Sunday, August 31, 2014

Those fleeting moments

We stare so fixedly at the clocks in our lives --
willing them to speed up, or to slow down --
hoping for time to set us free
or time to get it all done;
longing for the current discomfort to pass
and anticipated happiness to begin,
or for some present joy to never end;
endowing time with wings, or leaded feet
when every moment lasts like every other:
it's our own perceptions that rush and decelerate.
And how will you waste, or spend, or treasure
your valuable time today?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dark and light together

I love those rare evenings when a patch of sunlight illuminates the houses across the lagoon from us against a dark sky.  Love, too, the silky texture of the water and the ripples from a passing boat.

It's all about the contrast: we humans love to see things in black and white.  But we have a habit of taking it one step further; of turning it into a choice of light over dark, when in reality we need both to fully appreciate the beauty that surrounds us...

Friday, August 29, 2014

To complain there is no joy

"To complain that life has not joys
while there is a single creature
whom we can relieve by our bounty,
assist by our counsels,
or enliven by our presence,
is to lament the loss
of that which we possess,
and is just as irrational
as to die of thirst
with a full cup in our hands."

--Thomas Fitzosborne

Thursday, August 28, 2014

At the edge of being

Gray morning:
dew sparkles on the gazebo, and dances on the trees
whose dark stalwart reflections in the stillness of the pond
calm and soothe the anxious heart.
Somewhere nearby a cat is dying,
a car has broken down,
a child is mourning the end of summer.
Somewhere further away
a young man holding a gun
has lost sight of his humanity.
And still the grass glows green in the morning light
and cattails breath their softness
into the edge of being.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Into the light

There are shadows in the world, wherever we look.  
May the joy we find in our hearts 
keep pressing up against them,
lifting them gently into the the light...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

That first morning

That first morning, late in August,
when you wake up and you realize
that it's still dark outside,
and now, another summer
is drawing to a close...

Monday, August 25, 2014

And when your heart is full

And when your heart is full to overflowing
hold that moment tenderly:
kneel in gratitude for all those gifts,
rejoice in that brief breathlessness of delight,
and gently -- oh, so gently -- let it go.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Experience the mysterious

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  
It is the source of all true art and all science.  
He to whom this emotion is a stranger, 
who can no longer pause to wonder, or stand rapt in awe, 
is as good as dead.  His eyes are closed. 
-- Albert Einstein

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Disappointment is a dark and dangerous barn,
full of unmet expectations and resentment;
safe only for brief visits.
If you must step in, don't linger.
Be wary of sharp implements,
stay close to doors and windows, 
though your face be turned away,
and while you're there, remember
how soft the grass outside the walls 
once felt on your bare feet.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Last minute rush

Summer's drawing to a close,
and as the dark of Labor Day begins to loom, 
this frantic rush to do what didn't get done,
to play all the games we meant to play
to go all the places we meant to go...

The flowers echo, 
and glow all the colors they meant to share
before their petals fall.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Beyond choices

Too many people forcing me to choose:
This chair or that -- do I face left, or right? 
This color or that: will I vote red, or blue?
This bucket -- is it half empty or half full?
This either/or polarity, creating false alternatives,
divides us from the whole, and narrows vision.
When will we learn to look beyond
and come to see the whole that lies beneath?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Something sang here

There is no place in existence that ever became sacred
until something sang there, even be it just a molecule.
That is enough.
I hear they croon all the time.

-- Hafiz

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


These words you see here, falling off the page;
these thoughts, now tipping slowly into the abyss;
these stiff opinions, backbone of the piece,
look harmless now, but in the night they build
coarse boxes in my head, 
(excluding or including? -- you decide),
each box a judgment, constant commentary:
yes this, no that; you're in, he's out;
you're right, she's wrong;
you're not enough, it's not enough,
there's not enough, and never will be.
They're only words, and yet they have such power to divide...

Monday, August 18, 2014

What treasures

What treasures the sand holds
for those who take the time to look.
What treasures each moment holds
for those who make the time to notice.
What treasures each life holds
for those who sink their toes
into every single moment
and live.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Going with the flow

Yesterday we left home around 3:15 to catch the 3:50 ferry to Seattle, planning to stop for some art supplies on our way to a gallery opening in Kirkland. We were warned that the ferries were running behind schedule -- something that rarely happens here -- but we took advantage of the extra wait time to grab a lemonade and a cookie from the ferry lemonade stand. So that was good.

In reality the ferry was more like half an hour late, so when we got into the city we decided not to stop for art supplies and just headed straight for the gallery. We found a perfect parking spot despite the crowds (Saturday evening in downtown Kirkland can be very lively), but it had a 30 minute limit. So we spent a marvelous half hour chatting with my two friends whose work was being celebrated and drinking in their glorious amazing paintings, and then left town and went to a favorite Thai restaurant in Issaquah, where we used to live (the food was delicious, as always, and we pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves). So that was good.

After dinner we discovered there were not one but TWO art supply stores just around the corner, so I got to pick up my supplies after all -- plus some beautiful new shades of blue paint (inspired by the paintings I'd just seen.) So THAT was GREAT!

And then we headed for the ferry dock, thinking we'd catch the 8:10 ferry back. We were running a little late, but luckily so was the ferry, so that was good. We made it in plenty of time -- only to learn that actually the ferry was running not 30 but 50 minutes late. But the sun was setting, they had turned on the lights on the the Great Wheel, the Sunset Cruise sailboat was crossing the Sound and heading home for the evening, and I had remembered to bring my camera. So that was good, too!

In the end our brief visit to the show turned into a much longer outing than we had planned -- we finally arrived home a little after 10 pm, and our animals were desperate for food -- but in fact it was a glorious day, and my dreams were filled with paintings and golden light. So that, too, was good -- and I'm so grateful we were feeling flexible enough to adapt our plans with every little shift that came along.  I'm not always that gracious when things don't go my way; it felt amazingly peaceful to just relax and go with the flow...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Letting go

Richard Rohr tells us
"All great spirituality is about letting go."
So -- what is it that you need to cast off today?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blessed fog

When I was in college in New England, I loved foggy days; I always felt like I had the campus to myself.  Some 40 years later I still appreciate the peacefulness of fog, but for different reasons. I love the way fog reduces distractions -- both visual and audible -- so that what you do hear and see stands out in a field of gray, of silence. It's a bit like the peace I find in meditation: the constant noise of surrounding thoughts is softened and faded, so that what needs to be seen, heard, or understood shines forth...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How flexible are you?

How flexible are you?  How defended are you?  Do you greet change, new situations, and new ideas with a yes, or a no? Do you bend gracefully with the wind and the seasons but somehow manage to stay rooted and grounded?  When are you stiff and unbending -- and how many times has that led to a fall? Do you know where you tend to draw the line between flexible and inflexible? And have you considered stretching that point?

We need our egos, our minds, our brains, our opinions, our boundaries: we spend the first half of our lives forming them for very important reasons.  But to stay hopelessly wedded to what you grew up believing was true can sometimes keep you isolated, locked out of the joy life has to offer...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The seed you planted

Every accident, and the essence of every being,
is a bud, a blanket tucked into a cradle, a closed mouth.

All these buds will blossom.
In that moment you will know what your grief was,
and how the seed you planted has been miraculously growing.

-- Rumi

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Art is a gift

Generally my practice has been to paint over any of my paintings I'm not particularly fond of.  But this week, for the second time, I've had someone come to me wanting a painting that I'd already given up on and painted over.

So I've decided to take the paintings -- like this one -- that don't necessarily say anything to me and sell them off at half the usual asking price, and then give half the received sale price to our local food bank.

It's a quadruple win: I get back money for materials expended (and enough to buy more), I get to empty out my overflowing studio, the purchasers get cheap art, and the hungry are fed.

In fact, it seems like a perfect solution: I just wish I'd thought of it sooner -- and I'm grateful to my husband for supporting us both, and for reminding me that art is a gift, and meant to be given away.

Monday, August 11, 2014

We who look for signs

Nothing could be more obvious --
or more startling --
than a peacock on the side of the road.
Why are you there?
What else was I supposed to notice --
or was that just some random event,
a bird that chanced to wander out,
give me the look,
and wander back again?
How could anyone,
seeing this, not stop to wonder:
why here?
why now?
We who look for signs
can't always comprehend
the messages they convey...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Keep watch, dear Lord

There was a time in my life when I said compline every night.  
This picture reminds me of my favorite prayer from that service:

"Keep watch, dear Lord, 
with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, 
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.  
Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, 
bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, 
shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake.  Amen."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Clinging to the moon

No matter how tightly
we cling to the moon,
she'll always elude our grasp
and slip away.

Listen, she whispers:
between the out breath
and the in
there is a space.
Meet me there,
and I will bring you peace.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Breathe in the Divine Without.
Breathe out the Divine Within.
Rest in the Divine
and breathe.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Joy in Reconciliation

This one was very slow to bloom, but I was able to be patient with it because I had some other smaller projects to work on while I waited for it to unfold.

I'm actually thrilled with it -- it's one of those rare paintings that has something to say no matter which of the four directions you choose to hang it.

But what intrigues me the most about it is how it started.  I had decided that rather than fight my tendency to strong verticals and horizontals, I should just assume that's where I was headed and do something to encourage that.  So before I did the gesso, I built a strong vertical band about two inches in from the left in crackle paste.

What happened in the earlier iterations of the painting, then, had this fierce divide. I had rotated it 90 degrees counter clockwise to paint it, and there kept being all this excitement above the line and boredom below the line, and I couldn't seem to reconcile the two.  But it was the strength of the impulse to get past that division that drove all the movement of the painting -- which seems to me to be marvelously significant at the spiritual level: it is, after all, the heart of my practice, to unite upper and lower, to find connections, to eliminate divisions...

So the thrill I felt, when it finally began to come together, and the thrill I feel now, looking at it, is a heart feeling, a sort of joy in reconciliation; a taste of those rare moments in meditation when everything seems to come together...

And, just so you don't have to twist your neck, here's what happens when you hang it in each direction.  Which one do YOU like best?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The choice is yours

I come bearing gifts:
precious flowers of forgiveness,
set in water,
warmed in my embrace
and lit with love.

Which will you accept?
The choice is yours:
to watch the others grow
and die, unplucked;
to gather them yourself
and place them in a vase
of your own choosing;
or this, my humble offering
of connection...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

If you just untie the sun

All your problems can be solved.
All your problems can be solved,
if you just untie that sun
that somehow got leashed
to a pole in you.
-- Hafiz

Monday, August 4, 2014

When presence and patience are essential

"Trying to control anything that is not you... is what makes you separate and lonely. When you see all life's inconveniences as your enemies, then you are setting yourself apart."

This quote from Brother Tolbert McCarroll's Notes from the Song of Life got me thinking this morning -- about lots of things.  About how I have this tendency to rush from one task to the next.  About how irritated I can get when stuck in traffic.  About how much of my meditation time is spent scanning the to-do list for the day -- all symptoms, I'm afraid, of control issues. 

It's why photography is so good for me: it reminds me I can't control a situation. The best shots, like this one, happen when I take the time to notice and to wait: presence and patience are essential. 

And it's why Tonglen is the perfect practice for me; to notice when I'm tense or bothered or upset, and hold in my breath a prayer for all the other people in the world who are confined in similar circumstances.

The impulse to control is, of course, a natural human phenomenon.  But if we are aware of how much that impulse controls US -- well, then -- that's an opportunity to re-connect with the commonality that unites us all.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Come, sit

Come, sit -- you don't have to do or say anything.
Just empty your mind, open your heart
and let light dance in slow sweet circles overhead,
sprinkling stardust into all your thoughts.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


If you've been feeling alone, abandoned;
threatened by the clouds that seem to linger overhead --
just remember: this coming storm will pass, 
leaving all clean and glittering in its wake...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Bask in the breeze

Feeling the heat?
Come sit in the shade.
Take a load off your heart
and bask in the breeze with me.