My heart and mind are so full from a beautiful experience at Song Village this past weekend in the Santa Cruz mountains. Bernice and I led a song circle on Friday afternoon, and we were also invited to lead a song in the closing circle on Sunday morning, where we offered Bernice’s ‘May Peace Prevail Upon Earth’. What a gift to hear a hundred voices lifting that song and that hope into the air!
Five of us – Bernice and I, Shawn, Ann, and friend and fellow song leader Roberta Kirn – shared an Airbnb nearby for the week. During our narrow and winding commute each day, I never failed to notice this one particular turnout spot that offered a view of the valley, of more distant mountains, of the fog over the sea to the southwest – and also of a large pile of garbage purposefully dumped there. Kitchen trash, a pink bucket, a child’s toy xylophone, plastic bags, fast food scraps.
Each day we passed by this scene, and each day I would experience the same range of distinct flashes of emotion – awe at the beauty; anger at the trash; curiosity about the person who dumped it; prickles of fear of the sheer drop into the valley from that turnout.
On Saturday evening, as we made our way down the mountain from Song Village, we made a point to stop at what I’d named ‘Trash Turnout’ to witness the last pastels of the sunset and the breathtaking, salmon-colored full moon rising. As we stood for a few moments mostly silent, save for the crunching of our feet over the sandy gravel, we all pulled our phones out to take photos. At first, I was careful to avoid any view of the garbage in my photos, eager to capture only the beauty. Then, as I paid attention to my aversion, I laughed quietly to myself and decided to take one last photo of the moon rising over the valley and the trash, to remind me of this experience.
There is both trash and treasure in this world, and its beauty and ugliness exist solely in my perception of both. I hope to continue to strike the right balance in my own heart in how I show up for both.