I'm hoping you'll remember --
those times when you're in the desert --
that just because you're different,
and there is no other grace
that's quite like yours,
you are never, no, not ever,
you will never be alone.
See the mountains, how they gather?
See the tumbleweeds cluster 'round?
See the clouds, shedding their snow,
just to get closer to the place
where you now stand?
You are never, no, not ever,
no matter how lonely you've been feeling,
you will never be, no, never,
you will never be alone.
One thing the camera teaches us --
something we all too often,
and all too quickly, forget --
is the power of perspective:
the notion that what
we're capable of seeing
depends so absolutely
on where we stand,
or when and where
and before what
we find ourselves willing
"The edge of things is a liminal space -- a very sacred place where guardian angels are especially available and needed.
The edge is a holy place, or as the Celts called it, "a thin place" and you have to be taught how to live there. To take your position on the spiritual edge of things is to learn how to move safely in and out, back and forth, across and return. It is a prophetic position, not a rebellious or antisocial one.
When you live on the edge of anything with respect and honor, you are in a very auspicious position. You are free from its central seductions, but also free to hear its core message in very new and creative ways."
I oversleep, and, rising, wake you early.
I tiptoe out, and you roll over,
each hoping for return to our routine,
but as I sit, nursing my book and coffee,
you stumble down the stairs,
and soon --
another departure from routine --
the conversation turns to flexibility,
and now you read to me:
which I'd never heard before,
and so I read to you:
Blackwater Pond, from Mary Oliver.
Now that you've left, in search of coffee,
I'll try routine again,
and settle in my chair to breathe.
Breathe in the love, I think,
and hear The Presence in the seagull's cry,
the neighbor's dogs,
the bandsaw as the farmer builds his barn...
Breathe out some love, and panic, for I cannot seem
to tap into that space, but then I see
that love (today, at any rate)'s the ache I feel
for newly widowed friends, for brushes with mortality,
for dear ones in transition,
And now, the hardest one of all:
to rest between the out-breath and the in--
So eager I always am to push on forward into next--
but here our cat,
who doesn't know he's dying,
curls down into my lap
and purrs himself to sleep.
I tenderly curl my hand against the soft fur of his back
and that connection, though it doesn't seem to heal him,
(each day I touch his swollen cheek
in hopes the tumor's shrunk,
but still it grows)
though it doesn't seem to heal him,
makes me whole.
At 3 am this morning I woke to find the bed shaking and the paintings on the wall above the dresser rattling. Yes, it was an earthquake, though relatively mild (4.0) and several miles away, in the little town of Seabeck.
And my first thought, once things settled down, was "we need to make sure we have earthquake insurance." It was something that I'd thought briefly the last time our homeowners insurance docs came through -- for all my supposed intelligence, I couldn't tell, reading through them, if we were covered or not: something about exclusions...
Anyway -- it occurred to me this morning, as I looked at this wonderful image I'd already planned to post today, that boats are built to rock and roll and houses are not. And though I prefer living in a house to living on a boat -- I do like the sense of steadiness and safety a home provides -- it seems to me that the way to survive life's ups and downs is to BE a boat, not a house: to be flexible, easy; to be willing and ready to roll with the waves rather than cracking and falling when your foundations start to shift.
But perhaps it's really the fact that my foundations have already shifted -- with some of the traumatic events of my life -- and that's helped teach me to become more of a boat? Which means it may be a bit of a chicken and egg problem. I do remember feeling, though I'm now quite firmly anchored, as if I'd been set adrift. Things were certainly rocky for a while there; it took a while to get my sea legs in this new theological adventure...
My former sister-in-law once gave me a plaque that said "Certain
thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the attitude of
the body, the soul is on its knees."
Sometimes there's so much pain in the world, it seems that all we can do to help is pray. And so, for friends and family who find themselves in difficult transitions, for friends who are newly widowed, for others who've recently lost someone near and dear, for those who struggle with illness -- their own or someone else's -- for all the difficulties life can bring, I offer up this symbol, discovered at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival last weekend.
My heart goes out, my prayers go up, and my thoughts are tuned to you.
I threw my back out yesterday -- something that hasn't happened in almost 20 years -- and so I missed my standing Monday morning coffee date.
But then, while sitting in the living room, icing my back and feeling a little sorry for myself, I got a phone call from my daughter to say that the boat she was helping to bring down to Seattle from Orcas would be sailing by my living room window in a minute or two.
So I grabbed my camera and the air horn and went outside, got lots of photos and made some happy noises (that's her standing just below the left edge of the boom) and couldn't help but see the serendipity of the moment: if I hadn't hurt my back, I wouldn't have been home to see her sail by. So life is good, after all!
sail with me
to the stars,
and drink the light
that pours into us daily.
Rest in the bow
of my humble boat
and trail your fingers
through the luminescence
while I take up the oars
of left and right,
right and wrong,
denial and affirmation
and use them to pull us
forward into radiance.
"Silence is a dwelling place that is at once horizontal, allowing connection with the thisness, the singularity of everything, but also, at the same time, vertical. It allows us to find through those things doorways to the eternal. Silence takes away the noise we project onto everything and allows individual things to stand in, stand for, and even stand apart so that we can see the light and life that they reveal...The one is the window by which we can see the many." -- Richard Rohr
at the end of summer
before the clouds roll in
and the colors begin to change;
that earthy scent
that fills the air;
that urge to hunker down,
to find a nest and snuggle in...
Rest in the stillness.
And breathe again.
I've discovered (though perhaps I might have guessed this from looking at them) that my abstract paintings flow out a generally ebullient mood, and that when I'm under stress I tend to revert to more representational work.
I think it's got something to do with the process of looking through my files: when I'm struggling I'm naturally drawn to the more soothing photos, and then the instinct is to replicate them. More than you probably want to know -- and don't worry, the stress isn't anything too serious. One of our cats is dying of a tumor (as a friend is fond of saying, #firstworldproblems) and we learned this week that his time is drawing near...
ANYway, so I painted this one after the vet visit. You might notice, if you look closely, that there's a small figure in the lower left corner. And when I first painted it, it bothered me; it seemed to be sort of floating above the landscape.
Eventually I figured out that the problem was that the figure wasn't connected to its shadow. Which leads, of course, to an obvious conclusion: we ALL need to stay connected to our shadows, if we are to be grounded on this earth. We can't just float along, always assuming the best about ourselves. It's important to understand that we, too, have our dark sides. Because if we're reluctant to notice -- and learn to love -- our own dark sides, we're doomed to keep projecting them onto everyone around us.
Once we can accept our own flaws it makes it so much easier to be compassionate with the failings of others. We are all living paradoxes -- life is full of paradoxes -- and until we can learn to accept the good with the bad we will never come to fully understand the richness that surrounds us.