Life is not a straight line. It's a downpour of gifts, please – hold out your hand

Thank you for being here. I'm so glad you're here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Sun Never Says

Just came across this lovely little poem by Hafiz--thought I'd share.

The Sun Never Says

all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

"You owe me."

what happens
with a love like that--
it lights the whole

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Photo courtesy of my husband

Fall back
fall all the way back
let the current
carry you

open wide
to the smiling sun;
to the laughing moon, to clouds
and trees and bees and butterflies

They all know
as the river knows
as the twinkling little stars know

As your open, big heart knows
when the rest gets out of the way

Fall back
dance with the storm clouds
let all the way go

and be carried
the whole way
the whole way back

to your open

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mr. President

Photo taken by my dear husband

Okay, I just can't stop gushing over our new president to be. I'm so proud and inspired and keep reading these articles that leave me overflowing. So I thought I'd share some of the quotes I've come across that have moved me to tears and left me beaming and dreaming and longing to dance with the world.

"Some princes are born in palaces, some are born in mangers. But few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope. Barack Obama never talks about how people see him: I'm not the making history, he said every chance he got. You are. Yet as he looked out Tuesday night through the bulletproof glass, in a park named Civil War general, he had to see the truth on people's faces. We are the ones we've been waiting for, he liked to say, but people were waiting for him, waiting for someone to finish what a King began.

Barack Hussein Obama did not win because of the color of his skin. Nor did he win in spite of it. He won because at a very dangerous moment in the life of a still young country, more people than have ever spoken before came together to try to save it. And that was a victory all its own.

When the race was called, there was a rush of noise, of horns honking and kids shouting and strangers hugging in the streets. People danced in Harlem and wept at Ebenezer Baptist Church and lit candles at Dr. King's grave. More than a thousand people shouted, Yes we can! outside the White House, where a century ago it was considered scandalous for a President to invite a black hero to lunch." Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine

"Blood flowed as election day dawned in Barack Obama's ancestral village in western Kenya. The presidential candidate's half brother, Malik, tied a bull to a tree, then hobbled it and asked me to hold the beast's head to the ground as he drew a machete across its jugular.

The Obama's have descended on Kogelo to celebrate an event so improbable -so audacious, to use their American cousin's word-that as Malik says, it's beyond comprehension. The Jor'Obama have gone from barefoot subsistence farmers to the U.S. presidency in two generations.

My brother is not supposed to accomplish even half of what he has. It's meant to be impossible. And yet it happened, says Malik. It makes you wonder. Is this some force at work, the dynamics of nature or life? Is it God? We divided the world after 9/11. And the world said no. And through my brother, we can all connect again."

For more inspiring words, you need to check out the November 17, 2008 issue of Time Magazine. The gushing just goes on and on.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kissing the Ground

Playing with the camera: Amateur shot of autumn berries
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kiss the ground.

Like most of Rumi's poems, this one resonates with me deeply. My good friend, Brooke, sent it to me a few days ago--I'm so blessed to have friends that know what I need.

This poem tugged at me from the first line. For the last few months, I've been waking up feeling empty and frightened. I haven't known which way to turn. I've questioned myself to the point of exhaustion, trying to figure out why someone like me, someone who has read more self-help/spiritual books than should be legal, someone with two beautiful, healthy girls, an amazing husband, my health, a town I love, could feel so damn bad and sad. There has been this emptiness and deep-seated fear. And instead of turning within and breathing and sinking into all the discomfort, I've buried my head in books or in the computer. I've looked past the only place that can lead me out of this darkness. To sum it up in Rumi's words, I haven't been kissing the ground.

But today I did.

This afternoon I found the camera, flung it over my shoulder, rolled up my jeans, put on my muddy tennis shoes, grabbed the dog and headed out the door. We are lucky enough to be backed up to a gorgeous forested area with trails going in various directions. So, I made my way to the woods, knowing that's where I often find my peace.

This heading into the woods with a camera is something new for me. I think a lot about taking pictures, but I never quite make it happen. Like, it's just too much of an effort to pick up the camera on my way out of the house. I'm so glad I did today.

I stepped close enough to tree branches to see tiny droplets of water clinging to them. Close enough to notice where, precisely, the light was hitting the moss. I squatted down to the forest floor and looked at the rain-soaked red and yellow leaves. There was something so deeply satisfying about taking my camera and attempting to capture a tiny piece of all that beauty. I thought of the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words," and really got what this meant.

I so often try to capture what I see in words and, frustratingly often, come up short. But there is this beautiful thing called a camera that can freeze a moment, capture exactly how the moss hung off the tree branch or the way the gold and red leaves were lit up in the afternoon sun.

And I get what Rumi means when he says, "Let the beauty we love be what we do." I've always found my peace in nature--to capture this beauty and share it with words and pictures, feels a little like love to me. In fact I'm giddy about the whole idea of using my photos to help me express what I see and feel.

I've been depriving myself of joy. I've been looking outside of myself, waiting for something external to fill me rather than turning within and listening to my own quiet wisdom--the wisdom that really is only one, cleansing breath away.

I'm realizing it's all about finding ways to kiss the ground, to tune into the abundance of beauty that surrounds. To skip through the woods and breathe deeply the rich northwest soil. To squat down and capture the dew drop just before it falls.

Though there are infinite ways, I need not find a hundred ways to kiss the ground, just one or two will do. But I do need to let the beauty I love be what I do, not just today but every day.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

For those of you who have not yet had the privilege of reading this, below is a letter that Alice Walker wrote to Barack Obama--so very beautiful.

I hope you're soaking in the joy of this incredible new beginning in our nation's history.

Open Letter to Barack Obama from Alice Walker Nov. 5, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you,North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however,is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate.One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies,but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States an dare sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely.However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless care taking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,

Alice Walker

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sweet Beginnings

Quiet rain
a flickering fire
a heart warm and hopeful.

A new day has begun

Yes, We Can

"And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin

I haven't been able to write for a long while. The truth is, I've been in, what I will call, a deep funk. I've stopped believing I can. I've stopped believing that what I write matters. I've stopped believing in myself, really. I've allowed the old doubts to creep in, slowly at first, and then the floodgates opened and a whole sea of doubts came pouring in. I've wanted to crawl inside my warm, down comforter and go back to sleep.

And in the days leading up to this election, I've been holding my breath more, tensing my shoulders more, pacing more and trying not to allow myself to think about what might be. I've been distracted and impatient and sad. I've been afraid to let myself imagine a beautiful, wonderful, inclusive and inspiring outcome because I didn't want to be deeply disappointed.

But then last night happened.

The country got together, they filled out their ballots, they stood in long lines, they volunteered their time and energy and resources, and they let their voices be heard.

And then Barack Obama stood in front of the world and told us that we can, that we did, that we will.

And I felt something I've been holding tightly inside me loosen a bit. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and hope and connectedness.

I felt like if Rosa Parks can do what she did, if Martin Luther King Jr. can do what he did, if Barack Obama can do what he just did, and the world can come together and do what they just did, then maybe that means I can too.

Today things have changed. Colors have merged, differences have been set aside, people have spoken and the world is listening. I'm listening too and am happy to report that there is a new voice inside my head and it's very clearly saying, yes, you can.

Yes, I can.

May beautiful blessings find you today. May all that is real and peaceful and loving find you and hold you in its warmest embrace.

And may you never stop believing that you can.