Editor’s note: Sharon is a student in the Transformative Language Arts Foundations Certificate program. This blog post is one of five reflection posts she will be submitting as part of the certificate requirements.
Robbyn Lane McGill’s two-part class, Kissing the Muse [offered again July 2022], is a wonderful circular journey through the ups and downs of life. On this great adventure, I had the privilege of meeting interesting characters such as the Seducing Siren, the Reluctant Rebel, and the Magical Guru. These wise messengers communicated with me through a variety of creative prompts, and I especially enjoyed meeting the Magical Guru who introduced herself to me as “Vision.” She helped me to see my surroundings in a new way.
During the autumn when I was enrolled in the Kissing the Muse course, I found myself in need of some rest and relaxation one day, so I went to the nearby nature sanctuary with my camera. I was sitting quietly on a bench near the bird feeders waiting for the wildlife to appear. From previous visits, I had learned to be still so that the animals would not feel threatened. My patience was sometimes rewarded with visitations; on one occasion, a jackrabbit appeared and on another, two possums. Various birds stop at the feeders – woodpeckers, blue jays, wrens, and my personal favorite, cardinals. On this particular visit, a male cardinal was perched in a tree on a branch above me. I took several pictures of him, and afterwards I sat in silence simply enjoying his company.
My peace ended abruptly when two women walked by. One of them stopped near the bird feeders, complaining in a loud voice about the sanctuary, “There’s no color here. Well, it’s green, but there’s no color. I mean, it’s pretty, but it needs some color.” Her friend, probably tired of listening to her criticism in the midst of this oasis, kept walking, leaving the grouch behind. Her loud voice now aimed in my direction, “Where’s the red?” I replied with a tinge of sarcasm in my voice, “Welcome to Houston?” If she wanted fall colors, she was in the wrong city. Failing to get the response she wanted from me, she moved on.
As she walked away, I realized that had she just looked up 20 feet, she would have seen the vibrant red cardinal above her head. Beauty was visible, but only to someone with open eyes and not an open mouth. Later, as I walked around the sanctuary, I was extremely aware of the pops of red all around me. Here was a spiky red flower. There was an autumn leaf on the path. A couple of bright red berries hung from a branch. Another cardinal appeared. Red was all around me, and it was magnificent. It wasn’t the shade of anger and it was strategically placed for those who take the time to look.
I felt deep gratitude towards my Magical Guru named “Vision,” and I felt even more connected to my cardinal friends, grateful that I have the patience to sit with them in quiet solitude and receive their unspoken but powerful messages. On this day Cardinal said to me, “Beauty is all around you. Just open your eyes.”
Sharon Bippus, PhD, is an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) instructor who finds inspiration in the intersection of creativity, mystery, and synchronicity. As an undergraduate, she was awarded two scholarships to study in Germany which fueled her desire to learn more about the diverse world we live in. Since that time, she has taught English in Slovakia and China and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Russia. She currently teaches ESOL at a community college in the suburbs of Houston, Texas where she works with students from all over the world. In her free time, she enjoys mixed media, collage, and photography and has received training in trauma-informed expressive arts and nature-based therapeutic practices. She is a SoulCollage® facilitator, a Veriditas-trained labyrinth facilitator, and a student in the Haden Institute’s Dream Work Program.