Tag Archive: Photography


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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I was kind of in a hurry, dashing into town to pick up a few things. It was cold, grey and damp, but my car was warm and my four wheels could get me where I needed to go quickly and then back home again to host a friend’s visit.

You know…..that light at the four corners takes FOREVER to change so I  cleverly turned left for a short-cut behind Bess Easton Coffee to quickly drive across the parking lot and across the street to the pharmacy and Belmont’s market.

But no such luck. Turning the corner to make that quick dash, right there squarely in the middle of the road heading in the same direction was an old woman, pushing a little shopping cart with empty shopping bags attached. She was all bundled up against the cold, layers under coat, hat, gloves, scarf and she was SLOWLY making her way..and I mean SLOWLY…inch by inch….alone.

My first inner response  of impatience was “Oh, SHEESH!” ….. but just momentarily as I reminded myself that I now live in a Senior Housing Apartment complex and though I can quickly veer around those with walkers or a cane in the hallways of the building, someday a number of years from now, that could be me!

Compassion, my dear. Let’s polish that up a bit.

I backed up and turned my car around going to a store behind me instead and also stopped to top off the gas in my vehicle. And then I proceeded to my original intended destination, though about 25 minutes behind schedule.

The old woman was gone from the middle of that short-cut, and I was able to cut through, across the parking lot, across the road to the big parking lot of the pharmacy and market.

And there she was… inching her way step by slow step over towards the market…! She had covered quite a distance in those 25 minutes and quite frankly, I was awed and humbled by her determination, her courage, and her intrepid spirit making her way alone, without partner or friend, on a cold grey day. It was a very long walk in distance and time.

ELDER-kin. There are so many of us now…from about age 60 to 90+..especially single women, living alone in senior apartments.. families somewhere else and ever so busy..adult children on the move and grandkids too and so much time between visits. We did not know when we were younger about the sometimes isolation and lonely journeys we must take in this third life chapter.

It takes courage and pure GRIT to take that LONG WALK alone to the market on foot on a cold day. Women, I must say, are known for that kind of pure GRIT… haven’t many of us just up and done what needed to be done as we once accompanied partners, children or aging parents through all kinds of growth pangs?

Seeing this Elder Kin sister from across the distance stirred my heart and almost brought tears to my eyes. I blessed her, and me, and all courageous elders who are are taking that long walk…even when it is slower than it used to be.

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS is the train I want to ride!

Let’s GO!

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!” )

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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….

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Inotherwords, perspective.

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

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

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

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

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

From Christine, the Greening Sprit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light and Color…Luminous and Numinous.

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

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

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

Snowface David PICA WINTER WHITE (2)

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

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

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

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

Old Man Winter actually does know this.

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

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

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

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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

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

PJL

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

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

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

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

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

MOI Wind

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

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