Monday, December 31, 2012

Praise for clear and present

Also wrapped in the blankets of Winter are all the growing, maturing, harvesting seasons of life. What ends at midnight? What continues?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Right Now

Across the way horses have left the snow covered meadows and gone into the shelter where the open south face so generously scoops up brilliant morning light. A flock of geese catch air in their wings. The patient trees hold up the sky.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Inside, outside, upsidedown

Scoop up a tumbler full of water. Then set that tumbler of water in the flowing stream. Where is the water? Now, let's talk about body and soul.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thankful Christmas

Wrapped in all her fresh innocence five month old Lucy is the evidence and sample of regenerative hope that comes wrapped in every infant. Isn't that the promise we celebrate over and over on this day? The promise we experience at this darkest time of the year, as we turn to the time of light renewed once again in the world. Blessings be.
Now sunrise comes over a white-clad world: snow cover, moderate fog, and through it comes early sunlight turning everything luminous. Am I, in the fog of my struggles, luminous too? I think you are luminous, my friends whom I know occasionally read here. That's how I experience you, as through a veil of separateness and translation, and yet with a beautiful sheen.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Do what's right. Don't forget your roots. Speak up for those who don't have a voice." Senator Daniel Inouye, Hawaii. 1924-2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Life is good and we are thankful.

One couple sent us an Arbor Day Foundation card, honoring us with the gift of a tree planted in one of our National Forests. Living in the woods as we do, we share that value, and they know.  

With pen, she wrote, "He has had a few set backs, including heart valve replacement..." and yet closes with, "Life is good, and we are thankful." 

Amen. Thank you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Some necessary mourning

Taste of a Deeper Rainbow

some necessary mourning—
hours, days, years—falls
as a drape across a window
drawn without intention 
until a gradual shift begins
the release

and you start to open
again in a world
where marquees and trees
costumes and cloud plumes
now appear to hold more
subtle, dusky colors

(from Inherited Estate: A Song Cycle)

Some necessary mourning. 

After the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut. After Hurricane Sandy. After another health setback. After, after, after...

Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is such a dumb illness. So incapacitating, but not terminal, not even vaguely life threatening. Not diagnosed with any direct, overt tests, it is a catch-all clinical diagnosis from a list of symptoms. 

I live with it and look quite normal and carry this load of pain and fatigue. Sitting in a straight chair becomes a challenge. Climbing a flight of stairs or transferring wet clothes from the washer to the dryer become details to really notice, to be sure to allow energy for, to practice breathing through pain for. And some days it's just crippling. 

Other illnesses are invisible to the naked eye, too. Mental illnesses comes to mind in the chatter and noise of current events. Not invisible to the close and caring observer, but how many of those do any given one of us have?

And what can any one of us do?

My friend sent me a card of support that says, "Breathe deeply and hold your heart with gentle hands." Such a kind, humane way of being. As I practice, I find myself holding others' hurting hearts more gently, too, in my thoughts, breathing in and out. It's the best I can do.

Practice breath, practice compassion, allow time and attention in this season of Joy and Giving, between the celebratory highs, also allow time and attention and a space for some necessary mourning.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free will

Every sunrise opens a new door.Yesterday entered your living being, invited or not. You step over this day's unblemished threshold, life embodied and continuing. 

What you carry with you, what you pick up today, what you set down-- of those, what part is governed by free will?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The most dazzling creeks
tumble on rocks,
they dance, glitter and sing.

The most resplendent sunsets
transform clouds
to silver, crimson and gold.

The most perfected lives,
kiln-fired by sorrow,
grow tender, gracious, serene.

(Carol Bindel, Inherited Estate: A Song Cycle, Trace Hay Publishing, 2012, 91)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


More than a hundred years ago Henry Ford understood that if he was going to sell his cars and make a profit, his workers needed enough income to buy food, clothing, shelter, and his cars. Not either-or. Both-and. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Fear is my deepest, most intense, most reliable response. 

My most powerful, profound desires are for compassion for myself and others and connection with my whole self and with others. 

The most courageous thing I do every day is to find the opening to allow those deepest truths around and beyond the dam of fear, allow compassion and connection into the overt flow of my life.

I conquer fear often, now. I will never win any medals. I will never even be called courageous, or any of those glowing words that mean the same thing. I will never be held up as the example. 

My struggles and victories, right here in my obscure little plot of place, are the example of how every invisible one is called to bravery in her own life. You, too. And I give you, my friends, high credit for refusing to give in and give up. 

As Mary Anne Radmacher says, "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Burnished Copper Light

This morning for about five minutes the world glowed with a burnished copper light.
Wendell Berry, in his poem "How To Be a Poet" [the title immediately followed by "(to remind myself)"] writes,
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.

Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places.

And desecrated places. 

Nothing mundane. Only the sacred or desecrated. Can we discern?

So I stepped outdoors for a few moments, aware that ultimate control of my breath is not mine, ultimate control of the air is not mine. 

On this huge and tiny planet, that is not the center of the solar system, which is not the center of the Universe, I stand in no central place at all, yet I stand centered in my unique life. You, too.

This morning I stood in place and noticed my own breath in the brief, full-view gift of glowing, burnished copper light. In my small, full being I give thanks for all this sacred.

Monday, November 19, 2012


We pause to give thanks

For the voyage of life from seed to harvest, the kiss
of rain and sun and growth, the gifts of the earth given

into the hands of strangers, friends, and family
whose efforts now bring such bounty to this table.

Thanks for the soft animal body that carries each life
here present, so sturdy and so fragile;

thanks and praise for fellowship, and for the lives
of those now absent whose essence lingers among us;

thanks for the complex ways we each continue to seek
and find our place, unique like everyone else.

Lead us to the gift of regular silence until it silences us;
bring us to choose gratitude until we are truly grateful;

fill us with praise until we ourselves become
a constant act of praise.

So we give thanks for all things, including joys
and sorrows deeply felt but left, here, unspoken.

(Also published in my book, Inherited Estate: A Song Cycle and, in a slightly different form, in the Winter 2012 issue of UU World.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Complex and Multifaceted

My friend's mother has died, and my heart yearns for her, and all I have to offer is the raw stuff of my own life. I light a candle and my thoughts and prayers go with her. We have shared so much of our lives―and now this too, this too.

Observation and experience with my own mother shows me that mother-daughter relationships are full of wonder and awe. That is, wonderful and awful. Both-and. A "normal" mother-daughter bond (and what's normal?) again and again ties us into the concept of love, that most challenging, marvelous, difficult, many-faced prize of life. 

We go alone and together, marching along, step by step. As we open to others―slowly, petal by petal, shy roses unfolding―those rare and wonderful times happen when we experience ourselves as not alone and also not merged, and in those moments we have the chance to experience something as larger than our skin-contained lives.

I love my spouse and children, my siblings and other extended family, and I love my friends. How blessed I am to be meshed in this complex and multifaceted world of opened, unfolded love. You, too. Don't you know places where you open and share this too? Awful. Wonderful. Love.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Little Cat Writes Poetry

She sprawls her bold title across the page
where I would read.
She hides her tale from strangers, shares all
with those who give her time and care.

Her energetic paws
print a chase-scene narrative
on the polished table.
After a nap, she stretches, meanders,
her lyrical lines loop and curve
on the wet tiles of my just-washed floor.

Her tidy steps turn where she arches,
strokes my leg, smiles into my face,
and her question-mark tail asks,
already so sure of the answer.
                             ~Carol Bindel

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Natural World Carries Us

Here comes an Autumn dawn, misty from the fierce storms that went through last night. The gold leaves on the tree tops still hang firmly enough; ruby dogwood, clear, pale yellow undergrowth that hides the tawny deer so very well, gold-pink air, oh, it's all so beautiful, my heart must expand some more to hold it all. Every year I notice new detail and depth. 

My friend who does photography, and the cards that I occasionally send, showed me some recent D. C. photos. One shows the clean, white, rounded and spired capital dome against a clear, deep October sky. Brilliant orange leaves overlap in the foreground on the right, a sturdy green pine stands in the foreground on the left. I couldn't help but see that for all our political machinationsand everything human and social is politicalthe natural world carries us, first, last and always. 

Change is the only constant, we are all in this together whether we wish to recognize that or not, and for all the abuse we've heaped on her, Mother Earth still provides air, water, food. We are all her dependents.  I find that very, very comforting.

Friday, October 12, 2012

October Hay Field

This day is a template of "October's bright blue weather." As I passed a field of grass mown for hay and smelled that light, summery scent, I smiled and imagined I stepped out of time for a moment. And then I immediately knew the sweet, summer scents are not apart from now, but incorporated. All things really are of one piece.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Choiceless Choices

In the second half of the spiritual life, you are not making choices as much as you are being guided, taught, and led-- which leads to "choicless choices": these are the things you cannot not do because of what you have become; things you do not need to do because they are just not yours to do; and things you absolutely must do because they are your destiny and your deepest desire. Excerpt, Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Useful or Beautiful

"Do not have anything in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful," wrote William Morris. 

A magnet with that saying printed on it hung on my refrigerator for years as a reminder to me. I put it away to make space for pictures of my granddaughters who are beautiful. That sentence of instruction has stayed with me, though, for it is one of my measuring sticks for what to keep and what not to keep.

Recently I have looked in the mirror and admitted that I was never beautiful even at my zenith and am now becoming less and less so. My usefulness is also declining. And what about this decline into old age in light of the William Morris adage?
My friend Mike left a comment that seems so important to me that I am reposting it here: 
"Worthy work carries with it the hope of pleasure in rest, the hope of the pleasure in our using what it makes, and the hope of pleasure in our daily creative skill. All other work but this is worthless; it is slaves' work — mere toiling to live, that we may live to toil," too wrote Morris, a favorite author, poet, medievalist, calligrapher, philosopher, carpenter, historian and artist of mine.

Usefulness for Morris is measured by something as simple as cooking a delicious meal. It is the creation of beauty, and the ability to appreciate it.

He also said:

"Wherever Nature works there will be beauty."

(The decline into old age is a wonderful example of Nature working. In many of Morris' fictions and poems, the dying body is a glorified one; it is only one of many seasons in the cycle of life and death).


"Most of us must be content with the tales of the poets and painters about [awe-inspiring] places, and learn to love the narrow spot that surrounds our daily life for what of beauty and sympathy there is in it."

Monday, August 13, 2012

A scrap of life

Poor, dead baby, its cloven hoof not as big as my thumb,
it's polkadot suit torn at the hip, fragile tan bone showing.
It lies in the ditch where feeding goes forward
after death from injury, accidental. Did the driver think 
the little one limped off to be healed 
by nursing, by the kind Mother Earth?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Find Treasure: old rules and old-new desires

The soul question, "What do you most deeply desire?" and its various answers might push old "shoulds" and "ought-to-s" aside. I often recognize, though, that the results of acting in accord to the old "should/ought-to" teachings lead exactly to the present fulfillment of so many of my desires. The old rules and the structure they created as I grew to midlife and now beyond led me to some very good places, to ways of being that I desire, ways of being that underlay all my ways of doing.

I am now questioning which of my shoulds I will appropriately lay down. There is a danger of losing treasure if I am too casual and free in letting go of long practiced patterns. And there is danger of rigidity and the waste of precious resources (time, energy, attention) if I hold too tightly to rules that, on close examination, seem to be opposed to the primary commandment to love, for following that commandment in my life is my primary desire.

Grounded. Centered. Balanced. Whole. These are basic guiding principles I return to again and again as I strive for intentional choices for my day. First, each has a physical reality, and then robust metaphors grow from each. These four ways of measuring guide me to the kind of compassion for myself that, once recognized, I may then also extend to the world. 

Just is. The world, and my small, interconnected place in it. Just is.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More waiting

This morning I waited, fasting, for some medical tests. (The very kind technician commented out loud about what he saw: no significant problems. Whew!) This morning I tended toward tension, and anxiety rather than a calm, accepting, just-is body response.

We are whole—mind and body—so that coming to a condition where one is calm, alert, not-acting but yet intensely interested and involved is not just a mental trick, but also involves the body. It is my experience that attentive, calm waiting is a both-and effort. Even waiting at a traffic light. I both intend to be calm and alert and also pay attention to the sensations of my breath, my pulse, my gut. I relax my muscles and focus on simply noticing thoughts as puffy clouds passing, notice my breath passing my nostrils, simply noticing a place of deep, inner being. 

Some traditions call this contemplative prayer, others call it meditation. I call it a blessing and a plain, good-sense tool to carry with.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Brave and sane enough.

"The only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with." Pema Chodron

Monday, August 6, 2012

Waiting: passionate, vibrant, contemplative work

   "One day, while I was reading in the Gospels, it occurred to me that when important times of transition came for Jesus, he entered enclosures of waiting—the wilderness, a garden, the tomb. Jesus' life was a balanced rhythm of waiting on God and expressing the fruits of that waiting.
   "I had tended to view waiting as mere passivity. When I looked it up in my dictionary however, I found that the words passive and passion come from the same Latin root, pati, which means 'to endure.' Waiting is thus both passive and passionate. It's a vibrant, contemplative work. It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer. It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely, It means struggling with the vision of who we really are in God and molding the courage to live that vision."
(Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions. HarperSanFranscisco, 1990. 14.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Intellect vs. feelings

"I wonder if the process of aging doesn't bring as its chief gift the capacity to separate our intellect from our feelings. A sixteen-year-old can know one thing but be emotionally incapable of acting upon it. At sixteen, the emotional needs must come first if the heart is to survive. Perhaps this is true at every age, but at sixty-six I am no longer hungry in that old starving way. Even if all my sources of comfort were to vanish, I would know how to create new ones." (Phyllis Theroux, The Journal Keeper, Grove Press, NY, 2010, 242.)

I wonder if this is all true? Yes, I am "no longer hungry in that old starving way." Yet would I know how to create new sources of comfort? My primary source of comfort is the natural world, and my own basic human-animal needs fulfilled in it. I want my physical safety, and the ability to care for my own bodily needs. I depend on the comforts of running water, hot and cold; food, and the freezer, refrigerator and stove to preserve and prepare it; my own bed; the land and water beyond my walls and windows. How would I possibly create comforts to replace those?

Further, how could I replace long time family and friends? Babies and new friends are marvelous, oh, yes!, but they cannot help me carry my memories. If I forget where I've been, how will I not return to that?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Intenting to live love

"Your dispositions, aptitudes, and attitudes reflect your intentions. If you are angry, fearful, resentful, or vengeful, your intention is to keep people at a distance. The human emotional spectrum can be broken down into two basic elements: love and fear. Anger, resentment, and vengeance are expressions of fear, as are guilt, regret, embarrassment, shame, and sorrow. These are lower-frequency currents of energy. They produce feelings of depletion, weakenss, inability to cope and exhaustion. The highest-frequency current, the highest energy current, is love. It produces buoyancy, radiance, lightness and joy.

"Your intentions create the reality that you experience. Until you become aware of this, it happens unconsciously. Therefore, be mindful.... This is the first step toward authentic power."
(Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul. A Fireside Book published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 1990. 120.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Not knowing

A woman who was a sincere and committed Christian Scientist died of cancer after years of denying an increasing presence of tumors in various parts of her body. I think of the harsh kinds of intervention often given for cancer, and the difficulty of the treatments, and I wonder how the outcome would have been different had she seen doctors. Perhaps she would have come to her death anyway, just by the American-way-of-medicine route. We simply cannot know.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Everything happens... one specific moment, in one specific locale. From the largest life quakes, to the smallest, unnoticed cell replacement, this is always true. The echoescall it the wave circleof any event, may spread widely, but even the echo of an event happens in one specific moment, one specific locale.

The earliest, orange, red, gold leaves are turning from green and falling. Everything happens locally and in time, everything matters even if we, with our only-human capacity, can't measure how.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

thank list

Three items from the list today:
*There are books.
*There are friends who recommend books.
*There are friends who like what I write, too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What is true cannot be taken from you. What is false will not remain. (Phyllis Theroux, The Journal Keeper, Grove/Atlantic, 2010. 11.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Set Free

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32  Text around this verse credits these words to Jesus.

"The truth may set you free, but first it will shatter the safe, sweet way you live," says Sue Monk Kidd in her book Dance of the Dissident Daughter.

Tuesday a man told me he had killed a groundhog. He lives amid farms, and groundhog holes can be a serious danger to wheeled farm implements. Killing groundhogs has been farmer practice for more than my lifetime. "It was a young one, and it ran into the shed. It went into the corner, it thought it was hidden there, and so it was easy. I shot it," he said.

Today on the road I came upon the crushed and crushed again body of a bunny. It was the little one I've been seeing, I could tell by the size of its skull and the sad, small length of fur. Not much bigger than my fist, it liked the quiet, mowed lawn near the end of the neighbor's longish lane. It was afraid of the tall grass and weeds, but it would hop onto the road to go feed on the tall stuff.  Walking, I could get very close before I was more fearsome than that tall vegetation. Wholly innocent in its being, it didn't understand about cars.

The truth: my comfortable American lifestyle includes all the elements that demand speed, speed, speed, even for the drivers of cars on this supposed-to-be-slow-paced country road. My lifestyle includes the demands for cheap food, easily available, pure and sealed and in the market. I will sit at my table tonight to feast on gazpacho and corn on the cob, locally grown, without a morsel of animal product on my table And yet the truth is that the lifestyle of which I am an inextricable partand you are, tooalso killed those two defenseless young animals.

I know this truth. I am heart-shattered.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


In this ocean of Mystery, we identify from inside our skins as singular, alone. And in one sense we are. And yet, we consciously know that we are also part of All That Is. A tautology: all-that-is is part of All-That-Is. Nevertheless, who has not at sometime experineced a sense of loneliness so deep it becomes akin to despair? Who has not felt desperately set apart? Remember the term "arrogant loneliness" from the Brenden Knelley poem "Begin"? I think that when we put ourselves either too high or too low-- and we do-- we are practicing arrogant loneliness. It is a place of learning, perhaps, but in the steady exchange between mind-knowing and body-knowing, it is not a worthy place to dwell.

We all struggle in this hard realm. I don't know about the before and after realm, perhaps the spirit realm. Forrest Church said "We were eternal before we became interesting." Well, we're all interesting right now, all embodied, and it's sort of soft but sort of hard, too, for everyone.  In this we surely are not alone.

Monday, July 16, 2012


"Because no one could ever praise me enough,"
is the opening line in to the poem "Invisible Work" by Alison Luterman from her book The Largest Possible Life.

That line grabbed me, and I realized it spoke to my need to measure up, to have others call me valuable before I could notice any specifics of my own worth. Are you that way? 

Along with recognizing that I depend too much on others' opinions to define my value, I notice that I desire to be compassionate and gentle with myself. I want to treat myself as kindly as I would treat any other struggling, beautiful soul I met on the journey. All the beautiful souls I meet daily.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Friendship happens... that special moment when someone reaches out to another, trusts, comforts, believes in another, hopes the best for another, and makes a special difference that no one else can make."

That quote is on the face of a Hallmark card that I've kept since 1986, and inside the note from the one who valued me enough to give it to me as I prepared to move from the city we'd shared. I wonder if she has any idea I still have her card? I must tell her, return her words to her.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Note to Remember...

This morning I heard: 
cicada sing-song;
the splash of water on rocks;
the yearning coo of mourning doves; 
the even, steady, pacing sound of my own footfalls. 

But how can I tell and remember the smell of July? 
Some mix of late honeysuckle, rank-growing sumac, 
all the blooming, bearing earthen scents, 
thick, and varied, and fecund.

Bittersweet comes later.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Love Remains

All things work together.  How we interlock and slide apart and fit together again like puzzle pieces forming and re-forming the picture, over and over shifting to the next new pattern. Designs complex and complete and never static, like the tumbling flow of configurations in a kaleidoscope. 

Where is God in 1+1+2, asks the physicist/author Jena Levin in her book A Madman Dreams of Turning Machines. Mathematics is indifferent to human drama, and so is the natural world. And yet we, a part of the natural world, are often not indifferent to the experiences of our lives.

My heart is comforted by my deep roots in the world of All There Is where death and going on with life are both held gently, maybe indifferently. Allowed, and we cannot know the whys and wherefores. I hold the love I have known in my life, hold it in some inner cauldron. I siphon off pain, so the love remains. The Love remains.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I lived in Iowa for 12 years, and absorbed that place with such land-love that now I carry it with me. My friend Dana Knighten, whose dearest love is the ocean, also lived in the Midwest for a time, and she writes:

Farmland.  Prairie and waving grasses and rounded, golden hills rippling in the wind and the sunlight.  A huge summer moon rising behind cottonwoods as I drive east past the city limits on a summer night.  I did not then appreciate the oceanic nature of the plains.

Here and now in Maryland, the days are miserably hot, hot, hot. Terrible storms, and reports of the hundreds of thousands of households without power three days later. This time I am not one of the ones spoken of in the news, and I am so thankful.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Having It all.

My life experience says to me, Sure, you can have it all, but you can't have it all at once.  How can it be this was not common knowledge available to me to be absorbed from society in general?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Foggy Sunrise, Sunny Day and Memories

The valley is so foggy this morning that I can't see the horse meadows, just glowing, pink-gold-white mounds of fluff. It's cool, still, and the trees are threaded with sunlight. Such lovely patterns form on the east-facing side of the trees, and that's what I get to watch, looking out a west-facing window at sunrise.
The day cleared and turned into one of the treasures of the world: a perfect, sunny, temperate, lush June day. Last year June 15 was just such a day, too. One year ago today old Mr. Misty walked out into the air, sniffing and listening, slow and careful in his blindness but full of catly dignity, and did not come back. For all my searching, he made no response, and so he did not stay "safe"within my circle of influence, but went with his joy in the natural world. I miss him still, and remember.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Arrogant loneliness. Negative geography. Mortally beautiful. Thus the world.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mindful. In this crowded, hustling world, how does one be mindful? 
Sunrise, cool air, birds loud in their doings, deer browsing, horses in the meadow, the grasses and wineberry bushes dew-wet, the hum of the refrigerator, the clock ticking the secinds and the click of these keys the only human sounds for a brief moment. 
I spend time simply noticing the world around me, making my attention wide or narrow. Yet, there is so much I miss. The cat doesn't care about that, so long as I gently notice her when she wants noticing, and remember her food.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Scent of Life Transforming

The air smells like the grass that has been cut and is drying into hay in the field just north and west of us. Timothy, preferred for horses. That sweet, sweet scent of grass giving up it's moisture in the sunshine, the scent of life transforming.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Noticing, and Amen!

"Failing to notice a gift dishonors it, and deflects the love of the giver. That's what's wrong with living a careless life, storing up sorrow, waking up regretful, walking unaware." Kathleen Dean Moore in Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature (19)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"In those warm first day of summer when the world is large and cordial, the chubby caterpillar crawls upon some log or limb or walkway each morning for little reason other than that the courses of the log or limb or walkway are there and that crawling is innately the business of caterpillars. The greening earth provides food at every turn of each day's paths, and the infant butterfly eats at will and by opportunity, innocent of its coming purposes." ( Phyllis Tickle, The Shaping of a Life, Doubleday, 2001, 378.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My friend's advide

Choose a pithy, important-to-you word, like joy, play, prayer, friend. Pick a word, any word. Then notice where you see it, keep a journal of the quotes, the context in which that word turns up in your life in the course of a month, a season, a year. My friend writes that she and her daughter have each been doing this word journal, one  word per year, with astonishing results. What a fine way to open to possibility.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Red bird in green world

This morning the sun through tree leaves painted black and white, moving artscapes on my white walls. Later, as I walked out in the world, I noticed every color of the rainbow. Even a little stem of newly dying leaves looked so bright in the sun I wondered briefly why BGE had orange-sprayed that spot by my lane. The flowers, the still-new-growing leaf stems, and the dying ones, the variety of grass and tree leaves, together showing all hues. No wonder red bird blends into the landscape.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Another son married in the eyes of the state; a celebration with friends and family; joy and sorrow so obviously mixed. "All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." Did they become an official couple in the reality of All That Is when they privately promised themselves to each other, or on the day they publicly stood before many humanly-embodied witnesses to do so?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I am a pray-er. Does that also mean I am a prayer? In this lovely day, a part of all there is.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Best

Air in the low 70s, humidity low, sun in the blue sky, and green, green, green. The trees and lawn and meadows are every tint and shade of green under the sun. A day doesn't get any better than this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Praise for Creation

Creation is too grand, too glorious, too complex, and too mysterious to be captured in any single human expression. All the world's great religious traditions, the disciplines of mysticism, the sciences, and the secular arts all address, each in their way, this bedrock affirmation of a majestic Creation. We humans are not the masters, but one more expression of Creation's jubilation. Surely this is the season to experience Creation's jubilation. (Paraphrased from the writings of the Rev. Dr. William F. Schultz.)

Monday, May 14, 2012


This world is rational and also not-rational. I need emotional and spiritual tools as well as my rational mind. One of those tools rests in the ability, the willingness, to recognize moments of grace: the free, undeserved gift that is mine (or yours) for the seeing, the reaching and receiving.

Grace finds me, not vice versa. It's only up to me to recognize it. It comes when I notice some not-yet-tried thing, some potential, possibility. Grace arrives in my life-challenges and comes with transformative power. Let me simply notice that, amid all the burdens, there are also all the blessings, all the beautiful things

Let me make, each day, my list of at least five beautiful things.
The memory of sunlight on the meadow; sunlight sometimes seen filtering in bright, moist shafts through trees; sunlight today from behind cloud cover in a shadowless, drizzly morning. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." I am held by breath and pulse, part of the Earth that is the Lord's, part of the fulness thereof. Here, too, I find grace.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Every person reading this has or had a mother. Also, every one of us may rightfully call Earth our Mother. Notice with your five senses (sound, sight, scent, taste, touch) how each Mother lives in you. Grass wind, pine wind, wind over water. Meadow light, wooded light, light by the shore. Scent and taste of places, the air, the sweet base of the grass, the tang of dandelion. The tactile sensations of bark, rock, flesh. Love your Mother! Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Be awake, aware, and even glad

In her book Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature, Kathleen Dean Moore writes of a time when a friend questioned her, "What will Earth lose, when it loses human beings?" After consideration, she realized that humans have a level of awareness that other animals don't have. She realized many animals display evidence of joy and playfulness, and the earth is full of music, the vibrations going out forever. 

She writes that she realized that without humans, Earth loses, "Not just joy, but the awareness of joy. Not just music, but that swelling response to music, the way it opens the heart. Humans are Earth's way of knowing itself. With the tongue of a human being, Earth tastes itself. In a human's search for meaning, it comes to know its own mysteries. In a human's loving attention, Earth rejoices in its own beauty. It's one thing to be. It's quite another to know that and to pronounce it good. This is what a human brings to the world-- the ability to take notice, to be grateful and glad, glad for the river swinging by, for the sun warming my shoulders, for the breeze lifting the hairs on a butterfly's back."

(Kathleen Dean Moore. Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature. Trumpeter Books, Boston, MA. 2010. 159.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shadows and Light

Wendell Berry's poem "Thrush Song, Stream Song, Holy Love" begins with speaking images of how these three songs of the title flow to us from the natural world as living grace. And it ends with these lines:

Be still. A man who seems to be
A gardener rises out of the ground,
Stands like a tree, shakes of the dark,
The bluebells opening at his feet,
The light one figured cloth of song.

This is just such a sunny, windy day. The trees seem to stand each as an humble image of God. The dappled, shifting light here in the woods, so busy with leaf and bird, covers me over completely as "one figured cloth of song."

("Thrush Song, Stream Song, Holy Love" by Wendell Berry is published in the book Traveling At Home, Counter Point Press, Berkeley, 1988.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Late Spring

The trees have grown their veil of green again between me and the farm meadows. We are enveloped in mystery. The tulip poplar blossoms are full and beginning to drop. How amazing to find these huge, orange-yellow  tree-tulip-flowers on the ground.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How beautiful on the mountains

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings... Isaiah 52:7

Who among us humans does not revive upon receiving good news? And how do we determine what is good news? Four quotes from Julian of Norwich:

Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes away except God. 
The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.
He said not 'Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased'; but he said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome.
All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well

Fr. Richard Rohr writes that today is the Feast of Lady Julian of Norwich. He writes, On the night of May 8, 1373, God "showed himself" to her and it took her more than twenty years to unpackage the experience.

And what she seems to know, at the end, is that all news of God (and God is also All There Is) is good news. Let me embody this knowing, that all that comes is good news for me, for I am too limited to discern otherwise. And let me share in the proclamation.

Yesterday in Bethesda I saw spirea in bloom. Mama had a spirea bush near the house. The flower clusters are so creamy white, fresh looking, surrounded by young but sturdy greenery,  all part of this beautiful world. And so is the roadside litter. How do I embrace this All There Is?

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Life manifests in all sorts of world forms. Four crows perch nearby, three in one dogwood, one in another. The dogwood bloom is done, the trees moving to the next stage of growing. Always, always we let go of one stage to move to the next. All the small endings that lead to new beginnings.

"The body will be faithful to living for as long as it can," says yoga teacher Matthew Sanford. He was injured in an auto accident at age thirteen, and cannot walk. He speaks of healing, changing, death of one thing to make way for the growth of another thing. He speaks of the human body, but the analogy extends seamlessly to all the living Earth.

Compassion for the aging individual body that does not heal like it once did can grow understanding and compassion for all the wounds and struggles in the world. Compassion for world-embodied life, not just human-embodied life. What an opportunity for growth comes to us through death.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wildflowers and Lilies of the Valley

In the years when I was physically unable to push the mower, the lawn went uncut until the first growth reached thigh high. Then I first saw the lawn break open in wildflowers: fleabane, tall and delicate; some spiky, purple-blossomed, probably invasive plant with dark purple-green leaves; a bitter kind of vigorous, wild strawberry with heart leaves and a tiny yellow flower. The plant that bears the berries that I like to eat has white flowers, open and generous. But here are these, too, the tiny yellow ones that later will bear a hard, bitter fruit. This morning I sat in my chair reading. Pausing to consider, I looked out on the wildflowers, the arrangement of them by no human hand. Now I, too, delay the first mowing until after the first full bloom.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit stands high near the fern beds east of the house. Some authorities recognize one species of Jack, others three. I only know some are short with thin stems, and others grow tall and have stems as thick as my largest, most arthritic finger. So pale white green, and supple, they are much more lovely than that.

Lily of the Valley grow around several trees, leaping out as if they, too, are wildflowers, and perhaps they are in this particular environment. I read on Wikipedia that lily-of-the-valley is used as a food plant by the larvae of some moth and butterfly species. They spread and grow out from one rhizome. I primarily know them from my direct experience with them. In this season they scent all the air with such a sweet, fresh smell. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Simply Noticed

My brother Carl went to the hospital on the morning of the last day of his life. My sister who was with him says he made jokes and laughed with doctors, nurses and others who were attending him. I remembered that this morning, and suddenly inside myself I heard his laugh again, and saw again how he always ran his fingers through his hair when he was kidding around. The love remains.

The gold finch have traded their winter drab for bright, flashy, yellow feathers. How do such colors blend into the landscape?  How very limited are my human skills to take notice of all there is.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Natural Law

There appears to be a law that when creatures have reached the level of consciousness, as men have, they must become conscious of the creation; they must learn how they fit into it and what its needs are and what it requires of them, or else pay a terrible penalty: the spirit of the creation will go out of them, and they will become destructive; the very earth will depart from them and go where they cannot follow.  (Wendell Berry, Traveling At Home, Counterpoint, Berkeley, California, 1988. 17.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In the night watches

I will lift up my eyes to the hills-- Psalm 121

When I wake, weeping, in the night, and also in the day when joy fills me, rising like the bubbles in a soda, still I return to the everlasting hills and the help and lessons offered there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A baby in the neighborhood

The love we give away cannot be taken away. Forrest Church

No matter where we travel in the course of our lives-- in the mainstream, buffeted and pushed into the slow flow, or washed up on a sandbar-- we journey together. Never imagine you are exclusive in any thing. There is nothing new under the sun, says the prophet. There is only the new thing to your experience. So shall we seek to find ways to give away all the love we can imagine into existence?

Today I got to visit the newest family member on our country block. Her mama-the-mare guarded her carefully while she slept, and when she got up to nurse, standing on her long, spindly, still faintly wobbly legs, her mama was very patient. Miss Filly doesn't really have a name yet. Little rib cage, every bone apparent, skin still thin, mane baby-short and scraggly, and the most beautiful white forehead diamond on an otherwise brown body, she's just a treat. Fresh, alive, a miracle.

Monday, April 30, 2012

All that I see and love

The world is filling with greens, and the early blossoms have faded. Iris bloom on the hill, and the lily of the valley. the pesky Japanese honeysuckle-- invasive, greedy vine-- is opening its sweet, sweet smelling blooms. 

A floater broke free in my eye last night. It will likely be fine, but the doctor is observing me, uncertain if there's a need for surgery. But just the thought of blindness, even in one eye, makes me acutely aware of what joy I derive from just looking about in the amazing, living world.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Foxes and sharing

"Our full humanity is contingent on our hospitality; we can be complete only when we are giving something away; when we sit at the table and pass the peas to the person next to us we see that person in a whole new way." Alice Waters 

Does full humanity hinge also, then, on sharing the world with our fellow creatures? For many years foxes have had a den in the neighboring meadow. They burrowed in where the land suddenly turned vertical, almost like the wall of a surface mine. It's ideal, sheltered by the curve of land, and sunny, running water close by. The horses can't use it, it's way too steep.

Now, since early in the week, two carcasses that look like adult foxes lie on the flat between the den and the little creek. I have seen three kits, and on Thursday evening when I came home at dusk from a meeting, one kit was in the road, terrified-- how easily I could have killed it-- and one a little ahead in the ditch, trotting determinedly forward. They are about the size of cats, their fur still fluffy and babyish. 

Their presence on the road made me suspect those dead animals at the burrow base might be their parents. So yesterday I watched a lot, saw all three kits, saw them come to the mouth of their burrows and look around, lie down, sniff and lick each other, but did not see the tumbling play I have observed before in little foxes.

I have a friend who has a friend who does wildlife rescue. With advice, I planned to feed those babies last evening, since that's their normal time to begin the hunt. When I went there, though-- aahhhhh, sigh of relief!-- there was an adult, and the babies were cavorting about, their every movement telling a story of delight. My poor efforts are not needed today in that way. 

Where is my poor effort needed today? I watch, and learn, and pick up trash as I walk along the road, and tend as best I can. My singular best is a poor thing. It is the sharing of the world in a hospitable way that completes me. And though I am, of course, human, my world is bigger than us. Yours is too, isn't it?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fly High

For each one struggling, you know that if I had a strong wing to lift you to a safe, sunlight mountain top, I would surely fly to your rescue.

Without dark we can't know light. And light only becomes visible as it reflects from an object. We can only intuitively see the light streaming in sunny, clear air. And what would we see in space where matter particles are so separate? There perhaps we couldn't sense light around us even through our intuition. 

Yet we can know the light exists even there. How small and limited we are in our human ways and knowing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hume , the great thinker.

"Reading and sauntering and lounging and dozing, which I call thinking, is my supreme happiness."

"The truth springs from arguments among friends." 

"Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty."

"The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster."

"He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to any circumstances."
                                ~David Hume

The only way you’re going to face your wild beasts and your shadows is by failure and rejection, by people not loving you, by having to learn how to love [your parents and siblings,] your wife and your children and those who hurt you—the enemies—those who make you aware of your own incapacity to love. 
                                ~Fr. Richard Rohr

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This Precious Gift

Over the climbing meadows
Where the shallow shadows float
These are the bright gold buttons
On earth's green, windy coat.
       ~A Poet of Calvert Street

Today is just such a day: windy, with shallow shadows from scattered clouds and the occasional large or smaller bird; with bright gold buttons-- dandelion, buttercup-- on the verdant green coat worn by all the meadows. The climbing meadows, and the mares and foals in some, Holsteins in others. All a gift to the senses.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Light in a Rainy Day

A good day depends more on my internal weather than on the natural atmosphere outdoors. In recent months I have stayed mostly silent about my bouts of inner storm and rain. I strive to practice lowly listening, as I walk in the skin that carries my hours, and I continue to hear some non-speaking voice of calm from all the natural world.

In nature, even the dark has light, and of course high-day-clear-air has brilliance. I have come to understand that this blog is my place to mostly collect light, and I return to it more than you ever will. Yet I am ever glad for the sharing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

Isn't it a little strange? That we, creatures of earth, have so forgotten our unbreakable link to our origins that we need one specific day designated each year to recognize the planet that supports us, to recognize the earth may become as exhausted and beaten down as we.

April 22 also happens to be Bernie's birthday, and we have been celebrating all weekend. One piece of cake left.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Misty Morning

God does not love us because we are good. God loves us because God is good. (Recently quoted in Fr. Richard Rohr's blog.)

God as ALL: all seeing, all knowing, all present, all good. In the presence of such a Presence, love and good have not-humane definitions. But what kind of God do we have if God fits a limited, human image? Humane, after all, comes from the same root as human.

So it is that I know I swim in a Mystery, as lucid and foggy as this morning when the mist in the air is so thick I can not even see to the end of our lane, cannot see the road before me.

The older I get, the more I know I know nothing of Truth.