Category: Imagination and Creativity


As part of my own personal spiritual practice, I am inspired to try to follow the Benedictine and monastic way of pausing with mindfullness or prayer several times throughout the day or night when I am able. The “Book of Hours” can be formal if in the monastery, and yet can be more informal guided “out here  in the world” by a good resource book.

That book for me is “Music of Silence: a Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day” by Benedictine Brother David Stendl-Rast which has beautiful essays on each of the hours and their meaning and application for peace and gracious living. There are two mid-morning “hours” for pause and reflection that are very inspiring for whatever are our busy times engaged in worldly tasks. These hours are Prime and Terce.

The theme of Prime at its simplest is about the assignment of and preparation for “work” each day and how to realize that our work  should have meaning and is to be about loving service. We and our work is needed…or should be. As Brother David writes ” This world was given to us to work on” and indeed there are many things that need to be done for the good of all.

The theme of the hour Terce following a little later before noon, is like a little spiritual coffee break during which we pause to reflect on and send our work out beyond as blessing and well wishing to all who might receive our the fruit of our labors.

It is these two particular holy hours that I thought of the morning at brought my daughter to catch a train back to the  big city for work after her week-long  family visit on the coast.

A bit sleepy so early in the morning, we were nevertheless given the lovely  opportunity for a special little just-us mother-daughter visit while waiting on the platform for the train to arrive.

There IS something wonderfully exciting waiting for a train and seeing it approaching from a pin-point distance to the roar and silvery speed as it  arrives with squeeling brakes and shaking platform.

That morning with  mumma/daughter goodbye hugs and once-again promises that I would get on that train sometime in the future to come visit when I had more confidence with my vision, the train finally stopped in front of us and the doors popped open.

There, welcoming oncoming travelers, was this handsome Conductor with the biggest smile of the morning, holding the door open and waving people in as to a party.

THIS was a man happy with his work, obviously loving his on-the-move job and the gift of his service to one and all and I thought to myself  “He has the PERFECT spirit of these early hours of the morning ‘Prime and Terce’!”.

He  was not a monk, but a proud and crisply uniformed agent of hospitality, welcoming and good cheer whose blessing and generosity assured the travelers that the ride would be  pleasurable and the destination assured. I knew then that a trip to visit my daughter and family in the big city would happen even before my vision was stable.  I want this man to be the Conductor welcoming me on board when I travel there and..

THIS is the train I want to ride!

Let’s GO!

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is Valentine’s Day today and at this particular time in my life, I am once again my own Valentine, as I have been over the past several years. I am also at a time of looking backwards, mindfully pondering where I have been in my life, where I am, presently, in the very much appreciated NOW, and lingering with questions regarding where I am headed in the future, next, in this still unknown third chapter of life.

I have been child, teenager, girlfriend, wife, lover, Mother, Professional, Grandmother. I have been many things at various stages, overlaying one onto the other like those Russian dolls that nest within each other, starting small and growing larger with each new role. I have been them all and today on a rather unusually configured Valentine’s Day culturally, astrologically and spiritually, I especially ponder the “me” that has been both Tartalina, and Priestess.

Two things: Today’s Valentine’s Day also falls on the day of Ash Wednesday. From an astrological/archetypal point of view, this is a rather interesting mix:  An “8th House” mix for those who speak and understand the poetic language of astrology.

The” 8th House”  is about several things but commonly  sex and death are initially considered.  Today’s Valentine’s Day oddly contains both themes for those who honor or ritualize both the popular cultural theme of romance and the more serious spiritual and religious consideration of death. This Valentine’s day offers us the opportunity to consider both sex/love and death as important and transformative experiences with the invitation to fully embrace Life.

In sex/love, the heart is opened and beating with Life, passion and connection. In death, the heart and beating are closed and earthly connection is released. In sex and love we can be healed but also we can be wounded which when lost, is like a death. In death, we if spiritually inspired, dream or believe our spirits move into a place of total love and merging with the All. Ash Wednesday reminds us of that return back to from where we came.

Big things to ponder here.

But now back to Tartalina and the Priestess.

A number of years ago, a dear artist Friend named Madeline, gifted me on my birthday with a doll she mad to celebrate the qualities of the sacred feminine and love of ritual that we both shared. The Priestess doll represents the spiritual quality of  the Virgin-One-Unto-Herself experience and knowing that is in every woman, some of us a little more aware than others of the sacred times of ritual, connection to the holiness/wholiness of the earth, the seasons , the phases of the moon and planets and the many seasons and moods within us. This beautiful doll with the golden hair representing the return of Spring’s bright sun in the month of May (my birthday month) and the waning moon on her forehead foreshadowing release and letting go speak to the same qualities that we experience in our lives.  There is much to ponder in the symbolism that Madeline placed artfully onto the Priestess Doll.  The Priestess is all knowing of the cycles of life …birth, the fullness of Life,  and death along the continuum of our time here. She knows we come from ashes and to ashes we shall return.   And I am her.

The other doll is “Tartalina”, made in a private workshop Madeline gave to me and another close friend of hers. Both myself and that friend were coming out of complex and  passionate love affairs that broke our hearts and we were in great need of healing.

When coming out of a passionate relationship that has been “the best and worst thing that every happened to us”,  there is a decision to be made in the grief process as to whether we close our hearts totally in renunciation and self protection, or to, after a time, keep our hearts open to the new, to risk love once again despite having been wounded.

I created “Tartalina” to hold that broken heart open in love and understanding, and to honor the alive passionate sensual part of my nature that is as holy and private as my deepest spirituality. She is about owning and loving the sacred, mischievous naughty, physical, spicy, tart-like feminine expression that is pure delight. I created her to be beautiful and earthy with her long legs delicately imprinted with garden vines and green hair of nature and veriditas for these are earthly as well as spiritual powers. She is a Valentine. And I am her.

I am Tartalina and Priestess combined and in this middle phase of the blessed “NOW” between the remembrances of the Past and the as-yet unknown answers of the Future, I honor and love them both, knowing I can call their qualities and virtues back in whenever necessary.

An incredible Love Story: The Artist is Present: As she sits  silently for eight hours  looking into the eyes  of anyone who wishes to be seen, she is startled when an important lover from the past takes the chair in front of her. Deeply moving.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! …and with love to all of you as well!

From Christine, the greening spirit

Cranberyy 2

 

 

We have had some special Dogs in our family, and while it has been a long time since I have had a dog in my life, the delight and tradition of live-in furry companions has been a vibrant part in the lives of my adult children and all of our family stories.

About a month ago, we said goodbye to Grandoggie Magnus who was part of my NYC daughter’s family. He was a sturdy French Bulldog…a breed that always elicits enthusiastic and admiring conversations on the street with other lovers of pug-nosed breeds.

My daughter L, son-in-law B and grandaughter G loved Magnus beyond compare and indeed there are many tender and humorous memories over the almost 15 years he was with them. I love this picture of baby Magnus when he first came into their family:

My daughter L said recently of the  special place Magnus had in their family life:  “Some people just have dogs but don’t pay too much attention to them..they just have a dog. But we talk to our dogs all the time and interact with them constantly” and so there is a magical communication and relationship going on at all times that is a delight to witness and to experience with both animal and people.

Magnus was very old when he crossed over… no teeth, blind, frail and not able to bend over to eat his food, which he still enjoyed to the full. I was so filled with emotion when I saw my daughter sitting on the floor feeding him with a spoon for his meals, which..being a snub-nosed Frenchie, he lapped up with great noisy gusto. I teased my daughter that I hoped that when I got that old, I would be taken care of that well too.

My son-law B has a quirky sense of humor..actually our whole family does…and he had a unique loving and playful relationship with Magnus,  referring to him as “My Buddy”, taking him to meetings and play dates in the park with the informal French Bulldog people who loved to gather and share their love of  and life with this breed.

Magnus had several girlfriends there with whom he stayed when his family had to travel without him, as dog owners will often exchange and reciprocate babysitting hospitality amongst them when necessary.

Magnus  here with three of his doggie park girlfriends, Dixie, Dari and Pixie. It’s easy to see why a harem collected around him wherever he went.

Magnus girlfriends

I believe there were often events at the dog park like Halloween parties for the pups, but even then,  Magnus loved Halloween and often dressed up to accompany my grandaughter for trick or treating.

Here when Magnus was a pumpkin and G a princess of  some sort one Halloween (he got treats too!) :

My grandaughter dances with a ballet company in the big city and Magnus, though he could not attend class, practiced ballet with her at home. He even had his own tutu (which he only wore in the Apartment).

Magnus though a terror to cardboard boxes and vaccum cleaners when he was younger learned the art of deep relaxation in his later years after play dates and walks in the park with his family and various Frenchie girlfriends.

Magnus dressed up for his 13th Birthday party, with special treats from his family. (Oh how he loved parties. With treats…who can believe he also loved frozen brussels sprouts too…)

Our pets are wonders in our lives whether we live live with them or enjoy them during family visits. There is much more to the story of Magnus and to the special family he lived with. Much love to my daughter L, son-law B, and grandaugher G who shared so magnificently their own love and home with Magnus for so many years.

He will always be a special part of our family history.

***PHOTO CREDITS: Bill Bragger

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

A toast to Magnus!

 

 

 

In Joan Chittisters’s wonderful book, “The Gift of Years”, she writes  “The French call the years after  (official) retirement ‘the third age’ “.  She goes on throughout this lovely book to encourage and cheerlead those from about the age of 60  right until past 90 to see this time period as one filled with many blessings, though of course requiring  some attitude adjustments.

One of the blessings of this time for me ( and I am still working/teaching part-time and far from 90!) is the ability to look backwards down through the years, coming to better understand where I had been, be more acutely aware of the preciousness of NOW in this moment, and have a new tenderness, patience and compassion for those who are ahead of me and closer to eternity.

Inotherwords, perspective.

We have different agendas at each phase of life and Joan’s book eloquently captures all of them in her fascinating chapters.  For me, people- watching at the beach often captures the poignancy, humor and understanding of the different phases we move through…an enjoyable pastime for me in the now-available “floating” times I have to meander out and about with my camera, trying to capture in images what Joan offers  in words.

The beach and beach walkers all have different agendas. I have grandsons and know so well how little boys cannot resist skimming stones and small rocks across the waves…testing how far they can throw their dreams out upon the waters. Is the horizon the limit? Or is there more adventure beyond that? And the retired couple…holding hands, a slow stroll, maybe no need for talking, reconnecting after the active frenzied life of  youth and the middle years of  work and accomplishments, family and friends and many responsibilities, challenges and adventures.

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What about the Girlfriends? Such a familiar scene…. best friends…when teenage, sharing giggles over boys, middle years, long commiserations about relationships and challenges with husbands or lovers, shared wisdoms about raising kids, sisterhood guidance about following new paths of inspiration…. and older years…women soulsisters reminiscing and proud stories of grandchildren and adult children, comparing notes about health and lifestyle changes… I love this picture of these two girlfriends, deep in conversation along the beach, determined to keep sharing stories besides the challenges of the swirling gusts of wind threatening to snatch hat or skirt hems.

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And then, there is another agenda that is not age-related, but “spirit’  related when beach time is a no- agenda solitary time to just be, bringing nature and soul together in solitude to the music of sea and wind.

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I am glad to be in this “third age” of life, giving me time to devote myself to writing, photography and pondering where I have been up to this point, where I am NOW in this gifted moment, and how I want to craft my life living at the edge along the shores of existence. Always a walk at the beach will inspire me to know the right way for me to live more fully.

From Christine, the Greening Sprit

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Over the years when each of my daughters and I get together we tend to visit, when not shopping for a special family dinner, beautiful places like gardens, museums, or nature places like the woods or the sea.

One year when spending a day in Newport RI looking at possible venues for her upcoming wedding, my daughter Melissa and I added to our together-field trip, a stop at St. George’s “Chapel” (cathedral!).

Walking through this magnificent church, through the main chapel, side chapels and the arched walkways, we were captivated by the colors and shifting quality of light through the gorgeous stained glass windows and stone openings.

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I found this photo from those many years ago, taken back then with a small unsophisticated point- and- shoot camera but it still evokes the stunning feeling of meeting the Numinous in the play of holy light all around us. Sharing that experience in the church and in our time together still warms me and fills me with a sense of gratitude and the sacred that shows itself in so many ways wherever we are.

This morning on FB this beautiful post…one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on that  social media  site…popped up and called that experience back into my memory and my heart.

I hope it fills you with the same sense of awe as it does for me.

Light and Color…Luminous and Numinous.

The Celtic Poet Priest John O’Donohue has said that we need to have new names and concepts for “God”. One of his favorites is “The Divine Artist”.

Surely the masterful beauty of Light and Color is primary on the painter’s pallet of the Divine.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

Snowface David PICA WINTER WHITE (2)

Doesn’t it seem like Winter is endless this year? Cold, dark, windy, FOREVERRrrrrr!

I think Old Man Winter has fallen asleep in the woods and I hope he has not forgotten in his dreams that Spring is waiting impatiently to bring color back onto Earth’s canvas.

There has not been a lot of snow, but this HAS been a grey Winter in many of our spirits these days, with the intense flu season and especially the political upheavals, disarray and FROZEN icy heartless souls in power at the top in our government  right now who are stealing the lushness that belongs to all of us.

If we who believe in Spring don’t lose hope that all will dark, cold and seemingly life-less forever, if there are enough of us to soon, if not already, stir the soil, clang the pots and bells, sing songs and recount stories of our most colorful and generous dreams, then surely the green-ness, the “veriditas”, the flowers of freedom, as well as the Earth, will return in Spring.

Old Man Winter actually does know this.

As the Celtic poet Priest John O’Donohue has said:

If and when  you are in a bleak time, remember this: The secret work of winter…is..Spring”

May it be so (as it always has been….)

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi hat 2

 

 

 

Lighthouses are amazing structures. Strong. Defined. Towering. Commanding. Courageous. Often they are built on jetties, or islands in the raging seas, accessible only by boat, and the first question that comes to mind is “How did it get there in the first place?”

We usually think of a lighthouse’s mission as a guide to bring those lost at sea, home again to safe land. We think of it as a beam of light, or metaphorically speaking, a beam of Wisdom bringing us to a place of sure-footedness and grounding when we are adrift in our lives, tossed about by raging emotional waters, or simply adrift and rudderless, not knowing where we are or where we are going. We usually associate these lighthouses with the sea, be they structures, guiding words or wise people or mentors who draw us back to home.

PJL

But “lighthouses” are for those of us on land too, in times when we DO know where we are trying to go, when the direction or new dream is compelling but to get there we need to fight our way through brambles, prickles and obstacles to clear the path. In this case we need to follow the dream by keeping our eyes on the light calling us home to our authentic selves.

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We sometimes cannot do it alone. A trusted friend, a mentor, a wise counselor, a Lighthouse Keeper who knows who we are and who we can be, comes with the lighthouse, switching on the beam to guide us home to our best selves and purpose.

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In my life, I have had many “Lighthouses” and am so thankful for all of them no matter what form they have taken. I invite you, too, to scan all horizons in your life whether on land or sea to appreciate the Lighthouses that have brought you home to yourself over and over again.

** These images were taken on the New England coast…Point Judith Lighthouse and the Beavertail Lighthouse, Rhode Island.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

MOI Wind

 

 

 

 

 

There are days and seasons when the world is grey. Days when the natural winter of the earth as well as the winter of our situations and spirits have almost drained us of energy and color.

And yet… hiding away from it is not the answer. Grey is a time offering its own virtues… releasing the judgemental nature of black and white, softening the edges of the ego, gently demanding patience until color begins to return to both our environment and our lives.

What always helps me in the grey times is to get out and meet it on its own terms, fully accepting and learning from it by a WALK in nature.

On this one particular day when I’d had enough of staying inside in inclement weather, I went out…bundled up of course…after the rain that was melting snow. There was mist and fog both ascending and descending, and lots of puddles.

As always, my camera was with me though I did not think I would see anything of worth or beauty in such seemingly bland landscape. But you know, it also pays to be awake to possible surprises, even in the grey times, and experience has taught me that we are never disappointed.

And there they were….everywhere. Puddle Trees!  Watery Reflections …or maybe invitations/magical portals to another dimension beneath ours if one could dive in to see what all this grey-ness was really about.

It is a worthy practice to once in a while look at things from another perspective. In the tarot there is a Major Arcana card called “The Hanging Man” depicting a man swinging upside down from the limb of a tree. He is not in trouble…just seeing things from an upside down perspective to consider things or situations in a new way.

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The Puddle Trees are a little like that.  A sort of fairy tale to ponder with several secret lessons to be revealed in meditation.

I was delighted with my “find”  and had fun meeting the Grey in a new (upside down) way!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

Don’t think for a moment that the plants don’t have the ability to communicate with you! Sometimes to share wisdom and sometimes to tell you off when need be! This really happened to me..

The Greening Spirit

Plantspeak

In various herbal conferences I have attended, I was always intrigued when certain teachers and indigenous speakers would make references to hearing the plants sing, or receiving messages from them about how to use them for healing. As far as I knew in my long years of gardening it had never happened to me… at least not yet until one summer when I unexpectedly became a wandering minstrel gypsy with a performing Ecuadorean family of musicians as their co-ordinator, unintentionally (but rather cavalierly) abdicating my role as garden mistress. That was the summer I finally “heard” the plants…only it wasn’t a song…it was an indignant lecture and chiding.

Attentively planting and raising my heirloom vegetable plants from seed in early spring, I looked after each stage of their emergence and growth with great delight. Planting them in the rich prepared soil of the side garden, I looked forward to seeing them begin…

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