Something to Share

And the People Stayed Home, a picture book for children and everyone else ( 🙂 ) is coming out November 10, but can be pre-ordered now. I LOVE the illustrations. (There will be an animated version on Vooks.com read by Kate Winslet, and an e-book released November 10, too!) Teachers’ Guides will be available.

I am so happy about this book, and proud to be part of the team of wonderful, lovely, and gifted artists who created it!

You can learn more about the book here, from the talented people at TRA Publishing: https://trapublishing.com/products/and-the-people-stayed-home

Also available here: https://www.amazon.com/People-Stayed-Home-Kitty-OMeara/dp/1734761784/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=And+the+People+Stayed+Home&qid=1594855261&sr=8-2

Waiting Room

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“Jesus!”

This morning, our dreamtime abruptly ended not exactly in prayer, but certainly in proclaiming with the fervor of penitents seeing the light. A fierce lightning bolt and accompanying thunder, simultaneous with the beeping alarm warning us our electricity had vanished, sent us all flying from beds and kennels, each of us contributing our own distinct shrieking, caterwauling, and barking to the sudden surprising symphony. Total darkness, 4:25 A.M.

Peeling ourselves from the ceiling, we used our phones’ lights to tackle our morning jobs: getting five dogs leashed and out for relief, three cats fed, coffee made (hooray for gas stove and matches), candles lit, and…well, that was it. We sat in the candlelight and waited for the arrival of daylight, the abatement of wind and lightning, and the restoration of electric power to allow for reconnection to our electronics, weak and unreliable as they are to begin with in America’s rural areas.

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We turned to our battery-powered radio. The un-new news on NPR reminded us we were right where we’d been for almost five months: at home, in isolation, watching our country daily devolve under the madness of Donald Destructo, he of the malevolent ineptitude, and a virus abetted in its rampancy by the determined ignorance of enough of us to ensure it will continue unhindered by data, facts, science, and common sense. Today, our own state moved to “red/spike” on the national maps.

This is us. This is many of us, now. Waiting so eagerly for November 3rd that the sensation of being squeezed and restrained surrounds every organ and nerve. Taut and tense and beyond ready to end the nightmare, hoping we can, and beating back any creeping doubt that it’s too late. Still room to wait, just a bit longer.

But there is also this: days blessed with each other’s company; gardens overflowing with beauty and abundance, laughter, joy, peace, and relative safety. And grateful for every second, well aware of the transitory fragility of life. There is happiness, too, in our waiting room.

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Our dearest friend visited last weekend. She came up the steps to the back deck wearing her mask and gloves and carrying her cooler to her designated chair placed over 6 ft. from ours, and we sat and chatted like old times and the old friends we are, but at twice the volume, celebrating her birthday and catching up on our stories. Pure gift, and the only snag and sadness was that we could not hug, but oh, the joy of sharing space and time, however rigidly and by necessity strictly-defined. Our friend ended her stellar and long teaching career on Zoom, and is adjusting to retirement without the personal denouement granted by a retirement party or the chance to embrace students and scan one’s classroom and school with a last lingering look to prompt the physical shift to a new stage of life. She’s making tentative plans, but waiting to see how they might take shape.

All of our stories are strangely diverted, our expectations wavering between hope and despair, grown immense in the gestation of this waiting time.

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Altered states. Transitions. Interruptions. Pauses. Adjustments. And, for most of us, hope that we’ll survive this time of pandemic (both literal and figurative), with our love and creativity intact, ready to rejoin our communities, eager to reconnect and innovate the ways we live and move upon the Earth. Until then, we wait in the dark, candles lit, awaiting our chance to empower change.

It’s coming.

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And, while we wait, hopeful and listening: here is a wonder I’m so pleased to share with you, composed by Dr. Gerald Gurss, and performed by members of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, where he works as the Artistic Director. Also, a huge thank you to Kevin Stocks, Executive Director of the TCGMC. 🙂

 

 

© 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.

 

Signs and Wonders

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I sent a story
of a rescued puppy
to my friend
and wrote of how,
as is almost-always
and never-not true,
the rescuer believed herself
rescued, the vast vacancy
of her lonely heart
astonished by the intake
of inhabitance, a sudden home
of surprising mirrors shining
images of lover and beloved,
fresh-blessed mother of more than
circling worries and fear
seeking solace, given
a new life
to love through her dreams
into first-waking thoughts, solid
beside her.

“Good thing
that puppy wondered
into her life,” mistyped
my friend, his o for an a
illuminating what I
had not seen—
we are transfigured
by love, we
resurrect,
risking union,
reaping
wonder.

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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.

Dismantling Illusions

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It’s natural, I suppose, to reflect upon independence, freedom, rights, and equality over a weekend specifically dedicated to celebrating these values while my country is in such chaos over the parameters of these same issues once again. We’re divisive and sharp-tongued, and nasty; we are much further apart than what could pass for “united.”

I think the chaos has to do, yet again, with shadow-work, with seeing the illusions we create and allow to smother and bury us, and with our yearning to rise up from the rubble of lies to the clarity of truth, however hard it is to face. 

Truth long denied will always re-emerge, either in the behaviors we project outward, the illness we experience within, or the brokenness of our relationships, our communities, and our world. 

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Thinking in illusory ways accompanies being human: Jesus said the truth will set us free, and the Buddha invited us to examine our false desires and the ways they cloud what is real. Repeatedly, the Prophet Muhammad entreated his followers to speak the truth, “even when it is bitter.” And I believe the truth should be spoken in love, not screamed, yelled, or dressed in insults. I’m not certain what so many people on social media believe is being accomplished through anger, insult, and a complete lack of courtesy. (Or lack of proofreading, another story.)

From birth, we are fed illusions and they are deeply addictive: family histories, national histories, world histories, the endless manipulations of advertising, our educational and religious systems that may force-feed historical illusions…We want our lives to be attractive and pleasant; we want our ancestors to be heroes; we want to be perceived as good, and smart, and noble; we want our religious leaders to be people with always-wise and loving intentions; we want our national story to be of a people who are brave and generous and just, so we write it that way in textbooks, even when it’s not true. We decorate disappointing truths that can’t be named or faced and make them pretty, a trompe l’oeil of reality, or, more correctly perhaps, a trompe l’cœur, deceiving the heart. We want to avoid shame, embarrassment, and judgement. We deceive ourselves and others. And if decorating and costuming our shaming truths doesn’t disguise them, we hide them, then deny them, then hate them in others who confront us with them, either in their own behaviors and stories, or–especially–if they call them out in ours.

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This is a time when many truths cannot be ignored, decorated, hidden, or denied any longer. The Emperor of Hidden Truths, in all his guises, is not only naked; he’s in our face, everywhere in the world, all the time. He’s killing hundreds of thousands of us in the form of a virus; he’s melting away the last of the Arctic ice and throwing our global climate in frightening disarray; he’s clamping down on freedoms and revolts as tightly and violently as he can; he’s constantly denying, and he’s being challenged from every direction by most of us on the globe who are calling him out, who are yearning to shine the light of truth on how we got to this moment, and who we really are, as painful and overwhelming as that may be. (I do think it is most of us; I hope it is.)

When wounds are septic, they have to be cleaned before healing can occur. The time comes when denial will destroy us. Recall the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail whose limbs are being hacked away as he cries, “It’s only a scratch!”  We can see others’ illusions far easier than we see our own, which contributes nothing to healing a relationship, and, as one of my professors said about life: it’s all about relationship.

Dismantling illusions is hard and it’s painful, but healing and progress are not possible if we don’t join together and create corrections to the course we’re on today. And there are so many truths we’ve conveniently overlooked for almost two centuries.

Most of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were slaveholders. Almost half of the men who attended the Constitutional Convention were slaveholders. 

The Confederacy’s goals were to destroy the country as it was learning how to walk, to secede from the Union, to disavow a federal government and to perpetuate the unseemly wealth to be gained through the evil of slavery. The Civil War resulted in approximately 750,000 deaths. That those who instigated it should be honored with public statues and institutions named after them seems misguided at best. When we think and know better, we can do better.

The 19th amendment, stating that voting was a right regardless of the voter’s sex, was not passed until 1919. But First Nation/Native Americans couldn’t vote until they were recognized as U.S. citizens in 1924, and even then, states barred most of them from voting until 1948. Asian Americans’ rights to vote weren’t completely secured until 1952. Black American males could ostensibly vote when the 15th Amendment was passed in 1867, but states were given the right to “regulate” how one qualified to actually vote, and “literacy” tests, poll taxes, threats, intimidation, cross-burning, and lynchings effectively inhibited the black vote until the mid-1960’s. And let’s not kid ourselves: racially-biased voting laws and voter suppression are very much alive and kicking in our country today, as is police harassment and violence towards blacks, and systemic racism, in place to support illusions. 

We still have separated children and adults imprisoned in cages in our country’s border towns.

Our country’s land was taken, violently, from the people who already lived here. Mount Rushmore was chiseled on a mountain sacred to the Oglala Lakota and Great Sioux Nation and over which they were granted sovereignty in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1867. They were not consulted, again, regarding the actual flagrant invasion of their land for the maskless Mr. Trump’s celebration of himself and rally for votes this past weekend. 

These are all facts that are true of our country’s history and current policies.

Illusions can lead to great pretentiousness regarding one’s importance. Illusions feed greed and abuses of power entrusted to people who corrupt that trust.

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People who have avoided meeting their illusions, because they lack support, education, or will, are taken advantage of by those seeking the dangerous combination of power and wealth, or trying to maintain it, people who know the truth, but attack it and encourage the comfortable illusions to their advantage. Lies win out over truth because they present images and create feelings that are preferable to hard truths and the feelings facts might force us to face. But real healing cannot occur without the companionship of truth.

So, how do we proceed excavating the truths we need to name and face to heal ourselves and the planet in peace and with love? How do we untangle the truth from lies, and how do we rescue and retain the authentic gifts of our own and our nation’s histories, systems, stories, choices, from those elements and choices that were shameful? How do we look at our own shadows, our family’s, our nation’s and the world’s, and invite healing without alienating the very people we need to embrace in order to design communities that work together? 

My childhood education reinforced the profound moments of life by observing what the Catholic Church calls sacraments. They mark the awareness that some aspects of life choices and behaviors are so sacred they require rituals that welcome and honor our participation. All of the sacraments are about relationship. (Catholics define seven of these; I have long believed there are an infinite number of sacraments.) 

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The first sacrament is Baptism, welcoming us into a community of Love, and the second is Holy Communion, which converts a meal into that Love, an act of intimacy and union, and a commitment to the behaviors that will strengthen and nurture that relationship with the Holy All of Love’s creation. And then comes the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for me, the hardest and most important. It’s the sacrament of meeting our shadow and naming the ways we’ve broken the commitments we make to Love in all the other sacraments. It begins with going inward and examining our actions and their motivations, and isolating where we’ve failed to be guided by love. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to face a confession of one’s shortcomings, the illusions we’ve allowed to dictate our behavior, the offenses against Love we’ve committed…and few things in life feel better than, having named these failures out loud, hearing back, “You’re forgiven.” 

And then we make atonement. 

The sacraments weren’t taught to me in these words, but it’s how I’ve come to see them and honor them. And I think they offer a template, for me, anyway, for how best to dismantle illusions and move forward in a time of such upheaval and change. Remember that we are one species, living with others on this planet. Remember that none of us are perfect; we have inherited centuries of damage and destructive patterns of relationship, and when we act from our damage rather than our unique gifts we perpetuate the unhealthy patterns; we perpetuate a false representation of who we are and why we’re here; we create illusions and live from them. We need to ask for and offer forgiveness, and maintain a deserved membership in the community of Love, excluding no one.

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And, if we burrow down deeper to discover why we crave illusion at all, I think it’s because, even more deeply, we crave holy communion with others; we do not want to be shamed, shunned, or left alone. We fear abandonment and loneliness, so we tamp down and deny anything that we fear keeps us from belonging. This makes us all responsible for monitoring our tendencies to exclude and bully, behaviors that are also taught when we are young and indiscriminate. We have to notice when our language segregates, divides, frightens, and excludes. And look for and emphasize all the good in each other, in our communities, country, and world. Balance the “news” we share.

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These are the times that try our souls…what a wonderful opportunity, if we can see that aspect to this chaos. We have to stop denigrating those whose views we oppose, in part through kind invitations rather than name-calling and dehumanizing. We’re all in different places with our abilities and willingness to let go of illusions and accept hard truths about who we are, our history, and the real challenges we face as a nation and planet. But the healing has to begin now, through the hard work of naming these truths and making atonement, and it will, of course, be ongoing. I hope we can one day live in deeper communion and kindness, and I’m willing to spend the rest of my life working towards that. Love one another as we would wish to be loved; grant each other the self-worth we crave for ourselves, greet with Namaste, and mean the words: The sacred in me sees and honors the sacred in you. Communion, without illusion.

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And for some gentle illusion-dismantling, watch The Vote on PBS’s The American Experience Monday and Tuesday, July 6-7 (tonight and tomorrow).

 

© 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 Kindness of the Untamed Earth

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When sorrows travel
too madly
in waves on waves
I go to the garden
and empty myself
to fill myself
with the scent of green leaves
geometric joys of whorling petals
whirling birdsong the splash
of leaping river fish
everything
floating in waves on waves
buzzing sweet breezes meeting
me
kneeling releasing
touching earth
breathing bright silent
fireworks of blooms.

Find one small thing
to deeply love:
flower puddle beetle tree or toad
till it is you and you are it all secrets
shared and known and the door
of your heart will open
to oceans forests wildness
everywhere everything everyone here
and the kindness
the untamed earth
offers us
as friends do
when the world is too much
tilted towards sorrow.

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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.

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.
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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.

Renunciation

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Almost three months in, the day had come.
We placed our chairs on the deck, facing the gardens,
spring flowers blooming and birdsong blossoming, colors
bleached by the brilliant light of the midday sun.

It looked
like we’d staged a Damascene conversion;
invoking transformation, we could
no longer doubt that the world had changed,
and our lives
were on a different road.

You sat, and I draped your shoulders
with a towel,
lord of all you surveyed,
and I, your handmaiden, cut
your glittering hair,
then you cut mine, a strange new ritual,
that somehow stopped time, my breath,
and mattered.
Illuminated.

Until now, this hadn’t seemed
substantially real.

Long ago, when girls prepared
to renounce the world–every
fascinating spectacle, tawdry lure and
gaudy spangle (and strangers,
surprises, and deep delight)–
their hair was shorn to mark the surrender.

Sometimes, they were offered
a crown of thorns,
for, not only were they turning
to confinement with shining grace,
but vowing to share
their life with
Love’s suffering.

A robin darted down and snatched
a silver curl to weave
into his nest.

I thought,
this is what it is now and
what it may be always–
the world renounced,
forgotten, silver curls
hanging from every tree brilliant
in the midday light,
us, on our chairs,
shorn and shining,
wearing our crowns of suffering,
sharing our life of grace.

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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.

Balancing Act

So often it’s our own heart
that is set upon the shelf,
the weakest kindness offered
is kindness to the self.
IMG-2668A tale for slow gestation:

Great hunters visited a tribe of people in one of the hunters’ distant, “uncivilized” colonies to pursue a rare beast whose habitat was deep in the remote wilderness of this land.

They had brought with them all the accouterments of their modern and technologically-advanced lives, believing them to be both necessary and “superior.” These included motorized vehicles that hurled them about, at great speed, from one desired location to another.

The native people had no experience with mechanized velocity and feared these roaring conveyances but, needing what the great hunters offered, the few men selected as guides (desiring to retain their own high tribal rank) tentatively entered the trucks and wagons, and took their seats, as directed.

The vehicles started up and flew over the dusty trails. The scenery and known landmarks rushed past, and a few gasps and frightened screams escaped from the native men as they gripped what they could to remain stable, and struggled to adjust to life at such a speed. The colonizers chuckled at their primitive responses.

When the vehicles arrived at their remote destinations, the colonizers leapt out with their hunting rifles and dashed into the fields to seek their prey. But the natives remained, sitting in silence beneath a tree that shaded the vehicle, now stilled.

The hunters cried back at them, and demanded the guides make haste; making haste, after all, was what allowed one to accomplish tasks and reach goals, like slaying unknown beasts and hanging their heads on the civilized walls of their superior estates.

But the natives sat, breathing, eyes closed.

With great impatience, the leader of the hunting party approached them and demanded an explanation.

“You have brought us to this place too quickly,” explained the native’s own leader. “We must sit and wait for our spirits to catch up.”

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As with all wisdom tales, parables, myths, and fables, and in varying gradations only we can assign, we are every character in the story, and the message is often that we are out of balance and need to heal ourselves. We need to find ways to restore our center, the core of our being (“core” derived literally and etymologically from the root for “heart”), to offer ourselves and then the world, the finest we have to offer.

Unbalanced, we have given too much of our power away to the exterior accouterments of life: the things that create its surface appearance and tangibility, and we’ve left our spirits stunted and anemic. We have not allowed them to “catch up with us.” How unkind we have become to ourselves, to our own lives, and therefore, to the world around us.

There are neural injuries that leave the patient capable of seeing only half of the reality before her; everything to the right or left of her vision field is rendered invisible. Living unbalanced, we are blinded to the spiritual part of our existence. Not living from a balanced center has led to the manifestation we now endure: a world dying from neglect as well as exploitation. We’ve profited all we can, and given little-to-nothing back.

The empirical has received our finest attention and the transcendent so very little. Our energy is directed outward, and when we experience even a flicker of intuition that we need to feed our interior, our immediate response is guilt and a kind of shame for feeling a hunger that is no longer acknowledged or valued; after all, the sacred can’t be bought and sold, nor is it “productive” to sit still and listen. It’s not on the task list. I can’t sell what introspection and healing offer, and you can’t buy it.

Desecrated life. Desecrated earth.

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We’re months into staying at home and here is what I’ve noticed: as I’m being invited to sit with greater stillness and listen for the wisdom my shadow can offer my spirit’s growth and integration (what I believe to be the ongoing, healing journey of our lives), there are days I want to flee more than ever into tasks, to manufacture tasks to keep “busy.” There must be more to do…shall I paint a room, or five of them? Or take down all the curtains? Wash and press them? Weed the acres of gardens? Again? Doing things keeps me a valuable person. Doesn’t it?

Behold, my psyche’s walls are lined with the trophies of my many lists, tasks crossed out, goals accomplished. What a good girl am I! My spirit? Did it catch up with me? What spirit? I went to the wilderness and all I came home with were the heads of beasts I imagined made me look superior, valuable, accomplished.

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A friend of mine moved through her daily yoga routine one day last week and suddenly broke down into deep sobs, granting herself a very long, healing cry. As she told me this, she quickly cushioned the telling of the experience by listing all the blessings she’s very aware of: home, food, employment, etc., as though, because she has worked for and earned these things (and also been blessed, for which she is consciously grateful), she does not “deserve” to experience stress during a pandemic and its unknown outcome. While the world is also in crisis from the climate crisis we’ve induced. It’s somehow unjust for her to grieve ending her career in quarantine, to grieve anything at all; after all, no one she loves has died of this virus.

Others have shared similar stories, with the similar need to apologize for “even feeling” distress. I have, too…but am wondering how and when we became unable to feel and honor our feelings, when we began to assign guilt and to almost expect punishment for sensing the need to be still, the time to let our spirits catch up with us? When did we become so unbalanced that, unless we are doing/earning, we’re useless?

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I suppose it was during the time we destroyed our water, destroyed the Amazon, destroyed the organs of the earth with such violent fracking that it induced earthquakes, during the time we destroyed the habitats of our fellow earthlings so severely that their extinctions have occurred and are continuing, as is ours. Certainly, we were well-separated from our spirits by the time we tolerated others who were seeking shelter and freedoms we enjoyed to be separated from those they loved and confined to cages.

And so, we’ve come to this time, when we’ve divided our wholeness and hidden the parts deemed weak: The feminine in all of us, the creative artist in all of us, the divergent thinker, and the compassionate mother, the benevolent one who is hospitable and welcomes the stranger.

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It’s time these missing parts, our spirits, caught up with us. I fear we are wasting the preciousness of this time we have been given to heal, the days we have been given to transform how and what we are creating with our lives and energy.

And I think much of this begins with being kind to ourselves, which is very different from indulging appetites out of anxiety. It’s allowing ourselves the time to feel what we’re feeling with acceptance, non-judgement, and a generous, loving heart.

It’s granting ourselves a good cry without apologizing, and to grieve the staggering losses we are collectively enduring. And engaging in the yoga/gentle movement that triggers tears as well.

And, yes, it’s allowing ourselves hours of rest and relaxation, even during a pandemic, hours when nothing has to be accomplished and no tasks crossed off a list. And then, noticing what thoughts and feelings emerge when such peace is permitted to them.

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It’s listening deeply for the old stories that need editing, the past choices that need forgiveness, the lies that can be healed by the truth.

It’s letting go of whatever fails to serve our growth, the kindness we offer ourselves and, therefore, others, which strengthens the healing and gifts we offer the world now, and when we gather together again, our spirits reintegrated, and our vision and gifts re-balanced.

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My Friends,

I’d like to share with you how very dire the circumstances of animal rescues, all over the world, have become during the pandemic. Funds are limited and thinned by need, I know, but if there are any that you can spare, please know how vital they are to keep these rescues saving those so desperately in need. The rescue I work with is Paddy’s Paws, an all-volunteer organization that brings rescued dogs from the Houston area to our own and then to homes and families who have applied and been carefully vetted for the privilege of adopting. Four of our five pups are Paddy’s dogs and we are eternally blessed.  http://paddyspaws.blogspot.com/

My very good friend works tirelessly for the Freshfields Animal Rescue in Liverpool, England. They save everything you can imagine, and release back to nature those who survive and can adapt. http://www.freshfields.org.uk

Certainly, I would welcome any possible donations you could make to either of these rescues, but there may well be those closer to your home also in need of supplies, cash, assistance you could safely provide, and more. Please, help as you are able. 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.

Rescued

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In the no-time and all-time of the infinite breath, we learned again that we are starlight, created to honor the earth, to join her wondrous mystery and holy dance.

In silence and stillness, the abandoned ones crept out from the misery we’d made and told us the tale of who we came to be:

We were the blessed who could gather the wounded and neglected, the forgotten and exiled, the furred, feathered, finned, and wild-winged beauty of earth; who could love them back to wholeness, who could rescue ourselves by saving it all.

Soulfriends, companions, you sang back our starsong, our earthsong, the song that cries save us, love us, make us whole…

And all that was broken, healed. Rescuing, we were rescued; loving, we were loved…

Hearing our heartsong, we danced.

~ Kitty O’Meara

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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.

It Was a Very Tender Time

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It was a very tender time,
confusion and wishing
for answers, missing
faces, old acquaintances,
laughter, and the precious touch of hands–

Rushing, as we had, through life
so busy, filling
calendars, stilling
questions, planning purchases,
always, looking past our lives and loves–

Contemplate and turn the mind.
Turn the mind and change the world.
What we do next, matters.
We knew it, and we know it better now.

It was a nearly-over time,
last chances ending
recourse, earth sending
farewells, life disappearing
quickly, like the memory of bees–

Foolishly, we’d missed our life,
damaged earth, bleeding
woundedness, needing
triage, new imaginings
growing, possibilities remained–

Contemplate and turn the mind.
Turn the mind and change the world.
What we do next, matters.
We knew it, and we know it better now.

It was a reacquainting time,
ancient dreams singing
rising hope, bringing
answers, deeper mysteries
pausing, being sacristans to spring–

Caring, we embraced our life,
verdant shoots rising
in gardens, surprising
knowing, better dances had begun–

Contemplate and turn the mind.
Turn the mind and change the world.
What we do next, matters.
We knew it, and we know it better now.

spring bee

 

© 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.