Gratitude for All Who Nurture

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Here in the United States, we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday and Father’s Day in June. While I am certainly grateful for my parents and for all those who parent their children with love and grace, I use these days to honor all those who faithfully nurture what they have created and are creating in the world, and to examine my own nurturing responsibilities and efforts as well.

My male friends have often taught me much about using my feminine energy with greater compassion, and my women friends have often helped me deepen my masculine energy: it’s all gift, and we’re each a unique blend of these energies, trying to integrate as fully as we can to bless the world with our magic. I am grateful for all my teachers and the opportunities to become a better parent to myself and the world.

Some of the questions I consider on these days include: How am I doing with self-care? Our actions are constant examples: do I actually demonstrate the self-care I preach (and preach, and preach)? How well am I tending my gifts and using them for the good of others? How faithfully am I nourishing my relationships with my loved ones and reaching out to strangers?

Do each of our 4-leggeds feel loved and safe? Are we embracing their unique spirits and feeding them as attentively as we do our own spirits?

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And, oh, the land and gardens of Full Moon Cottage and all the visitors passing through…how faithfully and mindfully are we parenting, befriending, and assisting them in this time of uneven and sudden climate shifts? Do we have enough feeders and watering stations? Do we need to transition to more native plants? Are we providing for the healthy insects as we should?

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Most importantly, are Phillip and I nurturing our own relationship with creativity and love? I know unequivocally that he is the most precious being in my life while I also know I don’t always see him before me or hear what his heart is saying. Hasn’t this past year emphasized how quickly time passes and how present we must be to our blessings?

The gardens need all of our attention at this time of year. They are rising and growing ahead of the schedule we’re accustomed to, and tonight, we’re facing another frost warning, so we’ll have to cover the infants and tender-leaved plants again before nightfall.

And all of the gardens need spring weeding, edging, and mulching, an enormous, all-at-once job for a few weeks before our gardening lives settle into much more manageable routines. We have the added blessing and bane of living beside a state bike trail/park that, for years now, has not been tended as it once was, and so is overrun with invasives like garlic mustard and jewelweed, as well as Japanese beetles. We try to maintain a “line” with the invasives, but it’s ongoing and frustrating. The beetles go into traps or cups of vinegar and soap. I loathe killing anything, so it’s a dispiriting job, but necessary to protect our trees, shrubs, flowers, fruit and veggies without using chemicals that would harm anything.

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How does one nurture the Earth justly and compassionately? I think it’s a fair and eternal question, but certainly, this weekend is one when I ponder it and examine my choices.

Last year, because of the extraordinary circumstances of having a poem go viral, and all the invitations that ensued, I was glued to my computer for the entire spring and into the summer, leaving Phillip to complete all of these early tasks and the subsequent watering during the long torrid drought days that now seem an annual occurrence.

This year, I want to be a better partner to my dear one and a more-present mother to the gardens, so I’ll be taking a couple weeks off from blogging and other pursuits to get the gardens prepped and squared away for their summer thriving…provided we get through tonight’s frost.

I know we’re all stepping out of lockdowns as we feel called and safe enough to do so, and into re-engagement with more varied social activities and the many invitations warmer weather sets before us. I hope when I return to blogging, you’ll have time to check in and offer a comment or two. Please be well and safe. Tend your spirits, minds, and bodies as a good parent would, and so tend the world.

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.

You Will Rise

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They’ll let you down, people,
the small people acting
from pain and from sadness,
and fears they can’t name.
Broken, they break you,
and hurting, they hurt you,
and turn from the damages,
smiling, relieved.
But you, golden one, you
will rise and leave baskets
of love at their windows,
and seek what you need.
The welcoming world
is waiting to teach you
to travel the circle,
to plant and become.
So rest, deeply nourished
by all the world’s beauty
and breathe in her infinite
joy, golden one.
One day you’ll be flying
and healing the broken
with baskets of love,
you will rise; you will soar.

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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.

Love at the Center

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Last night, just as we released the hounds into their little “dog park” for a postprandial run, an unleashed (!) Great Dane left his people on the state trail that runs beside our home to dash over and chase our pups from outside their fenced playground. He really wanted to find a way in and they were equally determined to break out.

A wild dance ensued. Miles were covered, round and round, up and down, back and forth, all accompanied by extremely frenetic and high decibel barking…Finally, one of his people enticed the Great Dane to be leashed and led back to the trail, where another person and a well-behaved dog waited.

Our pups took forever to settle from all the excitement. This morning, Dooley and Micky were seated in the living room, keeping a very close watch on the trail.

Itching, I think, for Round Two and more fun.

Last evening’s entire episode spanned no more than 10 minutes. Phillip took one look, realized all were safe, and stayed inside, to allow the Great Dane’s person the security of knowing only her voice would be focused on her dog. I felt way too anxious, initially, and stepped out on the deck to observe the situation, entirely ignored by all involved, until the woman led her dog away and, clearly flustered, shouted, “Sorry!” as they headed back to the trail. I shrugged and called out, “Dogs! Right?!” I hoped she knew I was rather amused by the whole episode as it unfolded, but I don’t know; we were not close enough to even distinguish each other’s features.

Our pups, as I’ve mentioned, were hyped the rest of the evening and again this morning, when they stepped out for their early constitutional. I think the surprise of another and very large dog contributed to the general excitement, let alone the human stranger running into the yard and calling after her dog, but I also think the experience brought back the joy of the dog park and the freedom our dogs used to have in running around with new friends and their people. Truly, the Great Dane seemed more intent on play than threatening our pups. I think they were all a bit delighted by the memory of strangers who could be new friends.

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This week, for many reasons, I’ve been noticing how short-fused people have become on social media and in the comments of online news articles. It’s not a new trend but it’s seemed to accelerate and multiply. Innocent comments are attacked and the authors are rapidly pilloried with language that would make a dockworker cringe. Accusations of every possible prejudice and politically-correct bias are hurled at a complete stranger with the intent, it seems to annihilate his or her existence. I’m surprised my computer isn’t left smoking.

When did this behavior become acceptable and even encouraged in adult discourse? When did this coarse and inflammatory language become tolerated so widely? I may question another stranger’s view, but I’m very weary of people feeling it’s necessary to shame and insult those with whom they disagree by using violent, incendiary obscenities. It disengages and saddens me. I wish we’d return to fueling our conversations with pondered intelligence rather than self-righteous anger. The intent seems to win a barroom brawl rather than nudge humanity forward in anything resembling the unity necessary to survive the problems we face.

And what, exactly, does hurling obscenities accomplish? How does it alter the energy? Where does it end? I think a little kindness and patience could help us out right now. What’s the endgame, after all? To feel self-satisfied or to invite a change in thinking and behavior? I miss gentleness and polite conversation. I miss basic etiquette. I miss people holding their tongues and listening more deeply before judging. I miss meeting strangers sans agendas.

A few years ago, the culture seemed honorably focused on the lasting pain caused by bullying. This makes me struggle with the current unfazed acceptance of the verbal/written bullying and nasty sarcasm tolerated online among “adults.” If I were having a conversation with someone in-person and they interrupted to bellow vulgarities at me, I know I’d feel intimidated and immediately shut down. I’d probably feel embarrassed or ashamed to be singled out by that kind of language, and I’d feel isolated and depressed…aren’t those the signs of being bullied?

And, if this is the way we treat each other anonymously, how will we behave when we can speak again with strangers face-to-face?

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I thought about these things last night as we brought the 4-leggeds in and laughed about their adventure. I hope the woman and her companion walking their dogs back home had a giggle, too, and knew we weren’t angry or upset with them or their huge funny 4-legged. I’m still not certain I didn’t join her to help corral the Great Dane because it was better for her dog to have only her known voice directing it, or if it was more due to fear of unmasked viral exchange, or if I just wanted to avoid contact with another potentially angry human.

We have all had more stress than our health could bear this past year, and yet borne it all we have, but I humbly offer that we humans need to develop wiser methods for discharging our fear and anger than firing it directly into the hearts of others. Because we also have wonderful capacities for kindness and joy.

This long darkness is ending, and we’ll be face-to-face again soon. There will be awkwardness enough without the added anxiety of having uninvited opinions and judgments hurled at us. Let’s give consideration to the feelings of others, practice forgiveness, and try for greater kindness in the ways we interact, keeping our focus on the endgame: To extend the kindness towards others we’d like shared with ourselves, so that necessary progress may be achieved together. No one will always be right; no one needs to be shamed; no one should be isolated. Words can be chosen for the light and beauty they shine rather than the hurt they inflict or ugly noises they make.

I saw a quote on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s page this week: “Since the universe has no center, you can’t be it.” I laughed, and remembered another quote, attributed to many great thinkers. A paraphrase: “Love is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.” Let’s put love at the center of every meeting and relationship, and see how we are then invited to treat each other.

Like the dogs last night, I hope that we can be surprised by the presence of each other, have fun together, and share so much delight that we sit at the window, anticipating our next meeting.

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By Toby Mac #SPEAKLIFE

© 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.

Ordinary Things of Conspicuous Value

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It was the summer before I began high school. I had just turned 13, and my spirit was roiling with enough hormones, nerves, and angst to power a revolution. Well, enough to have my father invite me to join him for a chat on the living room sofa.

I sat beside him articulating all that was wrong with the world–the inequity, wars, poverty, and injustices–and how frustrated I felt to see adults seemingly tolerate all of this without solving these problems.

I remember my father saying, “Honey, what may help is to use your power where you are. Just focus on what you can do and change, and then grow from there.”

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We had many such conversations, covering a wide range of topics, but I always hang my heart on the memory of those words when I’m frustrated with the world. They’ve certainly echoed rather resoundingly this year, and most recently this past week, when we faced a forecast of three nights with far-below freezing temperatures.

Last month, the temperatures were into the 80’s, warming the earth and coaxing all kinds of plants to grow and bud almost a month ahead of former schedules. (I’ve stopped applying the word “normal” to my gardening experiences; it’s no longer relevant or useful.) The forecast posed a threat to our gardens that we had to address or risk the devastating losses of new and old friends.

So, out came every dropcloth, every cat and dog blanket, every old sheet and towel, a few sweatshirts, and every spare quilt or blanket we could find. The older and hardier perennials would survive, I reasoned, but the tender babies, the seedlings, and the infants we’d planted last autumn needed careful swaddling. The clematis, Japanese maple, lavender, infant fruit trees…it took hours to cover them all, and the yard looked like a tornado had picked up a village rummage sale and dropped it over the gardens.

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Of course we were rushed and trying like mad to cover the plants, and then had to scavenge for logs and rocks to hold our covers in place against the cold winds, but later, when I looked out from the living room, I realized I could have coordinated the colors and patterns a bit more skillfully…in its utter lack of tasteful design, the general impression certainly spoke to our frenzy.

Phillip rightly reminded me that people passing on the bike trail would not be judging my choices in fabrics or their placement, but it really looked ghastly. And, more to the point, I worried it wasn’t enough.

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Over the next three nights, I kept waking up and peeking outside, as though I could see anything or frighten away the frost. And every morning we dashed around to check the plants, recover anything exposed, and hope we’d get through another night. We checked the hummingbird feeders (which did not freeze) and kept the other feeders stocked with seeds. Wednesday was brutal. Within the span of a few hours, the clouds hurled down snow, then graupel, then hail, and back to snow. Then the winds howled, followed by sunshine and stillness, and then freezing temperatures swept in once more, as though Mother Nature wanted to demonstrate all the variety in her repertoire. At once.

Thursday morning, we spent hours restoring the gardens to a semblance of order. It seems everyone survived. Gratitude falls short in describing the relief and joy we felt peeling away blankets to uncover green tender shoots ready to photosynthesize. Rocks and logs were removed and returned to their proper piles.

Two days of laundering all those groundcovers restocked the pet beds, linen closet, and workshop. Our forecast looks to be above freezing for the foreseeable future. The birds and insects have resurrected in full force.

There are still so many systems, policies, laws, and people I’d like to reform or protect, and while I can certainly address these desires in my writing and voting, I will never have the power to right all wrongs single-handedly. But, as my father told me so very long ago, I can keep trying to tend my little acres, and this week, the joy we felt in protecting our gardens and keeping our winged, crawling, two, four, six, and eight-legged guests safe, reminded me that doing what we can do, while we’re able, is also tending our own spirits and hearts.

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Every part of Full Moon is part of us, and as that rises in our consciousness, so does the truth that its borders never end. Once again, I’ve revisited the wisdom my father imparted, what I think he hoped I’d come to understand: when you truly love any acre, any being, any waterway, you love them all and realize you’re intimately connected. You can’t change everything, but you can love it all.

And that love? As Pierre Teilhard said, “Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things…as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value…Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world. Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.”

Gentle peace–and temperate weather–to your week.

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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.

Earth’s Day

what day is not hers in which we live and move?
where else
would we be our being
and do our doing
than here in the arms of our mother earth?

but just between you and me?
we’re not the greatest kids
we’ve set her on fire and poisoned her blood
we’ve stripped her flesh and stolen her savings
we’ve mined her heart and drained her life
we’ve beaten her senseless and slouched away
more than once muttering promises vowing love
you know the routine
we’ll be in touch see you soon ma where’s your wallet?

she’s getting old she’s
a little off her rocker now
demented she falls a lot
fevered in march frozen in april
she hates herself
for loving us so wildly
says we’re spoiled and blind to wonder
but still in the will
so we come on this day we errant selfish
children and sit at her bedside
hold her boney hand
hear the stories we’ve heard a million times
force our greed-drenched claws to pause
and offer a day (one every year!) of empty praises
dull phrases professing our love once more yes ma
we’ll listen to your trees we say
and learn from your winds
we’ll honor your creatures
larger than our hearts (well
until we can market and sell them like those old furs
those were the days when we robbed her cellars
of coal and more coal and more and the oil that oozed
through our pockets was grand) but oh mother on this day
we’ll pin our gratitude to our wide striped lapels and sing your favorite
songs so hooray for you it’s your special day (hey ma you’re out of ice)
oh say
can you spare us a forest or so? hey ma jeez turn down the heat
it’s like an oven in here gotta go it’s been nice but it’s late very late

and we shall rest on your blue night hills
cloaked in quilted clouds and
warmed by the fire of distant stars our hearts
made restless by your foolish love knowing
we are liars who will not change we will not
change
how can we when there’s
still profit to be made
till the last note
of birdsong floats
to final silence?

© 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.

Peace at the Center

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How is it with your spirit? 

That’s the way I often begin conversations with my patients, spiritual direction guests, and myself, as I begin another day. It’s a good question to ask before sleep as well. If we can’t name what we’re feeling, seeking, and need, to proceed with equanimity, then we have work to do. We need to ask loving, honest questions that will help us identify what’s impeding our peace. The pursuit of these names changes everything. When the unknown and unresolved is named, we can meet it and allow space for its voice to be heard. Everything the world needs begins with befriending ourselves as deeply as the Love that called us here.

And I suppose the question, “How is it with your spirit?” is also connected to my passion for any practice that takes me deep within silence, and why everyone I counsel has been invited to do the same. Repeatedly. Our spirits get knocked out of alignment so easily in the world. We bury ourselves, over and over and need resurrecting to live authentically.

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Our Easters happen when we make time for those activities that take us into our spirits so deeply that time stops, the world falls away, and there is only the intimacy of self and passion. True renewal. It’s like watering a plant…and if you look around the world, the garden is sadly wilted.

Photography, gardening, writing, walking, centering prayer…I have developed so many ways to get to my center over the years that I hope all the practice helps me live from it, more and more. After all, it’s our genuine home, the place where we meet ourselves and our image of the Sacred (whatever that is for us), to enlarge the Love that binds us and feeds our lives and those with whom we share it.

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I hold the memory of my beloved, late spiritual director in my heart. He’d often come to the hospital where I worked inhumane hours, just to offer me the time and space to listen myself to my center. We’d meet in the hospital chapel–reliably empty in a place where everyone moved too quickly, doing too much–and I’d always find him sitting so deeply in his prayer-filled center that he gave off light. It healed me before I even joined him, before words gradually became part of our conversation. Now, as I approach (too quickly) his wise old age in those long ago days, I understand the urge to take any time available to breathe, “head to my center,” and hang out with Love.

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As the world picks up energy, turns outward once again, and engages beyond lit screens, texts, and messages, I hope we’ll retain some of the gifts that greater stillness and times of silence have given us. Many of us have made life-altering connections during this time of pandemic. We’ve forged relationships and uncovered gifts that will need tending to stay alive, just as our spirits do. I hope we won’t, as a species, return to mindless rushing and acquisition; such former habits will not meet the needs of our spirits or the present world. 

The “way things were” has been a fallow field for over a year, while we’ve been tightly bound and changing;  as we are loosened and part from the circles that have given us solace, insight, and community, I hope we turn to new fertility in the world and see continued possibility for healing and co-creating. Asking ourselves and beloveds, “How is it with your spirit?” and taking time to listen for the heart’s answers, can help light the path before us.

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Be well and safe, and great 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 Recalled Mysteries of Second Grade

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“You have to be a nun when you grow up,”
said Debbie Someone on the tarmacadamed
playground, “because your middle name is Mary.”
She should know, I thought, with her family full of
nuns and priests posing like saints in photos all over
their living room. I was reading a book about a girl
or a doll named Jane. “I will be Sister Mary Jane,” I said.
“You can’t. That’s a shoe,” said Debbie. The First Mystery.

The nuns wore a rosary of wood around their waists,
the beads as big as marble shooters. It took two decades of the
rosary to belt the bulk of Sister Mary Albertine, but one or less for
tiny Sister Mary Joy. I imagined them wearing the rosaries to bed.
They could clasp the mighty crucifix and manage the opening prayers,
but what happened when they reached the decades wrapped around
their waists? Maybe they rolled on each bead, recited the prayer,
and kept rolling, pausing, and praying till dawn. The Second Mystery.

The nuns had wooden clackers like stork beaks they’d extract from
the folds of their habits. Clack! We’d walk two-by-two. Clack! We’d
genuflect. Clack! We’d march into the pew. Clack! We’d sit. If I was
going to be a nun, I needed a clacker. I borrowed Sr. Mary Theophona’s.
(I wasn’t a thief, just a novice seeking improvement.) I took it home and
practiced with my younger brother. Clack. Walk. Clack. Stop. Clack. Sit.
Clack. Fold your hands to pray. He stood up and left the room. “You can’t
leave when I’m clacking!” I shouted, disbelieving. He said, “Shut up.”
To a clacking nun in training. And nothing happened. The Third Mystery.

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We went to Mass every day during Lent. I didn’t understand the Latin,
but I recited it perfectly. I thought Et cum spiritu tuo was the Holy Ghost’s
phone number. I wanted to be an altar boy and use the candlelighter,
reaching high, touching wicks with fire, setting the stage for Mass.
I wanted to shake the bells at the consecration, and then hold
the communion plate to catch Jesus if he fell from someone’s
mouth. I thought, if he’d been crucified and resurrected, he could
probably handle a fall to the altar if I missed catching him. I wanted
to wear the red and white vestments and go up and down the aisles,
waving incense at the people in the pews. I wanted to answer the priest,
to kneel and bow and parade around doing things while all the people
watched. I asked Sister Mary Eulogia if I could be trained. “You can’t be
an altar boy, Catherine, because you’re a girl.” Stern eyes flashed through
rimless glass circles. My heart doubted her theology. The Fourth Mystery.

We received a monthly magazine, Catholic Highlights for Boys and Girls.
Every issue featured a child martyr who told the Roman soldiers, “I love
Jesus, and won’t stop,” so the child met a gruesome end and became a saint.
There were also articles about catechism and tips for being pious, but I turned
to the martyr tales first. One night, I read how one of the child martyrs proved
his love for God by sleeping on sticks and stones. I went outside and found
some stones, added my jacks and balls and dried peas and the peashooter,
scattered them in my bed, settled myself gently, and waited to feel holier. “JMJ,” 
I said. I did not enjoy it. I hoped God noticed and I was proving my love.


My mother came in to say goodnight. She sat and felt a stone. Or two. I had
to confess my plan, and asked if she could see my halo beginning to glow. She
dissuaded me from being a child martyr. We cleared my bed of stones and jacks.
My mother tucked me in and kissed me. She told me I was precious; she loved me.
I heard her whispering to my father in the hallway. They were laughing. I inhaled
the music of their laughter and was blessed. I knew God would make that music.
Why would someone expect you to suffer to prove your love? The Fifth Mystery.
Amen.

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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.

A Gathering of Poets

https://www.crowdcast.io/e/togetherinasuddenstrangen

I mentioned this event last week and wanted to share a reminder that it’s happening tonight, at 7-8 P.M. CENTRAL TIME. You are so welcome to join us!

All of the readings will be from the anthology: Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by Alice Quinn and published by Alfred Knopf.

The poets I’ll be joining tonight include David Biespiel; Catherine Cohen; John Freeman; Garrett Hongo; John Koethe; Jim Moore; and Susan Stewart. Each of us will read our own poem from this anthology as well as that of another contributor…I think this will be both a rich celebration of poetry and its power, and a kind of gathering-around-the-fire ritual to share our poetic reflections on the pandemic…I hope it will prove stimulating, resonant, and healing. Crowdcast is very easy to use; no downloading.

The gathering is online tonight, from 7-8 Central, and sponsored by the wonderful Kismet Bookstore in Verona, Wisconsin. Hooray for Rye Kimmett! Events | Kismet Books (kismetbookshop.com)

Gentle Peace to all,

Kitty

PS: Spring is afoot!

The One We Are Becoming

Let me fall if I must. The one I will become will catch me. ~ Baal Shem Tov

The rain falling from the cloud, caught by–and becoming–
the thirsting tree,
the shining drops falling from leaves
to the opening earth,
the sunlight falling, caught by hungry life;
everything is falling into what it will become.

Once, I moved in the world as though
I knew my way, as though
I had a map and a name for my becoming; I didn’t.
I pedaled through the air of my life wildly, panicked
and struggling to feel the ground beneath me.
I couldn’t land, too fearful of meeting my imagined life,
of believing the woman who held my spirit
would be there to catch me.

If only I had seen that we’re all falling,
as long as it takes, till we meet the garden
where all our seeds have been planted, the room
of our dreams, the home we know to be ours,
our only holy self.
And then we fall again.

If only I had noticed the fledgling fall and how it was caught by flight.

If only I’d seen Yeshua fall
into his waiting Christness,
or Siddhartha caught
by the enlightened Buddha.

We cannot know what mysteries will unfold
when we let go, only that we’re biding,
transformed, to catch ourselves when the falling ends,
and that none of the tipping energy that sent us
floating or crashing down, was wasted.
Everything deepens those who allow it.

I have seen lives fall and be caught
by the love they became,
and sinners fall into certain saints.
When we arrive, we’ll know
and embrace the truth of the name
we’ve chosen as ours.

All that time, the time of my long falling,
I thought the one I was becoming
was more of myself, but the new
utter strangeness was you, and when
the two of us caught our falling selves
we became one: and now we’ve spent
a long, long time, days like centuries,
catching and releasing the sacred One
we are, still creating, still learning to leap
into wonder, trusting it will meet us as we merge
and fall, like the fledgling, into something
as surprising as flight, becoming again the constant
and changing love we are, and when we too must fall
from flight into our own, dark tombs, we’ll be caught
by the light that we’ve become; one day, we will finally
surrender to who we are. It’s finished, we’ll say,
and we will be caught by our light. We cannot know
the mysteries that will unfold at the end of that yes.

In the garden, blossoms flash into dark
honeyed cherries, ready to be eaten by hungry life.
Everything is falling into what it will become.

© 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.

When the Time is Out of Joint

Today

I don’t know about March’s entrance and exit, but April’s coming in like a tentacled alien. The conflation of surviving a year of pandemic, of responding to climate change and spring’s erupting haste, and of noticing and tending our pent-up desire for community and social proximity has far-reaching implications, and it seems they’re spreading and winding everywhere, at once. Prioritize, or be entangled.

Our furnace is turned off and windows have been open morning and night; gardens are exploding way ahead of past patterns; our first April shower has just thundered and flashed through today’s 75-degree spaces; Phillip’s receiving frequent jobs for cabinetry and etc. that he can do at home; we’re still trying to finish our own remodeling work; I’m writing and editing three books at once; it feels like everyone’s traveling everywhere; and a million things are suddenly happening. The world’s been shaking in a dice cup that’s been dumped back out this month: what are the odds we’ll survive? I wonder.

Of course, I realize a lot of us are still most often at home, cautious about the Covid variants and the many ways we can protect ourselves and others, practicing the safety protocols when we’re out shopping, etc., but spring, or sprummer, has definitely sprung, and its invitations ring out and linger, a siren song few, it seems, can resist while remembering Covid and her variants are still very much present and actively mutating.

For at least 12 months, we haven’t had to prioritize much at all. We woke up, cared for the dogs, cats, and gardens, pursued our callings, went nowhere, had no appointments, and moved through our days slowly, the peace of it all only unnerved at times by Covid and political news, but we felt safe, even a bit unmoored, floating along on our little Full Moon Island.

I can feel the tightness of our atoms and small world dispersing into the greater world these days. Connections that relied on mutual support this past secluded year are loosening as others’ worlds and their invitations open up as well. But we’re both old pros at making lists, organizing schedules, moving through task-filled days and managing to take breaks when we need them, so we’re not worried about the sudden convergence of “options to consider and actions to take,” just amazed at how quickly they’ve arrived.

Puschkinia libanotica (Stardrift) are blooming now. Last year (and previous years), they first blossomed on April 23rd, or later.

I think the climate changes have me most unsettled. The virus is, of course, still raging. I’m mindful of the great suffering it’s causing in South America and elsewhere, and that cases are once again rising in my country due to negligence, but the vaccination numbers are also rising and we know how to prevent infection if we choose.

We cannot, though, alter the climate changes; that time is long past. There is no protocol individuals can follow to bring down rising temperatures, or aid other species in their seasonal and necessary migrations, or nesting, or daily food procurement (beyond faithfully maintaining the feeders for the little few who visit us here). Today, on April 6th, the bit of lawn we still have is green and in need of cutting, but the dandelions that provide nectar to many have not yet risen and bloomed. Time really does seem out of joint. It’s about 20 degrees warmer than what we used to call “normal.” We’re not sure when to begin working in the gardens, though we’ll probably clear their edges of grass and weeds this weekend. I don’t want to compact their soil by treading around within their borders…yet.

For the past several years, we’ve had snow covering the ground in early April, and snowstorms as late as April 27, so we have no idea if this warmth will last or be overtaken by frost and snow, which would be devastating to the current green everywhere and to our fellow creatures migrating, nesting, and now trying to survive in a world that does not match their instinctive triggers and responses.

There are no easy answers; there never were. There’s not one right action or path to follow in the labyrinth our current world has become. But out there on the trail, I can see an old man slowly walking his old dog on the rain-washed and sun-drenched trail, smelling of spring’s emergent life, whether its presence is “normal” or not. Peace exudes from their partnership.

The man waits calmly whenever the dog pauses to sniff or regather his strength. The dog stands in place when the man stops to admire the view or take a deep breath. A cyclist slows to honor their space and then sails on across the bridge, enjoying her day, the gift of its warmth and the saturation of color after winter’s monochromatic persistence…Observing these interactions as I fret about what’s to come, reminds me that if the time is out of joint, I can let it go and enter the flow as it is, focusing on this moment and the next, the companions who fill it with meaning, the creativity it engenders, and the gratitude it always deserves.

I actually was not thrilled to come upon Murphy lounging on this plant, but he has been a bit listless, missing Fergus. When our 4-leggeds’ ashes are returned to us, some are put in a shared container we keep with us, and the rest are scattered around the perimeter of Full Moon Cottage…but Fergus spent his first year alone outside and never wanted to exit his forever safe home again, so instead of walking the perimeter with his ashes, I placed a few in the houseplants he loved to play with, and I wondered if Murphy, who has never napped on a houseplant before, sensed and felt closer to Fergus here. At any rate, as you can see, he was unfazed by my response, so I left him to it. It seemed to heal his spirit a bit.

Peace to your week.

© 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 Little Things

It really is the little things
that change our lives, the way they flow,
and the world, how its passing or endurance
depend on this choice or that. The insignificant
classroom in the small town where our little lives
(stifling, but prescribed, and so far-followed we
could see the back covers closing on our little stories)
collided:
So many lives, their careful design, required reconstruction
from the settling dust of that brief moment. And I thought,
“Well, that was unexpected,” and then we adapted to the
different story we’d chosen, the endings and beginnings
our unsought meeting created, the canvases and new paints
we’d given ourselves, the new chapters we’d undertaken
to author, but the little things never stop redirecting the flow,
do they? I mean, we and the world, we’re never finally formed
and there is no path except the one behind us; knowing this,
we should be wiser, more watchful, tender in our reach
and open to surprise and surrender. Control is an illusion;
the stories never end the way you expect. All around us,
everywhere, little choices are made by the known and unknown,
the seen and hidden, the near and distant: look how one person’s lie
leads to so much death; how another’s sacrifice resurrects hope;
how a stranger’s small kindness alters a life; how a tiny dog’s nuzzle
eases deep grief; how, years later, a letter arrives, begging forgiveness;
how one person crosses a narrow aisle to cast an unexpected vote, and
just like that, the whole world is given another little chance to endure.
Stones roll away, light shines, and we see a way forward we hadn’t imagined.

© 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.

Prism Thinking

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We’ve had a week or more of cloudy, damp days, and high winds, all of it typical of late March weather, but eventually it just felt pervasively gloomy. The living room painting and furniture rearranging and bookcase-moving and everything else triggered by the urge to re-nest is almost complete. I always hang prisms high in the clerestory windows and–finally–this morning, intermittent flashes of sunlight rewarded us with dazzling rainbows scattered around the newly-brightened room. They rekindled my hope and joy.

I’m not certain how my fascination with prisms began, but I think the origin may have been the film, Pollyanna, based on the book by Eleanor H. Porter. 

The film debuted when I was 5; I read the book later. Disney, as always, deviated from the original story in many often-inexplicable ways, but the young actress, Hayley Mills, brought the story to life for me and, of course, the book’s overly-saccharine, moralistic language was somewhat updated in the film, even though the setting is true to Porter’s 1913, small New England town. 

I suppose the visuals of the prism scene captivated me, and, in my mind, the way the bright rainbows also elementally transformed the bedridden and grouchy Mr. Pendleton (or Pendergast, in the film) were forever connected to their magic.

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In a lot of the books I loved as a child, the young protagonist, through her own transformation, also transformed the adults in her life. These books offered me the first insights that healing and maturing were lifelong pursuits; maybe I associate that idea with prisms, too. They unfailingly create deep joy and invite a contemplative mood.

Certainly, every problem has its refractions, and what at first may seem a single troubling issue or one lacking a solution can always be viewed again through other lenses. And, once new perceptions are welcomed and entertained, we’re often led to change and grow. (Or not, as I always admit. Choices matter, and change requires commitment and, often, years of effort.) I think a lot of “prism-thinking” is happening in our world right now; some are willing to endure the hard work of pursuing transformative answers and others are resisting, for many reasons. (I wrote a children’s book about these very ideas, titled The Rare, Tiny Flower. It’s being illustrated by the talented Quim Torres, and will be published by Tra Publishing in January, 2022.)

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A lot of the protagonists I loved as a child saw new possibilities for the way life could be lived, individually and in community, and showed flashes of feistiness when adults resisted what the girls finally “knew” to be true. I expect the authors were advocates of prism-thinking themselves. Consider Burnett’s Mary in The Secret Garden; L’Engle’s Meg in A Wrinkle in Time; Smith’s Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Many of my early, lasting role models.

The other and profound lesson I derived from Pollyanna was her orientation to gratitude, coupled with her prism-thinking. She played what she called The Glad Game, learned from her father, which invited one to see and bear life’s struggles and sorrows, but to balance their presence by opening to noticing life’s blessings as well: Yes, it’s been rainy, but green is happening everywhere and the gardens are growing. Yes, voting is being suppressed by people who fear change, but restrictive laws are being challenged in courts all over the country and a voting rights bill has passed in the House. Yes, we’re looking at new lockdowns because of disease variants, but we have masks, vaccines, new medicines, and ways to defeat the virus if we all pull together. If. We need prism-thinkers more than ever, but we need action coupled with gratitude and balance as well.

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The Glad Game is one reason Pollyanna’s name became a euphemism for laughable candy-brained thinkers, shallow goody-goodies unable to see the real and present darkness that threatens our world. I don’t think that’s a fair judgement of Pollyanna, but cynics–often just bullies by another name–seem to be granted more deference than prism-thinkers for their fault-finding criticisms and opinions, probably because it’s natural to fear retaliatory verbal attacks. Far easier to agree, say nothing, and dodge the nasty ballistics. We’ve certainly seen where that’s gotten us as a country. 

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My childhood role models and heroines wouldn’t stand for it. And actually, each of them had feisty moments of confronting the perpetually oppressive and pessimistic, with strength and dignity. They, and their creators, taught me to stand up, speak out, and be proud of critical thinking that is divergent, open to change, co-created, and inclusive in its benefits. And to work at perceiving and giving thanks in all things for the goodness and gifts that co-exist in the world and in each of us. 

Today seems an auspicious day: It’s Palm Sunday, which for many signals the beginning of the deep spiritual journey called Holy Week, ending on Easter Sunday. Today is also the second day of Passover celebrations; tonight will be the second Seder, and Passover continues to April 4. And at Full Moon Cottage, we’re also celebrating the March Full Moon. 🙂 Blessings on all your celebrations and efforts to deepen your humanity. Hang a prism: heal, change, grow, create, and keep at it.

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I also wanted to let you know of this Zoom gathering on Monday, April 12, sponsored by one of my favorite independent bookstores, Kismet, and in support of National Poetry Month. I was extremely honored to have my poem, In The Time of Pandemic/And the People Stayed Home, included in this anthology: Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by the inimitable Alice Quinn. Several of the poets, myself, and Alice Quinn will be part of this event, and we would be so honored to have you join us!
Events | Kismet Books (kismetbookshop.com);
Crowdcast Registration: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/togetherinasuddenstrangen

© 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.

We Have Hurt Enough

Heron Pensive

There have always been ways to hurt
beyond words. There are fists and sticks,
and stones and bones and bombs and guns–
so many guns–and sharpened knives, and weapons
heavy and blunt, stunning and surprising, fierce and
quick. Bullet-pierced bodies falling to floors, to doorways
that coldly receive them; it should be our arms embracing
the sacred, strange, and shining others, the known, the
mysterious all we are made and meant to love; christ, we
have hurt enough; haven’t we hurt enough? Count the dead.
Violence is easy; shooting from fear, slicing from pain: hurting
from hurting. Let us finally learn the infinite ways to translate
our rage into beauty. It was love that chanced us here, just once
and now, able to choose the arduous art of union, compassionate
partners in all of our dark misery, able to pause, to turn, to change,
revolving our pain through other imagined instars, shedding the
the urge to hurt and rage, becoming who we fully are: artists,
called to create the ways we may heal and love beyond words.

Bird Print

© 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.
 

When the World Went Viral

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Facebook Post
March 20, 2020

Dear Friends,

We’ve been assailed this week by texts, messages, personal attacks, Friend Requests, phone calls, everything…I’ve kept my friend’s list tight and deleted requests from strangers. This is my safe place.

Today, as I feared, an advertising firm contacted me to use my words as a “commentary” behind a “we’re the good guys here to help you” TV spot for Johnson and Johnson/Tylenol. I haven’t made a cent from this and they didn’t offer any either, for the record.

I spoke with their rep to clarify and sent this letter. I don’t have an agent; I don’t have an attorney; I have real-life family members and friends putting their lives at risk right this moment because of our Administration’s woeful preparation and a Congress with members more interested in selling their stocks for profit than helping our healthcare workers and people…

So, I’m re-posting this letter here as, I HOPE, proof I wrote it and had witnesses. Insurance.

Thanks, now back to what’s important…

Hi, (Person who shall go unnamed),

I understand that you and your team are trying hard to do good in a troubled world, and using your many gifts and the powerful platform of various media to convey that message of concern, but I don’t think my words are a good match for this project. It doesn’t seem to be inspired by purely altruistic intent; it seems designed to sell Tylenol and promote Johnson & Johnson, and that doesn’t feel like it honors the spirit of my words and the ways they’ve offered comfort and love, which was my intention and hope when I set them free.

 Conversely, I’m very happy with the ways a variety of artists and musicians are being inspired by these words to create and collaborate with the poem to further touch and comfort people’s hearts, and to inspire them to survive–and flourish–in courage and peace.

I do wish you well and pray for your safety and good health. And I am very grateful for your integrity in contacting me before using my words, as others have not. We are all finding our way into and through this mystery, and never alone in doing so.

Be well and gentle peace,

Kitty O’Meara

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March 20, 2021:

When people say they would “love” to have their words “go viral,” I like to share this…it’s like this (which was only one week after “and the people” was innocuously posted on Facebook), x 1000, for months and months. 

This post reminds me of the time’s fear, confusion, anger, and wonder. I mean THE virus, not mine, and how adjusting to, or at least riding the waves of that, was compounded by being shot into space by “going viral.” 

I’m still very grateful for how this absolutely-once-in-a-lifetime amazement led me to so many gifted artists, to so many people doing so much good in the face of terror and mystery, to so many people making immense sacrifices, to kind and gentle people—who save us, every day—and how the entire experience isolated and burnished for me, again and profoundly, how blessed I am in my partner, family, and friends. Gratitude will always be the encompassing theme of this year, for me. But it is that for all of my life as well.

Far more important than “going viral” is the recollection of our collective experience. What a year, what a time we’ve endured. I know it’s not over, but let’s take time to sit with what we’ve survived, and honor what nobility, strength, humor, love, and courage we’ve summoned, supported, shared, and offered each other and the world this year. Look at the difference in our leadership and the issues we’re exposing to the light of moral and legal scrutiny, a painful, necessary debridement of our national thinking—unconscious and conscious—and an analysis of policies that enforce what must be opposed and altered.

I think this is what an Enlightenment feels like: a struggle between what must die and what must be born if we are to survive and thrive. I know we have to love our way through it as authentically as we can, or what we create will not be new or inclusive, which means all, not “all the groups who think like me.”

We know hard times will always be with us; we know the virus and its variations, and climate change, and all the human struggles for power and possession will go on, but I hope we can reflect on what we have accomplished and realized this year, in spite of soooo much resistance and fear-fueled ignorance…This is a time of epic struggles and we made it through the first dark forest. Let’s enjoy—wisely, safely—a bit of light and sweet breezes, and stock up on all the strength and healing and re-commitment, and joy we need to enter the next dark woods. Together.

I don’t know the ending; I know I likely won’t be present when it arrives, but I’m so honored to be in your merry company and presence as we imagine and create the best possible Earth for all who live and move and have their being on our whirling blue sphere in the expanding, mysterious, and wonderful universe.

We can do this if we choose to live into the mighty spectacular Yes, allowing it to unfold and show us the way.

Great and gentle peace to all; I’m off to the trail for a long and grateful walk.

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Happy Equinox! Seek and tend the balance you need to shine the gifts you came to share!

© 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 Decorating Dance

Full Moon Cottage has been having some “work done” on her interior. We finally settled on the brighter paint colors we’d been searching for–I think–and are finishing up the painting in the living room before moving into the kitchen. The goal is to complete all of this before the gardening season kicks in and–if yesterday’s snowfall is any indication–we’ll make it without rushing. We envisioned a sweet slow dance of a project to get us over the last winter hurdle to spring.

Sunlight streams into these rooms from three directions, a blessing and a curse, as Adrian Monk would say. The light is extremely beneficial during darker months, a blessing, but it also makes picking out paint colors an immense and mercurial task for both of us, because we’re also dealing with an old oak wood floor and a walnut-stained ceiling, and we don’t always agree on the undertones we’re detecting. Now it’s yellow; now it’s brown; now it’s orange, green, reddish…is that blue? A curse.

And when we finally settle on a shade and apply the sample, the light and colors shift, sending us back to the paint store, masked, gloved, confused, and considering the option of changing our identities, driving to a new town, and starting over in a home with well-established coordinating paint colors. Might be easier. This is why we stayed with our former colors for 14 years. But hey, life’s a dance, and it’s fun to try new steps…right?

I keep using the second-person-plural-nominative-case-pronoun “we,” as though we’re sharing the labor equally. This is not the case. We started as equal partners in this decorating dance, but then a heavy door, one that perhaps had not been set in an OSHA-approved place and position (never mind by whom), fell as I passed. It scraped down my right calf, leaving it intact but creating the most dramatic bruise I’ve certainly ever had or possibly seen. “Oh darn,” I didn’t say, but I did provide a spontaneous and sensationally colorful kind of poetry as the pain registered. You had to be there.

I don’t think a blood vessel was left unsevered. It was like looking at those nebulae photos from the Hubble spacecraft…and not one damn color worked for the walls or wainscoting. But it did match our recent and stunning sunrises, although I think you’ll agree the sunrises offered preferable views.

So, I’ve been sitting out the decorating dance with my leg raised and iced, then heated, regaling Phillip with suggestions and tips and amusing (yes they are) bon mots as he climbs the enormous ladder and does the actual painting. Well, truly, we’ve also had interesting conversations, or I’ve read to him, or we’ve listened to podcasts, or music. Last Saturday, we watched The Gay Divorcee and then couldn’t get The Continental out of our heads for the rest of the weekend. Today, we watched a recording of the Broadway production of The King and I. Pretty sure Shall We Dance? will replace The Continental as an ear-worm. Or maybe they’ll form a mental terpsichorean duet, and we’ll both be lunatics by tomorrow. Not a huge stretch at this point.

I think I’ll be ready to join the dance and paint again by Friday, crazy or not, and I’ve chosen two accent colors to sample, so if you hear desperate screams pitifully howled from the direction of Full Moon Cottage, never mind; eventually, the light will change and all will be well. Or we’ll just pull down the shades, dim the light, and dance.

Almost finished…

© 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.

Not A Thing Was Lost

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For a year we lived slowly. We were alone together, and nothing was lost.
Not a thing was lost. We lived every moment; every moment was lived,
and time was not wasted. Life offered lessons learned only in darkness.
Some days we cried together; these were healing days. Sorrow’s voice
must sing and we must listen; there was much to learn. In silence, we heard
the Earth cry out: how we gave her the saddest eyes, and how we broke her heart.

Every day, we created something new: the ways we moved through the day,
the ways we moved through life, the ways we moved and breathed. We looked
for new teachers and heard different music. Everything was strange. Life hurt;
it was stern, such hard steps to balance. Again then again. We rested more often
and deeply, or we didn’t sleep at all. We didn’t sleep at all. In silence, we heard
the Earth cry out: how we gave her the saddest eyes, and how we broke her heart.

The days led the dance and we followed. We followed; this was the greatest lesson:
to receive the day and follow its holiness as it was and as it always is, how it moves,
how we are moved. The year ends. Steadying slowly, how bright the light around
the moments we live. Let the Earth dance and follow her lead. Heal her, heal her;
create, and see her joy. They shine; how her eyes shine. Every moment is lived and
time is not wasted. Nothing is lost. Love endures. This was the year that saved 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.

What Follows

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We were waiting, we were waiting so long that we’d forgotten
the animal pleasure of deep embrace, the smell of other people
and beckoning cafes spiced with strangeness, the comfort of corner booths,
and snowfall under streetlights, the lure of aged books on shelves, of touching
things unconfined, glowing with mystery, safely dangerous, gently tempting and open.

We were waiting, we were waiting so long that we’d forgotten
how to cross spaces, the language of greeting, the harmony of thoughts
begun by one–fusing–finished by another, the onrush and uprush of laughter, the ease
of improvised, delighted life; we’d become diligent disciples of monotony, of things done
in steps, after a year of waiting and forgetting, of yearning, and forgetting how to yearn.

We were waiting, we were waiting so long, that we’d forgotten
the surprise of circling geese, and budding trees, and plants piercing upward, their scent,
the sweet afterbirth of things green and translucent, the homeward music of spring, of
neighbors and nest-building, the innocence of blue skies, rainstorms, and silver-splashed puddles.
the call from life to our animal hearts: scatter the seeds of everything blessed and beautiful…

And then,
we remembered: what follows disease is either death or healing, and after each comes
the hard work of sowing seeds and tending them, of holding wonder to our grateful lips.

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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.

Small Sorrows

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There are losses that tear the fabric of our lives in two,
serrated edges and ruptured threads that years, a lifetime,
cannot mend but awkwardly. Here is one such scar I carry
always, and here, another. Holes we learn to sidestep;
we each have many, these interrupted expectations of
enduring love or love’s enduring presence, these partings
that break us wide on the wide and open brilliant stage. The world
allows such grief, briefly holding space for the depth and damage
while the alterations shudder through our lives and settle, seismic
shifts changing us elementally, creating new steps in our forward dance.

But clocks tick; glances divert; watches, feet, and fingers are tapped:
Back to the business of life, its earnest and undead perfection. We adjust,
merge with life’s traffic and dance. The world turns, and turns away,
calling us healed. It cannot bear close or long encounter with the scrutinized
pause. Acceleration is all; there isn’t time for tears that do not dry, wounds
that remain, and the mystery of ghosts who visit the shadowed alleys of memory.
Let go. Let go. Turn, and turn away. On to the edge of that grave we thankfully
will not grieve but occupy, the panicked dance halted, perfectly unexamined.

And there is sorrow the world calls small, carried as pain in the heart,
on the heart, a tender bruise say, the size of a small cat who one day
appeared at the door of our life and stayed, changing everything
in small ways that went unnoticed, except in our dance; its new
improvisations spoke of a deeper joy. But grief at its passing? No;
it makes of us unwanted mirrors. The solace of rushing cannot be
too earnestly pursued. Come, turn, and turn away; do something.

And so, ignored and unexplored, small losses, all sorrows accrue.
A tumor of the brain finally presses on the spine; our slowly-altered
dance one day becomes grotesque in its awkwardness, we tilt and
spin, one-eyed and wincing, comical, unhuman. The heart breaks.
The small child notices. Why does that man halt and wobble so
crookedly? See how he falls behind? Do we laugh or cry? I want
to help him stand; I want to hold him. We must stop to name the
suffering, to steady his trembled dance, to tell him he is loved.

Hush, dear; he’s one who had small things to grieve and did not
surrender, never to grief for something as small as a cat. He is heroic;
do you understand? Feelings devour our time. Never indulge. Look
how he still moves forward and on. So proudly. We honor deep scars
and their making for a moment; small sorrows mean nothing. Clocks
are ticking loudly; on we go. We have things to do, so much to do.
Denial is the better way, or where would our weeping end?
Back to business; time is passing. Turn, and turn away, my dear.

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This week has been a year at Full Moon Cottage. The sunlight and its warmth, the birdsong and the woodpeckers’ staccato rhythms, the receding sparkle of snow, and the sweet spring call of the world to plant, nurture new life and drink in its perfumes–all of it is healing our hearts as they adjust to the loss of our darling Fergus. But as people who honor the rhythms and necessary tending of our healing, we resist the insistent need of our culture to “just get over it.”

Fergus mattered, his leaving matters, and all of the lessons he shared need our deep love and exploration as well; our sorrow, too, is a gift, and uncultivated gifts offered in our lives, no matter how painful their tilling and digging, leave us shallow, anxious, and less able to extend compassion when we encounter others meeting their losses and necessary times of healing. As the figure in the poem suggests (I hope), we cripple our humanity and deny its depths when we ignore and compound our small griefs, because grief is never insignificant and the treasures it holds as we make meaning of it can change our lives and change the world. Sorrow, like joy, needs to bloom to its fulfillment. Don’t fear your weeping; meet and embrace it. Weeping creates a necessary human music; it eases heart pain; and it does end.

Please grant yourself the time you need to sift through all the “small losses” of your life and wait for their gold to be perceived, to shine and, in the perfect time of healing, to mend your heart. Peace and joy will return; gently flowing through our awareness and spirits as our sorrow and its gifts integrate with who we are now. Balance can be restored because we’ve allowed grief’s imbalance its voice. So much of healing is listening; how lovely, I think, that “silent” and “listen” use precisely the same letters to communicate the vital medicine we must take to be fully human. Always be willing to indulge in silence and listening. 🙂 Great gentle peace in all your joys and your sorrows.

© 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.

Sweet Farewell

Fergus Meeting

(The moment we met. I was video taping hundreds of blackbirds, singing their autumn farewell and heard a little peep behind me on the bridge…I told him if he followed me home, he could stay, but it was chilly, and he was so tiny, so I carried him bome, made a nest for him in the art room downstairs, and waited for Phillip to come home from school, hoping I could ease him into the idea of adding–at that time–a fifth cat to our household. Happily, Phillip was as quickly captivated as I had been. Forever.)

It seems our sweet Fergus has chosen this time of returning light to change worlds, so we’re setting aside almost everything else to be with this parting in our family. He found me, followed me home, made it clear he wasn’t leaving, took his profound place in our hearts, and will always rest in them.

Images don’t capture spirits, and his was sweetness and light, but with a core of steel. He’d been abandoned at birth, marked as feral and left outside his first year, which led to respiratory struggles he’s dealt with every year of his brief 10 years on Earth. He’s always felt like a fragile bird wrapped in downy fluff. He has been a brave and charming fellow who liked to rest in baskets, drawers, bags, chairs, with his siblings, and in our lives, and our letting go is all the harder for the grace and delight he’s blessed us with, and only left us craving more. We will grieve; we will adjust; we will miss him forever.

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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 Lessons of Starlight

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{This is a little story I wrote several years ago, for children grieving losses that aren’t often addressed in age-appropriate and creative texts. The pandemic has taken so many of our beloveds; we know several families who have parted from dear ones through windows, screens, and phone calls. The loss can seem unbearable. Of course, we grieve together in our world; there is no other way, but children are so very sensitive to partings and grief. I believe the healing power of stories can speak to their seeking hearts. I offer my little story here for any comfort it can provide anyone you love, but especially little ones in their sorrow, and ask that, if you share it, you do so with my name–and love–attached. Respectfully, and in gentle peace, be well and safe.}

Papa Charlie and I went camping at the lake.
The pine trees and the waves whispered secrets back and forth.
The firelight snapped and made the shadows dance.
The moon curved like a smile and the stars were very bright.
They were red, and blue, and yellow, and white.

“A family of stars is called a constellation,” said Papa Charlie.
I searched the sky. “There’s the Big Dipper!”
“Good for you, Jack,” said Papa Charlie.
I smiled. “You and I, and Grandma Tess, and Mom, and Dad are a constellation.”
“Yes, we are, Jack,” laughed Papa Charlie.

I pointed and said, “There’s a W.”
“That’s Cassiopeia,” said Papa Charlie. “‘W,’ to remind us we should always ask WHY and keep learning.”
“You’re a good teacher, Papa Charlie,” I said.

“We’re looking at light that started its journey hundreds, even thousands of years ago,” said
Papa Charlie. “Starlight takes a long, long time to travel to Earth, Jack. Even after the star dies and is no longer there, we can look up and see its light coming to us, shining in the darkness. It is like seeing memories of the stars.”

An owl hooted beside the sleepy lake.
I yawned and Papa Charlie coughed.
The fire grew tired and dreamed its orange dreams beneath white ashes.

“Why do people die, Papa Charlie?”
“That’s a good question, Jack. Sometimes the answer to ‘why’ is a mystery.”
“Will we die?” I asked.
“Yes.” Papa Charlie nodded, adding a log to the fire.
“But our light will keep shining,” I said, “like the memories of stars.”
“You’re a good teacher, Jack,” said Papa Charlie.

“Does everything die, Papa Charlie?”
“No, Jack. Love doesn’t die.”

We sat close together and watched the stars.

Papa Charlie carried me to the tent.
The wind sang lullabies.
We all went to sleep: Papa Charlie, the pine trees, the lake, the fire, the wind, the owl, the stars, and me.

After that night, Papa Charlie was very sick.

When I went to visit him, I brought my books and we would learn together.
We learned about birds, and dogs, and bridges, and oceans.
“I still like learning about stars the best,” I told him.
“Me, too,” said Papa Charlie. He held me close and I heard his heart beating.

One day Papa Charlie died.

In the cemetery, the stones were gray.
Our umbrellas and coats and boots were black.
And everywhere, everywhere, white snowflakes whirled around us.

I hugged Grandma Tess. Then, Mom and Dad hugged us, too.
“We are a constellation,” I said.
Our tears glittered like stars.

There is so much I want to understand.

I miss Papa Charlie. I miss learning with him. I miss being still next to him.
I look up at the stars every night. They are red, and blue, and yellow, and white.
I will always see starlight that started its journey the night Papa Charlie and I went camping.

“I can see your light, Papa Charlie,” I say.
“It is always coming to me, shining in the darkness, carrying memories.”
I will keep learning.
And I will remember.
Love doesn’t die.”

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