“Tis Always the Season

IMG-6662

Our home is set back from the county road and beside a state bike trail on the north, a river runs along the eastern border, a wooded area lines the south, and a shared driveway borders the west. We have neighbors, but all of us are well-cushioned by land, the river, and trees. The pandemic has kept us all a bit more secluded as well. We noticed a nearby home for sale last July, but lost track of whether it sold or went off the market. We knew the woman who lived there, but not well.

IMG-6617

Yesterday afternoon, I took the pups Teagan and Gracie for a walk. Phillip and “the boys” headed out in the opposite direction. When the girls and I turned off the trail to the stretch of driveway we share with other neighbors, a stranger was walking towards us, also with a leashed dog. I felt a moment of unnerved panic, duly noted and quickly pushed aside by common sense. I asked if I could help her. Despite barking dogs, I learned it was she who had bought our neighbor’s home a few months ago. We exchanged names and I invited her to our home when she had a free moment. It would have been nice to speak longer, but my girls were unfortunately not on their best behavior.

The momentary anxiety I’d felt about a stranger with a dog on the driveway transmuted into the pleasure of meeting a new neighbor. An illuminating encounter, despite my ability to meet it with hope or trust.

IMG-6676

The deep anticipation of the Christmas season and its many invitations to our spirits and choices make this my favorite time of year. This is the merry and bright, light in the darkness, hope and joy-filled season, and I can’t seem to get enough of it this year.

I have a minor knee surgery scheduled mid-month, so I’ve been decorating and crossing pleasurable holiday tasks off my list earlier this year. My darling husband has really entered the spirit, too, and kindly built benches, and boxes for greens and dogwoods, and helped add lights, to make the lower entrance to our home a bit more cheerful.

IMG-6605

But it’s not just that I’ll be out of commission in a couple weeks. My delight in unpacking ornaments and finding just a bit more space to spread them around, add a few more lights, and risk making our home look like a Hallmark nightmare, is feeding a very deep hunger spiritually and emotionally.

When I paused to notice how deeply I’m falling into Christmas merry-making this year, I recognized my need for greater light at the center of my life, for joy and peace to fill our home in ways it really hasn’t since 2020. I want to be drenched in the hope and trust that Christmas always brings, the belief that when we love more, love wins.

Some days, I sense that the human race is sliding into its end times, as though we may be nearing the last few celebrations of holidays before the armed crazed-and-dangerous, the pandemic, the increasing climate change; the continuous racial tensions; the burden of economic inequality; the sins of our own inaction and pervasive human despair tip the balance and do us in. Omicron is not helping to ease the stress level.

IMG-6578

I wonder if, on some level, my total holiday immersion is a way of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing carols, scattering tinsel, baking cookies, wrapping pretty packages, and ringing bells to keep from confronting yet again the perilous moment in which we seem to find ourselves, hanging on a bending branch, having overshot the cliff.

We’re weary of the noise and isolation and necessary damned adjustments to our schedules, expectations, and preferences at every turn. We’re angry that those spreading hatred and violence are not silenced until they can calm down, see reason, find peace somewhere, anywhere, just stop being cruel.

The number of responsible adults on the globe seems to be diminishing as quickly as the intelligence, maturity, and civility that are their distinguishing traits. If there were ever a need for heroines, heroes, leaders with vision, and positive change-agents, it’s now.

IMG-6597

We need good people sharing good news and making good noise in the world.

I recognize that all of this encroaching darkness has made me a bit more leery of strangers walking towards me on the trail, and the news of the world coming at me daily. I think my response to this fear of what’s coming is certainly reflected in my Christmas joy this year. I have not been a fearful person in my life and I have not allowed despair to linger at my spirit’s door; becoming that person is not an option at this point in my life. But the daily news (and the way it’s presented) has been challenging. I want us to feel safe and be happy, and to do some of that rejoicing the season has always promised. I want to push back against the dark.

IMG-6650

But while I’ve been happily looking forward to our celebrations here and in video calls with friends and family, I know my ability to hold space for incoming joy in every aspect of my life has become withered and weak. The gloom of the world has colored my spontaneous and usually joyful openness to what’s ahead. Dread and fear have crept in, a pervasive doubt that humanity is truly more well than ill-intentioned, more generous than selfish, more ready to love than quick to hate. Whatever is before me, heading down the pike, I think I’ve gradually come to anticipate it’s likely bad news, something that threatens our peace and welfare. There lies the death of hope. And trust.

Yesterday, I sat with the purpose of Advent, of anticipating the “coming encounter” with Love we call Christmas, and pondered how I could more authentically practice hopeful anticipation towards all that’s coming at me. Can I really believe anymore that Love is always arriving? That good people with good news will be making good noise?

IMG-6600

Yesterday startled me into waking up to the gift of meeting what’s coming with hope and trust. The stranger I hesitated to meet is a new neighbor, a potential friend and welcome gift in our lives. This joy I’ve been feeling in decorating and preparing for our own little holiday has to infuse my thinking and actions about our present world and its future as well.

My anticipation has to focus on the surprising ways Love comes to meet us, always. It challenges us, it turns us on our heads, it asks us to be hopeful and to convert more and more deeply to its wide open brilliance and breadth. All are welcome; all are held; all belong. And Love teaches us, over and over, that we can choose to predicate our expectations and anticipation on carrying joy into every meeting. How we encounter the unknown has to be as loving and joyful, as trusting and hopeful as how we meet the known. How we move through our lives and anticipate what’s coming must be as buoyant as when we know we’re heading into Christmas, into the arms of someone we love. It’s always the season for radiant hope and the expectation of joy coming our way.

That will make us good people sharing good news and making good noise. People with deep hope and trust in a future that, despite its challenges, will hold constant encounters with Love. Loving more, loving wins.

IMG-6610

© 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.

Another treat yesterday, at sunset: ice crystals swirling in the air formed an amazing rainbow/icebow…After I’d shut down the camera, we just watched and enjoyed the colored brilliance. As it was fading, its double formed beside it, and they drifted away together. An illuminating encounter.

IMG-6692IMG-6699

Happy Thanksgiving

IMG-6433

I offer this former post, and this, holiday blessings for your peace.

And this wonderful story, for your joy.

I send love and prayers for your safe and merry gatherings, or your time in peaceful solitude during this season of Light. May it be a fruitful time of reorienting to the good and true within and without, and the actions we must take to preserve these precious gifts, and offer them, in love, to heal the world. Create, be well and joyful, and dwell in gentle peace.

IMG-6462

And finally, for your smile:

IMG-6446

© 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 Still Room

IMG-6356

For centuries, the still room was the sole
sanctuary and laboratory of women, the room
where kitchen garden harvests of flowers and
herbs were reduced to their essence, distilled,
brewed, separated, recombined, acknowledged
for the gifts they offered, the singular medicines
they provided, the flavors and healing they infused
into the lives of families and guests. Wisdom from
women, mingled and shared from spirits, lips, breasts,
hands, wombs, in still rooms, in rooms of stillness across time.

Let us return now to our still rooms, dear sisters,
for the world is sorely in need of our women’s gifts
for reducing too many words to their essential meaning,
for condensing mad noise to its sacred music, and crazed chaos
to peaceful purpose. Let us remind the world how the flavors
and functions of kindness and love alter the weary soul, how
listening transforms action and forgiveness gently mends
what has been broken. Let us offer a brew of patience
and hope that calms the breath and opens the heart to all
the miracles that pass from lips, breasts, hands, wombs,
in still rooms. In rooms of stillness, across time, the wisdom
of women has always saved the world. Let us create and heal.

© 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.

Genesis

IMG-5723

We had sabotaged our miracles
and crippled our world. We had never
arrived where we’d come to be.
It was a time for setting down
our empty work, our language
of estrangement and discord,
to gather and to feed on stories,
offered and received.
We asked to be nourished
and released into dreaming.

Everything invited our attention, altered
our perceptions. Setting down the old,
gestating the new; we utterly surrendered
to this moment, our world submerged
in the slippery clay of possibility.

It was a time when death and life entwined
and the sorting required sacred watching,
deep listening, patience that scraped away ego.
Only hope remained, a respiration of hope.
What is passing? What is coming? We mixed
our questions like seeds in earthen vessels
and cradled each other’s answers, casting
them into the waiting garden we had become.

The walls dissolved; all we had built and believed
fell away. We were raw, transparent,
seeing what we had not seen before, there,
in our souls, blazing, now transformed.

We stood on our heads
and smelled new visions, their call,
tasted new music, its potential,
saw new flavors, their ways of being,
heard new contours, their textures and densities,
touched new perfumes, their radiating gifts.
Our only desire was to create in love
to create from love
to create anew and love
what we created
together.

We reasoned with our hearts
danced in our stories
slept in the sacred All
and woke to starlight
then drank it,
our bodies smiling
and eager to begin.
This is the holy land;
this is the holy moment.

IMG-6303 (1)

© 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 would like to invite your interest in Navigating the Pandemic, an inspiring and reflective anthology compiled by my friend, Teresa Schreiber Werth. Proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to to the Society of Refugee Healthcare Providers, a U.S. non-profit organization dedicated to improving the healthcare of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as addressing equity in healthcare.  Thank you, and gentle peace.

Mulberry Leaves

1338F6B9-6587-4ACC-A4C4-D64251961B9F

It’s called the abscission zone,
the separation zone,
formed at the base of the petiole
where the leaf stem is bound to the branch,
layers of cells that respond to autumn’s
signals for parting. Some deciduous trees lose
leaves one by one, the abscission zone’s cells
weakening, expanding, letting go over days
or weeks, each leaf twirling away from home,
mourned in the moment of its holy fall,
but should a sudden frost breathe its dark ice
upon a mulberry tree, imminent abscission triggers
the pervasive release of every leaf. Stems are severed
from their twigs, cluttered leaves spiral, sent descending,
all at once together, a sudden shattered intimacy, so bold
a letting go, branches fully gowned at dawn hang bared
by midday, exposed to winter’s piercing gaze, a mountain
of leaves blanketing the earth, fallen. Surrendered.

One autumn, our neighbors left in the night. No sign,
no story shared to ready us, no spiraling gradation of
leave-taking; we woke to the silence of an emptied home,
hollowed rooms, blank windows staring, abruptly abandoned.
Perhaps a sudden frost entered their lives, a private calamity
descended like dark ice, leaving them breathless with no choice
but letting go. Surrendered. Relationships sever precisely where
they bonded. Sometimes, falling is easier than hanging on,
sometimes, falling is kinder than farewell.

IMG-6022

© 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 World Is Changed

IMG-5828 (1)

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. ~ from Galadriel’s prologue, The Fellowship of the Rings, (JRR Tolkien) film 2001

What is better than a grey, misty Friday in autumn for watching a film about goodness triumphing over evil? We’ve finished our chores early, have ordered lunch from our favorite Chinese take-out, and are about to begin viewing The Fellowship of the Rings as a kick-off to our Halloween weekend.

Without, a cold wind blows and the muted pearl light electrifies the colored leaves remaining on the trees. Within, a fire snaps and we’re about to embark on a magnificent journey of courage and sacrifice, of the noble, brave, and humble setting out to defeat the evil threatening their precious world. It’s an ancient story, and sadly, the need to be immersed in its lessons has rolled around to meet the human race once more.

IMG-5832

“If I take one more step, I’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been,” says Sam, setting out on his mysterious adventure. (He’s my favorite character.)

I’ve set out on my own small adventure this week, by deleting my Facebook account. The reams of evidence detailing their corporate greed and willingness to sacrifice their corporate conscience has been the final straw for me. My family and most of my friends are not local; Facebook has kept us in daily touch and allowed me to participate in many groups that fed my spirit, so, for me, this was a difficult parting. But also strangely exciting and potentially freeing. I am not unmoored from my dear ones, since I have their e-mails and phone numbers, but I am freed from that addictive and frequent need to check, scroll, like and be liked that social media perpetuates. And my nagging conscience is satisfied that I did one right thing this week. And that’s worth celebrating.

IMG-4698

The world is changed. Something wicked this way comes. Trump, Orban, Murdoch, Bolsonaro, white supremacists, et. al., have let loose a cruelty of spirit and actions I believe must be met by courage and a refusal to engage at their evil’s own low level of language, thought, intelligence, behavior, and constant deceit. Yet it must be engaged. I hope those of us longing for the Earth’s care and the love of humanity will summon the wisdom and strength to meet our present danger with conviction and constant loyalty to the truth.

Stories feed my spirit when I fear for the world, as do prayer, nature, meditation, my faith, my relationships, and art. (Also chocolate and dancing, another story.) And what I need today is to be cozy with my dearest one and journey with heroes who never give up seeking the good for all.

IMG-5340 (1)

I wish you a Happy Halloween, filled with meeting your own fears and defeating them…and fun, and companionship, and inspiring stories, and sweet treats. And gentle peace.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

IMG-5634IMG-5833

© 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.

Boots

IMG-4873

Far in the distance
We heard a sound
One man descending
A con man a clown.

Crowds began shouting
Rallying cries
Rampant vacuity
Met with our sighs.

Lies on the airwaves
Lies everywhere
We in denial
We unaware.

We with our doing
Glued to our phones
Anxiously hiding
The truth in our bones.

We were dismissive
We were too strong
We were intelligent
And we were wrong.

Lost in diversions
Viral hate grew
Met with denial
What could we do?

This wasn’t possible
Not now not here
We were too civilized
Answers were clear.

Turning on dimes
Decent ones fell
Selling democracy
Power for hell.

Those who resisted
Threatened and cursed
Fear kept us silent
More lies dispersed.

Losing our votes,
Losing our choice
Losing our country
Losing our voice.

Boots in the courthouse
Boots in the press
Boots on the altar
Boots in excess.

Boots led by loathing
Boots led by need
Boots led by ignorance
Boots led by greed.

Boots against masking
Boots against order
Boots against kindness
Boots at the border.

Boots against reason
Boots against fact
Boots against neighbor
Boots to distract.

Boots in the capital
Boots in the hall
We unbelieving
Watching truth fall..

Boots on the angry
Boots in the town
Boots on the billionaires
Boots all around.

Boots at the school board
Boots at the door
Could have done something
Should have done more.

Now we can hear them
Shouting their hate
Now we touch evil
Now it’s too late.

Boots marching over us
Boots marching on
Boots in the future
Boots when we’re gone.

© 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.

Dear Ones,

Please know that I am not without hope for our lives and the Earth, and in no darker place than anyone aware and sentient enough to realize we are on the tipping point. We’re not approaching it, sensing it in the distance, agreeing it will come some day, but precariously perched upon its slippery surface and swaying in the winds of our choices and actions. Artist, teacher, spiritual care worker–my life’s work has been to speak the truth in love. I fail all the time: I am impatient with procrastination and those who sit back instead of speaking up or lending a hand to the Good Cause. My tongue is often sharper than my wits. But denial is not helpful; living in a fantastical mirage may be comforting, but it does not serve the Earth, the helpless, or those too young to midwife the changes necessary for a just and peaceful existence. See what is, name it, encounter it in love, disarm its pain and suffering, heal what can be healed. This poem is an attempt to call out the dangers of looking away, of “thoughts and prayers” absent of action, and–truly–of surrendering our hope by refusing to engage with our gifts. For me, the photo means we can choose up or down, but we can’t put it off. Be safe and well. Be comforted by the beauty of the season. Speak out, in love.

Litany for Now

default

It’s been a kind of wavy week at Full Moon Cottage, by which I mean the days became surreal midweek, when I received both my flu shot and third vaccine. For the next 48 hours, I was in and out of sleep, dropping days like I dropped stitches when I tried to learn how to knit. The weather’s shifting dramas contributed to the strobe-like effects of reality. Sunny, warm, rainy, chilly. Every time I opened my eyes, the light and temperature had changed from my last visit to the conscious world. And then, just as quickly, this morning I woke as myself, my body, mind, and spirit fully inhabited by me. And with all the aches, fevers, and chills firmly residing in the past tense

I am grateful for the shots and for two days of sleep.

IMG-5353

So today’s cloudy, gray, chilly and still presence has been wonderful, and I have big plans for this weekend: weeding and cutting back the gardens and planting bulbs. Because of our long stretch of warm weather this autumn, we’ve enjoyed long blooms, re-blooms, and the blooms of perennials that sometimes don’t happen due to early frost.

I am grateful for the color and blossoms.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The past few weeks have also treated us to more rain than we received since early June. The trees, gardens, birds, and other wildlife have benefited immeasurably. The river has risen considerably, and the aridity that we felt in our spirits has also felt quenched. The rain’s music, beating on the roof and deck, sweeping across the yard in windy curtains of silver light, was a glorious treat. It felt like that Ray Bradbury story, “All Summer in a Day,” but of course, in reverse. (And no one was locked in a closet.) Climate change has made us sorely miss what we once took for granted. The rain was other-worldly after such a long absence. Pure gift.

I am grateful for the rain and rising river.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was able to harvest a lot of my herbs last week for drying and freezing, and they may even yield another batch. It feels so comforting to have the freezer and pantry filled with my favorite seasonings to last till next summer. And just holding the sage and thyme made me excited for the holidays.

I am grateful for garden blessings that feed and delight us throughout the year.

IMG-5452

While I was otherwise-engaged with unconsciousness and discomfort this week, Phillip set up grow lights for my houseplants, which had to be brought indoors from their summer paradise on the back deck. He also made meals, did the laundry, cared for the 4-leggeds, and so much more. He always does a lot for us; this week, he did it all. His own recovery was speedy and bouncy compared to mine. The 4-leggeds comforted me with kisses and snuggling, as they were able.

I am beyond grateful for Phillip and our 4-leggeds. And, of course, I’m grateful for houseplants beneath pink grow lights.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG-5514

Friends sent messages, shared photos and notes, and kept in touch…as they always do.

I am deeply grateful for my amazing friends.

IMG-0145

And, my fearless, gifted collaborators at Tra Publishing and I are sending the book, The Rare, Tiny Flower off to the printer imminently, for a late-March release. I love the illustrations by Quim Torres.

I am grateful for the chance to make dreams come true with these stunningly creative people.

IMG-5500

The world is not as I wish it were. I do not understand much of what it has become. The fear, anger, and intolerance that daily parade through the news are shocking; the sheer cruelties and violence spewed and rocketing around our world are abhorrent and dispiriting. But they are not all the news or even most of it. Everyone I know (and don’t) could likely fill pages with the gratitude they’ve gathered in one day, let alone weeks. Please, keep gathering and sharing your gratitudes. They keep us tender, loving, and hopeful, and those are medicines the world needs now, more than ever. The virus of hate cannot survive them.

I am grateful for each of you.

Be well and safe.

99F0A19E-85B3-457A-8C05-4619DA9AF56A

© 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.

Observations

IMG-5391

There are those who choose to live parenthetically,
their lives bound by the known, protected and
unsurprised, and those who ride adjectives’ hills
and valleys and never stop, unlike those who live
as periods, going nowhere, in love with endings. My
great-aunt was all exclamation points and her husband
all ellipses, responding with desultory silence to her
tireless alarms. Adverb people are helpful but without
the moral clarity of verbfolk, all action, except for the
family branch that just is. Most, I suppose, are nouns,
being things, taking up space, using commas to add
things and more things for accrual’s sake, and needing
prepositions to store things in, throughout, during, and
despite. I love the question marks, their ever-tumbling
need to know always unsated, and then, of course, society
is phrases and paragraphs, and history is books, volumes,
but I would say I’m some part–the ink, I think–of an always
incomplete sentence, a ragtag bundle of words forever open
to new companions and the mystery of everything, the miracles
everywhere, lacking most specifically the wisdom of proper
punctuation, but then again miracles can’t be put into words
or held by language and I am newly-acquainted with miracles
every day, because I know where they hide and it’s always here
in plain view, making me wonder if maybe tomorrow

377B560B-6698-4001-AB1E-058FB0E3D0A2

© 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.

Be the Moon

IMG-5155

All it takes is one more person,
one more vote, one more
yes that joins the many
and everything tips from
worse to better. The flag
waves and a truce is called,
the heaviness lifts and
language sweeps clear
a path for martyred dreams
to resurrect, dreams meant
for everyone and all, and truths
too often out of reach but always
possible incarnate in words, once
again becoming real. This is peace,
when us and them recedes and all
voices sing what now and tomorrow
will be. We are made for co-creation.
Change.
Be the one joining many. Be the moon
that calls back the tide and all its treasures.
Why remain in darkness
when you hold the
power of light?

© 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.

Panning for Gold

IMG-4910

It’s hard to believe another Autumnal Equinox has arrived, although the temperature’s return to coolness, coupled with cloudy grey skies and moody winds, certainly heralds the season in its customary style. I welcome the bittersweet depths of it.

I’ve been able to take Teagan and Gracie out for walks, thanks to the miracle of a strong knee brace, and every day, another view or smell enfolds us more securely into autumn’s magic and mystery.

IMG-4922

Last weekend, my beloved and I completely rearranged the front garden. Because of my healing knee (which is strengthening slowly and steadily), Phillip did the digging and dividing, while I pointed most effectively and expertly watered the resettled perennials. The space now looks messy and a bit sad, I suppose, but I see the garden of my dreams, and will always remember a day when my dear husband loved me enough to dig and divide and plant (and, of course, replant again, off to the right) an entire garden, for hours and hours…just to make me happy.

IMG-4785

I treasure such days all the more because, of course, we’re aging and, curiously, time’s passage seems to be accelerating. While healthy and reasonably strong–the doctor did stress what “great knees” I have despite my injury (!)–I know it will not always be so, sooner than later.

Every day together is a gift. It’s always so, but I suppose autumn reminds me how briefly we rise and bloom before everything gets turned under for new–for other–lives to rise. Friends and loved ones have died, of course, and I miss them all, but when my close cousin lost her husband to cancer this past summer, I took an emotional dive unexpected for its intensity.

IMG-4856

Perhaps because our lives have been so intimately shared, seeing and feeling her grief as she finds her way without her dear one has made my heart sad. Her children and siblings are lovingly present and supportive, but no one replaces your heart’s partner and the decades of companionship, routines, private intimacies and jokes you’ve shared, or the dreams you hoped might still come true.

And so, I feel like I’m traveling beside her during this first year of loss, and every moment I share with Phillip I imagine her journey alone accompanied by memory’s whispers and echoes.

One of my patients once shared her grief journey following the loss of her husband…I remember she said how colorlessly life flowed by for a few years, just drained of anticipation, joy, and liveliness. She said she’d felt nothing but numbness. And then one day she was with friends in Piccadilly Square, walking through the door from a shop and back to a street crammed with people and life, and she said, “Just like that, there was color everywhere, and I wanted to be part of it…”

IMG-4841

I know my cousin will heal as the months and years roll by; she’s a strong and creative woman, and a treasured gift in the lives of her family and friends. In her own time, she’ll reconnect with the world’s needs and energy, but every grief, of course, colors every view perceived thereafter, and the lessons of loss become integral to every impetus to act and every response to life we offer.

And maybe these are the elemental gifts of grief, the palpable ways both life’s fragility and resilience are held by those with great grief as a boarder rooming forever in their heart. If grief’s paths are traveled with an open mind and spirit, however slowly and despite wavering and gradual degrees of acceptance, it can bestow a depth of wisdom and compassion we often otherwise lack. It’s a choice, this panning of the mud and shit of our lives for gold. And the gold is always love. Love gets turned under in the soil and feeds new life with its story and all those stories that came before. All the love my cousin and her husband shared, created, and offered to others throughout their marriage doesn’t end in grief, but in continued explosions of love blooming in the world, forever.

IMG-4916

So, here we are, together in our autumn, deeply aware of the ways years and lifespans edge away and must one day be turned under to nurture and make way for new lives and new stories. For now, we divide our fertile offerings to love and replant them, dreaming of gardens to come. Autumn reminds us that every day is a gift to be unwrapped with delicacy and attentive appreciation for all things that fade away.

What remains?

Look! Here is a beautiful garden that one man toiled for hours to dig and plant and tend and grow, just to make his wife happy. Because he loved her. And she loved him. There is the gold. Explosions of love forever.

IMG-1470

A Blessed Equinox and Autumn to all!

IMG-7432 (1)

© 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 Volition of Starstuff

Enlight73 (4) (1)

14 billion years of star shards
and splinters hurtling since the
Great Clap of Joy shuddered them
forth, breathing out an only-once explosion
of yes and promise, the holy commencement
of all; Love sent sailing through space, forming
new stars ringed with spinning planets, and
everything expanding with hope’s velocity,
all of the spreading mystery, the dark matter
and life rising everywhere: starstuff reborn
in fire, water, air, and earth; the mixing,
the need to bind–how atoms and lovers
have found each other again and again;
the urgent impulse to connect and co-create:
your ancestors in trees, watching the stars spin;
in caves beside fires while the night sky hummed
and whispered the story that would become yours;
people with your smile, nomads and settlers,
cottagers who sang with your voice in rooms
of stone hurtling through starry time; and the
once-ever maybe/maybe not of each one born
before you, their choices to turn here, look there,
accept and decline invitations…meeting, falling,
perfectly timing their passion and intimacy
with the only possible other, starlives uniting their
starlit molecules: these two, then those, co-mingling
all the way to you. You! Child of every embrace
that’s led to your arrival amidst all the billions
of chances you wouldn’t exist: All praise
the blessed unions and cradling of Love,
the need to bind and renew! Here you are,
gazing at the stars in the sky, feeling the shiver
of stars in your every pulse, the breath of joy
clapping and summoning your presence
in the dance, once and necessary. You,
named and known, precisely perfect, unique
and spiraling through everything to now. You,
crammed with gift and starshine to meet us
where we’re spinning, a constellation in need
of your light, your every shard and splinter.

And shall the story of these terrible times say
you finally stood fully brilliant, illuminating all
you were born to be in your miraculous moment,
fusing your holy inheritance of evolving embraces
and original starstuff with others offering theirs?
That together, each being everything Love called us
to be, we carried the world, pushing back darkness,
skimming on joy through hatred and fear to creation’s
own true yes and more light than it had ever known?

riverlight (1)

© 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.

Note: Celebrating my friend Teresa Werth’s beautiful anthology of reflections and inspirational essays on the Covid-19 Pandemic:

 And also celebrating:

IMG-4781

 

All Gifts Are For Mending

241732189_973124089909263_4256711028622382910_n

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

241743415_973125463242459_3300859242923996222_n

241525453_971403163414689_83638032127397890_n

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

The Writing Spider

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

IMG-4478

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Jane.

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

IMG-4477 (1)

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

240859881_967481860473486_1761322009589228660_n

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

Soaring Possibilities

a poem for our inner fledglings

IMG-9423 (1)

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

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

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

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

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

Birds change

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

The Slow Pace of Deep Waiting

IMG-4056

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

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

239852518_963622724192733_5454999748277357951_n

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

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

239458457_963650994189906_5102379295738130022_n

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

239095788_960963897791949_7292110047394148456_n

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

239442059_960017157886623_6316123735206005667_n

239363558_963622187526120_2533541476045035764_n

D3A721CD-B634-4EF3-83F2-80AA3192A467

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

239506569_960964377791901_7372464225270102356_n

239575901_963620467526292_2857079928474380039_n

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

239852518_963622034192802_2082006175775034449_n

F2F45858-4A9F-4DE6-B5C2-6D7DB71A2006

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

239055647_963622037526135_7783158027193096356_nIMG-3999IMG-3992

© 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.

240619945_963649374190068_6435425207165045247_n
Larky celebrated his 6th birthday this week. He’s also acquainted with the slow pace of deep waiting. Or maybe he’s just tired from his party.

Kabul

IMG-3562


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG-3571


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

Book News and Where I Am Today

Karl Larsson, Karin Reading, 1904

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also: Read good books. 🙂

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

Books and books in every room…

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

he was always a lover of things that take flight

IMG-3246

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

IMG-3269 (1)

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

belated, with the best intentions

IMG-3082

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

belated,
with the best intentions.

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

IMG-5168

© 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.