Tag Archive: inspiration


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My garden grow boxes lying Fallow 2015-2016

Fallow (adj) ~ adjective. (of land) plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated. not in use; inactive. (of personhood) ie My creative energies have lain fallow this year.

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During the last three summers of my home gardens, I decided to add grow boxes in the middle of my front lawn, as well as planting and tending all the border gardens around the boundaries and sides of the property. It was a joy and delight to witness all the green goodies…flowers, herbs and vegetables…. spilling out of those raised boxes…healthy and lush and easy to tend (no weeds!).

Sam garden

Jardin

Jardin one

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Sam garden

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These gardens gave me inspiration, strength, encouragement, hope and grounding during the several years of intense national and personal challenges in my life due to the economic downturn that so many Americans and home-owners were facing at that time. Holding on as best and as long as I could  came to an end in 2015… my “Year of the Thorn”…. when that way of life and the land had to be released, giving up home, gardens and land that could no longer be sustained.

 

 

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2015 My Year of the Thorn~ Loss and Letting Go

 

Receiving sanctuary with the dearest of friends, I was welcomed to stay with them for  the next year of my personal paradigm shift and healing of spirit. My grow boxes, once the containers of vibrant overflowing life, now lying fallow in their woods below a white pine.  And myself, fallow in spirit and activity as well, though still teaching piano to a small handful of mature students. Spirit-wise, though the rich compost of Creativity lay somewhere deep in my Soul, all was still and quiet and as empty as the soil in those grow boxes. Where to go next? How to work in new ways, how to sustain myself? How could I live in joy without my gardens, the source of so much creative inspiration, healing and connections to the Earth?

The blessings of my sanctuary friends and their own beautiful gardens still surrounded me with the green Veriditas so vital to my well-being. The joy of their land and its growing bounty helped during this fallow time between my familiar old life and my as yet-unkown new life when no new vision and direction revealed itself. Though their land and gardens were not mine, I was still tethered to the Earth while I waited for new as yet-unknown seeds of Soul to sprout.

 

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Madeline’s Garden

Eventually, when the Year of the Thorn  and the Fallow Period shifted slowly into the new life that I now live, those grow boxes were gifted to my daughter, and to a couple of elder friends who were happy to have them for easier gardens to tend. There are no more grow boxes or gardens at ground level for me now. 

But still…. this is not the end of the story of My Garden, My Soul. I am living with Veriditas (the greening spirit) .., but in a new way… with my “gardens” of green growing things and of Creative spirit.

Stay with me. There are still a couple of chapters to come.

 

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My Garden, My Soul

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

There are many ways to live with Veriditas, the Greening Spirit of Soul!

You are invited to visit my other blogs…

http://sensuoussoupsandseuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (actually..herbal recipes for year round)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There have been many chapters so far to this series, My Garden, My Soul. It is time now to reveal that the celebration of these gardens of mine have been sweet reminisces, for they are gardens of my past, not my present. There is more to this story because there are many chapters in our lives. Like a season  in Nature of big winds, torrential rains, hurricanes or droughts, we too in our lives face those same challenges as emotional and situational experiences in our personal journeys. This series so far  has been mostly re-blogged/newly written celebrating and sharing  about the gardens..my gardens …for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything and the time between my “old life” and my “new life” became a true personal paradigm shift from landowner to apartment dweller and the loss of my treasured gardens.

2015 was the “Year of the Thorn” in my life’s journey and relationship with the Garden of my Soul.

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The  invasive wild white rose vines bordered my garden on the back side of my land separating my front lawn from the lot next door, every year sending out a line across the yard and wrapping itself tightly around the water spout of the house. It was an arduous and often painful experience cutting this vicious plant back, as the vine…thick and hard..was covered with very large dangerous thorns with a tiny backwards tip at the end that pierced and embedded itself deeply even through protective gardening gloves.

The several years leading up to 2015 and specifically 2015 itself were the years of, and specifically the “Year of.. the Thorn” in my life’s journey. Due to severe economic challenges in our country of those years and it’s impact on my work…losing a major portion of my private music teaching income when my many students were also financially impacted and had to let go of their frills including piano lessons…I was no longer able to sustain myself, my home and my land. The thorn of personal and societal disaster hooked itself deeply into my life, wrapping itself around all that was familiar, piercing my Soul-filled life as musician, teacher and gardener.

In short, I lost everything. Income, House, Land and Gardens.

What was left to me..household furnishings, a vast library of books, piano and instruments, and all manner of the stuff of living went into storage.

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Packing up a life

 

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Storage GS

However, I was truly blessed by loving and generous friends who invited me to stay with them for a year between my “old life” and my “new life” …a year during which I had no clue as to what would come next for me, where I would go, how I would continue the Journey of my own destiny. A double blessing was that these friends were also gardeners of exquisite skill and magic, and though the gardens were not mine, they surrounded my exhausted emotional life with their green healing power and beauty.

 

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My friend Madeline in her garden…the year between my old life and my new life

My grow boxes, once overflowing with flowers, herbs and veggies, also become un-employed as they, empty of life,  were stored and sheltered under the trees in the forest of my friends.

 

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My growboxes stored in the woods during the Year of the Thorn

                                                                   Remembrances

Jardin

There is no escaping challenges and changes if we are alive on the Earth. Like the plants in the Garden, there are seasons for everything including us in our life’s journey. Some years of bounty, some years of barren-ness. It’s always a cycle of letting go and letting “in”, of deconstruction and re-construction, of loss and then renewal.

This is not the end of the story of “My Garden, My Soul”.

Stay with me. Chapter 24 is next. Like Life.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

share purple gardener

You are invited to visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com  (music and memoirs of a piano teacher. Me!)

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (healing herbal recipes. Fire Cider!)

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (kitchen memoirs and recipes!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I recently read an article on how to get children to eat (and love) vegetables. Have them plant them, watch them grow through all their stages, tend them and harvest them in a garden! As children are so curious and tender-hearted, growing their own veggies is fascinating for them to watch from seedling to maturity,  becoming protective of their well-being as they grow  ….and finally getting to EAT them too when at last they are ready! Harvesting is often like playing a game of hide and seek!

 

 

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A Grandson in the Veggie Garden

 

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Grandsons in the Garden!

 

 

Aiden Garden

The “little”  grandson in the above pictures is growing like a weed! He likes mini tomatoes.

 

I myself must have a child’s spirit when I have planted and tended my own vegetable gardens, totally mesmerized by all of the fascinating stages from seed to seedling, to green leaves , budding flowers and the pushing out, giving birth from the flower center of the veggie itself. Switching to my Mothering-self, these plants become my children in the garden and I am in and out of the house, camera-in-hand photographing them and their curious idiosynchronistic ways and then writing about them in my blogs ie  https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2020/07/13/my-garden-my-soul-part-14-cukes-overboard/.  My veggie garden is a creative resource for me!

 

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photo credit: from my daughter’s garden MGPerry

 

Colors Beanlings

Are you REALLY going to turn into a BEAN?? C’mon you can DO it!

 

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Oooh! Hello baby tomatoes!

Switching again to my poetic and spiritual-self, I often make metaphoric connections between the plants and my own personal life situations, finding that the green KINdom..veggies, herbs, flowers,trees have much to teach me about how to live wisely and well.

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/my-garden-my-soul-part-10-beany-babies-sprouting-something-new-2/

 

 

Bean Baby

Beanie Babies: What is sprouting new in me?

 

Shy pumpkin teaches me it is okay to sometimes stay behind the action until I am really confident and mature enough to engage with the World! 

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/shy-pumpkin-pondering-vulnerability/

 

Shy Pumpkin

Shy Pumpkin

Purple Kale teaches me “If you’ve got it, FLAUNT IT! “

 

Kale with water droplet-look!

Aren’t I just so gorgeous??? (Purple Kale in my Garden)

 

From my lovely eggplant and its roundness, I learn to celebrate my own womanly form, round and curvy, and yet firm, full of the seeds of creativity and life in all stages.

share My garden soul artsy eggplant

 

This is all so much fun and fun in these ways is Virtuous. However in a more serious vein, the Veggie Virtues of Nourishment and Strength are such awesome blessings upon us  from these delicious gifts of the Earth, that forever in the Garden and at the the Table we should always give thanks for this that sustains us body, mind and spirit. There is a life force, a vibrant Veriditas/Greening Spirit,  always present in the plants whether growing in the garden or on our plates, and in partaking of this powerful energy,, we are intimately connected with the life force of Nature and of the Creator who loves us.

 

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a little help from the farmers market garden

 

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May all be blessed in our gardens of Flowers, Herbs and Vegetables and let their Virtues live in us.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Pearls Gardening

You are invited to check out some delicious recipes on my food blog! :

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

https://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/tempting-tomatoeggplant-basil-teasers/

Eggplant basi teasers

 

 

 

 

 

On the virtues of the herb Lemon Balm~ “It maketh one merry” ~ Hildegard of Bingen

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Morning tea blend from my garden: Nettle, red clover, mugwort

On the virtues of the herb Lemon Balm~ “It maketh one merry” ~ Hildegard of Bingen   *(to be in a merry state is an important component of good health)

There is something particularly magical about Herb gardens and in particular, something mythically magical about Gardeners themselves who raise, tend and wisely use these herbs for the making of herbal teas and potions for healing.Those who knew and still do know about the inherent powers in the plants that offer healing to both creatures and humans alike were both admired and feared and in older times, labeled as wisewoman or witch for their knowledge of the secrets of Nature. What is odd about this view is that the healing powers in the herb gardens was also a tradition kept alive by monks of the medieval Catholic Church as apothecaries in their monasteries, most of which had impressive herb gardens to care for both the monks and the villagers where they lived. The awesome Benedictine  abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) amongst her other extraordinary gifts of music, writing, visions, prophecies and teaching, in her later years wrote three books of medicine based in the medieval use of herbalism and the greeningspirit (veriditas) energies of Nature.

 

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Herbal wise woman

 

 

 

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Brother Cadfael in his herbal apothecary

I have always felt like that magical wise woman as I tended the many herbs both medicinal and culinary in my gardens. Moving amongst them, gathering them, LISTENING to them, using them,  always stirs my imagination and images of ancient times dimly remembered and seemingly familiar. A felt-sense of history/HERstory. A scriptural quote that was presented to me serendipitously seemed apropos to this experience:

  “And the Holy One says ‘Stand at the crossroads and look, asking for ancient paths where the good way lies. And walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ ”  ~ Jeremiah 6:16

The herb garden with its ancient paths and ever-present healing gifts is certainly a good way to follow!

 

 

 

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Borage (for courage!)

 

 

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Echinacea and Milkweed in my garden

 

 

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Mugwort and red clover in my garden

BUT herbs have another virtue and that is saved for the kitchen and those of us who love to cook and adore delicious food! The herb garden is a scentuous symphony of flavors to tempt and delight even the most jaded or bored eater! Basils, rosemary, sage, chervil, lemon verbena, the thymes, sweet marjoram and oregano, chives, caraway and of course, the heavier spices from bark and seeds imported from faraway exotic places not near or backyard gardens. Fresh or dried they make us hungry for beauty on the tongue and for the tummy and stimulate creative cooking for ourselves or as loving gifts for family and friends! Or even a delicious tea to sip while reading a good book! A kitchen without bouquets of herbs on the counter or collections in the cabinet tells me much about who cooks dinner regularly or orders take-out!

 

 

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My special herbal vinegar with lovage, garlic and hot pepper

 

 

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Chives in my garden

 

 

 

 

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Tomato, Basil and Cheese  Quiche

Herbal virtues one cuppa

Spearmint, lemon balm and rose petal tea

    Whether you include herbs for either medicinal or culinary projects, know that you are entering a truly magical time filled with ancient secrets and wisdom… enjoy and share these virtues with others whom you love and treasure! In fact all herbs are a mixture of both medicine and food… you can’t lose either way…you bring the gift of love and healing from your garden of herbs!

Other herbal post on the Greening Spirit:

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/mugwort-magic-and-medicine/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/herbal-love-finding-my-plant-spirit-guide-mugwort/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/herbal-love-2-mugwort-dreams-and-dreamers-tea/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/herbal-fantasies-a-ladys-tea-recipe-1/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/herbal-fantasies-a-magical-big-hearted-tea/

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

I invite you to visit my other blogs for recipes, inspiration and music!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com    (Tomato, Basil and Cheese Quiche)

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com  (Herbal Fire Cider Recipe)

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

 

 

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“In a world without color, it would be impossible to imagine Beauty, for color and beauty are sisters” ~ John O’Donohue, Celtic priest and poet

“The eye needs color as much as it needs light” ~ Goethe

growbox OLLI Flower Box Purple WD PICA(3)

There are all kinds of Gardeners and all kinds of reasons for gardening.  What one plants in a garden is a decision that each person makes for a particular purpose. Some love a variety of green foliages, some love flowers, annuals and perennials, some love the delicacy and purposeful mission of culinary or healing herbs, some love to grow things to EAT ! And there are gardeners who want it all…and I was such a Gardener myself when I had the land on which to plant EVERYTHING! And I DID!

 

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From my former garden: The year I planted a sunflower border

Today’s essay is about what might take our breath away at the the sight of BEAUTY..which is exactly what Flowers are all about…their physical Beauty and their scent and perfume that makes us..(and the pollinators) swoon, stopping and letting our senses of sight and smell be filled with delight.

 

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from my former garden: Milkweed

The earth…Nature’s  Earth..is a very sensuous and sexy place, if I may be so bold and slightly risque. But it is exactly the Beauty and Scent of flowers that are filled with the intoxicating powers to seduce birds, bees and insects to draw close and flit from color to color collecting and spreading moist pollens and sensuous sweetness for the continuation of the populations responsible for gifting us with such delightful and irresistible BEAUTY! Are we not overtaken ourselves entering a garden in blooms of all hues and shapes? Do we just look, or do we so often gather some to bring inside of the four tamed walls of our homes..How often then, do we stop and bend and sniff and admire the Beauty from our gardens, cultured or wild, that we have brought inside to keep that loveliness near us?

 

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from my former garden: mini-sunflowers and love-lies-bleeding

There was a time, I have read, when there was such a thing as “The Language of Flowers” when little nosegays or a single flower was sent..without words…to a beloved or for consolation in a time of sorrow, or for an invitation to meet…a time when knowledge of what a particular beautiful flower “said” without words. An almost magical communique between the sender, the receiver and the Flower. How lovely that secret language!

 

 

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From my former garden: The intricate Beauty of Nigella

I have a daughter who is a Gardener and until this summer, has mostly enjoyed the landscaping with green plants of interesting shapes…some flowering bushes and shrubs like roses and hydrangeas. But being home during Covid time, she expanded this year into her first vegetable garden plot and flowers. This is the summer she fell in love with ZINNIAS! Planted from seed in a special longish strip along her driveway, she texts me pictures of them as they come up, praising their Beauty and cheerful inspiration in a time of pandemic and community lock-downs. When I see the picture below that she sent to me, I can feel the joy and delight she feels when she walks by these flowers of hers!

 

Melissa's zinnias Greening S

From my daughter’s garden-the happiness and delight of her Zinnias July 2020

The Celtic poet/priest, John O’Donohue calls God “The Great Artist” and that works for me especially in the Virtue of Flowers ~ BEAUTY

 

 

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From my former garden: Mountain Laurel in bloom

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

Please visit my other blogs for recipes, inspiration and music!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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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