Saturday, April 30, 2016

Building trust

That which divides us is surely less important
than the things we have in common:
can we not look into each others' eyes and see
that each of us hungers, that each of us thirsts, 
that each of us longs to kick up our heels;
that I am just as wary of you as you are of me?
Can't we find a way to live together in harmony?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Truth found in ambiguity

If only we could learn to live with ambiguity:
the flower, whose bloom thrusts through the asphalt;
the still sweetness of dawn after a night of storms;
the love that only can emerge after another love's been lost;
the painting that might be a sheep,
or perhaps a foaming glass of beer --
to understand that nothing's either all bad or all good:
that is the beginning of truth.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Behind the bright

There's so much going on
behind what we think we see --
be careful not to leap to assumptions...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The gentle sparkle of now

We know chances are good 
there'll be some rough weather ahead.
Let's appreciate the gentle sparkle of now...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Even the smallest flower

Even the smallest flower
can bring joy and light into the world...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Strength in commonality

In the end, I believe, our survival will depend
on our ability to comprehend, not our differences,
but how much we are alike.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Now is wonderful, too

We moved about a year ago, and this is part of the view we left behind. We knew at the time it was the right thing to do: the kids were grown, the taxes were high, and all our savings were tied up in the house.  I was desperate for a studio, and we knew we wanted to live closer to town.

So we hunted and hunted -- for over a year -- for a home we could imagine living in; for something so close to right for us that we could bear to part with this view.  When we found our next home (and we knew it as soon as we saw it) it came as a surprise: not a shingled beach cottage, but a log cabin in the woods.

It was lovely in its way: a beautiful park-like setting with a graciously rustic interior and a glorious studio, and very close to town so we knew we could make it work.  But what about the light? All those tall cedars meant no more sunsets, no more moonrises... no real way of knowing til the middle of the day whether it was actually a sunny day or not. Would we regret our choice in the dead of winter?

Now a year has passed, and I'm browsing through my photos to see what to publish today, and this one sings to me.  So I have to ask: is this a song of regret? I can't deny that this photo makes me ache a bit for what we left behind.  And I must admit that there were days -- in the rainiest winter on record here -- when I desperately missed the light we had before.

But now is now, and we've been happy here.  It's a new life, to be sure, but we're building it together; finding shared interests, becoming more interdependent, and filling the house with friends and love. So when I look at this photo I smile, because that was then, and it was wonderful: we were lucky to live that life.  But now is wonderful, too, in its own way; full of joy and creativity -- and so it's without regret that we can smile upon the past.  We're in a new phase now, and it's all good.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A work in progress

I've been struggling with this painting for over a week now, and I realized this morning that it has a lot to teach me.

It is, and I am -- as are we all -- a work in progress. There are parts I really like, and parts that just don't work.  It doesn't seem to have a coherent whole, but I really struggle when I start to paint over stuff: I worry I'll risk losing something that actually works, and won't find something better to take its place.

And part of the problem is that it's a do-over: like me, it has a history, and has shown some very different faces in its previous lives.  You can paint over that old stuff, but it still has a way of showing through, and the textures of the old life still exert their pull upon the new.

As any artist knows, this process, of finding and bringing out the art that was meant to be, can be very tedious -- and some things take so long you just want to give up and start all over.

But with this one, I set myself a challenge: I really wanted to find my own voice; to not look to the work of other artists to set the tone, or the composition, but to actually unearth it on my own.  Which means, of course, that in the process, with these repeated failures to redeem the canvas, I can't help but get discouraged and wonder if in fact I have no gift, no vision of my own.

Somehow it helps to step back and realize it's not unlike my life: there are times when everything seems to fall into place, and I know I'm on the right track, and then there are those other times,  when nothing's going the way I want it to, and I begin to wonder what on earth made me I could pull this off; when I want to crawl in a cave and hibernate until things are clear again.

But I made myself a promise: that I wouldn't start another painting until I finished this one -- maybe not to perfection, but at least to satisfaction.  Not that I'll power through, but that I'll sit with it and learn; that somehow I'll find a way to redeem the time and work that I've put in. I just have to trust that somehow in the process of living with my failures I'll find a way to integrate them into something that works.

Right now I'm not feeling all that optimistic. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

From promise to reality

It's easy to remark upon a flower in full bloom.
But how much attention do we pay 
to all the stages in between the budding and the blossom?
Perhaps it's time to celebrate those awkward partway moments,
when large portions of our lives are still transitioning
from promise to reality.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A magical world

It may be easier to remember how magical the world is
when you live on an island, or in the woods,
but truth be told, the magic really resides within: 
what and how you see
is but a reflection of your own magical soul.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Necessary losses

I'm thinking today about necessary losses --
people, possessions, roles ripped from our lives,
leaving us bare and vulnerable;
futures once clear now cast in fog;
tears like a river, overflowing banks
and  washing all illusions away --
and the tender shoots that follow,
after time has hallowed, hollowed out
the fullness that once was;
those tiny spears of hope unfurling,
slowly pushing through into new light...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Two shadows

As we move through life, I believe we cast two shadows:
the one, cast by the sun, reveals the darkness
each of us carries within,
while the other, cast by some holier light, Divine,
illuminates the goodness with which we bless the world.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The creative process

Some part of me -- recalcitrant --
has tucked itself into this dark alley, 
turned from the light, afraid to venture out.
Spring comes, and now some other part
that takes its color from the fire and the sun
is pushing past, hoping to get free.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Awakening a sense of connection

I spent yesterday evening watching a reading of a new play -- Portugal -- by playwright Elizabeth Heffron,  and then spent this morning wandering through my younger daughter's Instagram photos (after she informed me she no longer bothers with Facebook and I should find her on Instagram).

And I was struck anew -- or perhaps reminded, but in such a powerful way -- of art's unique ability to convey the heart; the wholeness of things, in a way that words alone rarely do.

The actors in Portugal brought the plight -- and the humanness, the lives -- of the workers who are attempting to clean up the nuclear waste at Hanford to life in a way that books and news reports could never hope to achieve.  Perhaps it's just the work of my mirror neurons, but my heart awakened and responded to the tragic ache at the center of their lives in a way that might not have happened otherwise.

And my daughter's photographs... wow.  Even as a child, painting or drawing, she always had a way of filling up a page to its edges.  Her presence, too, fills a room.  And her photos have a unique way of capturing the wholeness, the grace of her subjects -- her artistic voice, to me at least, is so clear, and so extraordinary -- rather like Heffron's writing voice: this incredible ability to distill the essence of things. I find myself hoping that whatever career she eventually chooses, she finds a way to bring that vision into life: I believe we can all learn a lot, given the opportunity to see through her eyes.

So why this bird?  I guess because he and his mate have been tapping at my windows and chirping at my door for the last few days, trying to tell me something, but I'm not quite sure what that is.  (My cat, who is fortunately terrified of the Great Outdoors, is fascinated, no duh!) And somehow I am left with the sense that the Divine is everywhere, tapping at our windows, hammering (like the woodpecker) on our chimneys, constantly attempting to bring our attention to the world around us, the larger world of which we are an integral part, in which we play an integral role, which we affect by our very presence in it, and by our interactions with it.

He brings the gift of awareness rather forcibly into my life, and I have to trust that somehow, by listening to his insistent chirps and flutters, by stepping out onto the porch and talking with him, even if I don't understand the answers I get, I am brought into engagement with a larger way of being in the world; taken out of self-centeredness and into connection.

... and it's all good.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Divine Dissatisfaction

Our failures, our mistakes, our imperfections,
the paths we wander down that prove dead ends --
all serve to feed some holy discontent,
a blessed unrest that keeps us ever striving toward our Truth.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Hanging by a thread

Don't think of yourself as hanging by a thread --
think of yourself as brave, and strong;
attempting the impossible, yet confident
and bold enough to reach out for new heights...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

At the center of Love

Just as the finger, pointing at the moon,
is not the moon itself;
so the indicators -- the guidelines and the rituals -- 
are merely pointers 
to the mystery at the center of Love.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Filled with the light of love

Such glorious unfolding happens
when the world again begins to fill 
with the light of love...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Scent of the Divine

Spring, and the air is fresh and sweet --
Newly fragrant with the scent of the Divine.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Love's not love

Love's not truly love
until we stop expecting something in return...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Through the eyes of love

May we learn, each day,
to look at one more person
through the eyes of love...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

On our way to wonderful

It's so easy to assume that all the glory in our lives
resides in some distant peak we'll never reach;
to think that the fences we've built
to keep our hopes and thoughts reined in
are insurmountable barriers
when really -- just a step and a snip,
and we could be back in the light,
on our way to wonderful.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The web of being

We are all linked in an incredible web of being:
a tapestry of colors woven together
fragile, yet sturdy, and dancing in the wind...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Brighten your corner...

Brighten the corner where you are:
One well-kept yard can beautify a whole neighborhood;
One warm smile can cheer a lot of lives.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

An invisible sea of love

Lost in a fog of grief or pain, it feels like we are totally alone.
But when the fog begins to lift, 
you'll find you've been surrounded
by others lost in similar boats.
We're all floating together on an invisible sea of love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

That hungry state of mind

Caution: Do not enter that hungry state of mind
without first pausing to investigate.
What is it that you truly hunger for?
If you find you cannot get enough
of that for which you habitually reach,
stop reaching, and take a moment
to tap into the divine presence of love,
and let it quench the thirst of your hungry soul.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A heart still sore

It takes a while to realize:
they may have rolled away the stones,
but you're still grieving,
waiting for some saving grace to appear.
Someone said the tomb is empty now:
Why then is my heart still sore?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Bloom Within

Sometimes we need to be broken open
to expose the bloom within.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Abundance in simplicity

We get so involved in the trap of wanting more, bigger, better,
we forget how much abundance there is in simplicity.

Friday, April 1, 2016

True creativity requires a union of opposites

I've been reading Richard Rohr's new book, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, and this morning I came across a very simple and obvious statement that really struck me.  "When the "way of the dynamo" [masculine energy] trumps eros or ethos [feminine energy] ... we end up being neither feminine or masculine, but merely neutered and neutral, which means we are unable to be generative and pass on real life."

Of course!  The most creative act we know is birth, and it requires the coming together of masculine and feminine. Think of the beauty of a sunrise and sunset: it happens when dark and light come together in perfect union. Think of the flower -- soft, delicate, rooted, quiet -- and the bee -- always in motion, fierce, sharp, and noisy -- and yet each needs the other to reproduce: the flower needs the bee to transport her pollen; the bee needs her honey to feed its young.

Which made me think that -- and yes, this is a bit of a digression -- our efforts to produce gender equality might be failing because they are based on a competitive premise (women deserve the same treatment, opportunities and salaries) rather than a generative premise (a blending of opposites results in more creativity; is more likely to usher in a new reality).

But mostly I think that as long as we continue to vilify our our opposites -- not just male against female, but black against white, Republican against Democrat, conservative against liberal -- we will continue to neutralize our efforts to create a better world; will continue drifting in a muddy and discouraging morass of sameness and defeat any opportunities for growth.