Monday, November 30, 2015

The Scent of Now

Are you looking back, or looking forward?
Worrying about the mistakes of the past, 
or visualizing future challenges and goals?
Perhaps, instead, you could take time
to rest and close your eyes;
to breathe in the refreshing scent of Now.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Teachable moments

Every moment, every situation, has its energy.
We can choose to run from it, 
or allow its passion to consume us,
or simply open to it, sit with it;
inviting it to teach us about ourselves.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Two pictures

Two pictures, taken on a trip: 
The first, with its graphical appeal,
Offers more questions, 
Reflections on the many different
Lives and perspectives 
Contained within a single space.
The second, an idyllic icon
Of Thanksgiving weekend travels
In a wooded countryside.
Which would you choose, and why?

Having expressed our thanks

Having now expressed our thanks
For all that we've been given,
We now begin to spend our time
Finding new ways to give back.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Courage to be Grateful

How can we go on when the road ahead looks bleak
and what's behind is colored with regrets?
Sometimes it takes such courage to simply stand here, on the road,
and be grateful for this path that we've been given;
to trust it still will take us 
where we were always, always meant to be.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A calmer day

After the storm, the full moon slips
back into the mountain's womb,
while sunrise dresses her clouds in pink
to celebrate the birth of a calmer day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Each has a role

The sky, the clouds, the fields, the barn --
each has a role to play.
Because one occupies a greater or lesser
portion of the total picture,
that doesn't make it any less -- or any more -- important.

Monday, November 23, 2015

All shall be well

Behold the newest addition to our household!  I saw this sleeping Buddha in a catalog years ago, and found him infinitely appealing.  But he was also quite expensive, so it was difficult to justify the purchase.

At one point I had been doing work for a real estate agent, and the money she owed would have covered that purchase, but the economy bottomed out and her payment was delayed over a year, by which time my husband was unemployed and that money was needed elsewhere.

But now that we've moved to a less expensive home and we have a little income again, my thoughts turned once again to this lovely piece; he would look so beautiful in the garden... So when a painting sold for exactly the amount he would cost, I took it for a sign, and ordered him.

The Christian in me is wary of such purchases -- thou shalt have no graven images, and all that.  But I don't worship this piece -- it's simply a lovely reminder to take a moment and breathe, to be at peace, to trust...

So it seems appropriate, as I continue in the final phases of unpacking and moving into my new office, that I found a card, given to me years ago by a professor in the School of Theology.  On it there is a graphic of geese, flying across the moon, and these words from Julian of Norwich:

All shall be well, and
all shall be well, and
all manner of thing
shall be well.

  -- Julian of Norwich 

I can hear the music; can you?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tiptoe toward the moon

On cold nights, when the clouds,
alight with color from the last rays of the sun,
tiptoe toward the cradle of the moon 
clutching a blanket, hoping to keep her safe and warm,
I ache for all the refugees
shivering beneath the threadbare quilt of stars.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Source of creativity

Last night I had the pleasure of watching a movie called Moog, about R.A. Moog, the inventor of the synthesizer.  My husband had ordered the movie because he used to work for a company that made synthesizers, but I was also very interested: I spent a great deal of time in my early 20s in Dartmouth College's Electronic Music Studio, which was essentially a giant room in the basement of College Hall filled with Moog equipment, tape recorders and microphones. 

My then boyfriend was a musician, thrilled to be able to create new sounds by recording things like snapping rubber bands and banging pot lids and then stretching them out, changing pitches, and otherwise modifying them to see how they might work as tones or percussive instruments. So while the rest of the campus was protesting the war or going off skiing, climbing, studying or canoeing, we spent hours fiddling with sound waves, turning dials, splicing tapes and exploring the outer edges of what some people might not call music.  It was great fun, I have to say.

So of course it was a hoot to see the great Bob Moog in person -- I knew he'd visited the campus and knew my boyfriend's professor considered him a personal friend, but I'd never met the man; I just knew he was the genius behind all this creative electronic potential.

But that's not why I wanted to write about him this morning.  What struck me much more forcibly about this movie, far more than the nostalgic fling of seeing all that equipment again and hearing the kinds of music we were making in those days with our new discoveries, was the way he talked about his work. 

It was clear, from everything he said, that he saw himself as a channel between some higher level of energy and the music that was created from his work.  He could visualize a circuit board and hear, at some level beyond the normal senses, the music it had the capability to create.  And he saw all of the work that he did as something that some higher source outside or above himself was creating through him.

... which is exactly how I feel about my work, both my painting and my photography.  At it's best, when I have been working steadily, been committed to the work, and am "in the zone," it's as much not mine as mine: the work is being created through me, and at the same time longing to use me as a channel to interact with some as yet unknown viewer -- or, in Moog's case, listener.  He, too, seemed to feel that his work was a collaborative effort, not just between whatever that Source is that fuels creativity and himself, but between himself and his tools, his tools and his creations, his creations and the musicians that used them, those musicians and their listeners. And each contributor on that journey has something to offer.

"Everything has some consciousness," says Moog, "and we tap into that.  It is about energy at its most basic level... The more you get into material and matter, all you realize is in matter, there is energy. There is a blur between energy and consciousness. All material is conscious to some extent or another. All material can respond to some extent or another to vibrations of energy that is different to energy you learn about in physics. There's all sorts of reliable information now on people and animals being able to be able to effect the operations of machines—even of computers—and I think that has great implications for what goes on between a musician and his instrument. There is a level of reality where there is no time, and there is no space, there is just energy."

I found all this incredibly heartening.  So many creative people (I think of the current most glaring example, Steve Jobs) become so arrogant about what they bring to the table that it's refreshing to hear from one who understands that there is little point in being vain about what we create when its source is so clearly something other than our own petty minds.  And the thought that we are vessels, through which something beyond ourselves communicates with those who interact with what we create -- that is such a key component of my own work, and, at the same time, so weirdly "woo-woo" that it's incredibly difficult to define and articulate.

It does make me think of something we used to say -- back in the day when I was regularly attending church -- before gathering up our offering: "All things come of thee, O Lord; of thine own have we given thee."  I may no longer be as comfortable defining what "O Lord" means, but I still have that sense that there is some Source greater than ourselves from which all goodness comes, and to which I cannot be ever less than eternally grateful.

Thank you, Robert Moog.

Friday, November 20, 2015

In the midst of the cacophony

In the midst of the cacophony 
of voices, shoulds, to-do lists, 
and all those fierce defenders of positions,
how can we find a way to sit and breathe
some calm into the conflict that surrounds us?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

At the heart of every being

At the heart of every being lies this innocence.
It is this innocence we're called to see, and to respect; 
to call out to when we speak, and to honor, 
by choosing -- when tempers rise, and epithets are hurled --
to react, not with venom, or with arrows of our own,
but with a quiet word, a searching look of love.

Let's set aside our differences

Why argue, when we share the same hillside?
Though you are dark and I am pale;
though I am bare, exposed while you are clothed,
do not the sun and rain fall on us both?
Does not the rippling burble of this creek
bring music to all our ears?
Let's set aside our differences,
and find some way to share this life together.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

When faith seems far away

Nature does her best to give us hope in what's to come,
to show us time and time again
that death can be a prelude to rebirth.

But still: when we're distraught by all that's dying --
the rose that fades, the life that ebbs,
the energy that flags, the dreams that wither and dissolve,
how can we find the confidence
to trust that something new is being born?
Faith, at times, seems very far away...

Monday, November 16, 2015

If only: Children

If only all the world's children could be
as well-housed and well-nourished as these sheep...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

If only: peace

If only the rest of the world could be this peaceful...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Anguish, fear and rage

When anguish, fear, and rage ignite our hearts;
when the shock at what's been done
and the desire for revenge burn bright within,
I pray we learn a lesson from the trees:
display the flames of passion,
but release them. Cut them loose
and let them drift, ever so slowly, to the earth
to pave and feed a future
where our differences might more gently be resolved.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Prayer for the fallen

We pray for all the fallen:
for all the ones who fell before,
for those of whom we are so conscious now,
and for the ones who, having held
the fallen in their arms
are now awash in grief...

Intimate and Infinite

The intimate and the infinite are never that far apart: 
the same luminous essence ignites them both.
The microcosm in my head is but an echo
of the macrocosmic wonder that surrounds us all.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

All nature watches

Each day, the road ahead offers a choice --
perhaps not just a single one, but many --
so what is it that influences your decisions?
Compassion? Generosity? Expedience?
The hope of gaining power or possessions?
The thought of doing good, or being seen?
The rights you're owed, or the debt you feel to others?
Concern for generations yet to come?
All nature watches as you choose,
hoping you'll make the world a better place...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The agitation of transition

What if, when we feel tension,
instead of naming it, or stifling it,
acting on or projecting it,
we simply understood it
as the normal agitation of transition?
Just take a seat: lie back and trust
the boat will always tend to rock
when embarking on the journey
from what's now to what comes next.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Our fullest radiance

The most extraordinary sunsets
rarely happen in a cloudless sky.
The most extraordinary lives
take their colors from the clouds, as well.
What drifts across, and darkens, our horizon
may be exactly what we need 
to bring our fullest radiance into being.

Monday, November 9, 2015

All wrapped up

As many tests have shown, we humans
are easily seduced by the beautiful.
Sometimes it can be hard to remember:
just because it's wrapped up 
in a pretty little bow, 
that doesn't mean that what's inside 
is fabulous, or good for us,
or even

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I am this rock

I am this rock, lying for a moment
centered in your field of vision as you pass.
I could be a sleeping cow, or a dog,
or an echo of the mountains in the distance --
it's your call. Was I placed here? Did I fall?
Or was I just unearthed when some foolish farmer
thought he'd try to plow? 
It matters not: you will drive on, 
on your way to the adventures of your day
while I stay here enjoying mine,
centered in my own field of vision.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Thankful for my center

Some part of us is always
racing toward the future
while another part is clinging to the past,
so be thankful for your center,
and the way it keeps us anchored
to what's happening right here,
and right now.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A prayer for patience

I'm so ready to try out what's coming next,
so eager to set out on some new journey,
so tired of feeling tied to this dock.
Give me the patience to appreciate what's now,
to revel in the present, to understand each moment
is preparing me; providing fuel 
for all of those adventures yet to come.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The journey and the star

God is not some bearded dude on a throne up in the sky,
or some bright distant star, so far away.
And even though it's beautiful,
God never was that white man in the moon.

God's here in me, and there in you,
and filling all that space that's in between.
God is the path from here to there,
and all the love and loss along the way,

'cuz God's the journey and the star,
and ALL those old guys on their thrones,
all the plants, all the animals; both the sun and the moon --
God's everything that happens,
all the people good and bad --
God is even this sad woman
with her bags and dirty blanket,
reddened fingers holding cigarettes
as she sits below the bridge
with her arms around her knees
wailing her wordless cry of pain
at each car that passes by:
her cry is ours; her pain is ours;
her journey's ours -- can you feel it?
If you stop for just a moment, set aside your texts and emails,
and breathe,
and listen,
you'll hear her cry -- and God's --
echo softly in the cavern of your heart.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

An inextinguishable light


Deep in the darkness and the depths of the soul,
where troubling thoughts are always struggling
up to consciousness, 
and reflections of the shadows 
of imagined futures loom
across the surface of our being,
there is still -- and always will be -- 
an inextinguishable light to lead the way.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Transition time

Transition time again,
when, having left the solid safety of what was,
we find ourselves suspended on some slow forever path
between what cannot be and who we must become.
Surrounded, but alone in a horde of fellow travelers,
we're afraid to look down or imagine what could be,
and still unable to discern through the mist that lies ahead
what awaits us at the end of this journey.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Remember we are one

Breathe in the colors of the sky:
now, can you hear the song 
the stars are singing?

Breathe in the scent 
of fresh-turned earth:
now, can you feel 
the heartbeat of a tree?

Breathe in another's prayers 
and let them echo
through the chambers of your soul:
when their soundwaves trace 
a likeness of their cares
into the pattern of our thoughts,
we'll remember once again that we are one.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

An icon of peace

Let me become an icon of peace.
May all the wandering paths I take
lead me and all who walk with me or watch
back to that clear unfettered center
where all spirals in upon itself
in joyful celebration of the Holy.