Monday, September 15, 2014

 A morning of rainbows…..
 rising from the Great Lake up into a cloudy sky,
 hovering over the horizon as a brilliant bridge
 uniting sea and sky….
 making hearts sing and traffic stop on the bridge into town and becoming the chief topic of countless conversation.
    What a divine antidote to news of war and environmental devastation and human folly of all kinds! In spite of it all, we live surrounded by gratuitous Beauty and amazing  Grace---two of my favorite names for Godde!
      Let us treasure the marvelous creation in which we live with all our hearts, and do all we can to preserve it for those who come after us.
      If we allow our habitats to be ruined, nothing else we think important will matter much.
Most of all, maybe, money!


Monday, July 28, 2014

In a few moments
A calm sunny day suddenly changes
As the wind shifts from south to north
And blows ever stronger.
There is beauty in the change, and danger
    to anyone braving the waves and currents.
I have known days of sudden change like this 
in my life.  
And you?  
Can we look at them as a scene, like this one, which we can observe 
with a certain amount of appreciation, 
even objectivity?  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Last night at sunset, grandson Sammy and I stationed ourselves on the lower deck with pastels and paper, ready to try and paint the sunset "plein air."  Of course, the light and clouds and sun changed quickly and constantly, so all we could get was a momentary impression, hastily pictured on our paper.  
Doing it was a delight.
Reflecting on the experience helps me realize how fleeting life is, and how various and hard to capture are our impressions of what we experience.
Do even two people see the same thing at the same time in the same way?  I think not.  Add to that the constant flow of change and it seems to me arrogant and unwise to claim that one's own experience or view is anything more than one's own temporary idea or impression.  Who are we to think others should see it as we do, react as we do, understand as we do?   Better, perhaps, to offer one another our various views (in more ways than one) and by so doing enrich our experience in manifold ways.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Back here in Michigan, I am back at painting pastels, this time of the Big Lake rather than the Red Rocks of Sedona.
A rainbow was just starting to form after a thunderstorm at dawn was clearing away, and I got a picture of it, which inspired this painting.
It reminds me that rainbows appear when rain/tears combine with sunshine.
I remember times when I have been in tears, but they were not tears of sorrow, but of overwhelming feeling---sometimes gratitude, sometimes awe, sometimes just something inexpressible and mysterious.
I am so glad for rainbows in my life, and I imagine you are too.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A hummingbird at my feeder    again and again
teaches me today
the joy and necessity of sipping the sweet nectar 
of the Presence of God
very  very  often.  

When is the last time you took a sip?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Having just read this well written and researched book, I have decided I do not want to live in the shallows.  You will have to read the book to find out what this means, but it is important!
What this means for me, in terms of action, is that I am going to only look at Facebook on weekends, and only spend one hour max in the evenings (but not all evenings) answering emails, surfing, internet shopping, or whatever.  
Valuable though some of this might be at times, it is important to cultivate the discernment of what is good, better, and best.  If the good crowds out the best, that's not good!  And for me, the best includes what is most threatened by too much time on the internet and the like.  What is most threatened, according to this book, and I think it is correct, is the ability to concentrate for long periods of time on one thing; to think deeply; to read good books and make them one's own in one's long term memory  (ditto for good music, etc, etc.) to go out in nature (minus any electronic devices!) and truly commune with the Divine Creation in which we live;  and of course, take ample time for creativity, or old fashioned crafts like cooking, knitting, writing letters by long-hand to beloved people.   How much of this gets crowded out by our immersion in the communication gadgetry that so fills our lives!   So the question for me is:  not either-or, but what is the BEST BALANCE in my life between using the media available to me, and other things which are at least equally if not more important for my soul, spirit, and body.   How will you find that balance in your life?  And do you really realize what is at stake?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who knew that you
brilliant, blooming cactus
could grow such stunning beauty
from such a tangle of sharp thorns?

I know that I too
can offer the beauty of Grace
even in the most thorny place
to all who pass by.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I went to the wilderness this Good Friday morning to worship in the best way I knew how. A pure white flower with four heart shaped petals gave an eloquent Easter sermon on the miracle of new life given to us as pure Grace, blooming in the desert of our hearts when we least expect it.

Then I looked up and saw the dry red earth covered with white flowers!  My heart leaped into hope, for I had been despairing for days about the cruel fate of this tortured earth.  I knelt in the red dirt and built an altar to express that hope, that Easter hope,  which knows that Life does overcome the worst that death can do.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wondrous Water!
May my soul, like you, 
reflect the divine beauty
above me, around me, within me
other souls 
as they catch a glimpse of the divine beauty
above, around, within them

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Looking towards the Light
breathing music
where feet 
far more ancient than mine
once walked.

I am not alone here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My latest pastel is of a lotus--one of my favorite flowers.  Along with the rose, the lotus symbolizes human wholeness.  I think it is fascinating that such beauty blossoms out of the muddy water where lotuses grow.  On the surface they look separate, but far below, their roots are all intertwined.  Lots to ponder in that image.
The lotus shows me that no matter how murky and tangled things are in the places we live, the beauty of our souls can blossom as we grow towards the Light.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My dear daughter Janelle just left after nearly a week with us out here.
She leaves a big empty space.  Her presence with us is always such a gift.
I sent her home with these two bags (pictured above) for her and her husband Thomas.  I knitted and crocheted them to be Appreciation Bags.  Inside each bag I tucked a small gift and a note which told each of them some of the many things I appreciate about them.   It was a long list and could have been a lot longer.
The bags are on the glass table on our deck overlocking the red rock mountains.
They glowing in the Arizona sunshine and I hope the glow goes with them back to snowy Chicago!
I suggested to Janelle that she could keep the bag and put notes of what/who she appreciates in her life inside the bag and every now and then take out the notes/cards to have an Appreciation Fest.  Or she could pass the bag on to someone else with a note of Appreciation.  Or…..whatever she can dream up somehow connected with Appreciation and the sharing and savoring of it.
I believe that when we are appreciative, we are in a high consciousness, and it is a great place to be.  Its kind of another form of the old hymn sentiment "Count Your Blessings, name them one by one….."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Here are three images of a rose, all of them my images, meaning, that I took a picture of a rose blooming by a big rock wall;  I did a pastel based on that picture; and then I took a picture of the pastel which also reflected me.  That's profound, isn't it?  I mean, each of us perceives something(or someone, or some event) as an image in our own unique way.  And then we re-create it in some way, even if only in our psyche.  Perhaps we then reflect on it, and even share it in some way. We are truly intertwined with it. Obviously then,  no one's perceptions and images of what we like to call "reality"  are quite the same, and the more we make them our own, the more of ourselves go into them.  How true the well known statement "We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are."  
No wonder it is often so hard for us to understand, really understand, one another!  And how foolish for any of us to claim that our particular image/perceptions of reality is The Right One, and all others err in some way.
All of this, it seems to me, is cause for cultivating the virtue of HUMILITY!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A couple days ago, I had lunch with a good friend at the Albuquerque Aquarium,
where we were seated for lunch in the Shark Cafe right next to a viewing window, and could watch all kinds of fish, eel, sea-turtles, etc. swim by as we ate!
As I reflect now on that experience, I am struck by how much it was like meditating---just sitting quietly, watching one's thoughts go by in the "fish tank" of the mind.  My thoughts are not me:  they are simply swimming through my mind and I am watching them---the beautiful, the ugly, the peaceful, the threatening…..   all going by as I watch.  
A neighbor recently said to me with a wry smile "I don't let myself get all caught up in other people's dramas and issues.  I have learned to be an observer, and it has served me well."  
      Would that be     living meditatively?  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

This pastel I did recently of a rushing river is hanging next to the wall clock in my kitchen here in Sedona.  Why?  Because as I enter into the last years of my life (I am past 70)  time seems to be like this rushing river, going faster all the time
even though I am not nearly as busy now as I once was.  For the first time in my life, I have all the leisure time I want for painting, reading, playing music, hiking, knitting, musing, writing…yet, yet, though my pace is so much slower now, time is not.   Not that I feel rushed, but more as if I am being borne along on a current like a leaf.  And there is nothing I can do about it.
I might as well find peace in floating, and let myself be carried by a life force far greater than I.
Can any of you out there relate to that?

Here is a poem of reflection I wrote to go with the pastel:


It rushes onwards
swirling, splashing, foaming
carrying us all

A water fall's roar
mingles with spray in the air
somewhere downstream

What happens then to
these floating leaves and twigs?
Where do they go?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

In some southwest Native American tribes, the good Way to live is called "The Red Road."  There are literally many red roads here in Red Rock country, all of them fitting for the Navaho chant "Walk in Beauty." To walk the Red Road in Native American tradition is to walk each day of life in a way that is courageous, generous, truthful, aware, grateful, and considerate and  respectful of others and of nature and all its beings: the stone nation, the plant nation, the animal nation, the insect nation, the bird nation, etc.  
     It is a demanding way to walk through life, but the rewards are great, and community and nature flourish when people walk "The Good Red Road."   It is a road I want to walk, and I hope you do too. 

Here is a poem I wrote to go with the pastel I drew (pictured above.)

 Sunlit and shadowed
 winding through rugged country
 Red Road to higher ground

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Have you ever seen trees twisted like this?  I never have, until I came here to Sedona.  They appear in certain places called "vortexes" where there seems to be an especially powerful feeling or energy.  The twisted tree phenomena is a "sign" of this energy.   
So what does this mean to me?  
Metaphorically, it reminds me that when life takes an unexpected twist, when things seem all twisted up, or when I get a new twist on an old truth, something powerful is going on, and I should pay attention.  
Here is a poem I wrote about this:

Here, a twisted tree
formed by mysterious energy
unexpected sign

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I finished this pastel two days ago.  When John saw it he said, "It looks like Machu Pichu!" There is a resemblance. I have seen this red rock mountain often on hikes I take in the seven canyons area near here, and I never made that connection--which goes to show how often we can miss what is obvious to others.  And we see what they are missing.  Clearly, many perspectives are likely to see reality more fully.  It seems wise to value perspectives different than our own, rather than dismiss them, as happens too often in religious and political discourse especially, but also in personal arenas.  

Here is the poem that came to me as I pondered this pastel:

Red rock mountain
pyramid of mystery
guardian of the land

Many other eyes
have gazed at your majesty
seeing what I do not 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Someone built a little "altar" at the edge of Dry Creek in an area I often go for my afternoon walk with our dog Leo.  
It is just one small way of honoring a place, of showing a kind of reverent feeling for nature.
When we are out here in Sedona, in such incredible beauty, it is easy to feel reverence and awe
for the beauty and mystery and majesty of creation.
But in everyday life, especially in urban settings, it is all too easy to see this great gift of God as simply a backdrop to our life, and to treat nature as an object, failing to realize how interwoven we are with all things in creation around us.  What happens to it will happen to us.
Our physical welfare, and yes, the welfare of our souls, depends upon out attitude towards and treatment of the places we live.  
    How many ways can you, and I, think of to care deeply for and treasure the place where we live, and beyond? 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Native American tribes of this area have ancient stories of how their remote ancestors emerged from the under-world into this world.  One such story locates this place of emergence at the small sunlit hill in front of the mountains in this picture.  I painted this pastel inspired by a picture I took of this scene, which John and I drive by every time we go from Sedona to the nearby town of Cottonwood.  Here is my poem about it:


A small womb-like hill
framed by towering mountains;
golden fields; new life

emerging from dark shadows
deep below life's bright surface.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The first time I walked the Willow Loop Trail near here, I thought this structure was a barrier preventing my going further.  I assumed it was a way of marking the end of the trail.  So I turned around and retraced my steps back to the trail head.  The next time I walked this trail, I was in a mood to continue.  A closer look revealed this to be a horse gate, and I could easily wind my way through it to take the rest of the loop trail, which led me to an enchanted forest! 
Huge old growth trees…a white moon hanging over a gorgeous white sycamore tree…a beautiful old stump-sculpture…a snake-branch…and much more.  What a great metaphor for the way we often allow obstacles to stop us from going further on a pathway of life that might lead to wonders…  And often what we thought was an obstacle was just a test of our determination to go forward.  I am glad I kept going!  (see pics below)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In the wilderness behind our house there is a remarkable red rock formation I call "The Singers."
This is a pastel I painted based on a pic I took of them one morning at sunrise.  I added the shadow of me playing the flute, of course!  This pictures what I was doing on New Year's day morning.  
Here is the poem I wrote to go with this pastel.

On this New Year's dawn
even the rocks sing praises
for the Light's coming.

I play praises too
as my flute turns breath to prayers
of adoration.