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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

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One time when we were visiting Laura at college when she was in Optometry school, we followed her to a college party, where she had to explain us to her friends. It seems we have not broken this habit, as we are now going to follow her back to Lexington, KY where we spent the first 12 years of our married lives and both Laura and Kathleen were born. It is never too late for a new adventure. Last year we climbed the waterfall trails and high points in the Smokies, just as we did 50 years ago on our honeymoon. Like the Israelites, we have “wandered in the desert” for 40 years, kept our covenant with our loving God, and God with us, and NOW we return to the place where our married love took root.

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God is Love.

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Lately, I’ve been involved in such a little matter of making order out of my little room where I spend creative time and energies when I write, draw, doodle, meditate or search the web.

Meanwhile all around me on a world-wide scale, millions of people are trying to make order of their lives, finding most of it destroyed by the violence of the human race or the ravishing energies of natural fires and disasters. Innocent people and their families are victims of random singular acts of violence; the threat of terrorism is ever-present. Whole nations are seeking new ground and new life in a setting which doesn’t threaten their daily way of life.

The sheer numbers are stunning and tend to make me feel like a sideline observer.

Yet, there is a call within that tells me I am a “companion on the journey”. That somehow, even in my own simplified and scaled down life, I walk with these others in compassion, in prayer, in belief and hope they  and all of us shall somehow be renewed. But just how do I “do something”?  Aren’t there many of us wondering that? Are there large needs that need to be fulfilled by small people or…..are there small needs that need to be fulfilled by large people?

Alfred Delp, who was a German Jesuit Catholic priest condemned to death by the Nazis in Berlin, believed and said we need to be men and women who are fulfilled. That faith is the path to fullness. “Fulfilled men and women are not pious caricatures,” he said. “They are people who are genuinely impregnated with the spirit of their calling, people who have prayed with all sincerity: make my heart like unto thine.”

In the midst of the destructiveness, pain and suffering of the Nazi power-driven and mad regime, he called people to have willing hearts that beat with compassion and return to the ideal of….service.  He defined this as meeting people on their own ground, in all circumstances, with a view to helping to master the challenges at hand. “That means walking by his side, accompanying him even into the depth of degradation and misery. Go forth, our Lord said — do not sit around and wait for someone to come to you.”

Why do bad things happen to good people? This is the eternal mystery.  Psalm 33 explores it. “The designs of his Heart are from age to age, to rescue their souls from death and to keep them alive….” The promise is held in Jeremiah 29;  “I know well the plans, I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.”

Today, I received a reminder in my email from Betty Lue Lieber, who resides and works in the midst of the endangered California forests burning right now. She has been supplying reminders on a daily basis for ever so long, but today’s reminder speaks right to being a person fulfilled and one dedicated to service. I share some of her words here.

Thursday, Sept. 17 at 4PM
From Betty Lue.

Robert and I have been living in Hidden Valley Lake, our Reunion Lake House, for over five years.
We also have a holistic counseling and healing center, Reunion ReSource Center, in Middletown.
We have a Reunion Community Room for everyone in Middletown and surrounding area to use.

We have been very fortunate during these wildfires with everything still standing.
Many of our friends and neighbors have lost everything.
As soon as the highway opens with electricity and water available, we will return to be helpful.

Many are grieving the losses.
Some are already conceiving the rebuilding.
We are believing together it can and will be done.
We appreciate good thoughts, help and support.

Blessings multiply with gratitude and Love.
Betty Lue

Update on the Wildfires in Lake County.

Valley fire
(as of Thursday, 8 a.m.)
·       73,700 acres burned
·       35% contained
·       13,000 people displaced
·       7,650 structures threatened
·       585 homes, hundreds of other buildings destroyed
·       3,580 fire workers
·       4 injured firefighters
·       3 confirmed deaths
Butte fire (as of Thursday, 11:30 a.m.)
·       70,760 acres burned
·       49% contained
·       10,000 people initially displaced
·       6,400 structures threatened
·       252 homes, 188 outbuildings destroyed
·       4,403 fire workers
·       2 confirmed deaths

What Can You Do?
For the thousands displaced by the wildfires and so much more around the world!

What Can You Do?
What Can I Do?
What Can We Do?

When we want to be helpful, what can we do?
When we don’t know what to do, how can we help?
When things are unknown or unclear, what can we do?
When caught in confusion, conflict and concern, what can we do?

When we feel hurt and frightened, what can we do?
When we are lost and alone, what can we do?
When we feel disconnected and separate, what can we do?
When in grief and without comfort, what can we do?

We can let the tears fall to wash away the hopelessness.
We can sing a song of comfort to soothe the pain and sorrow.
We can breathe in inspiration and seek some revelation.
We can write a poem and draw a picture to begin to create anew.

There is always something we can do.
We can give thanks for everything we have.
We can watch the sunrise and feel blessed.
We can let go and flow with what seems to be needed.

We can do what is valuable.
We can forgive and erase what is not.
We can make up our own next step.
We can give what we have to feel good.

We can tell stories of hope and faith.
We can remind ourselves to be kind.
We can reassure those who are worried.
We can give what we want to receive.

We can build a new world of possibility.
We can seek inner guidance and outer information.
We can share the best we know with others.
We can give thanks we can do something good.

We can remind ourselves, we can do what we choose.
We can encourage those around us.
We can care deeply for those who are lost, depressed and confused.
We can do the work to repair, rebuild and renew.

I am with you in Love, trust, support and encouragement.
We can, because we are willing.
Betty Lue.

Because I am willing and because I live as a fulfilled person, today what I can do that matters is to encourage anyone in my surroundings today in whatever way I can. One of the ways I encourage is to write Napkinwriter and remain faithful to the writing of it. Does it put out the flames? I don’t know but I write in the faith that my words matter.

I can care deeply for those who feel lost, depressed and confused. I can also pay particular attention to and offer myself loving kindness when I feel those things.

I can always work to repair, rebuild and renew that which provides fullness in my own life and what touches others.

That’s a pretty complete TO DO list for today. I can always begin again tomorrow.

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The Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks, of which I am a fortunate and blessed member, asked us recently to reflect upon “letting go”.  This brings me immediately how repetitive an act that is in my life and how each time, though well-practiced, still meets with infinite resistance and a monumental amount of getting in my own way.

It also brings to my mind and heart Joyce Rupp’s exquisite poem on the act of letting go from her book, “A Star In My Heart”, at the top of my list of favorite books.  I see her poem in action during this beautiful fall season and a frequent reminder for me to let go of just one more leaf from my heart which is also in its autumn season.

By Joyce Rupp

Leaf by leaf by leaf
they tumble and fall:
all my haggard hurts.

like a cottonwood tree
ever so slowly letting go,
so the heartache of my heart.

there goes a bit of sadness,
now a leaf of anger flies;
then it’s the dropping of self-pity.

the leaf of unforgiveness
takes forever to fall,
almost as long as non-trusting.

leaf by leaf by leaf
they fall from my heart,
like a tree in its own time.

old wounds don’t heal quickly,
they drop in despairing slowness,
never looking at the clock.

it seems a forever process,
this healing of the hurt,
and I am none too patient.

but a quiet day finally comes
when the old tree with no leaves
is decidedly ready for the new.

and in my waiting heart, the branches with no leaves
have just a hint of green.

Falling Leaves

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Generations on the path Giving my thanks and love to Tom who has carefully and faithfully groomed our backyard labyrinth since we first put it in under his design and direction. This circular walking prayer path is a delight to have in place. In all seasons, it gives me pause for quiet prayer just from the window, enjoyment as I watch birds gather around and on it and memories of other labyrinth walks Tom and I have shared on Mackinac Island, San Francisco Grace Cathedral, and Chartres Cathedral in France, plus many other places. I am in the midst of planning a “Peace in Every Step” Labyrinth Walk in September to introduce it to the neighbors and my friends.  We will walk with the intention of planting more peace in our own lives and giving seed to more peace in our world and neighborhoods which are greatly in need of the growth of peace.

Greening of the LabyrinthGreening of the Labyrinth

IMG_4441Change of mind for the pathway; next year bent grass (like the golf course green) will be planted.

Deck blossems holding onto summerDeck blossoms holding onto summer

IMG_4284The path emerging from winter

Bird on the archFaithful bird watch on the newly added arch…

Birds do the walk…while companions walk the path

Bird reaching the center…and reach the center

IMG_5286In metaphysics, the crow is a reminder of “Follow-up” do not leave your work and play unfinished, ” and I take this message to heart.

Cosmic Connection vibrationsOn the walk, the pattern is entrancing and engaging.

Confusion clouds but path remainsChange and change of direction, like in life so many times.

Road is LongBut my eyes and heart see only what is in front of me…

Autumn Equinox  Sat. Night -even in the dark

IMG_0480My loving partner, husband, friend.

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IMG_0896IMG_0848And it all came together…I cannot imagine our backyard without our completed labyrinth.

Bringing in bricks

Cairn watching over the building

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My Life as Tree

Today, in my spiritual exercise with St. Ignatius, where I am encouraged to let God’s word take root in my life (and it is), I was invited to reflect on my life as the life of a tree and then journal about it. The following is what I wrote:

Contemplation of Me As A Tree

I am a strong, tall, mighty oak now in my seventies. I’ve lived a hearty life, survived many hardships and yet kept growing, reaching tall to the sky, always finding the light.

I was planted in a small forest, which continually grew larger throughout my life, yet I am set somewhat apart from the other trees. Mostly, I am enveloped among my family member trees, some of them I know, some I do not. It seems I live and move and have my being among my family trees. This is where my life and my work is. Yes, I am a family-tree worker.

I’ve grown sturdy, deep-seeking roots from the feeble, shallow ones at my birth, cut away early from my fallen mother tree’s death. My roots contained the wisdom and the grace to discover and honor my true heritage and ancestors. I brought them into the family-fold and grandchildren line after years and seasons of secrecy.

My tender bark, bruised and nicked, still grew tough coated and beautifully craggy in unique patterns of creativity. A tough coat that learned how to protect myself,  yet accept touch and repel what I needed to establish in both my boundaries and my presence. This, it seemed, took ages and I grew somewhat crooked during some of the stretching periods. Now that crookedness gives way to my total beauty and expression as God’s creation on this earth.

My tree now is in a constant flux of all seasons, like they are all happening simultaneously rather than sequentially. Spring, bringing forth newness every day; summer, a flow of gratitude and love of life; winter, a slowing and reflective time of essence.

But mostly, autumn – a giving way, a surrender to the transformations of aging, a sighting of a grand new perspective of the glory of it all, the grace of my tree on earth, my time of giving.

My tree breathes in, it breathes out. Like a willow and an oak. Ahhhh.

 

Knowing

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full blownLotus Flower photography by Christine Whitelaw (c)
All Photographs property of Christine Whitelaw (c)

WE KNOW WHAT WE DONT  KNOW. This was posted by Christine Jan. 31, 2014 …she knew not then that her passing on July 2 was foreshadowed in these Tagore poetry lines she chose: ” I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and that this perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.”

The sweet lotus was her favorite flower and her photographs reflect this. Christine, a flower of perfect sweetness.

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In the late afternoon we sat watching the lotus. A cool breeze took the edge off a hot day, but the water was still. How perfectly this leaf was rolled. We rolled our scattered thoughts together.

rolled rolled

Nearby another leaf had begun to open, spreading itself gently across the surface. Finding support. Taking time.

unfurling unfurling

Fluted edges rippling gracefully on the water, droplets glistening.

buds buds

Radiating patterns, undulating curves, pink teardrop buds.

full blown full blown

Fully open, stamens surrounding the central pod like a dancer’s tutu, held in the pink and white chalice of the bloom.

pods and blooms pods and blooms

Dancing in the afternoon light, pods and flowers together, celebrating the lowering sun, turning their heads to whisper sweet secrets to each other.  We bow, united, our dance concluding with the sunset.

The Lotus

On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying, 
and I knew it not. My basket…

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 Christine - Daddirri Dreaming
Dadirridreaming  —  Christine Whitelaw (c)

 

Today is truly Wordless Wednesday for me, having just learned of my dear friend and companion blogger’s sudden passing. My container of quiet does not hold silence; my actions lose focus….I am just all about this loss.

Christine Whitelaw and I met through my Napkinwriter blog nearly three years ago. She was one of the few who commented on my writings. Then she began blogging herself which grew into a wondrous photographic blog. Through her writings came her light, compassion, and “stretching” into the wonder of life itself.

That’s what she said.   We ARE it, whatever IT is!

Through her photography, we shared nature’s embrace and brilliance as gift to us. She opened my eyes to always include my horizon, always respect my environment and always LISTEN to its teachings. I thank her for that.

Light….in her words…..and shining in her photography.

I wanted to go to Australia, but I wanted to visit Christine when I did. I wanted to walk on the beach with her, each with our cameras, each with our sharings about life with eyes wide open.  I wanted to go to Australia and attend one of Christine’s Yoga Nidra classes. I wanted the grace to participate in one of her annual Women’s Weekends.

We daydreamed about that…..Dadirridreaming and I….we did. We looked forward to that happening.

Christine’s camera lens was busy over the last few months on both adventure travels and a historical, classical travel time through Italy, France, and Spain with her beloved Stuart, husband, lover and friend of over forty years. . These images leave work behind to be continued containing her connecting spirit to us all.

She has passed and yet her work here is not even complete.  I have reblogged one of my favorites (of many) blogs of Dadirridreaming. (Australian Experience)   ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE HERS AND COPYRIGHTED, and she gave me permission to share in my original 2013 post.

I am at one with the sea in these images. I feel the waves and sand. I smell the salt air, I touch the water lapping around my feet and ankles, and I hear the most favorite sound of the earth……the rolling and crashing of the waves of the sea.

Stuart reported that at Christine’s service a sea bird hovered over the chapel during the entire ceremony, and when her hand-painted by Stuart’s casket was carried outside, it made one long low swoop over the receding funeral attendants and Christine.

Yes,  wordless, but I make marks on this post. I love you Christine.

Napkinwriter

Australian sand

all photos by Christine Whitelaw

A beautiful shared experience of Australia and yourself by Christine Whitelaw.

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birds, nature, spirit

Clouds, Sea, Meditation

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This evening I read post by Annie about peace descending on her when she spent a week in a place by the sea. Our inherent nature is peace, just as it is love, compassion, beauty, generosity, joy and wisdom. Nature shows us all this, if we can take the time to be present, to open our senses and begin to perceive who we really are.

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I will be teaching a meditation class with new people next week, so I am thinking about how to explain something so simple yet so profound. Sitting with nature, sharing love, or meditating are excellent ways to discover that we do not end at the visual boundary of…

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