Metamorphosis

You,
in the cocoon of quarantine,
have you felt it yet?
 
The command to slow down?
The old heart stopping?
The old parts melting?
The new you finding its way
to rebirth?
 
The instructions came with you (they were there all the time),
imaginal discs waiting for this Now,
this necessary moment:
this time to transfigure.
 
You,
in the tomb of transformation,
don’t emerge too soon, unformed
ill-prepared for the world that awaits you.
 
Die, again, to all the ways you are not you.
Evolve, becoming everything you came to be,
rising on wings (they were there all the time),
then kissing a flower
and carrying love across the garden
to the next
and the next,
forever.
 
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Gifts

Dear Friends,

I have received such lovely versions of artistic collaboration with my poem, In the Time of Pandemic, and wanted to share some of this remarkable creativity and artistry with you. I so love the way artists have been inspired to augment and enhance my words with their creativity, and all for the good of us all.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

  1. This is the amazing work of the musical improvisation group, Epiphany, from the UK: https://youtu.be/BSkLh0Bsens

 

2. This is the gifted work of a young man in Italy, Joe Natta:

 

3. And here is a link to a beautiful reading by my friend, Prakath P. Gopinath, from Trivandrum, India, who also known as Trivandrum’s Bicycle Mayor.

 

4. And here is one by Bo Lundvang, in Sweden, with exquisite music by Philip Daniel Zach:

 

5. Here is a version from Amos Bracewell:

 

6.  Here is song composed by Roberto Zamora that is so beautiful our 5 dogs sing along with it:

 

7. And this lovely video was created by Kes Cardoso, and is remarkable in its simplicity and beauty:

 

8. Here is a lovely version, composed and beautifully sung by Katie Smith:

 

9. This version is from Vlad Panov. He and his friend, Matt Adshead create music together. Vlad sings and plays all the instruments on this song:

10. Jane Foote is an RN at the Mayo Clinic. This is her Soundcloud version of the song she composed using my poem as inspiration. She has another version at CDBaby…any money earned will go to buy masks for healthcare workers and/or be donated to the Red Cross.

 

11.  Peter Mostert is a senior film editor who worked beautifully with pacing on this filmed version of the poem. I especially like the fast cuts showing the great suffering we have caused our earth and leading to the glorious shots of her possible healing.

I’m happy for him that this gave his amazing creativity an outlet…I really do try to encourage people who come to me for that, but it’s been tricky, as many haven’t asked first, and then want to enter joint copyrights and etc., which isn’t possible…but here’s Peter’s work. He did ask, and isn’t looking to make money…just art.

 

12. Voleo, a musical group in Barcelona, featuring this very talented couple, Neus and Jose, composed this song version. I LOVE the hope and joy that sings out from their music!

 

13. An extremely talented composer and pianist, Peta Williams, from the gorgeous Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia, composed this piece, using the poem…all the musicians were in isolation, so the creation of anything using technology like that both befuddles and amazes me. Just listen to this; I bet you’ll play it more than once. I love how Peta emphasizes that she created this wonder out of, and for, love. Artists like Peta are such a gift to us all, and to our healing.

 

14. The poem has been translated into so many languages, and I love when these are shared. Joana shared this with me, in Lithuanian, using a photo that reminds her of her grandparents’ home:

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15. An astonishing choral interpretation of “In the Time of the Pandemic,” by British composer Clive Whitburn, and sung by The New Network Singers Virtual Choir. Ray Burnside and Stephanie Grainger created the artwork and video. All are in East Sussex, UK. The score for choirs is available for free on Clive’s website:

Many people have taken the time and effort to translate the poem into their own beautiful languages, and I am so grateful for that. Forgive me if I have neglected to share a creative endeavor that was offered to me; please share it in the comments!

I thank everyone who has shared their art with me and others; it is so wonderful that we can meet and co-create, and support, and heal each other all the way through this…and by “this,” I mean our lives. Bless you all. Stay safe, be well, and gentle peace.

Joy to you, gratitude, and great, great love.

Hospitality

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Several words are tangled in the etymology  of the word, “hospitality.” It is derived from the Latin hospes, giving us the words host, hospice, hospital, hostel, and hotel, and is therefore connected to the specific metonymies of guest, stranger, and welcome, and to images of lodging and respite where one’s needs are met with attentive compassion.

When our bodies serve as disease vectors harboring bacteria, parasites, and viruses capable of killing us, we are scientifically termed “hosts,” despite our inclination to close the door to these specific visitors. Sometimes, closing the door is the intelligent choice.

But, beyond the physical, we offer shelter to the thoughts and feelings that storm or gently cross the threshold of our hearts and spirits. We are the gatekeepers of our response to each encounter, and we must be mindful of our choices, always.

It is human, healthy, proper, and perfectly acceptable to feel fear, anger, sorrow, and despair. It is important to feel the full and sacred spectrum of what it means to be human. We must honor our abilities to recognize loss, our capacity for empathy, our yearning for community. We must mourn our losses, and they are staggering. It is our responsibility to listen to these feelings, to comfort, and to heal them. Over and over.

And it is also our deeply human responsibility to fashion and live out responses that honor our uniquely human capacity for hope, love, and creativity.

This current virus has already begun its horrifying march of destruction through the earth’s people; we do not have to also grant it the power to destroy our humanity, our courage, our impulse to love, our need to connect with and support each other. Rather, let us widen the doors of our hearts to hold this suffering, to look for ways to offer blessing, and to seek the opportunities to create love that meet us every moment, always. Our human longing to offer and receive hospitality bids us to open the door.

My husband and I have a front door that’s always open to guests. Our commitment to our eight 4-leggeds comes with the sacrifice of frequent journeys far from home to vacation and connect with loved ones. Thankfully, friends and family drop in, stop over, and come by with a frequency that hallows our home and keeps the energy merry. We mourn the loss of these other voices, these kindred spirits, these life-giving companions on our journey. As with all of us these days, no one is knocking at the door, no bells are announcing imminent embrace.

The absence of these visitors and its dreadful source are deeply saddening and fearful. We become frozen in moments robbed of hope.

And then, we go for a walk and see the signs of spring, everywhere, telling us the world can heal. We can practice the earth’s hospitality of welcoming life, of nurturing hope, of becoming the safe harbor of love. 

This week, a pair of finches has built its nest over the light that welcomes guests to our front door. Already, 5 delicate eggs, each a miracle, are warmed by their mother. Life wins, dear friends. Life always wins. Welcome it. Celebrate its renewal. We must never, ever, close the door of our heart to the possibility of guests–human, winged, feathered, scaled, many or few-legged, dreamt, or imagined–who will entertain us, like angels, with blessing.

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people and hallelujah is our song. ~ Pope John Paul II

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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 Light That Matters

 

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Living the hours, when bodies are confined
and spirits reaching…

Begin:
Wake to the morning light.
Welcome the earth’s rhythms.
Join her ancient dance.
Improvise in delight.

Then:
Silence the voices, panicked and chaotic,
crashing in on elsewhere waves.
Open sacred space to stillness.
Inquire within.
Breathe.

Finally:
Recall that seeds are planted
in the welcome womb of earth,
and in her darkened dwelling
birth their roots.
And, when the daylight fades,
sit in the holy darkness.
Tell stories.
Listen.

Turn to the stars, the Love from which we came:
Welcome the delicate tremble, the flickering wave,
the long goodbyes
sent eons ago,
reminding us, in this moment:
We are the light that matters.

Enlight162

 

© 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 Work of Our Lives

squirrel buddy

We hear you.
We see right through you.

It isn’t about our peace, safety, or welfare.
It never was.

Lives bled of the sacred;
our labor, our time, our energy
line your pockets and homes with gold.

You don’t panic on our behalf.
You’re not desperate for our lives,
for our children,
for our earth.

Hush.
Stop.
Find your way back to humanity.

We will wait.
Safe.
Together.
This is the work of our lives:
Growing beyond the walls you offer.
Compassionate.
Healing.
Creating.

Will you join us?

Choose wisely.

Baby Fox

 

 

© 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.

 

Via Dolorosa

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Some days, there are no words.
There is only weeping.
And that is also prayer.
And that is also healing.

Death-to-resurrection,
the circle tightens
but never ends.
Today, we travel the arc of grief.

May our tears water the earth.
Soft rains creating new life,
uprising, green, and nurtured
by our sorrow.

Oh, sweet bird,
sing your song of spring;
lift our hearts on your wings;
carry us to 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.

Traveling the Circle

“We’re all just walking each other home.”  ~ Ram Dass

Sunrise Running Men

Please, read this. 

Then, turn off the phone, shut down the anxiety-driven frenzy of media and say, “I will die.”

Begin the work now.

I will die; you will die; everyone you love will die. Every living thing will die. 

If that’s hard, I get it. A well-examined life and death are very hard and the meaning we assign them must be continually engaged.

Yes, it’s painful. It requires facing truths, sorting, asking forgiveness, making difficult decisions, changing, and surrender.

With compassion, I invite you to do it, anyway. 

Do this very important work. Now. 

I will die; you will die; everyone you love will die. Every living thing will die.

Spirit Bird

Healthcare workers are in a hell of death right now, and families are still denying death, demanding their aged, dying loved ones be put through more suffering than they can endure, accusing doctors and nursers and social workers and respiratory therapists of murder, believing a vent, if there were one, would absolutely ensure survival.

News flash: If you need a vent, you’re already closer to death than you’ve likely been.

The dying begins at birth; our bodies are miraculous machines; they also, like cars, begin to depreciate the second they roll out of the factory.

I will die; you will die; everyone you love will die. Every living thing will die.

The deep denial of this in our culture, also spoon-fed from birth, created a Western medical model that also, still, struggles with this truth. Cardio-pulmonary physicians and surgeons still aren’t adequately trained in allowing the reality of death to flow in congruence with the impetus to heal. They’re engineers; their brains and necessary gifts are focused on fixing. And we should be damn grateful for their gifts and expertise. We enter hospitals desiring to be fixed.

And we should also be educated and challenged to know how to turn from these gifted experts to cradle, accept, and even welcome our dying in peace and comfort when that sacred time has signaled its invitation.

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15 years ago, when I walked the halls of a hospital to listen, to offer comfort where I may, to ease the hard decisions, to help prepare loved ones for loss, or start them on the long road of grief, I was privileged to serve on a new Palliative Care Team struggling for funding and acceptance among all those engineers. Here is how the that team handled a death: 

When specialists noted a patient’s chances for stabilization were falling, we hoped for a consult. Often, the specialists resisted this. Death was failure. The expertise, the god-like power to save and work miracles, the inability to surrender, the lack of living with an acceptance of death was very strong in Western medicine. In some places, it still is.

I will die; you will die; everyone you love will die. Every living thing will die.

On those graced occasions when our Palliative Care Team was called to consult the families and, if possible, the patient, options were discussed and the topic of death approached, with respect, dignity, and honesty: how it could look; how it might be supported; and, conversely, what the dying could look like if “every attempt” were made to “save” this life. What was the true quality of life desired? Was it possible?

The families listened. Sometimes they heard what we said; often, they didn’t. Shock, grief, fear, and anger were common. We would start again. 

Some families cohered. They had a common orientation regarding how they would offer support to the one they loved; or their beliefs about life and death were shared and directed their decisions; or they’d already had these thoughts and conversations, and knew what path they were on. These were encounters that worked honestly with the reality of death and acknowledged the mystery ushering us all from our first through our last breath. Love and peace were easily accessed and shared by everyone in these experiences. Patients could be transferred to hospice in time to be made comfortable, with pain managed, surrounded by loved ones, and the music, voices, or joyful symbols of their lives and lasting legacies within view.

More often and, again, if we even received the referral from the engineers, we needed to start over, share everything a second or third time, or loop in a family member by phone, or wait for her arrival, usually with a lot more baggage than visible. There would be arguments. Patients would die before family members arrived. Families would break. Or they would all choose to put a dying member, already fragile and with one or more advanced diseases, through invasive surgery, transfer to a nursing home, and, frequently, death by pneumonia, after weeks of pain and suffering.

Because loved ones couldn’t let go. 

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I will die; you will die; everyone you love will die. Every living thing will die.

In the ICU, where in-hospital deaths usually occurred, the family was invited to wait outside the room as life support was removed. Rarely could they stay as long as they needed to, or derive much peace in an antiseptic hospital room, though we tried to use attractive quilts, flowers, and dimmed lights to lend some suggestion of the sacred and the dignity owed a human’s leave-taking. We shared consciously ticking time in conversation, prayer, memories, began the forever journey of adjustment, and then they would leave. Our Palliative Care Team and the chaplain staff pushed against this undercurrent of urgency, requested whatever time was necessary, but…Western healthcare. Time is money. ICU rooms need to be available. 

The family, in deep grief, would support each other down the hallways to the front elevators, embrace and weep their partings on some cold and windy gas-stained floor of the parking lot, and drive away.

The body of the departed patient, still a shaming medical failure, an embarrassment, was covered and quietly wheeled to a back elevator and sent to the morgue. The butterfly decal would be removed from the door of patient’s former room: No death here!

How much healthier the deaths at hospice were: Family were present and comforted every step of the way. Patients and family were guided through necessary forgiveness of self and each other. Family and loved ones were witnesses to the pain management and attention given to their loved one; they were helped in setting aside their anxieties and focusing on the one preparing to leave. They were invited to reassure the dying one that he was loved, that it was O.K. to leave whenever he was ready, that his family would love and care for each other and also be “O.K.”

And when he died, a procession of family and friends sang his body down hallways lined with every caregiver in the building who could be present, and out to a hearse, where blessing, prayer, poetry, and song could be offered before another farewell was shared.

Death as life-giving.

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I will die; you will die; everyone you love will die. Every living thing will die.

Palliative Care Teams and hospice workers are now better accepted and better funded, and working in greater collaboration with their gifted colleagues. 

And they are all standing in the midst of this crisis, risking their own deaths, nightmarishly under-equipped, sinfully unprotected, struggling without breaks, working against time, trying to infuse an overwhelming crisis with compassion, allocation of resources, adherence to ethics, and respect for patients and families. 

The last thing they need right now is a denial of death on the part of anyone. 

They are sacrificing everything for us.

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We are so loving towards our other animal companions when they are dying. We are so wide awake and so very present to their need to die in peace. Can we offer this strength and support and true love to ourselves and our human loved ones?

I will die; you will die; everyone you love will die. Every living thing will die.

We must make peace with our dying. In a crisis like this, there is not time to deny and demand the impossible. Surrender must be offered with immediacy, with a readiness derived from our own hard work in accepting death. Any moment may snatch our loved ones from us, and we must have that deep well of strength built upon our own philosophies and theologies, that allows us to say Yes. Goodbye. I love you. I will be O.K. Do not suffer. Let go. I accept this. 

Heron Pensive

And, then we grieve. We weep and wail; we move through time smeared with tears, and strangeness, and adaptation, naming the voids beside us and yearning for their physical, corporeal return till we can endure to breathe again and see that the void was always filled with memory and spirit and the felt presence of the one who has died. Who has changed worlds. Who bids us reconnect with our lives on this side of the mystery. 

The generosity and compassion of accepting our death and the death of everything we love then freely flows to healthcare workers who are not “rationing,” but heartbreaking their way through every moment of this crisis. 

I will die; you will die; everyone you love will die. Every living thing will die. This is the Lenten journey for Christians; other faiths honor the journey as well. 

Death always gives life, and we must realize this, too. Spring and fertility return. Creation continues. Legacies are passed on; they shape who we become, and we are always becoming. This is called Easter. Humans have always honored the circular rhythms of life. We must find our back to them.

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Saying hello plants the seed of saying farewell. Intimacy ends in separation. Life and death are partners. One feeds the other in a circle both devastating and miraculous.

Look for the green and growing. Nurture it. Seek opportunities to heal and be healed. Be kind. Be present. Forgive. Live with heartbreak. Share gratitude for every breath, for every opportunity to love. And love wildly.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for commercial interest. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.