A Lot Of Slow


A Lazy Thought

There go the grownups
To the office,
To the store.
Subway rush,
Traffic crush;
Hurry, scurry,
Worry, flurry.

No wonder
Don’t grow up
Any more.
It takes a lot
Of slow
To grow.                                                                                                                                                       

~ Eve Merriam


All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy


Where are you hurrying to?
you will see
the same moon tonight
wherever you go!    ~ Izumi Shikibu

Ruth Ellen and Kitty 001

DSCF9223Laughing with somebody till the tears run down your cheeks. Waking up to the first snow. Being in bed with somebody you love. Whether you thank God for such a moment or thank your lucky stars, it is a moment that is trying to open up your whole life. If you turn your back on such a moment and hurry along to business as usual, it may lose you the ball game. If you throw your arms around such a moment and hug it like crazy, it may just save your soul.   ~ Frederick Buechner

Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Tadpoles, Green Heron 033

I get so preoccupied with the details and pressure of my schedule, with the hurry and worry of life, that I miss the song of goodness which is waiting to be sung through me. Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.


We are naturally reverent beings, but much of our natural reverence has been torn away from us because we have been born into a world that hurries. There is no time to be reverent with the earth or with each other. We are all hurrying into progress. And for all our hurrying we lose sight of our true nature a little more each day.  ~ Macrina Wiederkehr, Source: Radical Grace, the Center for Action and Contemplation


Hurry, hurry has no blessing.   ~ Swahili Proverb



© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.

Ordinary Time

July Full Moon 027The great lesson from the true mystic…is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends and family, in one’s backyard.  ~ Abraham Maslow

Our summer has blessed us with a holy balance that we found it very difficult to maintain last year. The difference in our energy is profound, substantial, and named as gift.

July Full Moon 042Hot and muggy weather has been moderated by temperate; rainfall has been received and followed by aridity; days and evenings filled with friends and activities have altered with times of silence and stillness. No great or monumental changes have occurred in our lives, but transformations have, of course, been ongoing, and we acknowledge that the anchors we use to steady and focus our attention can at any moment be lifted to allow for sailing with those currents always carrying us home, beyond one now to the next.

Gardens, Visit from RE and Paul 038It is an ordinary time of picnics and gardening, of art fairs and meeting with friends, of sitting with a good book and enjoying our 4-legged companions, of celebrating the exquisite good fortune of being alive and finding each other and being well together in spite of our impediments, frailties, and the dreams we’ve let loose like so many colored balloons floating away through summer-blue skies. All is well within the boundaries of what, actually, is.

Gardens, Visit from RE and Paul 036Above all, we at Full Moon Cottage have felt a rare quality of grace this summer and the heart’s response is gratitude.

It is lovely to arrive at a place and time that offer both presence and reflection, hunger and satiety, desire and its fulfillment, all in an even flow of moderation. And although we know that life’s fierce tempests will once again tumble our minds ahead of our steps, that grief and regret will make their entrances and speak their lines through our hearts, and that this soothing rhythm may suddenly jangle into jerky syncopation, perhaps some sense of this deep peace will continue to whisper its blessing and steady our spirits when it feels as though the ordinary has departed and our hope seems to hang again on the promise that all shall be well.

spring joy 2009 091I hope we’ll retreat to this time and place, so as to recall we’re always circling the still point, and our proximity to peace is driven more by our receptivity to the miracles shining through the mundane and the willingness to discover the poetry hidden in the prosaic than by the perceived drama of external events and characters. I believe we’ll again be blessed to rest in the center if we can recognize the sacred balance offered by the ordinary.

July Full Moon 002We need to find ways to lift the moments of our daily lives—to celebrate and consecrate the ordinary, to allow the light of spiritual awareness to illuminate our days. For though we may not live a holy life, we live in a world alive with holy moments. We need only take the time to bring these moments into the light.  ~ Kent Nerburn, Small Graces


© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.

Against the Current: Honoring Our Resistance

Cat Naps, Gardens, New Bridge, and River Flowing Upstream 064We’ve been experiencing regular rainfall—so far—this past month, and that means the winds have blown from the southeast at times. It’s startling to gaze out the window and see the river flowing north, against the current, kind of a “what’s wrong with this picture?” puzzle until it’s named and understood.

Cat Naps, Gardens, New Bridge, and River Flowing Upstream 065I couldn’t help but see the metaphor this presented for the resistance, or blocks, we encounter on our journeys through life. Our minds, bodies, and spirits resist change, challenges to our status quo, surprises to our routines, and threats to the directions we’re headed, and our wiser companions (dead and living) consistently invite us to notice our resistance, name it, and move along.

However, I’ve not often encountered the idea that I should honor my resistance, be with it fully and unpack its messages with gratitude before setting out again. Prompted by the river’s seeming ease while flowing in either direction, I’ve been pondering the value of acknowledging my resistance and its partner, denial, with hospitality, rather than responding to them as unpleasant messes I need to scrape off my shoe, quickly purging them from my spirit while apologizing to the Universe for being such a dim-witted gob, before zooming brilliantly on towards enlightenment, unencumbered by such glaring hesitancy.

So many gifts and blessings on our spiritual—and emotional—journey seem to derive from an acceptance of “what is,” a constant adaptability and reframing that, ultimately, lead us to enter the unity of all, and join our energy with that of the Love/Creator generating reality, that I’m not sure why a more gentle handling of our reluctance to take the next step isn’t more greatly emphasized and kindly embraced. She who hesitates may sometimes be found. Discernment shouldn’t be about merely overcoming resistance, but about listening, in stillness, for its wisdom as well.

Strom warning, gardens 119I’m not advocating Better Living Through Prolonged Avoidance. As a spiritual director, I know that a tight embrace of our denial ultimately leads to illness, a breakdown of the mental, physical, and spiritual health that nurtures our stability and growth. Long years of forcing our minds, bodies, and spirits to conform to beliefs, systems, relationships, and patterns that we’ve outgrown or that were never “true” to begin with causes us to project the shadows ever-outward. Refusing to recognize our complicity in hurting others or ourselves and declining to take responsibility for making peace and asking for forgiveness are forms of denial that are destructive. In a real sense, our health is dis-eased and we’re (often largely unconsciously) infecting the energy around us with our illness as well.

Strom warning, gardens 217These shadows require a deeply honest encounter, often assisted and guided by a trained professional, for healing to be possible. Without this, we can’t and won’t even recognize and name the “monster” we’re denying to begin with, or our resistance to seeing it for what it really is, and the resulting diminishment of its power—from monster, to human, to only a facet of our multi-dimensional selves—is inhibited.

Instead, I’ve been pondering that initial “No, thanks” we offer to transitions or insights that have been forced upon us, or sometimes even those we desired, worked towards, or chose. Our behavior, practices, and patterns might regress to a time and place we knew to be “safe,” or we might reach for the ice cream instead of the yogurt, or indulge in procrastination rather than productively tackling whatever re-ordering is necessary to adjust to the coming (or already-assuming-residence) change.

We’re far enough along on our life’s journey to be aware that these responses indicate our resistance; we catch ourselves, and…

What then? Do we berate ourselves for back-paddling? Do we feel like spiritual losers and shame ourselves for not embracing transformation and gliding peacefully into the offered enlightenment without missing a beat? Do we call ourselves names other than Beloved?

I think we do, and too often.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 038Instead, I wonder if we should welcome and embrace our resistance as a necessary partner on our journey, a wisdom voice we ignore at our peril and an integral stage of authentic transformation.  Resistance can offer a kind of respite, like winnowing through our possessions before moving to a new home, pulling off the road when we’re too tired to continue driving, or taking a “mental health” day to renew our spirits. It’s as though we’re saying, “I need to mend, or re-weave my tapestry here; I need to gather more information about where I’ve been and who I’ve become before I step back into “becoming” with mindfulness.”

April Snow and High River 080

Usually, after a day or two flowing north, the river shifts and runs true to her orientation. What I’ve noticed is that either way, she flows peacefully along; she doesn’t seem corrupted or disturbed when the winds blow her northward. Neither, perhaps, should we resist our resistance, but instead welcome the lessons it has come to share.


© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.

Dona Nobis Pacem

spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 045May my silences become more accurate. ~ Theodore Roethke

When I was younger and my body, or mind, or spirit shared its weariness, my response was usually to resist such silliness and work harder. I suspect this was the equivalent of “leaning in.”

spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 009Now I listen attentively and grant myself Sabbath minutes, or hours, or days, or weeks—whatever is possible in proportion to the emptiness I detect—if these will restore my creativity and re-balance my energy.

spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 097I have spent years offering my creative energy to Full Moon and her gardens; it’s nice when I allow these places and spaces to gift me in return with their beauty and energy, allowing love to flow both ways and deep re-creation to restore me with peace and new insights.

spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 057So, weary to the bone, I’m taking a week off to be still and to listen; to plant and ponder, weed and wonder…to allow my silences to become more accurate.

spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 105I began the day with a breakfast of asparagus freshly harvested, in gratitude: barely cooked, lightly buttered and generously peppered…my Sabbath has begun.

spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 013 spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 032 spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 038 spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 042 spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 055 spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 073 spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 081 spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 085 spring gardens, grated finger food, birds 090

Joy and gentle peace to you from Full Moon.


© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.

In Medias Res

Birds, Kitty 008Four weeks ago, a man I didn’t know well but had reason to trust based on our past relationship (he was a department head in the Servant Leadership Program where I earned my Master Degree), called and asked to borrow money he would repay a week later, when his bank loan came through… He would drive three hours early the next morning and retrieve the loan, if I could provide it.

Several years ago, it seems, he’d left the university and started up a coffee-roasting business that was initially successful but now, apparently, not so much. The need was urgent, he said, to pay for a piece of German equipment being delivered the next day or risk losing another several months of business…

The story was convoluted and poorly-crafted.

To say the call caught me off guard is an understatement. Why would he call me, a former student living three hours away and a person he barely knew? Why wouldn’t his bank, or family, or friends, or former co-workers help him? All the intuitive bells, whistles, and alarms went off, but in direct conflict to the understanding I’d had of this person as an honorable man devoted to his family, his Catholic faith, and the teachings of servant leadership. How could it not be true?

I said I needed to talk with my husband and I’d let him know the answer that evening.

I shared the story with Phillip that night, fully reviewing my doubts and my perception that this man was in very deep trouble. I knew vital parts of the story had been withheld and I hadn’t probed deeply enough, possibly out of the sense this would embarrass the man, but more honestly because it would have embarrassed me. I knew it was risky, and the sum a large one, for us. I shared my intuition that we shouldn’t lend the money, but then discounted it based on my past experience with the man. How could he possibly lie, steal, or cheat? That wasn’t who I knew him to be. Things like that don’t really happen, not to me. Too Arthur Miller; too over-the-top dramatic. Too preposterous.

Phillip said, “It sounds like he needs help. I don’t believe the ‘German equipment’ story, but maybe it’s for a house payment, something he needs to stay afloat. We have to be willing to lose this money.” We hoped that the man would use it wisely and repay it, as he promised.

A month later, as expected, the man’s check has bounced a few times. He indeed lied (lied in deed?), and willingly took our money with no chance of repayment. Money we’d earned through hard work and saved through small sacrifices, one after the next.

I know this man has a wife with compromised health, a daughter in middle school whom he adores, and a business that must be horribly broken. I know he is desperate. I also know that when he taught the principles of servant leadership, he believed in them, and I cannot fathom what dis-ease has created the discrepancy.

I do not understand why he chose an unethical solution to his problems, or what fears and miseries have caused him to fall so far and turn his life into a Greek tragedy.

The experience has angered and saddened me, of course; it has made me twist and turn with the struggle to forgive someone who entered our lives and betrayed us, and, of course, it has brought forward the many-headed monster of money and its meaning.

Phillip has moved on more positively than I, stuck as I am with the pain I’ve caused by dishonoring my intuition, by allowing the past to dictate my choices in the present. Knowing who someone was doesn’t really help me know who they are today. Why didn’t I work harder to protect our money and to learn more about this man’s troubles? He didn’t want to share and I was too shocked and embarrassed to invite the truth…

And I agonize over the idea that by saying “yes” to this man, I’ve encouraged him to fall even further; I granted a reprieve from the crash to the bottom he needs to hit at some point. I allowed him to dig more deeply into the self-loathing and denial that accompanies betrayal.

I pray for his spirit’s healing. I curse his weaknesses. I regret my generosity and question my motives.

So the journey circles round and I am invited to examine my experience. I have to ask questions about my motives and needs, about why this event has created such turmoil and sadness, and to discover ways to regain my peace and balance.

I have to ask myself why I allowed this person’s story and needs to unseat my balance to begin with, and to take precedence over the peace and welfare of my family. Who did I need to be to him?

It’s too soon to know. I’d love to be able to sum it all up and say something wise. (“Be careful what you believe to be too preposterous to happen to you: it will.”) I’d love to pack it up and store it in the attic of life lessons learned, once and for all time.

It ain’t that easy, however. “Never loan money to family or friends” isn’t always true. Very little is always true, and life doesn’t move along in neat little chapters with tidy beginnings and endings. Except for two breaths, life is always lived “in the middle of things.”

But I do know this: The answers to my questions, and who I become by waiting for them and listening deeply, may provide greater wealth than I lost.

Tulips, Birds, 4-Leggeds 014


© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.

Breath of Life

Phillip, my cousin, Don, and my Aunt Mary
Phillip, my cousin, Don, and my Aunt Mary

My beloved Aunt Mary died several weeks ago, early one Sunday morning in February. She was my mother’s younger sister, but not by much, and their close bond throughout their lives always made me long for a sister, too.  It often surprised the three of us how much more I resembled my aunt in attitudes and preferences than I did my mother. And in the years since my mother died, Mary and I had become even closer, sharing e-mails and phone visits regularly.

My aunt was a remarkable person, utterly funny, charming, intelligent, and alive to the society, interests, and amusements that paraded through her days, the kind of person who had many lifelong friends, enamored children, nieces and nephews, and beholden strangers who benefited from her kindness and acts of charity. She was someone whose wit, wisdom, ready listening and encouragement were vital to making others see that a better world, or just a better day, is always possible. She had a vital spark most lack. She breathed greater life into those around her than they sustained alone.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 041I write this not as a eulogy, for I cannot do her gifts or influence on my life justice in such a brief forum, but by way of sharing that my grief in losing her has been gentle and so coupled with relief at her peace that it’s traveled with me these past weeks more like a soft grey cloud than a terrible storm, as my parents’ deaths engendered. I am grateful for her gifts and presence in my life and I am grateful that she is no longer yearning to be with her husband or suffering from ill health.

But I sure miss our e-mails, visits, and shared laughter.

I was thinking of her one morning when spring beckoned more than chores and I’d wandered outside to see what the world could tell me. I saw this daffodil, so earnest in its reaching for light that the dead leaf circumscribing its leaves couldn’t restrain its rising momentum.

Fox babies, dogpark, roly-poly puppies 007That is how the dead can be with us, how grief can restrain joy…The next day, the leaf had fallen away, joining others that surrounded the plant, becoming food for its continued growth. In death, still the breath of life.

Fox babies, dogpark, roly-poly puppies 011Grief takes its own time—and must—but what a gentle reminder that winter leads to spring, and death to life. Just the kind of message my Aunt Mary would send me.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 062

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 064Another gift of spring has been these darling fox kits, just emerging from their den to smell the world and take a few tentative steps into its songs and mysteries. They make every pore of my being tingle with maternal instinct, but, like everything wild, including my own nature, they also teach me over and over again to respect their boundaries and not interfere with instinctive patterns followed for centuries. So I observe from a distance and leave them to their necessary dance. I hope they will know peace, and comfort, and joy, in whatever form these may be known by foxes. I breathe a prayer and send it to their den at night.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 090I read about a wealthy inventor, futurist and engineer who believes people will, eventually, live forever, and who has hopes that his dietary, vitamin, and exercise regimen will allow him to remain healthy until this is possible.

I have no desire to live forever; I just want to be alive for all of the life granted me, and, if I’ve done it well, maybe I can feed the growth of others in their reaching for the light after I’ve gone, breathing still through their lives and the ways they love the world.

Little foxes, early bees, squirrel, chipmunk, spring 101Like my Aunt Mary.


© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.



4.24.12 trail, babies and flowers 012Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

In my meditation times during this lovely season of soul-clearing and house-cleaning, I’ve been sitting again with the concept of balance. For years when the Lenten (spring) weeks circle round, I focus on practices of intentional breathing, reviewing breath exercises and wearing a ring that reminds me to “take time” and turn my noticing inward to monitor my breath as often during the day as I’m able. After all these years, it’s still not easy for me to maintain rhythmic breathing naturally. I hold my breath at times, or tighten my throat and jaw, or breathe less deeply than is truly nurturing.

bike ride murphy, gardens 5.18.12 013To me, it seems that the spring equinox blesses us with the invitation to return, again, to sacred balance. I’ve written about balance many times, I know, for the simple reason that the energy of the world is stronger than our own individual energy, and humanity still does not—if it ever has–honor the balance that nurtures and sanctifies our earth, our spirits, our bodies, or our minds. We pull ourselves and each other into imbalance when we lose our own commitment to the sacred equanimity to which we—and all life—naturally cohere when we enter and honor the rhythm I believe we’re called to by Love, a kind of dance that co-creates compassion in our hearts which waters and feeds our spirits, and empties, simultaneously, in an out-pouring to the world. Love becomes the food that’s most needed, in myriad forms, and we the gardeners that feed our own and each other’s well-being.

bike, garden, 5.21.12 014I felt this so deeply when Phillip and I went to a “home and garden” show in Milwaukee last weekend. Instead of focusing on sustainability, or new gardening techniques and plants that conserve and honor life, it focused solely on products and excess, the conspicuous consumption we’ve become so accustomed to that we don’t even notice the grotesque imbalance we accept as “natural.” The simple and glorious beauty and sustenance a garden provides was lost in all the false glamour of “must-have” purchases few could afford and all were meant to desire. All ego-food and no true soul-food.

Spring 2011 Full Moon 006-1But it was an excellent reminder to return to my own balance and monitor my energy for the balance required to live with equanimity. In/Out. Give/Receive. Endeavor/Rest. Create/Surrender. Action/Stillness. And all sailing on the sea of Love.

spring joy 2009 023Peace to your equinox, and may the blessings of spring enrich your spirit, your self-care and care for the world, your creativity and well-being.

Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery,
teach me how to trust my heart,
my mind, my intuition,
my inner knowing,
the senses of my body,
the blessings of my spirit.
Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear,
and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious Sun.
~ Lakota Prayer

As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times. ~ Gary Snyder


© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.

No Place Like Home

DSCF0525When Phillip and I bought Full Moon Cottage in 1997, most of our friends thought we’d been bespelled. The 4 acres were promising, but the house was hideous. It had been built in 1969 and had passed through two families without any modifications to its design or decoration, and came to us with a complete lack of landscaping. The couple who sold it to us admitted they “had no idea” where exactly to place a garden, and had avoided any remodeling because, to them, the property was just an investment.

What we bought in 1997.
What we bought in 1997.

But we had a dream about the home it could be.

Our first night in the home was spent ripping up carpeting in the living room and then setting down one of our own rugs and then our mattress, because the bedrooms were even creepier. The second day, we began taking down walls, pulling up more carpeting, and ripping off wallpaper. Within the first year, Phillip had painted the house, laid wood floors, rebuilt the kitchen, added wainscoting, and begun to replace windows, doors, ceilings, and cabinetry, opening the east side of the home to the river as much as possible.

Day 1: Tearing down a wall. .
Day 1: Tearing down a wall.
Removing hideous flaming red carpeting before removing hideous wallpaper, windows and doors.
Removing hideous flaming red carpeting before removing hideous wallpaper, windows and doors.
Hideous kitchen entirely blocking view of river.
Hideous kitchen entirely blocking view of river.

Over the next few years, we’d tackle each room as we were able, discussing how we wanted to modify it. Phillip was able to manage the carpentry, electrical and plumbing work, and I was the delegated painter and designer, although we tend to team well on problem-solving and innovation. I designed stained glass windows and Phillip created them. We’d get ideas from magazines, movies, memories and old photographs, and then incorporate these into our plans and dreams.

Dining Room
Dining Room

In 2005, we hired builders to “rough-in” an addition to the house for my mother, but her death and waning finances prevented us from finishing it for a few years, so we used the addition as our “summer escape,” until we’d saved enough money to convert to geo-thermal heating and cooling for the house, and Phillip tackled the huge job of finishing the addition.

february 2005 015

inside additon 004By 2010, we had our home the way we’d imagined it, with just a few touch-up’s and minor remodeling jobs left. The gardens were looking good and Full Moon Cottage began to match the dreams we’d imagined all those years ago.

January 4-Leggeds, Trail 048

January 4-Leggeds, Trail 044

January 4-Leggeds, Trail 036I was thinking about all these adventures over the weekend, when subzero temperatures set in and we gathered in the living room to read and sit by the fire. I looked around the sweet room and lingered on all the work Phillip has done to make it beautiful.

Of course, now I vacuum and cover all the furniture with clean blankets every morning, then wash and dry the blankets at night, so the 4-leggeds can relax and, at the same time, the furniture can be protected and perhaps last a few years longer. Some doors are closed to the 4-leggeds, so dander and fur are prevented from spreading, and a section of the kitchen floor is clearly a feeding zone.

January 4-Leggeds, Trail 017





063So yes, the house is finished, more or less. And it’s probably loveliest to see when it’s company-ready. But it creates the loveliest memories when we’re gathered together on weekends, sitting on fleece blankets, cuddling with cats and dogs and enjoying the love that makes Full Moon Cottage a better home than we ever dreamed it would be.



© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.

Still, Still, Still

Christmas Season, First Snow, Bon Ivor 131Our first annual snowfall graced our Sunday (Bon Iver!), and we relaxed into being with the wonder of it. Huge flakes covered the trees and earth; the river, surrounded by white hills and flowing beneath the smoky gray sky, took on a brilliant silver sparkle, like a glittering ribbon threading through the landscape.

Snowy Sunday 044Winter is the season that calls me within, to slowly and gently review the journey of the dimming year and gestate the light with which my spirit will co-create the year to come. What gifts have served me well? Which have I neglected? How will I dance out my life in the new year? What are the triggers that hook me to harmful ways of being and what are the deep desires I ask of Spirit to further challenge and delight my heart? Am I tending my time, health, and relationships, respecting the treasures they are? Am I putting anything off because I’m afraid of failing? Or succeeding? Can I begin, alter, or renew a spiritual practice? Is my energy aligned and in communion with my beliefs, and do these translate clearly through my speech and actions?

Christmas Season, First Snow, Bon Ivor 111Last year, I wrote about my “hibernaculum,” the meditation room where I spend my deepening time each day. It becomes more deeply sacred to me in winter. As I wrote: The word “hibernate” is derived from the Latin word for winter (hiberno: I winter) and generates the wonderful noun “hibernaculum,” which, zoologically, is the place where an animal winters, and, botanically, is the protective bud or covering a plant uses to survive the challenges of dormancy. I love that the letters of the word “hibernate” form the anagram “breathe in,” for winter is my time for assessing, deepening, and strengthening my meditation practice and more earnestly tending my dreams.

Christmas Season, First Snow, Bon Ivor 158Nothing engenders these days of gentle and vital introspection more for me than the lovely snow that muffles the noise, busyness, and demands of a world too addicted to all three. When it’s snowing, traffic slows, heartbeats slow, breathing slows, and sometimes magically, the limiting need to avoid our inner voices and knots dissolves as well.

Christmas Season, First Snow, Bon Ivor 179Sitting in my meditation space and looking out towards a full moon making the snow-covered earth sparkle and glow with mystery, or witnessing the iced river and white hills afire with the deep violet, indigo and scarlet of a winter sunrise remind me that all of life is a magical gift, and that the finest way of offering my gratitude is through the inner work and discernment accomplished in stillness, that helps me be as present to all of it as I can.

Christmas Season, First Snow, Bon Ivor 003I wish you a winter of gentle peace, times for deep introspection, the stillness to bring forth your renewed light to the world, and gentle snow (real or imagined) to blanket you with the shimmering beauty and mystery of spirit-tending.


© 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 Catherine O’Meara’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.

Thin Places and Sacred Ancestors

When my Celtic ancestors felt the energy of a place was sacred, they called it a “thin place,” meaning the boundary between this world and others was easily crossed at such locations; spirits might travel freely; the ancestors—and other spirits—were close.

Halloween, in part, is derived from Samhain, which marked the New Year for the Celts, a time when the souls of the year’s recent dead traveled beyond earth, and the long-deceased came back to “visit,” their presence welcomed.

When the Catholic Church sought to convert indigenous cultures (or “pagans,” the term Romans used to designate “country people”), it took their sacred days and translated them into Christian observances, and so November 1 became All Saints Day and November 2 is called All Souls Day. (These latter souls, presumably, await heaven and sainthood in purgatory, where one’s lingering sins are “purged.”)

Regardless of one’s theological views and practices, in the Northern Hemisphere this is the season when all the world’s considered a thin place. It seems natural, as vegetation dies back, exposing nature’s stark architecture, to enter the time of darkness and long shadows and consider the spirits of the newly and long-departed.

It’s fitting and important to set aside special days to focus our attention and gratitude upon single themes, events, people and memories. The danger is that we relegate our awareness of these important bonds to one-day-a-year only, as we relegate our acknowledgement of the Sacred to barely an hour a week, or less. (And heaven help you if a church service is ending as a football game is starting! The Sacred better get out of the way quickly.)

For growing numbers of people, however, it’s important to integrate connection with the Sacred in meaningful ways every day; nothing is profane unless we see it as such, and I think that explains the increasing attraction to non-Western cultures and their spiritual practices, as well as seeking new ways to honor the earth and all those who live in communion with us.

I’ve mentioned the books of Malidoma Patrice Somé before. My favorites are Of Water and Spirit and The Healing Wisdom of Africa. In both, he illustrates repeatedly the link between the deceased ancestors and the living community of his people, the Dagara tribe of West Africa. The ancestors are sources of wisdom and counsel for tribal leadership, choices, and direction. It is a natural behavior to commune with them daily.

The elderly in the tribe, because of their advanced age and proximity to death, are viewed as living on the bridge between worlds and therefore closer to the ancestors, and the newborn are viewed similarly; they have “just arrived” from the ancestral land and the company of the Wise Ones. This forms a tribal link between the young and the elderly, whose relationships are very close, sometimes edging out deep connections with those who, by necessity, are more fully engaged with “the things of this world.” The elderly and very young are believed to have the ability to speak with the ancestors more fluently and are respected for this connection.

In our materialistic, work-focused approach to life, we cart the young ones away to day care and the elderly off to nursing homes, or we move far away from childhood communities, severing connections that follow us from birth to death, and denying ourselves the deep riches of lifelong community. Relationships and the wisdom of our ancestors don’t matter so much to us. The immaterial, the insubstantial lacks value; or rather, it can’t be accorded a price point, which is what we most value. We’re often connected to our money and our desire (or frustrated desire and anxiety) more than to relationships with family, living or dead.

The recent Presidential campaign has clearly illustrated that “what should be important” is jobs: making money and spending money. One candidate is perhaps a bit more blatant and aggressive in his disregard for the earth, the ancestor we all share, by promising mining, fracking, and the extraction of resources needed by corporations (and robbed, if necessary, from lands that are currently federally-protected). Whatever it takes to get and keep people working (when they’re not shopping), will be accommodated.

But both candidates have neglected to confront the lack of reverence we have for the earth and the resulting devastation wreaked by storms like Hurricane Sandy. No mention of conservation, our role in climate change, global warming, or the sacrifices we might make to correct these, has been made. No invitations to alter our worldviews or perspectives have been offered. People who lost their homes along the coast are being urged to “rebuild” instead of to “rethink.” And how could it be any different when the campaigns’ exorbitant costs are funded by the wealthy corporations (i.e., “persons”) and their officers, who reap the short-term benefits from these ill-gotten resources and the new slave laborers we’ve consented to become?

We carry our ancestry in our DNA. I’ve enjoyed episodes of a program that connects people with their ancestors through investigating their genetic roots. Their DNA leads to unearthed connections played out across charts, and they learn about their ancestors’ stories, sometimes going back hundreds of years. It’s profoundly moving to see the featured guests weep, share their amazement, or evidence stunned silence as these deep connections are revealed.

We yearn for sacred connection, all the more because we have forgotten who—and what—we are. Imagine the wealth afforded by conversations with our ancestors. What can we do differently? What did they learn from their trials, errors, successes? Are they proud of the people we are becoming and the world we are creating? How can we better steward our gifts and those of the earth?

Perhaps, instead of just rushing, working and shopping during these sacred days of early November, we could stand in our thin places and listen for the wisdom of our ancestors and the lessons of Mother Earth. Perhaps we could kneel in reverence and gratitude for all of these holy connections that exist to nourish our souls, offer us wisdom and energize our spirits.

Perhaps we could change ourselves and so, the world. Because we’re always standing in a thin and holy place, being held by Mother Earth, with the wisdom of our ancestors circling in our hearts.

Just listen.


© 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.

Down to the Bones

The trail has been the setting for a soul-stilling production created by the Holy Artist this week, fitting for the time when we celebrate the festival of St. Francis, whose spirit came most alive when he was with his family of choice: all of nature and her non-human inhabitants.

We’ve had days when the sun’s brilliance infused the fall colors so vividly that I had to un-saturate photographs to make them look “real.” Everywhere a burning bush demanded attention and invited quiet listening for what it wanted to tell me.

And there were mornings when silvered mists deepened the hues and shadows, making photographs as muted as a Monet painting.

This morning, the fog created dew drops that strung along spider webs like so many prayer beads. A bejeweled world, indeed.

Yesterday, as leaves fell all around me, a song my mother used to sing to us at bath time ran through my head. “’T ain’t no sin/To shake off your skin/And dance around in your bones!” It seems the trees in autumn are shedding their skins and revealing the bones beneath, a reminder, perhaps, that we need to keep working at dropping our own masks, the false selves and ways of being that keep us from our center and from creating our lives authentically, with the sweet, genuine essence of our uniqueness.

The other revelation has been discovering seed heads forming everywhere, all at once. The wildflowers along the trail and those designated as weeds have enchanted me with the exquisite architecture and distinctness of their seeds and ways of dispersing them, readying for spring’s renewal even as the mother plants die back into autumn frost.

It made me reflect on becoming an elder in the autumn of my own life, and whether I’m planting or failing to sow the seeds of creativity, peace, and joy I intend…

Tomorrow, the weather will turn. The temperature will shift from 73◦ to the mid-50’s and as low as 26◦ within a few nights. The change will bring welcome rain, along with high winds that will likely bring down the rest of our glorious leaves.

Time to shake off the skin and dance around in our bones!


© 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.

A Vote For Ewe

After two weeks of political conventions revealing the stark divisions in our national politics to be just short of staggering, it was time to turn the television off and get outside for most of the glorious weekend. Cool breezes returned for a few days, and we met with members of our family at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, held near our home.

Staged at the County Fairgrounds, the festival fills barn after barn with crafts, wool, natural dyes, machines for carding and spinning, cutting, and knitting, crocheting, or creating woolen “rag rugs.” There are felting goods and materials, demonstrations and lessons in every step of every craft one can imagine that could be related to sheep and wool, cheeses, soaps, and, of course, many breeds of sheep. (I still haven’t figured out why one booth was selling raw honey, but it looked delicious!)

Experts and artisans manned hundreds of booths, and those who are passionate about the ancient practices and crafts of carding, spinning, and naturally dyeing wool, as well as the husbandry of raising and shearing sheep (and other fur-bearing animals whose hair can be converted to clothing and goods), roamed the barns utterly content, it seemed, to be with their community.

Although I enjoy the visual stimulus, crafts, and learning offered indoors, my favorite event is the stock dog trials held in an outdoor field. Here, the shepherd and his/her herding dog (Border Collies in the local trials I’ve attended) work together to gather and herd a group of sheep through a competitive course involving great distances, gates, and then into a pen, among other tasks.

The shepherd remains at the starting point, near the pen, and through common herd commands (Come by; away to me; lie down; that’ll do, etc.) and unique whistles, sends the dog in a wide arc along the field’s perimeter and back in to where the waiting sheep have been placed. The dog listens for the shepherd’s commands and guides the sheep back down the field, through the gates, (in a specific order) and etc. the rules and courses become more complicated according to the division competing. (If you’ve ever seen the movie, Babe, you might be familiar with sheepdog/stock dog trials.)

It’s a lot of fun to watch, and it’s wonderful to witness the herding dogs’ speed, intelligence, and desire to please their shepherds. After a course is completed, there’s always a big pool for the dogs to jump in to cool down and rehydrate.

It was a wonderful day among a community of people who love sheep and herding dogs, and the entire world of activities and beauty these passions create. It was vastly healing and hopeful for my spirit: not once did I hear a reference to politics, the coming election, or anyone’s voting preference. We were there to honor and celebrate far more authentic connections, ancient rhythms, and joyful reasons to congregate. And it was good.

Ewe should have been there.


© 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 Human Carnival: Shining Like the Sun

When the weather seers predicted a weekend of the glorious summer days we’ve lacked since May, we cast about for adventures that would take us outdoors.

Phillip has a friend who restored an old car and enters it in auto shows, where cars are grouped by their “class,” and receive awards according to these and other categories, including the coveted “Best in Show” award.

I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy a car show; I’d be happy in a world where transportation was limited to walking, bicycling, and mass transit. But I own a car and drive it when I want or need to go somewhere further than I can realistically walk or bike in a given time frame. And people have different interests and assign value to their collections for a multitude of reasons. Maybe I’d learn more about car collectors by attending with an open mind and listening for the stories behind the choices.

I learned, like those of us who value antique furniture, there is a nostalgic aspect to collecting and restoring old automobiles; they remind us of our childhoods, an idealized past, or are historically significant. And an old car can symbolize someone’s youth, his time of individuation and the endless dreams about the life he imagined for himself as an adolescent. Here is the very vehicle that took him beyond parental authority and into his own…

And then there’s the puzzle-solving aspect of restoring old machines: the location of parts and endless tinkering, perhaps not unlike my endless hours in my gardens. It seemed to be the kind of activity, like any passion, that takes one deep within and mends the spirit while engaging the mind.

So we went to a car show this weekend, and the next day attended an even larger event that featured autos, crafts, music, and carnival rides as well. I listened to stories and learned a bit about old cars and met the people who love them.

I observed other human animals and relaxed in the midst of those others who, like me, are constantly sifting through choices, assigning value and judgment, succeeding and failing, earning awards, connecting, withdrawing, winning and losing.

All these limits and labels we place on ourselves and others—they vanished as I sat and breathed and merged with the human energy around me. There can be a great letting go, in the unlikeliest of places, that comes with a blessed grace washing over the spirit.

I recalled Thomas Merton’s moment of enlightenment, his epiphany on the corner of Louisville’s Fourth and Walnut:

…in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.  It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race … there is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes.  If only they could all see themselves as they really are.  If only we could see each other that way all of the time.  There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed… (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, New York: Doubleday, 1996)

Those who forecast the two days of pleasant weather were right: It was a lovely weekend, both sunny and enlightening. I could use a few more of these…maybe I’ll start a collection.


© 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.

Desert Encounters

We are concluding our 5th week of drought and looking at yet another week with no rain appearing in the forecast. I feel somewhat trapped indoors, yet there’s no reason to go outside; I can’t water the gardens as I’d like to, due to the risk of drying the well, and it’s too oppressive to weed. I have no reason to use the car and expend its energy to convey me somewhere I don’t need to be, and I face only discomfort if I venture out for a long walk or bike ride…so I photograph through windows or briefly from the bridge, observe the 4-leggeds as they observe the outside world, read, write, and divert myself from anxieties and questions that have been nagging my spirit for some time now.

Yesterday the heat index was 106; I went outside only to hang the laundry and then retrieve it; both times, I moved as though walking through walls of heat. It felt claustrophobic, like living in a terrarium. Suffocation might feel like this, right at the beginning…that sense that breathing has become a struggle, the next breath is less generous than the last and the throat closes in self-protection, fearing the heat of the breath to follow.

I prayed for the people living and moving and having their being, by necessity, in this oppressive atmosphere. “Fire purifies or fire destroys,” a literature professor used to remind us. “Water drowns or baptizes…” And “Deserts are places of death, which is to say, places of transformation.” How to choose one’s perspective in the midst of life’s circumstances?

I remember an elderly patient I visited in the hospital where I worked as a chaplain. She had been isolated for some contagion that left her magnificently alone. The room was a “negative pressure space,” the other bed, table, and chair had been removed, and the patient’s own bed was pushed in the far corner. One had to cross what felt like a vast and empty galaxy to approach her.

Emotional and spiritual excavation over the course of many visits revealed that the woman’s personal relations echoed this isolation. All connections had been broken, due to one or another quarrel, grudge, or perceived impediment to forgiveness and love.

Our dialogue eventually began to explore how the spirituality she identified and the beliefs she claimed were of value to her, were helping her cope with her circumstance, which is what chaplains seek to help a patient discern. Is your belief system helping you cope positively or contributing to negative coping? Where is your God or sense of the sacred in this experience? What are you feeling as you share this story? How would you define a “healed body?” a “healed life?”  What do you desire or need at this time?

Of course, a barrage of such questions is not one’s method; but the focus of our visits explores these types of avenues through various approaches: silence, “sideways observations,” gentle touch, when and if appropriate (even if the chaplain is gowned, masked, gloved and hidden behind protective garb), listening for metaphors and patterns as the patient is encouraged to share her story, and always, compassionate presence.

At times, a judicious question can open doors that have been bolted for years. One can almost hear the rusty hinges creak and sense the cobwebs brushed away. It takes a lot of time to sense the appropriate moment to ask such a question and when to let it pass. Speaking the (observed) truth, in love, is a way to confront fears and regrets, but timing is everything.

The underlying “foundation” to these visits is always being able to listen to one’s own denials, regrets, fears, anger, joys, etc., and acknowledge them and the ways the patient and her story triggers or elicits these responses. The chaplain hears these, gently “tucks them away,” and brings the light back to the patient. Certainly in her own heart, the chaplain acknowledges that the presence of love, or Spirit…one’s own sense of the sacred, is “embracing” the encounter, and will “manage” it for ultimate good.

My job as a chaplain was not to fix, transform, or bring about a resolution, and believe me, the temptation can be very strong to do this (which again leads to the inner work one must explore at a later time). Rather, what you’re trying to do is open the space for the patient to hear her own story, her own wisdom, her own needs and choices…clarify her own relationship with the Holy. What needs to die and what is almost-or-fully-gestated and yearning to be born?

Chaplaincy is eventually and reliably exhausting, because in every visit, the chaplain is encountering herself as well, at deep and profoundly naked levels, and must be brutally honest about this part of her profession, to be good at it. Self-care and replenishing “breaks” are absolutely necessary if a chaplain is to do work that is effective and life-giving.

I remember this specific patient because of the dramatic contrasts between her isolation and her inability to encounter a need for connection. How strikingly the stories of her personal relationships correlated with the physical space she occupied. Her God couldn’t have led her to greater isolation, couldn’t have shouted any louder that it was time to listen and to stop pushing away, time to go deep within and, finally, encounter her brokenness.

I recalled the Native American commitment to “all my relations,” which acknowledges that a balanced life requires commitment to one’s relationships with everything, and understands the sacred reciprocity of attention and the necessary choice to attend that exists between oneself and all life, every point along the web’s delicate strands. This woman had made a series of choices that severed all connections.

“How did we ever arrive at this place?” Eleanor of Aquitaine asks her husband, Henry II, in James Goldman’s brilliant The Lion in Winter. “Step by step,” he replies.

And I remember this patient today because I sense I’m in a similar space, in that I’m being called to the center of the desert, to listen for the change that wants to happen. My invitation from Holy Mystery couldn’t be more starkly and physically heard.  Here I am, for all intents and purposes “trapped” by the heat and drought into inactivity. I cannot choose an action that will alleviate the drought; it’s out of my control. My calendar is free of engagements and there is no purposeful work I “have to” accomplish.

Mystery/Spirit/Love has cornered me: Uh-oh; time to listen.

Wake up (again), my situation seems to be saying. Of course, the spiritual journey is an ongoing spiral of discovery, but we all tend to step in and out of the dance at times. And then there are moments, whether we’re so inclined or not, when we’re called to fierce engagement. I’ve been aware for a few weeks now of the need to go within and listen and I’ve avoided it, like most people. Discernment is a chancy undertaking; it often leads to change and, also like most people, I fear transitions.

But unlike most people, I’ve been given the gifts of chaplaincy training and spiritual direction training. The character Monk always says of his detective ability, “It’s a gift and it’s a curse.” The same insights I’ve brought to my patients and seekers are turned inward. I can see my denials and diversions and I’m challenged to call myself on them. I know my next move and can counter it. Or not. It’s always a choice. And I’ve been avoiding my regular deep practices of silence and meditation because I don’t want to hear the questions that have been circling, and I know the time has come to face them. The vision quest never ends.

Here I am in isolation, and I’m saying yes to the invitation to listen. I will walk across the vast galaxy and through the door. I acknowledge my fear and will go deeper within, anyway, because I believe that in the end, I’m on a journey of healing, of making myself whole, and that the way in is the only way out—and is ultimately necessary for any healing to occur. And whether I’m being invited to change dramatically or make minor adjustments, I know the invitation comes from Love.

Please keep me in your gentle energy; I’m setting off for the far country of the heart and the whispered encounter with Mystery.

May the rain come soon.

All my relations.

I’ll be away till July 8. Gentle peace to all.

Happy 4th of July


© 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.

Coming Out

It is never too late to become what you might have been.                                                                            ~ George Eliot/Mary Ann Evans

People have always trusted me with their stories, whether that was wise on their part or not. I remember a grade school friend trying to tell me he was gay before I even understood what that meant. I have a memory that we were leaning against the warm brick school building during an afternoon recess one lovely spring day and he began to share his feelings about another boy in class.

Maybe we were in 6th or 7th grade, and far less knowing than children are today, dressed in our uniforms (“Catholic-school-camo”) and trying to be cool. I remember his words alarming me, as though he’d suddenly lapsed into gibberish or begun revealing an advanced fluency in a foreign language, leaving me far behind in my English-only comprehension. I had no idea what he was talking about, of that I’m certain, but I can still see the anguish in his eyes and recall the immediate response of fierce protectiveness flooding my body; though, again, I had no idea what was happening. I innately knew I would attack, claws extended, anyone who deepened the pain my friend was already suffering for being “different.”

Friends and relative strangers have continued to come out to me through the years. I came to accept that there was some identifiable badge I received at birth that signaled “safe harbor” to friends burdened with this form of otherness and a need to find relief and peace.

I suppose, we all have these odd “openings” in our spirit that invite surprising revelations or secrets of one kind or another. Thankfully, I realized at an early age how sacred these exchanges are, and have tried to offer the love and support such intimacies deserve, for they were given so honestly and with such purity that one definition of sin I’ve come to understand is when we reject the invitation to witness another’s vulnerability laid bare on the world’s altar.

“May I tell you and show you who I am?”


My parents appreciated and celebrated the arts, but didn’t actually want their daughter to pursue an artistic discipline as a career. They encouraged me to supplement my theater and English degrees with another in education, or perhaps I might also consider nursing, or even law, as professions that suited my intellectual gifts and would also ensure a life above the poverty line. They loved me and I loved them, but I caught their anxiety, or it matched my own, and I doubted I could survive if I chose a life in the arts.

I admired friends who had blazing internal loci of control, who nourished and validated their gifts regardless of whether they had the support of parents, teachers, critics, and friends, or not. They knew who they were and why they were here; there was nothing that prevented them from living authentically from the heart of this self-knowing. I wasn’t that secure, certain, or courageous, and turned towards choices and behaviors that assured approval, if not from myself than from those who mattered more in my creation of self-image.

We know where that leads: a life lived falsely can never truly make anyone happy.

I would never present the ensuing years as a tragedy, although they were initially not particularly joyful and I was not particularly alive.

Laurence G. Boldt, in Zen and the Art of Making a Living, says, “In Japan, the place where ‘the art’ is practiced is called the ‘dojo’ or ‘house of enlightenment.’ There is a popular saying. ‘The Dojo is everywhere!’ Wherever work is done in a present, conscious way, there is the house of enlightenment. Transformation is the action of both spiritual liberation and art.”

Eventually, I understood that I could make art of anything, and so I approached writing ad copy as an artist, and then teaching, and then chaplaincy, but I still identified with the job title rather than the deeper truth of my identity. I guess I needed the lengthy gestation many late-bloomers have required. The risk, of course, is that time will run out before we emerge from our safe cocoons and utter our cri d’couer; ironic, given all the years I was the vessel others chose for holding their own spirit’s true song…

And then, about six years ago, I began a graduate program, and in the first class we were asked to use one word to describe ourselves. It was surprising to hear many people identify themselves with their occupation, but not nearly as surprising as when I heard myself say, “Artist.” Immediately, the feelings of unworthiness washed over me; I felt others would feel I was pretentious and excessively egotistical. What on earth had come over me and why did I say that? Out loud? A lifetime of self-doubt and voices not my own banged around in my psyche and began their practiced parade through my heart.

And then the professor smiled, hugely, and said, “I love that!” Like magic, my words, affirmed by his, banished the voices from my spirit. And though they’ve tried to sneak back within, the eviction sign posted that day has remained and ended the appeal of my spirit as their residence.

Perhaps encouraged by the wonderful storyline in the movie Beginners, I’ve been telling friends lately that I’m “coming out” as an artist. In this film, Christopher Plummer’s character, based on writer/director Mike Mills’ own father, reveals his homosexuality to his family and friends when he is 75, and despite a diagnosis of terminal cancer, he dies while blossoming, fully himself and joyfully still becoming.

I love to watch the Monarch butterflies lay their eggs in mid-summer and have allowed milkweed to take over the garden in front of my dining room window for that reason. It smells heavenly and the intricate ball of blooms, like some lovely orb of Murano millefiori, is beautiful. The caterpillars, with their yellow and black stripes, are fun to observe, though they make the once tolerable milkweed display raggedly less acceptable. But the payoff comes when the glistening iridescence of the cocoons appears, and they hang from leaves and the deck railing like fairy decorations left for our delight. Now the daily observations become more faithful until the 10th day or so, when the fragile butterflies emerge, damp with new life and unsteady until the wings slowly uncurl, and they fly off, tender and brave.

I don’t know why, all my life, others have come to me as they’ve begun to emerge from their cocoons, or why it took me so long to spread my own wings, but I do know we’re asked to hold each other through our transformations. And we have to witness and welcome each other’s coming out, saying, “Yes, this is who you are and I love it! And I will do everything in my power to encourage you to joyfully become still and fully more of who you are.”

One fine spring morning she pierces the shroud and comes out a butterfly. That is how in us, through the darkness, deliverance is busy.  ~ Nikos Kazantzakis


© 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.

Becoming Our Nature

I was watching a program last night when a commercial interrupted the flow, my cue to press “mute” on the remote and fetch a glass of water or read another few paragraphs from a current novel. As always, I glanced up periodically to see if the ad had ended. I rarely pay attention to commercials, but this time my focus was captured by the actress in the ad, who portrayed a woman suffering from an apparent and unfortunate skin disease that kept her indoors while vacationing, until she discovered the featured product and could then join her friends outside, in a gorgeous natural setting. (Mountains, lake: fun times denied, then realized through the miracle of pharmaceuticals.)

What I noticed was that the actress was a “normal-looking” woman in her 50’s. She looked like a person who might be smart and funny and kind: someone you’d want for a friend; ironically, she looked comfortable in her own skin. In one of the closing scenes, she sat contentedly outside at the end of a dock, swinging her legs over the water, and just…well, being. She wore a nondescript sundress, exactly like I would, was average-sized (in itself a jolting visual occurrence on American television); wrinkles and un-toned muscles were evident…and she had clearly danced in gravity’s embrace for quite a few years. When the camera panned around and behind her, we saw her peacefully seated on the dock. (I think the sun was setting now, to signal the happy resolution advertising provides.) It was lovely to see “someone who looks like me” in an ad and it led me to reflect on how little our culture truly values people, objects, places, and relationships that wear a bit of patina.

I imagined how the ad fiction could continue: the woman’s husband or friends would look at her from the cabin and love this person-as-she-is, utterly. They would be happy her skin has healed, of course, but wouldn’t consider rejecting her if it hadn’t been.

I thought about the ways we grow old, with friends and longtime companions, and how we wear away over time and in each other’s eyes, to pure spirit, kind of like the Velveteen Rabbit. I guess “grow” is the operative word and it implies choice; we evolve, picking up interests, loves, beliefs and pursuits, and then we discard bits and pieces and choose others. We revert, convert, progress, fill and empty. We’re clearly not the people we once were, and we’re still becoming. But I think that there’s an essence to us that we can come to name and that those who truly love us can identify with us. Clearly, Phillip can’t look at me and see, physically, the young woman he met and married, but I think he sees, and knows, and loves her spirit, and the physical changes don’t mask that…if we’re blessed in our partnership. To me, he becomes dearer as our lives accrue shared experiences and evolutions; I see them all when I look at him, along with those dimples that were the initial attractant. We affirm each other’s singular journeys and discoveries; we serve as mirrors for the other’s self-reflection, in the truest sense, and I hope we do this for family and friends, too.

You may be familiar with the Japanese philosophical orientation and aesthetic stance called “wabi sabi,” which recognizes beauty in simplicity, honors the authenticity a given subject reveals through its age and use, and notices the interrelationship between the subject and the space it occupies, taking negative space into account. What isn’t there and what remains are both valued. The design, or artwork, or person, or relationship has been worn away to its essence; time is respected as an artistic participant in the creation of the uniqueness that is now revealed.

“Wabi” points to the flaws that make us uniquely “perfect” rather than achieving a false, manufactured perfection that conforms to some promoted or popular ideological standard, and the “sabi” portion of the aesthetic values the distinctive—and earned—patina that only comes with time’s passage.

Wabi sabi honors the beauty that can happen and be sensually perceived when years of crucial connections to honesty, integrity and humility are maintained, as in the furniture and architecture of the Shakers, the handworn elegance of our grandfathers’ tools or grandmothers’ needlework. Or our faces as they age and our relationships as they simplify, and deepen. As we become more fully our true nature, as we live more fully into and from our giftedness, we become more uniquely beautiful.

I think it takes conscious awareness of our journeys, and intentional choices that favor simplicity and honesty for the aesthetic of wabi sabi to animate our lives. How closely are we living to the heart of who we are? How true are we to the gifts we came to share? How genuine is our dance in the world? How well do we love our shadows?

When the world tells us that imitative is better than original so it can sell us a new, improved, and well-trod path and everything we need to travel it…can we still hear the song our life is singing, and set out in the direction our spirit yearns to explore?

Fundamentally, it takes relationship to initiate and sustain an aesthetic of wabi sabi; both artist and aficionado (aficionar: to inspire affection) co-create the beauty: it is a mutual undertaking in choosing to be honest and authentic and then supporting that in others and appreciating the beauty they are and are becoming. Symbiotically, we each become more fully ourselves.

And happily, it’s never too late to come home to ourselves and live from an honest, spare, and beautiful spirit of authenticity. Not perfect, just uniquely real.

We’ve almost finished watching all of the excellent Northern Exposure series, thanks to Netflix. We just enjoyed an episode that connects to these ideas. Dr. Joel’s parents travel from Queens to visit Alaska. His mother, Nadine, reveals herself as a loving, competent woman and an anxious, non-stop talker. The doctor’s secretary, a Tlingit Native named Marilyn Whirlwind, gently tells Nadine, “You have an eagle spirit,” and Nadine beams and confesses that yes; she’s always felt “connected” to eagles.

Then Marilyn tells the eagle’s story, and events unfold that lead Nadine home, to her true self. Her husband and son are confused by the change, but clearly love her and it seems, will in time either adjust to this homecoming or not, a risk we must always take in relationship. Two other subplots featured other characters exploring their natures and true identities as well and indicated the risks involved in claiming our natures and living authentically. All of the characters had to answer their own questions, which required stillness, but each one also required relationship and support to fully bloom.

Ram Dass said, “We’re all just walking each other home,” which I initially understood as “back to pure Spirit,” but now perceive as “home to our true selves,” as well.

Use your gifts and be who you are: flawed, unique and beautiful. Recognize the other as a work of art as well.

Shine together.


The eagle wasn’t always the eagle. The eagle, before he became the eagle, was Ukatangi, the talker.

Ukatangi talked and talked. He talked so much, he could only hear himself. Not the river, not the wind, not even the wolf.

The raven came and said, “The wolf is hungry. If you stop talking, you will hear him. The wind, too. And when you hear the wind, you will fly.”

So Ukatangi stopped talking, and soon he heard the wind rushing by. In the quiet, he could hear the directions of its currents, swiftly lifting and falling. The music of the wind changed Ukatangi, and he became the eagle; he became his nature.

The eagle soared, and its flight said all it needed to say.

(This is close to the version I heard in the Northern Exposure episode. I found it here: http://aaanativearts.redbubble.com)


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