Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday of Advent

In this dark night 
I have lost the path of the journey.
Go where I may, my anguish does but grow—
beware this desert, this endless road.
Come, then, O star that guides us, 
and lead the way back home.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Now is the season

Now is the season to know that everything we do is sacred. 

-- Hafiz

Friday, November 28, 2014

After the harvest

We celebrate the harvest, and return
to bless the beauty of the barren fields
and the promise of the seeds that still remain:
hopes that will lie dormant through the winter,
gathering nurture for the harvests yet to come.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Of prayer, and Thanksgiving

We set a table, here within our hearts,
inviting those we love, 
and those we know who need our prayers
and offer up our thanks
for all the grace that fills our lives
and lay before your feet
the hungers of the world, not just our own,
and bow our heads in sadness
for the losses we and others have sustained,
and for the opportunities to help that we've ignored,
then drink again your ever-present wine:
the wine of grace, of forgiveness, and love.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Different Strokes

I was finally able to get back into my studio yesterday, but I'm a little surprised at the results -- this one's quite a departure for me, both in design and technique.  It's always interesting to see how time away from our usual practices -- whatever they might be -- can propel us into new territory.

I'll be curious to see if any of this style carries over into future work, or if this is just some momentary aberration.  I do like, though, this familiar sense that it's an abstract painting that suggests something more concrete...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Precious in the vast expanse

We get caught up in the drama of our lives
and forget, sometimes, how small a speck we are
against the vast expanse of interstellar space,
and even more, forget how precious 
every other speck might also be...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Not a stone or flower

O traveler, traveler along the way,
there is not a single soul who lacks a pathway to God.
There is not a stone or a flower—
not a single piece of straw lacking the divine essence.
In every particle of the world the sun of love
causes the heart of each atom to shine.

—Muhammad Shirin Maghribi
from Recitations, translated by Lynn Bauman

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How we change

Something there is in us that seeks to consume;
that closes itself off in a cocoon of isolation --
until some stroke of compassion -- or perhaps it's grace --
awakens the joy within, and we take flight...

(from a Rumi poem, published this morning on my Contemplative Icons page)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Through another lens

Though the red and gold are true,
my camera turned these damp dark shadows into blue,
reminding us that what looks black from one perspective
may have a vital color of its own 
when viewed  through another lens...

Friday, November 21, 2014

The path to forgiveness

The path to forgiveness
is rarely obvious or easy;
there will be many obstacles
in the way.
But few acts are more heroic,
or speak more clearly
to the freedom of choice
that makes us fully human,
than to break the cycle
of instinctive retaliation,
to drop the awful burden
of hate and animosity;
to step over the past grievances
that haunt us and divide us
and into the promise
of mercy and grace.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Though you walk alone

Though you walk alone
to the edge of the earth
I will build a fence there
to keep you from falling off.
My deepest wish
is to keep you safe from harm...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Summoned to be a blessing

We are, each of us, here, says Jonathan Sacks 
in his extraordinary book, The Dignity of Difference
"because someone -- some force at the heart of being -- 
called us into existence and summoned us to be a blessing."  

How will you bless the world today?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Creative process

"At the deepest level, 
the creative process and the healing process 
arise from a single source. 
When you are an artist, you are a healer; 
A wordless trust of the same mystery 
is the foundation of your work and its integrity."
-- Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen

Monday, November 17, 2014

Each bridge an invitation

Every bridge is an invitation
to step across the great divide
and see how things look
from the other side...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Heading home

Whatever adventures we planned for the day,
however far we've chosen to stray,
evening will find us heading home.
Intent upon our separate destinations,
we pass each other and move on
gliding across the constant sky-spangled sea.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Forward into light

As humans,
we are uniquely able
to stand at the border
between abstract and concrete
and look both ways.
True, the presence
of a familiar form
gives us a hand to hold
as we step --
tentatively at first --
into the unknown.
But it is color,
the invitation to love
and the prospect of joy,
that keeps us moving
forward into light.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Creating a space within

I breathe in Grace.
I breathe out Grace.
I create a space within
to generate and welcome

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The fire inside

There is a fire inside you:
I see it burning, deep within,
a spirit, reaching out to heal the world...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The consequences of haste

Pay attention to the dust that you kick up
in your haste to meet your goal
(however noble or refined):
will it enrich the soil you leave behind
or make the air impossible to breathe?
Are you laying down a path for those who follow,
or tearing up the road so they'll stumble, 
 trip, and fall, then lose their way?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fear not that tangled forest

There are times -- and we've all known them --
when life takes on a density, and suddenly 
-- or gradually -- the road ahead seems far less clear,
and darkness has a way of rolling in.
Don't be afraid to stop your forward march,
to look about you, get your bearings and breathe.
Breathe in the scent of that tangled forest of fear.
Touch and feel those fuzzy thoughts 
that tug at you insistently from the past.
Drink in what bits of color and light still thrive; 
reminders of the love and joy you've known,
that may yet serve as guideposts
on the still road back to hope.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Good friends and parents

Good friends and parents always seem 
to keep a dozen carts at the ready,
eager as they are to help you,
to carry all your trials and troubles away...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Impossible to resist

After weeks of dark and gloom,
comes that unexpected day
when the sky turns blue again
and the sun rains joy on the just and unjust,
and the urge to find a place to rest
and open your heart to all that light
is impossible to resist...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

That Sweet Moon Language

Admit something: Everyone you see,
you say to them, "Love me."

Of course you do not say this out loud;
otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this,
this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one who lives
with a full moon in each eye,
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world
is dying to hear?

-- Hafiz

Friday, November 7, 2014

The glorious symphony of life

The world is full of colors and flavors,
each with its own spark of joy to contribute
to the glorious symphony of life.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Give them the gift of love

Almost 40 years ago, when I was a librarian, an actress named Lilli Palmer published an autobiography entitled "Change Lobsters and Dance."  Though I'm not generally into autobiographies, I was intrigued by the title, so I picked up the book when it crossed my desk and read it.

Somewhere in the early chapters she made a statement that intrigued me: she said that the greatest gift her parents had given her and her sisters was to make it clear they loved each other more than they loved their children.

For some reason that thought stuck with me, and so, 15 years later, when I had children of my own, I told my husband about the book and explained to him that that was how I planned to raise our girls: with the understanding that, however much I loved them both, they'd always know I loved him more.

Last night my husband, who's been going through the piles of genealogical data his father left behind, discovered that Lilli Palmer was his grandfather's cousin, the daughter of his great-grandfather's brother.  He didn't recognize her name, but I did -- and I immediately connected it with the decisions I made all those years ago.

For some reason that seems pretty magical to me: that a random statement that I discovered by accident, that played such a major role in how I raised our kids, was made by someone who was part of our family long before I had any connection to that family.

In the words of the immortal Alice in Wonderland -- "curiouser and curiouser"...

I once asked a bird, "How is it that you fly
in this gravity of darkness?"
And she replied, "Love lifts me." 
-- Hafiz
May love lift you as you go about your daily rounds today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When will you stop?

"All movement is a sign of thirst," says the poet Hafiz.
When will you stop, tie up to the dock,
and drink the peace that's been waiting for you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The antidote to violence

"Bad things happen when the pace of change exceeds our ability to change, 
and events move faster than our understanding.  
It is then that we feel the loss of control over our lives.  
Anxiety creates fear, fear leads to anger, anger breeds violence, 
and violence -- when combined with weapons of mass destruction -- 
becomes a deadly reality. 

The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation, 
speaking our fears, listening to the fears of others, 
and in that sharing of vulnerabilities discovering a genesis of hope."  
-- Jonathan Sachs, The Dignity of Difference

Monday, November 3, 2014

Make way, make way

This day may have reached its end,
but only to make way for another.
Yes, the light is changing,
but only to make way for more light.
What we thought we knew
may all turn different in a flash
but only to make way for something new.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Make peace with your despair

Make peace with your despair.
Don't make it stand in some dark corner;
invite it to your table.
Let it tell its story
in a room that's filled
with light and joy and friends,
and welcome its dark counterpoint to life.
Be tender with despair:
don't shut it out, but guide it gently
to a seat inside your tent:
massage its feet, wipe its sad eyes,
and let it rest on padded bolsters
of gratitude, hope, and love.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How do you treat yourself?

How do you treat yourself
when you're alone
and no-one's watching?
Do you indulge yourself
with flowers, or with candy?
Do you talk to yourself
in a constantly critical voice?
Or do you take the time
to simply love:
to appreciate your foibles
and be tender, like a mother
with her child;
greeting yourself as if
you're a precious flower,
welcomed into a garden
hungry for the color you provide?