Friday, August 29, 2008

softening to the suffering

For faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart. Audacious longing, burning songs, daring thoughts, an impulse overwhelming the heart, usurping the mind -- these are all a drive towards serving Him who rings our hearts like a bell.

It is as if He were waiting to enter our empty perishing lives. To rely on our faith would be idol worship. We have only the right to rely on God. Faith is not an insurance, but a constant effort, constant listening to the eternal voice. Abraham Heschel.

My own thoughts? Perhaps we do feel His presence when we feel a sense of emptiness......when we recognize in ourselves the need to let go of the reins of control. This is a constant when one lives in a marginalized state of mind and soul. It zaps us of energy and spirit when trying to do it alone...........when we continue to grapple for answers and sustenance to no avail....... like a lost thirsty soul in the trying paddle upriver against the wind.
There comes a point when one's clenched hands, open and turn outward in a gesture for help. There comes a time when meditative silence is the only alternative after avoiding it like it was the enemy.

I wonder ....... it seems like we need to RISK stripping down to the bare bonedness, down to the core essentials of who we are and what matters before we can, on our knees look up and see His presence, to feel His radiance. is only then that He can see and feel us too. If we risk opening up the part of us that rarely see any light, perhaps we find our listening ears that may hear the eternal voice?

WE cover ourselves, body and soul with a lanolin that repels the divine touch. Why is that? Does our fear of feeling such transparent vulnerability, of feeling a light headed weakness come from not being able to fully trust that its alright to present our own messy selves?
Nothing permeates our holy core until we dip ourselves in a clarity which then wipes away the noisy life residue............our cravings to be loved, to be accepted, to be assured, to be fed can only be addressed if we are on the verge of perishing in the wilderness. This is when we stop clinging to comfort and learn how to walk on.......

Monday, August 25, 2008


How to defend yourself against betrayal: Top 10 recommendations

1. Go live in a cave

2. Don't stick your neck out for anyone

3. Stop making friends

4. Silence yourself. Don't share any information, aspirations, communications, complications with anyone.

5. Distrust everone you encounter including the important people in your life for they are the most apt to betray.

6. Give up loving people.

7. If you have to go out, don't look anyone in the eye.

8. Stop sharing

9. Cross the busy street alone. Stop relying on a friend to hold your hand.

10. Lose all expectations that others care.

In reality, there is no defence for arming yourself against the nastiness of betrayal. If we are out there interacting with others, sticking your neck out, taking risks, living life, you're bound to be a target of it every now and then. We've all felt its sting, and we've all been the unthinking self consumed eeejit on the other end too. Ewww, when I think about being the eeejit, I feel a wash of shame flood over me.

How I feel when I have been betrayed?






I will remember this a way to be more respectful and kind to others in the future. It's a horrible, horrible feeling isn't it? It's all in how we behave towards our fellow human beings that matters. What else matters more than looking out for one another with love and honour?
love, love, all you need....

I don't plan on adhering to these 10 recommendations. It's not in me. I thrive on the interactions and connections I have every single day. But, I think I need some time to let go of these feelings I have after experiencing a big betrayal and move on. I have had the worst time trying to write over the past week because of the bitterness I taste and seem to be holding onto. Somehow it has to be resolved, but right now things are complicatedly impacting my thinking, feeling and doing.........every time I sit down to write, I'm consumed with hurt and anger and can't get beyond it. This isn't the place where I want to write from because what seems to emerge is vindictiveness and bile. Not good. I've had enough of feeling sorry for myself.

Gotta find beauty again. Gotta find my confidence again because it has taken a serious blow. However, if I look at it philosophically, remembering what I have read, what I have learned from my friends, and what I have learned through my own desire to seek out a deeper awareness of faith, I can see this latest setback as another chance to strip away that ego defensive stuff and recognize that I am but one cell tucked away.

Transformative? Maybe a little step towards that. Do these frigging steps ever get easy? Do we ever get an easy step ever??

I think it's normal to want to lash out after being cornered by a slap in the face betrayal. In the long run however it's not going to help matters if I react with the feelings I'm harbouring. It'll only make it worse. So, I'll be back when the run of shit luck blows away with the grey cloud that seems to be hovering over my umbrella. I just need some time to look after my wounds.

wild possibilities

What would think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
He gets high with a little help from his friends,
Oh I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends.

Such inspiration it is to have friends who believe in you so wholeheartedly that they would help you unconditionally. Friends help you capture, as John O'Donahue expressed, "the wild possibilities in you...." Sometimes its all it takes to set you going down a new path with new eyes and a new spring in your step. If someone you have a deep connection with, someone you've shared many sips of that life wine with is supporting you in a new endeavour or encourages you to take a risk life seems much less daunting.
Is there anything more life affirming to know someone believes in you enough to go the extra mile? Only if you stretch yourself to help a friend see their own wild possibilities will you feel it more deeply. I can't think of anything more heartwarming than helping, even if it is just a small gesture, than helping a friend see their own wild possiblities.
Do you need anybody? It sure helps sometimes.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fredericton Market Colour

Bella Vista apples dripping in dewdrops.......the first of the season. Don't you love their name? This morning I headed to my local market before the crowds arrived. I love the pace there at that time of day, the vendors focused on setting up their products, sipping on coffee and preparing for the onslaught by mid morning, while people like me can take in the colour and abundance of this years' produce and flowers.

The Boyce Market in Fredericton is also a great place for local artisans to sell their creations. This morning, the rays of the late summer sun were warmly captured by the stunning glass catchers which spun slowing in the breeze. I found them mesmerizing. I would love to have a whole window, one which the morning sun streams through, covered in these ornaments. Sun colour......enlightening prisms.

My favourite time of the week......Saturday mornings at the Market are always abundantly full of colour.......whether it's in mid-January on a gloomy winter day, or in August when the sun can't get brighter.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Colourful Kids and Carnivals

End of summer carnivals are traditions in many neighbourhoods. It's a time of celebration of all the fun activities and freedom summer has to offer. It's a time to let loose a bit before the formality of school and routine takes over again. For the past two months, I have had the pleasure to work with a handful of fabulous summer students who have given it their all AND more to provide new and interesting adventures and experiences to kids who may not otherwise have had the opportunties.

Trips to museums, galleries, outdoor concerts and plays, afternoons spent at the local pool, time on the river in a kayak for the first time ever, mornings creating crafts, telling stories................and just hanging out on rainy days playing Monopoly or Scrabble were all on the itinerary. Both the kids and the staff thrived in the interactions and connections. It has been such a successful summer of programming for these kids and it all has to do with the dedication the summer counsellor staff had to the kids in their care.

So, today was a celebration complete with colourful jumping castles, face painting, various games and activities and lots and lots of popcorn. I bounced around from one activity to another chatting it up with kids and some moms...........getting to know some of them so that in the future my face will be familiar and friendly in their community. And I realized that for the afternoon, under a clear blue beautiful sky, we were all surrounded by colour.

Laughter and comraderie accompanied by upbeat carnivale music was eye catching and heart smiling. I loved the innocence of the little ones who get all excited about having fun even though perhaps the day to day realities may be adult like serious.

Sometimes, there's nothing more important than a good escape to clear the anxieties......especially one that includes a massive jumping castle, pie eating contests and frozen slushies.
Colourful Carnival and Colourful People.
It was a wonderful afternoon.

This week's theme for Carmi's thematic photography is colourful. I don't know whether I am supposed to pick one photo and go with it, but I can't seem to do that...........Colourful means cornucopia of candids. Click here to check out the rest of the photos.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


While beauty gladdens our hearts, it makes us lonely too for what cannot be. True beauty is woven through the heart of life and is ever engaged with forces of ignorance, darkness, ugliness and negativity; yet domination and power are not beauty's way. Beauty works from within these conflicts of forces and her brightening may or may not appear. Where beauty seems absent, she is often hidden and still at workin the slow industry of transformation. So much of beauty is not immediately apparent and indeed it could take a long time before it becomes visible. It often takes a lot of struggle and committed attention and generosity, even sacrifice, in order to create beauty. This work of beauty is slow and patient; it is the transformation through which the darkness of suffering eventually glimmers with the learned refinement of true radiance. John O'Donahue.

Yesterday, a good friend shared with me her belief that suffering is an art through which we have the opportunity to strip away the Ego in order to reach towards a sense of clarity where we ourselves grow smaller in order to let God shine from within us. We dont vanish externally. Internally, however, we allow the beauty of God to alter the colourful prisms we see through. We become the essence of God. How radiantly Divine is that?

What if God was one of us? He is. One and all as one.
(you just never know what one will learn during coffee break in my office!)

The barbed wire fence in this picture glows from the sun making it seem like it is decorated with a string of tiny lights for celebration. Radiant.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I will rise up.

Go if you must go
Turn if you must turn away
Don't cry a tear for me
Laugh if you can smile
Run if you're walking away
Don't cry a tear for me
Shout if you can speak
Sing if you mention my name
Don't cry a tear for me
Low in the valley,
stand in the wind and the rain
High on the mountain,
see the sun shining again
Shout if you can speak
Sing when you mention my name
Don't cry a tear for me
So go if you must go
Turn if you must turn away
Don't cry a tear for me.
Lyle Lovett.

A beautiful haunting song of stripped down bare boned vulnerability tucked away on a collection of spiritually driven orchestrations. From the CD, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. One of my favourites. Lovett always surprises me with his ability to touch the chord of his faith. His song, I Will Rise Up is as moving in its "Large Band" intensity as is this ballad which he sings alone with his guitar.
His beauty shines on......


“Oh the gladness of their gladness when they're glad, And the sadness of their sadness when they're sad; But the gladness of their gladness, and the sadness of their sadness, Are as nothing to their badness when they're bad”
J.M. Barrie

Sunday, August 17, 2008

it has been spoken......

"He's gonna cover us up with leaves
With a blanket from the moon
With a promise and a vow
And a lullaby for my brow"
I sought out the soft dappling light and felt the cool evening August breeze tonight alone on a quiet road. As I walked up into the pasture covered in tall grass and white wildflower blossoms I wondered about the word Amen.... the last breath of prayer, and perhaps the last word spoken at the end of a day. It is our accepted way of expressing the serenity of surrendering to a Higher Power after we have offered up our honest attempt to share our innermost reflections. I wondered how often others have stopped to think about its meaning and its purpose.......
Let it be.
When we express ourselves through prayer, amen affirms our expressions. How often do we say a prayer, one that perhaps we have used over and over again and we forget to clear away the debris so as to feel the meaning and the essence of the words right in the moment? Routine words lose their oooomph if they are swallowed and transformed into a rote disconnected mantra. Amen doesn't hold much substance in those moments. There's such a different feel to letting the word slip through our lips without a pause of acknowledgement.
So be it.
Tonight, I didn't say a prayer I had memorized. Rather, I said Amen during and after the quiet contemplation of taking a walk alone on a road that was lit up by a gorgeous everchanging twilight sky. The landscape and skyline tonight was my prayer. I just had to walk into it and and let it pull me into its beauty. As Tom Waits sings, it was a lullaby for my brow.
Amen to that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sunrise and Sundown

All my life's a circle
Sunrise and sundown
The moon rose through the nighttime
'Til the daybreak comes around

How do you describe a day that begins with an early morning phone call of distress, followed by the stark raving reality of believing you are witnessing a close friend's demise? How do you begin to explain a day where you are swished into a quiet room at the hospital by a nurse......out of the way of code blue, to be followed by a visit with the chaplain who gently informs you that it doesn't look good? And where do you go when after staring at your spouse and seeing your own fear in their eyes as you both grapple for a breath while the unreal news that our friend is struggling for his life and we are the ones who must handle whatever the outcome.......that we must face all of this together and be strong for one another, and be clear headed for each other and for our friend's family? Where do you go?

You want to run. You want to hide. You want to plug your ears and close your eyes and click your heels and get the hell back to Kansas. Then, you go inside yourself and pull out your best faith muscles and persevere. Because you can. Because you have to. Because others need you to.

How do you describe the joy and blood melting relief only moments after surging through a copious quantity of fear, shock, electricity, anxiety.........that leaves you feeling like a weeping wet rag? How do you stop from laughing and crying at the same time while reflecting on the mountain of events that occured before 9 am after you realize that your friend is going to recover, going to make it............going to be alright?

How do you tell his daughter who you've just dropped off at a summer camp program only 1/2 an hour before when it didn't look so grim? How do you connect with his wife who is in another country at a conference? Friends too? How do you step up to the plate to make the decisions, take in the information, create a gameplan and then execute it when all around you is a slap of gut doubling reality?
How do you describe a day like that..........................when at the end of it as I write this, our friend is settled and stable after being transferred to the cardiac hospital in another city..........whose wife is now by his side, whose daughter is well informed and loved and staying with other friends while I wait for my husband to return from being by the side of his closest friend and witnessing it all........a friend who was with him just last spring when the roles were reversed??


Heart tripping
Gut ripping
Skin rippling
Life Affirming
Bloody Awful
Bloody Amazing
Bloody surreal
Tiring, so tiring
Love Affirming
Miraculously full of Grace

How about a day to count your blessings, and to appreciate the unspoken beauty of the circle of life as we live it. A day to remember to kneel down in prayer to give thanks. Yes, this has been a year of all of that over and over. We will all be toasting life, love and grace when we congregate in October for Thanksgiving.

"And as I find your here again, the thoughts run through my mind,
Our love is like a circle
Lets go around one more time."

Harry Chapin.
ps. I wrote this last night as a way to capture this day of grace and a few miracles and realized that what I had written was a moment of poignancy, which is the topic for this weeks thematic photography at Carmi's. When I had first read the topic/theme on Wednesday, I was waffling about which photo I could post to reflect the theme. I kept thinking about the many moments I don't capture with my camera during my work travels and thought perhaps what I wanted to to was to write a descriptive piece on a poignant moment I had been priviledged to experience. Then, we were put into a face to face life and death situation today.........
As I drove home with my son from his baseball game last night, knowing our friend was safe and was going to get better over time, my son Max and I took in the beauty of twilight over the Saint John river. I pulled over and took the picture at the bottom of the post with a renewed sense of gratitude.
We have to live in the moment, live like today is the last.........and for God's sake, take it all in.......... learning new dance steps as you go. chachacha.
for more thematic entries, check out Carmi's site.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

soaking it in.....and spilling some drops

Hello out I tuning in? I may be tuning in, but am rambling on tonight. Please bear with me on this post. :)

The rainclouds seem to be pulling in the bluesy notes and i find myself covered in tarred feather reflections normally saved up for February blizzards when the whole world comes to a halt. But, we are onto the fourth week of mostly rain and as much as i'm trying to dance with the tides, I keep slipping into the churning undertow. Where are my trusty feet? They don't seem to be under me. They don't seem to be listening to my request to change direction, to skip over to YET another path. I try to move them, my body swaying left, my feet demanding to remain stuck in the muck, What gives??

I hear the traffic down on the old heading into and out of town.........some from far away pulling campers on their way to a vacation spot. Poor buggers! Everything feels like a croaking frog swamp. What i like about the sound is that it is the sound of movement. Not that I want to run away or anything. Well, actually if I'm honest, I do want to run away. I want to escape. I want to try something new in someplace where they don't say things to me like: "Get over it. Get used to it," when I try to express my displeasure of feeling lost in a new building with rules I find unworkable.................rules like not allowing anyone outside of the department into my office even if it's a meeting. No counselling there. No consoling. No planning. Except with colleagues. Except on my own. It's my space but not really. I want to escape its reins.

"There's nothing we can do about this.....get used to it..."

How about listen and not dismiss? How about respectfully show some empathy. Anyone know what empathy is? Maybe empathy hooked onto the back of a camper and headed out of town.

Life seems like its always a chore to reinvent oneself. I can be as flexible as the best, but when it comes to who I am down in my core being? Youse gets whats youse see. And I kind of like who I am, what my values are, what I look like inside. It works for me and it seems to work with the ones I am there to help. It doesn't work for the ones who carry the big sticks. A friend told me today that YES I am a difficult person.........this lovely label was coming from another difficult person so he was allowed to call me that.

I think I'd prefer the label complicated. I'm complicated and proud of it! My brain ticks overtime, my feelings are on my sleeve. I question, wonder, ponder, ask out loud. I am assertive and will show my true colours, and there are many shades. I have strong opinions, but love to hear others thoughts and opinions too. If someone needs me, I'm there....................I am there. I am here too and I don't want to reinvent myself. Change is good, but reinventing the important stuff isn't whatsoever.

I remember the first time a guy I was dating called me complicated because for some reason I was dumbfounding him with whatever it was I was talking about at the time. My response while laughing at the comment? I thanked him. I did! I thanked the guy, and then told him he was a lucky bugger to be attracted to someone complicated. Life doesn't get boring. We had a great summer together! Then, he married an uncomplicated trophy wife. They lasted 10 years. He enrolled at university after that and found his own cerebral complicated contemplations. Good on 'im.

However, somedays I just wish it was boring............just for a breather. Calm, cool and nothing to complicatively contemplate. It just always seems like there's a dilemma. Its not like I go looking for them damn dilemmas. They find me. Even when I'm holed up in my "do not enter" office that I AM TRYING TO GET USED TO, dilemma the ugly debutante wiggles her ass at me. Then, things get complicated.

You know.................I know what I want. I want to do what I do best. Counsel. Teach. I want to consult with others............I want to interact with people who seek out interacting. I want to be the best counsellor I can be in order to help others and to grow personally. That doesnt seem complicated to me. It seems rather rational. What is complicated are all the damn impasses and roadblocks and permutative alien rules which seem to get in the way. But then a moment stirs up the bluesy clouds and lets through a ray of this one..........

In the middle of the day today, I found myself in the kitchen of a woman who suffers deeply from a life threatening depression. She had been out of the hospital for about a week, and was doing quite well considering. It was good to see her again and to be sitting with her. Her kitchen was lovely................decorated with apple motifs and everything spic and span clean and neat. She had lacey tableclothes layed on her kitchen look at the scene you would have a clue how complicated her life is. This is where we were sitting.

I was in a bit of a foul mood when I arrived there. Tired too..............tired of trying to "get over it" and looking at reinventing myself. She was also in a foul mood. Her new medications were keeping her away from a deep sleep, and the rain was getting to her emotionally. I could tell she was sick up to her eyeballs in trying to "get over it" find her merry sunshine spirit. Our impromptu meeting seemed like good karma on a day of dilemma dipping.

My being there hadn't been planned. I just ended up there instead of next door where I was supposed to be. But, it was meant to be because she and I hadn't had a chance to talk alone for a long time, and when we do it's always deep and meaningful. Today was no different. She was telling me about a situation she found herself in.........a whistleblower kind of scenario and was feeling guilty and unsure that her actions would be perceived the wrong way. Her intent was to get help for another who was in dire need. Her whistleblowing was done out of compassion. She described how she was feeling..................and said..........

"I feel like a bad person for doing what I did. Am I a bad person?"

I looked right at her and said with complete conviction.......

"No, you are a wonderful compassionate human being whose trying really hard to deal with life's complications. What you did for that person was from the love in your heart.......they may not get over it. Who knows how they will see what you've had to do on their behalf, but you know and I know that you did it to ensure another human being gets help. You may have saved their life."

I made her smile.

She made me smile.

Smiling is never complicated. They may hide behind the stormy clouds on some days when reinventing and trying to figure out impasses seem to be on the menu, but when they are's a simple thing to do.

How do I finish this piece? Let me describe what I'm hearing through my bedroom window......The cars going by on the old highway are fewer...........there is silence now in between the whooshing sound of the tires on wet pavement, along with the mooing sound of the cows summering on the island in the middle of the river. I love that sound. Silly old cows with nothing better to do but contemplate life in their own way. The day is calming down to a slumbering pace, and the blues seem to have caught a ride out of town again. Think I'll lie on my bed and listen to the sounds of home.
I think I found me feet again. (My God I love the flow of writing) Let them dance with the tides and kick up some muck. Let them take humbled me along this crazy journey up into the fields of thought provoking complications.

Monday, August 11, 2008

love hurts too deeply

A young man, head down with his hands folded into the pockets of his jacket walks over to the edge of the forest and sits down with his back leaning against an old oak tree. He's tired and spent unable to grasp the depths of how he feels anymore. Too much tragedy has scored his soul and it all happened too quickly. He has suffered loss, incredible loss of the two people in his life he always thought would live forever. Numbness has enveloped his whole deeply that he couldn't even feel the knife he stabbed into his leg. He thought it would relieve the psychic pain searing through his veins.........a hot lava pouring into his gut.

Strange he is feeling such unrelenting burning and yet he's numb too. It's like he has no more room to take it in. He's saturated by it..........and then the numbness? Its like he's been anethesized by a large dentist needle and it has frozen his whole body. So, he sits head down, his arms pulling his knees in as he desperately tries to close himself off from the rest of the invisible fetus holding on in the dark with no womb to protect him.

He can't think. NO, he can think, but the thoughts blast into one another in rapid succession they make no sense. They pollute his mind leaving no room for anything but static noise. He can't think clearly. He can't hear beyond the static. He doesn't want to. In the middle of the night, the only sound that filters up from the confused noise is a the lonely sound of a cello. Its baritone moan fits his sorrow. Too much sorrow for one adolescent. Too much loss. He smokes a joint to try to take it all away, but it doesn't work.

His friends have somehow managed to carry on. From his vantage, they seem to be coping with their shared loss. Maybe they don't feel it as deeply as they mingle together, laughter spilling in the air while this young man sits on the sidelines, cocooned.
Through the fog, he hears someone calling his name over and over and over.......He looks up. His dark bloodshot eyes meet the compassionate eyes of his friend who sits down quietly beside him. Close to him. She says nothing. Just sits beside him for the longest time, until her warmth somehow permeates his arm.

He tries to stay within himself. He refuses to feel her presence. At first he can tune her out. He can stay numb, but then it becomes impossible because she begins to feel like an appendage of him....part of the surging flow inside. Her silence is like a calm warm wave that keeps passing through his noise. She tucks her arm into his while continuing to remain silent............silent in a way that shifts the pain, and coats it with cotton. After an eternity, when she feels him relax a bit, she moves her arm and puts it around his shoulders, pulling him into her embrace. No words, just gestures of compassion. And when he feels comfortable in her arms, the words begin.......

"I will sit with you as long as you need me," she whispers. "I will sit here until you know we love you and we won't let you fade away."

The tears he has kept at bay begin to fall. "It hurts so much I can't handle it. I can't deal with this. It's not fair. Why did this happen to me? Why did God let this happen? I never want to love again. It hurts too much."

She says......"I don't have those answers. I wish I knew. What I do know is that all we have is love and eachother in this fucked up world and as much as love can rip you in two, it is all we have Josh. So, I want you to remember, when you are alone, know that I will think of you. In the morning, when I get up, I will think of you."

She takes his hand and opens it up from his clutch and kisses his palm gently. "See where I kissed you? It will remain there. Even if you wash your hands 1000 times, it will still be there. And when we grow up and move away...........when we all learn to cope and to live with our loss or not, and when you grieve on those days when you miss your Dad and your best friend the most, you can look at your open hand and know that you carry a kiss. My kiss. It tells you that you're never alone because I promise you that every morning, I will think of you and pray for your well being. Your pain is mine. Your joy is mine. Let me in to care.........."

Sobbing now for the first time, he bows his head into her chest while she rocks him in silence. No words. No answers. Just tenderness. His weeping continues until he has nothing left, until he falls asleep safe in his friend's arms.

This weekend, I was thinking about a young man I don't know very well who is going through big stuff and I don't know if he will find his way. He has many people around him who love him dearly and who would move mountains to take away his pain. I don't think he can hear them right now and I don't think he can see beyond the bubbled cocoon he has constructed around himself. I pray they keep trying because I fear they may be too afraid of the intensity of the pain. Plus they are going through their own. They too have suffered loss.

It also made me think about how many people are in the same emotional dessert, and it left me wondering.......... if we could all step into someone elses circle when they are in need, and simply tell them that we can be counted on for as long as their journey feels lonely......AND beyond that.
We hold back thinking someone else is going to be the one to kiss the hand of a another human being. But what if we all think that? No one gets kissed! Too many people in our world have absolutely no one thinking of them at least once a day. Can you imagine? I can hardly imagine it because I am blessed with my family and friends both at home and work................gotta believe at least one of them is wondering what i'm up to! And of course, I am thinking of them as well. All the time. They never leave my thinking. I may get busy and involved in a variety of tasks and commitments, but the people who live under my big umbrella with me? They know as I do. We are connected in a compassion of caring for one another.

What would it be like not to have anyone to share the protection of the umbrella? What if no one knew you were alive? I may not ever want to feel the level of pain others feel, but damn if I'm going to try to find the courage to sit with someone in need of being recognized as a hurting human being even if it scares me to death. It's all I can do. It's all anyone is asked to do. There is always room under the umbrella isn't there? If we don't recognize a person who lives in their pain alone, who will? Hope and healing begin with the gift of recognition..........the gift of love.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

two travellers

Two travellers unknown to one another meet on the top of the hill which overlooks a stunning vista of wildflower fields and a clear blue sky. Birds are singing everywhere. The summer breeze touches their faces cooling them down from their long trek. One traveller takes a sip of water while he looks around unable to settle, as the other sits in quiet contemplation. After a few minutes of rustling about quite agitated, the first traveller says....

"For years I have been seaching for God. I walked across the dessert, stood along the shore of the vast ocean, sat in the silence of the cathedral. I have spent time in the heart of the city and along the fields of the countryside. "

The other traveller, enjoying the spectacular sunset where shafts of light are filtering up above the horizon, replies, "did you find Him?"

To this the first traveller replies with a note of frustration......"No I havent. Have you?"

All at once, hundreds of birds lift up from the surrounding trees and a family of deer peak out from the edge of the forest. But the first traveller had already walked on too busy with his search, disappointed once again that he had not found what he was looking for. The other traveller continued to sit on the top of the hill looking at the sun setting below the horizon until the sky filled with millions of stars scattered across the midnight blue canvas. He smiled with a contented sigh.

Sometimes we are so busy looking for, when all we need to do is look.

Friday, August 08, 2008

the pilgrim

The pilgrim returned home to the people in her village who were eager to know about her travels into the wilderness. But how could she ever find the words to fit the feelings in her heart and soul of what she had experienced? How could she explain the beauty as well as the savagery she encountered on her journey? At first she tried. Using analogies in her descriptions so as to help bridge the world of wonderment she had returned from and the place where the people who love her dwell.......where she too dwells, she began to describe the faces, the places and the holy spaces beyond the horizon. But the bridge wasn't sturdy or wide enough to help them see into this frontier. Her words met with bewilderment.

She said. "You will have to go find out yourselves."

To help guide them, she drew a map of the wilderness on a big piece of paper and included as many details as she could. But no one took her advice. Instead, the villagers gleefully pounced on the map and lovingly framed it to be displayed in their community centre after they made copies for themselves to study. Every person who had the good fortune to have a copy poured over the details of the wild frontier they had never set foot in. However, they became experts. In fact, they learned about every tree, brook, culvert and path to a point where some even began to believe they had been there in person.

Pretty soon, these new experts began to preach about the wilderness, spreading false truths to their neighbours living throughout the countryside. It was then that the pilgrim realized how dangerous it was to draw a map for the people who simply chose to stay within the parameters of the village and never venture out to seek their own answers. They will never really know if there is truth or not. How sad.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

infinite patterns

From the intricate swirls on our fingertips to the serated lines cut into the facade of a tall steepled cathedral, patterns create a sense of orderliness to our unruly world. Everywhere you look, you can see a pattern etched into creation. A steel framed bridge arching across the river. The striped summer awnings bringing welcome shade to a veranda. The worn varnished hardwood of an old staircase which holds the stories of the family who uses them day in and out. The plaid covering a wingback chair.........patterns perform sameness balance pleasing to the eye. The corrugated red roof on a barn. The pleats of a little girl's dress. Patterns act as the guide for a photographer, painter, writer, sculptor, architect, engineer, carpenter, dancer, musician, a dressmaker, a designer. Patterns impact every creation.

What intrigues me the most, however are the patterns of nature because they continue to evolve and redesign themselves through the ebb and flow of the elements. Look at the twilight sky. Its hues of blue cut by the thin streaked clouds, a little ochre of orange like a ribbon wrapped above the horizon. Watch the pebble thrown into the stillness of a pond. The ripples flow outward into an infinite calm wave until it folds back into the water. See the wind catch a field of unmowed hay. It waves to you, inviting you to learn its dance steps. Feel the waves of an incoming tide spray up onto the shore. It churns change as it digs up the sand and moves the bars with its brute strength. Focus on the morning glisten caught in a newly formed spider's web. The dewdrops seemingly hang in the air, held only by the finest threads. Look deep into the woods. The trees, with its vertical wrapping of bark, stretch up into the open air sending its branches out to weave and wave into another neighbouring tree.

The patterns of nature are never still. They continue to reinvent themselves, adding nuances to their lovely imperfections through the elements. Altered by light's brilliance, the shades shift the timbral tone turning it into a completely different schema, forcing our thirsty eyes to adjust their focus. Everywhere you turn, patterns exist as a melody for our senses, as a test of our awareness, as a means for us to merge into our surroundings, as an element of awakening that stretches our imagination beyond the mundane. Nature feeds our imagination which in turn motivates us to actively produce our individual artistry. It is a never ending show of art.

What is pleasing to me may not be pleasing for you. Colour, shape, texture, shading, angles, light absorptions and reflections and the design itself are received differently by you and me because our preferences and responses are inherently conceived in our uniquely produced patterns found in our uniquely designed DNA. I may react strongly to different hues of green, whereas you may find that colour repulsive. You may be attracted to a brighter amount of light, where I may be pulled in by the echoing gravity of shadedness. It all depends on our inherent tastes.

Consequently, we continue to strive for originality as well as semblance in all aspects of our lives because its not just a visual application. Far from it. There are no parameters to our using patterns with all of our senses. Sound too for example has a colour, shape and texture to it. The shading and light of a melody is revealed through the beat, tone, and notes. We seek it out with our touch too. Patterns enhance our feelings, stimulate our thinking and affect our actions all in how we perceive them. They can lure us in with their magical esthetics or push us away with their adversity. It all depends on how our senses respond. It all depends on what appeals to us.

Patterns is the topic for this week's thematic photography brought to you by my friend Carmi at Written Inc. For more designs, check out his site. you can click here, or reach him through the link on my sidebar anytime.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Our days may be spent under the flourescence of office duties, wrapped up in complicated tasks or micromanaged in an environment unsure of its true calling. Our days may consist of taxiing children, riding subways, running after the bus, or being stuck in traffic surrounded by noxious fumes in the air and talking heads blathering at you from your errand filled commute to a place called "gotta get through it........"

Our days may be busy beyond reason, absorbing the stories of others, arguing over an issue close to the heart, adjusting our internal temperatures, acknowledging the needs of the people around you. Our days may be soaked in personal worries, of aging parents, of misguided teens, of a depressed friend. Our thoughts and feelings on an so called average day can run the gamut while we juggle, smile, yell, cry, sing, moan and groan.....while we catch our breath skipping and jumping to keep up.

By the time dinner is put on the table, we may be too spent to filter through the highs and lows to pick out the meaningfulness of what matters. It all seems to be stirred together like a goulash which lacks the paprika....bland and unimportant......."gotta get through it......"

meaning drops dead from lack of recognition......along with our spirit.....


......the sun begins her own act of dying for another day. Like a star from a silent movie, she captures your attention as she takes her final colourful bow, forcing you to put aside your own urgencies while she reveals her last wish.....her last message.......

Serenity is found in ressurecting the meaning by reflecting on what matters. Serenity is the gentle touching glow of wanting another day, just like the one about to die. May the recognition of mortality stir your desire again to live out loud, to dance like no one's watching, to sing from your soul, to touch another's soul.......... not to just to get through it. May hope find you again.

Touched by a sunset is to be touched by God.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


who makes the changes?
we tend to think others make them.
they are foisted upon us.
sheets upon sheets layered upon our lives
suffocating our best attempts, our best ideas.

nasty feeling changes
like lit matches flicked at our feet to make us
jump out of the way
dance a new step
jitter in fear
forget who we are and what we stand for
what we believe in
what matters.

who makes the changes?

we wrestle over the control panel
where life's decisions are made,
we prefer the passenger seat instead of the driver's
we stay within the flock where our visibility is obscured.
we choose to pass the reins
giving others credit for the changes.

the layers of sheets accumulate making us feel burdened
pressed upon
we point fingers and blame, blame, blame.........
as we jump through hoops
as we slump against the wall feeling defeated
tired, heavy, anxious
about changes.

Under all apathy is a searing simmering anger. We leave it to fuel its own flames and it will scorch us by sucking the oxygen out of our energy. But, if we acknowledge it and use it, our anger can be a motivating agent for recognizing our own empowerment. Changes are catalysts. Changes kick apathy in the ass while luring the motivating fire in the belly to take control and make the best of what life throws our way.

Gotta light our own matches.

Gotta recognize that changes are made by none other than ourselves......or at least our response to them.

time to get out of the rocking chair..........and move forward.

Monday, August 04, 2008

900th post....!

I look at this photo and a few stories and captions start stirring in my word obsessed imagination. Before I choose one avenue, I would love YOU to share with me the ideas conjured up in your imagination when you look at it. Do you have an idea for a story, or a caption? Help me out on my 900th posting. And remember, first unfiltered thoughts are always best to go with.
c'mon! you know you wanna............

Sunday, August 03, 2008

"Where beauty seems absent, she is often hidden and still at work in the slow industry of transformation. So much of beauty is not immediately apparent and indeed it could take a long time before it becomes visible. It often takes a lot of struggle and committed attention and generosity, even sacrifice, in order to create beauty. This work of beauty is slow and patient; it is the transformation through which the darkness of suffering eventually glimmers with the learned refinement of true radiance. " John O'Donahue

The sunflowers opened yesterday. Before they can emerge as yellow beacons of life, they must be tended to so their stalks are reinforced with the strength to hold their heads up high. They take most of the season to grow internally before they can transform a grey cloudy day into one of promise. Yesterday, despite the possiblity of another torrent of rain to dampen most outdoor pursuits, there she was blooming with inspiration......inviting us to appreciate her beauty.