Sunday, June 24, 2018

Red Brocade (sort of)

T​his delightful poem came to me through the New York Times ​Cooking column. Yes, quite surprising, but we live in an age that seems to call for a good measure of poetry. Isn't a red brocade pillow wonderful to imagine?  I do not have many photographs that highlight the color red; it is not an easy color to capture with my aging camera that also makes phone calls. However, I do think this pansy might make a lovely place to rest and get to know someone over a cup of tea.      

Have a beautiful week.  Let's defy the gravity of politics and keep reaching out to one another.        

Red Brocade

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.


Naomi Shihab Nye  

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Solstice Stroll

While my four footed companion has long been accustomed to a walk in the morning, lately Jack has started asking for an evening walk as well. I try to accommodate him when possible for I think it does us both good.  Yesterday, we were out a little later than usual so when we came across these callas, I did not think there was enough light to photograph the dark flowers. However, their color and shape intrigued me.   Last night I thought they looked like heralding trumpets announcing summer; this morning I think of birds who might be doing the same thing. 

I also received this poem on the first day of summer, and the line "small silences between the leaves" has stayed with me. Yesterday morning I took a few minutes to pause between the leaves of a tree I walk by twice a month. People were waiting for me, so I could not linger as long as the poet wisely prescribes, but long enough for a smile to come to me as I walked on.  
This morning I am reminded to never underestimate the available light. It is always enough to guide our journeys at least a  little further on. 

To Look at Any Thing
To look at any thing,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say,
"I have seen spring in these
Woods," will not do - you must
Be the thing you see:
You must be the dark snakes of
Stems and ferny plumes of leaves,
You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.
~ John Moffitt ~
(Teaching With Fire, edited by S. M. Intrator and M. Scribner)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


This morning when I turned on the lamp, it flickered, and then went dark.  It is decades old; my husband's mother used to read by it. It is large, and not very practical, but I have always been fond of it. I searched for a light bulb, but, as typical for these sort of interruptions, we have none in the house. I read a poem anyway. This is one of those times when I will not elaborate with a photograph; the author's images provide more than enough light. 

I think I shall enjoy this book very much. 

Spring Evening in Sparse Woods

I can hear the red-winged blackbirds calling, squawking as 
they do around a ripe cornfield, but it's still spring, the corn 
barely up. They make a noise now that rises with the cloud of
new dusk. In the woods across the road the grass is trying to be 
quiet because the night is coming, while the long branches of the
lone evergreen are lifting up the half-moon as if it were a child.      
Darkness Sticks to Everything 
Tom Hennen 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

At the Heart of It All

I think I am finally beginning to understand mandalas.  And maybe a bit more about Christ (if that is possible). I am reminded that I really am not photographing flowers, but rather the sacred beauty that is within us all.  

Blessings to the fathers, and those who have or have had fathers. May our nation be gentle today. The children need us to be love.   ​

We find this stillness at the centre of the wheel of the prayer, but if we were to try to describe that stillness more specifically every one of our traditions would have different terms. As a Christian it seems to me that at the centre of this wheel of the prayer we find the mind of Christ. We find the person of Christ praying at the centre. His prayer is not words or thoughts. His prayer is pure worship, what he calls worship “in spirit and in truth”. It is pure worship of God his Father. It is this prayer of the Spirit in the Christian understanding that pours out of Him into the human heart, into every human heart. The Spirit of Christ universally has entered and touched the human heart in a non-sectarian way.

 The Contemplative Dimension of Faith, Meditatio Series 2012B
​,"  Father Laurence Freeman, OSB  

Thursday, June 14, 2018


This poem from Panhala came to me this morning.  I fell in love with the phrase, "untrimmable  light."  I know our paths often seem to be taking us through lonely,rough terrain.  Let us remember to pause often, and let the eyes of our hearts see this glow on our close horizons. 

Untrimmable: that which can never be lessened or extinguished. This I experience as the love and light of the living Christ, and I give thanks for this love that can never be earned, but only accepted and shared. 
Blessings on your journey today.   Please remember we do not journey alone. 


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant - 
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver ~
(Why I Wake Early)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


"(...) to pay attention to someone is to be with them, to be present to them as you are to a friend when they come to you with a problem and you just listen. You might say, I wish I could do something for you, but I can’t. I don’t know how to solve your problem, but I am here for you. I am present for you. That is compassion. It’s not just problem-solving, it’s not just counselling, but it is compassion in action. Meditation certainly develops this capacity for compassion. Stillness is at the heart of meditation in all traditions. “Be still and know that I am God,” it says in the Psalms."
Contemplative Dimension of Faith, Laurence Freeman, OSB

I received this post from the World Community of Christian Meditation this morning. Reminds me of my spiritual direction supervisor of whom I think with much gratitude. She would periodically caution against trying to "get under the hood and fix things." However, this morning we have a refrigerator that is not cooling enough, and we await the repair person who can indeed fix things. All have a place, and we belong. This I experience as the Christ among us.

The temperature is rising in so many ways. Reading Psalm 46 in its entirety seems appropriate this morning. May the peace of Christ be with you all.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Christ Within

This is the essential mystery or the essential challenge too of Christian faith, that the historical person of Jesus, the universal teacher of wisdom, is also present in a way, in a form, within or with us. St Paul says the secret, the mystery, is Christ within you. 

 Father Laurence Freeman, World Community of Christian Meditation

Monday, June 4, 2018

"From a Country Overlooked'

I received this poem this morning from an email from the World Community of Christian Meditation.  Many of us need to at least periodically gaze at a landscape that is not under siege by the unrelenting hunger of this society.  Poet Tom Hennen speaks to my soul this morning and I am grateful.  Let us all find a quiet spot today and linger.  That simple act can begin to heal, not only ourselves, but our beleaguered world.  Yes, we are that connected and God is that close.  

There are no creatures you cannot love.
A frog calling at God
from the moon-filled ditch
as you stand on the country road in the June night.
The sound is enough to make the stars weep
with happiness.
In the morning the landscape green
is lifted off the ground by the scent of grass.
The day is carried across its hours
without any effort by the shining insects
that are living their secret lives.
The space between the prairie horizons
makes us ache with its beauty.
Cottonwood leaves click in an ancient tongue
to the farthest cold dark in the universe.
The cottonwood also talks to you
of breeze and speckled sunlight.
You are at home in these
great empty places
along with red-winged blackbirds and sloughs.                
You are comfortable in this spot
so full of grace and being
that it sparkles like jewels
spilled on water.  

 “From a Country Overlooked” by Tom Hennen in DARKNESS STICKS TO EVERYTHING (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2013), p. 74. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

I Am No Einstein

Last night I dreamed I was on a boat and I died. My body (I was still in it) was thrown overboard.  As my body began to gently sink, I could see the sky above me. It was as if I was looking through a porthole. Then I felt my body being nudged upward, like a dolphin might do. I then heard a man's voice coming from the boat saying, "Old man, leave that young woman alone."  My first thought was "I am not young."  I then thought, "Ah, yes. Death is birth. The old become a new young."  I was not afraid. I had no sensation of the water. I was not breathing, but I was comfortable. I was surprised by the nudging and lifting, but I did not find them annoying.  I was captivated by the way the light glistened above me.  I think I appreciated being able to look up, but strong emotions were not present.  There was no struggle and no fear. 
A couple of nights ago I came home to find Tyler engrossed in a show about Albert Einstein. In about five minutes, maybe less, I was laughing. Obviously, my daily worries contribute almost nothing to humankind's understanding of anything about this world, much less the universe.  Consequently, I think I shall throw my old bag of woe and care overboard and live on in freedom.       
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, 
and the light around me become night,"
even the darkness is as light to you. 
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast the sum of them. 
I try to count them - they are more than the sand. 
I come to the end - and I am still with you. 
Psalm 139:11-12, 17-18