Archive for March, 2018


Over the years, I have had a number of powerful dreams with Tigers, cougars, panthers, lions or other big cats. In some dreams they were accompanying me as protective guides, in others I was being pursued by or hiding from them. A most important and unforgettable dream was an”assignment” dream in which I was given a black and white picture of a face with tiger-like markings on it and told to color it in and access its power…to take on its likeness in my life. (more on that in an upcoming post).

I don’t live in Africa, India or the Amazonian rainforest. I live in New England on the coast and these big cats are not indigenous to this area. They come and visit me from the mysterious lands of the Unconscious and they seek me out to relay important messages and guidance for my path in life and situations that need me to access or express sensuality, inner power, direction and leadership. They in the dreams are NOT caged, captive and pacing with blocked energy. They are free, flowing with the life force and doing whatever they are supposed to be doing with intense focus life force.

Noni's Tigers

One year at a medieval fair there was a stage performance with the big cats. When a tiger came out and across the stage in front of me, I was stunned by its SIZE and its powerful rippling muscles. I was totally in awe. And I was also terrified to be so close to such raw power and I moved way to the back..you know…just in case something unexpected went awry. Being so close to the LIVE energy of such animal magnificence literally took my breath away for the moment.

Well, the big cats live on their own terms in my dreamworld but it is no mere coincidence that for many years I had these two tigers at the foot of my bed as guardians and “familiars”.  The orange one was male and the white, a female. They sometimes startled friends who entered my room to leave their coats on the bed during a visit or evening dinner ..they looked so real!

My Tigers one

However, my grandchildren were fearless with these big cats and brought them out to the living room whenever they came.

“Noni’s Tigers” were always a special part of the family visits. Though they are way too big to sit on and play with them now, hopefully they will always remember that the tigers were part of the magic of Noni’s home.

Noni's Tigers w Grands TWO

A year ago on one of the family visits we went to a local arcade for miniature golf and games. Inside the venue was a merry-go-round  with a magnificent tiger to ride … a simple but wonderful old-fashioned fun experience complete with music and flashing lights and various colorful animals to sit upon.

share Mel visitTHREE Tiger July 2017

Yes, the tiger was my favorite and also a wonderful subject to photograph, reminiscent of simpler times, simpler pleasures…  and pure magic while we play. Adults and children together.

Things are different now. My house is gone, I live in a lovely but small apartment and my “Noni’s tigers” are all wrapped up and in a storage unit along with many things I need to release and let go of. There is simply no room.The grandchildren no longer ask for the tigers and living in two different states are very busy now with growing up responsibilities and are not able to visit very often. But…

…. maybe I should surprise them. Maybe I should go to the storage and bring the tigers home to my apartment at least for the next time they do come. To see what will happen. Will they laugh and remember? I think they will. Part of our story. They NEED to remember in a culture that moves WAY too fast with too much irrelevant input.

I have not had a tiger visit me in my dreams recently for the past year or so. But in my experience, when I talk of these things, it calls images back in. I suspect I may have a Tiger dream soon because I “remembered”  them here and because courage and self-empowerment is a lifelong work.

Yes, Noni’s Tigers are going to come and visit in my dreams…and here! (going to the storage unit tomorrow brintog them back home…!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

"Write the truth"

“Write the truth”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We have been enduring the bleak, stark monotones of late winter/earliest pre-spring here in New England..grey skies, white snows, black and brown dried frozen trees, shrubs and vegetation. It’s darkish often on some days, and foggy too, a drab palette that if enveloping us for too long, drains our spirits, speaking too intensely of loss, letting go and even death.

We can only be with that for a certain length of time without losing hope that color will once again return to our world.

But color WILL always return, as the Celtic Poet/Priest John O’Donohue taught in his pilgrimages and lectures. “If you are going through a bleak time in your life right now, remember this: “SPRING is the secret work of Winter“.

And with the return of Spring, is the return of color into our environment and even in the roughest personal season, into our lives as well, drawn forth by the warmth of the sun and and the warmth and love of supportive friends and community.

In preparing for today’s essay and message, I was going to write about this last Nor’Easter… a wet, wild, windy and dangerous winter storm that has just once more passed through our lives here. But in scrolling for a picture of it in my files and camera, I found that I just could not give that topic any more energy. Over and over again, I stopped and paused at pictures of other seasons with gorgeous hues, tints and vibrant colors of happiness, hope, celebration and joy.

Given that we are also in and suffering through a “winter ot our discontent” these days with cultural chaos,  non-compassionate coldness,  and the grey fog and mists of lies and deceptions from corrupt leaders and complicit media, I was magnetically drawn to images of green gardens, blue skies and LOTS of flowers to revive hope in a season and society that brings life for all instead of destruction.

And so, I have “picked” from my files, a bouquet of beautiful flowers for me, and for you… a variety of lovely zinnias from the summer garden of an artist friend. They lift my spirits with their beautiful shapes and colors and inspire me to not melt into the grey wet mud of a too long winter, nor allow myself to dry up and blow away with the harsh cold winds of nature and history-in-the-making…

With this bouquet of pinks, I,  like the Spring, prepare right now (!) to celebrate the return of color to the Earth and into our Spirits and Lives as well as we welcome and invite the warmth of sun and community to bless us.

Don’t lose heart! Remember ” SPRING is the secret work of Winter! ”

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Lately, my spiritual peer mentoring group and I have been discussing how our concept or image of God has changed as we have gotten older. Most of us have originally come from traditional religious roots but over the course of our lives and especially in our eldering years, many of us have come to a point of questioning all that was programmed into us by church, family or state.

This of course is not true for everybody who are comforted by the same images for a lifetime. But in my particular world I guess we are a circle of quiet rabble rousers.. some might also, fearing our quest for fresh images of the Divine, call us heretics!

But that is only the name given to seekers and those who question, by others for whom there is only one TRUE story, tradition or concept of how we got here, why we are here, who in the Divine World made it all happen and who is listening when we are called to prayer. To think that no one is listening is to all of us, a heart-rending if not dreadful thought. But we pray anyway because we are “called to prayer” and love the invitation, but sometimes our prayer starts “Here I am… and to Whom it May Concern …. ” because Patriarchal concepts of the Masculine Divine do not fit with our lived spiritual experience any more.

It would certainly be easier and more comforting if we KNEW for sure who was listening,  or if we were not bothered by just speaking the traditional prayers addressing the Heavenly Power(s) by rote. But alas, we are in between what was and what might be, these Prayers that include the words, “what if?” and “maybe”.

For myself, I have found that talking in prayer to the Saints (who once had a human experience) inspires me, and even more personally, also praying to my Angels ie My Guardian Angel, and my Library Angel  (who might be one and the same), they  who constantly bring the Light of Guidance or Protection or hints of what I need to investigate next for my best unfolding and Destiny. I know when it happens that they have heard  because if those mysterious synchronicities that make me smile, if not laugh out loud catching me by surprise on the almost immediate heals of my prayers or beseeching. My Angels though engaged in serious work, ever have a playful sense of humor in their high Service with me.

I have also found comfort especially in sad times to image the Angels weeping with us in times of personal or communal grief. And there is much for which to grieve right now in our society.

Several years ago there was something going round the internet… an experience of sending a team of Angels to each other…the “story” was that there was a special team of Angels going to the homes of those they were sent to and would stay for seven days. We who were hosting were to set up an altar with white candles and fresh white flowers before and during their (invisible) stay. Our prayers during that time would be carried heavenwords in a special way.

It was a lovely experience for those who participated in this little spiritual ritual.. Perhaps the key word is “Maybe” but whether or not the Angels were actually in our homes for those seven days,  our personal vibration was lifted higher, WE  were changed and inspired to be like kindly Angels to those around us and in our own environments for the betterment of all.

If that team of heavenly spirits, the Traveling Angels, are still on the move I wish that they would be sent to me once again for these are challenging times.

For those of us who in these times are uncertain as to who is actually listening when we send our “thoughts and prayers” outward and upwards , I sense that the Angels MAY be (Maybe) eternally present to companion us and deliver our lamentations where they need to go.

And I am going with that!

This poem by Mary Oliver just most recently and  rather serendipitously “appeared in my life …(did one of the Angels send this for my awareness while I question who is listening to my prayers?)

  The World I Live In

I have refused to live

locked in the ordinary house of reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyways,

what’s wrong with Maybe? 

You wouldn’t believe what once

or twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head, will you

ever, possibly, see one.

                                                       ( my ballerina grandaughter )

 

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the loveliest meditation practices in retreat work is praying with clay, a medium whose primary virtue is its ability to be shaped by the intent of the artist whose hands are able to bring imagination, warmth and life from a seemingly inert, cold and compact ball of earth.

In the retreat experience, the prayer that often accompanies this centering and contemplative “shaping” experience is drawn from Old Testament scripture (Jeremiah) in which we are encouraged to be like clay in the hands of God, the Master Potter, allowing ourselves to be formed into goodness by the guidance of the Divine.

Clay is also a therapeutic tool in retreats for Healing and Wholeness aside from a religious focus although such healing often includes a deep spiritual sense of awe and relief that can border on the miraculous. In such exercises, a story from our lives that is painful or un-healed can be crafted into an image that holds and carries our experience so that we ponder it and receive insight, release, and movement into re-creation. As we shape the clay with intent, we may also re-shape our lives when it is necessary to let go of the old forms that have lost their purpose.

Many years ago when I was going through a very intense period of loss…divorce, single parenting, challenging financial survival while crafting a self-employed music teaching career.. I sought inspiration, support, deepening and sanctuary in a long-term program of training in retreat work at a wonderful nearby Catholic Retreat Center.

During one of the retreats on healing and wholeness, we worked with clay as a meditation. Desperately needing to be centered and still, coming in from a noisy, chaotic,  confusing, challenge-filled personal world that needed re-shaping for the survival of my children and myself, I took that cold ball of clay and worked it until all that pain and broken-hearted-ness entered it and became the clearest answer to what I needed for healing, comfort and clarity:  a cave/womb of refuge and sanctuary in which sacred silence, stillness and chosen periodic solitude would be the best medicine.

For whatever reason, I crafted on the back outside wall of this Cave, this Sanctuary, snakes which originally I think symbolized the challenges I was dealing with, and the safety of my sacred shelter in keeping them outside until I knew how to work with them. Yet over the years, those snakes have become instead, Guardians of the Goddess, protecting me and that sacred space ..the cave of my Heart where much of my work in the world has been crafted.

I also remember that at the time of this shaping, the little figure who was ME, had her hands over her eyes..and though over the years that has come to mean shutting out worldly distractions in order to dive deeply into the cave of my heart for Wisdom, during that initial time of crafting this image, the hands over the eyes symbolized the intense grief and the weeping I could not allow myself to do in real life with its demanding immediate responsibilities because I always had to be “on”.

However, that is all past now and there have been many many happinesses and blessings since then, as well as the inevitable periodic challenges and losses that are always a part of life. But over the years, this little ME image has traveled with me through all the chapters of my book of life, reminding me to take the time for withdrawing from the chaos of a conflicted world and particularly at this time of our deteriorating political national culture.

For me, the snakes are still Guardians, protecting the need for silence and stillness to Discern Truth, BUT these days when shifting focus, those snakes also symbolize the Lies and Deceptions that are rampant right now in our media culture and  socio-political landscape and must be kept outside, being agents of Soul pollution.

I has been a long time since I have worked with clay and sculpted images that have beauty and power for transformation. But I DO have a packet of clay here, just waiting to be touched and warmed into life. Like what happens each time I sit down to write an essay initially not knowing what it will actually be about, I am ready to be just as surprised (and informed) when that clay comes alive under my fingertips!

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I love surprises.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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I am an occasional instructor in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at a nearby University. The OLLI program across the country is a college for seniors, age 50 and older, who come back to school just for the fun of learning, because it is NEVER too late to learn new things or buff up on skills and talents put side during the busy years of looking after others or working full time.

This past fall, I taught a course inspired by a wonderful book by the author Christine Valters Paintner. With a rather unusual title, “Nurturing Your Creative Spirit with Monastic Wisdom” the book shares Benedictine monastic practices and daily rhythms to deepen our spirituality in a complicated world AND guide us back to that  “room” in our souls where creativity is  birthed and stored,  hopefully followed by  the courageous  re-entry into our actual individual  time-apart studios to manifest artwork, poems, writing, sculptures or crafts.

Our class was exceedingly exciting as we employed various meditative practices from monastic life to settle down, reach inside ourselves within the context of silence and stillness, and find our way back to personal artwork and creativity in new and surprising ways, gathering up long ignored pen, paper, journals, paints, brushes and the like.  Our  daily inspirational mantra was a prayer from the Divine Muse, with which we initiated our creative endeavors awaiting the surprise of new expressive ideas:

“Now I am revealing new things to you.

Things hidden and unknown to you, created just now, this very moment!

Of these things, you have heard nothing until now, so you cannot say, ‘Yes I (already) knew that’ “

Some wrote exquisite poems, some shared reflective journal entries. One woman started an art project, a beautiful book of paintings..one for each of the monastic hours (Lauds, Vespers etc) with eloquent musings on each…and with delightful imagination, one woman made for the homeless, a comfy sleeping mat from colored plastic bags, much like a hooked rug, and complete with the ability to roll it up and carry with handles.

Crea Mona 4 Five

Crea Mona Se 4 One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our class was a total delight but our Eldest Elder was one of the most delightful creations herself.  “Joan” is well known and very beloved by all  who know her at OLLI. In her mid-90’s she attends a variety of classes for enjoyment, inspiration and, as she has told me a number of times, to find out what it is she is supposed to be doing with her life at age 95!

During the class she sat attentively up front as always, usually rather quiet until she has something to say.. generally a soft-spoken one or two-liner that catches us by surprise and makes us all laugh with delight…or a question that reveals a piercing depth of curiosity and wisdom that stops us cold to ponder.

Throughout this class as others brought their creations in for our opening “show and tell”, eliciting claps and smiles, we knew that Joan had not as yet gone back into her “studio”  to start painting again which had for quite a time, maybe years, been set aside. She was quite elusive about why she was unsure about doing it.

But then …..

On the last day of the class, she and her daughter came in with a surprise!

Joan had in fact gone back into her “studio”,  picked up her brushes and painted a picture of the rough ocean waters  near the sea wall after a wild storm! Like Joan herself who is quite a “modern-thinking”  Elder at 95, her painting is also modern in expression, impressionistic and with dynamic movement.

Crea Mina Joan PICA ED one 1 (2)

I am a Senior now as well, and the rhythm and responsibilities of life have shifted although I am still far from being  95 years old. With new “open spaces” in my days, I often wonder what I am supposed to be doing with my life now, knowing that it is up to ME to create the new meanings and that, given good health, I need to listen and follow The Divine Muse who has ideas for me to be creative and of service in a world so needing inspiration and beauty.

I think on one level, Joan’s work at 95 is being a “Muse” for us younger Elders… 

 And… for the record…..

We’re  paying attention to you, Joan!!

Crea Mona Group PICASA Blue (2)

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

"Write the truth"

 

 

 

 

 

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