Friday, July 31, 2015

Climb aboard

With so many options at your disposal
to get you where you need or want to go,
which will you choose? The speedy, or the slow?
To stay in complete control or to share the ride?
Whatever choice you make, you'll never make any headway
until you climb aboard and untie from your moorings...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Look with the light of love

We understand all color comes from light, 
and know that even ordinary vistas glow
at certain times of day.
How then do we not realize 
that all things will seem more beautiful
if we train our eyes to look with the light of love.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How much we have in common

Here we are, gathered here, together, all of us,
floating in the same sea, linked to the same dock --
and when will we learn-- though we go by different names --
how much alike we are, and how much we have in common?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Our dream of home

All too often our dream of home
finds no echo in reality.
Where, then, will we spend our time?
Dreaming, or resenting, the life that might have been?
Or planting flowers of love,
to beautify the now?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dance lightly in the tension

Though the immediate landscape looks a little bleak,
joy and color still hover there above it all.
To be totally present is to remain aware of both;
to dance lightly in the tension between despair and hope
and let the resulting music fill your soul.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Thoughts at nightfall

Night falls, 
and the crescent moon awakens,
Glittering soft above the rosy clouds.
Stop, breathe, and sift quietly 
through the remains of the day.
What will you do differently

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Always something to work on

So here's the thing about painting: it teaches you a lot about yourself. Especially about your courage, and your risk-taking potential.

I know, I know -- it takes courage in the first place, to invest in canvas, an easel, paint, and brushes; to create a studio environment that works for you; to bring your work out into the world...

But I'm actually talking about the act of painting itself.  I have a very gentle teacher (sadly, I only attended two classes with him) who suggested I might need to work on my own, because every time he gave us an assignment I ended up in tears.  There's such a huge part of me that says "can't" that it's hard for the part of me that knows she can to actually come out and set her brush to canvas.

Some of my issues, of course, date back to my childhood.  The one I'm working on at the moment is a prohibition against repeating myself that dates back to second grade.  I had drawn something that worked -- a house, in a yard, with sky, and bushes, and a bird in the sky -- and, since it worked, I kept drawing it.  And my mom told me I had to stop drawing that and do something different.

I'm sure she was just worried that my eagerness to please was holding me back (it still does), but I wish she had waited until  _I_ got tired of doing the same thing over and over, and CHOSE to move on.  She was impatient, however, and so it's not surprising that she lost faith in my ability to get myself unstuck.

At any rate, I am now trying to give myself permission to explore a particular painting style -- by repeating myself, if necessary.  So this is the fourth in a series, although if you look back over my body of work you can see I've been coming close to this style for a while now.  The work consists of giving myself permission to repeat strokes, to use my favorite colors, and to explore familiar themes, in hopes that, given a comfortable and familiar context, I'll become bolder, more courageous.

The first image, called Evening Fire, was actually based (very loosely) on a painting I saw in Santa Fe.  I actually like mine better than the original, so that's okay.  The second was an attempt to recreate that effect in a horizontal frame, in colors that work with our new house.  With the third, I narrowed the aspect ratio, went back to the blues (they make me happier) but kept it horizontal.  And with the one above, I tried working in vertical again, but in a larger format, going strictly with what felt good. 

But then I made the mistake of comparing it to the first painting.  And it just didn't have the verve, the impact, the boldness of the first. Clearly there are elements in common, but... it feels timid to me. As if there's some invisible boundary I'm reluctant to cross, for fear of entering the bad taste zone... I don't seem to be getting bolder; instead, I've grown more careful.

Oh, goody.  Something else to work on!

Friday, July 24, 2015

No easy way

It's all about perspective: what looks like a destination
may just be an illusion, a dead end.
There is no easy way to walk to the other side:
at some point you'll still need to get out your oars and row.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Most radiant

Trusting in the refuge provided
by the shelter of your embrace, 
may each of us feel encouraged
to blossom to our fullest, 
most radiant of hues.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Step out, dive in

Up close, things may seem a bit rocky,
with a wide and unpredictable expanse to cross
before you reach that bright, inviting goal.
Trust that invitation, and respond.
Step out, dive in, don't be afraid, 
but keep a firm grip on your oars:
there might be some rough waters ahead.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The ground between

I seek to graze in the fruitful ground 
that lies between the darkness and the light:
I hear the flowers are much sweeter there,
having been blessed with both the shade and the sun.

Monday, July 20, 2015

As the day draws to a close

As the day draws to a close,
what is it you'll regret most,
or remember with such fondness
that you'll carry it always, close to your heart?
Hidden somewhere in each day
you'll find both joy and sadness --
and endless opportunities to fuel a better tomorrow.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The scent of the Divine

Lost in contemplation of the troubles of the day,
we lose sight of our good fortune
in simply being alive.
Stop -- take a moment, and breathe:
the air today is heavy
with the scent of the Divine.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Choose wisely

Where and with whom we spend our time
inevitably colors our subconscious.
Choose wisely, and then allow 
the wisdom of your choices 
to flow through your work 
and out into the world.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Peace and plenty

May all who wander here find peace and plenty...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

This dog, my dog

"This dog, my dog" is my final line in the play that I'm in this month; an outdoor performance of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.  (I play Moonshine/Robin Starveling the Tailor, a small part but with a certain snarkiness that befits me, I think.)

And yes, this dog is my dog, shown here sleeping on the couch in the home we left 2 months ago.  The couch, much frayed by cats' claws, we gave to the local rotary auction, so he's had to get used to a newer couch -- no easy task, as he's blind.

So why, today, am I writing one of the longer posts I used to do every day, finding ways to learn from the daily events in my life?  Because I'm just coming to the end of a marvelous book called Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian (by Paul Knitter) and I've encountered something the author calls "The Law of the Cross." I want to write about it, but it isn't really something that can be encapsulated in a few poetic lines (though I will do my best, for my facebook post, which always needs to be short.)

Yup.  I don't usually write about things like Jesus and the cross, either, because they're such loaded words.  But this passage was really powerful, and given how I spent my morning it really made me think.

So Knitter's take on The Law of the Cross is that (and I have to agree with this) the church over the centuries has gotten all caught up in the theology of "Christ died for our sins," that somehow He was some sacrificial lamb and because he was willing to suffer all our sins are forgiven.  But Knitter, in the latter years of his life, has finally come to understand something Bernard Lonergan tried to teach him way back in 1965: that the REAL impact of the cross is that Jesus -- who, faced with the violence proposed by Pilate and the Romans, could easily have responded with violence of his own -- chose NOT to do that. 

Witness his words to Peter in the garden, when Peter tried to defend him: "Put your sword away." And, presumably, as Son of God, He could have commanded miracles, or legions of angels, if he had wanted to, and wiped the Romans off the face of the earth.

No, says Knitter, the law of the cross is that Jesus was modeling, in the most dramatic way he could, the ultimate impact of his first and greatest commandment, the one about loving God and loving your neighbor.  As Knitter puts it, Jesus chose to die rather than express either hate or violence.

If only Christians understood that better, right?

So what does this have to do with my dog?  Well.  The dog is not only blind (and struggling to find his way around a new home) but also elderly and diabetic.  So when he woke me at 5:20 this morning, his feet clicking on my wooden floor, I had no choice but to leap out of bed and quickly escort him to the door, leash him up, and take him outside to pee. He doesn't care if my back's been out and I'm a little stiff in the mornings; all he knows is he needs to pee.

So I let him out, let him do his duty, and then headed back to bed hoping for a chance to get a bit more sleep and wake up slowly with some good stretches before I started my day.  Turns out HE was hoping for breakfast, and when it didn't turn up right away he promptly threw up on my silk persian rug.  So instead of a slow wake-up I was down on my knees trying to scrub throwup out of the rug.  It's a small rug -- only 3x5 -- in two steps he could have easily thrown up on any of the floor around it, but NO, he had to throw up in the middle of the rug.

So 5:30 am found me screaming like a fishwife at my dog.  I didn't hit him, but I did scream. A lot. Because that was NOT how my aging body wanted to start the day. 

I felt horribly guilty afterwards, and even more so after reading Knitter's thoughts on hatred and violence.  I mean, no, I don't hate my dog.  And he doesn't cower when I scream, so I guess my screaming doesn't seem all that violent to him.  But I was angry, and I couldn't think how else to get that anger out of my system.  It didn't matter that he was old and blind and diabetic; what mattered was that I'd been awakened out of a sound sleep and forced to move in ways that are hard for me before that first cup of coffee.

So what am I saying here?  That I'm not perfect?  You probably already suspected that -- I mean, who is? That I'm a terrible person? Not really, my response was understandable under the circumstances.

No... I think I'm saying non-violence is a lot easier to talk about than it is to live into under stress.  Knitter points out that the decision to go to the cross was not an easy one for Jesus; that contemplating it made him sweat blood.  And that's pretty much what it takes, when the mood hits, to make the choice not to carry anger into action: the effort almost turns us inside out.  Which is why violence is the easy choice, the automatic reaction. 

But really.  We are, before all else, adjured to love our neighbors, to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek.  Hatred and violence are not the answer. Ever. Which is what makes Jesus' decision to go through with the cross so extraordinary, so other-worldly, so out-of-the-box, so Divine. 

And for some reason, at this point, I keep thinking of that wonderful Einstein quote -- that no problem can be solved from within the consciousness that created it.  To make the kinds of choices Jesus calls us to make -- and we have those opportunities every day, all day long -- requires, in the end, a transformation of consciousness. And clearly I'm not there yet.

But that doesn't mean I won't keep trying.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

To each a song

Each of us has a song to sing:
don't be afraid to let the world hear your voice!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A place for everything

There is a place for everything:
the red, the green; the dark, the light;
the tall, the short; the pointed and the round --
the differences, and the balance,
are divine.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Extraordinary joy

Breathe deep, and feel
the air beneath your wings, and see
the colors of the world, and taste
the fresh scent of the sea, and know
the extraordinary joy of being.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The ego tries to save you

The brain/the ego/the mind
is a bit like a pool toy:
you keep trying to sit at the bottom of the pool,
but it is determined to save you
by lifting you back to the surface...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Come sit with me

You are so much more than the stories you tell
and the losses you have borne.
Come sit with me,
and let me wrap you in the arms of love,
that you may be restored
to the fullness for which you were intended.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Guiding the future

Each moment that we stand within
is pregnant with the next.
What choices will you make today
to guide tomorrow closer toward compassion?

Thursday, July 9, 2015


We will never achieve the peace we seek
by gearing up for battle and heading off to war.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

On the verge

In conversation or conversion --
whenever altering direction of people or events --
drop your ego in the grass and devote your full attention 
to the moment.
Wait with patience for an opening: it will come.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

When we seek peace

What is it that we mean when we seek peace?
Safe places to sleep and plenty of food for all?
Clear boundaries, and clear awareness 
of how much world there is beyond our patch of land?
Or simply this: a willingness to forgive, and be forgiven,
and to move together forward into light?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Variations on a prayer

May all who work or watch or weep be blessed
with cloudless skies, calm seas and a peaceful rest.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Each stage of life

More blessed are those who come to understand
each stage of life comes with its unique beauty --
the promise of incipient birth and the fragile flare of loss -- 
each has its story to tell, perhaps more subtle
than the flagrant fragrance of the petals that come between,
but no less replete with gifts for the observant.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day

Independence is often best found and supported
in the act of banding together...

Friday, July 3, 2015

When power comes with fear

I'm not sure which comes first --
your power, or my fear --
but I do know this: I can no longer thrive
in a system where either is stressed, encouraged, or inevitable.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

In times of drought

There will, inevitably, be times of drought.
The secret to survival lies in deepening and broadening
your roots; in staying grounded, standing tall and holding fast
while opening your branches to the freshness 
that floats upon the breeze.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dancing into silence

The more we practice dancing into silence,
The more gracefully we'll move through life,
And the more we'll trust that all is well;
That on this infinite stage our tiny role
Contributes exactly what's required
For all good things to come into completion.