Monday, March 31, 2014

Keeping me company

An evening walk on a quiet beach
after a long and busy weekend 
followed by a busier Monday morning.

The ripples in the sand,
the little bursts of seaweed --
ghostly footsteps,
keeping me company.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My father's house

There are days when it's hard to know which end is up;
where reality ends and dreams are holding sway.
Is this heaven, here and now, or just a reflection
of the beauty that's to come sometime, some day?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Divine mountains

Living here year-round as we do, we know that there are mountains just above the trees, across the water from our house.  But for our houseguests, who have just arrived this week -- which happens to have been one of the rainier weeks we've had this winter -- well, they'll just have to take it on faith, because all they see is gray above the trees.  All the maps and photographs that prove the mountains are there will never have quite the impact you get when they actually come out from behind the clouds...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Longing for the tipping point

After a lifetime of separation,
I'm longing for that tipping point,
that moment of release
when I'm no longer tangled
in my own selfish desires
but hurled headlong into your waiting arms,
awash in energy and compassion,
o'erflowing with this overwhelming love...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bright curls

Bright curls,
that thin red line,
that hint of green
(reminding us that all this beauty's
connected to a stem),
the powdery softness,
food of life to come --
such beauty feeds the soul...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


* From my book, A Contemplative Photographer's Alphabet

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Born to bloom

Youth, innocence -- a basket of sweet flowers,
live and full of promise, offered with such trust.
How do we recover when that offer is refused?
Scream, wail, curse if you must,
but please -- don't fade;
don't let those colors die.
You were born to bloom, and bloom again.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The path the river takes

She is the path the river takes
dancing among the silent trees
while grasses gather on her banks
to watch her as she passes.
She takes her color from the sky
and bubbles with such confidence
impatient for what waits around the bend...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

And still the light

The pews may be empty,
the church may be dark
and still the light shines on...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Red Carpet

Spring arrives at last,
and the hedges, blooming in delight,
strew the ground with petals:
a red carpet to welcome back the robin and his friends.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Even the brightest tulip

Even the brightest tulip
casts a shadow when the moon is full.
Don't be ashamed if your dark side is showing:
Spring is here
and light is just around the corner...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Building vocabulary

I just finished this painting yesterday, and though I like it a lot, I can't take full credit for its composition: it's inspired by a painting from artist Anne-laure Djaballah. So some part of me is anxious about displaying it here, because elements of her design are recognizable, but another part of me is thrilled, because I learned so much in the painting of it -- not just the how-to sort of learning, but also about what pleases me, and about new ways to achieve balance in a painting.  And with each new learning it feels like I'm closer to developing a more distinctive personal style.

It's a bit like building a vocabulary: the more words I have, the more effectively I can express myself. And I can relax in the sure knowledge that, in the end, the way I combine them, the sentences I create, will always be uniquely mine.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Light is everywhere

Whenever I say I'm a photographer, people ask what sort of pictures I take.  For some reason that question always throws me for a loop. My usual answer is boats, marine landscapes, farms, but the truth is, I shoot whatever calls to me.

Because of where I live, boats and farms are often what I see.  But mostly, I'm looking for a kind of light.  And, as you can see from this picture, light can be found in all sorts of places, inside and out, urban or rural, busy or plain...  Just as God isn't just found in churches, light isn't just in clouds and sunsets. It's everywhere -- you just have to keep your eyes open!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hungry for spring

The moon is full
but like the wolf,
lean after a long cold winter,
her ribs are showing.
Gray shadows
creep across the snow and sky
hungry for spring.

Monday, March 17, 2014

That checkered space

Like calls to like
across the chasm of existence,
and I create a waiting room for you,
here in my heart,
watching as it fills with chairs:
each thought with its precise red vinyl cushion.
I carry each one out but more roll in,
some building nests in unseen corners,
clinging to the walls with thickening webs
and still I wait, remembering:
you came to visit, once,
and stood, just there,
and filled that checkered space with song.
I keep returning, listening for echoes;
for even one bright incandescent note...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

That shield you hold

There is a shield you may still hold because of so many battles.

I guess another conflict could begin any moment,
so maybe lugging it about could be of some use;
or is it just an undermining habit...

Yes, how amazing that a small umbrella or an 
illusion, held over your head... or clung to, can
hide the stupendous fact of omniscient Light.

-- Hafiz

Saturday, March 15, 2014

That gypsy, Spring

In winter's dark and barren land
we dare to hope
that sweet enticing gypsy, spring,
will soon return,
and every year she does,
dancing into our lives
in the twirling skirts
of tulips,
and of daffodils.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sun-reddened fields

Seen from a train,
these late sun-reddened fields roll by,
a symphony of color
for the hungry eye;
refreshment for the thirsty soul
that seeks some sign
of life, of love, of tender care --
those tracks: where do they lead,
and why?
Who traces these insistent circles
round the periphery of vision?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lessons from Molly

This is Molly Stark, the courageous woman who married Revolutionary General John Stark and nursed his troops through a smallpox epidemic.  Her stance, holding the rifle and the baby, perfectly epitomizes the stance I should be taking tonight in my performance as Mother Jones, union organizer.

 But I'm sick.  The timing couldn't really be worse, to come down with a cold on the opening night of a play.  I'm determined to play through, but I have to wonder: why me? why now? And isn't that what all of us wonder, whenever adversity -- however large or small -- hits?

I hope I learn what I'm meant to learn.  I just wish I knew what it was I was supposed to learn.  Is it that I'm strong enough to overcome any obstacle?  Or is it that I need to "put the mask over my own face first?"  Only time will tell...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


"All day I think thanks for this world,
for the rocks and the tips of waves,
for the tupelos and the fading roses.
For the wind."

-- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The magic of the process

"The magic of the creative process will never be experienced unless we persist and trust that there is a force working in every situation that we cannot know until we undergo the experience...

The creative process is an intelligence that knows where it has to go.  Somehow it always finds the way to the place where I need to be, and it is always a destination that never could have been known by me in advance." 

-- Shaun McNiff, Trust the Process

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Stubborn Persistence

"When we stand back and look at any creative enterprise, we typically see slips and failings throughout the process.  We can do the same thing with our lives.  Examine any major success that you have experienced, and try to remember the difficult moments and blunders.

Mastery requires the ability to sustain commitment.  There is also a time for quitting...but sensing when to quit is always complemented by a stubborn persistence and an ability to stick to the problem in the face of adversity.

-- Shaun McNiff, Trust the Process

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Admire, Admire, Admire...

"How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled --
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply..."

--Mary Oliver

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hoping for a taste

In the stillness of the morning,
I set out on my daily journey
in search of you.
The birds flutter and sing around my boat
hoping for a taste of ecstasy.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A sea of radiance

"Everything you touch,
touch as if it were sacred.
That will bring your mind to a standstill.
The space between you and any object
will then open up into a sea of radiance."

-- Hafiz

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The canvas of creation

Each living soul's a brush,
transcribing love across the canvas of creation

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday

Several years ago a heater malfunctioned in a friend's home, and though their home was saved a lifetime's collection of books on arctic exploration was severely decimated.  And still today, when I think of the Imposition of Ashes -- that tradition we associate with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent -- the images seared into me by that fire surface again.

I don't know about you, but I can get so caught up buying presents during the Christmas season that I begin looking at everything through the eyes of acquisition.  And that habit has a way of persisting long after the tree is down and the ornaments are put away -- which is why I've always appreciated Lent. 

Those ashes stop me in my tracks.  All that you have accumulated in this life can be lost, they say.  And then -- what really matters? What will be left when all we've collected so carefully is gone?

What DOES matter, really?  And how can we do a better job of reminding ourselves of that?  Lent doesn't have to be about giving up.  But it can be about giving more: more thought to our actions; more love to our friends, family and communities; more time and energy to the things that really matter in our lives.  And with luck, after 40 days of practice, giving more might actually become a habit...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Awash in good intentions

I love the way this picture makes me feel. Something about the grandeur of the scene, and the relative smallness of the walker and his dog helps me breathe more easily. Perhaps that's because it serves as a reminder that I am not in control, that the world and all that happens in it are way bigger than I am; that I can't ever really know what's hiding behind that cloudy space we call the future. Knowing that, it's easier to accept that I can't fix everything: I can only do the best I can with what I know, and trust that somehow good intentions will resonate outward into hope...

Monday, March 3, 2014

The way of creation

"In my experience there has rarely been an absolute determination that 'I should have done this rather than that' because whatever I have done shapes what I am at this particular point of time.  I might regret something I did in the past, but some form of life is inevitably born from it, something that would not otherwise exist.  This is the way of creation."  

Shaun McNiff, in Trust the Process

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sweet cousin

"When I see the black cricket in the woodpile, in autumn,
I don't frighten her.  And when I see the moss grazing 
upon the rock, I touch her tenderly,
sweet cousin."

-- Mary Oliver

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fire in the Hole!

This is what happens when an artist spends most of her spare time for weeks on end 
reciting lines designed to incite mine workers to unionize and rebel.
No matter how hard I tried to paint color and light, this is what I got...

Paths of light

The world is striped 
with could and couldn't
can't and won't and never shoulda:
dark and light whose paths were laid
through choices you and I have made.

(what happens when poetry wakes you up in the middle of the night:
this one, I suspect, was triggered by lines from The Kentucky Cycle,
a play I'm currently rehearsing for, by Robert Schenkkan:
" 'Woulda,' 'shoulda' and 'oughta' -- three of the saddest words they is.")