The Breeze at Dawn: Morning Parties and Daily Communion


…The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want…

~ The Essential Rumi, Coleman Barks 

I’ve always been an early bird, although as I age and sleep less, I seem to enjoy the late hours, too; both ends of the day seem to hold more silence and mystery, inviting deeper meditation time. But there’s a clarity at dawn and a kind of in-breath about the coming light and gift of the day that is absent in the hushed day’s aftermath of dusk. Dawn is anticipation; dusk is the slow out-breath of gratitude for the day. Late night has just become a kind of mysterious stillness, a via negativa emptying time, a final day’s examen that leads to a peaceful sweetness before dreaming.

My father was an early riser, too. His own eagerness and excitement about the new day is something I also seem to have genetically brought forward from some ancient Celtic ancestor.

No matter what the previous day held, the new day is a tabula rasa, full of possibility and certain to offer up its own surprises. It is good to have at least a few moments’ silence to welcome and enter the day with gratitude and clarity, and, as Rumi suggests, to ask of the day what I really want from it, which, I believe, presumes an exchange of energy: I will receive, in part, to the extent I give. I’m reminded, too, that Rumi entreats us to stay awake, less we miss the blessings that cram our days with wonder.

With six 4-leggeds, however, soon and faithfully, “love calls us to the things of the world” (a beautiful poem of Richard Wilbur’s. Subsequent morning rituals demand their enactment.

Phillip takes the dogs, Riley and Clancy, for their morning constitutional while I feed the four cats, Finnegan, Fiona, Mulligan, and Murphy. When the dogs return, they bound up the stairs, full of their joyful, expectant energy regarding a new day’s promise, and then bark at me until I fetch a container of treats and sing the melodically vaudevillian “Morning Party” song:

            It’s a party

            For the babies,

            A party for the babies who are sweet;

            It’s a party

            For the babies…

            Now it’s time to have the Morning Party treat!

What it lacks in poetic depth, it more than makes up for in its enthusiastic reception. Riley jumps (to a startling elevation) in rhythm with the song and percussion of the shaken treat container, and both dogs bark along with my apparently endurable rendition.

The cats, with perfect feline nonchalance, dependably approach the perimeter of excitement—careful to avoid positioning themselves too closely to one-Riley-leaping— and sometimes deign to contribute their voices to the song…it’s quite a production.

When the song is over and I sit on the floor, the 4-leggeds gather in and sit as well, taking their chosen places in the circle, and treats are doled out as their names are called.

I cannot remember how our Morning Party started, but it has often entertained guests who find it hard to believe the animals will daily gather, sit at their same places in the circle, and peacefully share in the “party.” I have considered that the 4-leggeds’ routine participation may just be “anything for a treat,” but I sense it’s more.

I hope it’s due to the hugely instinctual need that all of creation yearns for and satisfies with daily communion; in beginning our work, our art, our relationships, and our days with a love that is inclusive, dependable, and unconditional.

May the breeze at dawn call you into this love and communion as well, and grace your daily round with fair meetings and partings. Let the secrets of the day unfold; don’t go back to sleep.


© 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.

Bright Blessings and Honoring Intuition

This morning, I pondered a day full of tasks, the need to prepare and make ready for Christmas. The list was clearly longer than the possibility of working through it. It outlined dusting, vacuuming, floor-washing, cooking, fetching groceries, writing, and 4-legged-tending…I had better get to it!

But the sun was tickling the sky so mysteriously…my heart felt pulled to be on the trail with the canine 4-leggeds and my camera. Something told me that despite the list, I needed to be out there. I sighed, and decided to trust my intuition and enjoy the dawning of the day. The chores could wait.

Walking eastward into the sunrise was lovely, but it was when I turned back and saw what the sun was creating behind me that I stopped and understood that today, for me, the world’s beauty is gift enough. I can’t polish or scrub anything in my home to equal the value and pleasure of just walking outside and breathing the frosty air, observing the colors and the shifting light offered by the rising sun.

I still had chores to accomplish, but the cloud hanging over them had dissipated; they were easier to do when my outlook and breathing had been changed by our walk. Seasonal music, a mug of tea, and the work was finished in a lighter and more graceful flow than it would have been had I “buckled down” and tackled it first thing this morning.

G.K. Chesterton said, “A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition.” There may have been a time I’d have called that patronizing, but now I think it quite insightful of GK to recognize the gift of intuition and how much more facile women can be at honoring its power and blessedness. Mine has always been quite willing to speak up for herself, clearly and at a high volume, but I didn’t always listen as readily as I do now. Age has made me grateful for the gift and ability to listen when my intuition counters my will. She’s never let me down, and today she led me to another lesson:

Changing our perspective can be as easy as turning around and seeing the world from the sun’s point of view…

 Blessing for the Year’s End

May we be content and at peace with ourselves,

And so with those we love.

May our presence be a blessing to the world:

Our gifts used to heal it;

Our laughter to fill it;

Our energy to protect its health;

Our creativity to partner with its beauty.

May we sift through our losses and find the treasures they yield.

May we have a grateful heart, which seeks and finds

The good, the blessing, the invitation, and the opportunity.

May we love those we love into being themselves, wholly and well.

May we listen to their spirits more than their words.

May we forgive ourselves and others;

May we learn from our hurts.

May we loosen ties that hinder our growing.

May we welcome the journey of transformation,

And lean into Love.

May we be kind. May we first and always be kind.


© 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.

Meeting Life on the Inside: Breathe In

The wheel of the year has turned to the position we call winter; we recognize the year’s shortest day with the solstice and the “sun’s rebirth” as days begin to lengthen again. The daily round is marked with celebrations and traditions honoring sacred understandings of light-in-darkness. Winter offers invitations to explore one’s interior yearning, healing, and relationships, so we may go forth again in spring renewed, centered, and focused upon our unique forms of service and connections to our outer relationships and communities.

The word “hibernate” is derived from the Latin word for winter (hiberno: I winter) and generates the wonderful noun “hibernaculum,” which, zoologically, is the place where an animal winters, and, botanically, is the protective bud or covering a plant uses to survive the challenges of dormancy. I love that the letters of the word “hibernate” form the anagram “breathe in,” for winter is my time for assessing, deepening, and strengthening my meditation practice and more earnestly tending my dreams.

My “hibernaculum” is a small meditation room with a futon, my piano, lovely artwork created by friends, and a beautiful cabinet made my Phillip. I use it to store books, candles, discernment cards, CD’s, and a small TV for viewing the excellent Spirituality and Practice DVD series, Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life as a prelude to meditation. This room is a sanctuary I value; I suppose it’s the feminine spiritual equivalent of a “man cave.” It’s where I go to consciously “breathe in.”

 Coleman Barks, the wonderful translator of the Sufi mystic Rumi’s poetry, tells of a meeting with a spiritual master who asked him, “Will you meet me on the inside or on the outside?”

 Barks recalls that he answered “with English-teacherly evasiveness,” saying, “Isn’t it always both?” Reviewing his response years later, he regrets this attempt at sophisticated cleverness and writes, “I should have bowed and said, Inside.” (From The Drowned Book: Ecstatic and Earthly Reflections of Bahauddin the Father of Rumi, by Coleman Barks and John Moyne.)

This is a time when we gather to celebrate and mark festivities of light with gift-giving. Often the gifts are mere gestures, empty of true, heartfelt meaning. How lovely if we could daily gift ourselves with times of stillness and inner peace, and encourage others to do so as well. Twenty minutes in the morning and the evening are possible; more than that, I have learned, they are necessary, wholly holy, and healing moments of the day, when I may retreat, meditate, and again meet myself “on the inside.”

 At no point in the year’s turning are we more generously invited to be with our authentic selves this way: to sift through blessings, losses, lessons, hopes, realignment, and redirection. Winter speaks to my beloved inner hermit and beckons her to explore and honor the wisdom yielded by another year on the path.

It can be helpful during the time of the solstice to create a timeline of the closing year and note the patterns danced by my spirit. When was I most strongly true to myself and where did my spirit waver? Are there any opportunities to ask for or grant forgiveness and so strengthen relationships in the life I’m creating? What learning do I most desire in the year to come? What do my senses crave; what colors, smells, imagery and totems are calling; what paths are opening? What relationships need mending, tending—or ending? What gifts have been neglected or over-extended? What parts of me need regeneration and where can greater balance be restored?

I truly and happily anticipate this retreat, this time of hibernation and restoration, this annual opportunity to deeply “breathe in,” to bow to Spirit, to greet myself and therefore others with true Namaste. (“My Source/Spirit recognizes, acknowledges, and bows to yours.”)

I sometimes wonder if those who proclaim their dislike of winter are really denying–or fearing–the naked encounter with the self that calls to and from the heart during this season, and if that is the case, I’m sad for their unconscious fear of what, for me, has always been a loving boon and gentle way to welcome a new year. As counter-cultural as stillness and darkness are, entering them openly and with a candle lit by self-compassion can steady and deepen one’s orientation towards, and connection to, the Mystery that is the stillpoint at the center of our existence. Now is always the time, but certainly the winter solstice (when the sun stands still) gentles the spirit inward to gaze on the Love at its center more sweetly than any other time of the year.

May the peace, wisdom, love, and joy of the season be yours.


© 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 Winter Carol

One snowy day a few years ago I was walking down the trail with Riley and Clancy when a melody came into my head. Five miles later, I’d composed a winter carol that communicates what the season means to me, and after this morning’s lovely sunrise over the snow-frosted hills and ice-glazed river, it feels like a good day to share it with you…

 Peace to your day.


 WELCOMING THE STRANGER                         

 See the weary travelers,

Lonely in the night,

In a town of strangers,

Searching for a light,

Praying for a kindness,

Just an open door—

In a world of strangers,

There’s no welcome for the poor.


In a cave that evening,

Meant to shelter sheep,

Love was born to heal us,

Little lamb asleep.

In a world of darkness,

Tossed and blown and wild,

In a world of strangers,

Came the poor to greet the child.


No one is a stranger;

Nothing’s here by chance.

All of life is welcome

In the holy dance.


See the holy family,

Sheltered from the storm,

In a world of strangers,

Love will keep them warm,

Whirling stars are singing,

Angels greet this birth,

Wrapped in rags and mystery,

Lies the richest child on earth.


While the world lay sleeping,

Everything had changed,

Power, wealth, possession,

All was rearranged.

Have we learned the lesson?

Have we even heard?

How we treat the stranger

Is our answer to the Word.



Wealth is found in giving,

Opening the door,

Offering forgiveness,

Sheltering the poor,

Cradling creation,

Saying yes to love,

Welcoming the stranger,

While the angels sing above.



© 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.

50° and Raining (::Joyful Applause::)

As shocking as the revelation may be, I have had a lifelong love affair with winter.

For me, snow is magical in its brilliance and iridescence, and the hushed, cottony silence it bestows is even more captivating. I am not bothered by having to drive more slowly or carefully; in fact, I think it’s an excellent spiritual practice. If I wear enough layers, it’s never too cold for a brisk walk, and I look forward to snow-shoeing and playing in snowbanks with the dogs. Just to sit at a window and watch the snow drift, suspend, and flutter its way down to the earth offers a deeply healing meditation experience. I enjoy the slower pace of winter and I don’t mind that it lasts until spring returns and restores accelerated energy.

My spirit therefore rebels and droops when I wake on a mid-December morn to learn the day will bring an inch of rain and the urge to fire up the grill. (One inch of rain would convert to almost 10 inches of snow. And to be honest, the urge to cook on the grill exists and is satisfied by many Wisconsinites all year round. But still.)

So I’m going to play Christmas music, read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and make caramels. I’m trying to welcome the day as gracefully as I can, despite the fact that I just caught and released an Asian beetle and a box elder bug who were hanging around indoors. (“Go outside and play!”) When I stood on the porch observing their limb-stretching joy at being set into a warmer environment than they’d enjoyed inside my home, I couldn’t help noticing the equally cheerful green weeds sprouting in the front garden.


Phillip and I went to see the movie Hugo last weekend. Now that I’ve had eye surgery, we thought it would be fun to try a 3-D movie.

It was lovely.

The opening long-shots of 1930’s Paris during a snowfall, took my breath away. The story captivated everyone in the theater; I could sense our little community of parents, children, and couples were caught up in the magic and very willing to suspend disbelief and live within the story for its duration.

The movie’s sets were primarily dark, with little color or vivid relief, and the pacing slowed as the story explored themes of loss and renewal. I felt my focus move from the film to the audience at times, and wondered if the young children might lose their connection and become bored, but my attention would again be drawn into the film and, frankly, I forgot about everything else until it ended.

Which is when the magic really happened.

Just as the final shot subsided, from seats throughout the theater came a chorus of children’s sighs, those little fairy gasps we humans create when we’re released from the sacred spells life casts and so surprises and holds our spirits enthralled. Adults don’t release these spirit-filled breaths very often; we don’t look long or deeply enough to realize we’re always stepping through magic portals.

And then, as if on some synchronized cue, the children began to clap, the most joyful and innocent music I’ve heard in a long time. No other sound; just children, clapping their joy and gratitude. Phillip and I paused a moment; it seemed all the adults, sitting in the otherwise silent dark, paused as well. We could feel energy shifting. Astonished by the forgotten or misplaced purity of delight calling to us from our long-ago childhoods, we located, adjusted, and then tossed away our painstakingly-designed adult ego-masks, and freely joined in the clapping. Not a thoughtless reflex, but a response of gratitude for the deep joy of art, the feelings it elicits, the hopes it engenders, the connections it creates.

It was an experience of pure gift I’ll always associate with this film. Like all memories, I can re-visit it whenever I need its blessings to nourish and water my spirit.

Like today.

I believe a new spiritual practice may be to freely and whole-heartedly applaud throughout the daily round. Especially as a response to events that are other than I desire.

The cats are snoozing beneath the Christmas tree as happily as ever (clap!), the dogs will enjoy our walk in the rain as much as they enjoy every walk (clap!), and I’ll have caramels to savor and share when we watch tonight’s Christmas movie (clap!).

Create and share your art. Applaud the art of others.

It’s always a wonderful life.


© 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.


Oh Earth, You Are Too Wonderful

Ah! A full moon and its total eclipse; what wonders are set before us in the daily round!

Taking the time to see them or apprehend them through whatever sense they harness and ride towards our awareness is such gift. Just to distinguish and value their unique “is-ness” and to appreciate their fleeting existence is life at its holiest.

This is a glorious time of year for seeing old friends and sharing visits that allow us to “catch up” on one another’s journeys. But it can also be a hectic time of year: the month has only four weeks, like any other, after all, and they can quickly be filled with visits and parties and baking and readying our home…this year, with Christmas on a Sunday, the time for all of these annual rituals and festivities feels even more quickened and precariously scheduled…at times, I begin to feel burdened. There are too many cards to send; too many cookies to bake; too many appointments; no time to work on my writing… Gad! The floor’s a mess and it’s time to walk with the 4-leggeds and guests are due soon …

I’ve trained myself well enough to sense the moment when my feelings tip from peaceful to anxious, and when my heart’s gratitude becomes clouded with resentment; usually, this means I’m not breathing mindfully, or I need to sit and stare out the window for a while, or it’s time to juggle and rearrange plans…or take a nap.

Just stop. Slow my spirit down.

I was pondering these things and my over-filled calendar very early this morning as I awaited the moon’s eclipse at Full Moon Cottage. We so-named our home one long-ago May, when we spent our first night in our “new” home lying on a ready-made bed in the otherwise empty living room, with its tall, bare windows filling the wall we faced. The home needed so much work. The bedrooms weren’t even habitable just yet, and we didn’t want to move furniture into rooms that needed imminent demolishing and reconstruction. So there we were: far enough away from the nearby towns to enjoy moonlight and starlight more fully than ever, and the full moon’s brilliance actually brought me out of my dreams. I remember whispering Phillip into wakefulness and asking him what on earth was happening. I could see the lawn and trees, and the trees’ shadows—everything aglow and magically lit. What fantastic enchantment was creating this? (I can’t believe I was that much of a city mouse, but there you go.)

What on earth indeed. How gifted we are to have such phenomena (“things appearing to view”) offered for our delight here on our earth every moment, every day—and night. The invitation, always, is to essentially see who and what is before us. I’m reminded of those heart-breaking, haunting lines from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, when Emily’s spirit is permitted to re-visit a day from her life and she grieves—really seeing how little we appreciate the holiness of our lives, just as they are:

Emily: Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me…just for a moment now we’re all together, Mama; just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s really look at one another! (Pause) I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-bye, Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?

Stage Manager: No. (pause) The saints and poets, maybe they do some.

In a few weeks, another holiday season will have passed. I don’t want it to pass in a blur; I want to see and “be with” every moment, so far as that’s possible. And with all the precious moments that follow. Anticipation of coming events is lovely, but not when it leapfrogs ahead of the here and now. Less baking, minimum cleaning, no shopping: I’m allowing the time I have to “open” and give me the room to be present to the people and 4-leggeds I cherish and our precious time together. I want to look at them all, and the dear world around us, to really see, deeply listen, and truly be with them.

In the end, we couldn’t see the eclipse; instead, we enjoyed a mug of coffee and sat on the eastern side of the house, watching a glorious sunrise over the river. A horned owl flew low over the frosted lawn, pursuing a rabbit, who scampered and just managed to squeeze safely under the deck. Phillip warmed my hands after my frigid dash down our l-o-n-g driveway—wearing my nightgown—to photograph the moon. Ah! The sky presented a dazzling interpretation of the red-orange-yellow end of the spectrum, and the mint-flavored coffee tasted like heaven. Together, we toasted the new day we knew would be full of the wonders the earth set before us.

Peace and All Good.


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



On the Path

Phillip sent me a link to an article from The Utne Reader with a note saying,    “…but you knew this already.” The article, titled “Mother’s Care,” speaks to research and therapeutic success in using time spent outdoors to heal the mind-body-spirit, and is excerpted from a new book, The Nature Principle by Richard Louv. (You can read the article here: Mother’s Care.)

The bike trail we live beside is about 50 miles long, and over the last 15 years, it has become my church, my sanctuary, and the place where my greatest healing has taken place. I have biked through hundreds of miles of grief and joy along this path; I have photographed and walked the same ten miles through every season; I have served as sacristan and cleaned the trail’s littered desecration; I have harvested raspberries and mulberries, and saved wildflowers from reckless mowing and destructive snowmobiles.

This bike trail was once a railroad track; her old mile markers and bridges have become hugely metaphorical for me in the years I’ve walked her. I know the trees; I note the dates that species of birds and wildflowers return each spring. I witness evolution: one year the wild roses are plentiful; the next year Queen Ann’s Lace overwhelms all the other plants (though the past several years, it’s been the invasive garlic mustard). I count the blue herons and mourn their diminishing numbers. I stop to watch turkeys, deer, squirrels, hedgehogs, foxes, raccoons (and skunks!) dance their own lives along, or across, the trail. I hear the mournful cries of coyotes at dusk. And all the while, as I observe, and photograph, and walk, and walk, I have been healed and I am healing.

I call my journal “On the Path” after my heart’s home. It holds many reflections from healing lessons offered to me while walking the trail. My cat, Sally, died just as I was feeling balanced again following my father’s death. I had lived with her longer than I’d lived with another sentient being and was staggered by the weight of her loss.

June 5, 2004

Sally died Tuesday…it is now Saturday, a glorious June morning with all the light, sparkle and promise one would wish of the 5th day of June.  Happy brides are anticipating their weddings and gardeners are eagerly tackling their many chores in fragrant and beckoning gardens…I miss Sally every minute; I see her everywhere…or rather, look for her and sometimes find myself calling or singing one of our many songs. So many rituals—21 years’ worth come September—have been abruptly halted.

But grief so easily slips into self-indulgence, the country of sadness and inertia, an excuse for disengaging from responsibilities and the daily round of details that keep one connected to life, a moody rejection of the joys life offers by the armful every moment. It becomes a selfish feast for the ego rather than a tribute to the life of the freshly departed. “Look at me: I’m sad and bereaved and separate from all humanity and special for the pain I’m feeling. Unique in my loss.”

The night after she left, Phillip took the puppies for their walk and I chanced upon a quote I’d posted where I’d always see it and therefore am blind to it and never see it at all… St. Francis de Sales: “Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you”…and right after I sat with those ideas for a moment, P. came in with two lovely and rarely discovered cardinal feathers he’d been gifted right in the middle of the trail—where they hadn’t been a few minutes earlier, on the way out—we both felt they were from Idgi and Sally, a message in feathers—our family code for spirit and communication from places far away and unreachable—“See ya soon! We’ll be waiting. All’s well.”

And on we go to Love, not yet, but soon, our home.

Less than a year later, I was mourning the loss of my mother. My journal and the trail again offered healing.

March 11, 2005

Journeying with the loss of Mama:  (one month)

I agree that life is strange and new and I’m making it up day by day. Some days are easier. Yesterday was gray and cold, and a 12-hour snowfall was gorgeous, but the silence and darkness yanked me down into depression after a while. The birds are singing their spring songs, which is heartening. Tomorrow is Mama’s birthday. I miss her very, very much. 

I wish I could FEEL her essence is somewhere, still, recognizable, and as happy as I want so much to believe she is…Other days, I’m more able to see that blessings accompany even one’s grief.  My capacity for joy is strangely enhanced, perhaps by my psyche’s attempts to keep me emotionally balanced so that neither the depths nor heights are tipping the scale—or perhaps because of the relief that accompanies a loved one’s death. I no longer have to fear it or dread it, and Mama’s suffering is over. Or maybe because my own mortality is finally irrefutable and so why NOT take extraordinary pleasure in a cardinal’s mating song?

For the past 10 years, our 4-legged companions Riley and Clancy have walked the trail with me. Their happy spirits and canine approach to life have blessed me with deeper healing and an ability to live utterly in the moment. We celebrate our time together on these walks.

Long walks also take me deep within my spirit, allowing my imagination to parade its gifts and magic across the stage of my mind. There are days we head out for our five-mile walk and the next thing I know, we’re home again. This means I have to bound upstairs and take notes, because I’ve been “living within” some story plot and solved a problem or two, or written a poem, or outlined a new development/character/idea that needs to be tethered before I leave the deep meditative consciousness yielded by time on the trail. As John Muir noted, “…going out, I found, is really going in.”

Other days we wander and spend time staring at the river, or, as we did this morning, observing great horned owls and hawks dueling along the river, and another immense flock of sandhill cranes bleating their way southward.

Nature is our home; she is the great Mother who welcomes, heals, nourishes, teaches, and celebrates our spirits. Her gifts are threatened when we are not regularly engaged with her, and able to feel and benefit from her touch, smell, sounds, and mysteries. “Outside” becomes foreign rather than part of us, and nature quickly devalues to another source of profit, regardless of the permanent destruction and loss this causes. This is happening right now, in Wisconsin, where mining laws may quickly be changed to allow the devastation of precious geological formations and habitats, all in the name of income fueled by its usual sources, power and greed.

What we don’t value, we surrender, and so we forever lose connections vital to our well-being. If a part of creation meant to heal us has been destroyed, we’ll never be healed as we might have been, but rather, continue to accrue losses and brokenness, which will ultimately be reflected in our people and the institutions we perpetuate. What’s fed, thrives; what’s neglected, dies and disappears.

Physical healing can happen through drugs and machines; spiritual directors may help us guide our spirits to greater wholeness; skilled therapists may help us restore our emotional balance, but nothing replaces the deep mind-body-spirit mending and healing offered by nature.

Give yourself the gift of time outside.

Tell those who would destroy the earth to take a hike.


© 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.



Living an Enchanted Life

Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight;

Make me a child again, just for tonight.

~ Elizabeth Allen, Rock Me to Sleep

Every day during the Advent Season, my mother would hang a Christmas ornament or set out a different decoration. When we came home after school, my brothers and I excitedly searched the house, trying to be the first to find some new Santa, elf, or angel.

Our stockings were hung on December 5th, St. Nicholas Eve, with letters for Santa earnestly describing our wishes, and we always received one little gift from St. Nick in return, along with a letter written in his elegant script. (Our imaginations were fully capable of conflating and separating St. Nicholas and Santa Claus as necessary; one is the other, after all, and “both” had a role in the seasonal flow that came to be our highly anticipated magical routine.) We were extra careful to behave during the weeks leading to Christmas as well, certain that elves were recording our every move. Once or twice, we woke up to find a lump of coal or a willow switch in our stocking, as symbolic warnings that we’d failed to be kind to each other, or we’d find an orange or chocolate to reward us for extra-generous choices.

We always had an Advent wreathe and crèche set out; the infant Jesus couldn’t appear till Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass, and then the Wise Men had to start parading from some distance, another room perhaps, until they arrived at the manger on the Epiphany which, in those days, was always January 6th.  As they got older, my brothers liked to rearrange the animals and vary the positions of the wise men, usually in extremely unenlightened ways, to my mother’s annoyance (and perhaps secret delight, for this, too, became family tradition).

The energy of these memories, rituals of wonder, and charming customs circles around my heart as I set out my own decorations and tree, reconfiguring traditions into shapes that fit our beliefs and lives now, but also offering blessing and gratitude for the wonder, the love, and the gift of enchantment our parents gave us, especially during this beautiful season of darkness and renewal. Today, I placed one of Mama’s old Santas on a copper rooster weather vane I gave to my parents many, many years ago. The juxtaposition made me yearn so deeply for their presence that I cried.

I’m one of those fortunate people who can say I had a wonderful childhood, in large part due to my parents’ sense of fun and willingness to be the architects of a home that was safe, loving, and committed to our opportunities to actually have childhoods within set and known boundaries. Television wasn’t prominent enough to rob us of our imaginations and books were plentiful. When we were very young we were read to once or twice a day and when we started school, we’d come home at lunch and often hear another chapter or fairy tale. I never doubted the “truth” of these tales and have since discovered that, of course, they are true, and in our lives, we play and encounter most of the characters, at one time or another.

I’ve been reflecting on the “enchantment” of my childhood this week, as I’ve been re-reading Thomas Moore’s The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, along with Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment.

While Bettelheim focuses on fairy tales’ deeply important contributions to a child’s psychological health and development, Moore reminds us that every aspect of our daily lives deserves to be grounded in the enchantment granted by a spirit-infused perspective. 

Too many of our homes, workplaces, churches, schools, political institutions and lives are completely bereft of reverence for the spirit and thus, they render days of drudgery and unimaginative perspectives. When we live unenchanted with life, the world offers only stale inhalations of fetid air and exhalations of futility. The spirit shrivels.

At my core, I believe life is enchanting, and I know this is because of my parents and the childhood I was gifted. As an adult, I’ve done my share of stumbling; like everyone, I’ve suffered and caused the suffering of others due to choices that strayed from my inherent soul-truths. At times, I’ve followed paths that silenced my spirit and guided me solely by desire and ego gratification. As I reflect on these choices and times, I can see they corresponded to periods when I lost touch with the enchantment every moment offers. If that sense of enchantment is present and alive, we carry life with greater reverence and acknowledge its value as precious and unique.

My mother made every holiday special and every day holy; I miss her light always but more dearly during this sweet time of year. I miss my childhood family— our stories, our ability to nestle within reliable routines and exciting fantasies, and the annual re-enactments of our rituals. I miss my childhood, but what a lovely reminder this offers to infuse life—right now— with an enchanted perspective, so I don’t “miss” my adulthood as well.

I can’t “be a child again,” but I can nourish my spirit by seeking, with child-like openness to enchantment and wonder, the light that is always present in darkness, and by holding in my heart the certainty that Love is always advancing towards us, with arms wide open, inviting us into its enchanting embrace.

May this be a season of love, peace, insight, and enchantment for you and those you love.

And don’t forget to hang your stockings!


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