steps padding across the floor, freshly brewed coffee dripping into a carafe. Even the birds are quiet. Know the feeling when the first real day of spring weather arrives, when the buds are budding, the robins are chirping, and the cool morning air has made that subtle change which assures winter is now behind you? When everything seems bright and possible? The Magic Hour offers that delightful prospect every day.

But who wants to wake up an hour before sunrise on the off chance you may experience what a pessimist would politely call an illusion of peace? They would point out that once daylight hits and real life starts churning that blissful feeling will disappear so fast you will forget it ever existed. Why put yourself through that frustration 365 times a year? Are you that masochistic?

That is one of many reasons I am thankful I am not a pessimist.

But I am a realist and have no desire to wake an hour before dawn even one day a year, much less 365 of them, just for the possibility to feel some kind of Zen-like experience. The logical course is to sleep in and seek it elsewhere. Which is why I love going to the beach off-season.

When I walk along the deserted coastline with only the rhythmic sound of the ocean and the occasional squawk of seagulls something shifts inside me – physically, emotionally, mentally. I become calm and rejuvenated. I watch the waves gather momentum and follow their journey until they reach the shore, only to begin their retreat. I see ships on the far far horizon, mostly likely cargo freighters headed to anyplace I imagine, and they seem motionless. I know they are moving, but the distance makes their movement imperceptible. It is like watching snails race. Occasionally other people pass by. We smile and nod. This is also therapeutic because I know a kinship exists between us beyond social politeness. Why else would they be at the beach at this time of year? It certainly is not to get a suntan.

The photos scattered throughout this piece were taken on the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina this past March. OBX is a fine summer destination if you want hot sand, ocean, crowds, parties, and non-stop activity. However, if you want to experience the power of the Magic Hour for many consecutive hours, but lack the conviction to wake early, consider OBX in the early spring. You won’t be disappointed.




Posted: June 17, 2016 in Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,


It was a stunning May afternoon when Caryn and I drove to the outskirts of Sedona. Our goal was to hike the Boynton Canyon Trail. Local legend claimed the trail led to the elusive Boynton Vortex, a mystical spot of spiritual renewal and comfort. I was both skeptical and intrigued with the idea that a physical place can profoundly affect your physical being. Frankly, skepticism held more sway. However, it is pretty hypocritical to say you are open-minded and then shut down something simply based on unsubstantiated cynicism. So we sought out the trail in search of the vortex. At worse the anticipated views held enormous promise.

We parked the car, found our way to the trailhead, and set out. The trail was not well marked. It was rocky and uneven with a slight upward grade. When faced with a directional option, we generally made the right choice. It was also helpful hikers passing from the opposite direction shared contented smiles. Maybe it was the after effects of the vortex, maybe it was they were now hiking on a downward grade.

We reached a clearing a few hundred feet below the base of two large, vertical rock formations. They were parallel, although not next to each other. We figured the vortex was somewhere between the two. The problem was the trail’s grade suddenly transformed from mild and pleasant to steep and uninviting. I believe the official term for such a dramatic change in grade is “yousummabitch.” Still, how good can a vortex be if you don’t have to exert a bit of effort to reach it, even if it requires a Sherpa?

We made the ascent with far less drama than a good story demands. Some folks coming down confirmed our assumptions. “Yep, the vortex is up there.” Reassurance is a wonderful thing.

The trail’s end dumped us onto a small plateau between the two formations. It was windy and mostly quiet. Occasionally the sound of a car passing below on some distant road cracked the silence, but that was a minor distraction. The views north and east were wonderful. The view west was also terrific as long as you kept your eyes perfectly level and didn’t look down at a sprawling resort. To be fair, the resort was artfully incorporated into the surroundings. Still, I imagine the Anasazi people who once populated this land would have found it odd.

Other hikers were already on the plateau, some quietly enjoying the moment, others bopping and blathering about…well, let’s just say a bit more vivaciously than the etiquette encouraged. Caryn and I found a fine place to sit, rest, and just be. The cool breeze was great, but neither of us got swept up in the magic of a vortex. Of course, it is quite possible we would not have known we were experiencing the magic of a vortex even if we had been. Vortex familiarity is beyond our scope of experience.

After a while a hearty, healthy looking man also arrived at the vista. He spoke with each person before he made his way to us. He carried a flute and his name was Robert. He handed us two heart shaped stones and spoke of the power of unconditional love, oneness with nature, and the special energy radiating from this majestic place nestled between the two rock towers. He said the formations were the “divine masculine” and the “divine feminine.” He was kindly, soft-spoken and sincere, without a hint of artifice. He eventually climbed to the top of the “divine masculine” and sat down. He played eight songs on his flute. Before each song he spoke of its meaning – love, courage, joy, etc. He wasn’t speaking directly at any of us who happened to be there. Rather he was speaking to the place. And as he played the chatter of the hikers slowly fell silent. By the third song the only sounds were his voice and his flute. It was rather extraordinary.


Divine Masculine (left) and Divine Feminine (right)

He finished his music and climbed back down. He said he tried to come to this place at least once a day, twice whenever possible, to speak with people, give them stones, play his flute, and remain connected to Mother Earth.

Did we experience a life-changing spiritual epiphany tucked between the “divine masculine” and the “divine feminine” towers? No. Did we feel the power of the mysterious Boynton Vortex? Again, no. However, thinking about it now a few weeks later I wonder if the true power was not some perceived quirky geophysical anomaly. Perhaps it was in the soul of an ordinary person who chooses to spend his days giving strangers heart-shaped stones, playing simple music in a beautiful natural setting, and bringing a small measure of peace and serenity to those whose path he crosses. And if that what a vortex offers, it is time to seek out others.



Posted: September 11, 2013 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , ,

Church bells tolled throughout the morning.

For America this is a day of remembrance and solemn ceremony, a day swimming with emotion. Today these emotions clash, tumble and spill together with heightened potency and poignancy. Sadness mixed with anger mixed with grief mixed with frustration mixed with loss mixed with melancholy mixed with pain mixed with love.

Today is also much more. Today is today.

Today is a day to hold those you love a little tighter, appreciate your good fortune a little more. Today is a day to recognize the tremendous generosity of those folks who think of you as “friend”. Today is a day to share a laugh and, maybe, shed some tears. Today is a day to move beyond the stilted nods of acknowledgement with the people you often pass by but never speak with and pause for a moment to say, “Hello. How are you?”

Today is a day to look up at the clouds and keep in mind the sun always waits patiently behind them. Today is a day to remember all those swollen rivers, streams and marshy fields are as much a part of life as we are. Today is a day to savor the rich, loamy aroma of the earth and the lilting fragrance of wildflowers.

It is inevitable that on this particular day circumstances prompt reflection. But this particular day also holds a special and wonderful power – the power to push back into our consciousness an appreciation that today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter, deserves singular attention to the blessings of life.

Church bells tolled throughout the morning. Tomorrow they will return to their normal schedule. That’s okay because tomorrow we won’t need reminding that, despite the often difficult and heart rendering trials life tosses at us, we’re forever surrounded by splendor and grace.

Note: Originally posted September 11, 2011