Saturday, August 31, 2013

Welcoming the blues

I remember reading, in the book Quiet, about the difference between a Culture of Character (in which how you gracefully and quietly and responsibly conduct your private life is the most important thing) and a Culture of Personality (in which the image you project -- preferably of a sort of can-do confidence -- is the most important thing).

The subtlety of this image makes me think of the Culture of Character: it's not showy, but peaceful; not brash, but quiet. And in the bright oranges and yellows of late summer, the blues that arrive with the morning fog provide a cooling and welcome contrast...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Watching the heron

I spent over 40 minutes yesterday morning, watching this heron groom himself, imagining the feel of that sharp beak plucking at my wings, the taste of the tiny feather in my bill, the swaying of the log underfoot, the breeze ruffling my feathers... This was the last of many shots; in the next second he spread his wings and leaped for the sky.  So beautiful!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I finally got back into the studio late yesterday afternoon, so desperate to paint I didn't even remember to turn on the music. I'm definitely pleased with this one, but I'm sort of hoping blogging about it will help me better understand why that's true.

I didn't actually know (but then, I never do seem to know) that it was finished when I stopped painting; I assumed I would be adding more.  And (to further complicate things) I'm not even sure that this is right-side-up; I actually painted it upside down but then realized the wire on the back makes it hang this way.

Partly it's just that I find it visually pleasing (I don't seem to worry anymore if something is a "good" painting, I just need to know I like it.)  But also I like that I took some risks with it, and was able to bring myself to leave a lot of blank space -- something I admire a lot in other painters but haven't been able to allow myself to do.  That feels, oddly enough, like self-acceptance -- allowing something to be what it is, rather than imposing order or balance on it.

And it feels, somehow, more like a unified effort of heart and mind, balancing the shoulds with the wants and allowing more freedom of expression.  Which reflects, I suspect, the odd themes of this week, the after-effects of the play I was in, all of which have to do with reconciling the most disparate parts of me, the raunchy southern rebel with the uptight northern "church lady."  As I said to a friend over coffee earlier this week, my mother never wanted me to be an artist, in fact, she discouraged that, and somehow communicated that my brain was my most important gift.  My only memory of her approval of my appearance was a time when she saw me in a suit, with a button-down collar and a scarf; at all other times she was exceedingly critical.  Not surprisingly (getting back to yesterday's post) "looking right" became terribly important, though it always seemed to be offset by a rebellious streak that tended to sabotage that. 

Which perhaps explains why this painting is so important to me: there's no attempt at perfection to sabotage; it just sets aside a whole mess of rules. I was so excited to be back in the studio that I just went with what felt -- not right, not good, but... satisfying.  What would feed my soul.  And amazingly enough, the end result pleases me much more than all the times I let my brain decide what should happen next.  So maybe that's what I'll call it: No-brainer!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Honk if you love old cars

Around 5:00 yesterday evening, after a long day of puttering around the house, my husband realized we were out of cat litter and I realized I needed more fabric for the quilt I was working on.  So we elected to go into town together, not bothering to brush our teeth or change our clothes -- it was only a quick errand, after all.

Famous last words.  On the way in to town we noticed there were more cars than usual at the monthly car show on the lawn of the Baptist church, so we decided to stop off for a visit on the way home.  Once there we ran into several sets of old friends and ended up going out to dinner despite the fact we were still dressed in our grubbies.  And in the end, we didn't get back home until almost 10 pm.

My mom (bless her dear Southern heart) would have been horrified, and the lesson she would be sure to drive home would have been "never leave home dressed in less than your best."  But she isn't here any more, and I hate to think of all the fun we would have missed if we had decided we were too underdressed to visit the car show or enjoy dinner out.  After 25 years (this month!) in the Pacific Northwest it might be time to set aside our East Coast scruples and relax the rules a bit.

As we sat there in the restaurant, discovering connections and chatting about everything from ice hockey to museums I had to smile: you never know what blessings a day will bring if you just stay open to possibility!  But old habits die hard: I suspect I'll never leave the house again, even for a minuscule errand, without first spiffing up a bit...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Whatever gives pleasure

Whatever gives pleasure
is the fragrance of the Friend.
Whatever makes us wonder
comes from that light.

What is inside the ground
begins to sprout
because you spilled wine there.

What dies in autumn comes up in spring,
because this way of saying no
becomes in spring your praise-song, yes.


Monday, August 26, 2013


Longing is the core of mystery.
Longing itself brings the cure.
The only rule is, Suffer the pain.

Your desire must be disciplined,
and what you want to happen
in time, sacrificed.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

When the wild one surfaces

Last night I was in a 10-minute play festival, works by local artists, one performance only, after a month of rehearsals.  The role was an amazing one: an 84-year-old woman in a nursing home after a lifetime of living to the fullest.  She still dyes her hair, never leaves her room without full makeup and nail polish, but after having spent most of her weekend nights out dancing she is stooped, beset with tremors, and reduced to using a walker. So I shouldn't be surprised to find that when I woke this morning I was still struggling with the aftermath of last night's emotional outpouring.

The tension between the fullness of possibility and the restrictions of reality is finding painful echoes in my own soul.  I had seen glimpses of that earlier in the week, when after rehearsals I'd find myself driving home with all my windows down, the sunroof open, and rock music blaring loudly from the car speakers.  I assumed that was just a sort of cleansing, purifying, trying to get that sense of being old out of my system.  Well, maybe a little bit of thumbing my nose at society, too -- as in, "I may be 64, but I still love to boogie; put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!" Which was really my character's attitude, not mine. Or so I thought.

But last night, after the show, I had the chance to go out and party with other cast members, and instead I chose to spend time with my husband and my daughter (who had come to the island for the occasion).  I made that decision partly for good reasons -- I don't get to see her often enough, and wanted a little more time with the new boyfriend to see how they interact together.  But mostly I made that choice because I felt a desperate need to rein in the wild woman seething just below the surface, the restless beast awakened by the play, the one who loved being outrageous and thrilled to the applause and laughter she evoked; the woman who knew she was good at what she did, was proud of it, and adored the response of the crowd.

That woman, I thought, might just be capable of doing something the rest of me might regret in the morning, and so I brought her home and put her to bed.  But now, this morning, she still pulses below the surface, chafing at restrictions in my own life that I thought I had grown comfortable with. So of course -- as is so often true -- my reading this morning seems to speak directly to the tension I am experiencing:

"We fear disturbance, change, fear to bring to light and to talk about what is painful," says May Sarton,  "and when a relationship deteriorates... it may be simply that the chance for growth has been buried, 'so as not to make trouble.'... For weeks and months I have allowed myself to be persuaded into a frustrated pseudopeace to spare the other.  But if there is deep love involved, there is deep responsibility toward it.  We cannot afford not to fight for growth and understanding, even when it is painful, as it is bound to be.  The fear of pain and of causing pain is, no doubt, a sin..."

"It is a time of change," she goes on to say, "and I say to myself that line from one of Rilke's 'Sonnets to Orpheus:' 'Anticipate change as though you had left it behind you.'" Is it truly a time of change, I wonder?  Or simply a stimulus response; a tension to acknowledge and then release.  Somewhere beneath the questions lurks that age-old one from Mary Oliver -- just what am I to do with this one wild and precious life?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Second-guessing the critics

I've been staring at the painting on the left for about a week now, trying to figure out if it's finished or not.

This morning I finally realized that it's really a battle between my head and my heart: my heart says it's done, and I love it. But my head says it's off balance, that white square is in the wrong place, it's not clear which end is up, there's not enough going on...

I'm realizing this is a sort of "you can't fire me I quit" aspect of my personality, this thought that if I am incredibly critical of myself I can forestall the criticism of others?  It's probably an internalized parent, but mostly it's a really marvelous way to keep your self-esteem low.

Obviously it's time to stop second-guessing the critics:  I like it, so it's done.  It's just done. And then I went and looked over yesterday's photos and found this one of a heron in the tide flats. Hmm.  I'm thinking they make a lovely pair!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Taming the wild irrational motions of the soul

Gray skies again this morning, after so many days of sun that even the pine tree by the back door was starting to turn brown.  Some part of me is grateful -- we could use cool weather, and some rain -- but another part of me mourns, knowing summer's drawing to a close.

But -- as May Sarton states in my reading this morning,  "every grief or inexplicable seizure by weather, woe, or work can -- if we discipline ourselves and think hard enough -- be turned to account, be made to yield further insight into what it is to be alive, to be a human being...

"The discipline of work provides an exercise bar, so that the wild, irrational motions of the soul become formal and creative...Each day, and the living of it, has to be a conscious creation, in which discipline and order are relieved with some play and some pure foolishness."  How shall we play today?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Missing the connection

Most humans place a high value on connection, and I'm no exception to that rule -- even if I am an introvert.  So when I opened facebook this morning to find my newsfeed ticker -- that summary list of friends' posts and likes that slides down the right side of my page -- had gone missing, I felt bereft.

I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what had happened and how to fix it, but all I was able to discover was that it seemed to be happening to a lot of other people as well, and they, too, were feeling the loss.

So my question is this: is that sense of connection we feel when we watch our friends' activities scroll by an illusion?  Or is it useful to have that daily opportunity to tap into what other hearts are thinking, feeling and doing?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pay attention to the moon

I spent almost an hour this morning watching the moon glide slowly into the arms of these two trees, and I could begin, almost, as it gathered speed, to feel that it was the earth -- my home, my dining room window, not the moon -- that was sliding inexorably forward through space...

Simone Weil once said "Absolute attention is prayer," and I'd like to think that's true, but not in the traditional sense of addressing hopes to some distant being.  I think it's more like what my camera has taught me; that if, as May Sarton says in Journal of a Solitude, we look long enough at something,  with absolute attention "something like revelation takes place.  Something is 'given,' and perhaps that something is always a reality outside the self." 

"We are aware of God," she goes on to say, "only when we cease to be aware of ourselves, not in the negative sense of denying the self, but in the sense of losing self in admiration and joy."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A poet on his pilings

Gray day, and the heron waits,
a poet, patient on his pilings,
for inspiration to strike:
just the glimmering possibility of a fish,
and he/imagination will take flight
to soar, then dive, and skewer;
and -- with luck -- emerge, triumphant
with some juicy food for thought...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gardeners of the spirit

Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, 
who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, 
and without light nothing flowers.”
 -- May Sarton

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Missing New England light

"The delights of the poet turn out to be light, solitude, the natural world, love, time, creation itself... The transcendent joy is the light now, the  great autumn light at last.  There is nothing like this light anywhere else in the world so far as I know -- the great glory of New England.  I have come back to my solitude, my joy, and I am sure these radiant skies have much to do with it."

"There is really only one possible prayer," she adds later, "Give me to do everything I do in the day with a sense of the sacredness of life.  Give me to be in Your presence, God, even though I know it only as absence."

-- May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stay tuned

I've been thinking a lot lately about Gurdjieff's Law of Three -- this whole idea of the creative/productive tension of opposites; that (as Cynthia Bourgeault says in her new book on the Trinity) the enemy is not a problem but an opportunity, and that if we can create a new field of possibility large enough to hold the tension of the opposites we can launch them in a whole new direction.

So I couldn't help relating that to the amazing music I heard in last night's concert.  We went because the lead musician was a local boy, a little older than my daughters: he'd grown up on the island, and his parents, grandmother, and brother were still in the area, but he'd gone off to New York to pursue a career in music.  

I'd been hearing about him for years, about his surprising collaborations with David Byrne, and about his being invited to compose a piece for the Kronos Quartet's Fortieth Anniversary performance at Lincoln Center, about the new album he just released, and about how "weird" he was.  So I thought -- given that my husband is a huge David Byrne fan and has always enjoyed what his roommates used to call "space music" -- that this concert might be something he would enjoy.

But in the end I was the one who was totally captivated -- because the music, like this picture, seemed to me a perfect and glorious fusion of opposites.  Up and down, light and dark, loud and soft, classical and rock, discordant and melodious -- it was all there, and always, it seemed, the result was melodious, moving, inspiring -- definitely out in that "new field of possibility."  

There were two violins, a viola and a cello, a bass clarinetist, and a rock drummer, and the composer himself, Jherek Bischoff, played ukelele, mandolin and guitar. The result was sort of a mix of David Byrne (who composed some of the lyrics and appears on Jherek's album, Composed), Bach, and Philip Glass.  Unlike much music, where one instrument takes the lead and the rest lay chords and rhythms behind it, each instrument had its own unique melody and rhythm to play -- occasionally cooperative and occasionally adversarial -- and all the melodies were interwoven to form one glorious, harmonious whole. Far from being weird it was deliciously accessible and filled with a merry and inviting creative spirit: for the last tune his brother, his nephew, and his dad arranged themselves around the packed auditorium and accompanied him on tiny bells, and when it was completed his grandmother presented him with a beautiful bouquet of garden vegetables. ("Perfect bouquet for a vegan!" said Jherek)

It was a marvelously uplifting evening, and I couldn't help but think that it was precisely because the music somehow followed this principle of the law of three, playing in the creative tension of opposites and creating a whole new field of sound by trusting in the possibility of resolution without ever losing the equal value of all the parts -- and I can't wait to see what happens if I try painting to this music!  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Music in the fog

At around 4:30 this morning we were awakened by foghorns; a first since we moved to this island 12 years ago, despite our proximity to the water.  There were clearly several different boats involved: two horns were actually a perfect third apart, their intermittent harmonies occasionally anchored by an unusually deep and sonorous blast -- a container ship, perhaps?

They're silent now -- the fog has already begun to lift -- but the damage is done: I am now wide awake and eager for the day, which will be filled with more music -- a singing group this morning, and a concert tonight -- to begin. May music fill your ears and hearts today as well...

Thursday, August 15, 2013


"All good stories are mandorlas [the almond shape formed by two overlapping circles].  Gradually, through the miracle of story, they demonstrate that the opposites overlap and are finally the same. We like to think that a story is based on the triumph of good over evil, but the deeper truth is that good and evil are superseded and the two become one.  Since our capacity for synthesis is limited, many stories can only hint at this unity, but any unity, even a hint, is healing... Whenever you have a clash of opposites in your being and neither will give way to the other, you can be certain that God is present: if we can endure it, the conflict-without-resolution is a  direct experience of God."

--Robert Johnson

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rocks in the stream of time

Autumn in the air today,
and though the leaves
have not begun to turn,
the scented air stirs memories,
which flow around
not yet
and not now
which sit growling
like rocks in the stream of time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bridge of Sighs

"The word religion stems from the Latin roots re, meaning again, and ligare, meaning to bind, bond, or bridge.  Religion means, then, to bind together again.  It can never be affixed to one of a pair of opposites.  To think that one way of action is profane and another sacred is to make terrible misuse of the language.  There is no such thing as a religious act or list of characteristics.  There can only be a religious insight that bridges or heals...

"The religious faculty is the art of taking the opposites and binding them back together again, surmounting the split that has been causing so much suffering.  It helps us move from contradiction -- that painful condition where things oppose each other -- to the realm of paradox, where we are able to entertain simultaneously two contradictory notions and give them equal dignity. 

"Then, and only then, is there the possibility of grace, the spiritual experience of contradictions brought into a coherent whole -- giving us a unity greater than either one of them."

-- Robert A. Johnson

Monday, August 12, 2013

Finding balance

Each human,
such a mass of contradictions:
that drive to action,
the attraction of noise,
the intensity of passion --
and yet,
the longing for stillness,
and peace.

The tension between those opposites
pulls us ever forward
into light.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer's eve

On a lazy summer evening,
we stroll along the docks after dinner,
watching as the boats glide in to rest,
The city glowing softly in the setting sun.
Life could stop here --
another peaceful moment,
poised on the brink of change --
but no, the clock ticks on,
and so, too, we must move along
with miles to go
and things to do
before dark settles in...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

This, too, shall pass...

The Japanese lanterns outside my favorite burger place, once green, have now turned orange.  And the morning sun is already rising so much later in the day: clearly summer, once again, is drawing to a close. As the old hymn says, "Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away."  But I think I like Abraham Lincoln's take on it better:

"It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!"

Friday, August 9, 2013

Subconscious influences

This is my newest work, painted while doing a demo for the Art in the Lobby program at a local hospital.  I was very anxious about the demo, having never painted in front of people before, and in the days leading up to it I tried lots of different ways of preparing for it as a way of guaranteeing a good result -- each of which failed spectacularly!

So in the end I had to trust that what needed to happen would happen, and allow spirit to flow through in whatever way seemed best.  But I fell asleep trying to visualize at least that crucial first stroke on the blank canvas -- and fortunately this, the dark shape that crosses the canvas, came to me in a dream.

Which meant I could be more sanguine going into the project, and somehow more confident about the process (although as one of the nurses pointed out, in a hospital many people would see this as a symbol of a patient flat-lining!)  At any rate, I'm pleased with the resulting image, and amused to see how vividly it reflects not only my most recent visit to the hospital (visiting a friend who had a heart attack and thankfully did NOT flatline) but also my current absorption in Cynthia Bourgeault's writings about Holy Trinity and the Law of Three. Another gentle reminder that we are influenced at very deep levels by what we watch and read and how we spend our time; good to choose those things carefully...

Thursday, August 8, 2013


"Which is worth more,
a crowd of thousands,
or your own genuine solitude?
or power over an entire nation?

A little while
alone in your room
will prove more valuable
than anything else
that could ever be given you."

-- Rumi

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A new perspective

According to the perennial philosophy, spirit/God is good, and exists above, while flesh/man is bad, and exists below. Life, seen from this traditional perspective, becomes a constant upward striving against the anchoring bonds of matter, an attempt to escape the temptations of Hell and ascend to the heights of Heaven.  But, Cynthia Bourgeault asserts in her new book on the Trinity, the coming of Christ introduces a ternary thrust into the world, an understanding that spirit and flesh are not opposites but rather two opposing forces which when brought together in Christ bring forth new emergence.

Which would explain, despite the darker aspects of Western culture, how it is that, as Bruno Barnhart says in his book Second Simplicity, "The West occupies the unique position of being the one great civilization that has been united and formed by the Christ-event and that has mediated the unification of humanity.  It is largely through the peoples and civilization of the West that the gifts of the incarnation have been distributed to the world."

These gifts include, he goes on to say, "not only Christian faith but -- touching many more people -- the human and social values, the rationality and freedom, the science and technology that gradually humanize the world and bring it together as one world."  Wow.  Science and technology as a result of Christ: I just find that fascinating, and sort of (forgive the 70's language) mind-blowing.  It's a bit like looking at this painting and seeing, not blood and gore, but passion, the sort of creative thrust that can bring whole new worlds into being.  How amazing, to be able to step outside our usual way of seeing and gain a new perspective on the world...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

True Colors

These are the actual colors my camera captured, two evenings ago when I was out walking the dog.  But of course, now that we all know about Photoshop, you have only my word for that.  Truth to tell, I did shop this, but only to remove a dark spit of land that intruded into the left side of the picture; this really was the actual color.

But I wonder sometimes if my children, who grew up in the era of Photoshop and hit puberty as Clinton was lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky,  will ever be able to develop the levels of trust and security -- however illusive -- that I felt as a child.  Certainly they lost their innocence long before I did.

... and is that a bad thing? If they understand early on that things may not be what they seem, will that make them a little more skeptical, a little smarter about scams, a little more willing to look beyond appearances to the truth that lies beneath?  Or will it just make them cynical, unwilling to trust, unwilling to commit or invest -- or even believe? Will they be able to even see those "true colors shining through?"

Monday, August 5, 2013

Painting to music

Last summer my husband's motorcycle was out of commission, so this summer he was VERY excited to be able to go off on a long drive.  Two years ago his summer trip took him to Canada, and he took my ipod with him so he could have music on the road.  Unfortunately he lost it. (The year before that he lost my camera, though he later found it.)

So it was great fun, as he was putting on his summer bike pants, to find the missing ipod in an obscure pocket on the side of his right thigh: it means I can now have music in my studio!  So I plugged it in to my daughter's old speaker set, curious to see what music was on it (after all, I haven't seen it for two years). I found a playlist called "Music for the Soul," set it running, started painting, and this is the result -- way more mystical than my usual stuff.

Think I'm going to have to try this again!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dawning possibility

Three chapters in to Cynthia Bourgeault's new book, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity, she directly addresses the possibility I raised in my blog yesterday: "One can only imagine how greatly the political and religious culture wars of our era could be eased by this simple courtesy of the Law of Three: (1) the enemy is never the problem but the opportunity; (2) the problem will never be solved through eliminating or silencing the opposition but only through creating a new field of possibility large enough to hold the tension of the opposites and launch them in a new direction."

Imagine a world that was not about winners and losers, but about possibility!  What if every conflict were seen, not as a problem to be solved or a compromise to be grudgingly reached but as an opportunity to bring some new possibility to life?  Imagine what kind of world we could usher into being if we were to raise our children to welcome rather than fear disagreement, to see  differences of opinion as a launch to creative solutions rather than as a signal to gird your loins and fight! But of course, that could only be possible if we humans could get better at stepping outside our me-centered universes...

I think this is the sort of thinking that impelled me to go back to school, not so long ago: I was hoping to get training I might use to help businesses use their internal conflicts as instruments for change.  But, sadly, it only served to make me aware of how easily overwhelmed I can become in conflict situations.  So while, on the one hand, reading this excites me, fires me up, awakens the Pollyanna within and encourages me to imagine a whole new life as a "creative resolution specialist" or some similarly imaginative title, experience has taught me that my personal creativity tends to go into hiding at the least sign of conflict.  Even thinking about the possibility, I can feel anxiety shimmering around the edges.

It doesn't mean this kind of new age isn't possible.  But it probably means I won't be one of the ones ushering it in: I talk a good game, my heart's in the right place, but I don't believe I have the confidence to pull it off; I'm too easily overwhelmed. Hopefully I can at least channel that desire for creative resolution into my art somehow; perhaps I could at least inspire that sort of thinking, even if I can't seem to pull it off outside my own family...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Becoming reconciliation

As the only child of an emotional artist and an eminently logical engineer, I knew almost from birth that my job was reconciliation of opposing forces.  Which may explain why I am so excited about Cynthia Bourgeault's new book, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity.

The root of the law of three, which comes from Gurdjieff, is that there are always three forces involved in any sort of forward movement: affirming, denying and reconciling, sometimes called first, second and third forces to keep us from getting too caught up in old associations with those words.

And here's what excites me about this concept: "The first all-important implication to be drawn from this model is that all three forces are equally important participants in the unfolding of a new arising.  Denying (second force) is never an obstacle to be overcome but always a legitimate and essential component of the new manifestation.  In and of itself this realization brings a radically new orientation to problem solving.  The "enemy" is never the enemy but a necessary part of the givens in any situation, and solutions will never work that have as their goal the elimination of second force."

This concept -- that we need our opposites --our obstacles, our arguments -- in order to move forward -- just seems so important to me.  And I can't help but apply it to our current political situation: we are, in this country, so hopelessly stuck, so painfully polarized, and each side seems so determined to vilify the other.  How can we, as spiritual beings, begin to understand -- and help others to understand -- that we need those opposing points of view?  And how can we, as spiritual beings, become -- like Jesus -- a force for reconciliation and begin again to move this country forward?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Another summer moment

She came wandering up the beach, leaped over the logs and onto the boardwalk (startling the dog, who began barking furiously), then stepped out into the field to nibble delicately at the rose bushes, the rosemary, and finally the Golden Chain. 

She spent quite a bit of time enjoying the lower branches of the Golden Chain, then settled into the tall grasses for a post-prandial nap, glowing lightly in the soft cloud-filtered rays of the morning sun.

Nearby, as Rumi says,

"The ocean sits in the sand,
letting its lap fill with pearls and shells,
then empty."

Lovely: another peaceful summer moment.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Open to the Ordinary

After a day of minor trials and tribulations, I am delighted to find myself placed behind this truck on the ferry home.  Rust, peeling paint, my favorite shade of green... what more could my camera and I possibly want?

It makes me think of that dear song from White Christmas:

"When you're worried, 
and you can't sleep,
just count your blessings
instead of sheep,
and you'll fall asleep
counting your bless____ ings!"

Yes, it's true: there are times when I'm a bit of a Pollyanna -- which is SO totally uncool... And it's just as true that at times I can be a classic Negative Nancy.  I'm human: some things disturb me more than others. I'm an artist, so I'm easily distracted by beauty (sometimes in very odd forms, like this one.)  Sometimes that's a gift, but at other times it contributes to a certain lack of focus that can be disconcerting to other family members...

But here's the thing: we are who we are.  And each of the bits and pieces that make us what we are is both a gift and a curse. ALL of it is a mixed blessing, and over a lifetime there will be plenty of opportunities for both shame and rejoicing. But we get to keep moving forward, learning from our mistakes.  And we get lots of little gifts along the way -- like this one.  You just need to pay attention; stay open to the beauty in the ordinary: even when it's locked up pretty tight, with both a bolt and a chain!