Peace, Love, and Joy

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And so we come to the season of the year that honors the light we’ve been called to be in darkness. We pause to reach for that light, call it holy (it is) and touch just enough to scatter it about, while music, feasts, gathering, and giving shake up our patterns just enough for the world to glow both more brightly and softly.

From a distance, the planet shines, spinning in this co-created light, before it dims once more and we turn back to our easy forgetting, unrelenting fear, and ready hostility. Why can’t our seasonal charity (love manifested in its highest and broadest form) remain the focus and fuel in our relationships with ourselves and others?

Why do we so readily allow the confusion between giving presents and giving ourselves–our presence–to direct our energy? Buying gifts, wrapping them in pretty paper and exchanging them is skimming the surface of the spiritual invitations the season offers. All the magic of lasting conversion is here and possible, but so is our fear of true transformation and the belief we cling to above all others: we’re not worthy.

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The inner scolder reminds us: the holidays are lovely, yes, but we can’t go on giving ourselves time to watch it snow, share delight, sit with loved ones, connect with our spirits, sing, laugh, wish merriment to perfect strangers, recognize our feelings, be at peace…We have to get back to work.

We can’t live in a world where it’s always Christmas, certainly not now. We can’t just choose to relax. We can’t just peace, love and joy our life away. Wrap it up, pack it away; we have to get back to work.

What is wrong with a species capable of creating, experiencing, and spreading peace, love, and joy, and then deciding we don’t deserve to do so all the time, every moment? Even in the midst of our winter celebrations, we cheapen these treasures by consigning them to the perimeter of our festivities and supplanting them with things, with overindulgence of our appetites, with running hard and fast from what “work” has made of us and our finite precious lives, and with excessively indulging our capacity for greed and offering miserly regard for our spiritual and emotional needs.

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We deserve lives saturated in peace, love, and joy, and our real work is making it so.

Let’s slow down and look at the world we’ve created by denying the true blessings of the season a real and deep presence in our every season, our every moment. We certainly haven’t used our gifts to their capacity if this is the best we can do.

We joke about people putting up their holiday decorations (I’m one of them, this year) before Thanksgiving, or we might attribute it, as I saw a home decorator write last week, to poor lighting in our homes which only becomes apparent when the daylight shortens. But let’s look more deeply; shake our hearts instead of our heads and look again: What do the lights strewn everywhere really signal?

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I think we start Christmas and other celebrations of light earlier and earlier–especially in a year of such darkness–because our hearts are yearning, unrelentingly yearning for peace, love, and joy to arrive. And to stay. Perhaps lighting a tree will conjure them.

And then, by those very lights, we might see the truth: Peace, love, and joy are within us, always. We just have to accept we’re worthy and choose these ways of being.

This whirlwind of viral time we’ve been given to witness and withstand can only be stilled by the counter forces we summon and let loose in the world, and they are ancient, and have always been our power.

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Peace. Love. Joy. All the words we wish each other in the dark of winter are the real bringers of light, the human magic that we must hurl at the storm to break it, and then calm it, and then wait as it dissipates, allowing the settling to reveal our path.

Every single one of us has the capacity to be what we most wish to see in the world, now, in this moment, by listening to our heart for the wisdom we’ve earned and are here to manifest: Compassionate regard for the well-being of all. Everything. Finding and animating these powers in ourselves, benefiting from their warmth, and giving the warmth away.

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Peace. The peace of our own breath, slowing and deepening. The moments of turning from the storm, withdrawing, retreating to breathe mindfully, reorient, and balance. Connecting with our heartbeat and noticing the blessings, everywhere, falling like snowflakes. Stillness. We can give ourselves this peace and offer it to others.

Love. Oh, my, does the storm weaken and scatter when it meets love. We can choose kindness before we respond to a stranger, a friend, our beloveds. We can consider others through the filter of love and we can love ourselves. We can listen to our self-talk and all the ways we are cruel to ourselves We can deepen our self-companionship.

Joy. The blessed lightening of deep joy! The happy letting go; the merry surrender of our stress and worry. Joy invites others to join us in memories of sweeter times, opening our hearts to all the happy possibilities to come. Levity is a profound power. May you always find reasons to laugh deeply and share joy.

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We know these qualities are ours from birth, but they come with the sacrifice and effort they require to be sustained. That change we feel in the air this time of year is the activation of our inherent power to generate peace, love, and joy in ourselves and others, throughout the Earth.

We don’t have to wait; we don’t have to limit or budget or pack away the light on January 2. We don’t have to pray for peace, love, and joy; we are these qualities, and the better prayer this year might be that we finally recognize it and live into the lives that this awareness creates. We deserve it. We are worthy. We are capable. And I think we’re more than ready. This storm will pass, and we will heal even more deeply if we just be who we are to our core: people of peace, of love, and of joy.

All blessings of the season to you, in you, and to everyone you love.

© 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.

Discharged

Babies in Snow

In my journal, I note the day’s cadence
and realize that this year–staying home,

still, waiting, counting breaths, staring, losing count: I’m
not marching anymore.

For years, I marched in uniforms and haste;
I marched, chasing perfection and more, hoping
for attention and praise,
nods and small paychecks rewarding my marching.

I marched to the tunes of a tier of bosses stretching to the
tops of buildings, to rooms I never saw, an authority
of men; I pursued their goals,
agreeing they were mine: I withered;

I mean, my spirit dried like an ancient apple

and my gifts broke
from the weight of meetings, record-keeping, hours at screens,
group meetings, staff meetings, meetings to evaluate
meetings, over and over; had I really learned the protocol
for handling blood-borne pathogens? (Yes, years ago; it

never changed). But we acquiesced; we marched; we agreed to agree
that coffee mugs stamped with, “Win

win; make it happen” made our time
and overtime and all the marching
matter,

and rather than enter the wild joy of co-creation, we’d march to
performance reviews, team-building activities, time clocks, measured
breaks to intake food and to release, marching faster,

as though we–

unique in our mystery and gift, here only to be
stars mixing and offering our shining shards of joy
before flickering, then falling in night’s dark skies

–were feral beings, best disciplined, success-
fully managed through repetitive busy-work,
bureaucracy’s mazes,
and marching.

The body corporate: a communal dimming of light.

Spirits silenced, gifts shattered (march, march)
by the love-starved minds that ordered
our marching, directed its rhythms: I used to wonder:

Is this what we all wanted
for ourselves when we grew up; we, hopscotching, jump-roping, hula-hooping, skating,
swimming, daydreaming, playing through our never-marching childhood?

And what of those who created and commanded the endless
tasks, charting, paperwork, meetings, the marching

that devoured

our time, our holy only lives? Did they ever stare through their larger-office windows at the peregrine nesting on the sill (it made news, every year), and weep?

How did they

sleep at night, knowing the misery they purveyed?
Did they march in their dreams? Following orders and
climbing ladders?

And what is their cadence now, decommissioned, staying at home?

My days are filled

with dancing.

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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.

Walking in the Dark

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Phillip and I have both learned a lot about dog training over the years, through raising our own pups and fostering many others, but we’ve never mastered the trick of helping our dogs adjust to Daylight Savings Time. We barely adjust to this annual folly ourselves. Trying to edge sleeptime forward by just a few minutes and then more hasn’t worked worth a tinker’s damn in the almost-30 years we’ve been walking dogs morning and night. They know when it’s time for walks and bed and meals, and if these times don’t match our schedule and the clock for half of the year, too bad for Mom and Dad.

Being retired and in lockdown, it really doesn’t matter when we do what, but it’s always tricky adjusting to rising in the dark for our first walk and taking the day’s final stroll in shadow as well. If the full moon blesses us with brightness, our walks can be magical, but the new moon is perilous. We’ve learned that slowly is the wisest way to proceed and it’s a pace that suits the pups’ desire for maximum sniff time.

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And, even in the dark, I can perceive the analogy between our darkened dog-walks and the gloomy path we’ve all been traveling for almost a year. Many of us have been cautious and willing to sacrifice speed for the safer progress made by taking our time as we step forward through our days, but sadly, not enough of us. And so, the company of more than 250,000 of our family and friends will be absent from our future gatherings and tables. This is heartbreak at a level our country and our world have rarely suffered. And the tragedy compiles when we consider that much of these losses could have been prevented.

I don’t understand people who have chosen to repeatedly enter the world and mingle with others unmasked and without respecting distances, when we’ve been told for more than 9 months to do these things, along with washing our hands and staying strictly within a “bubble” of family members following the same safety procedures. These practices ensure greater safety for those who must go out into the world to help the rest of us survive.

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Don’t share air in closed or close spaces with people we haven’t been confined with all these months: It’s not that hard, but it seems impossible for many; and so, we find ourselves at a crisis point of infection and dying as we enter the holiday weeks.

I read that 40% of our population plans to gather with family and friends over Thanksgiving weekend, offering no consideration whatsoever to healthcare workers who are grotesquely overworked and excessively stressed in hospitals with no beds available to patients. And many of these patients are people who couldn’t be bothered to take a deadly disease seriously and now ask for our prayers, still without regard for those trying to keep them alive, who certainly deserve our prayers as well. This rampant rush through the dark to the arms of a deadly virus is without regard for our teachers, postal workers, EMT’s, grocery and other essential store staff, etc. And of course we will pray for these patients; we have been praying for them all along, praying they would avoid these choices, and now praying they survive them without harming others.

I don’t understand people who are so driven by fear and anger that it occludes their power to love beyond a small, known circle, if that. Truly, I’ve given long hours to opening my heart and trying to understand their denial, but I don’t, in the utterly real face of such virulence and death.

I have appreciated the frequent news program appearances by Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., a Professor and the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. His fact-based wisdom and advice center me and give me information I need to hear. He’s often quite blunt, sticking to sharing the pertinent science and data, but this morning he shared how he aches to be with his grandchildren; he’d love more than anything to gather with his family next week, but, “I love them more than that ache; we’ll gather virtually this year so we can all be together and well next year.”

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And it struck me again that this is the way we walk through the dark together: loving more than we ache, loving ourselves through and beyond the aches and losses of this hard, hard time to the peaceful days and celebrations yet to come. We can do this, and must. We’re all suffering together; let’s not choose actions that make us–and others–suffer more.

Ram Dass said, “We’re all just walking each other home.” This stretch of the walk is dark; let’s navigate it with love and travel safely to the brighter days ahead. We’re nearly there.

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In other news: our Full Moon Cottage Family is joyful, joyful, as we learned after an excruciating week of waiting for lab results, that Malarky’s tumor is benign. We’ve decided to postpone surgery and see if it might heal on its own, and are so very grateful for the prayers and happy energy that have been shared. Thank you. Thanksgiving will be very merry this year.

My friends, the lovely people and gifted artists who form The Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet, are nearing the end of their Kickstarter campaign to fund the final production of their 7th album, Social Distancing. I didn’t know this about Kickstarter before, but if the end date is reached and the goal isn’t met, the funds already pledged are all returned to the donors, and the artists, or whomever, receive nothing, so if anyone out there can help out with a few dollars here and there, they may just make it. I don’t want my money back; I want their music to be heard. 🙂

And, finally, our beautiful book is moving out into the world, and I hope it’s blessing those who hold and read her words. I just learned that, in the next few weeks, the Australian, New Zealand, and German editions will be offered for sale!

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Gentle peace; be well and safe.

Carol for the Wild Heart

Carol for the Wild Heart

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Let what is wild
in us remain so,
and in the world, too;
taming mutes instinct
and gift, subdues
the agrestal impulse, rejects
and rots the medicine
we came to be and share,
we, aflame with wild hearts
smother them, dousing
our wild fires, darting to
cages,
cages on wheels,
cages of glass,
of hallways
and rooms
where we pace
and plot,
we scheme
and devour,
we survive
through the fitness
of messages crafted
in sighs selling
lies, conforming
our wild desires, our wild lives
to dreary patterns, controlled;
we have made ourselves
ill,
tamed, trapped, and dying;
how strange, an animal choosing
its cages and searing itself with
brands, moving
from cage
to dulling cage
each fashioned,
by the very creature
bolting the door, who
every year, in the time
of dark and ice, lights
fires and listens to
its yearning heart
howling at the moon
howling through
stars and time
in songs and voices
finally its own,
howling
the uncaged
wild inclinations
to heal
to grow
to love
wildly,
to resist
cages.

© 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 Stories We Came to Write

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We’re facing a week at Full Moon Cottage that invites consciously traveling with stories that settle and unsettle; this is how life flows. We find our way through; we choose our responses and live into them, looking for grace and open to blessing. We ask for help; we offer help to others; we celebrate and grieve in community, even in isolation. We are here to lift each other up and when we can’t, we stay with those who are broken and we help each other mend. And all the while, we sit beside the fire in our hearts and we tell ourselves stories; we carry the stories of our ancestors, the blessings and burdens; we rewrite stories from different perspectives; we begin and never finish stories; we play many roles; we are characters in other stories, many unknown and never shared. We are short stories and epics; we are every genre, flowing in and out, intersecting, accommodating our stories to Mystery’s co-authorship, seeking satisfactory denouements. And here is our power: we are able, continually, to decide if the stories we’re writing are the ones we came to write. If not, we can begin a new story, make better choices, adhere more faithfully to themes we honor, become the heroines and heroes of our lives.

Here is a story from my life: Phillip and I adopted two sibling puppies, Riley and Clancy, who sparked the light in our hearts, as had our darling Idgi pup and the cats Sally and Tess before them, as have all our 4-leggeds.

Riley and Clancy were crazy and fun, half Border Collie and half Black Lab. For more than 13 years, we shared our days and breaths and energies, and then their sweet holy bodies failed, and within months of each other, they changed worlds, leaving our hearts as heavily empty and dark as such losses do.

One day, I saw a little puppy’s photo in a Humane Society ad and immediately drove to Madison to meet him. When the volunteer pushed him through the door of the room where I waited, and he bounced across the floor and into my arms, in that puppy-clumsy dance of exuberance, my heart began to lighten. I knew Riley and Clancy had chosen and sent Larky, all the way from Mississippi to my heart. And he healed it. The first night he nestled between us, I cried, holding his little clinging body and knowing we’d survived and been given a chance to love once more; we’d been mended enough to say yes to being torn again, because love is always worth it. We saved Malarky’s life and he saved ours, which means we all set out on the road again together, which is what families do: they travel together and keep each other’s hearts alive.

And as we’ve traveled, like the Bremen Town Musicians, we’ve gathered more members into our most lively-hearted family. We’ve survived more partings, grieved, and traveled on, sharing love that accrues deeper colors and blesses our family story with layers of memory and meaning.

Last Thursday, we discovered a small tumor on Malarky’s inner eye. Our vet diagnosed a “usually” benign form of skin cancer, and we were able to schedule an appointment with an oncologist early–very early–this Wednesday morning. It’s been hard to focus, with the excitement of the book coming out tomorrow, the rising Coronavirus cases in our state and the world, and the continued political challenges, but now we have a very clear focus, and that is our darling boy, the safety of his vision and health, and the need to travel with him through whatever news we receive on Wednesday. I ask for your prayers and healing energy, and thank you in advance for being part of our story, too.

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Tomorrow, the picture book, And the People Stayed Home, will be sent out into the world, culminating an adventure for our family and circle of friends that has been a great comfort and creative happiness through long months of pandemic lockdown. The creative people of Tra Publishing, led by the stunning spirit of Ilona Oppenheim, have been a complete joy for me. They and their partners offer us enlightenment, deepening, and wonder through the art they co-create and set free in the world. I’m over-the-moon happy with this book and deeply grateful for the ways I have been invited to participate in its creation.

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Stories change us, and so, change the world; our past, present, and future hinge on our stories. Who are we? What do we believe? What are our gifts for the world, and how are we sharing them? How have we been hurt and can we forgive and heal? Can we find our way to the deepest doors of the heart, those rusted and closed by long-ago tears…and open to love again?

And, maybe most importantly, how can our stories serve others?

Through friends, I’ve also learned about CARAVAN, a nonprofit that’s perfectly matched to the challenges faced by our world. They describe their mission and identity this way: “…an international peacebuilding non-profit / NGO, CARAVAN is recognized as a global leader in using the arts to build sustainable peace around the world.”

Here’s a link to a film festival honoring short films (5 minutes and less) that explore ways we can globally create a world that embraces gift and variety, addresses need, and serves all. Two friends of mine from Ireland entered their film, “Loving Distance,” and it was selected as one of 30 finalists out of 3,031 submissions.

I love everything about this: so many artists focusing on the ways our humanity, our talents, and our stories can bless each other and the world; identifying people and places that need our energy and help; and using art to illuminate our hearts and call us to action…I also applaud CARAVAN’S generosity in sharing their top 30 short films here: https://www.oncaravan.org/anewfuture

I hope you’ll be able to spare some time to engage with these films and all the ways they feed our spirits and invite us to do better as a species and to move forward in hope, co-creating the world we envision, writing the story we are here to write.

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.

The Childlike Path

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In a time of waiting, we were asked to engage with patience more deeply, and have at last received our answer. 

And if it has arrived without everything we wanted and hoped for, it’s nonetheless accompanied by the invitations to heal, accept, and continue to choose mature and loving responses to the one life we’ve been gifted to travel in communion with others.

I’ve been reflecting on the ways so much of our culture encourages and rewards indulgence and refuge in petulant childish rejection of the other rather than delighted childlike engagement with the world. One path is selfish, the other welcomes shared wonder and joy. One demands instant gratification and satisfied demands, regardless of coherence; the other is willing to sacrifice and walk with mystery, relying on wisdom and waiting for prudent answers to emerge. One grabs and grasps; the other reaches and extends. One screams and closes doors; the other listens with an open mind and heart. One nurses grudges; the other commits to forgiveness. The childish will do anything to have desires met; the childlike are sated by the pure miracle and possibilities of truth. To the childish heart, justice has no meaning; to the childlike, it is beloved. The childish are never satisfied; the childlike are always grateful. The childish deny loss; the childlike grieve and heal. Most dangerously, when faced with challenges, one chooses the comfort of regression and the other explores the co-creation of answers that will benefit all to the greatest degree possible.

Each of us chooses our path moment by moment; a great gift we have as humans is the gift to transform. I hope we’ll do so more consciously. Healing waits to embrace us with no time to lose, and offers us solace and peace we desperately need and can’t ignore.

The weariness of this profoundly troubling time has been greatly exacerbated by the willfully childish and the noisy distractions of the immature. Let’s hope and pray that our way forward will be led by those gifted with both maturity and the mindful retention of wonder that leads to new ways of being. And, as our gifts and time allow, may each of us work to confront and set aside childish impulses and choose the deeper eruption of joy allowed when we balance childlike innocence with mature wisdom.

Gentle, gentle peace.

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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.

The Ways the World Loves Us

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There are two in this abbey
and infinitely more, a community
crammed with life’s music, given to
silent observation, contemplation,
listening
for answers, but equally as nurtured
when the heart’s door opens
to mystery; either way, stillness
flows to dialogue and waves back
to stillness; life is offered our trust
and a deeper gaze, no darting look
and look away that fears reflection’s scrutiny:
We see life as she is. We welcome her song,
listening
to the beating hearts of dogs at our feet,
of cats in our lap, and birds at the feeder, the
buzzing hearts of bees, of wasps, their tasks,
and fish in the river, beating through water,
through mud and tadpoles, and the beating
of squirrels in trees, and insects burrowed
beneath the bark of trees, the tiny beating
hearts of mice, and rapid tapping of butterflies,
bold cracking, flashing beats of fire, the sweet
and slower beats of rainfall, snail, and compost,
soft snowflake’s heart, so gently beating, moon,
and milkweed seed; the diva beat of dawn’s
heart, the hushing beat of dusk, its breath,
the beating hearts of clouds and leaves,
of gardens, our sustenance beating,
and grasses waving, beating the wind,
a choir of pulsing life meets where we’re
listening,
life’s music constantly singing out
all the ways the world loves us.

We were young and shallow once,
and wasted thought, and gift, and time;
we didn’t hold the beating world
beside our tender, beating hearts,
I know; how grateful then, my
weary self, to still and fall
and rise with yours as vowed
companions quarantined,
life’s music beating through us
in this time of cloistered wonder,
we two in this abbey, we two
and infinitely more,
listening
to all the ways
the world loves us.

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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.

I wanted to share this link to a You Tube interview that will air live on November 12. Luis Herrera, the beloved and lauded retired City Librarian of San Francisco Public Library, and current Board Member for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, interviewed me about my book, And the People Stayed Home. The program is part of the Nature Boost series conducted and sponsored by the San Francisco Library System in partnership with the Golden Gates National Parks Conservancy, Herrera also serves as a Board Member of the Conservancy. The Nature Boost series is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, readers, and Earth-lovers of all ages. I am grateful to the gifted San Francisco Librarian, Christy Estrovitz for coordinating, recording, and posting the interview. She and Luis are amazing people.

And here are links to a recorded Zoom session introducing the Social Distancing album by the Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet, and to their Kickstarter campaign to fund the album’s production. This band has been creating critically-acclaimed Afro-Peruvian jazz for 15 years, and they have a unique and wonderful relationship with their fans, who participate in the funding of albums, and are invited to co-create with the band. This album features the band’s bassist, Mario Cuba’s haunting piece, And the People Stayed Home, and the band invited me to contribute voice-over’s of the poem in English and Spanish.

This album’s cover features a multi-part illustration of over 150 fans who shared their photos: very cool! The band also conducts annual tours to Peru with a limited group of fans who have chosen the opportunity to become immersed in Peruvian culture and learn from and about her people…on their tours, Gabriel and the band’s talented musicians share valuable time with student musicians eager to learn from professionals.

They are amazing artists and servant leaders. The tours, live performances, and teaching have all been curtailed by Coronavirus, as have the offerings of so many artists, but the band offers live virtual concerts and will debut this album on November 27. I’ve really been enjoying the live concerts I’ve attended during our lockdown! Beautiful people; amazing artists.

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Finally, a Happy Halloween and a very happy Halloween Full Blue Moon! Full Moons on Halloween only happen once every 19 years; Full Blue Moons (the second Full Moon in a month) also occurring on Halloween only visit the planet once every 76 years!

My Celtic ancestors believed the veil between the world of the living and the dead was thin this time of year, that spirits traveled more freely between worlds…which led to beliefs, traditions, and practices we continue to integrate and transmute into our lives, or that were appropriated and translated for us. I never really feel separated from my loved ones who have died, but celebrate their lives, our love, and our eternal connection more deliberately during these sacred days when we’re invited to hold all souls and all saints in our awareness. We need to connect with the presence of their wisdom, blessing, and light more than ever, in my lifetime.

Blessings on the days ahead; they will be life-changing for many of us. May the ways the world loves us, the ways the Sacred loves us, speak to our hearts, offering comfort, wisdom, and peace.

Be safe and well.

The Year of Buried Treasure

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

What has always been the happiest time of year for me is starkly bittersweet this autumn. Hope and despair have danced through this year in rather close embrace. We long ago stopped asking if things could get worse, because the answer has been reliably affirmative, and daily.

The crisp sparkling days still arrive; the fall house-cleaning beckons. Curtains and windows have been washed, surfaces dusted, rugs shaken and deep-cleaned, and the upholstery thoroughly vacuumed. Halloween decorations summon memories that are comforting and honor the reverence of this sacred thin time and place. All is ready…but for what, exactly?

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What I love most about the arc of days between now and the New Year are the holidays that allow me to spend hours planning celebrations and anticipating the arrival of loved ones to share them. I enjoy the long hours spent cooking, baking, cleaning, and decorating, with music flowing merrily, and fires crackling in the kitchen and living room. I imagine family’s and friends’ arrivals, and all the ways the joy of our time together will please our bodies and spirits. And every year, we fool ourselves into thinking these lovely hours will stretch beyond imagining, but even so, we’re blessed with gratitude and memories as we send our guests homeward too soon.

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My mother’s spirit is so strongly beside me in all of these preparations that I sometimes speak and laugh out loud with her. I remember so vividly how she loved the holidays and especially their build-up to our gatherings and reunions. She enjoyed the excitement of making plans to please her guests and, when we’d arrived, she tended us indulgently, delighting in sitting around the table visiting till long after my early-riser eyelids drooped…And how I long to return to those visits and make them last forever, cherishing every second we were gifted.

The loss of these meetings and partings is yet another in a year of deeper losses bound in anxiety and threatening peace at every turn, all of which challenge my feisty vow to retain my gratitude and hope, and to keep looking for new ways to celebrate the life and miracles all around us. If we believe that we and the Earth can be healthier and that we can co-create relationships with greater love, then here and now is the lab where we test those hypotheses. (It always is.) We can plainly see the ruin surrounding us; now is the season to excavate the treasure.

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Sharing kindness and empathy with strangers and acquaintances is far easier than with those to whom we’re deeply accustomed, exposed, and unenchanting. We’ve been given the profound opportunity to recommit to one another as guest and gift, friend and lover, challenge and mystery.

We can anticipate sharing the holiday celebrations together and lavishing the care and attention on ourselves and each other that we have offered guests in all the years past. Some days, even most, it’s tempting to forgo it all, make a grilled cheese sandwich and fuggedaboudit, but I think we’re worth the effort to honor our own need for magic, traditions, treats, and lovely long visits. I know Phillip has stories I haven’t heard. I know there are patterns in the give and take I share with my beloveds that could withstand retooling. I can name our flaws; can I also name our blessings? This is the time for settling, unearthing our treasure, and cherishing the guests we are in each other’s lives.

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We can still create memories that will allow us to look back at 2020 with more than sorrow and aversion. It can also be the year we learned far more about loving each other than any other year had taught us, the year when we began to truly be the treasure we came to be, and to honor the treasure in our beloveds.

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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.

In the Waiting

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In the waiting, as we wait again, time resurrects the chance
to pattern finer instincts, evolving variation
in how we meet the world.
Some elemental part of us requires animation:
a heart that captures everything
and translates it through love.

In the waiting, as we wait again, the invitation calls
to undertake revision, travel downward, journey deeply
to the patient deeper darkness
that has watched and waited longer
for our finally-weary hearts to rest,
release, reverse, return again
to mystery, to seed.

In the waiting, as we wait again, our mother darkness yearns
to nurture and to cradle us, her shining shapeless
readiness, gestating what we could be
and what we will become;
our brave uncurling tenderness,
our transformation spiraling, whirling into forces
unimagined and immense.

The energy of change is born of waiting and descent;
of trusting mother darkness, gentle artist, fierce creator
behold the budding reaching,
first and fragile cotyledon,
the primal, animated Yes
emerging from our waiting:
with hearts that capture everything
and translate it through love.

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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.

Choices

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Last June, I marked 65 years of life on this planet, which means that I was not here for either of the “World Wars,” but was certainly sentient and rational during the troubling times in decades that have followed and, like others, cannot remember a period quite so precariously anxious, fearful, dangerous, or maddening. 

I can feel my energy riding waves others have set in motion, and swirling in whirlpools that threaten the stability and balance necessary to meet each day’s demands. I ask myself, repeatedly, as I have so often asked others,”How is it with your spirit?”  What am I feeling, how am I responding, and how can I maintain a defined inner space for peace, openness, continued growth, and, yes, joy?

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How can we be most useful in a time of such turmoil and restriction? What can we do to restore greater peace? How can we do anything to help to save the earth when we’re more isolated than we’ve ever been? Why even dream of “best possibles” when–let’s face it–hope seems the refuge of fools?

The answer, I think, is in our informed and conscious choices.

One place to start is to faithfully tend our bodies and spirits, and to widen that care to others, including, always, the Earth. 

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I am mindful and ever-grateful that rare and precious humans, under traumatic and unacceptable deprivation and duress, have achieved enlightenment. For example, I honor the famous example of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist whose parents, sibling, and wife were murdered as the family endured years in Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

Frankl survived the holocaust and later wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, outlining his profoundly-derived wisdom from that time: we best counter life’s darkness and suffering through acts of love, in choosing purposeful work, in navigating struggle with a courageous heart, and in consciously activating our individual power and agency to choose our own attitude and response to life’s challenges. 

Every person and experience we encounter invites us to respond by creating yet another layer of light or darkness on the potential gift and artwork that is our “lifetime.” 

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Rather than wish the suffering Frankl endured upon all of us also seeking enlightenment, I believe we can evolve and, with deep gratitude, learn from his wisdom by sharing it, practicing it, and preventing such suffering in our own time. We don’t have to repeat holocausts of misery and hatred. We can deepen and grow in our consciousness, and practice the power each of us has to choose our attitude and response, and choose the necessary actions that must follow, as Frankl and others have taught us.

So it is, during this time of uniquely global and individual suffering, that we can look to our choices to tend our physical and spiritual comfort and health, and to explore ways to assuage the comfort and health of all living things. 

My part of the world is heading into colder temperatures, and, because of lost wages and jobs, families are faced with energy and food bills they cannot pay. Our state energy company, like others, is not charging people whose payments are in arrears during the Covid-19 pandemic, but we, as co-dependent and co-creative communities, both local and global, can help further by creatively managing and sharing resources to mitigate hunger and exposure to extreme temperatures, and to help people find and remain in safe shelters. These are always issues of importance in our sadly selfish world, but when pandemic and climate shifts rage, they become unrelenting and pervasive.

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At Full Moon Cottage, our fairly simple needs are adequately met, although we are still in lockdown and need to care for our integrated health with as much, or more, attention than ever. We’ve brought the houseplants indoors, put the gardens to bed, care for our eight 4-leggeds as wisely and lovingly as we can, and are looking into methods for further naturalizing the land we tend and planting native plants for for the health of insects, pollinators, and the wildlife with whom we share space. We feed our migrating and native birds and try to provide plants, shrubs, and trees for their shelter and propagation.

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None of this will reverse or prevent further climatic shifts, but all of us have a say in the ways we adapt. We can choose to do nothing or something, and educate ourselves about ways to help, however small.

I admit there are days when I watch or read too much “news,” expose myself to too much anger and sadness on social media, or ignore my own healthy practices, and so quickly is my spirit stripped of hope that I almost miss its descent. Suddenly, the elevator doors open and I’m in the dark basement, hearing the doors close behind me.

There is a proper and acceptable time for encountering my own and the world’s darkness and I’m fairly certain it isn’t “always/every moment/constantly,” which is what it feels like we’re pushing against these days and why we increasingly hear people describe themselves as exhausted. 

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But I can choose differently. I’m limiting the time I spend with media updates designed to elicit mood swings; I’m renewing commitment to my physical care; and I’m tending my energy with the loving-kindness I try to offer others. And, every day, I’m using precious given hours to connect with others in ways still possible, people I love and strangers who need food, clothing, shelter, my prayers, and my feisty letter-writing or phone calling on their behalf. Focusing on others is the clearest way out of chaos. And I think ready laughter, uncorked often, is integral to maintaining our health. Happily there is no shortage of opportunities to laugh.

And so, my friends, I ask that we all choose consciously and wisely, giving ourselves the grace of good self-care: the peace of a nap, the comfort of a good book, a walk in the brisk autumn air, creative playtimes, and dreams of all the “best possibles” we can work towards today. And when we feel our balance restored, let us call or write a friend, express gratitude to our healthcare providers, teachers, and other essential workers, ask for and offer forgiveness wherever it is needed, locate and donate to a charity, bring warm clothing and food to locations that provide them to those in need, drive a person in need of assistance to the polls, plan a garden, feed the birds, surprise ourselves and the world with kindness, and so choose to repair the world and lay down layers of light now, in every possible moment, because we can.

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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.

Julie Zickefoose writes a wonderful blog about her interactions with nature. Here is her recipe for a small batch of “Zick Dough” for feeding the birds who visit her yard. At the blogsite is also a recipe for a much larger batch. Let me know if you try it out!

Melt in the microwave and stir together:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup lard

In a large mixing bowl, combine
2 cups chick starter (from a feed store, pet supply site, Wal-Mart, etc.)
2 cups quick oats
1 cup yellow cornmeal and
1 cup flour

Add melted lard/peanut butter mixture to the combined dry ingredients and mix well.

The Language of Falling Leaves

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It was a time of stillness,
of intruding contagion,
of unyielding boundaries,
of cloistered listening, guarded
waiting, gated solitude, safely
confined in silence so deep,
so deep, and we, so tired that autumn,
so weighted, we dropped our words
and began to speak the language of
falling leaves; sighs of surrender,
detaching from everything, releasing,
drifting, we were leaves falling, falling
airborne; we were clouds translating into
mist, then sunlight, or stone; for days, we spoke
river and whispered moon through hushed
wood-smoked evenings; only once, so tired
we wept rain, aslant and gray, leaning into grief,
weary of contagion’s pervasive pursuit; we stilled
and grew roots, planted ourselves, speaking
earth, not forgetting the unbending boundaries;
we were trees, muddied, barked, and bared,
our leafwords fallen, branches uplifted, we
welcomed the language of wings, became
birds, breathing windsong, soaring unbound
in silence so deep, so deep our wings brushed
peace, in silver light, we turned and became
the pearled impervious sky.

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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.

In My 66th Autumn

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In my 66th autumn, I planted an oak tree,
a slow-growing long-living gift to an Earth
I love beyond reason; I won’t see the tree
rise into its fullness, nor witness the circles
of life it supports: the fertilized earth,
the harbored cocoons, wild turkeys, and jays
hummingbirds, insects, arachnids, and squirrels,
I’ve planted a country of branches and burls,
and cavities, breathing for years beyond mine;
four score to maturity, ten score to death,
a preposterous lifespan in this day and age;
my oak tree is rooted in unreasoned hope,
impossible faith, illogical prayers, irrational
visions alive in my heart after 66 autumns,
which must count for something eternally true:
planting is saving, and changing direction,
a signal that choices have yet to be made,
the actions of angels, of women and men,
of people with power and people with light
who may reverse courses enough to preserve
a balance, a moment to notice the world’s
miraculous wonders: an overlooked acorn
becoming an oak, the home of a barn owl
and 66 autumns of love beyond reason,
a love that was rooted in unreasoned hope.

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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.

Liturgy of the Trail

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25 years I’ve walked this trail, marking the hours,
lauds to vespers, marking the life of one dog, and then
the lives of two; I wonder, can my current pack of five
smell the sacred scents, the years’ long layers
of shed coats and cells scattered like blessing
by the three who have gone? Can my current pack
smell the incense of who I was, and am, trudging
these pilgrim miles every day and every season,
shedding thoughts, releasing what isn’t me? My faithful
4-leggeds and I, processing down the aisle in forest
and field, the trail made of us and all, daily discovering
secrets, befriending the trees, mourning the fallen, noticing
the lives they harbor still; teaching us the holiest lessons:
falling matters to rising; death matters to life; sacrifice illuminates
then and now, the holy union we live within; we praise every offering
and cross, share our confiteor, all good news and gift, mystery,
revelation; we sit at our bench under arching oaks, each dog
offers a paw to bless our communion (berries, biscuits): the
trail proclaims how everything revolves, held by Love, always.
I recall that first spring’s brilliant flash of trilliums, flickering
in sunrays that pierced the tender green infant leaves
just there, in the shaded patch of forest that every spring since
has widened, a whispering white delight of blooms welcoming
our longing hearts, dancing winks of dark and light: what could
we do, but genuflect and bark, or cry, for joy? And every year,
we seek and find that growing patch of yes, the sweet
consecration of life, and know again that spring is here and
resurrection happens. We meet old friends and bid them peace:
the gabbling scoot and peck of turkeys, hens guiding poults
down carpets of moss; wild fruit, columbines, cardinals,
toads down in the marsh, and soon, mosquitoes, jewelweed,
summer roses, long days fading like the breath of dogs,
the fading breath of everything, not dying, transforming,
waiting for the yes of trilliums; my beloved companions
and I pray on the trail made of us and all, made of lessons we
have traveled, eaten, and shed; attentive explorers, sniffers
of mystery, lovers of wonder, sacristans of stories told
every season, of what happens, what changes, what lasts…
rounding to autumn, asters and acorns, now
blackbirds gathering, flock calling flock, autumn
choir of 25 years and once again, our ritual ends;
in falling leaves, blessings of peace, blackbird choir
singing us safely, gratefully home, to shudder off
another day, a year too filled with sorrow
and suffering, too clamored, too crammed
with too much: I will rest beneath the leaves
of holy books, encircled by dogs and cats
and the memories of others; we will nestle and
dream of walks yet to come, awaiting signs and
wonders on the trail made of us and all,
and of trilliums, flashing their
light in darkness.

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RileyClancy Darlings
 
bench autumn babies picnic
 
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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.
 
 

Collapse

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At Full Moon Cottage, the daily round in early autumn must often adjust to sudden changes in weather: within minutes, the sky alters from bright blue to gunmetal; the light shifts from brilliant to opaque; clouds form, move, and dissipate at variable rates; temperatures rise and drop rapidly, and the wind suddenly makes her entrance like a diva, scattering leaves in clattering swirls and high drama. Normally, I welcome and savor this aspect of fall, but this year, I’ve found myself, during a pandemic quarantine, living the astonishing adventure of co-creating a beautiful book and now conducting a virtual tour to promote its publication, and the unpredictable weather has made scheduling all things virtual quite dicey, due to precarious satellite internet, where no fiber optic or cable are available.

I’d recently been invited to tape an interview with the wonderful people involved with The Miami Book Fair, scheduled for November 15-22 this year. We’d agreed to tape the interview yesterday, so Phillip and I were trying to set up all the necessary equipment for a virtual interview: the camera, mic, extra light rings, tables, chairs, and books for elevating the computer, or me, cords and more cords, etc., while the outside light gradually diminished and then disappeared altogether, then wavered and shone again, confusing our selection of the right spot for the interview.

At one point in our maneuvers, we glanced outside at the canopy set up on the back deck. We discussed quickly taking it down for storage, since the wind speed was increasing, but shrugged, and continued spiking and striking our set, testing the light and internet reception in each new location, removing obstacles like dog toys from view, and moving decorative accents around, before returning like salmon to where we’d begun: the living room, where we could also open and close shutters and large shades as we needed, to accommodate the mercurial sun. And congratulations for making it through that paragraph posing as a sentence.

As the countdown to logging-in for the interview approached, the sky clouded; the air began to mist in a sky of black ink, and the wind whipped through the gardens and trees, pulling dancing leaves in her wake. I fully expected to glance out and see Margaret Hamilton pedaling by with Toto in her bicycle basket. However, the interview was accomplished and enjoyable. Peace. Quiet.

And then, faster than we could react, tornadic straight-line winds ripped through the backyard and tore at everything in their path, twisting the stationary metal support for the canopy over the deck, and shredding the canopy itself. In under 30 seconds, things collapsed. Regretful and rueful; we knew we should have acted sooner.

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16 years ago today, I took my mother to her first dialysis session. She’d moved in with us a month earlier, with high hopes of finding a new home and enjoying herself after 13 years of caring for my father following his massive stroke. That first month was filled with doctor appointments to follow-up on those she’d already begun before she’d moved. My mother was a profoundly lovely and intelligent woman who was capable of absolute denial when issues in life disturbed her. 

She had already been diagnosed with heart disease that could lead to kidney failure, but preferred to disbelieve this diagnosis (which we only learned about much later, reviewing the health records, boxed and stored during the move), and to avoid sharing such information with her children. Because of her heart failure, dialysis was both dangerous and grueling.

Those were agonizing, heartbreaking days, sitting in the clinic and watching her suffer, and then bringing her home, exhausted and beaten, only to see her revive enough within a couple days to repeat the cycle. The memories bring me to tears as quickly as straight-line winds, even after all these years. Things collapsed. Rapidly. My mother died in my arms, in our home, with hospice care, on February 4, only 6 months after moving to our home. I’ll never know if any of her suffering could have been prevented had we faced the diagnosis earlier and worked together to meet and support her healing.

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Perhaps you’ve heard of CCD, colony collapse disorder, in part, due to our use of pesticides, that has contributed to the decimation of our honey bee population. The economic impact of CCD is devastating, but the effects on our environment from the loss of these pollinators imperil our existence. Pesticides kill far more than pests. We know this; we’ve known it for years, but the collapse has occurred and continues. 

All insects are endangered on Earth, and long before we’ve even discovered the myriad ways they bless and ensure our existence. We keep willfully allowing ourselves and our planet to be poisoned, shaking our heads in dismay, then retreating. Wouldn’t want to cause upset or risk embarrassment or (peaceful) confrontation. Someone else can do it. It’ll be O.K.

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In the United States, during a pandemic, while suffering the threats of climate change, our unique, scrappy, and elegant Democracy, once a shining light to those seeking its legal protections and freedoms, is nearing collapse. Many people prefer hiding from this fact. It’s easier to deny, when we’re already under so many other threats assailing us, hourly, daily, and for months. We’d really prefer “someone else” save us, restore peace, summon order, and provide coherent leadership. People are anxious, fearful, and exhausted. Some deny not only what is happening in front of them, but that it could lead to violence and collapse. 

Elected men and women we’ve hoped would speak up have cowered and resisted doing so for years, seeming to value their little bits of power over any genuine fealty to the Constitution and our Democracy. They deny the dire warnings calling for them to speak up, demand change, impeach the main source of our deterioration, and restore their honor. History, I think, will not be kind to them, and we’re a long time dead. Centuries–if humans survive that long–will recall their cowardice and shame. So it goes; step by step we make these choices, forge these chains, and write our histories. 

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What is the proper response in a time so variable and frightening? Hasn’t it always been to speak the truth in love? To act on behalf of the marginalized, the moral imperative, the sacred and beautiful? To name the dangers we face and work together to prevent and abate them? To take risks and reach beyond our grasp in order to preserve what we know to be eternally true and good? It almost certainly involves loss, grief, suffering, and sacrifice, but here we all are to help each other bear what must be borne by decent humans seeking change.

We have to believe we’ve come with the gifts to meet the times before us, and admit that, unless we co-create solutions–all of us–the whirlwind will arrive suddenly, as it always does for those in denial, and everything we cherish and love may collapse. 

And those who remain will shake their heads and sigh, “Why didn’t we act?”

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Earlier this week, I sensed a change in the weather. The forecast for the evenings ahead danced around freezing temperatures, but then indicated a typical return to warmer nights. I decided to bring all my sweet houseplants in, anyway. It did freeze, but they are safe and warm indoors. Not collapsed, but thriving.

Vote. Encourage others to vote, and help them do so, safely.

Be safe and well, and gentle peace.

“In his 2007 bestseller, Collapse, anthropologist Jared Diamond…explored the trajectories of a number of human civilizations that disappeared at the height of their vibrancy and power. Diamond’s examples included the Anasazi of the American southwest, the Maya, and the Norse colony on Greenland.

In each case, the civilization overshot the carrying capacity of its environment. Their populations grew as the society became ever more ingenious at extracting resources from its surroundings. Eventually, the limits to growth were hit. A short time after running into those limits, each civilization fell apart.” ~ Adam Frank

“It is common knowledge now that we depend on insects for our continued existence; that, without key pollinators, the human population would collapse in less than a decade.” ~ John Burnside

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” ~ E.O. Wilson

“Our society is dependent on some precarious mechanisms, and they are very dicey. They can easily collapse.” ~ Doris Lessing

© 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.

Fully Awake Moon

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Happy Full Moon from Full Moon Cottage! We christened her the night we moved in, 24 years ago. We pulled up the creepy carpeting just inside the door, covered the floor with clean shelf paper, and set our mattress down. A huge bow window opened to the tree-covered lawn and that May’s Full Flower Moon kept us awake all night long, offering a dazzling introduction to life in the country and a new appreciation for lined curtains. It astonished me that I could walk outside at midnight and so clearly see my way, see the trees and their shadows, and see the ribbons of light that formed our drive and the trail beyond, leading to the bridge and shining river.

I began to collect the names people had given these Full Moons throughout history. I love the imagery these names conjure, and what they tell us about those who lived, moved, and had their being beneath the moon centuries before us. In most cases, the names reveal how deeply connected to the Earth these humans were, how intimately they knew her seasons, and the gifts, signals, and dangers each one contributed to these people’s survival. The moon names show an intimate awareness of the Earth and her creatures and plant life. They speak of the seasons’ colors; the wind flow; the air temperature; the weather conditions; the varying states and levels of water; what can be harvested; what is still; and what is in motion. To me they are precious historical poetry. In the past few years, I’ve started a monthly post of the moon names on Facebook, and I usually add my own. (Feel free to share yours in the comments!)

This October, we’ll benefit from two Full Moons, October 1st and October 31st. The first earns all the traditional names for the month’s Full Moons, except for Harvest Moon, a name that alternates between September and October, depending upon which month’s Full Moon falls closer to the Autumnal Equinox, so this year, the October 1st Full Moon is our Harvest Moon, and it will be ”officially full” at approximately 4:05 P.M.; rise at 5:57 P.M.; and reach its highest altitude at about 11 P.M. (All times are Central Time.)

The October Full Moon is also known as the Hunter’s Moon; Travel or Migrating Moon; Dying Grass Moon; Sanguine or Blood Moon; Freezing Moon; Long Hair Moon; Ten Colds Moon; Falling Leaves Moon; Corn Ripe Moon; Leaf Fall Moon; Raven Moon; Blackberry Moon; Wine Moon; Spirit Moon; Snow Moon; Shedding Moon; Winterfelleth (Winter Coming Moon); Windermanoth (Vintage Month Moon); Moon When Quilling and Beading is Done; Moon of the Changing Season; Kindly Moon; and White Frost Moon.

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In the Southern Hemisphere, where spring is just beginning, the days are waking earlier and stretching towards their summer length, so the Full Moon names we see in spring now appear: Waking Moon; Pink Moon; Seed Moon; Fish Moon; and Egg Moon.

Our second Full Moon this month occurs on Halloween, October 31st. Today, when a single month has two Full Moons, the second is known as a Blue Moon. The older definition of Blue Moon was seasonal, referring to the third of four Full Moons in a season (a season meaning the time between a solstice and equinox). The next “seasonal” blue moon will be August 22, 2021. I’ve read some articles referencing this second Full Moon as the month’s Hunter’s Moon. It’s rare to have one on Halloween, so I think it invites a merry celebration, and we’re looking forward to it at Full Moon Cottage!

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My own names for the October Full Moon: Moon when the Houseplants Come Indoors; Gardens Put to Bed Moon; Caramel-Making Moon; Stop Eating So Many Caramels Moon; Extra Quilt Moon; First Fire Moon; People Still Staying Home Moon; Colored Trail Moon; Halloween Moon; and this year: Vote Blue Election Moon. May it augur healthy and necessary change.

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Be well and safe, and gentle peace to your hearts and spirits.

© 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.

Autumn Blessing

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May you have
an autumn
of blue skies
and shining rivers
flowing through
your mind, rounding
your heart, whispering
your truth: remember,
remember who you are
;
may you tend your spirit-fire,
shedding old stories, dying
falling leaves: name them
and in gratitude, let them go,
and listen for the new story
rising from these ashes…

May everything tender and gentle
quiet your anxious heart. Artist,
weave your questions, weave
your power and joy; beneath
your autumn quilt, may you
sweetly deeply rest.

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May you have
an autumn
of peaceful harvest,
summer lessons gathering
in circling flocks of farewell,
calling: notice, notice and learn;
recollect wisdom you have
lived and call yours, summer
now softer and softly departing
in amethyst twilight,
descending dusk; you’re alone
but not lonely, for here is
your shadow, with secrets
unlocked: breathe courage, heal,
and love yourself truer and truly…

May everything tender and gentle
quiet your anxious heart. Artist,
weave your questions, weave
your power and joy; beneath
your autumn quilt, may you
sweetly deeply rest.

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May you have
an autumn
of darkening solitude,
sacred incense of woodsmoke,
hushed intimacy of bare trees
exposed, your wide heart
welcoming hallowed stillness,
long starlight, the vast patient moon
sighing: oneness, beloved,
all is one
; coyote and owl
sing you gently into
your sacred mystery
and dreams…

The past fades;
the garden sleeps, sheltering
the growing possible…

May everything tender and gentle
quiet your anxious heart. Artist,
weave your questions, weave
your power and joy; beneath
your autumn quilt, may you
sweetly deeply rest.

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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.

The Brightest Star

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Another loss among so many,
and this the brightest star–
massive energy so
tightly contained,
collapsing at her core,
releasing potential
in shock waves, oh
universe expanding,
accelerating beyond
hope, without love,
or so it has felt,
but see the sky radiant
with her brilliant starstuff
spinning, luminous:
paths of light shine
through the darkness
her loss creates
the seeds of new stars
we
who grieve now burn
with her fire,
we
who mourn
will dance her light
into the night,
each of us
a new sun
rising.

(SN 2020: RBG)

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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.

To Say Goodbye

To say goodbye is to die a little.
~ Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

IMG-6231(Edna Eicke, artist. The New Yorker, July 29, 1950)

We’ve had some challenging weeks at Full Moon Cottage. I’ve heard from two close friends that they are moving to different states within the month. One to IL (not that far) for work, and the other to TX, for her long-awaited retirement. (That far. 1250 miles. I checked right away. Damn.) Phillip’s best friend for decades has also recently moved, so we’re grieving losses we hadn’t expected in the midst of pandemic isolation.

The friend who’s moving to Texas has been my dearest friend for 20 years, a time span that has so intimately opened us to one another’s dreams, flaws, truths, high joys, and deep griefs, that it feels like part of my soul will be severed by our imminent separation. (Of 1250 miles!) Women friends are treasures. It took years for me to land in a place where I could form and tend these friendships. They mean everything to me, and while I’m not losing them altogether, I’m losing their immediate presence. The long good visits, the shared holidays, the laughter, and tears.

The pandemic makes these partings harder; in 6 months, these are the only two people I’ve seen besides Phillip. Both friends came to Full Moon more than once, with their coolers of food and refreshments, their masks, gloves, and lovely willingness to sit with us on the deck for an afternoon of visiting. But the pandemic keeps me from helping my friends pack up their lives and set up their new homes. There’s no foreseeable adventure of traveling to visit them and celebrating their new lives. There are some things Zoom can’t manage.

I’m so very grateful for these recent afternoons together at Full Moon; now, of course, they’re gilded in my memory…I understand there is a possibility we may not share such visits again on this side of life. I’d like to think a vaccine will be developed and that climate chaos will be mitigated, but it seems everything is, “Maybe yes, maybe no,” these days.

Stress, loss, threats to our carefully-structured lives, and changes that surprise us can cause us to regress emotionally. We retreat to seek comfort and safety, to hide from pain. What we do next matters in terms of our healing and growth. I know this; I looked for it when I heard my friends’ news, and I noticed myself re-experiencing feelings that recurred often in my childhood. I thought about all the times we moved when I was growing up, always being the “new girl,” always starting over with friendships, working to maintain them, and then moving away again and losing touch (as children do). I realized that it felt like a rejection to have two longtime friends surprise me in the same week with news that they were “leaving me.” 

Grown Up Kitty knew she would miss them very much, but was happy for them and wished them joy; Inner Child Kitty wondered what she did wrong to drive them away and felt only sadness, thinking, “Here we go again: New school; new strangers.” I gave her–that always-healing part of myself–some time to be sad. I listened to her fears and grief.

The past is always walking with us; events that happen now trigger feelings felt in response to similar events we lived through long ago. It’s helpful to pay attention, and to allow these feelings to be felt, while acknowledging that we can separate the events and actors into “then” and “now,” and choose new responses that best suit who we are now, and who we desire to  become. I reassured myself: women friends keep in touch; we’ll still share good visits. Transitions are hard but suffering passes. Goodbyes, as Raymond Chandler said, cause us to die a little; they elicit grief and require healing. So I tell myself to breathe. To hold the moment and let it go. To feel the feeling and watch it pass. So we mend; so we go on.

I know that tending these griefs will be ongoing, and there will be days when my friends’ absences are more sharply felt. Life transitions always involve a midwife’s penetrating attention: something is dying; something’s being born, and the gestations follow no prescribed timetable. Watch and wait. Listen and learn. Celebrate and find joy where, with whom, and when you can.

Late today, some plants I’d ordered arrived at my door. Tomorrow, I’ll plant them in the garden spaces we’ve designated, and I’ll connect them in my mind with this time of partings, but also in gratitude for the holy, wonderful memories of these friends, and all the ways they’ve blessed our lives, and how, across distances, we can continue to be blessing to one another.

So we mend; so we go on.

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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.

Taijitu: The Yin-Yang

Let us greet and name
life’s strange blossoms,
two on every stem:
the grace of doubt,
the blessing of darkness,
the gift of grief,
the insight of fear,
the lessons of loss.

Each light has its shadow,
opposite and equal,
both required for either to be,
and balanced, then, in benefit
and harmony.

The gardener’s gratitude
is owed not only
for the harvest,
but for the planting and pruning,
the weeding and watering
the tending and turning;
days of drought, plague,
and pests. Let us welcome
them all and all
they bring, as time
reveals, unfolding;
may we be open
to receive life
as it is, knowing
every season
matters,
and we are here
in this garden,
sometimes in joy,
sometimes in agony
and on our knees,
to name the gift
of this moment,
holding it roundly,
letting it
go.

My blogging friend, Yacoob Manjoo, has compiled a beautiful collection of writing from many gifted authors (and an essay of mine, too :)), all touching upon the pandemic, but approaching it from unique and creative directions. This book is a gift, free for reading online, or downloading. It represents many hours and weeks of work for Yacoob, making me all the more honored to know him. I hope you’ll take time to enjoy this beautiful anthology, and be as touched by the writing as I have been. Gentle peace to you. 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.

My Garden, Having Blown Up

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My barn, having burned down, I can now see the moon. ~ Mizuta

The weather has been autumnal at Full Moon Cottage, cooler than temperatures established as “normal,” but perfect for blowing up gardens. More about that later.

Our Labor Day weekend was filled with our labor and its fruits. The vegetable garden was harvested, yielding dozens of butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, and those beds were turned and blanketed for winter. Lettuce, peas, and some herbs are still growing in raised beds, and there looks to be a second grand harvest of raspberries coming down the pike as well.

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Then, since the weather was so enticing, I tackled the front flower garden. Well, I enticed Phillip to tackle it, and joined in with my smaller shovel. I’d meant to do all of this a year ago, and then, for a month, we put our home on the market before deciding it was too late in the year to move further North. And to be perfectly honest, we struggled with leaving Full Moon. Also, the car we use for transporting dogs is an old VW bug, and every time we had a showing, we had to cram into it with five dogs, one of whom reliably puked all over us before we’d gotten to the end of the drive…We looked like a third-rate clown car in search of a circus. The move wasn’t meant to be. When we took Full Moon off the market in late October, it was too late to rearrange the garden.

Now is the acceptable time. Some plants were ill and needed a heave-ho; some needed to go forward and others back; and everyone needed to be divided. Way at the back was a flowering quince that for years has flowered beautifully…in a ring around her ankles. No matter how I pruned, fertilized, cajoled, danced under the moon, sang to her (or maybe because of these things), she would not bloom from the knees up. I hoped that planting her in a new location might help, but we quickly learned her roots would not yield. Amazing tenacity, or stubbornness: a lesson that a fine line separates these.

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We both dug and hauled roots away. We were left with a ball of roots resembling concrete, the circumference of a foot or more, and it would not budge. Phillip used a Sawzall, straps tied to the mower, then the hitch on the pick-up, and we both dug again. Nada. Zip. Zero. He’s 6’3” and was almost knee-deep in the hole surrounding this clump of roots when we called it a day. Last night it rained and softened the earth enough for him to make quicker work of it this morning. Farewell, my stubborn friend. A bit of give would have saved you.

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Meanwhile, I cut back and rearranged the plants I could, and uprooted some from our “spare” garden, or from the back gardens, and transplanted them. A few others have been ordered, so their places were chosen and left open till they arrive.

To stand back and look at the garden right now, you’d think me a troubled gardener, at best. I blew up a garden that looked fine two months ago…but I knew it needed rearranging and dividing, and so, we put our backs into it and did the work required.

Gardening is a long game; a gardener truly never knows if she’ll live long enough to see the dreams and designs she plants, but someone will. And all through the winter months, I’ll be dreaming of how the new arrangement will work out, knowing, of course, it will be at least two years before I really see what I envisioned, and what my darling sweetheart helped me create. Knowing, of course, that 3-5 years hence, the dividing will have to be accomplished again. That’s how gardens grow and stay healthy. How all living things stay healthy.

I think that’s what’s happening in the world right now, perhaps not as consciously on the part of everyone, but certainly, systems, institutions, and ideas about the ways we live out equality and justice are changing, and we all know how humans welcome change: like a flowering quince.

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We’re being invited to set down old ways and take up new ideas with clearer vision. And it’s happening in many gardens at once, with many gardeners articulating specific ideas about the designs and directions the gardens should grow…during a time of pandemic, and with the constant and dire reminders of our climate crisis. We’re all consuming a diet of unremitting stress, and we’re told the world may well be shaken and bounced substantially more in the months to come. Boom, goes the garden we knew and loved, blind to its flaws and diseases.

My life has been lived during a glorious span of relative peace, economic stability, accessible public education, and in a country where healthcare and vaccines helped most of us avoid disasters less fortunate humans on our planet suffered. But a casual glance at history tells us such golden epochs don’t last, usually because greed, progress, technology, and pleasure exploit others and the Earth, and those choices cannot be sustained. Too few benefit from the toil of too many. At any rate, and at the end of my lifetime, the wheel turns. Rome fell, plagues raged, and World Wars happened at the end of some people’s lives, too.

Right now, the garden is looking quite blown up. And there are a few stubborn-rooted plants that will resist change even if it means their destruction.

And, increasingly, I’m OK with all of this. No one else walking the planet has escaped upheaval, as I’ve written before. Here’s ours. What are our choices and how shall we respond? And can we take a breath and look at the moon? At all the good that can come of this?

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The world’s a long game, like a garden. While we can, let’s put our backs into it, figure out what our gifts allow, and get the work done. Many of us won’t live to see how the design turns out, but someone will, and they will recall us as people who hoped; they will remember us as gardeners who planted 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.