Miss Clothilde and the Trees

It has been a good month at Full Moon Cottage. Aches have been healed, beloved friends have been visited and entertained, and gardens have come to their fullness and are currently aflutter with butterflies. Last night, rain fell with such force and velocity that flood warnings were rampant, but here the thirsty earth drank in over an inch, eagerly and happily. She deserved it.

The thunder and lightning made such a show of it that several pups asked to leave their crates and join us in the bed, not because they were afraid, of course, but to reassure us. At any rate, today, with more rain coming, I’m dedicating time to reading, watching a movie I’ve saved for a rainy day, and–seriously possible–napping, to recover from all that 4-legged reassurance.

I’m also sharing a story I wrote last winter. I hope one day, in some form, it will be a published book. I can just imagine the beautiful illustrations a gifted artist could create. But for now, I hope it pleases you, just as it is. (Clothilde [klo-TEELD] is a family name I’ve always loved, from my French/French Canadian Lessard ancestors.)

Become what you love.

Gentle Peace, my friends.

Miss Clothilde and the Trees

For all of her life, Miss Clothilde lived in the stone cottage in the forest beside the river. She had many friends. Some had two legs, some had four, some had wings, and some, like the river, just flowed. But the trees were always her dearest friends. 

When she was a little girl, her friends came to her parties beneath the willows. They played hide and seek, running through the forest. The trees’ leaves whispered, and their branches waved in the wind. “Here, Clothilde, here!” And she would hide behind their massive trunks, high in their branches, or in the holes used for nesting by the squirrels and opossums.

At sunrise and sunset, she sat privately with one of the trees, usually on a low-hanging limb, so they could have quiet conversations.

Clothilde asked the oak, “Do you miss traveling to distant lands?”

 “Oh, no,” it answered, “I love being rooted, watching the seasons change and all my saplings slowly, slowly growing. And those who nest in my branches and forage beneath carry my acorns to distant forests. So, you see, I do travel, in the way of trees.” 

Clothilde stood very still and watched the cottonball clouds puff across the blue sky. A squirrel friend sat at her feet and climbed to her raised hands. The owl flew into his nest high in the oak. “I learn so much when I am still,” she said.

She asked the maple, “How do you breathe?”

“Through our leaves, mostly,” it replied. “Trees breathe in what you breathe out, and you breathe in what we breathe out.”

“You mean, we are always breathing trees,” said Clothilde.

“And we are always breathing you,” said the maple. “And so, we become what we love.”

Clothilde breathed in and out with her tree friends. “I love you,” she said.

The hushed rustling of leaves murmured, “We love you, too, Clothilde.”

She asked the beech tree, “How does it feel when your roots burrow into the earth?” 

“Infant roots are shy and cautious. But then they grow stronger and more confident, seeking water and tunneling toward the roots of others. There’s quite a lively kinship of roots, fungi, insects, and soil all working together underground.” 

Clothilde wiggled her toes, pretending they pierced the earth, digging, and probing all the way to water. “It tickles,” she laughed, “like my fingers in the garden, when I help my parents!”

Clothilde asked the pine tree, “Why do trees’ branches reach up to the sky?”

 “Our branches rise to the sunlight and raindrops, so our lives will be long and healthy, but we also raise our limbs in praise.”

“What do you praise?” asked Clothilde.

“Life. The Earth. The beauty of the world and our part in it. The goodness of which everything is made.” 

Time twirled the Earth through its seasons and years, and a day came when Clothilde was grown and alone in the cottage, tending her garden, the river, her friends, and the trees.

 When she went to town for Market Day, she always took time to sit in the village park to be with those trees, too, and to feed the birds and listen to the music of people bustling with life. The village children called her Miss Clothilde, and they loved to hear her stories about the trees. They raised their arms with her and praised life, the Earth, and the beauty of the world. And when they grew up, their children listened to Miss Clothilde’s stories, too. 

She said, “Each of us must tend and protect our Earth. Every part of it, the animals, the water, my dear trees, and each other, too…all of it is precious.” And she taught them how to plant trees and flowers and care for them. “It is an honor to participate in the mystery of life becoming more life, and to do it well, we must offer our attention and love.” 

Every spring, she readied her garden, sowed seeds, and greeted the tender unfurling of leaves in the trees. When the migrating birds returned from warmer lands they had flown to in autumn, Miss Clothilde welcomed them with food and fruit as they settled in new nests. And to all the new life around them, Miss Clothilde offered her attention and love.

Her days grew longest in summer. At dawn, the birds sang the forest awake, and Miss Clothilde went out to tend the garden, weeding and trimming its growing vibrance. And in the afternoon’s late purple shadows, Miss Clothilde sat with friends beneath the trees, and they shared stories. At moonrise, the trees’ branches swayed to the lullabies of the frogs, crickets, and owls. “Sleep sweetly, dream deeply” whispered the forest.

“And you,” said Miss Clothilde, “you sleep sweetly, too.”

In autumn, the low bronzed sunlight drew in from summer’s bold expanse, the garden earned its harvesting, and the trees dropped their brilliant leaves to ready themselves for the season of cold and silence. The trees stood bare and brave, awaiting winter’s embrace.

Miss Clothilde asked the maple, “Why, oh why do you drop your leaves when you most need warmth?” 

“It is an interplay of love, Clothilde. The leaves feed us sunshine all their short lives, and our roots draw up water for their health that flows through trunk and branch to every leaf. But leaves are too frail for winter and we cannot offer energy to sustain them. We must release them to remain strong enough to withstand winter.”

“Such brief lives and gone!” 

“Not gone, Clothilde. See how they cover the forest with nutrients that will feed us all for generations. Forests and animals survive because leaves are willing to fall. Look for all the ways they rise in new lives.”

Winter brought its deep stillness and rest. Everything lived within itself, listening, it was a time of recollection, sifting, and gently opening dreams to plan how they might live. Miss Clothilde pondered what she had learned of the world’s goodness and beauty, and how her gifts could best offer praise in the new year. She sometimes sat beneath the oak as snowflakes sifted down, sparkling in the moonlight. “May I open my dreams to you?” she asked.

“Of course, Clothilde, and I will open mine.”

And, in the way of friends, their dreams already knew each other. They dreamed of a world where all the Earth made music of its gifts and relationships. And Miss Clothilde and the oak whispered how they wished to be always together, falling and rising in new lives.

And so the years danced in their circles. Because they knew one another so well, Miss Clothilde and the trees often sat in silence together, sharing their peace. Sometimes, she stood in the middle of the garden, lifting her arms, breathing with all the life around her. From a distance, it could be hard to tell them apart, the trees and Miss Clothilde. Her arms raised skyward like branches, and the trees’ branches reached for her in tender embrace. Her long white hair shook like dancing leaves and the trees’ leaves waved like long, flowing tresses. And the wind gathered their songs and made them one joyful melody. 

Now that she was very old, Miss Clothilde could no longer run in circles with her friends. But one morning every week, she gathered pails of river water, and then nuts, berries, and vegetables from the garden. She opened the door to the stone cottage and set the table for a feast.

There were dishes of sunshine for the tree limbs curling through the windows, and a little channel in the stone floor, so the river could flow through the party, too. Everyone came to Miss Clothilde’s parties, friends from the village and friends from the forest, and each guest brought something to share. As she looked around the table, all she could see was joy. “We’ve become what we love,” she smiled. 

Miss Clothilde had grown too frail to climb the trees, but every day she placed her chair beneath one of her beloved friends and they would listen to the music of the river splashing over stones. 

“I am so tired. Why must we grow old, dear oak?”

“So that we can rise, young again, in new ways,” said the oak. “Everything we are and have been feeds the Earth.”

“Life is truly a circle, isn’t it?” asked Miss Clothilde.

“One that doesn’t end,” said the oak. “We travel the circle of loving and becoming forever.” 

“Like leaves,” said Miss Clothilde. 

“Like leaves,” said the oak.

One summer night, as the stars twinkled and twirled, and the great moon danced its light across the flowing river, Miss Clothilde came outside to stand with her trees. Together, her arms and their branches raised in praise, as the trees had taught her, so long ago.

Miss Clothilde could feel her toes lengthening into roots, tickling down through the soil, stretching and curling across darkness towards moisture. Her body tightened into a firm trunk, all her years forming rings bound by silver-brown bark. Her hair fell into winding limbs, joining the strong branches of her arms, reaching up and up, as green leaves sprouted, uncurling in the moonlight, through fluttering moths and the soft scents of nightfall.

In the morning, the wind sang through the lifted branches of all the trees in the forest. Miss Clothilde’s friends gathered in her shade, breathing her as she breathed them. Together, they raised their arms, paws, wings, branches, and songs in praise of life. They praised the Earth. They praised the beauty of the world and their part in it. 

And they praised the goodness of Miss Clothilde, the goodness of which everything is made, how everything that falls rises, how everything becomes what it loves.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

The Constant Pilgrim

It started with mystery;
it always does, called out
of my dreams by the fog-piercing
rays of earliest light stirring
the layers of mist dust sky river,
kaleidoscope greeting of gold
rose and amethyst-colored
music, and the muted rustle of
resettling geese; I intook
the outflowing perfume
of night scents, distilled
and released, redolent of hay,
decay, promise; life stood
at the edge between summer
and fall, drenched in the gifts
of farewell and welcome. Still,
on the bridge, I breathed myself
into all that, the all I am part of,
and then there was movement
upriver, distant and haze-softened,
as though a piece of land had dislodged
from the bank with sentient intention
to cross the water in shadow, harboring
secret desire to witness the world
from the opposite side. Squinting,
my stunned vision sun-cleared,
surrendering fantasy for the magic
of what is: a deer silently fording
the river, traveling through blue
and green into the dawn, wading
to the gold-leafed shore beyond.
He moved as one in prayer, bowed
down, communing, aware of being
known and beloved, his journey held.
And everything transformed again.
Tell me what you believe or do not;
I’ll honor it, but know that for me
there is a voice and it is Love, just Love,
urging me to be its constant pilgrim
calling me awake every moment,
asking me only to open my eyes,
to meet the world as kin and allow
it to fill me with peace and feast
on my entranced and grateful joy.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

For Women, When They Are Low

If we listen, opened wide, there is music in the tide, there are tones beneath the tones, there are dreams within our bones, there are riddles in the earth, incantations for rebirth, there are omens in the air, sending answers to that prayer we keep silent in our heart, if we’ll only choose to start. Only choose to sing our story, ease the world of crushing worry, love is energy and light, and the source that fuels sight, go within and share without, bravely shout our needed shout: we are here, we are here, and astonishingly now, to connect some holy how, to create, again and more, from the magic at our core, what was always meant to be, what was always there to see—we are artists meant to fashion an existence of compassion, here to heal and cradle pain into fire once again, we’re alive and we flower, joyful anger is our power, we will rise, we will grow, balance stillness with our flow, and we’ll listen, opened wide, to the music in the tide, hear the tones beneath the tones, and the dreams within our bones. Intuition sent its note: synchronicity, it wrote, is awareness of the real and the truth it can conceal. Spirit whispers on the wing that the world’s a changing thing and the new calls to the new: who we are is what we do. There are riddles in the earth, incantations for rebirth, there are omens in the air, sending answers to that prayer we keep silent in our heart, if we’ll only choose to start. Go within and share without, let us shout our needed shout: We are here, we are here, and astonishingly now, to connect some holy how, to create, again and more, from the magic at our core, what was always meant to be.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

The Lullaby Preferred

A pleasing night past summer’s rise, the fireflies
draw closed day’s curtain; we note how purple dusk
flows into darkness earlier each evening, and
faintest smells of autumn begin to interweave
with all the garden’s ripened fruits. The heat retreats
before the cooling air’s relief and hushing stillness
grant their peace. And then, across the dozing river,
out beyond the farmer’s field, sudden music detonates,
to bruise the night with noise. “The County Fair,” we say,
accepting shattered silence, and listen to the program
beneath indifferent stars. The drummer pounds
and hours pass and now we are in bed awake,
and longing for the concert’s close; it comes at last,
a slower song, and gentle end; we sigh and still,
to welcome waiting sleep. And then, along the river’s bank,
Coyote’s pack begins to howl, piercing, clear, poetically;
a choral gift, an answer to the raucousness endured.
My spirit fills, I bless the song, its aching reclamation
of nature’s right to sing the night into her fragile dreams.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Now available, wherever books are sold: The Rare, Tiny Flower, by Kitty O’Meara, Illustrated by Quim Torres

No Pictures, Please

I remember a mild early summer day spent reading an ancient copy of Under the Lilacs, sitting beneath my grandmother’s lilacs, great drooping branches of swaying purple and amethyst blooms surrounding me and scenting the air with their heady perfume. The memory never returns without the fragrance of lilacs and the sensation of pages so browned with age they felt crisp and fragile in my hands. I remember my peace, enveloped in words and sweet smells and the feeling that the magical possibilities of summer had just begun. And I recall the embracing music of security and love, as the laughter of my parents and grandparents carried from the kitchen and across the lawn to my secret lilac-veiled haven.

Deep, clear, and precious recollections like these–small moments of my life, really–float down memory’s corridors and come to me like returning dreams. I can enter and rest in them and feel my spirit and energy completely restored.

And it intrigues me that very few of these memories that gift me with such peace are connected to or evoked by photographs. In fact, I can often look at old photos of myself, of family gatherings, holidays, college friends, past jobs and colleagues, and not recall a thing about the time or place they were taken. That’s not always the case; there are photos that instantly capture and flash deep memories, but many do not, much as I may enjoy seeing them.

I’ve been taking photos since I was 9, when my grandfather gave me his then-obsolete box camera, so I’ve spent a lifetime deeply pursuing the ways film can immortalize what I love and treasure about the blessing of physical existence in a material world. I’m an extremely visually-oriented human, thrilled by all the artists and art-related posts I can follow on Instagram, where I can also share photos from our little daily round at Full Moon Cottage. But I think, especially with the advent of digital cameras and the evolving human appendage formed by smartphones, we have begun to neglect the wholly holy and deeply full moments of our lives that retain their intimacy and magic precisely because they enter and reside only in our memories, sans photographic perpetuity.

Photographs can deceive. They may obscure more than they reveal, and can now be manipulated so adeptly they reflect fantasy more than any reality. A picture’s worth a thousand words but may conceal a million. Perhaps. The constant selfies and interruptions and poses they require are excessive and, for me, can intrude upon the lasting joys of being present to a personal and sacred encounter. Every moment of our life does not require or benefit from a corresponding photograph.

Yesterday, one of my dearest friends visited after an absence of almost two years. She relocated and the pandemic has kept us apart, so I had been anticipating this visit for months. When you share more than 20 years of your life with a friend and then can’t meet face-to-face, such reunions are a very. big. deal. For me, anyway. While I’m grateful for Zoom, it will never touch the light that yesterday offered my spirit.

We were blessed with a temperate day and cooling breezes, so we could sit on the back deck beneath the maple tree, remaining safely distant and yet near enough to spend the day together, maskless, laughing, crying, sharing our stories and feelings, and celebrating her coming birthday. I’ll always remember her bright sundress, the way the breeze lifted her hair, gentled the wind chimes into music, and made the maple leaves dance. I recall how the hummingbirds darted to the feeder and rested on the tree’s lower branches, and can revisit the memory of my darling Phillip serving us champagne and cheesecake, joining us for lunch and conversation and then allowing us private time together. The day could not have been more perfect.

As my friend drove away, heading back to her family’s home, I felt the day’s joy diminish and familiar sadness tugged at my heart, as it does with such partings, especially as those limitless years of our youth telescope down towards their inevitable end. We say we’ll meet again, but realize that truthfully, the odds are not ever-in-our-favor regarding such future meetings. And, for a moment, I regretted I hadn’t taken a photo of us together, a sweet memento of a wholly holy day.

But then I realized the day had held no room for a photo; there was no moment I’d have yielded to a smartphone’s intrusion or surrendered to photography’s inability to capture the day’s joyful fullness. It would have broken the flow of perfect presence we’d been gifted to breathe together in the two years that have made sharing space and breath too rare. Not every treasure needs to be exposed to the world’s scrutiny; not every experience has to be reduced and confined to an image. Some moments can be held intact solely by the gratitude felt for them, for the peaceful and profound embrace they offer when we return to them in memories only our hearts can ever truly record and preserve.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Instagram: kittyomeara

PS: Happy Full Moon from Full Moon Cottage! Enjoy tonight’s third Supermoon of the year. And, if you haven’t yet seen the images shared from the James Webb Space Telescope, they are enchanting and awe-inspiring!

Gentle Peace.

And If We Are Living In Darkness

And if we are living in darkness
let us trust its goodness and power,
for life uncoils in unlit wombs and black cocoons.
In the Stygian depths and dampness of soil, or bodies,
seeds erupt, pierce time, and find the light of new homes;
our shadowed nighttime dreams bend thoughts,
blend patterns beyond the known, invent-create-originate,
but first there is the breathing in darkness, abiding
in silence, awaiting language yet unformed, still traveling
through unwinding insights and revelations; there are
raw blessings and mysteries to name and shape,
and there is the reaching for healing buried in chaos,
the discovery of puzzles only loss and grief
can place in our hands. All is change; all is gift.
Do not call the beginning the end; release.
Now is the moment we must transform.
See what the darkness has made of us:
we have become the answers
growing in the light.

Related Medicine:

A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!”

The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!”

The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!”

The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. The villagers cried, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!”

To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.” ~Traditional Chinese Wisdom Story

Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure. ~ Rumi

My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon. ~ Mizuta Massahide, seventeenth-century Japanese poet and samurai who studied under Matsuo Bashō.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
~ Yeshua, Bible, New Testament; Gospel of John, 14:27

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Let Us Look to the Living

Before we speak of the unborn,
let us look to the living,
to the web we have savaged,
to the imperative mending we must tend,
to the land, erupting in pain, heated by our greed,
starved by our poison, burning itself to extinction.

Before we speak of the unborn,
let us look to the living,
to the rivers and oceans
clouded and cluttered with our debris,
to our need to devour and discard,
to our companions on this limited spinning sphere:
the none-and-many-footed, gilled, winged, and leafed,
struggling to breathe, to thrive,
to find their home and know it as their own.

Before we speak of the unborn,
let us look to the living,
the two we have made of our one,
the hatred we offer our impulse to love,
the mockery of Source we use to excuse
the idolatry of self, the negation of any
right to any life
that impedes our insatiable desire.

Before we speak of the unborn,
let us look to the living,
to the blood on our hands, to the lies we speak,
the promises we break, how we strangle peace
and murder joy; let us cry our mea maxima culpa;
let us finally speak the truth:

we are those who desire, seize, and deceive;
we are those who do not welcome but destroy,
who turn from healing, who choose decay.

Before we speak of the unborn,
let us look to the living,
how everything breathing and beautiful
flees from our presence and brokenness,
the scorn we have tendered relationship
the ruin we’ve made of gifted bliss.

Dear Friends,

I am angry, sad, determined, and slowly regaining my hope for the restoration of democracy that the events and revelations of this past week have done everything to destroy. Not every poem is written from a perspective of hope; sometimes, we need to voice our anger and despair, verbally slap our human race upside the head and invite ourselves to wake up.

Every living thing has a potential right to life; human rights must be negotiated with that in mind, and they are not, currently or obviously, so considered or negotiated. Women’s rights are not now protected; minorities’ rights are not ensured; LBGTQ rights are imperiled; immigrants’ rights and, certainly, the rights of our wild spaces and wildlife are not safely and thoroughly encoded into our laws, while the rights of corporations, dark donors to politicians, and the owners of semi-automatic guns are. We need to change these things and quickly. Our democracy is threatened and our planet is careening towards destruction at our hands.

Vote and encourage others to vote. ALL life depends upon it.

My new book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, debuts this Tuesday, June 28th. It’s been a long, strange trip for her, but I trust the divine timing of her arrival, and hope she will be met with love and granted the power to encourage and inspire, maybe even open and change a few minds. The already heralded illustrations by Quim Torres are stunning, as has been the work and support of the entire team at Tra Publishing.

Another great gift in my life has recently and finally been realized! In December, 2020, I was contacted by composer Andrea Clearfield about creating an orchestral and chorale setting for my poem, Triage. (Visit Andrea’s site to learn more about her brilliant music, collaborations, and the way you can listen to her monthly live world music Salon/Zalon, now on summer break but beginning again with its 36th year celebration on September 18th. I cannot tell you how much Phillip and I have enjoyed zooming these amazing evenings of music!)

Andrea’s stunning setting for Triage, Singing Into Presence (scored for soprano soloist, chorus and orchestra), was commissioned and premiered by the University of New Mexico Chorus and Orchestra, May 5, 2022, following Andrea’s workshops with their gifted student musicians and chorus, under the brilliant direction of Matthew Forte.

I so wanted to be there. Since that wasn’t possible, Andrea graciously asked me to make a video of introduction, shared prior to the piece making its premiere.

I cannot tell you you how much I love this setting. It blew me away, made me cry, filled me with joy, and certainly inspired gratitude for the stunning collaboration of Andrea, Matthew, and every student involved.

You can view and hear this performance at 16:09 on the video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je6xNrXspyE .

I hope you enjoy it as thoroughly as I have (many times)!

The motto of my state is Forward; today, it gives me energy and direction.

Great and gentle peace to you.

Instagram: kittyomeara

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Our Finest Energy

I’m happily home again after spending 10 days in peaceful solitude. I’ve been on many long retreats in my life, silent and active, but all have been with other retreatants, an available spiritual director to meet with, and voluntary sessions of group meditation, or yoga, or prayer.

This retreat was different in that I was alone in my cabin and, since there were no current programs at the retreat center, I was fairly alone on the entire 250-acre property. Because the main building was receiving a new roof, even the day staff chose this week for vacation days, it seemed. There was an outdoor housekeeper for all the cabins, and I met her a few times, which were pleasant encounters, but really, I saw and “moved” with no other humans for those 10 days.

We’re each a pulsing body of physical, mental, and spiritual energy, and when we mix and adjust to the energy of others–even when we’re physically still and silent–there’s a kind of comfort and, usually, a willingness to flow together through the time we share. But we can lose our boundaries and fail to accurately distinguish our energy, our sense of self, and the clarity of our purpose and direction when we are constantly surrounded by others.

Some people drain our energy with neediness; others can be energy hogs who move into a space and greedily demand the energy of all; others depend upon our care and attention nearly all the time because of their physical illness, which is what leads to caregiver burnout. The ways we use our energy are often unconscious, unless we probe and bring them to our awareness, and while most of our energy dispersal is necessary, we need to pay attention to how our energy is exchanged, scattered, used/depleted, and restored, or we risk losing our balance, And right now, the world needs our finest energy. I think this is what all great teachers and world religions are asking of us: Use your limited energy wisely and compassionately: for yourself and then, always, for others.

But first, clarify your own and control how it’s used to honor your gifts and commitments. Unmonitored, our energy can become entangled with others’ and leave us feeling aimless.

And so I took this time to draw deeply within my own energy, and then I’d expand it out again, to test its boundaries. My awareness of its limits and flow became clarified and pristine. A few days in, I realized, I’d become more sensitive to the energy of the trees around me, the sounds and smells and touch of rain and breezes, of dawn and dusk. Encountering deer became a religious experience, breathing together and sharing our energy, then softly parting. (The etymology of “religion” describes being linked, joined, bound.)

I observed how I channeled my energy throughout the course of a day. Some unique combination of age, hormones, and autoimmune issues keeps me from sleeping for lovely long stretches, most nights. It was interesting to discern what I needed when I was awake, in ways I can’t “hear” when I’m at home and need to be sensitive to others’ sleep. Sometimes, I went out for a midnight–or later–walk. (Thankful for the full moon during my stay!) Or I got up to read, write, or focused on sending love to dear ones and to the world beyond, or I played Solitaire and let my mind drift. One night, I did an hour or more of yoga. One lovely aspect of such a long retreat in solitude is that there’s no schedule to keep. At all. Everything settles and choices can be made that feel natural, regardless of the time of day.

The rhythm of such a retreat is all yours to design for those precious days. I was able to unlearn some of the restrictions I’ve naturally set and followed because I live with 8 other mammals, 7 of them dependent on Phillip and me for food and care. I have gardens to tend, and housekeeping to co-manage, all the activities of daily living. It is good to set such regimens down, to unbraid your schedule and open yourself to none at all. Vacations aren’t quite the same in that they’re frequently filled with zipping around among activities with others, again creating that mingling of energies, with little time to tune solely into your own. And balance and health, I believe, do require that we dialogue deeply and richly with our own spirits, just listening to ourselves, observing our inner voices and how they respond and react, listening to the messages they send our minds, bodies, and souls throughout the day. At home, I walk, meditate, do my yoga, and garden, and try to listen deeply through these choices, but to have 10 days of such uninterrupted listening is a great gift.

I’ll tell you how clear my energy became. Because of some eye problems that have been restricting my driving, Phillip drove me to the retreat center and returned to pick me up. We really enjoyed this time together, as the pandemic has kept us so close to home, and I’m very thankful for his willingness to make a 6-hour round trip, a very fine birthday treat.

The day he picked me up, I was packed and ready to go early, so I moved through some yoga and meditation and then began to read and got lost in the book for a few hours. All of a sudden, I felt my energy shift; it was as though another source of energy waved through me, a kind of merging…and I knew it was Phillip, with that deep soul-knowing that sometimes blesses us. I looked out the window and he wasn’t there. What could it mean? And then he called. From the highway, he’d passed the turnoff to the road that led to my cabin and needed to be redirected. It was illuminating to realize that we can still our energy to such a degree of clarity and sensitivity.

And so began the days of readjustment, my double-dutch re-merging with all the energies I love surrounding me once more, the return of schedules and interruptions and needs not my own. I’m almost back in the necessary swing of these habits and rituals, and life shines all the more brightly because I was given and used my time alone. I’m trying to grant myself several “mini-solitude” breaks during the day, and I know that won’t always happen, but I allow myself the grace to be merry with the flow, whatever it brings, something I wasn’t feeling before my break. I’m grateful for the hours to write, for the many lessons, and especially for the renewed and clearer energy I was able to nourish on this retreat. May you each find the time and practices that best nourish your spirits, too! The world needs our finest energy as never before.

Gentle Peace.

Instagram: kittyomeara

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Reclaiming Our Peace

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.  

~ Etty Hillesum, “29 September”, in An Interrupted Life: The Diaries, 1941-1943 and Letters from Westerbork, p. 218.

I’ve always loved Hillesum’s idea that becoming as intentionally and wholly peace-filled as we are able is our moral imperative as humans, and that the point is to flash that peace back into the world while we can. It signifies to me that words like peace, hope, and love, are more necessarily active verbs than they are abstract nouns. Their life, growth, and communal sharing are both our choice and the reason we’re here at all. Humans, apparently, need to be invited and encouraged to consider this over and over. I do, anyway.

Long treasured friends and I were texting during Thursday night’s January 6 committee hearing. Prior to the opening statements, one friend wrote, regarding shifts in the political climate that might result from the hearings, she was, “…interested but not hopeful…so many fearful and willfully ignorant people.”

This friend has always had more artistic gifts in any given eyelash than most of us have in a lifetime of study, practice, and achievement. She can write, paint, draw, sculpt, sing, and act, and has done all of these professionally, at levels of skill and artistry that leave me stunned. Light literally emanates from her. That she admitted she was not hopeful wounded my heart. Hope and peace are intertwined, and destroyed by the chaos, lies, overwhelm, confusion, and violence so many have armed themselves with in our world. And their victims are too often people like my friend, sensitive and gifted creatives who require healthy doses of peace and hope to change the world. And we need their joy more than ever.

I know what she meant; I’ve had moments of doubt about the state of the country and world as well; I’ve felt anxious and hopeless in the moment, but I’ve always rejected permanent hopelessness as an acceptable and fixed state of being because I continually see so many more alternatives that are possible for us to design and live into as a species. We know there are people choosing those healthier and more compassionate alternatives, following where they lead, and achieving promising degrees of success. There are environmental groups, charities, political action committees, rescue organizations, gun safety proponents, globally-connected scientists, art colonies: communities of people consciously spending their days doing life differently and better so that all of us can look forward to times of greater peace and love. They’re everywhere, but our media rarely feature stories of hope in action, or tuck them at the end of “news” about our dismal world like a bit of dessert after a rugged meal, not so much to promote viable societal alternatives as to leave us with a folksy chuckle and brief smile rather than the massive stroke the preceding news has encouraged.

Consider what the promotion of hopelessness presents as truth, and the damage it’s done to our children. When our leaders can’t abandon their greed and enslavement to billionaires and arms dealers, our children are left with–useless and emotionally damaging–active shooter drills and the lesson that nowhere on Earth is safe, ever. No hope, no peace. Unless you’re a politician, billionaire, arms dealer, or AR-15-wielding “patriot.”

When despots can indiscriminately invade, pillage, and murder innocent people in other countries, our children learn there is no place of refuge. No hope, no peace. Unless you’re a heartless despot, enamored only of power and your own self-image. 

When politicians commit crimes, lie, and cheat, and they demonize those who look, sound, and think differently, when they burn books, condemn intellectual pursuits, deny both mystery and science, reduce the world to little boxes and either/or, and ascribe all these behaviors to their puny righteous beliefs, what are children learning about the human spirit, morality, creativity, community, and the concept of the Sacred? What are they learning about truth, listening, leadership, and compassion? 

No hope, no peace. Better to be cynical; better to be close-minded; better to be on the “right” side of power and wealth, blaming the weak, the poor, and the “other” for all the world’s misery.

To rob our children of peace and hope, to destroy anyone’s peace and hope, is evil. It stunts our unique gifts and inhibits our growth, ensuring the world will not be healed as deeply, justly, and thoroughly as it might.

These are some of the thoughts that inspire why and what I write, and especially why I write for children. The Rare, Tiny Flower came from the days following the January 6th attack on our country’s heart and the resulting lack of peaceful dialogue, consequences, and change. I was horrified by the sound and news bytes, the continued lies and degrading language on display for our children to witness and absorb. And during the months the book was in production and then suffering shipping delays, we’ve endured more Covid losses, the monstrous war in Ukraine, the ghastly murders of our children, teachers, and elderly, in public places where they should be safe and thriving. No hope, no peace; no love; many lies and empty promises. 

We can do better. Many are. Look for them. Share the ways you keep your own hope, peace, and love kindled and active in the world. Choose more. Kindle a friend’s. These are our moral duties, the only choices and actions that matter.

It looks like The Rare, Tiny Flower may finally make her debut on Tuesday, June 28. I’m so very happy to share that Quim Torres’s illustrations for our book have been longlisted for the 2022 World Illustration Awards. Hooray for Quim and our publisher, Tra! (Check out their other wonderful books!)

This weekend, I’m off for a 10-day stay at a hermitage to write and write and write, a birthday gift from my beloved. I’ll miss my lovebugs, but am so very grateful for this gift of quiet time in solitude. I’m seeking to reclaim more and more spaces of peace within myself to flash back at the world, and look forward to encountering my spirit in the silence of a little room beneath a full moon.

As always, gentle peace to all my readers. Be safe and well.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Weaving Lessons

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You thought for years the weaving of your life
was best kept shrouded: no public viewing,
thank you all the same, you said; I’ll pass.
Too many crooked rows, those ancient choices
that tore the fabric, that shamed and made the tapestry
ghastly; those old betrayals, sorrows, and doubts: how they ripped
and rent the possible beauty, how the years of falling, groundless,
stunted your design, the loosened threads hanging, aimless and chaotic.

And the failures to evolve, the times you turned from love,
from praise, from flight into the airy possibility of different days:
you consider how the weaving could have astonished—
a whole life in a whole life, if only you’d listened, if only, if only
you’d followed directions issued from other mouths, studied
their patterns, followed their lead, if you’d changed course, paused
long enough, perceived wisdom’s path just there, in front of you.
The missed remarkable: your weaving, your life.

If you’d finally healed the wounds given and received…

And then, one morning, the dazzledance of always light
pierces cleanly through: your omphalosic moment,
your every eye is opened: it was always true—
the weaving’s purely you and only you, embodied now
and always eternal, pursuing Love’s single sweet command:
to travel your own heart’s geography, to weave the wild weaving
within the weaving freely, the jagged, angled, broken, and curved.
And the tensions in the warp and weft? They are what they are,
integral and blessed—lessons, all the lessons every choice invites.
Such grace, the torn and tangled, knotted and abrupt…see how
the severed stitching here is reunited there; finally, you embrace
this once and stunning gift: a self-created life, your own, none other’s.

And so begins the final task: you decorate the torn discordant
holes with threads of fiery gold, with spangles and sea glass
edging your wounds and failures with light: Here is my life,
you say, opened wide; I have been an earnest, faltering pilgrim;
this is my journey and these are my lessons. Then you kneel, awed
before its holy brokenness, its shameless joy, its mystery and miracles.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Propitiation

Peace to our Innocents, oh gentle
peace to these sacrificial lambs we offer
once again to the monied and mighty,
who send in return their thoughts and prayers
and speak of prices that must be paid, their hands
held out for more and more. The cost of freedom,
they say.

Light has fled the garden,
like the laughter of shining children
running to their next wide day.
Flowers should not meet their winter in spring.

The sin is ours; we consent again and always
to these savage partings, surrendering our tender buds
to the hollow gods we bow before, another payment to endure
before we settle and sigh once more, indolent and monstrous,
draped in the silence of our darker world, waiting,
hoping for better days.

Peace to the people of Uvalde, TX. We must change. We must do better.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Now Is Always My Favorite

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Years ago, I came across a newspaper comic strip named Mutts, by the artist Patrick McDonnell. (That entire sentence makes me feel ancient.) One Sunday (10-15-2011), the comic resonated so much with my heart that I cut it out and framed it. A man walks his scruffy little dog, Earl, and gestures at the beautiful scene around them, saying, “Now is my favorite time of year.” In the second panel, Earl looks out at the reader and replies. “‘Now’ is always my favorite.”

I’m with Earl.

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And if any chosen time-and-energy immersion underscores my feeling that “now” is always my favorite, it’s gardening. Co-creating with the Earth and her endless surprises within the (somewhat) reliable cycle of seasons has always been my favorite state of being.

In addition to the 3-dimensional and 4-season design invitations and challenges, decades of gardening also creates a sweet living scrapbook of memories. I have a peony my students gave me over 20 years ago, when I left teaching for writing. That time turned instead into caregiving for my mother, and there are memories everywhere of her last years and leave-taking. And when I returned to school for further studies and the work of spiritual care, I came home one summer day to discover the beautiful arbors Phillip had made and erected. There are the rocks we lugged home from many of the local farmers’ fields and used to ring our first gardens, and the lilac my brother and sister-in-law shared with us, along with treasured plants and cuttings from friends, and from charming nurseries no longer in business (and mourned).

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Building the season’s second nest.

For me, a day in the garden is a journey through the tapestry of my 25 years here at Full Moon Cottage. All the seasons and visitors and births and deaths a gardener can travel with in her small life on a small plot of land are reflected and concentrated in her garden. But there is more and it is magical: there is rebirth and renewal, that same healing and transformation I’ve seen in myself and in people I’ve been blessed to know.

And there is continual learning about the interrelationships among my plants, the soil content and microbes, the insects, and birds…so much about relationships accounts for the quality of one’s life, doesn’t it?

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There are endless teachers and lessons for my heart here in the garden. Everything extrapolates; everything deepens; all is hallowed. It is the finest university anywhere. And, when the gardener learns to listen and see, there is poetry, music, dance, drama, and glorious visual art in the garden. There is mystery and eventually the acceptance, even anticipation and then love, of mystery. Better still, there is a quality of peace so pervasive that the heart returns to her deep true knowing: all shall be well.

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Over the years, the garden and I have been through fierce heat spells, ice storms, flood, drought, heartbreaking loss, and joyful renewal. I have grown old loving these lives and tending their needs so they may tend the birds and bees and all other visitors to this land and beneath it. And still I rise with the sun and weave my day within and around these gardens for hours before the day ends. Time in the garden, like time with any enduring love, leaves me full of gratitude. And then I stand back and look at our co-creation and think, “Now is always my favorite.”

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

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The Rare, Tiny Flower by Kitty O’Meara and illustrated by Quim Torres, now publishing on June 28, 2022.

Adaptation

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Like so many of our friends around the world, we’ve had weekly climate shifts this spring that defy reason, as with our political and pandemic shifts. It is the Age of Unreason, in humans and seasons, perhaps.

Last week, the days and nights were chilly enough that we used the fireplace. Our solar panels were being hooked up and an electric panel needed updating to manage that, but the electrician missed replacing the circuit breaker we needed to restart our geo-thermal heat, so the fire was a great boon through an icy night with temperatures in the 30’s (-0°C).

We’d begun to wonder if spring would ever arrive. Buds were tightly closed on trees; tulips and daffodils were barely up; nothing bloomed.

Today, the heat index will be in the mid-90’s (35°C).

So, I guess this past weekend was spring, 2022. The air temperature was mild and the world smelled new; all our old friends returned: the orioles, grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and scarlet tanagers. The poor hummingbirds buzzed in, searching in vain for blossoms to restore their bodies and spirits. We rushed to get their feeders out and they quickly crowded around and regained a bit of energy.

Spring flowers were coaxed towards opening, tentatively. We took our new e-bikes bikes for a ride on the trail, to London and back. (A very small town 9 miles to the west; to the east is Rome. Sounds impressive when we’re talking about our bike rides, right?) Afterwards, we worked in the garden together; the plants are barely peeking through the earth, but the weeds, of course, have been thriving.

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Bike trip to London and back.

So, one perfect spring weekend. And today, we’re in t-shirts, overheated, and watching our spring flowers droop. The tulips opened and their tender cups were quickly steamed and curling into back-bends. The tree leaves are unfurling, like us, into sweltering summer days. Next week may be cooler, we’re told.

I hope so.

These are rugged times: Like many, I’m still wary of catching Covid, since our numbers locally are rising again. It still shocks me when I realize I haven’t traveled anywhere for over 2 years. The pandemic continues to change the patterns of our lives, our economy, and many of our choices about the future. Climate change is–obviously–causing dramatic shifts in our weather that aren’t always predictable. Putin’s war with a country innocent of any provocation has added to the world’s chaos and further damaged supply chains and fuel prices. Our democracy is teetering and civil discourse has become a lost art.

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Willow dancing in our increasingly wild winds.

Humanity’s response to this collision of urgencies often seems agonizingly childish. We have faced pandemics, political turmoil, and war, and survived them all, but adding climate change and its unknown rolling and torn-web effects makes the future precarious and our present actions imbecilic at best. We’re scrambling, stumbling, and failing at coherence.

Rather than adapt to challenges, we pretend they don’t exist.

We pretend the pandemic is past. We pretend the Earth’s jet streams will return to a “normal” that’s vanished forever; we pretend the continued destruction of the rainforest and natural habitats isn’t happening, and that tons of plastic microbeads in the oceans don’t matter, really. We notice the bird migrations are changing, and bird flus are rising; we observe that the acres and acres of ash trees have all died, and that so many species of plants, animals, and insects are rapidly going extinct, but we pretend none of this is connected to our daily actions and inability to stop living how we like, at the pace and rate of consumption we prefer.

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Possibly, we’re overwhelmed by the amount of changes taking place, but I believe we can adjust and adapt more creatively and peacefully if we see the great adventures before us and meet them with our gifts rather than our despair, anger, and sense of scarcity. Frankly, there’s a lot we accept about the way we live in the world that’s utterly boring, completely uncreative, and devastatingly cruel. We can do better.

Traveling with ill and terminal patients taught me that changes rarely allow us to go back to “the way things were.” It’s comforting to imagine so, but that’s a form of pretending, too, since life was never perfect and never will be, and adaptation isn’t without its own comfort and joy; really, we just don’t like change and are inclined to view it as a threat to our stability and the safe circumference of what is known and what we control, however well or ineptly.

And change doesn’t come without grief; there’s always a farewell-forever entangled within the journey any change presents, along with anxiety, anticipation, and a variety of other feelings. Often, we can see that a transition’s joy outweighs its sadness, so we acclimate easily, but sometimes, as with the loss of a loved one, or a long-held right, or the extinction of species, habitats, and known weather patterns, the benefits of a given change aren’t apparent or seem nonexistent, so we resist, deny, turn away, become angry, and reject what is.

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My sweet Bridie, after Brigid, goddess of wisdom, poetry, and healing.

I was unhappy with my recent knee surgery and mourned what I perceived to be the loss of many activities and freedoms I enjoyed. But I located a physical therapy that worked surprisingly well, and we used the pandemic’s years of “vacation” funds to purchase e-bikes. I resisted at first, thinking they made us look old. Then I realized how silly that sounded and accepted the chance to get out on the bike trail again. I adapted to the change in my mobility and am happier than I’ve been in months. And knowing the motor can be used if I tire from pedaling gives me a great sense of security.

We’ve adapted to the presence of a highly infectious virus not by denying it’s real, but by staying home, waiting for vaccines, wearing masks in stores and crowds (still), and following experts’ advice to avoid illness.

We’re adapting to these climate shifts in our gardens by adding more and more plants and planting methods that feed birds, provide safe habitats, conform to swings in temperature and moisture, and still please our creative impulses. Because that’s one of the best things about adapting: the ways it challenges our creativity and the deep pleasure derived from meeting those challenges with answers that are new and co-created.

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I think Ukraine has adapted creatively to the horrors Putin and his army have used in seeking to force submission and surrender. Ukraine has been strategically clever, strong, intelligent and unyielding in their resistance, and despite agonizing losses and Putin’s inhumane war crimes, Ukraine continues to amaze the world with their success. I believe they will not be defeated and Putin will be held accountable. He clearly cannot adapt to present reality, lost in past and imagined national glories as he is.

And in my country, I think we have to resist the urge to become enmeshed in violence, anger, and demonization of the other, and “do hope” instead, because hope is not a feeling; it’s an accrual of actions we choose and build upon, creating solutions where none were apparent before we applied and combined our gifts. Adaptation requires our willingness to do hope. And when we immerse ourselves in creating adaptive solutions, we have no time for hatred and fear. If we want balance, peace, joy, and community, we must be those qualities in the world. If we believe we come from Love and it travels with us, always, then adaptation is a method to co-create the ways we are always traveling from known to unimagined blessing.

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Teagan and Gracie, adapting to shorter walks on HOT days.

Gentle Peace.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

So You Will Recognize Life As It Happens

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First, there’s lots of what-ness,
then an inundating who-ness,
many years of why-ness, how-ness,
with a sprinkling of where-ness,
then long and quiet moments
recollecting all the when-ness,
and yearning for past who-ness,
while releasing why-ness, how-ness,
and forgetting most of what-ness,
just a you-ness in an all-ness.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

On the Proper Courtship of the Land

Long before the garden is born and thriving,
you must in earnest court the land;
nothing grows well or strong without relationship;
therefore, you must meet and honor all her relations:
sun, wind, water, shade, trees, terrain, and insect;
observe their exchange in every season,
for all is reciprocal.
Who are her neighbors?
Learn their substance and character.
You must understand all her hidden moods,
her acid and alkaline tendencies,
her microbial and annelid content,
but also her appetite and yearning for enrichment,
her thirst, her limits, the answers she may give to your questions,
the ways she has suffered, her maladies,
and how she may be healed. Reveal yourself
wholly and humbly; tell the stories
that have led to this wild, desired, and essential intimacy.
Unshroud your soul, damaged, mending, and like hers,
bending to light; say you are an artist seeking transformation
in alliance with her rounded dance
of eruption, reduction, return, and mystery.
Speak your promise to nurture and tend;
speak not of yields but of mutual growth,
and offerings of joyful sustenance,
one to the other.
All this, all this, before you kneel,
before you gently touch
and ready her for seed,
before you imagine flowers and fruit,
before
you enter fertile years
of shared abundance and love.

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Murphy says one way to court the land is to jump inside its arms and nap.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

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Our beautiful book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, with my text and illustrations by Quim Torres, has had its publication delayed once more, due to shipping delays. We’re being told it will now arrive on June 14, 2022. Ever hopeful.

Out of Time

It went like this: the Earth invited; we waved our decline,
and generous Earth invited again. We began to believe
that it always would. What we desecrated today could be
salvaged tomorrow. Perhaps. We had looked in mirrors
and never once seen the beautiful everything, how it
interflowed: us, air, earth, and fire; the green vines growing
from our hearts, the moss covering our feet, the pulsing stars
shooting from our eyes, our eyes crying wild seas; our hands
sparking the minutiae of minerals, microbes, cells; our mouths
howling the wail of wolves, humming the river’s night music,
trilling birdsong through breeze; our ears’ recognition that every
sound echoed the cry of our hearts; our hearts’ joyful impulse
to unite, to eat and to feed, to transform together, creating now. We
could have spent life wrapped in awe, entering the intricate mystery
of webs, of self twined with other selves, breathing a universe.
Too late have we come to know the indwelling one is the outward
One, and that how we have loved the Earth is how we have loved
ourselves, the beautiful everything. We were misers, lost in darkness,
grasping for light, blind to the dazzling gold of everywhere wholeness.

A charming muskrat living in the river.
Canada Geese
Migrating Cormorants
A Turkey Vulture, blissfully riding a thermal.
Beautiful Moss: Bryology (Sigh!)
The first Bloodroot spotted along the trail.
From afar, Gracie witnesses the reluctantly accepted “Adoration of Micky” proferred by Teagan and Dooley. Micky is still coming around to the idea that we are all one.

A blessed Earth Day, every day.

If you have not heard or read the words of Robin Wall Kimmerer, I highly, highly recommend you do. Here is an essay from 4/20/22, published in Emergence Magazine, another source of wisdom I heartily recommend. https://emergencemagazine.org/essay/ancient-green/

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Holy Week

Here we are again,
on that dusty road lined with dazzling mirrors.

Let us seek our reflections and find ourselves
amidst all the characters we’ve played
a thousand times, taking our chosen places
as we enter the new story, the sacred story,
the human story, the heart of it, right now.
Stay awake.

What is truth?

And who are we this time?

The Priest? The one who feels his power eclipsed and slipping,
so lost in the service of two masters that he cannot
find his way back to his diminished heart?

The Friends, whose fear and fatigue leave their companion
desolate and abandoned? Oh, how we’ll dance through laughter and lies
before dancing away in dark denial.
.
Or perhaps we are The Traitor, whose greed barters
infinite peace for the cool slide of silver in his palm.
Someone has to do it, we tell ourselves.

The Judge? So rigid with archaic law he cannot bend
to suit the case before him? Too small to see the breadth
and meaning of the moment? Too bound by the past
to midwife justice in the present? Dead before death?

Stay awake.

Are we among The Silent who stand and watch,
hungry for violence that will excuse our inaction
and fill our emptiness?

Too afraid? Are we The Cowards who cannot act
against injustices we see, condemned every moment
to open the door and never enter? What chances
we’ve lost to change the world. What gifts we have wasted.

What is truth?

Are we once again The Follower?
Eager to be ordered,
free of the burden to think.
Rank given, actions commanded,
conscience drowned by unexamined fealty,
ever ready to pound nails and pierce flesh.
As directed.

And if we’re The Consigned, compelled
to carry the burden behind the accused who falters
in his steps, can we meet the act with grace, while
jeered at and spat upon?

Maybe this time we’re The Lovers,
walking the road,
witnessing the pain,
feeling the loss,
grieving,
staying.

Are we at last The Immanent One?
Pure and transparent, the treasure sought,
the light beyond darkness, steeped in dread and Yes,
the suffering sin-eater descending into rotting evil
to rise, blossoming forever in Love?

Perhaps we’re The Attendants,
rolling away the massive rock
unsealing death, awaiting The Seeker.

Or just this once, we are The Seeker,
encountering the blinding truth
of soaring news and empty tombs,
sharing the message of resurrected life,
so joyful it is music that must be sung.

Whatever your spirituality, I hope your week will be blessed; of course, I believe they’re all holy, but for me, this one holds such lovely invitations to explore, listen, and grow. If you celebrate Easter, may it be joyful, and I hope that spring and peace will blossom fully for all of us.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

The Rare, Tiny Flower: The Need for Silent Reflection

~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: June 14, 2022) Available for pre-order here.

How could this be?
What could it mean?
What had she noticed
that they hadn’t seen?
She lifted the vase,
and slowly rotated,
as all of the people
grew still, then elated…

For as the girl turned,
the colors changed places,
flashing a rainbow
across startled faces.
The people took time
for silent reflection,
considering matters
with deep introspection.

~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: June 14, 2022) Available for pre-order here.

“Maybe there are
other colors to see;
what’s lovely to you
could be lovely to me.”
“What we now understand
to be utterly true
is how much depends
on expanding our view.”

“It could be helpful
to breathe and be still,
calmly deciding
what won’t work and will.”
“Enjoying each color
and welcoming all,
creating a party
instead of a brawl.”

The artist Quim Torres created many stunning illustrations for our new book, The Rare, Tiny Flower (releasing June 14). I love the joy and drama in many of them, but my favorite depicts most of the characters sharing silent reflection time alone/together. They had been on the brink of war when a child in their midst encouraged them to consider their choices. She shows them how examining a given problem again, in new ways, allows their hearts–and options for action–to expand. And having expanded their views, their focus alters.

They understand that what they “narrowly” wanted when they first seized and sought possession of something beautiful, is actually a profound and multi-layered treasure meant to bless them all. In fact, its existence is dependent upon its gifts being shared. In essence, the characters move from the confines of negative egoic needs (my needs and desires are more important than yours) to those that are mature, healthy, and life-giving (satisfying our needs and wants, together, creates peace and greater beauty than than “I” imagined.)

I love how Quim illustrated these characters in their various poses, contemplating in silence, as the text describes their various thoughts about the benefits of stillness, breath, reflection, and how those practices open their hearts to the concept of “welcoming” differences that so recently had brought them to the brink of violence. I especially like that most them share a circle of contemplation, but that one of the crowned leaders is off, thinking through the problem while leaning against a tree.

I’ve been watching the televised images of all the leaders in the U.N., of President Zalenskyy, President Biden, President Putin, and, off in the shadows, President Xi Jingping.

By its nature, leadership can be lonely. When one’s leadership is conferred by those led, though, it would seem less onerous and more communal, as the majority of people have already freely given their support through voting, and there is the welcomed advice and expertise from valued others in the government.

When leadership is seized and authoritarian, however, options for co-creating the way through problems are diminished. There is a defacto absence of trust among the dictator and others vying for power who surround the “crown,” and those led are at the mercy of one person’s ego and one person’s version of the truth (and all the tightly-controlled propaganda that supports it). There is no widening circle of contemplation, no new invitations or revisioning to consider.

I’m happy our book’s ruler is sitting with hands folded and head down, suggesting this leader is deeply considering the next and best course of action and that we see the happy results of this person’s “silent reflection” and stillness in later illustrations.

At no other time in history have we more needed mature leaders who, together, focus on the good of all. I pray we can come together and support those who, because they’ve taken time to breathe, look inward, and reflect on invitations and options, will guide our beautiful Earth and her people forward with wisdom, compassion, justice, and right action. I hope we, too, can model the importance of taking time to give our choices silent reflection, of choosing stillness to seek the ways our solutions can welcome and celebrate human and planetary diversity, in peace.

Our children are watching. Our words matter profoundly. Our actions matter more.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

Hospitality

Walking in an April snowfall, I think:
I’ve learned all the lessons that winter
can teach; I’m ready for spring; this winter
has lingered too long. And then I recall
the guest who long ago came for a week
and stayed for two, repeating the story
we’d heard for years, always unable
to mine the meaning. It didn’t matter
how closely we listened, what questions
we asked, the telling never varied and
yielded no treasures. Every morning,
our guest, in robe and slippers, gripping
his mug of coffee, would shuffle into our day
and eventually recite again, the old, old tale
of suffering unhealed; he’d sit at the site
of the wound, poking, prodding, turning over
all the pain and guilt, the wrong turns and regret;
the words never changed. Life had been unfair.
Perhaps we stopped listening; I know I sometimes
rolled my eyes at my husband when The Story began
again; everything we spoke of somehow provided
our guest a way back into the circling labyrinth
of repeated injury, with nothing at the center
but darkness. And then one morning, in a pause
between the words I’d heard so many times
that I could say the next, our guest stared, looking
beyond the moment to memory, and sighed. And
in that sigh I recognized the bitter song of robins
trapped in a winter that should have been spring.
And the door of my heart opened; as though I was
hearing his story for the first time, the yearning,
the sorrow, the joy that had slipped and fallen
through his life just when he’d felt it was finally his.

Maybe true hospitality only begins when guests have
stayed too long, when patterns long repeated shift
to mystery, and we open our guarded hearts wide
to the pause between words, consenting in love
to pursue winter’s lessons all the way to spring.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

The Rare, Tiny Flower can be pre-ordered here. New publication date: June 14.