Archive for July, 2011

Wow, July 9 was my last post. July 12 was Tom’s back surgery. July 28 was his homecoming….with much focused rehab to do…yet I look forward to telling you some of Napkinwriter’s stories very soon. Maybe they will be short.

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For some time now, I’ve known I’ve gotten every penny’s worth out of my $5 special plain, brown purse I purchased at K-Mart. And I’ve been casusally looking for a replacement but not exactly on a mission, even as the straps unraveled and fell apart as I carried it.

But vacation time was upon us and that was really my internal deadline for a new purse. So after shopping for the last vacation items the night before leaving, I “captured” my new purse.

Rather, it really captured me with it’s vibrant colors and pronounced turquoise (always a winner) running throughout the purse with a leather type texture.  The scenes of Paris cinched the deal. It was on special but I had to put out a few extra bucks to get it. I didn’t care. The purse just felt FUN to me. It had all the compartments I required for my purse organization AND it definitely reminded me of my time with Tom in Paris in 2000.

Christine Whitehall, in her binji yoga blog, has been sharing her walks around Paris and the surrounding countryside so my thoughts have floated back to my own Paris memories —  tranquil, enchanted and exciting ones.

So do you know anyone who just goes through Paris on the way to someplace else? That’s what we were doing when we arrived at the Paris airport. We were non-French speaking tourists with no money exchanged in the United States to make our way from the airport to the train station for our concluding trip to Chartres France. We were  on our way to a week-long retreat on the labyrinth with Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, Episcopal priest. 

This was in May 2000, the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I had previously studied with Rev. Artress at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to become a labyrinth facilitator, but I had no idea of going to France at the time. Things just turned out that way. Like getting onto the labyrinth. You walk to the center and back out again bringing your gift from this quiet walk into the world with you. One of my gifts became a decision made in the future to make the big pilgrimage to Chartres, where this adventure had all began for Rev. Artress.

(Mary, Mother of Christ Child – Chartres Cathedral)

In the mid-nineties, I had picked up her book, “Walking a Sacred Path” at Weber Retreat Center in Adrian Michigan when I was on a weekend retreat on Centering Prayer.  I got interested in both the labyrinth and mandala during that time.  Rev. Artress explains in her book that when she made her pilgrimage trip to Chartres, she felt an overwhelming mission was given to her to make this sacred symbol more known in the United States and in addition to that, to have them created at retreat centers, hospitals, public parks, and cemetaries throughout the land by the year 2000. She succeeded in doing that through her Veritditas Organization.

Grace Cathedral came to have an indoor Cathedral labyrinth and an outdoor plaza labyrinth where on special holy days and New Year’s Day, high on the hill you see tai chi being gracefully performed and serene walkers and graced dance movements following the holy path of the labyrinth.

The labyrinth was not a major part of my spiritual practice, but it was always around throughout the next several years with a pull toward it I could not deny. I assisted with it at my health center and a spiritual center near me. I met a wondrous spiritual director through our mutual interest in the labyrinth and she helped me through a particularly traumatic professional challenge. I traveled to a Sinsinuwa Wisconsin Dominican retreat center focused on hospitality, the creative arts and the labyrinth once again to be with Lauren.

I also gave writing retreats entwined with the labyrinth experience. I got to professionally write and report on the garden labyrinth made on the grounds of the Grand Hotel on our famous vacation island in Michigan, Mackinac Island.

So where does Paris, France come into all of this? The New Millenium year of 2000 had several spiritual energies going for me that just told me this was the time to explore roots.  In January, during the Catholic celebration of Jubilee, we went on the Jubilee diocesan pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi and Florence, Italy.

Our sacred paths included walking the halls of the basilicas of Rome, the dusty floors of the catecombs, the artistic halls of Forence Art museums, holding Michealangelo’s David, and the streets and Cathedral of Assisi, where religious history is recorded in Gioto’s world-fames frescos.  History, culture, art, and human revelations of spirituality across time surrounded and absorbed our group of twenty plus pilgrims. Again, I had the task and blessing to record this in writing and in professional video newsletter form.

And I’m still not in Paris! Tom’s and my second pilgrimage across the sea came in May of that year to Chartres, as I mentioned above. So you fly into Paris to get to Chartres. My thought was, we can’t say we went in and “out” of Paris without really being IN Paris. We began to make arrangements to be able to stay in Paris for a few days after the retreat.

With that came more good fortune because Tom’s sister had a good friend who was an American actor, moved to France where he married a writer of romantic novels, and they now lived in Paris just off the Champs – Elysees (Avenue of Champions). When we contacted them about hotel recommendations, they insisted we stay in their large apartment.  We would be able to get anywhere we wanted with ease from their location they advised.

So we did that. Their apartment was like staying in an art museum. Their son was an artist and they were working out scripts for a TV series from their apartment.

We window-shopped the avenues, people watching as much as window gazing. We went to the very top of the Eiffel tower, back-patting ourselves for our bravery as we passed the mid-level viewing platform. Our walks along the Seine were exceptionally pleasing to me, as were the lighted bridges spanning the famous river. We took a Sunday morning boat ride upon the river also, and there was a great soothing energy all up and down the Seine.

We visited the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame. Stopped and prayed a bit.  Not a regular partaker of the sacrament of Penance, I made a split-second decision to go to confession while I was there. The French priest gave me the penance of lightening up on myself and the advice to play more than I was playing! If I ever get back to France, I may go to confession again.

We also visited the Cathedral of Sacre Cour, one of the mainstay sites for tourist visits, with many, many steps up to the church, itself, and a very panoramic view of Paris at the top. Other places we got this type of view was on the tall ferris wheel, the Victory Monument on the Avenue of Champs, and of course, the Eiffel Tower.

Our adventure of the day was almost getting separated at the underground train, as we tried to decide which train to take. Before the day of cell phones, Tom climbed aboard one just as they were clearing the tracks with me still on the platform. I quickly lunged forward to be with him, only to discover by looking at the train wall map, and the motions of the French-speaking riders, that we were going away from our desired destination rather than toward it. The up side? At least we were going away from it together!

We made a very short visit to the Louvre — appreciated the Mona Lisa, and I was especially entranced by the sculpture throughout the museum. They, too, had a magnetic pull. You could not just walk by them. They commanded an appreciation and an acknowledgment. They hold a very special place in art and history and their residence in the Louvre bears witness to it.

Paris was magical. It felt like being in a movie just to be there. Our short time there flew extra fast, it seemed. And a longing remains. One I don’t think will ever disappear. It is to return again for a longer and slower time. The aging process will take care of slower. To be there a little longer, just once again, would be a blessing.

I will think of this the next time I walk a labyrinth. I will live Paris vicariously each time I tote my purse along for the ride.

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This image comes from my 1992 Inner Reflections Calendar Journal from the Self-Realization Fellowship Society of Paramahansa Yogananda. I kept journals in these booklets of exceptional photography and quotes from the Yogi for many years.

This is the Tiger King, fully present, alert and relaxed in knowingness. Not relaxed because he is lazy but because he is awakened and peaceful and fully possessing himself, his power and his presence.

His eyes are a challenge of magnificence and purpose. His furry countenance, a coat of beauty and regalness.

His environment is a light coat of freshly fallen snow upon his face and body. He is the Siberian tiger and he knows it. The photograph was taken by Tim Shuda at the Philadelphia Zoo in Pennsylvania.

In the musical hit, Lion King,  I love the line — “Why can’t he be the King I know he is, the King I see inside?” —   in the song, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”

Power and love come to us from others who are able to see the King or Queen  in us during the times we cannot see it for ourselves. The times we doubt we are up to the task, yet another encourages us with their own confidence in us. We can fake it till we make it, but having someone recognize the goodness and ability we possess gives us a little lead into the unchartered waters of our being where believing can become seeing.

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                                          Keep the Pace

                                     And who is to judge
                                     how slow one goes?
                                     The pace of a snail
                                     or the flight of a bird
                                     is a response to the rhythm
                                     inwardly heard.


My Dollhouse

                                          Sitting on my playroom floor
                                          there behind a half-closed door,

                                         I went into a world brand new
                                         and left behind my feeling blue.

                                         For in this very special place
                                         I had created my own space.

                                         And in it was my dollhouse world
                                         where all my girlhood dreams unfurled.

                                        I put such love within that home
                                        that no one had to feel alone.


                                                Grief stuck
                                                      in my being
                                                 No way out
                                                 I need a pogo stick
                                                       to get from here
                                                           to where my heart can
                                                                   go on

                                                   without a trail
                                                          made wide with tears
                                                               shed and unshed
                                                     like those from a baby
                                                            left too long unfed.



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Conductor flanked by redheads Kathleen and Devon

Inserted into a collection of rousing, high-spirited American patriotic marches was a melody of nostalgic tunes including “Thanks For the Memories.” And that’s what I would like to do — thank the Marshall Community Band and the 4th of July Festivity planners for another spirits-raising day at the Fountain Park.

It’s been tradition for us to travel from Kalamazoo to Marshall for this summer treat, followed by goodies shared at the Warriner home. This year, I brought home-made apple crisp. Last year, Kathleen served fresh strawberry shortcake. You can’t beat them for 4th of July desserts.

You have to get there early, that’s a proven fact. Not just to see the kids’ parade, but to set up in a cozy spot protected with shade from the gracious trees that grace the park.


The kids’ parade, pets, wagons, bikes, costumes start the fun, and here they come!

Now, we’re ready to hear the music!

The band plays on and on the great American patriotic marches and we love it!  During the break, we enjoy grilled chicken from the Rotary Band Booster Fund Raisers. The concert concludes with a rousing crowd appreciation number honoring all the branches of the Armed Forces and ends each year with the Encore of STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER.

 Our spirit is lifted high as we leave the park singing something about being kind to our web-footed friends.



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