Category: Photography


 

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.

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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

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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

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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!

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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”.

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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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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 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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The lovely poet Mary Oliver writes: “My work is loving the world………… Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished“.

There are days when there are hours wandering about with my camera seeking, finding and capturing mysteries, and then writing about them. It is for me a meditative time, akin to prayer, I have come to realize, for in this practice I am always in a state of astonishment. It seems it is my way at these times to “gaze” instead of “look”, and to “see” rather than “glance” for I am a Taurus and we prefer to move more slowly, and linger in order to savor the experiences wherever we are.

Which brings me to the art of Deep-Seeing nature around me which when involving astonishment triggered by Beauty makes me fall deeply in love with the world.

But in our ordinary busy-got-to-get- somewhere times, we rush by life and our environment moving so fast, merely glancing at the surface and brushing by the most astonishing things hidden in plain sight on our way to be elsewhere.

Coming in and out of the house on my way to “out there”,  hopping in the car and taking off to tasks and responsibilities, I am in my head making lists, prioritizing things to do, appointments to get to on time and all that. In so doing, I pass this beautiful red Japanese Maple right outside the door, glancing quickly as I am fiddling and looking for my car keys in the depths of my purse and am astonished when I find them amidst the pocketbook’s inner complexities and clutter!

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A day or two later, when not so rushed but going out to do a task, the slant of light on this tree caught my attention as I passed, suddenly revealing the patterns of several layers of branches and feathery leaves. The greenery was multi-colored as well, green, red, purple and PINK! I was astonished, immediately stopping to dig into my purse for my camera which is always with me (forget the car keys!). This sudden switch of vision to deep-seeing mode captured a Mystery that captivated me, took my breath away and surrounded me with a feeling of the holy, the Whole-y, the Sacred, The Magical.

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But it’s not over, this Astonishment. There is never any end to how deep we can go with the art of Deep-Seeing in the world around us, in the people we meet or live with, or in the desire and seeking for Truth. How powerful is your curiosity? How hungry are you for depth and meaning,  for the seeking of Soul in the world,  and for the deeper mysteries of beauty hidden everywhere when we stop to linger, gaze and be present?

Standing there, lingering with this tree, looking down at its flattened crown from above, I noticed a small opening in its branches. Bending closer, I was charmed and astonished as I looked deeper through the opening and down to the ground under its trailing limbs … there..brightly colored, lush, textured and shiny..a whole luxurious community of greenlings…broad  shimmering violet leaves and delicate sweet woodruff (an ingredient in May Wine)…a combined vibrant palette of pink, purple, green and pale yellow.

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It is true that some of us, when astonished, are inspired to make art, sometimes writing poetry, sometimes creating a painting, sometimes a story written or told, sometimes a photo composed and edited for making magic trying to capture and make what we have seen immortal…all irresistible components of falling in love.

I come to know that while teaching piano and  spiritual well-being to earn a living, that my real work is, and ever will be, loving the world and daily being astonished, sharing that Good News wherever I can.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Heather and Snow Two (2) PICASA

Yesterday, March 20, was the Vernal (Spring) Equinox in North America. Pictures of tulips, lambs, bunnies and bouquets of flowers were cheerfully posted all over social media, bringing color, a sense of beginnings, warmth and new visions after the cold and silence of winter.

Meanwhile on the eastern coast, we awaited a snow event promising to  once again cover the slowly emergent green from the past week of warmer rains.

The sun is now bright after the snowfall, melting this morning’s  blanket of white, but we have not yet made the transition really from Winter into Spring. This is an in-between time… snow and heather trying to co-exist if only momentarily.

Transitions times are a real thing…neither this, nor that…but both and neither. Nature is a startling metaphor for situations in our lives that are neither one thing or another. I know this to be true because that is exactly what I am experiencing at this time: an in-between time from what my life was, and what will be.

I have let go of my life and home and beloved gardens and routines of the past 18 years of rhythm and familiarity, partly by choice and partly by fate. … much if not all of my worldly possessions in storage while I am granted a blessed “time-out” living with friends in order to heal in spirit and recalibrate where to go from here. I am leaving a winter experience of life with residues of frozen challenges while emerging into color, creativity and new experiences that are part of an eldering, but also newly- blossoming me.

I know I am not alone in these times of transition…the in-between times when we are compelled to make changes that incorporate both plusses and minuses. Letting go of parts of what we love, stages of grief, recognition of blessings in the in-between times that aid us and help us move along, hints and glimmers of what can be that we only now can envision as new possibilities.

Spring IS coming, and one thing about Spring that is different from winter-into-spring is the uncompromising energy of Spring RUSHING without confusion into SUMMER…the time of bursting through the cold hard ground into stems, blossoms, fruits and vegetable, color and LIFE.

But today…heather and snow..is the In-Between Time of patience and promise.. a time that is neither this nor that. But both.

I think I can work with that……

 

Moi 2From Christine, The Greening Spirit

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussouopsandsuppers.wordpress.com

 

Eyes See You

The Magic Folk are out there…truly they are all around us when we are on our nature walks. Don’t think for a moment that we are alone even  if we walk solo! There are eyes everywhere and the “eyes see you!”

I often need to tune out from the dominant culture, media, tv, cars, phone and all that is of outer noise so that I can hear what is real from the inside-out ie: dreams and gentle inner visions that are both sanctuary and guide. I tune out by fleeing into nature…the seaside, forests or fields…or beautiful retreat centers that have managed to merge the sacred and the wilds as one. One such center is St. Edmunds  Retreat on Enders Island in Connecticut which is, indeed, a holy place of Sanctuary on an island, surrounded 360 degrees by ocean waters.

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Sitting  alone in deep silence one day on a stone bench facing the sea, I happened to glance down and to the side where the rocks and boulders bordered the path, forming a boundary to the moving waters beyond. I had been feeling that there was someone else nearby, but there was no one.

But suddenly, I was startled to see these eyes looking back at me from the middle of this pile of stone between me and the sea.

Have you thought that rocks and boulders were inert and not “alive”?

Think again and know that always we are known and watched in the realm of nature, dear Human,  and even the rocks can communicate “Eyes see you!”

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I go there often to this specially sanctuary and sit on that stone bench facing the sea when I need refreshment or inspiration. I do this alone. But I never forget to say hello to the one I see who is seeing me.

Enders Aug 8

 

Dad me 2From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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