All Gifts Are For Mending

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The world doesn’t need your anger,
and hatred never alters what it hates.
Release crazed worry.
Mother your fear.

Reject the noise of fools and madmen.
Set down the relentless self, the need
to be heard, to be right, to be favored.
Breathe with the music of starlit skies.

Listen.
Let the shadows speak.
What have they come to teach your weary heart?

Rest in the quiet fires of dawn.
Sleep in the hush of feathered nests.
Drift like clouds on the silver river.
Be the stillness of trees, rooted and willing
to flow with every season’s song: allowing, accepting,
and offering back the softness of the world.

Understand, finally, what it means to be strong,
how the world transforms through gentle patience,
and the heart, too. You can do this for yourself,
and then for all. All gifts are for mending.
Now.
Don’t wait.

Love is kind.
Let its trail unfold.
Fall in Love.
Rise in Love.

The world doesn’t need your anger,
and hatred never alters what it hates.
Find the better way.
Create what is wiser than war.
Meet the noise with silence;
Open your wounds to the mystery of new paths.
Forgive. Look beyond. Look within.
Again.

Meet in the softness of the world.
Now.
Don’t wait.
All gifts are for mending.

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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 Writing Spider

I’m sidelined this weekend by an iced knee and bit of pain, so I’m sharing one of my favorite old posts, from October 2011, with a brief update. Gentle Peace to all. xoxoxo Kitty

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single spider in possession of a good web must be in want of prey. But in the garden this season, I learned again that there are many ways we nourish and are nourished.

I first met Jane in early August, when I was weeding the large garden near the river. She had woven her distinct web across one of the sage plants, and its intricate stabilimenta zig-zagged, zipper-like, across the orb-web’s center. She was the largest and most brilliantly-colored garden spider I’d ever seen, so I fetched the camera and took several pictures from a respectful distance, and later researched her species and background. Her scientific classification was logical: Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Anthropoda; Class: Arachnida; Order: Araneae; Family: Araneidae; Genus: Argiope; and Species: Argiope Aurantia (like an orange, though she was colored in brilliant yellow and black).

When I learned that one of her nicknames is “the writing spider,” she of course became further classified as a kindred spirit, and I christened her “Jane” after Jane Austen, a name to which she did not evidence rejection. For more than a month, we met several times a week, and she hospitably endured my observations.

Understand, Gentle Reader, that were Jane to visit my home’s interior, the sound of my arachnophobic screams would make international (and possibly intergalactic) news, but spiders do not bother me when they are outside, weaving their webs and living their lives within the larger web of nature, the home we all share.

Miss Jane, I learned, liked to remain in one place for most of her life, a homebody like myself. The creation of her web took hours and its complexity was miraculous: its architecture could be up to two feet across and up to eight feet off the ground. She usually remained at the web’s midpoint, head down (as I always found her), awaiting innocent prey’s entanglement. When I met her, the remaining wing of a swallowtail butterfly decorated her web, as did bits and pieces of insects.

Jane consumed the center of her web each night, possibly for nourishment or to recycle chemicals used in the web’s construction, and re-wove it daily, including the delightful “written” zipper (“stabilimenta”) across the middle. I could not discover a definitive  explanation for this part of her web, except that some scientists have suggested it may serve as camouflage or in some way attract prey. I also learned that among orb-weavers, the Aurantia is known for her unusually tidy and clean web. Other orb-weavers are content with disorder, clutter, and mess. Jane rose yet again in my regard and respect. I never met Jane’s mate. He would have woven a “lesser” web nearby, including an escape line in case she attacked him; at any rate, he died after their love was consummated and she likely ate him. (Understandably, my husband Phillip does not like this part of Jane’s story.) But Jane’s partner did exist, for one day I discovered the egg sac, a delicate brown silken ball almost an inch in diameter, fixed near the web’s enter, and Jane hanging nearby, guarding it as vigilantly as  any artist watches over her creation. I read that within this tiny ball, up to 1,400 eggs were settled and would be harbored till spring, were they not harmed by birds, the elements, or other likely hazards.

We had a gentle frost one night several weeks after Jane and I became garden companions, and Jane was nowhere to be found; it is the common way for females of her species to die. I mourned her loss; we had an elegant, mutually intriguing (or so it seemed to me) relationship.

When I cut back the plants this weekend and neared the sage that was Jane’s home, I gently severed the branch holding her egg sac, and placed it under an evergreen shrub, settled within a bed of sedum and violets.

If the egg sac survives through winter, one day next spring, I could see what seems to be pollen or dust collecting within the silken sac…the tiny bodies of Jane’s progeny responding to Love’s call to write their own life stories. I hope some will decide to stay and grace our gardens with the elegance and artistry—and kinship—I shared with their mother.

We’re all here such a precious little while, invited to write the words, dance the dance, and create the art seeded within our spirits at its inception; the whole of life depends upon both our singular contributions and our abilities to form connections that welcome, encourage, and sustain the unique contributions of others.

It may be in the nature of the Kingdom Animalia to capture and devour prey; however, the instinct to forge connection and co-exist with deep humility, hospitality, and respect is also a lovely part of our mysterious story. In relationship, we nourish and are nourished.

Thank you, Jane.

Update: Every year since I published this, I’ve searched for members of Jane’s successive generations, and there have been many. This year I found several, and was happy to welcome them and share stories. This one looks so much thinner than Jane; I wonder how our months-long drought and diminished insect population have affected her. I’m checking often, as able, for her egg sac and hope we’ll see her daughters next year. Our families have formed a connection, you see, and that is rare and precious.

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And this beautiful orb weaver spun her amazing web on the exterior (thank heaven) of a deck door. She’s not as large as this photo makes her appear, but she is quite an attractive specimen. Were she inside my home, as I mentioned 10 years ago, my head would no longer be attached, having exploded with fright, but outside where I can safely admire her, I must admit she’s gorgeous, and we have had so few guests for so long, that it feels good to practice hospitality again, to form a tentative relationship and be grateful for her presence and gifts.

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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.

Soaring Possibilities

a poem for our inner fledglings

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In the end
there is no end,
there’s just another choice,
and some turn back
and some trudge on,
but others search
for soaring possibilities.

Back and forth,
the road’s the same–
predictable and known,
but in some hearts
new wings emerge
and thoughts take flight
in soaring possibilities.

Silence helps,
and emptying,
and letting go of should:
think upside down
and inside out,
release into
the soaring possibilities.

Many paths
through mystery,
a welcoming of gifts–
and all may join
and all create
and midwife life
through soaring possibilities.

In the end
there is no end,
there’s just another choice.
Can we be brave,
can we forgive,
can we embrace,
and holding hands,
and trusting hope,
can we choose love
and leap into
our soaring possibilities?

Birds change

© 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 Slow Pace of Deep Waiting

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The days are shortening and edged with the crowding shadows of autumn, and the morning and late afternoon hours, when lit, are golden, in contrast to summer’s high bright white and clear blues.

Great Egrets gather with the Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Canada geese and shore birds along the river’s edge, flying down its center, wading in its shallows, or perching high in the trees lining its path.

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A great deal of their day is spent in the practice of waiting. They stand, wander, and perch for hours, watching for the curve and contraction of shimmering fish that will serve as their next meal, but they also seem to wait in solitude or in flocks for signals and insights I can’t decipher. Yet.

I am learning the language of deep waiting. It has a hushed vocabulary of few sounds. It is slow-paced, low, and softly musical. I am a novice, learning how to breathe into it and sustain it all day and through my dreams.

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When the daylight fades into a dimpsy glow and then darkness, the Canada Geese gather in a huge flock, filling the river on the north side of the bridge at the base of our property. Some mornings I join them before dawn, as they stand sleepily huddled, waking to a new sunrise (this week, around 6:15). They honk, mutter, flap their wings, and turn around a bit. A few swim off in little flotillas, but not too far from the flock, and then, within a few minutes of sunrise, the first shift, furthest north, begins to call and flap and rises in a jagged east-west formation, flying south.

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After a minute or so, the next flight follows, and finally, the last line lifts over me and soars away, leaving me with a few Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and a Bald Eagle or two, who continue to patrol the river stalking food and answers, and perhaps the peace it gives them to watch the water continuously flow as the day flows into night. Shore birds hop, pirouette, and prance around the shallows, focused solely on their own next meals, and the green heron always stands alone like a monk in solitude, waiting with mystery and seemingly content with the day unfolding as it will.

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I linger for a while, waiting with the waiting, and sometimes return over the course of the day, or watch them standing, wading, and flying up and down the river as I sit and write at my desk. Their presence soothes me and anchors the passing hours in their just-once and eternal import. All these waiting creatures seem to say, “Every moment has meaning; the pace of our deep waiting is a lesson for you.”

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We’re back in a lockdown at Full Moon Cottage again, as area ICU’s fill with people who cannot trust science and common sense enough to wear masks, protect others, or prevent their deaths.

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So…the people stayed home redux. We wait out the pandemic, and the waiting still offers lessons and opportunities for creating, but this time, for me, there’s greater stillness and the listening has become part of the waiting; the waiting is where and how and why I hear. The pace is slower and the colors more muted. I watch the autumn butterflies flit and flicker through the gardens, and see they are my former life; now, I am the Great Egret, standing in the river, becoming the river and then the dusk, passing into night before another golden dawn returns. I am the shimmering whip of rainbow eluding the piercing beak. I am the Green Heron, allowing my life to unfold as it will. My pace is slow; my listening, deep; I am the one who waits.

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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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Larky celebrated his 6th birthday this week. He’s also acquainted with the slow pace of deep waiting. Or maybe he’s just tired from his party.

Kabul

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You give me your word
and I give you mine,
but someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

The heart turns on love
but lovers are blind,
so someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

We deal and we barter
our promises bind,
but someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

So here’s another airport,
another tragic wave goodbye,
broken hearts and handshakes,
some who stay and some who fly.

There’s need and there’s profit
and when they’re entwined,
someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

Complicit, regretful
new treaties are signed,
yet someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

And powers too great
are rarely too kind,
expect they’ll be leaving
accept that you’ll be left behind.

So here’s another airport,
another tragic wave goodbye,
broken hearts and handshakes,
some who stay and some who fly.

You give me your word
and I give you mine,
but someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

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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.

Book News and Where I Am Today

Karl Larsson, Karin Reading, 1904

Dear Friends,

I was invited to be one of the contributors to this book, Navigating the Pandemic, now available everywhere. ALL proceeds go to: Society for Refugee Healthcare Providers (refugeesociety.org). The book includes thoughtful essays, poetry, and insights, and it affirms that we can survive the challenges we continue to face, also emphasizing that we can–and must–do better. I believe it’s a hopeful and honest record of these strange, sad, and blessed times. And it’s crammed with beautiful writing. https://www.dandelionbook.com/

I also want to share that my second picture book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, will be published by Tra Publishing in the spring of 2022, and they’ve most kindly purchased my third, Oliver and the Night Giants, for publication in fall, 2022. Each of these requires several meetings with my gifted editor, and co-creative sessions with a wonderful team of artisans. The entire process makes my heart merry.

My posting here has been reduced somewhat, I know, but my writing time has been as full and productive as ever. I’m currently working on a middle grade novel and several other picture books as well. These projects both feed my creative joy and keep my spirit centered.

Our weather has been either stifling hot and burdened with drought, or, as with last week, drenched in rain (yay) and terrorized by tornado warnings (antithesis of yay). I now have a routine for quickly packing and transporting electronics, matches, flashlights, dog treats, masks, spare clothes and etc., down to the lower level bathroom, where we corral and herd the 4-leggeds and ourselves to remain for the duration., while thunder booms and winds swirl without. This week, we are grateful for cooler weather and are back to having no storms on the horizon. Can’t have everything.

Our town and county are currently listed at the “high alert” stage for the Covid-19 Delta variant, so we’re not venturing out too often, given that our second vaccines were in mid-February, and our local population is only 50% vaccinated. (Because, why avail yourself of a free vaccine that will save your life and protect others?) We had to cancel eagerly-anticipated plans for a friend’s long stay at the end of the month and for attendance at a family wedding, also in a high-alert region. I was so looking forward to hugging my brothers, sisters-in-law, and everyone else I could, so it’s been quite a challenge to be tossed again into the space of “not-knowing,” and consigning future reunions to hopes, dreams, and possible-maybe’s.

Like everyone, I’m tired of non-compliance with scientific advice and lack of personal protection and where it’s led us, but I cannot wallow: there’s too much to do and grow and tend, too many better ways to be, and far too many blessings that deserve my gratitude, for me to be another misery agent in the world.

It seems that at no other time in my life have we collectively been so challenged to tend our spirits and grow into the versions of ourselves we’ve “always aspired” to be. There’s no room left for “someday.” This moment asks us to be present, compassionate, focused, creative, hopeful, and centered. Every moment always has, but I think we like to indulge and divert ourselves with other tasks, pleasures, and experiences, and put off the truly hard work of “becoming” until we’re jettisoned into suffering and loss, when transformation is the only way through.

So let us hone and shine our lovely gifts now, my dear friends, because now is when they’re needed. Let’s heal ourselves and heal our world, in hope and joy…and for goodness’ sake, may we seek several opportunities to laugh every day.

Also: Read good books. 🙂

Be safe, and well, and gentle peace to your heart and beloveds.

Books and books in every room…

© 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.

he was always a lover of things that take flight

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he was always a lover of things that take flight:
dragonflies circling a hatch of gnats,
the rising, descending circles of life;
butterflies flashing from spinning patterned
instars transformed from egg to fluttering light;
eagles conserving energy, wings outspread,
lifting like grace on currents of air;
music, the beloved accrual of sound created
note by note till song dazzles, wheeling through the world;
thoughts and dreams, unfolding, held tenderly through
each evolution the connected singularity of ideas requires,
a nurtured progression from flickering neurons
to language released, flying from mind to mind, such gift,
such gift these things that take flight; he was always
their lover, the one whose spirit now soars beyond us,
catching the light of a million stars and blazing it back
at the speed of love to our earthbound hearts.

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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.

belated, with the best intentions

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the rain fell as we slept,
an event momentous
in a time of drought,
of plague, and fire, and flood,
a time
when the spurned earth
seems to be shaking us off
for the rapacious
culpably careless pests
we are,
transforming herself
yet again, into a world where
only other lives will thrive, not ours;
and so the rain, falling as we slept,
seemed, in retrospect, a generous message
saying, “I could still be your home.
I could forgive you. we could
live together as loving partners.”
but then I realized
I was all the way through breakfast
and halfway through the day
before I whispered, “thank you.”

belated,
with the best intentions.

when lovers wake,
their first act is embrace,
their first words breathe of love.
and so it cannot be surprising
that gratitude too often shared
(if shared at all) in retrospect,
finally,
receives drought
plague, fire, and flood
rather than momentous rain.

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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.

Revisions

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Last week, we had some of our beloved dash trees cut down. They were killed by the invasive ash borer and their trunks leaned ominously towards the gardens and house. We’ll recycle their wood, but we grieve these losses, all up and down the trail and for miles around, and especially the deaths of those we’ve considered old friends and neighbors.

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One night this week, we spent a couple hours (midnight to 2 A.M.) in the basement bathroom sheltering with the four-leggeds from the tornadoes whirling through our area. There was damage to the east of us, but none here (this time), for which we are grateful, though for all the fear, wind, booming, and drama, we only received a half-inch of rain, nothing to counter the months of severe drought.

The past few days, we’ve had to close our windows against the smoke from the Canadian wildfires, which have severely lowered the quality of the air we breathe. More’s the pity, as  the recent heat wave has just decided to pack up and move along, for now, so open windows had been anticipated happily. The oppressive heat seemed to like it here, so I expect it will be back. The gardens are straggling, but hours of watering have kept them going. Revising their structure and design with increased native plants these past several years has helped them endure these droughts.

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 This summer’s drought has made a carcass of the river.  One sunrise, I masked against the pandemic and smoke and walked past more dead ash to the bridge to see if anything moved about. Two green herons hopped in the shallow water and fed; I prayed the smoke didn’t damage them more than the poison agricultural chemicals our local farmers have drained into the river. Still, something green is growing on the islands forming on the riverbed; I am uncertain if it’s a sign of healing or if it glows at night like another man-made monstrosity created in response to the great gift of life we’ve mishandled to the extent that NONE OF THE SENTENCES I’ve written thus far would have seemed possible a decade ago, though the wisest among us tried to warn that this is where we’ve been headed for at least a century.

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The Earth is shifting beneath and around us in response to our greed and neglect, and I grieve the losses, the billions of losses that seem to be crashing, or sighing, and falling all at once, here at the end of the road.

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We had so many chances to choose other paths.

But I’ve traveled with death so long, that I know it deserves witnesses who honor its presence rather than those who blunt the experience by entertaining regrets that can’t be altered. Death is the great revisionist; it needs witnesses who stare it straight in the eye, call it by name, and treat it as a guest, for its job is to lead life from chaos to new creation. It deserves people who call it death, not “passing,” people who ask for forgiveness, who listen to the lost dreams, who hold the suffering, who assure those dying it’s OK to move on, to surrender…The discrepant event in this vigil is that it’s not the Earth that’s dying, it’s the innocent lifeforms that are held in her loving embrace, fed by her deep need to create and sustain life. And the guilty species that’s caused The Great Ending is my own. Sadly, I fear many–or all–of us may also be shown the door in order for the Earth to heal and recreate herself.

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Like anyone grieving, I travel with anger, depression, bargaining, guilt, fear, and denial (still), often getting stuck with one feeling or the other for longer than I can bear, but I’m also beginning to experience a readiness and acceptance that this is the time of endings and beginnings for the Earth and I am here, with my gifts intact, to midwife the death-into-life that’s possible in any way I can.

I was thinking about this as we undertook a project to save a chair from my childhood: how funny and materialistic and insignificantly personal it seems to tie this one thing to the end of the known world as we know her, but I suppose, since the meaning of all of our existence is generated through our own embodiment and its connection to other beings and things in theirs, little experiences with things can seed deeper understandings…hence, stories.

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My parents bought this maple rocker when they were very young and, as was their way, they cared for it till my mother’s death left it in my care 50 years later. I can’t say I tended it well, leaving it in a corner of the basement, where Mulligan, the cat, worked out his frustrations with all things fabric-covered, until I took mercy and heavily shrouded the chair and a more wickedly-shredded ottoman in heavy sheets, both sparing them further damage and obscuring them from my view. They really didn’t belong meaningfully in my life anymore. 

During our (first) lockdown, I uncovered and sat in the chair one morning, waiting for the laundry to finish a cycle. Angels sang and trumpets sounded. Comfort! It was like being held and supported by clouds.  And it rocked so gently. Memories stirred.

I found old photos of the chair in various incarnations of upholstery, holding us children as we listened to stories or were rocked in loving arms, and I swear the atoms and energy and memories of all that love and all those stories tingled through me every time I sat in the chair. It had always been a source of comfort, a harbor where we experienced Love and were held in her embrace. Perhaps after all this time, almost 70 years, the chair could be revisioned and be a source of comfort and Love once more.

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I located some fabric and a local artist/upholsterer to recover the cushions while I sanded the wood down to its younger essence. Phillip oiled her dry wood and I waxed her, polishing life back into her. We revisioned the ottoman, too, and the two seem like long lost partners, gracing a small space for morning coffee, meditation, and long reads.

I feel like I’m sitting with all the good things in my life when I rest there, rocking and remembering, but also pondering the ways revisoning is the path we must follow now.

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Actually, wasn’t my poem, And the People Stayed Home, a call for revisioning? It invited us to listen, meet our shadows, create, and heal…And, when we’re able, we must grieve our losses and recommit to healing the Earth in ways still possible, whether that ensures our survival or not.

The Delta variant, and those coming in its wake are unrelenting reminders that the Earth isn’t yet ready for the return to what we deem normal; we have much more listening and shadow-meeting ahead, I think, in order to revision a world far more beautiful, loving, and equitable than “normal,” and to accept we may not survive to see it. 

And there’s the rub. The black holes of our egos and all they’ve required for life support need to be consciously reined in and invited to surrender, at last, to Love. There are many shrouds to pull back and old ways of being to examine in the light of wisdom and truth, sifting and winnowing, while we’re able. Perhaps we can sand ourselves down to new beginnings and bring humankind back to life in right relationship with all. We’ve been the cats destroying the Earth’s fabric for so long; I hope we can change, but I’m truly not certain we will.

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And so, it is a time to grieve the losses we’ve caused, the suffering our choices have ensured. Let us name them, hold them, ask their forgiveness, bid them farewell. Let us sit and rock, deriving wisdom from our memories, examining the choices we’re making now, discerning whether we’re capable of change and of revisioning an Earth where nothing is neglected and everything belongs, everything is valued, and everything thrives.

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I have made a promise to myself, rocking in my chair: Whatever comes, I will meet it in peace. If humanity can’t change the course of The Great Ending, then I will live every moment I’m able tending the life and love surrounding me, and in great gratitude for the chance I have had to live with Love and know her embrace. All, all my relations.

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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.

let everything fall away that is not love

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All who have loved us
live within,
and the love they knew,
and those before them,
back through time
to time’s beginning,
agape to omega
and so we are called
Sacred,
and meant to love
self
other
all,
until the Earth
is filled with
only lover
and beloved,
and Love its only
and joyful noise,
created
as blessing for
self
other
all,
in every sacred
moment,
with every loving
breath.
Let everything
fall away
that is not Love.

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Seeking Wisdom

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The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name ~ Confucius

Last weekend we attended a local art fair, held in the public square. The day was hot and bright, so we thought it best to arrive when it opened and return home before the temperature climbed too high. Even though the fair was held outdoors, I wore my mask, one of a very few people to do so in the quickly-growing crowd of people. Everywhere I looked, there were groups of unmasked people of every age speaking in close conversations, exchanging money, sharing meals, crowding in booths, and playing instruments on stage.

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For me, it felt a bit like a Twilight Zone episode. Weren’t any of these people concerned about the delta variant of Covid-19? Yes, we were outdoors, and our local current risk level is “low” (43.8% of the population is fully vaccinated), but across the country, cases are up 70%, with a 36% increase in hospitalizations, as reported last Friday. The delta variant appears to be about 225% more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 strains, and young adults and children are at greater risk. Why not anticipate the tide turning instead of drowning?

The delta variant’s rapid spread means that, at some point, likely soon, the unvaccinated 56.2% of our population will be at greater risk, and those of us fully vaccinated could certainly experience unpleasant days of infection that probably won’t put us in the hospital, but will undoubtedly make us wish we hadn’t been exposed. (Read John Pavlovitz’s account of his ¾-vaccinated family’s experience with Covid-19.)

How could we know that Saturday’s crowd didn’t harbor a few delta-infected people? Why were so many people willing to call the pandemic done and done, take no preventive measures, and expose themselves and so many more to the virus? And all of this is preventable by choosing reasonable caution and practicing simple public health measures. We could all have worn masks, used hand gel, worn gloves, kept a safe distance, and still enjoyed the day and glorious art offerings.

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All over the world, it seems people are just deciding, against all scientific data and mathematical logic, that Covid-19 has disappeared forever. But calling a given day “Freedom Day” doesn’t make it so when viral variants are still thriving and seeking hosts. It would seem greater diligence than ever is needed as we travel to safer and healthier days. Wouldn’t that be the wiser choice?

I’m so sad that people, for largely ignorant reasons, are not availing themselves of the vaccine, not just because they’re now the sole population dying from the virus, but because they’re making stronger variants possible. We’re so close to defeating this virus and yet we keep pushing home plate further away.

Illogic and too-easily-consumed misinformation are prolonging and intensifying our collective suffering and may defeat the miracle of the vaccines already developed. Humans abhor sacrifice and discomfort. Historically, it’s always been so, but the vaccine is here, free, and accessible. Confucius says calling things by their proper name is the beginning of wisdom. There are people all over the world who would welcome the vaccine, while more than half of those in our community (and more than 40% nationally) reject its saving medicine and saving grace. Let us call such people selfish and irrational; let us call such times tragic and perilous; let us hope for a day we may call ourselves wiser and healed.

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The Vigil We Must Keep

Sit with our Mother,
holding her hand in silence;
breathe with her dying.

Examine our guilt,
the ways we have weakened her;
ask her forgiveness.

Dusk slowly falling,
her breathing becomes shallow,
life circles her heart.

Stay present to her,
guide her through her life review,
all the miracles.

All the miracles,
the ways she loved and beguiled
her greedy children.

Our tears fall too late;
grieve the beautiful passing;
consider lessons.

Living unbalanced,
avarice, mendacity,
misuse of power.

Sad, blind corruption,
denying mortality;
predictable end.

Her heart quickens, slows,
weakly fueled by questions:
“Why could you not Love?”

When things fall apart
remain centered in Spirit,
breathing, still, watching.

Finally, we’ll see
everything was always One,
Earth’s beauty, our own.

What is here will pass;
observe the web unweaving;
life falling to death.

Innocent victims
dying by fire, flooding,
starvation we’ve caused.

Forgiveness granted
in choosing enlightenment,
embracing the cost…

Bearing the burden
of every choice we’ve made
and those we denied.

All is mystery;
if not for the Love of life,
for what would you die?

For death is a birth;
meet it authentically;
become something new.

Grow into the end,
all that rises must converge;
prepare and connect.

Perhaps there is gift;
beyond this sorrowing field,
an infant world cries.

The Earth collapses;
we’ll stand in rubble, redeemed,
waiting to create.

© 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.

Homestretch

It feels like we may have reached the homestretch of the pandemic at last, although a mindfulness and maturity regarding the delta variants and those yet to come are certainly needed as we emerge into our new world and adjust to the ways we’ve changed. Last week we prepared for our first guest since lockdown began in late February, 2020. We were excited to see her, a dear friend of many years, and to hear new stories and breathe new energy. Our efforts to finish up more of the painting and renewal of our living spaces went into higher gear (not that our friend would mind a ladder and paint can in the living room). So, we’re on the homestretch of that journey as well. There are many finishing bits and coats of paint to be added, but, for the most part, these rooms are finished. On to the beds and baths as the budget and time allows. It’s been interesting to see how the pandemic affected our choices for color and detail in our home…we seem to have subtracted a lot of dark color and chosen soft whites and neutrals that have made our home feel quieter and lighter…maybe “eclectic Shaker?” Very peaceful. A bit playful. Safe and happy.

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And what a lovely visit we enjoyed with our friend, sitting with wine, fireflies, firelight, and starlight, and sharing long conversations about our lives and the world and the meanings we’ve derived from the time of lockdown. Our time together was blessed with tears, laughter, deep joy, gratitude, and a sense of amazement, looking back at the road we’ve traveled and the wonder of the journey, a tentative gentle unraveling of this strange time’s losses and gifts before it’s all rewoven into memory. We sat on the deck, offering our stories to each other while the music and fireworks from the county fair drifted towards us across the river, the music of humans gathering in celebration, making meaning and stories together again.

One day, my friend and I went treasure-hunting, a common pursuit we share when we’re together. We both wore our masks and carried hand gel, but enthusiastically joined strangers and entered the hunt for delights. I found a large, never-used birdfeeder and garden shears; my friend found an old, classic electric mixer in pristine shape, and a chainsaw for her husband. We came home with our booty and Mexican carry-out, and more stories to share with Phillip…it was like old times, but shinier, as though we’d all been reborn. In a way, I suppose, we had. Gratitude, again; it’s always been important to us, but never fizzed through and leavened our moments quite like its ever-present merriment is sparkling now.

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And the gardens, despite our continued drought, are blessing us with their bounty, too. Berries, vegetables, herbs…To relax with a book and a bowl of treats we’ve grown feels like every good thing has come to roost at Full Moon Cottage, and only blessing could be right around the corner. I know life doesn’t work that way, but right now, for this brief brilliant time, hope is our guest as well, and I welcome and embrace it.

The 4-leggeds have seemed calmer these days, too, especially as our friend’s stay continued. We celebrated Teagan’s 4th birthday this past week, and Murphy was finally enticed to use the new cat condo. I have nepeta/catmint growing all over the gardens, so I cut some leaves and scattered them on the ledges of the condo, which is now his favorite perch. I don’t think Fiona will budge from her window seat, but Murphy is open to change and new adventures. I expect that’s how it will be for many people following the pandemic as well. Some will be willing to co-create the changes we need to save the Earth and reshape our interactions and values regarding power and justice; others will continue to resist. I hope we’re at a tipping point in favor of the Earth and all life.

The time of pandemic lifted us into a time of floating and the constant music of questions; we were as airborne as the virus, drifting into unknown places and patterns, unable to touch down, or to hold answers with certainty. For us, it was a time of great creativity, but also fear, anxiety, and soul-paring exhaustion. As our friend drove away on her long journey home, I felt as though our lives had resettled; we can feel the ground beneath our lives again. We can begin to reorient and move forward.

May we truly have reached the homestretch, open to the deep learning given to us in this time of mystery, and may we pursue the actions to which we are necessarily called to nurture changes and growth in ourselves and for the Earth.

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Happy July!

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We’re kicking off our holiday weekend with a meal from our local Chinese restaurant, because why not? I love celebrating my country’s beautiful diversity! In fact, I think there’s much to celebrate this 4th of July: vaccinations, rain, gardens that yield food and flowers, a resurgence of bees buzzing everywhere, public servants fighting for our human rights, voting rights, the Earth’s rights, and the justice that is integral to democracy. Support them, and remain engaged. Happy July! May it be a month that lightens your heart and offers you merry days. Our first guest in over 18 months is visiting next week: Joyful, joyful! We were made for these times: let’s meet them with July-powered hope.

I’m off to start the celebrations!

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Song for Ranjini

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It’s hard on such a dazzling day to say,
“You have passed; you are past.” Flowers
still bloom and buzz with bees nuzzling
sweet pleasing pollen near butterflies
skipping and flit-sipping nectar: life’s rising,
she’s falling, she’s delightedly calling from
each shining this and that blazing amazing–
oh, see how her joy juice is flowing through
death; yes through death to bright seeds
that light feeds and night leads to dawn-dew;
the world again offers a new garden view: life
will birth life, unfolding now into then; the
just-once-spectacular-when that we knew
with you slipped through our hands, through
our eyes, through our time here: it’s too brief,
but deep grief rests in great gratitude forever–
a place where we’ll meet after facing the future
you’ve passed; you are past and planted as seed;
you are near you are here you’re in each shining
this and that brilliance, flowing through death,
through death into always amazing eternally blazing joy.

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Dedicated to our friend, Ranjini Raghavan, a loving wife, challenging teacher, and dedicated social activist who died on June 25, 2021, from Covid-19. Ranjini was 53.

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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.

Pledge Allegiance to Goodness

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I am exhausted.

I’m tired of loud voices shouting crude remarks. I’m weary of illogical and unscientific fools receiving all the attention. I’m appalled by the crude and vulgar behavior of too many elected officials and members of the media. I’m nearly beaten by the wealthy thieves who never pay their due, and the lies we hear repeatedly about stolen elections. I do not understand the pervasive willingness to be stupid about voting integrity, climate change, or vaccine safety and necessity. I’m done with cynicism and sarcasm.

I am disturbed by how many states, including my own, have enacted voting suppression laws, or hope to do so soon. Corruption and greed seem to know no bounds in our country; bold con men and women now lie and cheat and steal in broad daylight and without shame. I wish I could wake up in a world without all the snarky, wisdom-deficient puppets in Congress. They are hollow beings, black holes that have completely doused the lights they came to share.

I don’t want to hear from anyone pushing us into one side or the other; these blatant attempts to manipulate us are beneath our shared humanity. I think there are millions of us who yet retain the ability to reason and consider different coherent opinions and options delivered with calm intelligence. I want problem-solvers solving problems. I want adults committed to service.

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Where has decency fled, and why did it take reason, wisdom, and kindness with it? What is this current need to behave without thought, clarity, manners, or recognition of interdependence and reciprocity? When did truth and facts become objects of ridicule?

The madness seems to be building, and my feelings of frustration and impotence to affect its course is crushing at times. We, the quiet, thinking people, are not being heard. Yes, I vote; yes, I write and record messages for my representatives; yes, I protest and donate, where and what I can; but none of it makes a difference. I am exhausted by this country and its downward spiral. I’m the Peter Finch character in Network, and I can’t take it anymore. I can’t tolerate one more loudmouth spewing lies and hate. I can’t stomach the image of some unqualified simpleton brazenly pawing over my private, sacred, voting ballot with no fear of consequence. I am utterly confused by the rise of incompetence and cruelty, and the lack of accountability.

I pray for maturity and common sense to come out of hiding. I pray for the remaining wise women and men in Washington to turn this tide of darkness back. I pray for more and more of us to speak up, rationally. I pray for the loud and vulgar to heal, and I pray for those suffering from the inaction needed to restore peace, justice, and integrity to our communities and country…I pray for all of us.

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May we choose to be good, kind, thoughtful, and creative. Forgiveness needs practice; so does personal responsibility. May gentle peace sweep through the noise and hush it into mindfulness before it’s too late. And it nearly is.

I’m exhausted, but I’m still hopeful that sanity and our better angels will restore balance. I read this week about a wise man whose vowed response to the struggles of his own time was to reaffirm his commitment to goodness. He would remain constant in his striving to be a good person, no matter what the sway of culture and country elicited from others. That is as direct and immediate a source of wisdom as anything I’ve come across. Stay the course; remain the good people we have been created to be. We’re near the tipping point. Let’s choose to pledge allegiance to goodness, and so tip the scale in favor of those behaviors and qualities we’ve always known to be our true treasures as humans, grounded in Love.

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A Generous Liberty

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A morning walk beneath the spattered light
and shadow of sun-splashed leaves swaying
and dancing, brushed by breezes rushing
through the deepening woods. Sweet waves
of green ebb and flow. The birds sing me on,
skittering, and chipmunks chittering; fluttering
butterflies and whirring-winged dragonflies dart
across my path, and through the trees, columns
of infant corn are evenly rising in farmers’ fields.

I rest on an ancient bench, the pew in my green
chapel where worry spills and all the anxious fears
release. It opens you wide, the world’s wild beauty;
it bares your soul to all others, each thing here and
utterly significant, freely itself, entitled to its time and
place and way of being. There is a generous liberty
evident in nature, and I do not miss the world of men
where, in halls of power, those who’ve sworn oaths
to freedom say they must debate to whom it’s owed.

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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.

Sharing the Food We Are

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Life has been almost too full at Full Moon Cottage this week.

Let me sum up: One month without rain became several months, and the lack of precipitation was then labeled a “severe drought” in our SE corner of the state. We’ve been rising earlier and earlier during this time, because the cooler dawn temperatures have allowed for easier pup-walking and what’s become increasingly stressful garden-tending. (Thankfully, there is cooler weather ahead, or else by the Solstice, we’d just lie down a few minutes around midnight and get up again.)

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It’s been devastating to see our dear river dwindling and fading away, devoured by evaporation. Rainstorms have scattered all around us since April, but never here, as though an evil spell cast by some trickster had conjured an invisible wall around our little part of the Earth. Every time a storm blew toward us from the west or north, it dissipated to airy nothingness before any moisture fell. In our 25 years, the river has not been this low. Scorched and parched scenery, everywhere.

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The gardens have continued to grow and bloom a bit, but have required 5-hour watering stints (both of us with hoses, on either side of the house) at least once a week, in searing heat.

We’ve headed out on adventures, when we could, to get away from the dismal drought and the dryness of land and spirit it’s caused. This week, we went to our local farmers’ market, held around the town square. Such a small town and insignificant event, it would seem, but it wasn’t, at all; this little gathering was our first maskless contact with other humans in over a year. (We’re still among the very few who wear them in stores, figuring if the employees have to wear them, we will, too. And I’m not anxious to tangle with the Delta variant and be one of those few who’s vaccinated and still catches Covid-19.)

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But outside, on a lovely–finally cooler and breezy–day? It was like a hall pass to heaven-as-I-imagine-it. Being human with humans: what joy! Right out of our car, my darling tall Phillip helped this woman erect her stand.

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And I had a fascinating visit with the interesting gentleman who, with his wife, runs the honey stand. He shared his history as a former store-owner, and then a painting contractor who’d done much of the stunning detail work on our town’s 19th-century buildings, and now, a purveyor of raw and processed honey, and maple syrup. There were a few other careers in there, but I was gentled into amazement, listening with tears stinging behind my sunglasses, drinking in another person’s story and marveling at the way our words and facial expressions opened us to each other. Such a miracle and profound gift. I’m not certain, but I think sparks of light passed between us. Maybe they always do, and it’s taken a pandemic for me to realize it, to see human connection for what it is. Certainly, we were nourished by these encounters. It’s led me to ponder the gift of life, the chance to be authentic with each other and to share our stories–how these things make us food for each other, and how this diet of each other’s humanity is required if, as a species, we’ll ever be truly healthy. Take and eat; offer and share; feed and be fed; be grateful, be grateful, be grateful.

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Then, yesterday, I was gifted with one of Phillip’s Excellent Gluten-Free Brownies (also spirit food, in my book), hot from the oven at 6 A.M., to celebrate my birthday. Once again, it was time for the dreaded watering ordeal. But the forecast predicted a slight possibility of showers in the evening, so we decided to water the newbies and wait to see if rain (was there such a thing?) took care of the larger perennials later. As we watered the seedlings, a lovely storm once again passed mysteriously right over us…Here’s Phillip in the veggie garden, looking as though he’ll get very wet indeed. Nope. Not a drop. All thunder, no rain. So discouraging!

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But what a treat to then spend the day relaxing with my beloveds. I received birthday greetings and calls from many friends and relations around the world, which really is the gift of celebrating a birthday at this point in my life: to be reminded how very rich I am in friends and family who bless and enlighten me with their stunning gifts. My goodness, the messages were touching. And I realized again how “full” I felt at day’s end. Fed by all that love.

The pandemic enforced a severe drought in human connection and contact. Until it was re-established, I hadn’t felt the depth of deprivation, but this week has really emphasized for me how we feed each other our humanity in our words and interactions. Or starve each other through our cruelty and ignorance.

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And the best birthday gift (other than the 4-leggeds and Phillip) was delivered at 2 A.M. this morning: torrents and torrents of rain, well over an inch, falling into the arms of our gardens and the trees, bushes, thirsty birds and animals, and the dear river–all of us drinking in our beloved Mother Earth.

It is comforting in the night to speak to Love about one’s sorrows and worries, but it’s just extraordinarily fizzy and lightening to close one’s day with nothing but “thank you” on one’s lips. May we all have many more such days, and use our gifts to ensure others do, too. Watch for the sparks of light that pass between you as you eat and drink the moments of nourishing being you share, to fullness!

Gentle Peace.

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Somewhere Between London and Rome

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The summer my father died,
I lost my language. No words
could meet the grief, could plumb
its depths or pierce its night-black
and binding embrace. I did not say
farewell; I could not be at his side,
his leave-taking more sudden
than my chance to span the time
and distance between us, my mother-
in-law’s memorial service here, my father
dying there, and I on the cross between,
swallowing insufficient language. And
every day, that blinding long summer,
I rode my bike to London or Rome,
grandly-named backcountry towns
in opposing directions from my home
beside the bike trail. I pedaled and listened
to Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt,
or the jazz my father loved. 12 miles
one way or the other, a lifetime cycling
through my heart. The bike and the music
knew my lost words and traveled me through
them to something like peace, somewhere
between London and Rome, where red-winged
blackbirds bobbing on Queen Anne’s Lace,
and chicory flowers, as blue as my father’s eyes,
tenderly brought me back to my language.

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Two trains leave the station:

one is what is, and the other,
what might have been. I’d long
traveled on each, missing stops
at different times and speeds;
the problem I couldn’t solve was
how to ride both, at once, as one.
This is why, when your eyes kissed
my smile across the station and
we left to walk down the green
waving trail between the tracks,
I knew I’d found the life I always
wanted: you beside me, rescuing
old dreams and making them real,
learning what wonder may come
from adding trust and subtracting
doubt from life’s equation. If-only
and regret faded; life became a slow
shared surprise of multiplied grace
derived from the division of two
into one, a conversion conceivable if
x equals love. What might have been,
and what is, became infinite; we live
our timeless days, and rest beneath
the shy approving quiet stars, listening
to train horns calling, lonely in the misted
distance, lulling troubled travelers still
longing for the irrational and necessary
convergence of yearning and acceptance,
wishes and substance, the blessed junction
and undeserved gift, a love that will solve
the problem of two trains at the next station.

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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.