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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Grand Design of Our Lives: Connecting the Synchronistic Dots

SYNCHRONISTIC MOMENTS - seemingly unrelated events that connect in unplanned ways.  How often do they occur?  How often do we fail to "connect the dots" that tie these moments together?  What do they tell us about the Grand Design of our lives

When the old man in John Steinbeck's collection The Pastures of Heaven stared down into the valley where he had lived his life, tears came to his eyes and he beat his hands helplessly against his hip. "I’ve never had time to think," he said.  "I’ve been too busy with troubles ever to think anything out. If I could go down there and live down there for a little while—why, I’d think over all the things that ever happened to me, and maybe I could make something out of them, something all in one piece that had a meaning, instead of all these trailing ends.”

All those trailing ends--the threads of our lives that we long to weave into something whole and meaningful.  But how do we begin the braiding?

Sometimes it helps to simply "connect the dots."  Identify points of intersection in seemingly unrelated events.  Don't try to attach meaning yet, just marvel at the places where your life comes together.  Here are some of the latest synchronistic moments in my life that connect in delightful and curious ways.  Who knows where the trail will lead?  Who knows where your trail is leading?


DOT #1:  November, 2008, I attend a keynote talk with Richard Louv (author, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder and Chairman, Children and Nature Network) at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.  As a Senior Associate with the Children and Nature Network, and a friend of Rich's, I'm a huge advocate of the "Leave No Child Inside" initiative. Rich gave me a great blurb when Fulcrum Publishing brought out the trade paperback version of my memoir In Search of Kinship, a collection of personal stories about raising my kids outdoors. 

DOT #2:  September, 2009, I attend Fulcrum Publishing's 25th anniversary celebration and meet Kirk Johnson, Chief Curator at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.  We talk about getting together to discuss ways to bring a more rural/ranching/children/nature component to the museum. 

DOT #3:  October, 2009, while participating in a strategic planning committee meeting for the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education I meet Pavlos Stavropoulos, Sustainability Director at the Woodbine Ecology Center, and am immediately impressed with his passionate, forward thinking, cooperative approach to problem-solving.



Dot #4:   December, 2009, I attend the 30th anniversary celebration for The Bloomsbury Review - 30 years of publishing "the finest Book Magazine in the land." Marilyn Auer (pictured), co-founder, publisher and editor, has been gifting me with complimentary copies for my retreat participants for years. I leave with 50 copies in tow.

Ed Warner, director of the Sand County Foundation, introduces himself and we strike up a conversation.  The Foundation started back in 1965 as caretaker of the 120-acre Aldo Leopold Memorial Reserve.  A community-based conservation network, they are a vital tool for reconnecting people and the natural world,  "harnessing the experiences of rural people and policies in Africa and North America." 

Here's Ed's favorite photo of himself kneeling and taking a wild rhino's pulse while administering oxygen (taken at the Save Valley Conservancy near Chiredzi, Zimbabwe).  Ed has a contagious enthusiasm for life with a non-jaded abiliity to allow life to surprise him, and to share that surprise with others.  It's delightful.


Dot #5:  It turns out Ed and I know many of the same people, including Richard Knight (professor, Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU) and co-editor of Home Land: Ranching and a West that Works and the Quivira Coalition director Courtney White.  It also turns out that Ed is a Trustee of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (see Dot #2), and knows Kirk Johnson.  It also turns out that Ed has spent hundreds of volunteer hours reconnecting children to the outdoors.

Dot #6:  After Ed and his wife leave the Bloomsbury party, I talk more with Pavlos of the Woodbine Ecology Center.  Woodbine is guided, in part, by the Seventh Generation Principle, an Iroquois belief that the decisions we make today should be based on how the next seven generations will be impacted by those decisions.


Pavlos speaks about his own indigenous and migratory Greek roots. "We are all indigenous," he says, "even if we're descendants of slaves, or indentured servants, or refugees, or voluntary immigrants.  We find ourselves—people of all colors and nations—here to stay. This is now our home and the home of our children and great-great grandchildren." (read more at Woodbine's Vision). 

I tell Pavlos of the six generations of ranching roots that tie my grown children to Colorado, how their great-great-great grandparents migrated to the healing high country air of Colorado to save their asthmatic son's life.  "I wrote In Search of Kinship," I say, "because I believe these roots can be transplanted; that they do not need to shrivel and die.  Our stories keep them alive."  Pavlos nods his head in agreement.


Dot #7:  The next day, I browse the history page on Woodbine's website and learn that the Center is located on Indian Creek, in Sedalia, Colorado.  I smile at the synchronicity.  This photo is of my son Matt with his grandmother, Edie Lambert Higby.  The Lambert Ranch was homesteaded in 1862 in the heart of Indian Creek Valley.  It was on this creek, in the heart of Chief Colorow's Ute country, that my children's father grew up.  "Colorow was reported to have traveled to Sedalia," the history page states, "where he attempted to trade a horse and some beads for the baby of the Manhart family, one of the founders of Sedalia..." 

My daughter is named after Sarah Manhart, and it was with her great-grandmother's uncle that Chief Colorow tried to trade.  I tell the story in the prologue of In Search of Kinship.  "'I remember pulling on Mother's skirts,' said the baby's older sister, 'and begging her not to make the trade.'"  In the photo on the right, I am standing at Sarah Manhart's grave marker in Sedalia.


Though we no longer live on the Lambert Ranch in Sedalia, when my daughter Sarah has a child, and my son Matt, these children will be the seventh generation to carry on this legacy of the land.  (photo on the left: Sarah riding her mare Magpie)

Are these simply synchronicities?  What do they reveal about the Grand Design of my life, and the lives of my son and daughter?

What “dots” can you connect in your life?  What will they reveal about your journey?

10 comments:

Janet Grace Riehl said...

"Identify points of intersection in seemingly unrelated events. Don't try to attach meaning yet, just marvel at the places where your life comes together."

Connection is such a gift...even when it's as yet at the stage of mystery. It's bigger than just us.

Be well during this season that contains an ideal of connection.

Janet Riehl

Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words said...

Hi Janet. This truly is the season of ideal connection - we fall short of that idea, but the striving reminds us how important it is. Be well!

http://barbara-hh.blogspot.com/ said...

Hmm...as one who is always "watching" for ways where I can sense God's orchestration in my life, your story is a beautiful example of that, and even more powerful, it is generational. Very cool. I like to believe there are many more instances of such things happening in our world that often go unrecognized, which is why it is important when we do "see" it, to share it with others. It helps add a sense of purpose that what we do as we go about our day in relative obscurity really matters. Thanks, Page!

Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words said...

Barbara, thank you for pointing out the generational aspect and I think you are absolutely correct - there are many more instances in our lives (each day!) that go unnoticed.

CelebrateGreatness said...

Page, Wonderful site. I love that you invited comments and I felt compelled to respond.

Bloomsbury Review: I recall a Christmas party in Denver in 1983 when I first met the late and great Tom Auer (Marilyn's brother) when the Review was still in its infancy. Thank you for inciting the fond memory.

Please do me a favor and visit my new website; your feedback would be much appreciated: www.GreenRoadsRealty.com

Wishing you health, joy, prosperity and love in the New Year (and always),
Aysha

Page Lambert said...

Aysha, how wonderful that you also knew Tom. He was dearly loved, I believe. Have a blessed New Year!

Julie said...

Loved your synchronicity points. (Also loved your book!) I, too, read Richard Louv's book and heard him speak in Seattle where Robert Michael Pyle introduced him, and I have taken classes from Robert about environmental writing. Thank you for doing all you do to get children outside. If we can get our children in love with nature, as we are, it will pass onto the seventh generation--all a part of Gaia, I think.

Julie Weston

Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words said...

Julie, thank you for taking time to leave a comment, and for the kind words about In Search of Kinship. Rich's book has certainly spurred a movement! And yes, if we can get out children to fall back in love with nature, we will be taking great strides towards returned our species into right relation with the earth. Blessings.

turtlewoman said...

Connecting the dots makes so much sense, helps to bring life into focus, and at the same time seems almost surreal. Thank you for this beautiful blog. I will now begin to try and connect my own dots as I am facing a major change in my life.

Lindy in AZ

Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words said...

Life transitions are wonderful times to begin weaving the strands together in more meaningful ways. Wishing you a blessed New Year.