Legacy

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It comes for everyone, doesn’t it?
The inevitable end of all this, the flower petals
falling, the leaves falling, the day falling into night.

Here’s what I’ll remember, though:
Sitting in the garden on your last morning,
holding your hand, breathing as one,
till your head softly tipped,
your breath slowed,
and stopped,
death so gentle and
so gently deserved.

I kissed you and sat
still, soft tears falling,
watching the butterfly’s wing-tattered
body-battered flight
through the holy-colored brilliance
to the pinkest bloom,
where it came to perfect stillness
and drank deeply of life
as thought it would last forever.

And in that moment,
everything I’d ever loved about you
came clear–
This
was the theme of your life, your constant song:
Choose joy, drink it in, share its light.

And, as the butterfly rose again, and your spirit, too,
unbound, untethered,
illumined within and without,
you (I know it was) brushed
against the poppy’s ghost,
and I saw
I saw the tiny seeds
falling
spilling to the waiting earth.

I should have expected this:
You always left me
gifted and blessed.

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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.

Hard Times, Come Again No More

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We’ve had a week of summer weather that’s fantasized about in icy midwinter, and it ended in rainstorms that the gardens desperately needed. They drank deeply and freshened up—a good thing, since now we and the gardens are in for a week of hellish heat and humidity. Rain always brings a bumper crop of weeds, too, (where were they yesterday?!), so I need to pull them before the heat flattens me. Quickly, and back inside.

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Knowing I’ll be indoors most of the week, I’ve decided to reconsider paint colors. I love everything about interior design, but have always been especially drawn to cottage/farmhouse styles. For a couple of years after Phillip retired, we ran a little local business we called Crawfish River Trading Company. We designed and made cabinetry, benches, tables, and accents to sell in pop-up’s and at outdoor vintage markets, and had a lot of fun with it, especially during the holidays. My favorite part was picking out and applying the paint colors, and then aging the pieces a bit. Phillip had a much heavier workload, actually creating all the pieces I dreamed up (which is not heavy lifting, at all), and he grew weary of repeating a lot of the same patterns, so after two years, he decided it was more fun to just focus on special orders for clients, and the shows and pop-up’s ended.

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I miss the creative energy of designing cabinets and choosing hardware and colors. Now, when I need to soothe myself and relax, and I need a break from either fretting or writing, or reading (!), I pull out bags of paint chips I’ve collected, and play. There’s really no other word for it. I play. With paint chips. I was always a very cheap date, and I am apparently still cheaply and easily amused. I pick out favorite colors in all their various shade gradations, decide which room I’m re-doing, and then play, which is really kind of a meditation, just picking and sorting through colors until I’ve found the most appealing combination, the one that enchants me. And then, I set it on a ledge for a few days so I can revisit it under all kinds of light variations. If a combination of colors continues to enchant, I tape it together and save it. If we’re actually going to paint a piece or a room, I buy samples of my favorites and paint part of the furniture or wall with them, and again, we check the colors under morning light, midday, and evening light, on cloudy and sunny days. We still end up making a wrong choice now and then, but way less than when we were younger. (I recall a ghastly attempt at trying to make a few walls look like aged plaster that involved glazes and a brown gel patina that made the room look like something extremely unfortunate had occurred.) Luckily, Phillip–along with being unattached to color choices and unfazed by his wife playing with color chips–has a very good eye for color, and can usually restrain my more impulsive choices. Usually.

It’s kind of an emotional and spiritual exercise as well, I suppose, since, while I sort through piles of paint chips, I can explore those colors I’m now attracted to, the motivation to bid farewell to the colors and design we currently have in place, and what I’m seeking in changing it around. What’s my heart yearning for now?

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Today, I had all my possibilities arranged on the rug, just so, when Murphy, our eldest cat and 4-legged, decided it would be pleasing to roll all over them, jumbling them up and swatting a few around. He was also letting me know it was time to provide him, and his siblings, a canned treat. The cats rule when the pups nap. I served as I was bidden, and returned to my paint chips, and suddenly saw all the colors I’d been playing with today were really all gradations of browns and creams, with a soft green here and a blue-green there. I guess for me, this is a “pandemic-and-everything-else” palette, colors for nesting and feeling comforted. Nothing vivid, nothing exciting, nothing inspiring me to act so much as inviting me to rest. And that seems wise, because I struggle against rest when it feels like I’m “doing” so little to begin with these days. I still (and probably always will, till with breath do I part) need to be reminded to listen to my heart and spirit at least as much as I listen to my head. Years of offering spiritual care has taught me I’m not alone in this. Way too much conditioning has taught us we are only as worthy as our last task verifies. I am grateful to our quarantine time for inviting some hard work in turning from too much hard work, and shifting more often during the day to periods for play and rest. One day, I watched 6 hours of Downton Abbey; I never do that. It was like a vacation.

These are hard times, and though we may wish they weren’t here, they are, and they’re not ending anytime soon. The stress each of us is enduring is profound, and it’s compounded for those who are more physically vulnerable to the virus, and those who are working because they must, and those with families scattered all over the country/world, and those without work they need to feed their families, and those utterly weary of the country’s and world’s divisiveness, and those all alone and isolated from community… I guess that’s all of us.

The stress may show up in our dreams, our eating patterns, our need to stay busy, our avoidance of friends and the virtual interactions with them that are possible, our lack of self-care, and in the peace of mind we bring to our families. Our hope for better times and healing degrades. We lose balance. We do too much or nothing at all.

If we can find activities that offer us comfort and peace, that inspire us, that connect us with our own spirits, and that enable us to give solace to others as well, we’re on our way to managing our stress. But we also need to dedicate time to being still and just listening, allowing the feelings that overwhelm and threaten us to be felt. Giving them their time on stage. Naming them. Letting them “tell us” what they fear, and offering comfort to ourselves. Self-hospitality.

And we can find something to play with that amuses us and slows down the velocity of our worrying.

And we can rest. We can lie down, notice our breathing, and rest. We can look forward to hard times coming around no more.

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Mavis Staples can offer you some comfort, too.
https://safeshare.tv/x/-ixbah9u234#

I also wanted to share this very different musical version of In the Time of Pandemic/And the People Stayed Home with you. It’s by James Carroll, a secondary teacher from Northampton, England, and, obviously, a composer who shreds guitar with amazing talent.

Keep making art!  Keep creating, everyone. Be well and stay safe.

© 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.

Odysseus Buying Groceries

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Every two weeks,
another adventure requires
your courage
and mine.
A loyal partner, I help you prepare
not with helmet, shield, and sword,
but with hat, mask, gloves,
a pack of wipes and hand gel,
not Troy, but the grocery store,
your destination and battlefield.

And, like Penelope, I worry
for your return, wonder what
gods’ gifts and curses
you will meet, the unmasked
coughing foes, virally pawing
the produce and goods
on your list,
mindlessly veering into
your space. But you
are wily and wise;
this gives me
solace.

As your car sails away
down the undulating drive,
I nudge open the necessary doors
just so, for your return:
the cats cannot exit, but you
can enter with a knee,
no touching required
to get you to the shoe drop,
the grocery drop,
the holding place.

And then I prepare the washer
for your clothing,
with soap and settings ready
and this door opened, too;
odd, how many doors
we open and close
every day, trying to
control what comes;
what leaves,
what’s touched
and untouched.

I make certain the light
is on
in the bathroom,
pull aside the shower curtain
so virus and fear can be
safely
contained and
drowned.

I go upstairs and wait,
no child to protect or raise,
but sweet companions who bark
when you leave and
when UPS trucks, not suitors
arrive.

I don’t know what Penelope really
did all day, awaiting
Odysseus’ return,
other than serve men,
string them along,
put them off; it makes me yawn to
imagine 20 years of
that.
Old Woman Rolls Eyes.

I do yoga, the asanas
for now, for when
our own lives
feel foreign:
Bending Old Woman With Immune Disorders;
Spine Twist for Averting the Newscast;
Joyful Stretch to Celebrate New Tea Delivery;
Yoga Breathing in Midst of Multiple Crises;
The World is Ending Grief Pose.

Or, I weed in the garden,
and imagine your journey,
aisle by aisle, the way you
bag the treasures,
choose the safest
check-out line,
pay without contact,
remove your gloves,
use your wipes on
the door handle,
load the car,
drive through the rolling hills
enjoying the summer’s day,
your mask pulled down,
perhaps the window open,
free
as free can be.

Homeward.

Rounding the curve of the cemetery,
Perhaps you stop for a stroll,
hear from the dead about the last
time a virus swept through. That
time it gathered
the young,
green with dreams.
Maybe Tiresias would
pull out his phone,
show you a video of
me, in the asana Anxious Woman
Waits for Husband
During Pandemic. “Good thing
you found her favorite
kombucha,” he’d predict.
Correctly.

Back in the car, you’d nibble
on some treat or other,
your lotus leaves,
and drift into blissful
forgetting, remembering
only crowds, restaurants,
touching anything,
doorknobs, handles,
groceries,
people.

The dogs hear your car
a quarter mile from home,
and begin barking as though
you’d been away for
20 years.
I hear you enter, bags rustling,
cans and boxes, glass and plastic
plunder of groceries set
on the quarantine table.

I listen, and see you in my heart:
you pad to the laundry room
the washer door bangs;
you cross the basement
the shower sings,
raining on tile
and you,
holy water, blessed soap,
virus and fear
contained and
drowned.

The world is worth
what we must do
to survive:
we adapt; we
grow; we hope and we
sail beyond what
we have known
and settle there,
seeking, finding beauty
and peace, explorers
aged and brave.

You do not have to
prove yourself; you cannot
disguise who you are,
emerging from the basement
I know you; I will love you
forever,
my naked, towel-wrapped
hero, another
perilous journey over,
welcome,
welcome home.

 

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

I Say It’s Spinach…

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We’ve been as busy as the butterflies and bees in the gardens at Full Moon Cottage these past few weeks. The flow and succession of blooms has begun in earnest, and we’ve had small rains this season, so watering and weeding and cutting back have added to the rhythms of caring for the 4-leggeds that circumscribe our daily dawn-to-dusk routines. The food garden has been offering up lettuces and radishes and promising much more; the earth creates such hope this time of year.

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The pups love watching Phillip water the garden through their fenced-in “park,” and, in addition to offering him their learned advice, they enjoy racing up and down the length of the fence to bark at anyone traveling the bike trail. A cacophony of joy, for me.

The camera and my own focus have zoomed in and out on the world, the gardens, us, and my heart. When the world’s unrest becomes too much, I turn from its incessant noise and focus on the gardens. When the weeding and cutting back become too much, I focus on one plant, or bee, or spider.

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When the arguments in my head get too loud, I listen to music, or read, or meditate. And I am blessed and grateful to be involved in several creative projects with other artists, and these punctuate my days with lovely gifts of inspiration and a kind of tribal sharing of symbol, metaphor, rhythm, color, and music. When those fail, we use words.

And so we live and move and have our being under the overarching facts of quarantine, loss, anger, discord, and justified social unrest; we are little ants moving about in a dangerous, beautiful, and unpredictable world. As dusk settles into darkness, we watch the fireflies in the gardens and try to articulate our responses to matters we cannot affect and feelings that are sometimes at odds with our beliefs.

We do not have the experience or will to meet the violence in words and behavior that seem to be increasing in our national discourse. An hour with a news program can set our hearts racing and create the need for a shower, so much filth is flung around these days, and most of it by the one designated to lead us forward and together.

I participated in an online retreat for a day last weekend offered by Susan Lambert and friends, and was surprised by how refreshing and renewing it was. I value one or two-week retreats at my favorite places every year, and I didn’t think a day’s worth, at home and online, would be nearly as valuable to my spirit as it was. Delicious spirit food and highly recommended, along with all the glorious arts being offered freely through so many online outlets. Re-balancing is more vital for my spirit than ever.

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I celebrated my birthday this week, too. The retreat was a gift to myself, but it paled in comparison to the party Phillip and the 4-leggeds surprised me with on my birthday, first thing in the morning. Sweet wrapped gifts and cards, a lovely breakfast, and smooches galore: what could be better? I didn’t even miss celebrating at the winery and restaurant we like to visit for special occasions, and the day was so filled with Zooming, and chatting, and messaging, e-cards, and speaking with loved ones, that I was quite happy to jump into bed with Phillip and a book fairly early that night…it felt like I’d experienced a very full day of socializing, and I had, in the curious way that socializing is done while we’re in quarantine.

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And we still are. In quarantine.

For a person who has approached every task of her life with the desire to make it as “creative” as possible, I’ve always had great respect for math, science, and logic, and the creativity inherent to those disciplines as well. And so, I am amazed at the number of intelligent people who have decided to leave home, travel, gather in crowds, throw all health recommendations to the wind, and live as though we are not in the midst of a pandemic. I know I’m at higher risk for contracting and becoming very ill with the virus, but even if I weren’t, I’d still be at home, if I could be. Science, math, and logic seem to make the risks in socializing obvious; why are so many people ignoring this?

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Science, math, and logic make clear there’s nothing political about a virus, why confuse the issue utterly by making it appear so? I look at the madness of a crowded political rally and I truly do not know where I am or what the hell happened to my country…but perhaps it was more of a who that happened. Or a conglomeration of who’s that saw the moment and seized it for the personal gain they could grab. They seem cursed with such bottomless greed that they’re willing to endlessly and in great volume shill lies like over-excited carnival barkers, promoting a rally to “celebrate America’s reopening” in a state where the Coronavirus case count is rising.

What is the intellectual challenge here that has been overlooked and unaddressed? What has been omitted in our schools’ curricula that has allowed so many to graduate without the ability to distinguish between fact and opinion? What has caused this Great Regression?

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I’m reminded of the famous Carl Rose cartoon that appeared in The New Yorker in December, 1928, and was captioned by E.B. White. A little girl is rejecting her mother’s attempt to convince the girl that the vegetable on her plate is broccoli. The girl replies, “I say it’s spinach and I say to hell with it.” It’s a struggle to hang on to the facts some days. I find myself saying, “Wait. What?” Phillip and I look at each other during a news break and discuss whether we’re being way too cautious, fearful perhaps, and maybe weirdly reclusive about our decision to stay home and avoid contact with asymptomatic, or infected-and-not-yet-aware people.

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And then I sit and re-read a faded letter my great-uncle wrote to my grandmother. She was a young girl at home with her parents and he, her favorite and beloved brother, was a young man-about town, working and partying, meeting friends at this home and that, going dancing, teasing his sweet little sister about all the jokes, and the romance, and the jolly fun life offered as you stepped into it fully. It was the autumn of 1918. And within a week, he was dead. And, of course, she grieved this loss all her life, the merry adored brother, all strength and promise and hope, and never known beyond his youth.

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This is a different time, and a different virus, and one that most dramatically targets a different segment of the population, but it seems the desire to cloak the truth, suppress it, dress it up in a pleasing costume, ignore it, or pretend it’s broccoli, is just as human now as it was then, and at a cost far greater than was necessary to pay.

Tomorrow is our longest day, the summer solstice. We like to celebrate with a bonfire, but it looks like we’ll finally be receiving the rain we’ve longed for and will be inside, waiting for fireflies, remaining in quarantine, honoring the truths told by science, math, and logic, rather than the lies offered to convince us otherwise.

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It’s spinach.

Please, be well and safe. And a very Happy Father’s Day to all men who love and serve as role models for children, or who love and care for the earth, for 4-leggeds, for anything that needs love and nurturing to more joyfully and freely offer its gifts to our world.

 

© 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 Messages

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.
~
John F. Kennedy

I offer this link because it is beautiful, because it is composed by a lovely and gifted woman named Daniela Nasti, who has become my friend, and because Daniela composes choral pieces for children’s choirs and choruses, and I adore children and believe that, of all our natural resources, they are the dearest and most precious. Daniela and all the artists involved in this video, are from Milan, Italy. I hope you find it as moving and hopeful as I do. Breathe with these beautiful children. Joy, and gentle peace to you.

A Gift to Share

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“…a single person at home, singing without accompaniment…”
~ John Corigliano

John Corigliano is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer (among other awards over a long, distinguished career), and, during the early days of the pandemic quarantine, worried greatly about old friends living alone in their apartments, isolated, confined and, like all of us, breathing fear and mystery.

When he came across my poem, In the Time of Pandemic, he composed an operatic solo and asked his longtime friend, opera star Renée Fleming (winner of many prestigious awards herself), to consider recording it. They decided that it would best reflect the isolation and grief so many were experiencing if she sang it acapella. She recorded it on her iPhone, and after many takes, felt it was ready to share. The vulnerability and raw emotion captured in this performance are both heartbreaking and stunning, but every time I watch it, I feel embraced by a hushed and soft light of hope as the solo concludes. John and Renée have always created magic together, and they have done it again.

The solo’s score (And the People Stayed Home) is available from wisemusicclassical.com, and the first year’s royalties, we decided, would go to charities. John paid an advance to a pup-rescue close to my heart: Paddy’s Paws, and his first-year royalties will go to Covid-19 first-responder charities in NYC, while mine will go to a group that fights to protect our waterways and environment.

I am grateful to both of these artists for finding yet another, and powerful, way to use the poem to raise necessary funds for important charities, and to spread the message that we can, and must, heal ourselves and the Earth.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nj42n9dywew1a47/ATPSH%20Corigliano_O%27Meara_5_29.mp4?dl=0

You can find the music here: https://classicalondemand.com/corigliano-and-the-people-stayed-home.html#_ga=2.77078930.664636884.1592335503-303538168.1592335503

 

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

In the Garden

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In the garden there was dim light
not yet dawn light
far from daylight
in my spirit there was no light
there was darkness everywhere.

Deeper silence on the out-breath
not yet gone breath
far from in-breath
in my spirit there was no breath
there was chaos everywhere.

Then the earth turned and the leaves moved
and the light moved
and my breath moved
in a moment all the world moved
grace was flowing everywhere

I had given up on answers
broken answers
empty answers
in the letting go of answers
every thing changed, everywhere.

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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.

Dance for a Broken World

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The dance begins
when all the world
has shed its skin, collapsing.
The sky we thought reliable
already torn and fallen,
and all the stars, the sacred stars
have dazzled down and died.

Commence the dance
physicians do
when surgically excising,
attack the dark methodically,
with blades and good intention
ablate the tired philosophies,
the rule books and lies.

And then remove
the cruel words
imprisoning our choices,
defining and confining life,
excluding the surprising
antitheses and challenges,
the different and the new.

Unscrew our heads
and empty them;
re-screw them at an angle,
and now we’ll dance atonement for
the paths we chose in blindness,
rejecting love, allowing fear
to build so many walls.

We’ll waltz beside
the rubble of
the world with all our refuse,
ignite and watch the madness burn,
a wild dance of anger,
accepting blame, releasing shame,
forgiving, dancing peace.

Transition to
a slowing turn,
but fixed, the cosmic whirling
of dervishes, we’ll go within;
listening for newborn sounds,
for colors, music, songs of stars,
for earthsong, and our own.

Outside of time,
and only when
we’re ready, we’ll awaken.
A vision dance, a midwife dance,
a dance of deeper questions,
the mystery trove of who we are
and who we’ve come to be.

So bow and bend,
begin to sift
through shattered dreams and fragments:
the black and white, the wrong and right,
the never’s and the always,
philosophies, theologies
that broke our precious world.

And we’ll lift up
the pieces that
flash out, in shining brilliance,
the soft and cool, the tingling shapes,
the tiny shards that echo
the music growing in our hearts–
And then we’ll dance with light.

Remember, there
are stars here, and
in ruins there is treasure,
and dying circles back to life,
so let us dance creation,
the dance of spirits freed to share
the answers that they bring.

And when we join
our treasures with
our songs in loving patterns,
the essence of the rubble will
transform into a garden–
and we will call the garden home,
and we will dance in joy.

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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.

Some Met Their Shadows

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When I wrote about the “time of pandemic,” I envisioned the virus and the ways it necessitated that we stop in our tracks as a larger metaphor for the opportunity to confront and explore all the disease, corruption, and inhumanity of our society, all of our cultural inequities, and our political rottenness, the wounds that needed to be cleaned out and sutured for deep healing.

Over and over in the months since the poem’s publication, I have been asked about the line, “Some met their shadows.”

My life, limited and confined to the almost-65 years it has erred and learned and moved and had its being, has taught me that all change starts within, and that we’re each responsible for our own healing, which allows us to then turn outward and offer healing to others. And they to us. Gift.

Another word for healing is wholeness. Healing is an active verb; I see it as reaching for the integration of all our feelings, experiences, failures, successes, losses, griefs and joys. It is never finished, and it is a conscious choice, a flow that we enter with eyes wide open and with hope and trust and willingness to forgive ourselves and others repeatedly. Or not. The quality of mercy we confer on the act of healing affects its outcome.

Along with all the parts of ourselves and experiences we acknowledge are the hidden parts that, for a multitude of reasons, we cannot. Carl Jung called these our shadow, the veiled or unconscious part of our mind and spirit where we conceal events and experiences, feelings, choices, and desires we fear confronting. We think that opening and sharing our darkness will open us to judgment. We’ll be found wanting and risk rejection by our many and various communities, which may also mean we’ve grown beyond them and need to find new communities. Think of Ebenezer Scrooge, who, in meeting his shadow and healing, grew beyond the company of the corrupted money changers he’d formerly considered worthy associates. Conversion and transformative healing invite us beyond old haunts, company, and ways of being. We see ourselves and the world differently; we are changed.

Shining light upon our shadows is the only way to widen and deepen our love for ourselves and others. It is the only way to integrate, to reach for healing/wholeness, and offer greater gift, which I believe is our unique purpose in the world.

And those “hidden” parts? Not so much. Refusing invitations to meet our shadows, avoiding naming their residents and offering them the bright light of scrutiny and the mercy to tell their story, means we’re just acting out from their mis-identification of who we are, unconsciously, and in participation with the collective shadows of everyone else. We see the splinter in others’ eyes, but not the log in our own. We project our feelings and actions out and away, becoming people too angry to listen, people who name our own flaws in others, people who blame and take refuge in self-righteousness rather than people capable of forgiveness and accepting the self at its deep, human, and vulnerable core.

We are a species that, despite an awareness of mercy and the grace it offers, are damn slow to offer it to ourselves and each other. We judge and judge and judge. We have always been at war. But we can choose peace. Many have. We can choose healing.

I’ve been speaking of wisdom stories. One that has colored my life is the story of the very wise Yeshua encountering the paralytic at the House of Mercy. The man had been lying there for 38 years, waiting for a chance to be first in the pool of healing after the daily stir by the visiting angel (all metaphor). The first thing Jesus does is ask a question: “Do you want to be healed?” I always hear the subtext as: Because, if you do, you might have figured out a way to be the first in the pool just once in 38 years…You could have rolled; you could have worked out a deal with others around you; you could have connected, made friends and been carried… Oh, the ways we cling to our shadows and brokenness, and the many ways they serve us.

Do we want to be healed?

In times of crisis, when language and left-brained thinking fail me, and I know I need to reconnect with my own healing, I turn to the other practices I mentioned in the poem: prayer, meditation, engaging with and creating art, alone and in collaboration. For me, these practices help us embrace our mercy and guide us to befriend our shadows, heal ourselves, and the earth. I turn to literature, poetry, dance/movement, the visual arts, music, gardening, photography, cooking…creating, renewing, and feeding my spirit.

It’s what we’re here to do and it’s how we heal. The arts speak to what we know far beyond language or, put another way, the arts are the language of the spirit and heart. Metaphor, symbol, non-linear, life-changing ways of knowing truth. Resting in the right side of the brain (“right” in more ways than one). We ignore the power of art at our great and lasting peril. Look no further than our current leadership to gauge what a lack of arts engagement and appreciation can do to a spirit.

So many people have been inspired to use this little poem to awaken their artist-spirit and create. To meet their shadows and listen. Here is a collaborative interpretation of the poem’s themes that I received today, and I want to share it to remind us that we’re not just a broken people in a broken country; we are also creative, loving, and healing people, beautifully and fiercely ready to unite and heal the world. Full of possibility.

Create and heal, in 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.

Into Silence: There is Too Much, Let Me Sum Up

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Several years ago, I was watching a video of a discussion held by several prominent, liberal theologians, writers, pastors, artists, and thinkers–my tribe, I guess. Men and women who were gathered to consider profound issues of peace, justice, and democracy, in light of the shared belief that we are more than we seem. We are called, they agreed, to be co-creators with Love of a world that not only recognizes our equality in the eyes of the Sacred, but will not survive without it.

They sat in a semicircle in front of an audience, thoughtfully considering, offering their views, respectfully disagreeing, extending ideas, speaking the truth in love, pondering communally.

At one point, they took turns summing-up, sharing a “final thought” on an issue, and the dialogue was passed to Frederick Buechner, who took a long, quiet breath, stretched his legs out in front of the chair, crossing them at the ankles. He bent his head and held his hands in his lap before saying, “I think it would be a fitting time to go into silence,” at which point every one of those remarkable people joined him, flowing into silence. The energy had been peaceful, but now it was utterly stilled; the entire space seemed enveloped in light. It moved visibly through the audience and through me.

“I think it would be a fitting time to go into silence.”

It’s how I feel today. And where I’m going.

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.

Creating Wisdom

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At Full Moon Cottage, we are turning from the energy of these troubled days, not in rejection of their importance, but in the need to listen and meditate on what must happen next, and how, in our seemingly powerless confinement, we can contribute to the changes that must happen. Weeding the gardens, watering the gardens, following our cycles, pondering our lives. What shall we do?

We can say, definitively, that standing in front of a church holding a borrowed Bible, is not a viable option.

Years ago, we each had vanity plates on our cars. My little Bug was branded with CREATE, and Phillip’s sweet Jetta drove around flashing the word, WISDOM. They were always parked in our garage inviting us to “create wisdom,” first thing in the morning and when we arrived home from work.

I’ve been pondering wisdom stories from many traditions, turning them over, seeking direction. A profound wisdom story is like a profound work of art, bottomless in the inspiration and sustenance it offers. We take in their good, startling, challenging news, and, after years of effort, we hope they become us and speak through us, that we become part of them, that our lives become wisdom stories.

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Halfway round the year from now, in the darkness of winter, many of us will speak of peace on earth and offer good will to all. In a boost of seasonal endorphins, we will forgive, connect, gift, and celebrate human communion. We will share comfort and contentment, as we gather merrily (virtually, or in person), to sing, and to invite greater light and love into our hearts, our lives, and the world. Borders will dissolve, arms will be set down, and truces called. We will honor stories of conversion from greed to generosity, and of welcoming strangers, and caring for the (otherwise) oppressed and neglected. So it has been, for centuries.

In spring, we’ll scrutinize injustice, death, and resurrection; we’ll celebrate earth’s and our own renewal.

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Do we believe these choices and behaviors are only true and possible, for a time, in December and March? Aren’t wisdom stories, from all traditions, meant to be digested and integrated for all time?

Either it’s always Christmas, or it isn’t: Either we’re always faced with welcoming the stranger and expected to respond in love or we’re not.

Either it’s always Easter, or it’s not: Either we are always meant to witness and expose the persecution of the innocent and prevent crucifixion; to seek the resurrection of love, or we’re not.

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We’re all the characters in these stories: we’re the innkeeper turning Love away or welcoming it in, strange and foreign as its presentation may seem to us.

We’re soldiers, crushing the life out of an innocent person, or animal, or earth, or we’re creating, sustaining, and celebrating the revival and renewal of life…

And we are also the victims, the strangers, the outcast, and murdered.

The changes that have to happen, that we march for and fight for, have to begin with each of us, every day. Who are we, at our core? Today? In this moment? What does our wisdom tell us? What wisdom are we creating?

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The current anger is both justified and a gift. A hierarchy that uses its power and authority to permit the murder of innocent people, repeatedly, systemically, and freely, is bound to blow up, and deservedly so. And, when an innocent person, from a long-persecuted group, is murdered, after weeks of the entire society sustaining confinement in fear of dying from an invisible, mismanaged threat, while the economy is not tanking but tanked, and prospects for food, shelter, healthcare, and safety are diminishing, then a human response of exploding rage shouldn’t be a surprise.

It is joined by scores of other pent-up, legitimate, and justified litanies of anger that have boiled over:

The continued caging of those seeking refuge;

The murder of our children and their teachers;

The destruction of the earth and our fellow creatures;

The destabilization of our healthcare;

The escalation of grotesque economic inequality…

And, at the core of all these challenges, there is a rotten corruption of leadership that cannot claim intelligence, coherence, integrity, maturity, or wisdom as among its guiding principles. Thinking adults, in possession of language, decision-making skills, and an appreciation of social contracts and the greater good have not been in the room for a long time.

If we’re angry that our species is so willingly capable of evil and so outrageously free to commit acts that reflect it, then the proper response is to change and remember we are also capable of love, that our essence is love. The proper response is to act from other than the evil that we, ironically, protest. It is to actively, outrageously, earnestly and with integrity, love. That is the steel beneath Christmas and Easter, the foundation of so many wisdom stories: the noble and hard work of loving, hoping, transforming, and of making and being peace.

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Controlled anger sparks a change in direction. Uncontrolled anger devours everything in its path:

This is how war begins.

We must stop.

Change course. Read our t-shirts and bumper stickers (co-exist; be the change you want to see; give peace a chance), and actually do what we say we are. Review our wisdom stories. Become them. Create new ones.

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Outrage and controlled anger are cold water in the face, the clap of the hands, the impetus for change, but the change itself is only accomplished by the hard work of love, the true steel of peace. Which means that humans have to undertake the slog, but also the gift, of earnest listening, intelligent argument, deeper listening, writing and rewriting laws that push ideas forward into reality. And offer each other more listening. When the excitement of outrage, the heat of anger, and the energy of protest end–and they must and will–the hard work of the peacemakers and the change-makers begins. New wisdom stories must be written. And that is the work of us all. Time to begin. Stay safe and be well.
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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.