Saturday, January 31, 2015

To be a tree

It takes my breath away -- this grace:
the roots that stretch so deep into the earth,
the trunk that grows so solid and so stable,
the branches that reach out with supple ease
to drink the light and rain that flow down from above...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Remember: you can fly!

It's easier to stay calm
when all those waves are rushing in
if only you remember -- you can fly!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

An inconvenient truth

It is one of those inconvenient truths,
that whatever we may have loved
we will at some point have to leave.
So feast your eyes today,
fill up your memory banks with that which you adore
so that love can overflow into whatever will come next...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just beyond the clouds

On the darkest of mornings
when the clouds are at their thickest
and the light within can't quite dispel the gloom,
it's important to remember that the sun is still shining
just beyond the blanket of clouds.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Up to her wings in snow

Sending hopeful thoughts and blessings
for safety, food, water and warmth
to all who find themselves
up to their wings in snow today...

Monday, January 26, 2015

What if?

For those of us who wrestle with worry,
who suffer, then seek, then struggle and seek again --
what if, instead of some inner force,
compelling us into relationship with the Divine,
it's just some chemical imbalance, easily righted with drugs?
What will the world be like if all the seekers stop searching?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A look at the past

Yesterday I was invited to post three images of my work on facebook each day for 5 days -- and this morning it occurred to me that I could use this as an incentive to photograph the pastels I did for a class I took about 10 years ago. 

It was great fun to see the work again, and to see it with new eyes, now that I'm a painter as well as a photographer.  At the time I thought the work was crap, but now I see it was an important way-station on the journey to where I am today.

So I invite you to take another look at something you did long ago -- a story, a picture, a poem, a recording. Look at it with the loving eyes of age, and pat yourself on the back: you've always been becoming the lovely human being you are now!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The fragrance of connection

The bark removed by surging seas,
the bones beneath exposed,
and now we see how truly alike we are.
What holy link lies hidden in the dark spaces between?
Watch and listen; touch and taste --
and breathe in the fragrance of connection.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Losing perspective

When dealing with the anguish of the heart,
it's easy to lose our sense of perspective:
We see the obstacles before us
as impossible to navigate,
and lose sight of the clear sailing
that surely lies ahead.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Drawing from a common stream

We who create draw from a common stream
and that which flows to the world from that shared source
to feed the eyes and ears -- the poetry, the song,
the art, the play, the garden, the cloth, the meal --
awakens other hearts to renewed awareness;
that deep universal sense of our connection.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Love everything

Love all of God's creation,
the whole and every grain of sand of it.
Love every leaf, every ray of God's light.
Love the animals, love the plants,
love everything.

If you love everything,
you will perceive the divine mystery in things.
Once you perceive it,
you will begin to comprehend it
better every day.
And you will come at last
to love the whole world
with an all-embracing love.

--Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Such a blessing -- every morning,
some new combination of shapes and colors
to welcome us into the new day

Monday, January 19, 2015

Just below the surface of now

The future and the past await us,
hovering just beyond some humble door.
What is it that drives that restless push 
to be anywhere but here,
and why do we ignore the rich abundance,
the texture and the colors
hiding just below the surface 
of now?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

At the end of the tunnel

And now we see, as Spring draws near
and the days begin to lengthen,
there is indeed a light at the end of this tunnel;
whole vistas yet to explore, 
new mountains yet to climb;
more joy and color await in the road ahead.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

You could stop here

Even when all is cold and gray,
when a haze obscures the path ahead,
some truth there is, that glows despite the dark,
whose ground is steady and secure.
You don't have to keep walking, you know --
you could always stop here and rest, 
put down some roots; really dig in...

Friday, January 16, 2015

When your journey takes a leap forward

Have you ever loved a book so much that you were driven to correspond with the author?  That's what happened for me with the book shown in this photo, In Trouble and In Wonder, and I wanted to share the story of that with you.

This book was actually written in stages. I was introduced to the first installment of it in the early 2000's, at a retreat in British Columbia with Cynthia Bourgeault.  Lynn Bauman, who translated the Gospel of Thomas and prepared this study guide, allots four pages to each of the logia of the Gospel of Thomas, offering the passage itself, a summary overview, a full page study of its implications, a page of questions and exercises, and a page of related texts found in Christianity and other religions.

My faith and spirit were at a very low ebb at the time I was introduced to this work, but when I encountered Thomas it was re-awakened and inspired: this was the book that led me into the practice I still do today, of reading, studying, meditating, and then combining my responses with my art.

It was a while before the second installment of the study came out, and so I went back to the beginning of the book and started all over again, and by this time I felt such a close connection with its author that I asked Cynthia if she could give me his contact information.  She did, I wrote, and he was very receptive-- I learned that he actually visited my little island from time to time to give workshops -- and over the next few years we became fast friends -- plus I ended up publishing my own book of photographic meditations on the Gospel of Thomas, inspired by Lynn's work.

So this is just to say that if you've wondered about my journey -- well, obviously it started a long time ago.  But the most significant turning point began with this book, and I heartily recommend it.  It's actually out of print at the moment, but you can do as I did and start with the first installment and see how you like it.  I think you'll find the wisdom within to be a total life-changer -- in a good way!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Trust in the Slow Work of God

I was recently approached by one of my facebook followers, who wanted to know which came first in my blog posts: the photo, or the words?  And though I truthfully replied that unless it's a quote I want to share, the photo almost always comes first, I really want to  say that yesterday's post was inspired by this poem by Teilhard de Chardin, which was shared in a letter from the Bishop of Maryland.

Trust in the slow work of God

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.

Yet it is the law of all progress, that it is made
by passing through some stages of instability,
and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.

Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
— that is to say, grace —
and circumstances
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.

 My daughter, now 26, who is the little girl shown in yesterday's photo, has been struggling lately with a transition between jobs, and so I shared the poem with her.  Though she is not a person of faith, she expressed a deep appreciation for the thoughts in the poem, and so I found myself wanting to share the essence of these thoughts with a broader audience. 

The words, in this case, came to me during meditation, and when I went looking for a photo to illustrate them, this was the one that surfaced.  So I thought I would share that here, in case you're interested.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Works in progress

We are, each of us, works in progress.
We need to learn to trust the end result --
even if it seems to take a lifetime to get there.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Living in the balance

Revel in the stillness --
those moments of grace between the storms 
when all is still and calm --
but still: be poised and ready
for whatever inevitable shift 
hovers on the horizon.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Blessing of the obstacles

Consider this:
that the obstacles we encounter,
and the creativity we expend working around them --
that balance that we choose to strike
between the wildness we allow into our lives
and the chaos that we hold at bay...
could it be this that gives our world
such character and charm?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Certain places

Certain places and activities feed the soul. 
Return to them often, 
and let the love that permeates the atmosphere 
seep into your bones...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Promise of spring

Encountered on a morning walk,
blooming despite the dark and cold --
a bright green promise:
Spring is on its way.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Come walk with me

Come walk with me: although the road
may be filled with twists and turns, the destination -- 
the center, the heart, the root of being --
will always remain the same.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

When light becomes art

In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do, and that light becomes this art. 

-- Rumi

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The garden that awaits

"If you knew the glorious end of your journey,
at least half of your attention would be lifted away 
from whatever you now focus on that causes pain." 
-- Rumi

"We are stardust, we are golden, 
we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden." 
-- Crosby, Stills and Nash

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The sound of love

A few years ago I spent some time doing marketing for a local thrift store; taking pictures like this one for the facebook site I built for them.

I rarely go there now -- they're under new management -- but last night I dreamed I was there, or somewhere like it, and was drawn to a dress displayed on a mannequin.

The dress was actually ugly -- as I realized once I took it to the counter and started to purchase it.  But behind the mannequin there was a book on display, open to a page on which was written "Ave Verum Corpus." And all of a sudden I could hear it being sung by the men's choir my father used to sing in, the whole thing, right to the end, with those gorgeous deep bass notes that bring it to its final close.

It is, I suppose, the curse of a classical education (not to mention singing in a church choir for years on end) that the memory of a song not heard or sung for years can return in such exquisite detail in a dream. But I find myself this morning feeling incredibly grateful, as if I've actually heard my father's voice again, the way it used to sound, before we had our falling out; back when I still believed his voice was the sound of love.

(Just in case you've never heard it, you can watch it on youtube here.)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Practicing gratitude

Though the day may seem gray,
the world is not without its splashes of bright color.
A daily practice of gratitude can make them easier to see.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

At rest in fields aflame

At rest in fields aflame with the evening light;
planted, mown and gathered --
fodder for all in the winter to come.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A break in the fence

"When we have learned to recognize
the spark of God's Spirit
in the least lovable of our neighbors,
then we find a gate, a passage, a break in the fence. 
And then begins our work for that justice
which must underlie the making of peace." 
-- Muriel Lester

Friday, January 2, 2015

Halt the stampede

And now, 
before you let the rush overtake you --
the stampede to whatever's next,
the frantic charge to do, to finish, or to achieve --
before you take the next right turn that beckons,
pull back on the reins and stop a bit
to assess where you are going, and where you've been,
and what might be your call for the coming year...

Light falling on the golden doors

I looked at this image, and suddenly heard echoes of a song we used to sing in music class, in third grade:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

It is -- for those of you who don't remember --the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Do you suppose school children still learn those words? I remember being moved -- inspired, even -- and proud to be part of a country that welcomed the downtrodden...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

There is peace

"Look at the sea...It was there long before we were thought of.  It will be there long after we are forgotten, ebbing and flowing according to the law of the tides."

"Our little affairs are insignificant?"

"Far from it.  Pain is not insignificant. Neither is bewilderment or fear. Or conditions like poverty or homelessness. But somewhere -- somewhere -- there is peace.  It is not even far off.  It is somewhere deep inside us, in fact, ever present, just waiting for us to look inward to find it."

"Is that how you learned to master your pain?"

"It was, at last, the only way of doing it... Whatever you discover here, the knowing cannot bring you any real harm even if it feels painful, for these things are whether you know them or not.  And perhaps the knowing will bring you some understanding, and even perhaps some peace."

-- Mary Balogh, Escape

(Not all romance novels are trashy!)