Tag Archive: Writing


Share the Thorn ip(2)

 

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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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

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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

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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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burdock, iris, chives, lamb’s ears, milkweed, daylilies

The Everything Garden is just that! The delight of green growing things, colorful flowers, healing and culinary herbs, delicious vegetables on whatever little (or larger) plot of land you are blessed to care for is a joy. If one is an artist in your spirit and soul, but perhaps “painting” is not your skill, one can plant and create painting-like images in your garden that invoke moments of stillness, awe and wonderful memories if you have a camera to capture and hold them…How I loved my morning walk along the garden’s edge above…a wild mix in the border..

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My years of gardening in the yarden surrounding the house that was mine for an extended time was supported and cared for with hoes, rakes, bags of soil, the best compost, trellises, grow boxes, raised beds, little fences, and garden decorations created by my artist partner, David…and…my CAMERA!

 

The Dance of the Femine Face of God

The Garden Dancer by Canadian Artist David Hickey

 

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The Great Mother by Canadian Artist David HickeyT

The pictures in this series was from that time and will be from that time since… But a primary part of my gardening adventures has always been a camera, for during the growing season I would be in and out of the house multitudes of times throughout the day to visit, tend and photograph the life journey and antics of my green Kin.

An exciting, interesting and humble way of life. Humble ..as from the word “Humus” ~ of the earth. Living with Humility as in the true definition according  Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister –

                            “Knowing one’s proper place in a Universe of Wonders”

                 ..and for sure, the garden is one place to experience those wonders!

 

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Aren’t these Poppy seed heads fun?

       

                                       More Images from a Universe of Wonders!                                                                                                                     

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Bursting

 

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Mountain Laurel by my front door

 

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Chives in bloom in the un-mowed border

 

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A Universe of Wonders ~ The stars in the center of chive blossoms

 

                                                                An Everything Garden!

 

Veggie Garden

ONE of my Everything Gardens!

 

Well now. 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 are 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 in our personal journeys. This series so far has been mostly re-blogged, written in 2015,  and celebrates and shares the gardens..my gardens for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything. (The last several chapters are recently written.)

Has there been a pivotal year as well somewhere in your life when things changed and you had to let go and live creatively between your old life and your new life? What does that new life look like now?

A few more chapters to come in this story of My Garden, My Soul  from 2015 to the present now of 2020 when EVERYTHING that was familiar for all of us is pivoting into the as-yet unknown and the now new-normal.

It is important that we still be Gardeners of new ways. Staying close to Mother Nature. Staying close to each other. To choose and attempt to make our lives and the way we live a Sacred Garden.

 

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Garden stone for my garden by Canadian Artist, David Hickey

Mary Oliver Gardener

From Christine, The Greening Spirit ~ July 2020

Moi FM

Please enjoy some of my other blogs here on wordpress!

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

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http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (herbal recipes and memoirs)

Fire-Cider_landscape

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

Piano Teach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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

 

 

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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Crea Mona Se 4 One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"

 

 

 

 

 

Every so often I need to write about the lost art of letter writing, which to me is a very sad indicator of a distressed culture, particular one that is originally and supposedly trained in literacy. 

Nothing can compare to the possible eloquence and depth of a personal  letter, thoughtfully composed with the express intention of intimate communication and deepening of relationship. A letter can connect two souls, hearts and minds in a way a dashed-off paragraph in an e-mail or a three-lined tweet can never do. And let’s not forget the bastardization of language, an inquiry of another’s well-being reduced to the single lettered laziness of a “how R U? ”

There is the revealing of personality in penmanship and unique handwriting and the historical treasure of wrinkled old letters and documents on parchment for the sake of posterity that cannot be conjured up and savored in sterile black and white print from a computer file.

Bringing us now to this essay’s main image of this sad abandoned mailbox. This was the mailbox out in the front yard of the home I used to own. My home,One time it was the receiver of a mix of the usual bills of homeowners and letters from family and friends…those personal letters so eagerly awaited when distance kept us apart from personal visits.

But then, over the years, technology changed (or rather, infiltrated) our culture,  people’s lives changed and the computer allowed a quicker “touch-base” communique easier on the run, but less informative. That mailbox became less and less receiver of the written voices of people, but more and more the temporary receiver of printed corporate billing and junk mail and flyers.

My mailbox began to lose heart.

Eventually the billing also went online, and that mailbox only became a holding place, until emptied, of colorful  and jumbled hastily stuffed-in fliers and paper junk advertisements which I refused to bring into the house.

Entered then the cultural change of a mailbox unit at the post office.

My poor mailbox was eventually overtaken by brambles and thorns..alone and abandoned by human connections, it became home to a small nest of bees. The happy ritual of going out into the yarden to check for a letter…a LETTER…or to say hello to the mailman…went the way of many of our rituals of belonging both to family and community.

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

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

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

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

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

Big things to ponder here.

But now back to Tartalina and the Priestess.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

From Christine, the greening spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magnus girlfriends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***PHOTO CREDITS: Bill Bragger

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

A toast to Magnus!

 

 

 

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

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

Inotherwords, perspective.

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

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

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

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

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

From Christine, the Greening Sprit

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I am on FB/social media daily and interact with a number of creative people who are free-spirited and artsy: craftspersons, lovers of music and dance, writers, poets, painters,photographers,animal lovers,  yoga teachers…. and political activists in this chaotic time of challenging social priorities.

However recently this past year, showing up in my feedback stream are a number of posts (or comments) by persons of fundamentalist religious beliefs who are ardent about particular issues that they feel are dangerous, sinful, against God’s will or threatening to their biblical or dogmatic faith teachings. These passionate concerns include issues around pro-choice vs pro-life legislation, transgenderism, gay relationships, emerging women’s voices with access to public power for change, to name a few.  Let me say that altho we may differ vastly on what we think about these issues, both they and I have a common right to think what we will.

Debate that can often lead to arguments as to who holds the “Truth” are common although I try not to engage in that way, beyond stating what feels right to me…for me. What I ardently resist is the attempted legal imposition of fundamentalist  belief systems upon the rights of others to choose for themselves how to live a sane and hopefully moral life.

And I do not hold that there is only one valid spiritual path that is the one true faith for all and that that one path is a cure for all of societies ills.

As the prophetic priestly Matthew Fox often says of the world’s spiritual Wisdom traditions :  “One River, Many Wells”.

I teach a variety of courses at a local University and one of them, a course I describe as “a retreat in an academic setting” focuses on three words (plus one) from a poem by the Celtic poet John O’Donohue.  The three words are Silence, Stillness, and Solitude. I added the “plus one” as Simplicity. These words are practices that help us to discern a deep ability to access a personal  spiritual conscience leading to right and just decision making personally and in society.

A meditative exercise we do to demonstrate open-ness and respect for the many ways of finding a healthy inner guidance system without judgementalism born of fundamentalist hubris is the artistic creation of our Soul Mandalas.

Each person receives a black and white image of a complex mandala design. Everyone receives the exact same image (ONE RIVER). In quiet meditation to soft music, everyone colors this image. At the end of the exercise we display our creations and are awed at the diversity (MANY WELLS) and all and each one is beautiful, whole and unique. Yet the original pattern is identical. Each of us, given free will (and a set of colored markers) must personally create a life, a spiritual path, a Voice for what we stand for without demanding that everyone else believe as we do or denigrating others for standing up for justice from another angle. We each color in our mandalas without demanding that they are colored in the same way.

Often then a challenge comes back such as “well is MURDER a valid life choice, or GREED or LYING or Terrorism? And should we accept those? ”  Common sense and decency can answer that one. The issue here is about intolerance of diversity in how people make life choices that lead them to whom they were meant to be in the Creator’s plan for service and inspiration for others.

It is vital in today’s complex society filled with so many forceful “opinions”,  judgments and and sometimes “righteous” religious hubris, to craft honorable discernment through personal spiritual work and the humble practices of Silence, Stillness, Periodic Solitude, and Simplicity.

And it is also vital to keep the image of these multi-colored mandalas in our imagination and the wise teaching of One River, Many Wells.

OLLI Class photo

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

OLLI peace

 

 

 

 

Snowface David PICA WINTER WHITE (2)

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

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

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

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

Old Man Winter actually does know this.

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

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

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

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi hat 2

 

 

 

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