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.

Stillness at the Center: The Rhythm of Wild Things

I’ll soon be closing The Daily Round’s first journey around the year’s circle. The thing about closing a circle is that you arrive at the place you began, and though life seems more a spiraling helix than a circle, there are the rhythms of the wild things, my signposts and psalms calling me to stillness and reflection as I spin once again around the sun and notice the angles of light that tell me autumn is nearing.

Last October, I wrote about my friend, Jane, the writing spider. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for her progeny as I wander through the gardens that are nearest the place I set her egg sac to rest last year. We were surprised to find one of her daughters had chosen an exterior window of Phillip’s workshop for her home. She graciously allowed me to photograph her, and the elegantly inscribed web she’d woven.

In return, I shared stories about her mother and our friendship, which seemed to create a bond between us. Last evening, she was gone, but her own  extravagantly secured egg sac remains as a sign that another cycle is beginning.

Sometimes it seems ironic to seek stillness on a planet spinning about its axis while orbiting a whirling star in a pin-wheeling galaxy, but I seek it nonetheless, and am still learning how to better meet its geography at my center, whether I’m wheeling through local space on my bicycle, walking the trail, or taking the morning’s turn through the gardens. Ancora imparo, wrote Michelangelo in the margins of a late-life sketch: “I am still learning.”

I am learning stillness. I am still.

The Canada geese, blue and green herons and sandhill cranes, faithful signposts, have been teaching me about stillness in the circle journey, as they stand serene, gently planted in flowing rivers and tall grass. Soon they’ll be joining thousands of their species in staging areas located in our marshes and wetlands, before flying south for the winter.

The hickory nuts have matured and fallen, and the squirrels are storing them in my gardens and pausing, it seems, to make merry while the sun shines.

The insects are mating, planting new life on leaves and sticks, under logs and grasses, so that revolutions of metamorphosis will enable their emergence as adults in the next circle’s turn. Last weekend, the soldier beetles and common grass yellow butterflies were mating, while the diligent bumblebee and skipper went about their feeding undisturbed, drinking nectar and distributing the pollen that ensures another circle for the gardens as well.

My camera often seems to be the eye and my walks the anchor of my stillness, in every season. They allow me to focus on one thing at a time and decelerate my energy to the calming waves of “now” and “just this.” Solvitur ambulando: It is solved by walking; although, in this lovely circling labyrinth we call life, I don’t know that solving questions is nearly as important as asking them and living within their possibilities, turning them through the year, and noticing where they lead.

This morning I discovered a second daughter of Jane’s, in medias res, resting at her story’s center, or beginning its telling there, in stillness. I thanked her for her presence and grace, and shared again that I knew her mother…

Our lives revolve, connect and circle round, but spiral outward as well, through the relationships we form and the stories they create. The rhythm of wild things sings the truth of this, round and round.

Hush. Be still. The signposts are everywhere.



© 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.

The Tattered Web

I checked in with a local television station early this morning to hear the weather report on this first day of August, also known as Lughnasadh, a Celtic celebration of the “first fruits” from the summer’s harvest. The temperature would be in the mid-90’s again, said the meteorologist, who then summed up our recent weather saying, “We’ve experienced 31 days of temperatures 90 or above this summer, and our July was hotter than the temperatures in Tampa and Los Angeles.”

Our first fruits are weak and withered this year, dying from thirst.

I thought about the overwhelming majority of climatologists whose scientific training leads them to conclude we are in a time of dramatic climate change, and that its effects have been greatly magnified and accelerated by our dependency upon machinery that spews CO² into the atmosphere. Those who make money from this machinery and/or the products created by it, deny these facts and use their wealth to lobby (i.e., threaten, pressure, bully, and buy) politicians who might otherwise enact laws to curtail our environmental destruction.

We are often so flooded with data that it’s difficult to derive meaning and chart a path of wisdom and action. Data can be spun from so many sources, including thin air, and used so attractively to support different points of view.

Here are some other statistics I encountered today, reading through the August 3rd issue of The Week, a magazine that collects “the best of the U.S. and international media.” (www.theweek.com):

[An editorial in the Daily Mirror (U.K.), stated that] Britain …banned all handguns in the wake of the 1996 school massacre in Dunblane , Scotland…Assault rifles and automatic weapons, it should go without saying, have been banned since the 1930’s. Last year, 52 Brits were killed with guns…less than the carnage in the U.S. where 31,347 were killed in 2009.

And more data, gleaned from another article in this issue of The Week:

Over a period of two months, [James Holmes, the alleged shooter in Aurora Colorado’s recent tragedy] bought a semiautomatic variation of the military’s M-16 assault rifle, a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun, and at least one Glock .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol from local dealers. He also bought and stockpiled 6,000 rounds of ammunition from online sources. Every purchase he made was legal.

The gun lobby in our country, fueled by the NRA’s seemingly endless wealth, fights for our “right” to maintain such weaponry access as the status quo, despite international statistics supporting data (and perhaps logic) indicating that less access results in less murder.

My state recently prevented, by a very narrow margin, a mining company from rewriting our long-cherished environmental laws to suit its desire to seize greedily from the earth and her people, “buying” natural resources we cannot renew. They said their mine would create jobs, even as it poisoned the workers’ water and destroyed their land. The state legislature’s Republican majority has vowed to renew the “fight” for their friends in this mining corporation.

I fear we are a people who have lost our way. Greed and individual rights have transcended the need for us to co-create wisely with the rest of nature. We seem to be saying to each other and the rest of the world, “If I want it, I deserve it; if I desire it, it will be mine.” And we bow to those with the wealth to fulfill our wishes. Even if they kill us.

This path will lead us to our end, taking the innocent with us, for we are part of the web that connects every precious particle of our planet. And of all species on the web, we are among the most recent guests. But rather than humbly and gratefully taking our place as responsible and respectful members, we’re like noisome thugs who crash the party, steal all the gifts, and burn down the house as we storm away.

We’ve already destroyed much of the web in the name of sport, progress, wealth, and individual rights. We are an arrogant species, dominating the weaker and following the path of aggression when all along, we might have chosen collaboration.

Our birth has invited us to be one in community with all creation. No right exists, or ever will, that allows us to discount any of these relationships. The web is sacred, and dependent upon each of us to honor our place and respect the power and presence of every other created particle. Setting down the crazed burdens of greed and wealth, we would be better able to embrace one another and restore the earth’s health before we cannot.

Tonight’s full moon is the first of two this month. I’m sitting beneath it and pondering a planet that offers only joy to people who scorn the gift and destroy the giver.

I dread the day a last voice sighs, “Here was our heaven, now gone, forever,” but I see it coming. I have only to look at the stunted cornfield outside my window. And hear the rifles at the “game farm” beside it.


© 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.

Losing Home

The recall enables the people to dismiss from public service those representatives who dishonor their commissions by betraying the public interest.  ~ Robert La Follette

For the last year and half, my state has been flooded with negative energy and anxiety regarding our political leadership. Regardless of the leadership favored, one couldn’t escape the discord and angry rhetoric, which, of course, has become increasingly perpetuated and repeated in robo-calls and divisive television advertising as the recall election date has approached.

Tomorrow’s recall election represents a struggle some feel (and I believe) is between outside wealth and Tea Party extremists dictating what happens in our lives, and having a state government that’s localized, encouraged by our voices, focused upon our land management, workers’ rights, quality of education and other issues germane to this state, its people, and its resources, both natural and economic.

I’ve engaged in this struggle by attending rallies and informational meetings, canvassing for my candidates, posting links, and sharing with other concerned voters. I’ve donated my time and what little money I could afford to support those candidates I believe will re-establish our integrity, and I’ve spent a lot of time in silence, discharging negative energy and becoming re-centered.

It’s been emotionally challenging and, at times, greatly dispiriting. I’ve been politically active since I was in high school, but I’ve never been so attached to a political outcome as I am to this one, nor so worried about my state’s and family’s direction and choices if the present governor remains in office. Wisconsin looks no place like home anymore, and it’s breaking my heart.

You would have to know some of the history of my state to understand my responses to the relatively recent and abrupt changes the current governor has enacted. For example, I’ve always been proud that John Muir spent his formative years in Wisconsin, and that Aldo Leopold’s belief in nature conservancy and environmental protection came to fruition during his years as a professor at the University of Wisconsin and during his time at his home in Sauk County, writing A Sand County Almanac. Senator Gaylord Nelson launched the nationally-observed Earth Day while serving as our state senator.

Now, we have a state government inviting mining corporations to write their own environmental negligence into law just to “provide jobs,” while satisfying their greed and destroying our resources, as well as breaking our treaty agreements with native tribes and entirely discounting their voice at the table.

In 1911, Wisconsin was the first state to legislate a Workers’ Compensation Act. In 1932, unemployment compensation was enacted in our state, and in 1937, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Act was passed, adding critical state support to workers’ right to organize.

Now, we have a state government that has destroyed collective bargaining rights, broken union strength and protections, and is encouraging, even laying the groundwork for, the transition of Wisconsin to a right-to-work state.

For over 30 years, following the brief, dangerous misery known as Joseph McCarthy, William Proxmire served as our state senator, refusing campaign contributions for his last two terms, and earning well-deserved fame for exposing government waste, especially in regards to military spending, through his Golden Fleece Awards.

Now, we have a governor who has raised almost $31 million in campaign contributions, largely from out of state PACS funded by millionaires and billionaires like the Koch Brothers, with specific and special-interest agendas. How many hours of non-stop negative advertising and lies do you think this has spawned? His challenger has raised under $4 million, in much smaller increments, and almost all of it from in-state donors. (http://www.wisdc.org/)

Wisconsin was home to “Fighting Bob LaFollette,” who, as a U.S. senator, advocated progressive reforms like child labor laws, social security, and women’s suffrage, and lived from a moral center that led him to protect the rights of the voiceless when others preferred feeding the personal greed of a ruling elite.

Now, we have a governor with an immense legal defense fund (that grew by $100,000.00 just this past month), who advocates secrecy votes and who misrepresented his goals when he ran for the office of governor. Only later was he clearly exposed as a pawn of corporate interests and out-of-state power centers. He has repealed the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act.

Once, and for decades, our state ranked near the top of the country for the quality of the public education provided for its students.

Now, we have underfunded schools, overcrowded classrooms, and a state government that participates in and encourages the vilification of teachers. Many of our seasoned and most talented teachers have taken early retirements to ensure they’ll receive even part of the retirement benefits they were promised and worked for these past thirty years or more. I worked as a teacher and I was a good one, but not the first year, or the second…it takes time to manage a classroom and the flow of lessons, to enhance and enrich them and to become sensitive to the energetic currents in a classroom. We’ve lost a lot of depth in our classrooms these past two years.

These are just a few of the reasons I’ve been involved in the recall effort and care deeply about the results. Decades of environmental, employment, and educational progress, reforms and protections are disappearing, rapidly. The place we’ve called home is disappearing.

And still, after all of these lies, and power-grabs, and repeals, and reversals, there are people who refuse to participate. I met a woman yesterday who told me, “I just don’t vote, usually…I wait and see what my neighbor says and does, and then I might do what she does…” She laughed as she told me this; expecting what? That I would join in her merriment, tickled by the rampant vacuity of someone surrendering her power so blithely?

Here’s the thing: I haven’t undertaken canvassing door-to-door because it’s a keen source of enjoyment or even self-satisfying. I haven’t donated time and money because I had nothing better to do or money to burn (hardly that). I haven’t read countless articles, listened to debates, watched informational programs and asked questions because it wouldn’t have been more fun to read a book, take a nap, or watch a mindless movie…And I’ve done very little compared to countless people who have given most of their energy to the recall election for months and months and months. But this is (or used to be) a democracy: of, by, and for the people. If we’re not involved, if we’re not self-monitoring and paying attention, and participating, then we’ll lose rights, and quickly. And if we don’t question the smiling lies, and legal defense funds, and out-of-state money pouring in by the millions, then we’ll get the government we deserve. Run by special interests and serving them, not us.

Our votes absolutely have power, whether we use them or not, but perhaps not the power we would have preferred, in retrospection. Power corrupts in the hands of those more focused on personal gain than the welfare of all. And all it takes for the corrupt to rule is for good people to sit back and do nothing.

If home is where the heart is, where is home for a heart that’s broken? I want my heart healed and my home back, starting tomorrow.


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



Love Always Has A Name

Saturday, as the sun’s rosy fingers were doing whatever they wanted without our knowledge because we were asleep and it was 5:00 for godssake, we were awakened by a crash on the metal roof over our heads. Given the layers of insulation between ceiling and roof, this was both unusual and unexpected. “What the…?!”

We listened to a skidding and downward slide of whatever mass had just crashed, and then a kind of flip-flapping back up to the roof’s crest, accompanied by a few more crashes, slides, and flip-flaps…Slowly, as we breathed and listened our way into wakefulness, steadying our hearts and hushing our initial fear, we realized our new springtime visitors had returned.

They form an interesting arrangement of ducks, a kind of family, or harem, or ménage a trois, consisting of a male and a female mallard and a domestic white duck of indeterminate sex. We do not judge. They amuse and intrigue us, and remind us of The Far Side cartoons by Doug Larson.

The three of them have been visiting the yard each morning, swimming in the river and then wobbling up the lawn, or flying in and landing near the gardens and irritating the dickens out of Riley (“bark, bark bark!”), who believes it’s her duty to keep all other life forms away from her territory. This includes squirrels, turkeys, chipmunks, rabbits, foxes, hikers and bikers on the trail…and now, ducks. Riley loves to sit on the window seat and survey her property–everything she can see and smell–with the puffy self-righteousness of the King of Siam, and bark her commands, fully expecting them to be honored. (“Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!”) Alas; she is inside and the other life forms are outside, free to ignore her protests.

After we assured Riley (and Clancy, who imitates his sister without a lot of circumspection) that we were all very safe, I went out with my camera, but the ducks were intolerant of my paparazza intrusion and flew away after a shot that captured only the two that were immediately visible.

On Sunday morning, just the female mallard returned, this time to the garage roof, so I shot a few photos from the living room window. Her two companions were near; we’d seen them fly just beyond the garage into the front acreage. We think perhaps a nest may be somewhere in the yard and that the rooftop vantage points allow for them to scan and protect their eggs or young ducklings. We don’t want to frighten them or disturb their nest if this is the case, so we’ve been cautiously tending those gardens and carefully cutting the lawn in the area where we suspect the nest might be.

In the past we have had tortoises crawl up from the river to hollow out bowls of earth and lay their eggs, but this hasn’t happened for many years. We have rabbits nesting on the property almost every year, and we once had a skunk give birth (and get a very wide berth in return, though the babies were unbelievably cute) in the front acre we call “the field.” Wild turkeys emerge from the woods, parading their young in dutiful lines every year, and bird nests are everywhere. But I believe these would be our first ducklings, if indeed a nest is somewhere among the grasses or gardens.

I hope so.

We watched a program on PBS last night filmed and narrated by a young couple who spent a year in the River of No Return Wilderness area of Idaho. (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/river-of-no-return/introduction/7618/)   The husband, a wolf biologist, had worked with the Nez Perce tribe to reintroduce wolves to this wilderness region, which covers 2.5 million acres. One evening, the couple observe a wounded elk limping up a hillside and hear the wolves begin to call and surround her. The husband admits his pain in observing her likely death, when he is surprised by the appearance of another elk cow that places herself between the wolves and her wounded elk “friend.” More surprisingly, they endure the night together and walk/limp off together in the morning, the wolves nowhere in sight.

“Nothing in my biology texts had prepared me for this,” says the husband in his voice-over.

No, we cannot say we truly know what all other animals feel, and need, or the ways they form connection and community. It is a reminder that all of life figures it out as it goes along; there is instinct; there are patterns; there are expectations; there is evolution, procreation, creative creation; and there is surprise. There are bonds that speak of love. We are not here to judge or condemn, but to celebrate such unions.

There is mystery.

The daily round is just that; we chase round the days, weeks, months and years; the seasons pass one into the next as the earth revolves and our lives return again to the same place… but different. And it’s the lovely surprise of these differences that keeps me awake and passionately in love with life at Full Moon Cottage and therefore passionately in love with life and its unions everywhere. Anything can happen, the duck trio reminds me: keep your eyes open, and your heart and mind as well…hold reverence for it all; let it be as it is. Celebrate love.

Respond with awe.


© 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 Gratitude

Here and there along the trail, apple trees have taken root, and their early white blossoms are decorating the trail’s edges like lace trim peeking out from the startling and tender yellow-green leaves of trees. The blossoms liberally scent the trail long before they’re approached, and as we pass, the perfume circles around us and lingers. We’re walking in an apple blossom cloud. It becomes a vivid part of the memory of our spring walks. I often wonder how Clancy and Riley perceive this heady fragrance, given that their sense of smell is 100,000 times better than mine: they can smell electricity, underground gas, drugs, and the bio-chemical and electrical changes that signify epilepsy and cancer. I am, by comparison, an olfactory dunce, lost in the scent of apple blossoms…and quite content to be so.

The pups and I headed out late yesterday afternoon and enjoyed the bright clear colors fading into the deeper shadows. Touring the yard when we returned, we saw the first tulip blooming and others just on the cusp of opening to the world.

We narrowly escaped frost a few nights ago, and temperatures in the 80’s are forecast for this weekend. Today is chillier, and it has been raining since the early hours of this new day.

Yesterday’s warmth and sunshine; todays mysterious darkness and silver rainfall, punctuated by the haunting and melancholy cry of our resident green heron…I can’t predict how all of this shifting variability will affect the gardens, so I’m using the surprises of the season as reminders to be present and to locate the “gratitude handles” each day is offering.

March has been perplexing and worrying, but equally beautiful and glorious. I’m trying to enjoy the ride. This is not so simple, I know, for the local apple growers who could lose a year’s crop and considerable income if the early budding produces fruit that may yet be killed by frost, so I hold the outcomes of this season close to my heart and hope those who could suffer because of it will not.

I watched an old movie last weekend. A hackneyed storyline, but well-cast and funny, anyway: City folk moved to the country and bought a dump, turned it into a charming home and small farm, and entered into the rural community life, overcoming the native suspicion of most, but not all of their neighbors. Then (the night of the annual countywide dance) the inevitable fire blew through and destroyed the city people’s barn and outbuildings. The next morning, surveying their loss, they expressed defeat and considered leaving, when who should appear but all their neighbors—the friendly and aloof, Republican and Democrat, rich and poor—in trucks and jalopies, with money, seeds, animals and goods to share, and their pledged assistance in rebuilding the now-accepted-newcomers’ farm…

We’re entering a time of year when people of the Christian faith most intimately consider suffering, compassion, death, and rebirth, but such themes are found intertwined in all of the world’s religions and mythologies, throughout history. The overwhelming beauty and intense sensual experience of spring seem to invite us to reflect upon life/death metaphors; we inherently know the rhythms of this circle: life leads to death, and back to new life.

Something must die for the loveliness of spring to exist; the counterbalance and contrast of death is necessary, and grief’s tears nourish the greening of what may come…we can hope suffering won’t happen in our lives and the lives of others, but of course it does, all the time.

While I’m enjoying the sights and smells of spring, even celebrating them with gratitude, others are dreading the loss of their livelihood. And I’m reminded, again, how I must train my heart to be sensitive and notice others’ suffering and loss the way my dogs can smell fingerprints, illness, and the presence of those who have passed along the trail before us. Connectedness and community can’t be maintained, let alone thrive, without such sensitivity and its necessary partnership with compassionate action in response.

Those who extoll the path of gratitude entreat us to give thanks for everything. It can make me feel that I’m defective. My first response to suffering is sorrow; were I more evolved spiritually, I’d experience this inherent feeling of gratitude for everything that came down the pike, so to speak.

But of course we’re not expected to be thankful for experiences of suffering, but for the opportunities to support each other through such times, and to help midwife whatever new life may come. Grateful for community and connection. Grateful for the chance to show up with provisions and commitment and grateful, too, when such reinforcements show up in trucks and jalopies, whatever form these take, for us.

During the Easter season, I like to watch the short (and mostly silent) film, The Red Balloon, created by the French film director, Albert Lamorisse. It’s about a small boy’s discovery of, and adventures with, a huge red balloon. It’s also about love, cruelty, suffering, death, and new life. Have you ever seen it? Lamorisse even named the little boy’s character Pascal (“Easter Child,” played by the director’s own son, also named Pascal).

Every year, while nature is blossoming and wrapping us in the resurrected scents of hope, and life is rising from the death to which it will again return, I watch The Red Balloon and remind myself that once we commit to love and support those relationships that matter—and they all do—there is no suffering that can impede deeper love, eternal renewal, and gratitude for the journey.

No posts next week: I’m going away with my beloved and setting down all electronics to play freely inside and outside together. We’re grateful for our house-sitters and the care they always give the 4-leggeds…

Joy to you, and to the rituals with which you welcome new life and honor what has passed to bring it forth.


© 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.


Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire. ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin                                   

Tomorrow we celebrate the Spring Equinox, a day of equal light and darkness, a lovely metaphor and invitation to reflect upon the balance in our lives, and certainly, the equinox may serve as a portal leading to the new life granted us by spring.

I’ve been pondering these words “new life” a lot the past few months, in light of the physical and spiritual shifts in my own life; the choices Phillip and I have made to pursue a life marked by greater simplicity, earnest dedication to using our gifts, and tending to being present, but also in terms of the political climate of my state, and country, and energies shifting throughout the world. We’re running on fuel that’s depleted—in every way possible—and at a pace that doesn’t allow for reflection or peace. The energy seems to be shifting and our future as a species seems deservedly precarious. Quo vadimus?

New life implies more to me than “the same old thing, but one more time.” Rather, it connotes a path, or method, or being that is evolved, a genetic sport, a surprising new synthesis that is now possible and which just a year, or month, or day ago may have been perceived only through a glass, darkly, or not at all. Serendipity and synchronicity are involved in this new life’s revelation, but so are hard work, paying attention, and listening.

And it involves a great deal of dying and acceptance. Joseph Campbell, discussing Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History (1934), writes:

In his six-volume study of the laws of the rise and disintegration of civilizations, [Toynbee believes that] schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme to return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work to wield together again the deteriorating elements. Only birth can conquer death—the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be—if we are to experience long survival—a continuous “recurrence of birth” (palingenesia) to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. ~ The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949)

In our current political climate, I think we see those who, possibly out of their great fear that vital patterns of human interaction are changing (and must), resist the threats these calls to new life pose and seek to return to a time they imagine actually existed and has passed–when men (i.e., Caucasian men) were men and women were invisible. When education was readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic, taught by low(er)-paid drones. When the earth was an endless resource to be infinitely plundered. When aggression and domination were impulses lauded and given free reign over the “inferior others” (those unlike us), and when all these things could be validated by and receive the imprimatur of those who form the hierarchies of belief systems we value (over yours).

That dog don’t hunt no more, folks. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that dog led to the 1960’s—Civil Rights? Vatican II? The EPA? Unions? Earth Day? We should be evolving beyond these wonderful human achievements, not regressing to a mind state prior to their birth.

Regression is natural and can be a very healthy response to change; we want to “go home,” to safety and a time when  the parental figures—mature adults—handled all the world’s problems, choices, decisions and stress. Perhaps a healthier way to allow for this is to grant ourselves peace, quiet, reflection, meditation, and engagement with creativity every day. Hang out in our center, re-charge, and then re-engage as the mature adults we are called upon to be, now.

And, as Toynbee indicates, time spent cobbling together and mending those failing patterns and institutions we currently have, is also wasted energy. Let them die. Rumi said this better:


Inside this new love, die. Your way begins on the other side. Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape. Walk out like someone suddenly born into color. Do it now. You’re covered with thick cloud. Slide out the side. Die, and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign that you’ve died. Your old life was a frantic running from silence. The speechless full moon comes out now.

(From The Essential Rumitranslation by Coleman Barks, with John Moyne, published by Harper Collins)

I like that Rumi says, “Do it now;” Toynbee also wrote that generating pie-in-the-sky visions of a perfect future is also wasting energy. It absolves us of doing too much to effect change while we can and should, and the time has run out for “dream and avoid” behavior.

Check this out: http://www.worldometers.info/ The times they are a-changin’, and what we do with our time, our money, our gifts, our relationships, and our interactions with everything on earth matters more than it ever has, and quite possibly more than it may ever have the chance to exceed.

We have witnessed many examples of humans who have called us to be the changes the earth and all creation need to “nullify the unremitting recurrences of death.” (I would use the word “balance” rather than nullify; I think a rejection and fear of death got us exactly where we are: what if we accepted it instead as life’s necessary partner?)

These human genetic sports, avatars, and prophets were often recognized as such, and disturbed their times and societies, divisively generating both revolutionary enthusiasm in those consciences with which they resonated (usually the have-nots) and fear in those who sensed a challenge to their power and control. We’ve often rejected or destroyed these teachers in their own time and later built boxes and institutions around their teachings, freezing them in perpetuity, adapting them to our egoic comfort, and persistently rejecting the real challenges these human gifts among us represented and offered.

I welcome the balance spring calls me to establish and honor in my life. I welcome the new life, both the familiar and the unknown. I fear the deaths necessary to allow this new life to emerge and grow, but I welcome them anyway, because I’m in the good company of 7 billion–and counting–other precious souls. I’m grateful for the chance to serve as midwife to new life with everyone else on the planet. Together, we can harness the energies of love and create the palingenesia our sweet world needs to renew herself.

I truly believe in what St. Therese called the “Little Way;” every day we each have so many opportunities to change the patterns of interaction we’ve accepted and followed without reflection. Here’s a video that demonstrates how such patterns can change. I especially like that this example involves young women, because of my hope that humans may soon honor and balance the way our feminine natures (and we all have them) can complement our male gifts. We can be strong in our compassion and powerful in our ability to unite.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSQf9ZbSDHE&sns=fb

And here’s a link to a video I love. I think we can never take ourselves too lightly, and it also serves to remind me that the only person I can change is myself. (A mental “Stop it!” works…and makes me laugh.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYLMTvxOaeE


© 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.

Tipping Points

A year ago this weekend, my husband and I attended a rally in Madison to protest changes made by our then-new governor and a state government whose Republican majority supported him. That Governor Walker won the election with only a 52% majority perhaps foretold the divisiveness to come, but I don’t think many of us anticipated the cataclysmic changes or acrimonious conflicts ahead.

Over the past year, the elimination of collective bargaining rights for public sector employees (with the exception of police and fire fighters), the draconian cuts to public school funding (in the neighborhood of 900 million dollars), the implementation of voter identification requirements, and dozens of other measures taken to ostensibly “manage the money” of our state, have split its people and created an atmosphere of such vitriol and mistrust that friends and families have parted company and once-strong professional alliances have broken beyond repair.

Whatever merit existed in these changes and whatever “good” they have contributed to the state budget, they have come at too great a cost to the spirit and people of the place I have called home most of my life. I continue to protest the manner in which these changes have been enacted and I am anguished by the attitudes of disrespect and indifference with which those in the majority have flouted their power. But I am equally affronted by much of the oppositions’ language and inability to focus on policy rather than the individuals with whom they disagree.

Over a million signatures—540,208 were required–were collected to force a recall election of Governor Walker and his lieutenant governor, and other signatures have ensured the potential recall of other state legislators, including our own district’s senator, the majority leader of the state senate.

These recall elections will take place within the next few months. I’ve joined thousands of others in supporting the recall elections, but I dread the anger, distortions, and noise the campaign advertising will likely spew and the bitterness they will engender. My conscience led me to protest the choices and to participate in what I felt were just actions to stop those in power from creating further damage, but I’m so disappointed it’s come to this, and I’ve tried to proceed cautiously. I want to remain hopeful regarding the outcome.

What continue to sadden and perplex me are the perceived and dangerous changes in our degrees of dialogue, courtesy, and compromise that have shadowed this entire process, a reflection of the larger national shifts in political and social discourse, and in the sensationalized way they are presented and reported by our media.

I wonder a lot these days about lines that are drawn with humorous intent that then becomes sarcastic, then cynical, and then hate-fueled…when do these lines become too dangerous to cross? When do they become walls?

At what point do words incite action and then violent action? Are there a given number of rally cries, or decibels, that convert a crowd into a mob? When does a discussion become an argument and an argument a war? When does a perceived threat overtake reason?

What creates the necessary energy to make me forget my connection to everyone in my community and align myself with only those who think as I do?

What, finally and irreversibly, causes us to see each other as enemy? 

When did some Germans, or Poles, or Hungarians look at their Jewish neighbors and begin to see them as expendable? And how did “some” become “more” and then “enough?” What shift allowed Rwandan Hutus to pick up axes, and knives, and spears to murder their lifelong Tutsi neighbors? How could the English elite turn away from my own ancestors’ starvation? How could they ignore Irish people eating dirt and families dying in fields? How could anyone ever consider anyone else his property? How were the United States shaped by justifying the destruction of those who were already settled here? Is it possible to freeze the moment when my vision alters, my self-awareness fades, and my heart turns?

We’re always walking on see-saws and there are tipping points everywhere.

People read historical accounts of human atrocities and shake their heads. How did that happen; what were they thinking; how could they allow it? But I doubt those living into such times conceived what they would become. We must always be aware of our words and their power, our energy and what it can harness, our shadow and where its neglect may lead us.

The usual suspects: greed, power, fear and ignorance are like liquid mercury, and only mindful attention to the direction they’re flowing and ways they’re joining forces—within and without–works in our favor. So we must slow down. See the human frailty in ourselves and the other. Be brave enough and energetic enough to counter injustice before it overwhelms.

We must never be willing to sit back in silence when there are people and governments who must be held accountable for their behavior, but we have to focus on the behavior, the flawed thinking, the likely damage, not engage in hating the individuals. And we must be willing to take a long and penetrating look at our own motives and behavior. Make apologies when necessary. Proceed with care.

Begin and end with love.

 A news program I admire for its maturity and impartiality is The News Hour on PBS; an added attraction is that women guests, reporters, and newscasters are as prominent as men. I especially enjoy David Brooks and Mark Shields for their respectful way of presenting opposing views: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/indepth_coverage/politics/political_wrap/


© 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.



Slow Life and the Spirit

When Phillip and I made a conscious decision to pursue a “slow life” together, we were led by others who have made the same decision to ground their choices and days in deliberate and focused sustainability and community connections.

 For us, a slow life is guided by a philosophical stance which believes that the spirit is deeply and truly fed only by intimate communion. To put it another way: living, relating, and buying locally allows us to be more fully present both to ourselves and to those who contribute to our well-being, as we contribute to theirs. This is not to promote an isolationist orientation or a denial of global connection and need, but to lessen the exhaustion and depletion of finite resources, to become mindful about right relationship with our neighbors, to redefine what constitutes “healthy living,” and to be earnest in clarifying the difference between desire and need.

 Far from feeling rigidly controlled, we’ve learned pursuing a slow life is exciting, creative, spacious, and fun.

 Savoring, noticing, attending, reflecting, listening, and being present are all practices that feed a slow life, and all are nourished by gratitude and balance. We commit to simplify in order to go deeper, and to more authentically value the common ground and the unique distinctions that define our days, relationships, seasons, community, and spirits. We deliberately honor the gifts that all of these create and offer for our enrichment.

Pierre Teilhard famously stated we’re spiritual beings having a physical, human experience. While we’re here on earth, this means our basic necessities of food, home, and clothing must be satisfied if our spirits are to thrive and evolve. It seems, though, that we’ve lost the connection between the pursuit of our basic needs and our spiritual health, as though spirit doesn’t enter into our choices and consciousness until not just our basic needs, but all of our (manufactured) desires, are met. Focused solely on the crazed pursuit of “more,” we have become disconnected from Source and source: we do not know where we, our food, our homes, and our clothing come from, nor at what cost to the earth and our neighbors. We do not relax and breathe unless we’re “on vacation,” when a lot of us routinely become ill from the anxiety, over-work, and imbalanced living we’ve consented to endure, often unconsciously.

 Slow living recognizes that spirit is (always) our essence, that the pursuit of basic necessities can be/is naturally spirit-fueled and intentional, and that the satisfaction of these needs can be creative, communal, and enough. A slow life is a consciously inspirited life.

 Homes can be green, energy use sustainable, clothing recycled, and food joyfully grown, locally procured, and communally shared. Our gifts and art can be recognized, encouraged, and shared in the production of the goods that meet our needs. We can “make a living” that is peace-filled and care-filled, and our businesses and interactions can be collaborative circles of collegiality rather than competitive, top-down hierarchies.

Small steps, in time, create new paths.

Grow a garden; join a CSA; shop at farmers’ markets. Seek and support restaurants like this: http://www.braiselocalfood.com and programs like this: http://wisconsinfoodie.com/

Make use of resale shops. Cull outgrown, unworn, disused, and unneeded possessions; recycle, reuse, and re-purpose creatively. Know where your material possessions are made and by whom; understand the dis-eased world you’re either perpetuating or choosing to change: http://video.pbs.org/video/1488092077/.

Live green: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Homes.aspx

 Heal whenever, whatever, wherever you can, starting with yourself and your choices.

 A slow life offers continual invitations and opportunities to recall and connect with who we— truly—are: shards of a holy and ongoing Creative Impulse, interdependent and aware that our only home is Love.


© 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.