Holy Week

Here we are again,
on that dusty road lined with dazzling mirrors.

Let us seek our reflections and find ourselves
amidst all the characters we’ve played
a thousand times, taking our chosen places
as we enter the new story, the sacred story,
the human story, the heart of it, right now.
Stay awake.

What is truth?

And who are we this time?

The Priest? The one who feels his power eclipsed and slipping,
so lost in the service of two masters that he cannot
find his way back to his diminished heart?

The Friends, whose fear and fatigue leave their companion
desolate and abandoned? Oh, how we’ll dance through laughter and lies
before dancing away in dark denial.
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Or perhaps we are The Traitor, whose greed barters
infinite peace for the cool slide of silver in his palm.
Someone has to do it, we tell ourselves.

The Judge? So rigid with archaic law he cannot bend
to suit the case before him? Too small to see the breadth
and meaning of the moment? Too bound by the past
to midwife justice in the present? Dead before death?

Stay awake.

Are we among The Silent who stand and watch,
hungry for violence that will excuse our inaction
and fill our emptiness?

Too afraid? Are we The Cowards who cannot act
against injustices we see, condemned every moment
to open the door and never enter? What chances
we’ve lost to change the world. What gifts we have wasted.

What is truth?

Are we once again The Follower?
Eager to be ordered,
free of the burden to think.
Rank given, actions commanded,
conscience drowned by unexamined fealty,
ever ready to pound nails and pierce flesh.
As directed.

And if we’re The Consigned, compelled
to carry the burden behind the accused who falters
in his steps, can we meet the act with grace, while
jeered at and spat upon?

Maybe this time we’re The Lovers,
walking the road,
witnessing the pain,
feeling the loss,
grieving,
staying.

Are we at last The Immanent One?
Pure and transparent, the treasure sought,
the light beyond darkness, steeped in dread and Yes,
the suffering sin-eater descending into rotting evil
to rise, blossoming forever in Love?

Perhaps we’re The Attendants,
rolling away the massive rock
unsealing death, awaiting The Seeker.

Or just this once, we are The Seeker,
encountering the blinding truth
of soaring news and empty tombs,
sharing the message of resurrected life,
so joyful it is music that must be sung.

Whatever your spirituality, I hope your week will be blessed; of course, I believe they’re all holy, but for me, this one holds such lovely invitations to explore, listen, and grow. If you celebrate Easter, may it be joyful, and I hope that spring and peace will blossom fully for all of us.

© 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 Rare, Tiny Flower: The Need for Silent Reflection

~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: June 14, 2022) Available for pre-order here.

How could this be?
What could it mean?
What had she noticed
that they hadn’t seen?
She lifted the vase,
and slowly rotated,
as all of the people
grew still, then elated…

For as the girl turned,
the colors changed places,
flashing a rainbow
across startled faces.
The people took time
for silent reflection,
considering matters
with deep introspection.

~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: June 14, 2022) Available for pre-order here.

“Maybe there are
other colors to see;
what’s lovely to you
could be lovely to me.”
“What we now understand
to be utterly true
is how much depends
on expanding our view.”

“It could be helpful
to breathe and be still,
calmly deciding
what won’t work and will.”
“Enjoying each color
and welcoming all,
creating a party
instead of a brawl.”

The artist Quim Torres created many stunning illustrations for our new book, The Rare, Tiny Flower (releasing June 14). I love the joy and drama in many of them, but my favorite depicts most of the characters sharing silent reflection time alone/together. They had been on the brink of war when a child in their midst encouraged them to consider their choices. She shows them how examining a given problem again, in new ways, allows their hearts–and options for action–to expand. And having expanded their views, their focus alters.

They understand that what they “narrowly” wanted when they first seized and sought possession of something beautiful, is actually a profound and multi-layered treasure meant to bless them all. In fact, its existence is dependent upon its gifts being shared. In essence, the characters move from the confines of negative egoic needs (my needs and desires are more important than yours) to those that are mature, healthy, and life-giving (satisfying our needs and wants, together, creates peace and greater beauty than than “I” imagined.)

I love how Quim illustrated these characters in their various poses, contemplating in silence, as the text describes their various thoughts about the benefits of stillness, breath, reflection, and how those practices open their hearts to the concept of “welcoming” differences that so recently had brought them to the brink of violence. I especially like that most them share a circle of contemplation, but that one of the crowned leaders is off, thinking through the problem while leaning against a tree.

I’ve been watching the televised images of all the leaders in the U.N., of President Zalenskyy, President Biden, President Putin, and, off in the shadows, President Xi Jingping.

By its nature, leadership can be lonely. When one’s leadership is conferred by those led, though, it would seem less onerous and more communal, as the majority of people have already freely given their support through voting, and there is the welcomed advice and expertise from valued others in the government.

When leadership is seized and authoritarian, however, options for co-creating the way through problems are diminished. There is a defacto absence of trust among the dictator and others vying for power who surround the “crown,” and those led are at the mercy of one person’s ego and one person’s version of the truth (and all the tightly-controlled propaganda that supports it). There is no widening circle of contemplation, no new invitations or revisioning to consider.

I’m happy our book’s ruler is sitting with hands folded and head down, suggesting this leader is deeply considering the next and best course of action and that we see the happy results of this person’s “silent reflection” and stillness in later illustrations.

At no other time in history have we more needed mature leaders who, together, focus on the good of all. I pray we can come together and support those who, because they’ve taken time to breathe, look inward, and reflect on invitations and options, will guide our beautiful Earth and her people forward with wisdom, compassion, justice, and right action. I hope we, too, can model the importance of taking time to give our choices silent reflection, of choosing stillness to seek the ways our solutions can welcome and celebrate human and planetary diversity, in peace.

Our children are watching. Our words matter profoundly. Our actions matter more.

© 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.

Hospitality

Walking in an April snowfall, I think:
I’ve learned all the lessons that winter
can teach; I’m ready for spring; this winter
has lingered too long. And then I recall
the guest who long ago came for a week
and stayed for two, repeating the story
we’d heard for years, always unable
to mine the meaning. It didn’t matter
how closely we listened, what questions
we asked, the telling never varied and
yielded no treasures. Every morning,
our guest, in robe and slippers, gripping
his mug of coffee, would shuffle into our day
and eventually recite again, the old, old tale
of suffering unhealed; he’d sit at the site
of the wound, poking, prodding, turning over
all the pain and guilt, the wrong turns and regret;
the words never changed. Life had been unfair.
Perhaps we stopped listening; I know I sometimes
rolled my eyes at my husband when The Story began
again; everything we spoke of somehow provided
our guest a way back into the circling labyrinth
of repeated injury, with nothing at the center
but darkness. And then one morning, in a pause
between the words I’d heard so many times
that I could say the next, our guest stared, looking
beyond the moment to memory, and sighed. And
in that sigh I recognized the bitter song of robins
trapped in a winter that should have been spring.
And the door of my heart opened; as though I was
hearing his story for the first time, the yearning,
the sorrow, the joy that had slipped and fallen
through his life just when he’d felt it was finally his.

Maybe true hospitality only begins when guests have
stayed too long, when patterns long repeated shift
to mystery, and we open our guarded hearts wide
to the pause between words, consenting in love
to pursue winter’s lessons all the way to spring.

© 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 Rare, Tiny Flower can be pre-ordered here. New publication date: June 14.

The Things We Come To Know

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Grandma Johanna on her wedding day, November 5, 1924

In late winter, I sift through cupboards and closets for items to give away, and tackle indoor projects I can finish before the garden calls (and doesn’t end the call till September). This past month, I completed a project I’d put off, both because of its immensity and because of the hours of exercise and rest I was forced to give my healing knee. I know, too, that I’d delayed facing this task because of the emotional journey it would invite, the memories I’d encounter, and the long hours of reflection such experiences deserve. These weren’t sad or painful memories, but when we travel to the past we never who will be there waiting …the older I get, the more the winnowing projects that entangle my emotions become a gathering of ghosts, and our time together is bittersweet. I miss the lived presence of these people in my life. It’s easier at times, to avoid the journey.

I don’t mean that going through my clothes or household items is challenging or drama-laden, but when it comes to sorting through family bits and pieces–in this case, boxes of my childhood dolls and the finely-crafted clothing my Grandma Hannah made for them (and a few dresses she made for me)–the winnowing accrues layers and layers of meaning. Considering beginning such jobs is sometimes too much of a muchness. So I postpone and focus on simple chores that I can cross off the endless list.

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But my younger brother has a new granddaughter, and girls are rare in our family. I knew it was time to pass on these lovely pieces of our family heritage, to gather them, clean and press and mend them, and to likewise gather photos and write their stories down for my sweet grand-niece to one day (I hope) know and cherish.

I was able to locate photos of dresses Grandma Hannah had made for my mother and her sister: the wedding dress they shared, the maid and matron-of-honor dresses they wore for each other’s weddings and in the wedding party of their elder brother…and then I took photos showing how all those fabrics had been used in later years to create these beautiful doll dresses, too.

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This doll is wearing a dress made from the soft green silk dresses Hannah made for Mama and her sister to wear in their older brother’s wedding.
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Grandma Hannah made these beautiful doll dresses from the velvet dress and wedding gown she made for her daughters years before. Mama looks so darling in her velvet dress!

When I was about 8, I also received a handmade quilt from Grandma, who used the pattern called Sunbonnet Girl, and it features so many other fabrics I recall seeing in Grandma’s creations over the years that studying it is like walking through a hall of memories. My mother wisely stored the quilt till I was grown, and now it decorates our guest bed. I sent its story on to baby Abigail Joyce and her parents, too, but–for now–I’m keeping the quilt with me. Just for now.

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And my original Raggedy Ann is also staying with me. Grandma and sweet Pa Louie gave her to me when I was a newborn, and that was the day Hannah suggested my parents call me Kitty. My mother had to give Raggedy so many new faces and yarn-hair makeovers over the years that there’s not too much left of the original doll, but the “I Love You” stamped over her heart. My favorite dress for Raggedy Ann was too faded and worn to send on to Abigail, but I patched the tears, and dressed Raggedy in it once again (with the original matching pantaloons), and my first darling will stay with me. No more facelifts; she’s perfect just as she is. We’ll both be 67 in a couple of months, so I think we’ll accept our faces for what they are and be glad that our hearts still share mutual love for each other. We share one story; how could we ever part?

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So, off went the boxes of carefully wrapped dolls and dresses, and my handmade clothes with all their stories. I felt like I was dropping my childhood off at the Post Office. But I also felt relieved that the job was completed and that Grandma’s Hannah’s artistry and story are safely in the hands of those who I know will cherish and protect them.

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Me, in all my bald brilliance, with my Raggedy Ann, and in one of the dresses I sent to Abigail.

What I did not expect to derive from this project was such a deep resonance of the love Hannah must have felt for me. Now that I’m older than my grandmother was when she created these works of art, I’m stunned to realize how amazingly beautiful and detailed they are. The stitching, embroidery, trim, puffed sleeves, smocking, crocheted lace for edging hems and pantaloons, tiny buttons and snaps…it really left me in awe of the time and care she put into these. And then I found photos of the dresses she made for me, too. My goodness, they were beautiful; the photos don’t do them justice.

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This looking back with new eyes is a gift of aging. Of course, I objectively knew I was loved by my grandparents and I appreciated their gifts, but what a revelation to witness the talent and expertise Hannah evidenced in making all of these doll clothes, to imagine her delight at my own joy in receiving them, and to recall the years I played with them developing my own creativity and imagination. This longer view gave me such deep pleasure and summoned a far greater gratitude than I likely offered her as a child. What does a child know of hours sacrificed in love? How can a child perceive the value of handmade treasures?

I felt my grandmother’s love so profoundly during the days I worked to restore her handiwork and get all of my childhood dolls ready to share. I felt her presence with every piece I mended and pressed. And, in preparing these gifts for Hannah’s great-great-granddaughter, I felt the ties that bind me to my mother, my grandmother, and further back, through all the creative, loving women I follow in my time, and how my life leads to Abigail’s, and beyond. A procession of women trailing their gifts and love through time.

A chore that seemed daunting became a lesson about the things we come to know as we age and sift through memories in the company of ghosts. When we come to know again, and with greater understanding and wisdom, how deeply we’ve been loved by others, it reignites that love’s power and light for us, no matter how old we are. And then we know our one important task is to pass it on.

© 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

When Things I’ve Missed Return

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The sandhill cranes returned this week,
in graceful formations that cut through the fog
and gray skies. Surprised, I heard their muted
trumpet calls and turned to welcome them,
not too long gone, now all seasons are crimped
by heat and drought, and struggle to live as fully
as they once did. Still, the sandhill cranes returned,
and robins, rain, and willow green, too, and like
one who waits for the sight of a soldier descending
the hill towards home, when things I’ve missed
return again, the sharp pain of yearning releases
and a thousand blossoms of something like hope
bloom in the world I imagine still possible: peace,
perhaps–families sure of their footing, and safe.
And if men will yet make time to strafe their hate, to burn to ash what breathes, what they say proves us better,
I bow to our Earth, that still takes time to renew
love’s promises, delivering old friends, flying back
like memories of better days, sounding good news
to hold in my heart against the coming storms.

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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.

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The Rare, Tiny Flower, by Kitty O’Meara, with illustrations by Quim Torres, arriving (we hope) June 14

The Beautiful and True

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Traveling a weary week to Poland,
backpacks stuffed with the necessary
and absurd. (Logic is too much to expect
when the world has gone mad.) Homes
destroyed, the roads gone, too, and the
neighbors? Who can say? “I don’t know
where I live anymore,” wept one old man
trudging through debris to nothing he wanted,
or knows, or chose; still, plodding on and away,
through the freezing night, into dark mystery.

Mothers and children, crammed in bright
stations, on benches and floors; looking
back towards yesterday, their holy ground,
and forward to questions without answers,
looking to their phones, staring into nothing,
looking to bear what they cannot bear to see.
Yet holding her child close to her heart, a woman says,
“I’m uncertain what is next, but I know we will return.”

Here were communities, watered and thriving, now
uprooted, connections left to desiccate, unearthed,
drying in the heat of depravity’s flames. Husbands,
fathers, brothers, sons. Men who owned their lives
and wore them comfortably, as students, engineers,
teachers, doctors, farmers, (only just preparing spring’s
planting), have stayed behind to fight for that which
they are, and will not yield, the beautiful and true.

A boy in soldier’s clothes comforts a child,
then bandages a woman’s head. He fumbles,
embarrassed by a camera sharing his clumsiness
5000 miles away, but he takes such gentle care in this
moment and the next. On Valentine’s Day, a month and
a lifetime past, he walked to classes and wondered if
the one he loved might love him, too. Today, an AK-47
hangs from his shoulder and he wears a helmet too large
for his adolescent head. How do the beautiful and true survive?

A tiny grandmother, babushkaed and bold, safe in Krakow,
smiled into the camera, “The bombs were everywhere;
the enemy shooting from behind every tree. But I am here!
I am alive! And that is good! Yes, that is very good!”

Where do these people find such strength,
the courage to leave; to part; to stay? People who
hug, and grieve, and stand to face the enemy,
unarmed except with brave defiance and wit; who
are these people of such fierce fire, too strong
to surrender their hope or joy? Too wise to believe
any despoiler could own their beauty and truth?

“He may destroy our homes;” one said,
“he may steal our land and believe
himself rich, but he would be deluded.
He will never possess our hearts or our
spirits. His evil only makes them stronger.
They will endure; they will remain and rise,
green and wild, beautiful and true;
they will grow and live forever.”

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Dedicated, with all my love, to the people of Ukraine.

© 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.

We, the People

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Where I was two years ago.

Looking at the world today, it seems clear that choosing the co-creative and healing path feeds life; choosing to ignore these invitations, to live from one’s shadow and to deny what impedes our ability to connect and love, leads to destruction and death.

I’ve been encouraged by, and am grateful for, the many people who agreed with the choices and actions I suggested as paths we could follow during our time of isolation, and have used their pandemic years (!) to dig deeper, evolve, and create. We, the people, are the miracle the Earth needs; ours is the love that can save it.

Gentle Peace to the world and to your hearts. May our leaders listen; may they be wise, calm, co-creative, and constructive. May they think differently and lead us to peace.

May we heal.

May we heal.

May we heal.

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

The Power to Witness

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In times of crisis and loss, when some humans behave as monsters and most humans are powerless to effect change, it is natural, comforting, and–for many reasons–imperative that we return to our ancient stories of love and transformation. The Lenten Journey, the path from the soul’s winter to its utterly opposite flowering in spring, is one such story; it is the Christian story many of us have been steeped in since our childhoods, but other belief systems teach from similar journeys of the spiritual cycle flowing from death to new life.

The tragedy facing Ukrainians and Russians confronts each of us with questions we have to answer before we may pass through the door to transformation: Who are we to each other? Why are we here? What do we do when evil challenges our better natures? How do we respond to suffering? Does love have boundaries?

The answers may differ; there is never only one course of action with which to respond, but we know in our bones that to regress to our first impulse of returning violence, to answer murder with murder, to initiate vengeance upon the perpetrators of such horror is not the choice that alters the course of history for the better, or that corresponds to our hearts’ commitment to healing and the evolution of our spirits.

When times are peaceful, it’s easy to say, “Love is the answer,” but it’s quite a different pronouncement when we witness suffering at this level and feel powerless to help.

I think of the Lenten story, of the absolute innocence and peace-filled heart of the hero, and how his light challenged the dark hearts of those in power. “Oh, no,” they must have thought, “if everyone accepted that all are equal and all are welcomed, the entire hierarchical empire would collapse!” The Prophet shook their lies into the open air; he called forth the truth of their greed and cruelty into the collective consciousness, exposing them for the charlatans and unmitigated oppressors they really were. He pulled aside the curtains and revealed how their silken splendor cloaked the brittle pillowed thrones of puny thugs.

He had to be killed not because he was evil, but because he was pure goodness. And because he spoke the brilliant, simple truth, upsetting the shoddy scaffolding of ornamented lies that supported the power of men dedicated to their own egos’ desires and nothing else.

Ukraine poses such a threat to Putin’s tiny, dark heart, and he cannot see for the light these people shine in his eyes, which is often the case for one who has chosen to live his life in darkness.

And us? What can we do in this time of such magnificent technology that we’re all instantly and continuously brought to the foot of this cross?

In the Lenten Story, the Innocent Victim’s beloveds were powerless to stop his suffering. Some fled from the scene or betrayed their friendship, which means their love. (Friend is derived from the Old English word meaning to love, to favor. Despots are friendless. Bowing sycophants are not friends.)

But those who allowed Love to lead them beyond their urges to flee, deny, hate, or despair, stood; they just stood and witnessed the suffering, loved the victim through his dying, watched the violence and cruelty done to his body, heard his cries of pain, remained through his final out-breath, carried and entombed his tortured body, and went home, broken in spirit, to grieve.

That is not the story’s ending, but it is where we are now, standing in the Suffering, witnessing the expanse of misery that hate-filled humans can cause. Indeed, in our time, one unloved, unchecked human can destroy the planet with his hatred.

And I, with my love-filled life, feel powerless, powerless to alter this.

And then I consider the spiraling path from Advent to Easter, from birth through death to wider rebirth, and am mindful that this road will always, always take us through suffering on our way to transformation, if we seek the wisdom every part of the journey offers.

The word witness comes from the idea that to observe a thing and understand it deeply allows us to “testify” to its existence and substance. We saw this; we were there; we remained present and learned again what humans steeped in hatred can do to other humans. And how love resists.

We don’t like this part of the journey. We often reject it and so add to our shadow’s burden. Advent requires such intolerable patience and Lent forces our soul to confront itself. “Ummm, no,” we think. “Please, let’s just jump to presents, to flowers and feasts and chocolate.”

Christmas and Easter are fun and delicious, filled with light and delight. But their real gifts have to be earned. Our flaws and destructive habits can be named and detached from our egos. We can sacrifice desire on behalf of our own and others’ well-being. “Look at yourself,” is Lent’s rugged–and deepening–invitation. “Look again.” First, we change; then we see that Christmas and Easter are always here. Transformation allows deeper and clearer vision; it lifts veils of delusion.

To evolve, we need to be awake through every lesson, every moment of the cycle, and develop the powers that guide us through those times that are dark and frightening, those times that bring the mirror too close. We must bear self-scrutiny; we must witness our weaknesses as well as our strengths. How will we heal if we can’t identify our wounds?

In this moment, there is the need for us to summon our power to witness the reality of hate, which exists in each of us and can only be healed through our choice to surrender it to the greater power of love, or there will be no Easter, no transformation, no rebirth.

The entire Lenten Story would lose such depth without those few who stayed beside the Transforming One and witnessed.

We can choose to be present and witness the evil; witness the suffering, the courage, the strength of those in the path of Putin’s dark storm of self-hatred. Witness those who do not surrender to this hatred and fear; witness those leaders whose clarity and resolve withstand the urge to lash out and instead guide the world through this time of dark suffering and back to balance. Stand and witness; suffer beside the victims in spirit; offer love and any possible aid; offer support to our leaders; offer the loving-kindness and the balance of our own spirit, but witness and do not turn away.

We’re told that Love works together in all things for our good, if we love fully. And that means that when we are powerless to stop others from suffering, our power is to remain present in love, to witness and remember what we have seen, and to testify, sharing all the ways love brought us through to a new and fragile Easter.

Take great and gentle care of yourselves. Feed your spirits. Create. Never surrender your hope. Be kind. Witness. Love.

Ways to help Ukraine.

Also, we can help those in our community who cannot withstand rising energy costs: Ride-share. Bike. Walk. Work from home. Donate to food banks and resale shops. Volunteer. Contact lawmakers to renew green energy commitments and funding rather than rush to more fracking and drilling: NOW is the time to transform how we treat the Earth as well as each other. Fight for better public transportation. Convert to solar power. Advocate for affordable electric vehicles. Reduce consumption of energy. Reduce consumption of anything mindlessly purchased to fill holes that can only be filled by love-in-action. Wear a damn sweater. (Jimmy Carter was right. About most things.) Be safe and 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.

Love Became Our Country

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And how did it end?

Suffering stormed the air and sorrow seiged our hearts.
For too long, fear had kept us broken and alone,
weakened by the variants of grief. Charlatans
and bullies, bloated men with indigent hearts,
hollow men who fed on greed and lies, stirred
the weak to anger, and then to oppress,
and then to destroy.

We hid and seemed tamed. Silent. 

But all the while, we were healing.
All the while, reaching through the dark,
dreaming ourselves to strength, planting
wild possibilities, creating, creating. 
Creating with fire, we blazed a trail 
back to fierce hope; we united.

And those who could not love
were consumed by its light,
shamed and forgotten,
fair justice from a world
too blessed for their curses,
too free for their fences,
too healed for their disease.

Love transforms when we choose its embrace.
We meet the world with our gifts or lose it.
We learned this and said Yes.
We will love.
End? There was no ending.
There never is with love…
Love is always a beginning.

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I am heartsick for the people of Ukraine. For the conscripted Russian youths. For the world.

I retain my fierce hope that love will win, and believe that, while peace may not return on this side of my life, it will return and flourish. I guard against hatred and wish instead that full awareness and empathy will permeate the hearts and minds of those who have inflicted such suffering. May they feel the pain they’ve created, understand its depths, realize the consequence of their choices, understand other choices were available, and seek forgiveness.

There are many charities and helpers listed on social media and online news sites. Here is where I’m donating today.


© 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 Rare, Tiny Flower: A Child Shall Lead

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022)

A little girl watched
the loud confrontation,
then circled the flower
in slow exploration.
“Please, look again,”
came her calm, patient voice.
“WHY?” cried the screamers.
She smiled. “There’s a choice.”

The Rare, Tiny Flower began as an image of the tiny flower and a small girl defending its mystery, beauty, and right to “find light and grow.” She inherently knows that, frail as it is, it comes with gifts…as does everything and everyone on Earth. We are each tiny, rare, and precious.

I wrote the verse over a year ago in response to the turmoil in my own country, and how it reflected the descent into immature behaviors rising all over the world. People were lashing out, choosing anger, selfishness, name-calling, blaming…all the lower emotional and spiritual human responses to the fear and loss the pandemic brought with its physical destruction and to the mature sacrifices we needed to make to survive and to protect each other.

Behaving from these “lower frequencies” unfortunately, seems the baseline standard for too many leaders and media forums. Most of us cannot counter the darkness their power spreads in the world, or especially the ways it influences our children’s intellectual, emotional, and spiritual formation, except through our own little attempts to choose kindness, love, forgiveness, and openness, in the world, however insignificant our efforts might seem. We can try to live into “small acts of great kindness,” as both St. Therese and Mother Teresa modeled and shared with their times and corners of Earth.

I fail from moment to moment…just this morning, as Phillip and I watched the horrors unfolding in Ukraine, we found ourselves snapping at each other before we caught, released, and named how that evil energy had entered us and momentarily controlled our words and actions. The entire world is frustrated and short-tempered after two years of isolation and loss, but we must, we must retain our childlike willingness to connect with the Other, to interrupt the flow of anger, fear, and greed, to name the truth and offer hope. We can catch ourselves failing and try again.

When I was 7, a move across the country was necessitated by another promotion in my father’s career. We went to our new school and met the principal and our new teachers, received a tour, and sat while our parents discussed ‘relevant parental topics’ with the principal. On the drive back home, Mama turned to us in the back seat and asked, “Well, what did you think of your new principal?”

I replied, “She smiled with her face, but not with her eyes.” My mother was so struck by my response that she remembered it and shared it with me when I was much older and it was long forgotten. But it’s what we do as children, and such honest awareness is one of children’s great gifts to us adults who have “matured” and too often discarded our childlike awareness of the world’s wonder and profound sensitivity to the energy behind the masks adults offer the world and the unconscious subtexts their words offer.

Like the little girl in the story, children have the capacity to be the Great Interrupters, the stunning spirits who call us to pause and, just for a moment, see again the potential, the hope, the magic, and unbelievable uniqueness of our existence and the precious place we call Earth, we call our home. And those are the moments we need, more than ever.

Please, as we witness what cruelty and suffering a childish madman can unleash, let us retain our childlike companions of hope, sensitivity, openness, and a willingness to forgive and love. Let us listen like children and hear the tender, beautiful music from which we were created and that always surrounds us. Let us see with the simple clarity of a child that there are always other choices, always other responses available, and always new ways to use our gifts to create the peaceful world we imagine. And then we must make those choices and create that better world.

Help, however you are able. Gentle peace to you, and thank you for your gifts in the world.

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The Rare, Tiny Flower can be pre-ordered here.

© 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 Rare, Tiny Flower: Bullies or Lovers?

To some it looked red,
to some it looked blue.

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).

And so the world sees, once again and sadly, how a man with twisted emotional development and an unhealed psyche projects the madness stewing in his long-denied shadow upon the world.

My new book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, offers a verse for children that explores how our egoic needs to dominate, possess, and fashion the world in our own image will only lead to discord if we allow fear, sadness, and anger, to make these needs control our better natures. 

Others saw yellow,
but many saw green.
A more puzzling flower
had never been seen!


A number saw umber,
a small group saw teal.
“We see it correctly!
We see what is real!”


Each group insisted
its vision was right.
“Agree it’s magenta,
or we’ll start a fight!”

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).

In other words, the story shows and reinforces for children (and, I hope for all of us) how behaviors like considering other points of view, offering each other respect, practicing kindness, listening before passing judgment, and welcoming the stranger makes for a better world.

These are not complex concepts, but as adults with advanced language and thinking skills, we create a million different ways to deny and bury their truth and instead rationalize, defend, promote, and force their antonyms upon one another. We surrender our child-like innocence and regress to our most profound needs: me-me-me and mine-mine-mine. Easier choice than maturity.

It’s mustard!
It’s purple!
It’s turquoise!
It’s pink!
It’s chartreuse!
It’s puce!
It’s whatever
we think!

It’s midnight!
It’s coral!
It’s violet-red!
It’s silver!
It’s orange!
You’re weak
in the head!

It’s sweet
periwinkle!
It’s mango!
Maroonish!
It’s white
as a snowflake!
You’re crazy!
You’re loonish!

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: March 26, 2022).

Some of us explore our deepest hurts–and joys–and tend to our continual healing and growth through art, through feeding continual creativity, through self-forgiveness and forgiving others, and–mainly–through faithfully engaging and re-engaging in loving relationships. We try to mend and tend our lives and spirits as we confront our suffering and errors. We risk vulnerability for the rewards of authentic intimacy.

Others of us encrust our inner hurts with more and more grievance and self-pity, building layers and layers of justification for our dark and selfish choices, till we blindly act out, detonating our black pearls in the world. These people are called bullies and risk becoming monsters. Their egos have exceeded and destroyed their humanity and capacity to love. They are like the cyclopes who can only see what they need to see to maintain their false self-images, rather than the wider, real perspective in front of their eyes. What vocation is available for such people but that of a bully? 

Powerful leaders
arrived, striking poses.
“We will not agree!”
And noses met noses.

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).

 It’s glaringly apparent how despot’s lives are barren of trusted and loving relationships. An authoritarian banishes himself from locating and resting in his heart, let alone admitting anyone or anything else within its shriveled confines. (I love how the Grinch’s heart shrinks and expands according to the love he denies or admits.)

And tragically, the call from a bully-monster’s unhealed shadow attracts others who also refuse, fear, or are too ignorant to explore and heal their own pain. Like attracts like. A monstrous actor with great power gives other bullies-in-training permission to go on poisoning their own unconscious, rather than confront, heal, re-create and choose different ways of being.

The only corrective is to love: to teach, learn, and practice love towards ourselves and others, recognizing that my unhealed pain is yours, and, ultimately, the Earth’s. 

Botanists came
to settle the score,
but couldn’t decide,
so the leaders cried,

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).
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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).

And loving is hard. There’s a reason both love and courage have the same root and are linguistic siblings. Love demands that we confront and limit our desires, that we sacrifice on behalf of others’ welfare, that we transform, that we bare our hearts and spirits for others.

We are all potential bully-monsters or lovers: which behaviors will we choose, feed, and practice? I hope the gentle flower and the little girl in The Rare, Tiny Flower will encourage children to choose the path and actions fueled by love, and will reap all the gifts that choice offers them and the Earth.

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The Rare, Tiny Flower can be pre-ordered here.

© 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 Rare, Tiny Flower: How it Began

from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022)

My book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, debuts on April 26, and my friends and collaborators at Tra Publishing and I are excited to share its beauty and timeless relevance with the world.

I wonder if, like me, you’ve witnessed many acts of kindness, generosity, and bravery over the past two years. Perhaps there were times your own community or your family came together to help a person, or another family suffering cruel losses or hardships during the pandemic.

But we’ve also seen examples of global and community divisiveness, of rudeness and anger resulting more from fear than a willingness to come together to maturely solve the many problems facing us.

When fear is a natural response to our experience, what should we do next? How do we respond to mystery and what actions can we rely upon in service to our greater good?

At times, the childlike responses of wonder, friendliness, openness, and delight have been replaced by childish behaviors of selfishness, of needing to be right, however illogical or dangerous the cost. These choices diminish humanity’s power to do good, possibly even to survive.

And our children, of course, are watching. They’re absorbing the language and feelings and interactions around them. Through our choices, we create lessons for them every day, and model them over and over. I became concerned about what the children have been learning regarding how we respond to crises, how we behave during times that are chaotic, how we care for each other when we’re all suffering, and how we manage our fear and disagreements.

I thought about the lyrics to the song, You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught, by Oscar Hammerstein III, for his and Richard Rogers’ musical, South Pacific. What have we been carefully teaching our children during the pandemic, and have we emphasized the lessons we want them to learn?

The Rare, Tiny Flower is my response to these ideas. It’s written in verse, and is profoundly enriched by the amazing illustrations created by Quim Torres.

The story emphasizes peaceful conflict resolution and the dangers of anger and rushing to judgment, exploring instead the ways kindness, listening, reflection, and respect for the Earth–and for our differences and gifts–can bring us together in ways that creatively meet the challenges that face us.

The Rare, Tiny Flower invites us to celebrate our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being here at all, but especially, of being here together.

Over the next several posts, I’ll be sharing the poem and illustrations with you, and thoughts about how the book and its glorious illustrations can be shared by parents, grandparents, and teachers with the children they love.

It begins:

Once, in a forest,

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from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022)

a bird dropped a seed.
It wasn’t a sapling,
it wasn’t a weed,
but a rare, tiny flower
that found light and grew.

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from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022)

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The Rare, Tiny Flower can be pre-ordered here

© 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 Training and Management of Humans (an excerpt)

Lesson One: Identify and Develop Your Gifts Immediately

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By Gracie Louise (aka, Gracie Lulu, Gracie Weezy)

Dear Readers,

Our mother has been very involved with yoga, exercise, meditation, and walking these past several weeks, in an attempt to heal her knee and avoid a “damntotalkneereplacement” surgery. This morning, I had to run behind the couch to laugh quite uncontrollably, as her yoga contortions had resulted in such a ball of limbs I doubted she would extricate herself by nightfall. Apparently, there exists a Complete Knot Asana.

At any rate, I regained control of myself and emerged from my chuckling interlude to ask her if I might help her out by writing a post for the edification of dogs everywhere. I took her grunted responses to be in the affirmative, so I’ve put together some tips from the larger manuscript I’m writing. It’s called, The Training and Management of Humans, and is especially directed towards those living in a multi-canine (or cat) household, although Only Dogs may also benefit, of course. (Usually, they are so spoiled that no further advice is needed.)

Human readers may now leave the room.

My 4-legged friends: Let me be exceedingly perspicuous: This work begins as soon as humans get hold of you. Do NOT waste your brief puppyhood drooling and sleeping, for this is the most important–dare I say crucial–time for eliciting and maintaining the upper paw with your humans. This is the when you must (quickly) learn about your gifts and powers to charm your humans, rendering them in comfortable and happy obedience forever. An obedient human is content and secure; we owe them this.

Here, you see how I let my own heavenly puppy smell and tummy splutch so captivate my mother that I went from being a “foster dog” to her very own adopted Gracie in about 3 days flat. Work it, my friends; find your gift and work it. Mine is clearly Adorableness. It has worked to my advantage from the start, and continues, into my third year of mastery. You will notice that sometimes I play off my siblings’ age and lesser adorableness to more starkly contrast my own dearness. This is a technique I learned early and well, and should be considered by all who are the youngest in the pack.

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I must also add that as a puppy, I developed the unique trait of using my ears to further mark me as Adorable and (seemingly, haha) dependent…look for the ways you might do this as well. Beguile your humans early and you won’t regret the riches this will yield.

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Micky’s puppy gifts, I’m told, were both his resemblance to something called Yoda, and his puppy Inscrutability, a trait he has perfected and still uses to great effect with our humans on a daily basis. He says it confounds them, which weakens their resolve to do anything but ply him with treats. You’ll notice in the last photo how his Inscrutability so well serves him in adulthood: the human hand extends to tickle him; he does not react. This makes the humans work harder to serve us. They desire a playful, jumpy response. It gives them power. I say, “Withhold, like Micky, and remain in control, my friends.”

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Micky also has a unique posture that endears him to humans everywhere. Although he is the middle pup, I will say his special gift is retaining some of his neonatal charm, as seen here, although he hasn’t developed the intelligence (not to put too fine a point on it) to know when to stop whining like an infant and just switch into this pose when he wishes for a specific behavior from the humans.

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Malarky, usually called Larky, is my eldest sibling, and  he has an array of strange gifts that, from the first, befuddled, amused, and captivated our humans, rendering them putty in his paws. For example, he loved to eat tall grasses from mother’s gardens and expected her to sit beside him on the lawn, not too closely, but precisely within one and one-half feet, while he munched like a donkey on straw. Then, he would indicate with a nod and soft bark that he desired her to harvest more. This bonded her in servitude to Larky forever, so far as the rest of us can judge. He needs but to indicate a yearning and mother hops to it with all the energy and blind obedience of, say, an orchestra to its conductor. (Mother forbade me from using political references as similes and metaphors, and, since this is my first post, I will follow her guidance. Another trick in training humans: Follow directions the first time. Lull them into thinking a pattern has been formed.)

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Larky also developed a snarky side-eye glance at a very young age, that stopped mother and father in their tracks and made them doubt themselves and feel foolish, a precarious stance which Malarky used to his great advantage.

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You can see how he still commands attention and–preferably–subservience, as an adult, Indeed, we bow before his mastery. Mother and father know better than to cross him when these looks are delivered. Training accomplished!

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We come next to Dooley, and I confess, we are at a loss, for his first year was a Dickensian tragedy on the streets of Houston, the hellish place for dogs that most of us are from, regrettably. (We thank heaven for the rescue angels who also reside there. And here.) But that is his almost enviable gift, as well, for the sadness of his first year did not dim but burnished his sweetness. He can do no wrong in the eyes of our humans. Here, for instance, is how he responded to the “no sitting on the furniture” rule:

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Father and mother’s response is to sigh and say, “Isn’t he cute?” He is most authentically the Trainer of our humans because there is no artifice. He’s just Dooley and gets his way all the time.

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And now we come to my sister, Teagan, probably the keenest manipulator in all of the canine kin-dom, for she is mistress of our humans’ unconscious and has used this to her–and, I must admit, all of our–advantage since she arrived, a most-desired little girl by our mother. As a puppy she drove mother to distraction by resisting contact and touch for two weeks’ running. Finally, when mother was without hope, Teagan slyly crept into her arms, a trophy-worthy capitulation if ever there were one. Perfect timing, Teagan! I would say her native cunning Cleverness coupled with my Adorableness (and, of course, the boys’ gifts) have made us invincible in terms of running this show. (Notice her daring response to the furniture verboten was to drape herself over the arm of the couch or chaise. Too clever!

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I spoke of Teagan’s mastery of our humans’ unconscious workings. Here is an example: Mother was taught by nuns from childhood through university and, although she loved them and has had many nun friends as an adult, there is a deep “nun archetype” of authority that unconsciously snaps mother into unquestioning obedience. Note how brilliantly Sister Mary Teagan has worked this to her, and our, advantage. Many a laugh–and automatic treat–have resulted. I think it is the suggestion of the veil, but also the stern gaze that makes Teagan the unparalleled artist in this field.

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Teagan has also trained mother through an entire “evening sequence” that we all admire greatly; indeed, we are left breathless at how smoothly it flows, perfectly cued and timed to occur nightly, without a hitch. At 7:00 precisely, mother is reading contentedly, when Teagan approaches and stands up on her rear paws to “sweetly” peek over the foot of the chaise. This causes mother–with no thought process evident at all, so automatically is she trained to respond–to open and spread a blanket in her lap. This is done exactly as Teagan has trained mother to do, for it must be just so, with a perfect pocket indented in the blanket for Teagan’s nestling pleasure. And once Teagan is settled, mother must cross and fold the blanket over and around her as endless practice has perfected, until–success!–Teagan is swaddled cozily in her banky for the evening.

We all watched with amazement as this complex training was accomplished over a series of months. Teagan used the withholding of kisses until rewards were earned; she employed her “nun gaze;” resurrected her puppyhood’s complete indifference (aha! a retreat to mother’s old fear of failing to be loved by Teagan!), and then inserted shrewdly-timed cuddles and “good girl” nudges to provide mother with gentle encouragement and guide her towards completing her arduous training. As you can see, if your training can be broken down into simple steps, oft and calmly repeated, judiciously rewarded, and firmly reinforced, then success will be yours.

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The boys, who are far less exacting, have nonetheless, trained father to accept their nightly presence as well. (I have learned that my Adorableness allows me to rest anywhere I like, though I have not trained our humans with the exactitude of Teagan, the Trailblazer.)

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Although, we have a Recent Development that bears watching. Malarky has begun to leap onto mother’s lap at 6:45, thus edging Teagan out. He may also be attempting the nun-look and failing miserably. Mother, in her peaceful oblivious manner, allows them both to nestle with her, but we can all tell Teagan is plotting, and eagerly await her next move. Larky will likely not know what hit him. And so, we train the humans and vie for power in our pack: the life of canines everywhere.

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Thus concludes the first chapter of my oeuvre on training your humans. There is so much more, of course, to explore and upon which to expound; for example, forming alliances:

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But these will have to wait for another day, as it is time to herd our mother and father out of doors for another walk. Their exercise is so vital, as is their intake of healthy food and water…our work is never done, but it is ever and deeply rewarding, our raison dêtre, as it were. I leave you with these two photos of our humans. Aren’t they darling? Simple, even insipid, but ours, and we love them. We’ll keep training them and protecting them; it’s a good life and they’re doing well. After all…just look at these sweet pictures! You can see how earnestly they believe that they have chosen to feed us. Success!

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A very Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

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

The Holiest Moment

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It began, I suppose, at day’s end,
calming yourself before sleep,
reviewing the hours, sifting for
that shimmering moment when
breath and presence and senses
aligned, mirrors circling mirrors
startled your mind into encompassed
awareness, and you paused, irradiated,
ravished like a lover intimate with her own life.
That was it, you said; there was nothing like it
before or after, this was the day’s holiest moment,
and you strung the memory like a jeweled bead
beside the others you’d saved, and rewound the
necklace of chosen insights around your heart
(a miser counting so few coins), glittering and gone:

the burnished paint-spilled sunrise, the shivering
rescued puppy, its joy in finding safe harbor,
your beloved’s voice, eyes, touch, laughter,
the spider’s web, the intentional ant carrying
the articulated leaf, the porcelain bowl of ruby
berries glittering with juice, the kitchen aromas
of your next meal, the rising major chorale or
single minor violin, the whisper of lilac carried
on the rainwashed breeze, the mending embrace
after javelined words carried you too far into pain,
the flash of lightning, or of anger rightly piercing
lies, the unexpected kindness, the stranger’s smile,
the uprush of birdsong, and then finally one night,
old as you are, you see blessings like shining stars
everywhere, and every moment is a holy moment
known, lived, and released, so you set down the task
of sifting through and singling out and only breathe
into them, and you kneel, whispering, “grateful,
only let me be grateful, now and now and now…”

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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.

Haiku in Winter

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night stretches sleepless–
owl counsels from snowy branch
what will worry change?

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tending fallen bird–
healing life within your hands
you are the rescued

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gray days string along–
memories of spring erupt
flowering in dreams

A lovely treat arrived in the mail, and just when I needed it: an early edition of my new book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, a lovely collaboration with the gifted illustrator, Quim Torres, and all my talented friends at Tra Publishing. What wonders can happen if we truly listen to others’ points of view? (Release date: March 22, 2022; available to order from your favorite bookstores now!)

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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.

In Praise of Winter

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If there’s anything cozier than sitting by the fire with a good book while January’s Full Wolf Moon rises in winter’s purple sky, I haven’t experienced it. Add my loved ones in similar comfy postures, a few blankets, some wine, hot homemade ginger water, or cocoa (do they make cocoa ginger wine?), soft background music, and I’m the definition of content.

It’s easy to dislike the stretch of bland gray days these winter months offer us, but the magical sunrises and sunsets, the slow post-holiday pace, the still-brief daylight, and the feeling of cocooning together make it a season that becomes dearer to me every year. After years of wishing these months would just pass into spring already, I can finally relax into them, understanding that what’s happening in the garden is happening in me as well: life is resting, percolating, and waiting to rise.

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I’ve come to trust the winter months’ mysterious powers to stimulate dreams, generate ideas, and shape connections in my psyche. A lot of new creative projects are brewing and bubbling just beneath consciousness and I’ve learned to let them be; they’ll green and bud when they’re ready. In the meantime, I love the chance to read piles of books, to meditate more and for longer periods, to do little projects in the house, and to indulge in naps that the summer’s activities don’t often allow.

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We’ve had some rough weeks dealing with sudden, painful, and dispiriting setbacks in my healing from knee surgery, but I think we’re back on track again, for which I’m most grateful. After weeks of resting and hobbling behind a walker, I went for my first walk with Phillip today. It was cold and bleak outside, and I loved it. Fresh air, winter sounds, frosty smells, and mobility; I felt tentative and new, released into a strange and brilliant world.

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When you look closely at the world in winter, so much life is revealed in a landscape that at first appears utterly barren. We saw the tracks of rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, mice, and a deer or two, and heard the hooting owls and jays. Mourning doves huddled at the feeding tray Phillip set out (our very own dove bar), and a variety of birds swooped back and forth between trees and the hanging feeders.

In the same way, although we’re outwardly resting in greater stillness during winter, a closer look reveals some of life’s most profound activities: healing, dreaming, waiting expectantly, and trusting that what demands growth and tending in spring will be met with our winter-fortified readiness.

Enlight113

Gentle peace to you, and joy in all the creativity brewing in your own winter hibernaculum, and the same wishes to the actively-creative sunbathed days of all my friends in the Southern Hemisphere.

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

On Healing

There are moments
for uprooting your aching
spirit and cradling it tenderly,
awaiting the uncoiling infant
greenness coming to probe
your waiting heart with new life.
Everything must bear its scars,
but choose to yield their grace.

Watch how the winter world goes
about its business. Be witness
to the frenzy of the feeding birds,
freezing wings beating through
the bluest winter sky. They suffer,
yet they soar. Note how the garden’s
ghosts bend beneath ice and snow,
harboring spring, how active death
can be, how deliberate its service to
life. And in the moonlight’s bright beams,
hear the coyotes make symphony of their
mystery and hunger. Be comforted, then,
in your healing. All the world transforms
through pain, labouring what answers
must be born, what sacrifices life requires
to create its owned and precious beauty.

© 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 want to share a friend’s offering, for anyone who may have and interest in creating films with their smartphones. It sounds like a creative, interesting class! https://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/smartphone-filmmaking-a-2-part-workshop/smartphone-filmmaking-2-part-workshop.

And another friend’s wonderful anthology, Navigating the Pandemic, since we still are. www.dandelionbook.com

Be safe and well, my dear friends.

 

Brought to Our Knees

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Winter is upon us, and if it’s no longer clothed in brilliant whites and silvers, I still welcome its silence, stillness, and the gift of seeing the breaths of my life exhale and, in their expiration, cloud before me as I walk down the trail. Although, as it’s just a week since my knee surgery, I suspect the verb “walk” is imprecise; my gait is just shy of clownish and barely propels me forward. I call it “meditative walking;” that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’m grateful I can locomote at all, and every day a bit further. I endured some rather painful days and nights before I could attempt moving without a walker, so it was a treat to stumble out to the bridge and wish the Canada Geese a Happy Solstice this morning.

I am reminded again, forever, that suffering is a deeply human experience and arrives with its losses and blessings for us to hold up to the light of scrutiny and prayer (whatever that means for us), derive and integrate what we will from it, and possibly accept and pursue the invitations to become more deeply human. This also suggests each of us is free to define exactly what becoming “more deeply human” might mean in our life.

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For me, it’s a journey of opening my being wider to the Great All; understanding and accepting the connections among every particle of creation and consistently paring away at that unique and ingrained hubris of my species that causes us homo sapiens to believe we’re somehow superior to, and separate from, all other lifeforms and bits of creation, while at the same time being utterly incapable of seeing how false that premise is. A glance around the planet just now would seem to be a grand invitation for us to evolve beyond that blindness, to truly see the suffering such small understanding of our purpose and potential has caused.

And that’s what suffering helps me to consider: the responsibility to evolve. Suffering makes us dependent, vulnerable, fragile, weak. Here is the path to holiness/wholeness. Pain brings us to our knees (figuratively; had I literally gone to my knees this week, I’d still be there). And on our knees, we are prone to seek, through our version of prayer, answers that have eluded us.

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And, oh, I have learned that there are life-changing quests best pursued on our knees. A great gift of kneeling is the closer proximity to the earth that it affords. Through our suffering, we are made humble (Middle English: from Old French, from Latin humilis ‘low, lowly’, from humus ‘ground’); we are re-grounded. Of course, it’s all a choice. Growth or its rejection are always choices. All we can do is try; try to convert our suffering to the wisdom of accepting our place in the Great All, with deep gratitude and humility. And then rise, to serve one another (all life) in our healing and wholeness. To participate fully and uniquely, as we have been sent, to co-create the community of existence in Love. Why would we think we’re here for anything less, given the miracle we’re here at all?

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So, joy to your seasons, whatever they offer as we spin through time and space. Great joy, deep hope, and a great deal of merry humility. I leave you with my old carol, Welcoming the Stranger; whatever your spiritual orientation, I hope it sings to your heart.

A Peaceful Solstice, a Merry Christmas, and, when we’re brought to our knees, may we all be blessed with others to help us rise and find our place in the company of loving particles.

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WELCOMING THE STRANGER

See the weary travelers,
lonely in the night.
In a town of strangers,
searching for a light,
praying for a kindness,
just an open door—
in a world of strangers,
there’s no welcome for the poor.

In a cave that evening,
meant to shelter sheep,
Love was born to heal us,
little lamb asleep.
In a world of darkness,
tossed and blown and wild,
in a world of strangers,
came the poor to greet the child.

No one is a stranger;
nothing’s here by chance.
All of life is welcome
in the sacred dance.

See the holy family,
sheltered from the storm.
In a world of strangers,
Love will keep them warm.
Whirling stars are singing,
angels greet this birth:
wrapped in rags and mystery,
lies the richest child on earth.

While the world lay sleeping,
everything had changed:
power, wealth, possession,
all was rearranged.
Have we learned the lesson?
Have we even heard?
How we treat the stranger
is our answer to the Word.

No one is a stranger;
nothing’s here by chance.
All of life is welcome
in the sacred dance.

Wealth is found in giving,
opening the door,
offering forgiveness,
sheltering the poor,
cradling creation,
saying yes to love,
welcoming the stranger,
while the angels sing above.

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A beautiful story for you: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/12/21/baltimore-rodgers-forge-christmas-lights/

© 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.

Outtake: Look! It’s Santa!

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Gentle Time

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I was recently invited to sift through my past year and reflect both on a recalled and prominent moment of insight, and on ways to carry its wisdom into the New Year. It’s an interesting spiritual practice.

At first, I doubted any unique awareness had penetrated my gray matter deeply enough to set the brain case on fire, as Bertie Wooster might say, but in exploring the idea, I realized I have tiny insights every day; I think we all do. Big epiphanies are rare (for me), but looking back over the year was helpful because the retrospective perspective allowed me to see how the momentary understandings may accrue into deeper ones, if we pursue them with focus and enliven them with our actions.

And I learned that even established and deepening rituals can become more profound by scrutinizing their intent and value. Why am I doing this? What aspect of my growth does it serve? How does it enrich what I’m offering others? Sitting with the symbols, metaphors, and archetypes that arise when we consider our rituals is helpful. If our spiritual practices aren’t transforming who we are and how we move in the world, perhaps we can explore and retrieve their value, alter them, or discard them and seek other ways of conscious becoming and meaningful being.

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Here was my insight on a ritual that began with lighting candles and evolved into what we call our Gentle Time:

When we both retired a few years ago, we stumbled for a time, searching for new ways to begin days that had always started with us rushing, spinning, and leaving in separate directions.

I began lighting candles in the kitchen and great room as I moved through them in the morning to make our coffee and feed the cats, while my husband walked and fed the five rescue dogs. Then, we’d sit with our coffee, the four-leggeds snuggling on the couch with my husband and beside me on my chair, and we would enjoy the morning’s stillness, the flicker of the candles, and the rising sun. Sometimes, we’d read to each other; or we’d share what we’d read or dreamt about the night before, discuss our anxiety for the world and our country’s increasing disparities (and how to solve them all), and set out our plans for the new day.

That simple practice of lighting candles has evolved into what Phillip calls our Gentle Time, and it all began with the lighting of the candles. My favorite insight this year came at midsummer, when I paused to consider the sun was rising and there was no logical need for candlelight. I realized then that we’d created a valued ritual that now holds deep meaning for the way we begin each morning.

I’m like an acolyte, in service to life’s Great Mystery; lighting the candles to consecrate the gift of a new day. They wake us up to the sacred space which surrounds us everywhere, and the Love that binds us to it. I realized last summer that it’s so much more than a habit of lighting candles and beginning the day quietly; it’s beginning each day with reverence and gratitude. And this realization has begun to change the way we complete our work throughout the day.

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In the new year (well, starting now, thanks to the slowing and pondering offered by writing the requested reflection), we’ve decided to consciously end our day with a Gentle Time as well, turning off the discouraging news programs, the movies–and yes, even PBS–to again light a candle and just be together, grateful for the day and its gifts, sharing the ways we’ve each tried to add our own light to the world during these precious hours, or acknowledging missed chances and committing to trying again tomorrow. Such practices help us to live more consciously—and so we heal, we make ourselves whole, and we evolve.

Tomorrow, I have a surgery to repair a torn meniscus, so I’ll be offline for a time to focus on healing and the holidays.

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I also wanted to share three of my favorite charities, if anyone’s casting about for a way to help during this season of giving. I know there are greater needs than we can meet, but everything we share makes us more profoundly understand how deeply we’re all connected. Feel free to share your own favorite charities in the comments.

The first I offer for your consideration is local to Madison, Wisconsin. A dear friend and gifted physician has led an effort to create a hospice/home for the homeless, which I see as both a blessed goal and dire need. She’s connected with other agencies and gifted helpers, and Solace Friends Inc. plans to open this home in 2022. You can read more about this and make donations at solacefriends.org

The second charity is Unbound. Phillip and I have participated with Unbound as sponsors for 30 years. When you go to the website, you can search through the profiles of elderly people and children all over the world, all of whom are in need of your help. You choose one (or more) and “sponsor” them by sending a small monthly monetary donation that provides basic needs for them and, of course, contributes to their family’s welfare as well. You’re encouraged to exchange e-mails with your friend, and translators assist, so no worries about language barriers. We currently sponsor a young man in Guatemala whom we’ve been honored and delighted to know since he was a small child.

The third charity is your local animal rescue organization, and if your health and the ongoing pandemic allow, they can always use volunteers as well.

I wish us all a bright and blessed New Year. Be merry, and gentle peace to you and your beloveds.

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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.

I saw a man walking towards or away

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I’ve seen this in forests, the odd bike
so long ago leaned and left against a tree
that bark and limb have grown round it,
entangling the spokes and frame,
tree and bike, one becoming the other,
or the cars forsaken and rain-glazed,
growing old and older beside the lonely road,
driven and abruptly ditched (I love you;
I love you not), rusting back to earth,
or the farm picker,
planter,
plow
forgotten in the field,
jilted on a hill, now concealed
and circled by sapling sentinels.
Abandoned.
Disowned.
I want
to know
the story.

What thought,
or love,
or searing grief
caused you to stop
so suddenly, to still,
and turn away forever
from what was yours?
Did you finally meet
your yearned-for yes?
Or crushing no?
What sent you spinning
on that shiny dime
from one life into another?
And were you walking towards or away?
When you left home that day
on your bike,
in your car,
seated on your metal plow,
what encounter, what manifestation
or moment’s metanoia,
what flashing bright insight
shot you from your seat
with such unforeseen and instant force?
Did a bush burn before you?
Did a voice call you beloved?
As you walked into your sudden
and surprising choice, did your heart
uplift, feathered, swift? Or was sorrow’s
footprint stamped in every weighty step,
marking a trail of regret? Did you once
look back
or whisper farewell?

And as the forest curtain closed behind you,
or the wheat unbent its golden stalks
to stand once more upright and tight,
or the branches curled round
your bike, claiming its abiding love,
did someone else turn off a light,
already knowing
you would never return?

© 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.