Category: Photography


A walk at the beach, especially when the heart is heavy and sad, is never a disappointment. There are ALWAYS surprises and messages there for us when we have been cracked open emotionally and in pleading prayer have asked for guidance or a sign of hope that no matter what the issue, in time we will be able to move through the challenge.

We are in a very unsettled time here in the US as we experience the coming apart of our society politically, socially and most recently in the past week, another mass shooting of innocents with a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill as many as possible as fast as possible. Our American psyche has been battered this past year- and- a- half as we come face to face on a daily basis by internal corruption in high places and immoral and self-serving so-called leadership. But THIS issue now of mass killings over and over again has thrust us into a national and personal mixed cauldron of grief and rage as the people fight against a powerful gun lobby that is also determined to fight to the death to protect their own agenda and  profits.

A walk at the beach..with its wide and far horizon and the freshness of wind and consolation of the ever rocking ebb and flow of the tide…cannot solve the situation itself, but it can offer a break in the turbulence of emotion in difficult times, soothing our chaotic feelings and helping us to restore some sort of internal balance as we move through very uncertain and dangerous events requiring new decisions.

But as I said previously, when asking for heartfelt guidance and consolation in difficult times, we always receive an answer if we are aware.

And so for now,  a surprise message of guidance on a walk along the edge where the land meets the sea …the extra surprise when a message of compassion and hope was left in the sand as well… a gifted “communique” from the Universe.  Although created by human hands, the message left for all who might pass by ( even though I took it very personally as if  it were left for me) took on the energy of the Angelic. Which sometimes we humans are for each other, usually unaware that we have been so divinely commissioned.

SOMEone had been by before me …maybe it WAS an actual angel (?)…taking the time to craft this castle of peace. Maybe it was a prayer or meditation experience for them, maybe it was that plus a loving message for others as well to be still and Centered and not lose hope as WE lobby for a society of PEACE, not violence or war.

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Who knows how long this had remained whole and intact there in the sand before the tide would in time come in and wash it away. As I continued my walk and then sat higher up near the  dues behind this little peace castle,  I watched several other people and couples come by, stopping to look down with surprise at this message. They each and all paused and gazed quietly as if at some holy relic in church, pondering for some long seconds before moving on.

It was comforting to see that no one maliciously attempted to kick or destroy it, but moved on ahead in their walk, leaving this creation to eventually dissolve into the Great Mother She-Sea naturally. In Peace.

There is deepest gratitude to whatever Human (or Angel) left this message.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

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Our family loves to roam about in land trust forests, parks and old estates that are open to the public, all with beautiful cultivated gardens and managed wild borders.  Most of these sanctuaries are home to magnificent ancient trees that magically draw us to come close and under their extended branches in order connect with the green-ness of their heartbeat and history.

 

Mel Gardens Oct 2017 Five

 

Our picture albums are filled with pictures of us near or under these awesome leviathons of the land and always we come back home to our civilized homes of four walls, a little, if not a lot, wilder in spirit and healed of whatever personal challenges we may have been wrestling with or life puzzles we are trying to solve.

 

I am so grateful for those lovers of gardens and trees who with their blessed bounty of financial means and properties, generously invested time and love into these places and made them open and available like sanctuary parks to visitors coming in out of the stressful fray of supposed “civilized” life composed of consumerism, political and social disarray, incessant media noise and speeded-up everything.

 

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We find Peace near or under these old wise Beings and we feel their pulse and slow and steady life force calming and blessing us. We know the science of our mutual intimacy in the exchanges of breathe between us.. they breathing out oxygen for our intake and we breathing out carbon dioxide for theirs. Our lives depend on each other. Knowing the science of this bondedness does not overshadow the poetry of our relationship.

 

     (photo credit: Bill Bragger  (my daughter L and grandaughter G/Pacific Northwest)

 

Ancient trees just beg for little boys to climb them. Though old, they have not forgotten what it was to be a seedling or even an acorn.  They have LONG memories….

 

 

(Noni says “no THIS tree is toooo big to climb!” )

Mel Vis Aug Noni

 

The Japanese say that “forest bathing” ….a walk in the woods…. is good for our health both physically and spiritually. I agree…no matter what season…being with the trees, especially the ancient ones is the best medicine!

 

 

Until you find YOUR favorite old tree, at least DO take a walk in the woods…

(My daughter and grandsons on our Christmas woodswalk..a tradition)

 

If not near a woodland, take a walk around town. You just might find what magnificence you are looking for there….

 

  Rhode Island

 

Wishing the magnificence of Old Trees upon us all. Please protect them wherever they should be threatened or endangered.

photo credits: all pictures except otherwise noted by Christine Phoenix Green

From Christine, the greening spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

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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.

PJL Feb 2017 PICA

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

 

 

What’s your mission?

The Greening Spirit

E Sept 10

Nature is very clear in how she assigns work to her beloved creatures. Beavers build dams, creating natural waterways in environments that sustain the life around its banks, wolves group themselves in dedicated family communities whose job is to cull weak and incapacitated herd animals insuring a healthy population that the land can sustain, squirrels busily bury acorns in late fall for future food but also to be the movers of oak trees further out into the environment insuring their continued survival.  What a glorious inter-connected web.

Bees have their assigned task as well, besides feeding and caring for the Queen and her baby bees. Daily they leave the nest commuting to work in beautiful fields of flowers, quite mobile and enjoying the change of scene full of color and fragrance within their workday, gathering golden nuggets of pollen to be transformed into the sweetness of honey. Yes, they work hard but they know what they are supposed…

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Garden June Sacred

Being a Taurus Sun Earthkeeper person, I have always had gardens where I live. The cycle of the seasons in a 4-climate region has captivated me since childhood…each turn full of magic, myth and mystery.

Growing up in an inner city in the northeast USA, I was not exposed to posh gardens in the concrete environment even though I lived in an apartment building on Ash Grove Place which still had a genteel air leftover from earlier times when the neighborhood was lined with ash trees before cars. The plants that came through the cracks and between the buildings in ally-ways were the wild things…dandelions, poke, yellow dock, plantains and the flowers of grasses. Of course back then, I didn’t know their names but I was called to them because they were green growing living things tucked in and around the hardness and grey of city asphalt.

There were two “garden” situations however that served our city spirits. One was the chain-link fence bordering the back parking lot behind our apartment building. In spring and summer, the tall fence was covered by the climbing vines of morning glories. The blue flowers were a never-ending delight…the tight spirals of the buds before opening, which we would pick, blowing at their now- tiny opening at the base .. and out they would flare into full flower by the power of our own mini-godlike breath. Picking the full flower itself , we would also suck at the small opening at the base of it, pulled from the vine, to taste a delightful delicate sweetness,  coming to understand what the bees were collecting while visiting its center!

The second garden was for viewing only through the openings in the chain link fence to the back lot of the next-door neighbor. A German immigrant with a thick accent, he was a crabby terrible tempered territorial old man who yelled loudly and threatened any and all kids who might attempt to climb over the fence to receive a ball gone astray in the air, landing in his green sanctuary. But he was an amazing gardener and it was like peering into the Garden of Eden or a guarded oasis in the middle of the hood between buildings. As an adult, I now understand his fierce and protective personality preserving the peace and order of his sacred garden from a pack of potentially disruptive and invasive neighborhood kids….

My own gardens from marriage, parenthood, divorce, partnership and singledom on have varied. My first planting was of Lamb’s Ears (stachys officinalis) which first captivated me in a re-created colonial apothecaries’ garden at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT when I was age 21. The gardens that  followed throughout my life started with herbs and their charming and healing mystique, and later, flowers and vegetables. Always always green around me.  

Veggie Garden

( One of my earlier gardens )

Several years ago, serious vision problems with early cataracts began to develop and it became impossible for me to see in sunlight and also to just see clearly at all. For the past three years, that, plus a couple of stressful, attention-stealing life situations blocked the ability to garden. I thought that was okay. But there was a flatness in my spirit as a result…unrecognizable to others…but known to my own self. A loss of some sort of energy and meaning. A loss of “veriditas”.

Now, with much excitement and gratitude, my eyesight has been restored through surgeries,  and with the renewal of vision, I could not let another year go by without tending the “Green”.  Three years of not taking care of the yarden turned it into wildness except for the front. This year, I invested in Grow Boxes, not having the time or energy to tame field and woodland and in planting them and situating them in my yard,  I realized that in not gardening the last three years, I had lost some part of SOUL….my own “Greening Spirit/Veriditas”… by not participating in the cycle of the seasons in person and not tending the plants. But now! My Soul has come back home to both the inner and outer gardens!

Garden rainy

A week or so ago, as I walked through the front border to the road, I stubbed my toe on an exposed corner of a flat rock buried under moss and matted grass. I bent over to scrape away dirt and plant matter to find a garden plaque that my partner David had placed in my new herb garden almost 20 years ago when we moved in. I had at that time also been teaching a nine-month internship in folkloric herbalism, natural foods and earth spirituality, called “The Sacred Garden”.

Garden June Sacred

How synchronistic was its surprise emergence from “under” to welcome my SOUL back home as I became a “gardener” once again.

They are BACK! My garden, My Soul !

Veriditas! from  Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Please visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.com

 

 

 

 

During the past several years, I became hard-pressed to make some very difficult choices in my very familiar and somewhat predictable life: choices like letting go of a house/home of many years, leaving behind a plot of land that was the garden canvas upon which a colorful array of flowers, herbs and vegetables nourished me physically, spiritually and mentally, choices that challenged the way I earned my living as a humble means of security and choices that initially did not allow me to see a clear path into a grounded and stable future.

My life had been filled with color, music, dance and creativity. It was juicy and plump with knowing that I was fulfilling my destiny and blooming in rightness for me.

But then there were gradually some serious challenges in going it alone in a very changing and unstable environment around me and  those circumstances pressing in on me, pressed me as well, sucking a lot of the juice and energy out of my calmness and..well…flattening me and the fullness of familiarity for a while.

I am happily back now in a new and stable phase..gloriously so I think…. but I have learned something important having survived pressing circumstances and being “flattened” for a while myself.

So let me talk about Rose Geranium first as an example. For the year between my “old life” and my “new life” I lived with dear friends, who also had large and bountiful gardens which were a comfort to my loss in the interim. Outside of their front door was a lovely rose geranium plant in bloom all summer and fall, its rounded and scalloped leaves when stroked, exuded a sweet and musky perfume that evoked a sense of sensuality, earthiness, and LOVE. This plant beckoned to me every time I came and went about my tasks such as I was trying to live them out.

 

In the ensuing fall…last October…and before I knew I would be moving finally to a delightful new apartment in totally new circumstances I asked the plant permission and started to harvest some of her finest leaves pressing them between the pages of my books about Hildegard of Bingen which were references for a course I was going to be teaching at the local University.

When in time, I arrived in my new and delightful sanctuary,  my now apartment, and settled in beginng to prepare for the course, I opened the books and again met those leaves…. those now pressed and flattened leaves and I was stunned by their beauty…a NEW kind of beauty… as they emerged from having been nestled and pressed safely between those pages and  lying surrounded by all those beautiful words of wisdom front and back.

In their now pressed and flattened state, their strength and structure and divine and exquisite order…their master plan and destiny… was clearly revealed altho the physicality of their leaves are now seemingly…some might say “thin-skinned”.  But no, I would say instead “delicate, vulnerable and refined” and  with the color and beginning translucence of maturity. There is dance and frivolity and movement in the frilly-ness and happiness of their edges and I see that being pressed has not taken that away…in fact, it has made it the happiness more pronounced and visible as the essence of who and what it really is,  is clearly seen.

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It has gloriously survived being pressed and has evolved into a new phase of being.

What I have learned from being pressed is like all that I see in this rose geranium leaf and  which has been revealed in the still- beauty, sensuality and love that is available when surviving pressing situations that seem to flatten us. If we can be surrounded by good words and the friendly, caring protection of friends/family and community, the “stuff” of which we are made is never lost..just perhaps transformed into what is truly important. Our essence.

And most importantly, is the awesome revelation and knowing of the Divine Order and Guidance of our lives and in that leaf, never fully appreciated until we are squeezed, challenged, or pressed to claim and reveal our deepest selves.

I have been promised a cutting of that plant to bring here in my new apartment. Rose Geranium (Pelargonium Capitatum) A special flowerpot is all ready and waiting! I believe this plant has more to teach me…..

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Please check my foodie blog too : http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

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