Gliding Into Green Time

DSCF7654We’ve come (finally!) to the time of year when all the gardens, in a brilliance of greens and tender spring blossoms, flash back only beauty and promise. No pests, no droughts nor floods, no diseases have yet appeared to divert our belief that this will be the best summer ever for a perfection of blooms and abundance.


DSCF7743Sweet friends have returned to Full Moon Cottage, annual visitors who bless our days and inaugurate a new season of life as the year rolls round her journey.



DSCF7055There is no better time to celebrate life, is there? Last week, my colleagues came to Full Moon Cottage to toast the end of another school year, and my husband’s staff will be here next week to do the same. It’s grand to have guests, and motivating as well. Nothing like scheduled company to get us out to re-design, weed, plant, thin, and clean the gardens!

DSCF7666In July, family and friends will come to help us celebrate our wedding anniversary, so we’re looking at projects indoors and out, that may or may not come to fruition, given the time and money necessary to accomplish them. I’m an inveterate list-maker and recovering perfectionist. I’ve noticed age has helped me better—and sooner—identify the borders between desire and reality. How good it can feel to welcome the loosening, letting go, and blessed release of expectations to allow what will happen to happen. I don’t always manage this with grace, but I can say I’m better than I used to be. I can even manage a “whatever,” once in a while, and mean it. At least some of the time, I’m able to suspend my definition of perfection and see what’s already perfectly perfect.



DSCF7712More importantly, we’re excited to be taking time to gather with people we love. When you reflect on parties and festivities you’ve attended, what do you recall in their afterglow? Not the hours of work and attention to detail that went into planning and organizing them, but the time spent sharing, listening, laughing, relaxing, affirming love and being affirmed as a valuable and integral part of other lives.

Henry Memorial 7It’s such a lovely time of year to recognize, toast, and encourage creation and recreation. Two years ago, we suffered through a devastating drought, and its effects continue to unfold. Our maples let loose an impossible number of seeds last autumn, in part a response to the prior year’s drought. A flurry of rebellious possibility rained down to establish life before drought could again assail the right to regenerate that is claimed by every living thing.



DSCF7327The behaviors and choices of humans and their leaders so often deny Nature this right. In spring, her resounding Yes-always-yes-to-life, and the reminder she will likely outlast our stupidity and short-sightedness is both illuminating and humbling.

DSCF7612And worth celebrating, as we glide into another summer and its green possibilities for creativity, for gathering, for affirming life, for knowing when to allow what will happen to happen, and for the gift of entering it with gratitude, knowing too, that the impulse to regenerate never dies.

DSCF7063May you be blessed with long, happy days of recreation and the company of loved ones to share them.





© 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.

Entertaining Angels

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  ~ Hebrews 13:2; KJV

DSCF5803Winter lingered. Just when we thought it had taken its last breath, it gasped and continued to test our hospitality.

DSCF5765But for well over a week now, despite chilly nights, the days have been warmer, or rainy, and coaxed out the greens this late spring offers up as gift to eyes surprised by anything other than black, white, and gray.



DSCF6145Spring’s winged and 4-legged angels, arriving with all their usual and new messages regarding reasons to hope and deepen our love for the earth and each other, have been sailing, trotting, hopping, or crawling up and down the river bank. Choirs of blackbirds and spring peepers, with guest soloists—grosbeaks, robins, sand pipers, woodpeckers, ducks, geese, pelicans, warblers, finches, and cardinals—alert us to miracles daily and hourly. Today, my first sightings of a Baltimore Oriole and Rose-breasted Grosbeak set my heart dancing. The silence and solitude of winter are definitely over; whatever dreams and seeds were planted in the dark have been called forth most dramatically this spring. It took a while for the stone to be rolled away, but the light is now shining like a drama queen. “Grow!” it seems to command.




DSCF6820We emerged, tentatively and cautiously, peeking out from under winter’s blanket like the proverbial groundhog, and then began to meet, socialize, fill in the calendar, haul out the garden tools and dig into life with the vigor only pasty-white winter people can summon when spring returns in the fullness of her resurrection power.





DSCF6612Our pups, Riley and Clancy, who will celebrate 13 years of being next week, had a dicey winter. Age-related health encounters gave us some sad and frightening moments, which time and our saintly veterinarian helped us through, gently. We’ve all made adjustments and adapted. We feared their loss (knowing it will come, but please, not yet, not now) and are therefore utterly grateful they’re still here and again able to amble down the trail with us. Their kennels have moved upstairs; our walks are shorter; their schedule is a bit more closely monitored; at night we protect each other; and—if possible—we celebrate our funky family even more than ever. I guess my years tending dying parents and elderly patients have readied me for this, as well. If so, Full Moon Cottage will be the best damn nursing home for elderly 4-leggeds we can imagine.

DSCF6332One evening we had company visiting and the night became so merry and so filled with heady conversation and children and music that our five-year-old guest crawled into his mother’s arms and softly cried. His mother held him and asked about his tears. “I feel so happy,” he said. So much joy, some needed to spill out a bit, I suppose, to re-balance his mighty little spirit.

I know exactly how he felt.

On Earth Day, my students and I cleaned up the school grounds, washed bits of the refuse we collected and then made art…their sweet hearts and lively spirits feed me, daily. I’ve come to a time in my life where most teachers arrive, if they’re lucky and as blessed as I’ve been: we know that teacher and student are the same thing.




DSCF5817As are life and death.

 I’m trying to gauge my wealth differently than financial advisers might counsel: How engaged with life, how open to its invitations have I been this day? To what degree have I given and received as I’ve circled through the daily round? How often did I pause and connect with all the angels and their messages streaming towards and through me? How freely did I share those messages with others?

DSCF6708In my life, angels, or messengers who remind me, “This is it! Now! It’s all holy!” have never been pretty men with wings, though some of my angels have been men, and many of my guides have had wings…Only look and listen, they’re everywhere: winged, legged, fluttering, croaking, singing, blooming, dying, laughing or weeping. See! These unique and sacred collections of particles gathering and forming, dissolving and reforming: Be moved to dance, to hobble, to wheeze, to weep with joy by all the ways Love calls you out, every moment, into resurrection and new creation.



Clancy questions whether he must entertain his sibling cats as angels, especially if they appropriate his kennel.
Clancy questions whether he must entertain his sibling cats as angels, especially if they appropriate his kennel.


© 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.

Counter Posture

DSCF448640 years of yoga practice have yielded gifts I never expected when I started down the path, much, I suppose, like any long-term relationship one consents to pursue will continue to surprise the heart and spirit if attention is paid and the relationship is bound more by love and flexibility than a rigid repetition of steps learned long ago and in all the years since rarely or never opened to inspiration.

DSCF4550Consider, for example, the wisdom and elegance of counter-posturing, balancing in-breath and out-breath, uniting a backbend with a forward bend, marrying a reaching with a contraction. The unfolding understanding of a counter-posture’s gifts has broadened my ability to remain increasingly present and mindful to my life and its core of mystery, to its blessing and suffering, and to its continual flow of dying and rebirth. Life, at its essence, is an unending exercise in counter-posturing. Over and over, life asks that we disintegrate and reintegrate, from our birth, through the breaths enclosing each succeeding moment until our death. If we can enter our life mindfully, co-creating equanimity and balance, how much lovelier our experience of its gifts can be.

DSCF4531Counter-posturing is inherent to the flow of yoga, as it is to the philosophies and theologies we recognize as our guiding wisdoms. For example, it forms the holistic essence symbolized by the yin and yang’s embrace of both the empirical and transcendent. It is expressed beautifully in the Hebrew Ecclesiastes verses that tell us everything must have its season. It pulses at the heart of every line forming the beautiful Prayer of St. Francis.

It is revealed throughout nature’s perfect balance, offering the rounded whole of existence to guide our spirits towards their own rounded fulfillment: Summer’s outward energy and exuberant volume, winter’s inner withdrawal and soundless stillness, the expansion and retraction of spring and autumn. Every force has its equal and opposite force that, if embraced, creates a perfect marriage of balance.

DSCF4544The universe conspires to teach us the wisdom of counter-posturing, to help us choose paths, practices, and actions that keep us balanced and centered, which is to say authentically healthy and whole. When life is flowing easily, these practices may heighten its joy. When life is overcome by suffering, the ability to counter-posture becomes as necessary to our spiritual survival as oxygen is to our body.

Our first breath is an in-breath; our final an exhalation. Whatever we choose between these, whatever existence offers, life originates and concludes in perfect balance. Our choice to counter-posture—or not—all those moments between our human beginning and end determines the degree of elegance, the trajectory of growth, the depth of meaning, and the awareness of the Sacred that infuses our life. 

DSCF4513My beloved brother-in-law died last week.

Days were circumscribed by his rapid decline in health, an accelerated rhythm of swirled energy and emotions, rising hopes and dashed hopes, long vigils and sleepless nights, the gathering and parting of family, the brutal lack of equanimity often offered by the hospital ICU, the sense of everything heightened and held out of time, and moments when reality screamed with unrelenting heart-slamming truths, grounding us in medical minutiae and the process of dying.

By training and inclination, the camera of my perception continually moved in and out, assessing the degree of shock and anxiety within and without each participant, and, of course, myself. When the life of one we love is so suddenly compromised, our emotions, bodies, and spirits are thrown out of coherence. Numbed engagement is often the best that can be managed and also serves to protect us, and so we offer automatic responses that cushion our completely exposed vulnerability from jarring contact with more than this moment, and now this one. 

S0044332If we can listen deeply during such times of spiritual, emotional, and physical trauma, some inner knowing will tell us that our spirits are trying to catch up with us, and if we can hang on, and intuitively counter-posture each moment’s invitations and assaults, we will again find our way home to our center. Until then, we travel with sails tossed by raw emotions, and if we are blessed, love is the one we allow to carry us through to journey’s end.

Years of accompanying others and their families through such experiences have taught me to seek, support, and encourage the counter-postures that will renew balance for all involved in the drama of dying and loss. As a midwife to the dying, I have witnessed myriad responses to the invitations this final journey offers to the one who is dying and to those who accompany him or her. I have felt and considered them all myself when I have lost someone I loved, as I did last week. Every new wave that crashes against us can either be met with love or rejected and futilely battled in anger, fear, anxiety, and despair. 

DSCF4206Here is how it might happen when we surrender to the experience and meet it with intentional equanimity: We can recognize the horror of our individual and collective journey and choose to translate it into sorrow by meeting it with love. We can counter-posture our howling pain by acknowledging that mystery and grace are also our companions. We can embrace our fellow-passengers on this journey of stunning transformation, and through the energy of our words and silence, our actions and stillness, our in-breaths and out-breaths, comfort our own and others’ hearts, subdue the storm, and steady our spirits. We can focus our energy and gratitude upon the one who is departing, on his comfort, his peace, his need to know we will be alright, and that our love will go with him.

These are some of the choices we can make to counter-posture the energy created by such profound storms in our lives, and so guide our spirits back into a substantial presence where they can eventually rest in weary peace.

My brother-in-law was blessed, as he was blessing. His wife and children never once let themselves be unmoored by the ferocity and velocity of invitations to let go into fear, anger, or despair. They embraced each other and all who joined their circle, shining light on their beloved and holding him in love through his final exhalation. They intuited elegant counter-posturing and preserved the fullness and wholeness of this loss and every moment of gratitude and community it offered.

Hallowed life, hallowed death: oh, such gifts we can offer ourselves and others if we choose intentional equanimity and balance.

DSCF4418And as we enter our grief, I am consoled by the beauty of our gatherings to be peacefully present to the death of our beloved one, to his burial and commitment to Love’s turning circle. I’m heartened, too, by the sense that together and alone we’ll dance with our grief, counter-posturing sadness with joy, weariness with rest, sharing with conserving energy, breathing in with breathing out, deepening our recognition and understanding of all the ways our loved one’s death opens his life to our sustenance.

May we continue to honor this great loss and use this great love to create sacred balance in our lives and holy equanimity in the lives of those we love and meet. May we counter the world’s brokenness with our loved one’s example of creativity; may we help heal the world’s hatred with his lessons of love, may we counter the world’s joylessness with his model of enthusiasm, and the world’s sadness with his encompassing delight. May we always hear the invitations to discover and use our gifts, as he did, to bless the world and to assure the Earth, over and over, that she is precious, loved, and worth saving, in all her infinite variety, and work to make it so.



© 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.

‘Tis the Season

DSCF2361Full Moon Cottage has been dressed for Christmas over the past week. Objects encrusted with memories have been scattered around the rooms, and spirits we love have been fully welcomed back into our midst, not just those of our parents, who are always with us, but all those characters and places that populated our childhood stories: great-aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends, teachers, janitors, cafeteria ladies, bus drivers, piano teachers and the neighborhood personalities who bordered the edges of our days. DSCF2145 DSCF2212DSCF2201I can see the Park and Market grocery, and the ice skating rink, where tinny Christmas music blared as we glided round and round. I remember how Santa rode through town on a shiny red fire engine, so loaded with lights that I never stopped to wonder at the absence of his sleigh and reindeer. I never stopped to question any of the incongruities and obvious fallacies offered to us during the Christmas season. Every year, we were happily willing to be drenched in magic and readily surrendered our doubt to exist wholly in a world of fantastical impossibilities. Because they were true, at the heart level, where children seem to more easily live and breathe and have their being. DSCF2161I had a happy childhood, and at no time of year am I more grateful than during the Christmas season, when the flood of memories, visions, and smells mix with the magic of nostalgia, sparkle of winter, and the natural tendency to gather in towards light and warmth. For a month or two, I revisit those times and places that created me and allow me to treasure the present with greater depth. DSCF2465I’ve always loved Lent and its invitations to whittle away and purge in preparation for spring’s rebirth, but the rituals and traditions of Advent cheer my heart. They seem to counter and balance the season’s darkening and chilling environment so tenderly. The cinnamon, chocolate, orange, and anise smells of seasonal baking, the glitter of ornaments, the soothing and jubilant sounds of Christmas music, and the focus on the excitement of anticipation and joy: what could be better? DSCF2475So many spiritual traditions seem to center on light and gift in winter; it’s encouraging (“heart-centered”) that many humans get it all perfectly right once a year, anyway. DSCF2442 DSCF2193I wish we could resist the urge to allow corporate marketers to dictate the meaning of this season to us and their attempts to drive people into greater frenzy and stress and spending, instead of slowing down, gathering in, cherishing each holy moment. The heavy burdens of pragmatic doubt regarding the magic of the world, the pain of self-judgments, and the accepted need to replace our innate value with things, things, and more things we must endlessly buy, may be set down; we did not need these rampant desires as children and certainly do not benefit from them as adults. DSCF2178Christmas helps us retrieve the gifts of childhood, if we listen. A friend posted on a social site that she’d enjoyed a four-hour lunch with an old friend: Just to read it made me hopeful and happy for both of them, but for all of us as well. I know they pushed back against demanding jobs and demanding lives to make way for this time together and yet did so, valuing friendship above tasks. So, for now, I abstain from the entreaties to constantly shop, and from what is called “news,” and instead rest in the Good News always coming, always here: we are made of Love, embraced by Love, and asked only to Love in return, until to Love we return and with Love we merge. And that is enough. And that is everything. DSCF2096May the deep peace of the season gift you with a warm heart, clear vision, and a community of family and friends–and four-leggeds–to see, hear, hold, and enjoy. We are called to be merry; let us do so, drenched in magic and readily surrendering our doubt. Love reminds us we already exist wholly in a world of fantastical impossibilities. Joyeux Noel! DSCF2191 DSCF2183


© 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.

Thanks Be to Love


The daily round has been crammed with life, guests, listening, and activity of late. How lovely it is to have a day open before me without a list or template circumscribing and defining its hours…just a blank page to fill as I am called…I think I’ll take the pups and my camera out to the trail and return home to make that cup of hot cocoa I’m always promising myself.

Tomorrow will be filled with preparations for our Thanksgiving weekend, and that, too, cheers my heart. There are few better feelings, for me, than the anticipation of joyful community with people and 4-leggeds I love.

And so, I raise my cup of cocoa and toast us all: May we be blessed with a peaceful and joyful celebration of all that inspires deep gratitude in our lives. May our patience and humor abound.

May we forgive ourselves of all those errors and lapses in love that arise from our humanity and so more generously forgive others theirs.

May we ease expectations and judgments of ourselves and others so as to better perceive the blessings waiting for us right now, right here, and may we be present to the lessons they have come to teach us about the ways we are infinitely loved.

May our willingness to isolate and name these gifts allow us to cherish them more deeply and share them more profoundly.

Dona nobis pacem.

Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life.  ~ A.J. Cronin

Gratitude is so close to the bone of life, pure and true, that it instantly stops the rational mind, and all its planning and plotting. That kind of letting go is fiercely threatening. I mean, where might such gratitude end?  ~ Regina Sara Ryan

Gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the cosmos. When we offer thanks to God or to another human being, gratitude gifts us with renewal, reflection, and reconnection.  ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight. ~ Joan Chittister

Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.  ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner

If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.  ~ Meister Eckhart

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.  ~ Denis Waitley

You have been given a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”  ~ William A. Ward

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. ~ Doris Day

Gratitude is twofold – love coming to visit us and love running out to greet a welcome guest.  ~ Henry Van Dyke



© 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.


Everything Changes

60 degrees and raining 001In the past four days, we’ve had a snowstorm, a thunderstorm, temperatures in the upper 50’s and today, another snowstorm. This morning, chickadees have been flying back and forth to the feeders, singing their spring songs, but that’s changed again in the past hour. They seem to have adapted to winter’s return. I wonder if they can tell that tomorrow the temperatures will dip once more below zero, or if this will surprise them?

Birds snow rain fog 016Everything changes: not always in a day, or even a lifetime, and rarely all at once, but as we revolve through life, it seems every cycle brings us back to a place that’s similar but never the same as it was. Companions have left our side and new ones now walk the path beside us; our physical capabilities or our views have altered; the degree of hope we perceive in our hearts and the encouragement offered by the world around us varies.

Birds in snowstorm 042We may be surprised by loss, tragedy, or reversals, changes that cause the geographies describing our relationship to self, others, place, and spirit to evolve or regress, or dramatically alter, and we either adapt or do not, depending upon our finesse and willingness to regain our balance and accept these changes that were unsought and undesired.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY THRU 26TH 177But even changes we’ve planned for and worked towards demand our willingness to discard elements of our current situation, boundaries, or relationships that were once rooted in the earth of our existence.

We devise systems to manage change: education, healthcare, government. We create “news programs” to discuss the changes collectively experienced over 24 hours, and share phone calls, or posts in social media, or text messages to update each other more intimately and frequently regarding changes in our “status.”

Birds in snowstorm 025It seems, societally, we’re addicted to insignificant change and hasten its rhythms to keep us engaged in life. Until substantial change threatens our sense of security, the way we “want” things to be, or the direction we desire to move. Then, we resist, argue, deny, or retreat, often to our detriment, though certainly stillness, discernment, and speaking our own truth are valuable companions as we navigate the flow of this ever-changing energy we call life.

I’ve been reading another book on the spirituality of change, specifically as it relates to aging. This is a topic that fascinates me and that I’ve been asked to address in presentations to those who care for geriatric patients or to those who, like me, are interested in exploring changes that are specific to aging humans and our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Over and over, I’ve encountered the understanding that the happiest individuals are those who have used their intelligence and gifts to the best of their abilities, but who resist grasping too tightly to any outcome, and instead nurture a willingness to let go and to flow with the greater current, looking for unexpected blessing and the potential for creativity in forming one’s response.

birds christmas break 008The central change we face as we age is our death, and our health as elders may depend upon the degree to which we embrace our death as friend, foe, inevitability, or a fearful possibility we can avoid through the “magic of medicine.”

I know of a woman who is 89 and considering a heart valve replacement. All of her organs are somewhat compromised and the surgery, if successful, will require a lengthy stay in a nursing facility for her convalescence. She has said, “I’m afraid to die.” I hope she is aware that hospice is another choice, and that patients served by hospices often live longer than those who instead choose aggressive medical interventions, but her fear is driving her choice to undergo this surgery. Family members often disagree about such choices and thus another level of chaos and distraction can intrude upon our end-of-life choices and experiences. Answers are elusive and, in the end, each person has to choose and, hopefully, be at peace regarding these choices.

Birds snow rain fog 010

Over and over in my work as a chaplain I met people at these crossroads and tried to be a listening presence as they navigated their way to peace, or battled through final breaths to the change that came anyway and inevitably. Regardless of my inclinations, my job was to support them through theirs. Certainly, a patient who said, “I am afraid to die” indicated an obvious need to dialogue, and in conversations with a chaplain or other trained caregiver, the patient often reached greater peace as his fears, his beliefs, and his sources of strength were opened, explored, validated and employed creatively to face the days ahead.

Birds snow rain fog 063Rituals sometimes helped ease deterrents to dying peacefully, but so did the hard work of asking forgiveness, or extending it to another, reviewing a life that proved more light-filled than first admitted, re-connecting the dying to loved ones who had become distant, or to a faith community that affirmed its willingness to become involved.

Rainy Night 016It taught me to pay attention to my own dying: to choose responses to possible scenarios; to designate my power of attorney, complete a will, and file the legal forms with my physicians and loved ones; to discuss with my husband, relatives, and friends, what treatments and care I would desire at the end of my life, and to clarify how I want my body to be returned to the earth. Such tasks completed, although unforeseen change may cause their revision, I’m better able to turn back towards the amazing mystery and ever-changing dance with my ever-changing life. Whatever it brings, storms or halcyon days of mellow sunshine, I hope I’ll go with the flow.

And back to winter 007


© 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Falling in Love Again

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One day last week I reread Paula D’Arcy’s moving spiritual memoir, Gift of the Redbird, in which she shares her lost-and-found relationships with the Holy over the course of many years, and how her sacred encounters, whether prompted by the utter depths of grief, illness, or yearning, always led to her willingness to notice, attend, and surrender images of the Holy that no longer held meaning for her. The gifts yielded by these journeys—hard-won, as the best gifts often are—seemed to be greater expansiveness and deeper evolution regarding her capacity to love and to perceive connection with all creation.

And so I’ve been traveling with the book’s wisdom in the time since closing its covers. (All art, for me, requires this time to be with my atoms and energy, rearranging my understanding of life’s big questions before I can even begin to speak about its effects on my spirit. And, of course, these alterations change when I revisit a work of art, even a book that’s slim and a deceptively quick read.)

I’ve been thinking about all the significant relationships in my life, from the openness and intimacy shared with my own spirit and sense of the Holy, and then rippling out from there to include my connections with my husband, family, friends, 4-leggeds, and even my home. It seems all of them have followed the pattern described by D’Arcy’s relationship with her God, in that the connections are at times deeply intimate and lively, and at other times, somewhat flat and stagnant

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY THRU 26TH 226It’s good to be reminded that ongoing discernment and faithful checking-in can help us recognize the degree of effort and attention we’re offering these relationships and how well we’re tending them. But there is also the need for the field of each relationship to have its fallow time for deepening; what may, at first, feel stagnant may more truthfully be the sacred period of stillness necessary for the rigors of  the relationship’s evolution, its next stage, requiring re-commitment and patience as this unfolds.

The dark nights our spirits experience, as do each of our relationships, may be accepted and unpacked as gifts, although at times they feel so antithetical to anything desired, supportive, or helpful. But traveling the circle as many times as I have, I’ve begun to see these places of dark blessing are like the silent depths beneath the earth where seeds are loved into growth.


And to realize that my partners in relationship, perhaps even the Holy, have their own steps to dance, their own needs to withdraw, to be renewed, and to evolve.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY THRU 26TH 230And how lovely when we waltz together once more, embrace, and fall in love again, not only with our past adventures and the relationship we have shared, but with the shining place we now find ourselves in and all the steps we have yet to dance together.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without 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.

Solstice: Peace After the Storm

Snowstorm 254A glorious blizzard has kept us home for the past two days. I walked out early yesterday to enjoy the snowfall. The air was warmer than I expected and the snow was heavy and wet. The woods were magical and the trail deserted.

Snowstorm 059The sky told of the blizzard to come.

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Snowstorm 077By the time I’d turned back, high winds were causing very low visibility and the snow stung my face and hands.

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Snowstorm 263Phillip started plowing early, but eventually stopped to let the winds have their way.

Snowstorm 158We decided to watch movies, eat Christmas cookies, and enjoy our snowday. The winds howled furiously throughout the night. We were both awake until after one o’clock and then dropped off, despite the wind’s wailing. We woke to find a lovely old ash tree had fallen across the drive.

Blizzard, aftermath, birds 096While Phillip removed the tree, I watched feathered visitors bob up and down in the birch tree, risk flights to the feeders, and then fly quickly back their perches.

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Blizzard, aftermath, birds 129

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Blizzard, aftermath, birds 180

Blizzard, aftermath, birds 189Tonight, the winds have quieted and we’re all hoping for a peaceful Solstice sleep…after more Christmas movies, a toasty fire, and popcorn to celebrate.

057Wishing you all a season of light and eruptions of joy…




© 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.

Love in the Time of Climate Change

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Today I’m making a hearty soup and enjoying fresh breezes kissing our rooms through open windows, a sweet delight for the cats. This is the new and unpredictable norm for December, for nothing about our climate this past year has hinted at what’s coming next.

This past weekend we found ourselves alone and together, with nothing scheduled and surprisingly caught up with other life-maintenance tasks…so we relaxed.

Honoring days of rest, like tending to self-care, were themes often discussed and put forth as goals, but rarely practiced authentically in our busy lives, up until a year and a half ago; I’m happy to say that since dedicating ourselves to our version of a “slow life,” we’ve gotten better at this.

This weekend, we watched holiday movies, went for long walks, took Riley and Clancy to their favorite dog park, grilled a wicked good meal out on the deck, enjoyed our unusually warm weather, and listened to Christmas music while we read, nestling with various four-leggeds.


005My spirit felt bathed in light and peace, utterly relaxed, and utterly grateful.

At many points in my past life, this would have been a weekend neither noted nor savored as remarkable, other than for its record-setting high temperatures. Now, I treasure moments of happiness, ordinary time made extraordinary by the attention and appreciation due and accorded it. I notice all the ways Phillip deepens and refines the energies of my life, and I isolate blessings as they drift through moments and settle in my heart.

mama and daddy easter 1951 001This photograph of my parents, taken the April before their wedding (Ah, April in Minnesota!) sits beside my bed. I love the sweet joy they seem to feel in each other’s company, the hope that exudes from their spirits, still.

Years later, when he was 65, my father suffered a massive stroke that caused his next 15 years to be lived confined to their home, my mother choosing to serve as his caregiver. I spent as many vacations visiting them as I could, and often lamented the sadness and “littleness” they now had to endure, rather than all the joyful adventures they’d planned following my father’s retirement. This hadn’t been foreseen and wasn’t fair. And I thought I should be closer, geographically, to help more.

I vividly recall the time my mother said, “Oh, it isn’t all bad. We have good conversations and we laugh a lot. Your father’s been able to know his grandchildren, and we’ve enjoyed working on his writing together. Good friends have blessed this time for us…and here’s the thing, Kitty: your job is to tend your own life. We never know what sadness may be in store for us, what challenges lie ahead. Enjoy each other and the blessings that come your way as deeply as you can while you’re able, and take nothing for granted.”

Phillip and I with my parents many years ago.
Phillip and I with my parents many years ago.

“Time held me green and dying,” wrote Dylan Thomas in the haunting poem, Fern Hill. I know my sweet dog companions will be 12 this year, and Finny the cat will be 11. Phillip and I are in our mid-50’s…not old, but no longer green, and, like all of life, gradually living towards our dying. These facts are not all-consuming, nor entirely depressing to one who gardens and honors life’s circles and spirals, but they certainly contribute to the poignant attentiveness brought to bear on moments when we can be here, now, all together in peace, joy, and relative health.

Mulligan helping Dad prepare breakfast.
Mulligan helping Dad prepare breakfast.
Murphy enjoying spring breezes in December.
Murphy enjoying spring breezes in December.

At one time, I would have considered such a weekend dull and unproductive. How lovely that the gauges by which we assess our lives change, and how grateful I am for a companion with whom I can share and value simplicity and stillness, ordinary days made precious just because we’re together, grateful and aware, no matter what’s coming down the pike. Because the climate of any relationship is always changing, forecast or not, and deep reserves of joy, daily kindnesses, and simple, commonplace moments of laughter and love help us to weather the storms and shifts, expected or surprising, whenever they arrive. 

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without 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.

A Story for the Season

On Sunday, after I’d put away Thanksgiving decorations, we decided to begin setting out a few Christmas pieces to ready our home for the holiday. Every day, I’ve pulled out a new box and selected a few decorations to place in a window or on a mantel, noticing the stories all around me: stories behind every decoration and every piece of furniture where they’re placed…I cannot separate myself from these stories; my own accrue and add new layers to the objects until finally, everything shines with story.

My great-grandfather made this little table, from scrap lumber and fruit crates, for my mother when she was a child. She collected the pewter dishes.

Due to our new cat, Fergus, and his continued period of adjustment to our home, and us, and the 4-leggeds, we’ve decided that maybe a Christmas tree encrusted with all of our glass ornaments wouldn’t be such a great idea this year. In past years, the cats have enjoyed playing and resting on the quilt beneath the tree; this year, I’m afraid that feline power struggles might bring it all crashing down. Better to lower the odds, I think. There are plenty of ways to make the home festive without a tree, but we’ll miss it.

Murphy and Mulligan napping beneath the tree.

Fergus and the dogs are doing fine with their introductions; the other four cats (oh, God, I’ve become the Crazy Cat Lady) are struggling a bit more with the refinement of pecking order and ego assuagement. We have every reason to believe all will be well, but these relationships, these stories, will need to progress according to their own timing, and I think we owe our 4-leggeds all the time they need. Fergus is as placid as Buddha sitting in his kennel, despite the sniffs, spits, and indifference form his new siblings. He forbears.

When he’s alone with me in my office, he loves to sit beneath the computer screen and watch the birds through the picture window. He runs to the door when he hears the other cats; he yearns for community, it seems. He loves fearlessly.

Today, his siblings entered his private room and began to sniff and acquaint themselves with Eau de Fergus. Murphy and Mulligan were especially intrigued, meticulously conducting their version of a CSI, and covering every square inch of the room before accepting a treat.

Murphy smelling Fergus’ food bowl.

Tonight, we’ll supervise a first face-to-face visit and see how it goes. We’re hopeful that by the time the New Year rolls around, we’ll have a larger, peaceful, and happy family. Fergus appears to be a force of love; he audaciously chose me on the trail one very cold, wet day and followed me home, and has never stopped exuding that charming trust and desire to connect. All creation, it seems, can reveal the Love of our Source. We often overlook, I think, the myriad ways those with whom we share the planet can teach us about love and loving.

I read that Pope Benedict XVI (“Buzz-Kill Ratzinger”) has written a new book in which he states there were no animals or angels present at the birth of Jesus, nor was that birth date calculated correctly. While I understand his point is to de-mythologize Jesus and place his life within a more historically exact context by removing the inaccurate embellishments that surround our handed-down version of Jesus’ birth, I also believe that for many people, the animals, shepherds, and angels are intrinsic to the story, especially for the young and young-at-heart. For Christians, this was a life like no other, a life that serves as a template, worthy of celebration, as all lives are, but one that was recognized as such from the start.

So rarely do we see the ways Love in-breaks and enters our world, causing unnoticed eruptions of hope and joy all around us.  But once, more than two thousand years ago, some of us were actually paying attention. The story that celebrates the birth of one of us who got it right needs no updating or fact-checking; it was never about the angels or animals, but they pin it down in our imaginations and allow us to vicariously enter the birth and so the life, and so the dance of pure goodness modeled for us, however clumsily we misstep.

And when I do falter in my dance, I have always found animals whose love can lead me back to the path quicker than any sermon. Humans like Jesus are rare indeed; animals who love as selflessly as Jesus are not.

I believe we should be very cautious about re-writing well-known and beloved stories, and even Pope Benedict, a Vatican correspondent said, agrees that the traditions surrounding Christmas play a role in nurturing our grasp of the deeper truths the story reveals.

Our own stories, the ones we write with our lives, reveal their deeper truths, too, if we listen. This Christmas, we won’t have a tree, lit and splendid; instead, we’ll celebrate two stories: the birth of Jesus (which is the story of Love’s possibilities being born every day, always, in our hearts), and our story, too, about a tiny abandoned cat named Fergus, who loved everyone he met, and his new family, who had to learn more about loving so fearlessly.

It’s going to be a good story, I can tell: the echoes of other stories and the spirits of those we’ve loved will shine all around it…There will be many animals as featured characters in this new story, and I’m quite certain that on Christmas Eve, when we gather together for treats where the tree would have been, we’ll hear angels singing.


© 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.


Now is the lovely time for naming and celebrating the residents of our grateful hearts. The anticipation of a holiday gathering is as sacred as the day itself. By its happy nature, our time spent making lists and making ready confers blessing upon those whose coming is eagerly awaited.

We review the natures, distinct and beloved, of our family members and friends (although, as we age, all become family, it seems), and carefully seek means and considered pleasures to suit each one’s taste and desires for comfort. We hold their travels in thought and therefore prayer. We decorate and clean our homes, bake favorite foods, and honor traditions and expectations that make the day our own, known and spirit-soothing in its annual familiarity, while holding generous space open for unexpected rituals, late arrivals, and new participants.

We mourn the loss of those who have changed worlds. We welcome their spirits and share their stories, and realize they, too, are present in our preparations and celebration. Sweet shadows and echoes surround us; we move in patterns created and danced by generations, our hearts reach and touch their light, our love gathers all to the table.

A Blessed Thanksgiving and Holy Communion to all…

 Bless our guests, those we hold in holy anticipation…

The merry,

the meek,

the picky,

the grand,

the peevish,

the extroverts,

the loners,

the funny,

the sad,

the early birds,

the latecomers…

May all feel welcomed and essential.

Bless us all in our gathering and gratitude.

And bless all in their sweet departure:

May they be fortified

and fueled by 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 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.

Something Wicked

I love the celebration of Halloween: the decorations, the pumpkin-carving, the bonfires, the masks and costumes, the trick-or-treating and the ghost stories. If you visit Full Moon Cottage any time after Labor Day, you know it’s the home of someone almost crazed about Halloween. Luckily, my good-natured husband encourages, or at least welcomes this. Cats, pumpkins, witches and ghosts…they’re everywhere!

To understand, you need to know about the Halloween of 1963…

In those days, trick-or-treating was an after-dark celebration, walking door-to-door in the neighborhood, accompanied by friends and siblings and, usually, a parent who stood (thankfully) in the shadows, enjoying the spectacle, keeping an eye on us, chatting with friends, and making sure we said, “Thank you.” (The other parent was stationed at home to hand out candy to other eager trick-or-treaters.)

For weeks, high energy fueled the anticipatory excitement of fantasizing about our costumes, planning the trick-or-treat route, speculating about others’ costumes, choosing and addressing cards, and looking forward to the classroom parties. It all culminated on the glorious day of Halloween (not the weekend before or after, but on the very day, October 31st), a day of celebration at school followed by a night of donning our amazing (usually homemade) costumes and going “trick-or-treating,” slowly navigating our way around a few blocks of homes whose windows and porches glowed with lit pumpkins and whose yards featured cornstalks, fabricated ghosts, and goblins. It seemed all the world (circumscribed by those few blocks) agreed that life was enchanted, if only for one day and night every year.

We carried decorated bags handed out at area groceries, bumped into other costumed kids, enjoyed the neighborhood decorations and laughed at the adults who also wore costumes and “scared” us when we came to their doors… Everything about the evening was magical.

When we arrived back home, we dumped our treats on the floor and swapped candy, more cagily than Wall Street traders.

“I’ll give you two Butterfingers for six caramels…”

“No. Two Butterfingers and one Chunky…”

“…For six caramels and a Bun Bar!”

“How about six caramels and a popcorn ball?”

“Is it one of Mrs. Heidke’s popcorn balls?”



We were only allowed to have one treat a night thereafter, and tried to be the one whose candy lasted the longest, at least through the second week of Advent.

After trick-or-treating, the neighborhood public school invited everyone into the gym to watch cartoons and a Walt Disney movie, a rare treat in those days. The Halloween celebration was probably all over by 8:30 or 9:00 P.M., but it seemed to last forever. We drifted off to sleep on stardust.

But in 1963, that fateful year when I was eight, a tonsillectomy left me bedridden and unable to participate in all the fun.

The surgery itself was very like a horror movie, so there were Halloween-like elements to the experience. The Dayton Children’s Hospital was at that time an old converted mansion, and I clearly remember my parents exchanging looks that questioned the sanity behind this decision as we crossed the threshold very early on the morning of Friday, October 25th. They quickly rearranged their faces and smiled at me, telling me “what an adventure” this would be, but I was not mollified by their reassurances after glimpsing their initial expressions. Parental energy was never hard to read, and they were anxious and worried.

Within an hour, I was given a mini-hospital gown, even uglier than those offered now, and a shot of something that made me dopey. (Dopier, my brothers would have said.) I remember the smell of ether and some of the hallucination that followed. (It started with the twirling pinwheel from the beginning of every Twilight Zone episode.)

When I came out of the anesthetic, I was assaulted by more pain than I’d ever felt. Apparently, the surgical tool of choice for tonsillectomies in those days was a hacksaw. I also remember the drive home later that day, my mother and I sitting in the back seat so she could hold both me and a coffee can, in case the ether made me ill. I’m pretty sure it did. (I’ve often wondered: did the hospital staff suggest a coffee can? Did they supply it, from a stockroom full of empty coffee cans, hacksaws and ether?)

For the next few days, all was darkness.

Oh, there were bright spots. My grandparents sent me a huge box of books, toys, and candy. My best friend brought me not just my homework, but a present every day for the two weeks I was healing, and an extra-magnificent bag of candy on Halloween. My classmates sent me treats and cards, and my family tended me well…I made a bigger caloric haul than if I’d actually gone out trick-or-treating, and opened more gifts than if it were my birthday, but it didn’t assuage my disappointment in missing out on the fun. And I couldn’t eat the candy, anyway, till my throat healed.

I’d lost Halloween and nothing could replace it.

All that love held me, shone around me, showered upon me, but the disappointment of a child can overshadow everything around her.

My throat eventually healed, and I still had a few great Halloweens to enjoy, but missing my eighth was always recalled as something wicked that came my way.

Many years later, after many lovely blessings and a few and more deeply wicked twists visited my life, I met Phillip. And the fairy-tale I always knew would happen, did.

Once we were settled at Full Moon Cottage, we began shaping our own traditions and I started collecting decorations for the holidays that mark the seasons of the turning year. Frequently, when decorating and celebrating, my inner eight-year old comes out to play, and never more ecstatically than during the Halloween season. Every year, she regains the magic of the Halloween she lost, while the inner wise woman I hope I’m becoming stands back and recalls, in gratitude, all the love that surrounded that eight-year-old and her healing back in 1963.

This year, maybe we should swap candy and watch a Walt Disney movie. In costumes, of course. Good thing I found Mrs. Heidke’s popcorn ball recipe!


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

The Training of Humans, by Finnegan, the Cat

The human who passes for “my mother” in this absurd and endlessly amusing world is temporarily away from the computer (to which she seems permanently attached these days). She is probably searching the freezer for chocolate remnants; such is her crazed obsession and weakness. Formerly, her power to withhold the delicacies for which I yearned was somewhat stronger, although years of training have resulted in my ability to “guide her” into what I have determined is behavior necessary for my survival and peak mental acuity.

And it is this training of humans I propose to address today. All training, of course, is created with the deliverance of treats and comfort as its endgame and ultimate goal.

I have found, over the course of many years filled with trial and error, that despite their reputations for clumsiness, ineffectual respect for boundaries, and inability to (initially) acknowledge feline superiority, humans can, eventually and with steely perseverance, be trained to follow simple commands and even gain some reliable abilities to serve the cat who can be patient and occasionally indulge his human’s need for affection without, of course, becoming overly familiar or permissive.

Here are just a few techniques I have mastered and I share, to ease your task if faced with breaking-in or training a human. Progress to advanced techniques with great caution; my human, at any rate, forgets our lessons quickly and new tricks must be reinforced repeatedly, for days on end, before the lessons are extended.

To begin: Studied indifference, a cat’s natural inclination, cannot be overstated for its power to guide a human towards subservience. When mine calls, I do not immediately run towards her, like my “siblings” (perish the thought), those two dogs, who–from my educated perspective–are slobbering, mentally bereft beings barely able to form thoughts, let alone string a few together and design a potentially rewarding action. (I weep with mirth at the thought of them actually trying to execute an action with finesse!) But I digress from the intention of this post; to wit: training and maintenance of the human, and the uses of indifference. She calls; I remain seated with my eyes closed. She calls again; perhaps I open one eye before settling more deeply into my comfortable seat, or blanket.

I have learned that if every fifth call is responded to by slowly approaching her, my majesty and superiority clearly apparent, I will gain greater pats, kisses, and treats than if I respond, like an imbalanced fool, to her every attempt to summon my presence. Try this over the course of a few weeks and soon you’ll find that your human’s rightful deference to your feline preeminence will infuse and dominate your exchanges; have no doubt.

Indifference can also be used when one is offered a gift; its purpose being to gain greater gifts and with more pleasing frequency. Thus, when a new and tempting foodstuff or toy is set before me, I sometimes sniff and then seemingly reject it, walking away, until I hear my human’s downcast sigh. I may stroll casually, in calculated and slow circles around a table or room, glancing back only occasionally, before again approaching the delicacy or delight, feigning a lack of desire. I cannot emphasize enough that if you do not practice this and instead pounce upon a proffered treat with naked, joyful hunger, you will lose the upper paw in your training regimen.

If you have younger felines in your household (I, alas, have three) they can be used for more than substitute mice, although certainly this is their chief source of amusement. I have trained the one who seems most appealing visually to beg for food with unremitting, if sickening, cuteness. I learned about this quite by accident, but in my admirable way, seized upon the opportunities it presented. Murphy (also known to our embarrassingly simple humans by the stomach-emptying nickname, “Bunny Bundles”) began to follow me into the bathroom sink during my morning frolic.

I pushed him out. He jumped in again and again, despite my efforts to curb his enthusiasm for bonding with what he called his “big brother,” having understood that our humans’ use of this term implied I was in agreement with its implications regarding our relationship. I was not. But as I pushed him out of the sink yet again, I noticed our actions in the mirror and, like lightning, formed a plan. His next imbecilic leap beside me resulted in an embrace and a lesson, using the mirror, regarding methods for appearing vulnerable and in need of caresses.

It has paid off in spades.

Now, when I desire a caloric boost, I simply poke Murphy and he dutifully jumps up to the human’s desk, or lap, gently pawing or nuzzling, sharing the well-rehearsed innocent, large-eyed expressions our bathroom sessions have helped fashion, and quickly gaining us added visits to the troughs of heaven (as my poetic nature leads me to call them). It seems to be a form of human enchantment; it works so quickly and unerringly. If you lack younger siblings and can endure behaving in a manner so demeaning, I recommend using a mirror and practicing first. The one time I tried it I scared my human, who thought I had taken ill. This was most awkward and unplanned, and the resulting probing and application of thermometers most unpleasant. Thus, and ironically, I am thankful, at least in part, for Murphy’s presence.

My sister, Fiona, has so far not responded to my enticements in regards to training our humans; I believe, as the sole and spoiled female feline, she believes it is an unnecessary bother. One day, I fear she will discover the error of her ways. She cannot hide behind her angelic persona forever.

The last technique I will share today is one I call “blocking.” I am facile with this practice, but have taught the technique to the younger Mulligan, due to his accepted proclivity for obtuseness and my clever use of this in human training strategy.

At my prodding, he will stand in front of the television screen or computer screen, staring vacantly, in that way he has, without menace or purpose. The humans will gently ask him to move. I have trained him to always look to me first. (This required endless hours and I find I am still recovering from the weakened state of total exhaustion that communicating with Mulligan requires, but it has achieved dependable results.) At any rate, I am stationed behind my humans when he does this and signal, with my commanding glare, that he remain in place, blocking their view of whatever idiocy has entranced them. Eventually, one of the humans will remove to the kitchen and fetch treats to lure Mulligan away. And, in their blessedly misguided generosity, if one receives treats, we all do.

As with all my training techniques, it works like a charm.

I have so much more to share and will gladly do so at some future time. I can hear my human approaching and must locate Murphy, to prod him into character, mastering yet again his appealing mendicant posture.

Having a well-trained human in the home makes life purrfect.


© 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.

Humans Being

The chilly gray days gave way to sunshine yesterday, so we headed into town with many of our neighbors to celebrate autumn on the town square. Booths were set up for selling handcrafted soaps, jewelry, woodcrafts, needlecrafts, and homegrown vegetables and honeys, along with decorations for fall.

A band played lively Irish music,

that caught this fellow’s attention,

and inspired his spirit (and body) to dance. What joyful abandon!

A group of older boys were more entertained by a pile of leaves. Some things, thankfully, aren’t changed by technology.

We met a man from Ecuador who now lives in Madison, but travels to his homeland to gather lovely woolen goods, and jewelry made from native seeds and nuts. His friendliness and the time he happily shared telling us about his homeland burnished the encounter and made it memorable.

A woman who made wonderfully-scented, thick bars of soap was also happy to share her stories as she wrapped our purchases.

There is an elderly man who always comes to these events and sells a sweet-salty popcorn called “kettle corn,” a traditional indulgence when something’s happening on the square. And, of course, many dogs enjoyed the day with their humans. This one sat placidly despite the merry fiddling a few feet away.

A horse-drawn wagon gave families a different view of their village and we could hear the children’s voices every time it circled the park.

People stopped to visit with friends and there was a marked absence of the anxious warp speed with which life is attacked and hurled through on other days.

A simple sweet day, in a very small town, in an often misdirected world spinning away its life in our universe. It wasn’t really about shopping; for once the gathering wasn’t driven by the disease of consumption. If money was spent, it was very little compared to the value of experienced community and the shared and ancient celebration of changing seasons and life’s rhythms flowing through generations.

We can be energized by our differences, fed by our angers, made sleepless by our worries. We project and detail, judge and exaggerate, loudly publicize and vehemently argue about how, every day, someone else gets it wrong.

A day like today reminds us that sometimes we–all of us, together–can get this gift of being human perfectly right.


© 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.

Life Music

 The morning began with a lovely solo sung by Riley, serving as her impromptu accompaniment to a loud siren hurtling down a country highway. She has a beautiful voice. Sometimes Phillip and I start a “howl song” just to have the pups join in. It seems to be a deeply bonding experience for them. A pack song, a family theme; an ancient call, heart to heart.

Music is almost always playing at Full Moon Cottage, just as it was in our childhood homes.

I was born with music inside of me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me—like food or water.  ~ Ray Charles

Phillip’s dad was in a Milwaukee barbershop quartet called the Cream City Four, and sang 30’s and 40’s standards in another group, when he wasn’t singing with Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera or directing church choirs. Phillip’s sister has had a successful career as an opera singer and is now a sought-after vocal and performance teacher. His other sister is an accomplished pianist, and his brother sings with the symphony chorus is Madison.

There was always music in my home, too. My mother listened to NPR from morning till dinner time. In those days, this meant that between Morning Edition and All Things Considered at day’s end, classical music was played all day long (except during Chapter-a-Day at noon). Both of my parents loved Broadway musicals, and my father had a special fondness for big band music. And then, late at night, jazz would be playing on the stereo as I drifted off to sleep.

I was always singing and “banging on the piano,” and later pursued a theater degree in part because of my love for musicals.

I can carry a tune; Phillip’s voice stops hearts. I’ve experience this “Phillip effect” for almost 20 years, and have seen it happen to others over and over. It is an amazing gift and I’m grateful every time I hear his voice and witness the way it touches people’s spirits.

Music is usually playing when I write, clean house, cook…we like every kind of music, and our CD collection is proof of this. We have it all arranged on lovely carousels that hold hundreds of  CD’s stacked vertically—500 CD’s per carousel—and then we can “program” the CD’s by genre, or artist, etc., and whether we want the music to shuffle and play random songs within the selected genre, play an entire album, etc. Very old-fashioned, almost a Victrola, but without the handle to wind…

We haven’t yet upgraded to digital music, and this is mostly due to the years we imagine passing while we burn  the CD’s and convert hundreds of old albums to digital signals. I imagine our hair turning white and walkers appearing in our hands as we trundle back and forth between our CD and album stash and the computer…and then I imagine finishing this Herculean task just in time to learn everything we’ve done is outmoded. (Kitty gasps; falls to floor; dies.)

No, wait! I couldn’t die at that point, because I have a Master List of music that I would like played at my Memorial Service…the service will have to last about a month at this point, but it will be a wonderful aural experience; I promise! If we can locate the right technology.

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.  ~ Victor Hugo

Music heals; it stimulates and inspires; it changes us; it connects us and make us whole. I use music in my spiritual direction and I used it as a chaplain. There is a practice called “threshold singing.” It started here (, and promotes rehearsed, a capella songs offered to those waiting at the threshold between life and death. There are also harpists trained in “music thanatology,” and other musicians trained in techniques for accompanying those on healing journeys. You can read more about this here: (

I knew a nun who found a beautiful harp in the attic of her convent, had it restrung, polished and restored, and then taught herself to play it. She lugged it around to her city’s two large hospitals and played her harp for years, eventually receiving donations to purchase smaller, more portable harps.

It was no surprise that families and staff members at these hospitals felt the positive effects of her music, and she had some deeply graced experiences with patients as well. One woman lay in a coma that physicians had predicted she would remain within until her death. While the nun played her music just outside the patient’s room to soothe the family’s loss, the woman was gentled into wakefulness.  She later told the nun, “I was disappointed to still be here; your music led me to understand I was in heaven!”

Balfour Mount, one of the founders of Palliative Medicine in North America, wrote, “Music has touched the human soul across all boundaries of time, space, and genre…Perhaps, in its vibratory nature, music opens us to a greater appreciation of our essential connectedness to the cosmos, our oneness with all that is.” If you’ve ever watched one of the many flash mobs cause a breakout of spontaneous joy at a public gathering space, you know how music can affect and connect our spirits.

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~ Berthold Auerbach

I love watching the crowds at the flash mobs: they stop and notice–something I fear our increasingly busy lives don’t allow us to do—and then they are delighted. Their inner children often come out to play. Here is one of my favorites, in Antwerp, when a flash mob performed “Do Re Mi” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s Sound of Music. People often cry in response to such joyful invitations. Music can so quickly touch deep memories, unconscious needs, losses, and desires. And how healing it can be when we allow our bodies to move freely in response to the impetus of melody and rhythm.

And here is Ben E King’s Jerry Leiber’s, and Mike Stoller’s, Stand by Me, performed by musicians throughout the world:, another lovely collaboration.

Music is vibration and so, at minute particle levels, are we; we’re bouncing particles, moving in waves, and everything is music. I wish we could hear more than the limited bandwidth we humans can manage, but I love the music of this beautiful cosmos that I’m able to hear: birdsong and rain, wind and beating wings, life’s breath, laughter, children’s voices, singing dogs, and my husband’s voice.

Many say that life entered the human body by the help of music, but the truth is that life itself is music. ~ Hafiz, Persian Sufi poet


© 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 Heart’s Geography

Returning home after traveling is always sweet and yet a bit disquieting. Places visited have circumscribed our senses and experiences for a time; home, ironically, feels a bit foreign and we look at it with new eyes. Choices made long ago regarding furniture placement, or lighting fixtures, or garden arrangement, or partner, seem jarring and specifically wrong, or (in regard to my partner) more deeply delightful and pleasing…life has been shaken up a bit and our perspectives are altered. Is our home really this small? Has our yard always required this much tending? When did we agree to adopt all these animal companions and under the influence of what drug? Are our nephews really in college and grad school? How on earth have our lives passed so quickly and what is it, exactly, we’ve done with them?

And who can foresee the evolution of brother-and-sister relationships over a lifetime?

We don’t tend to return with many new “things,” from our travels; few souvenirs or purchased mementos signify we have been away and are changed, save the digital photographs that document the outward truth of this. And we are frugal travelers: I pack meals that keep us earnestly on the road for the 15-hour drive, although we’re always open to side trips when enticed by intriguing signs and curiosities. The experience of travel itself, though, has transformed us, and initially, home seems a place meaningful only to the strangers we used to be and no longer are.

Within a few days of re-entry, though, the new/old life settles into place, coherent routines knit back together, and like a re-tailored suit, our home fits us once again. Not quite the same. Encounters and revelations that crossed our paths while we were on the road have changed us. Although the patterns of the daily round are familiar, there’s a new step or two, a phrase, a recipe, a book, a point-of-view or a plan newly-adopted and adapted,  a new way of seeing and being that has been integrated. Our insights, and therefore our outlooks, have been tweaked. The outward travel has stimulated interior journeys as well, and the memories—long past and now updated—continue to roll and enlarge, diminish, fade, or take on mythic proportions in the latest chapters of our ongoing life stories…it takes a while to sift and settle, although we’ve been home for a few days now.

Every moment has the potential to transform us, of course, but the awareness of this seems heightened by travel.

We covered about 1950 miles, choosing interstates for our journey south and backroads for our drive home, offering us views of American heaven and hell. From the interstate, life looked hopeful, busy and unhindered by gasoline prices and a struggling economy; however, the drive back north, behind the bustling interstate curtain, revealed a sad succession of little towns that appeared faded, peeling and resigned; taped together, but sliding irretrievably into decomposition. Despite signs of life among the decay, people were nowhere to be seen and toys were abandoned in overgrown yards, as though everyone had already left on some tribal hegira to safety and better times, if either can be located geographically, although I suspect not. 

We stayed with my younger brother in a charming suburb of Atlanta, the stately, quiet neighborhoods blooming abundantly with azalea, redbud and dogwood. My brother and sister-in-law offered us a list of adventures from which we chose destinations every day and headed out to explore and tour the landscape and its offerings. And while the sights were interesting and entertaining and the restaurants were wonderful, it was the company of family and our shared stories that graced the week and hallowed our precious time together.

What I most enjoy about leaving home is the opportunity to see my partner and myself and our lives from different perspectives. His humor, intelligence, patience and curiosity—viewed in relief against new places and circumstances—charmed my heart and confirmed again what a gifted spirit good fortune has given me as my life’s fellow-traveler. A kind person with an open mind colors the journey so beautifully.

And I discovered that I’m far more easy-going than I used to be, and able to better enjoy whatever presents itself rather than bother with prescribed expectations. Just as I was reminded again by the family memories shared during the week and my (very tall) nephews’ entry into adulthood that life is fast and fleeting, I’m also learning to treasure the presence of loved ones more fully and delight in who we all are rather than evaluate the ways we are different in our philosophies and encounters with life. Choices and stances that mattered and challenged me when we were younger have been stripped away by time and all that I can see are people I have always loved. 

We walked along the streets of Athens, GA, one afternoon, and came across a mobile work of art the creator called his “Heaven and Hell Car.” I wish I’d had more time to photograph it and converse with the artist, but he was on his way elsewhere when we met. A traveler on his own journey. I especially welcomed his sculpture stating that we’re, most of us, “a little good, a little bad.” At any rate, this seemed to be his conclusion on the side of the car I was closest to; as I went around the other side, it seemed perhaps it had taken a lifetime of dancing with various aspects of his shadow to arrive at this fair-minded wisdom, as I suspect it does for “most folk” as well.

The days passed quickly and the joy of being together, away from home, and with people we love and seldom see made everything count. On vacation, my heart reminds me, “This moment matters: remember it,” and what it means is, “It all matters; be present to it; see the love that breathes through it all.” And I did; I do; I’m trying. I spent a good many years traveling in my own “heaven and hell car,” dancing with my shadows, too.

My nephews have returned to their honors classes, graduate seminars, and the exciting time of choosing careers and partners of their own. My brother and sister-in-law are back at work, and Phillip returned to school this morning.

I sit at my desk and ponder the week that has passed. Where did the time go? And what has changed? Why does the angle of light falling across the river and through the willow’s gown of leaves catch my attention and delight me so? Why do I cry when I see the picture of my brother with his arm around me?

And then I understand the gift of travel, whether we’re covering miles of road or years and years of memories. My heart reminds me that although we return to our recognizable daily rounds, we are changed and renewed. Travel clarifies the passing of time, the endurance of love, and the connections that last. It invites us to let go of the memories, beliefs, and feelings that no longer serve our spirit’s growth. We don’t need the excess baggage.

Travel allows us to set down judgement and see we’re just like “most folk,” equally light and dark, good and bad, seeking safety and better times, and sometimes discovering both when we let go of anything that impedes our ability to love. Heaven or hell depends on our perspective; we can travel down either road. Setting down and letting go of our hell, whatever it may be, frees our arms to embrace heaven and make our home there.

It was good to be gone. Our journey offered priceless insights and valuable perspectives. Frugal travelers that we are, we still came home with armloads of blessings. It is good to be home.


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

Infinite Expectations, Surprising Blessings

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Just when I was ready to guide winter to the door, thank it for its company and bid it farewell till next year, we received a snowfall different from any other and enchanting in the world it offered us Saturday morning. The relative warmth kept the snow heavy and just damp enough to cling to everything at the angle from which it fell or blew, so the world at dawn appeared to be flocked with opals, and magical. I wandered for some time and out of time with my camera, grateful for the opportunity to be reintroduced to winter’s surprises and depths. Reawakened.

It was a beautiful reminder that all of creation holds surprises if we can keep our hearts and minds open to its possibilities. We can be so quick to box and label our days, our seasons, our experiences, and ourselves; how lovely to be stopped in my tracks and have my expectations upended so delightfully.

Relationships, too, can be forever evolving and surprising in their invitations. Things may shift rather dramatically, for example, when children become their parents’ caregivers. When my mother came to live with us some years ago, we all had to make adjustments in our hopes and behaviors very quickly and unexpectedly. We thought she would soon be moving into her own nearby condominium, but her health declined rapidly, and everything suddenly changed.

This was most difficult for my mother, who was an extremely independent woman. She had cared for my father for almost 20 years following his stroke, and to so quickly find herself dependent and cared for was heartbreaking.

People respond to dialysis very differently, much of it due to the status of their overall health and related co-morbidities: for some it’s not too drastic, and they manage well with dialysis for years; for others, it can be extremely draining and dispiriting. Mama came home weary and discouraged from her first session, and her exhaustion only increased as the weeks passed. We could see her health fading, and our own spirits sank as well.

Everything my mother owned was neatly boxed and stacked in a storage unit some miles from our home. We hoped to complete an addition to our home and see her settled with her own furniture and belongings soon, but construction was still underway and stalled by winter storms. For now, my mother’s privacy and few necessary possessions were confined to the guest room. One day, early in December, I went to the storage unit after helping Mama get settled at the dialysis facility. I climbed, searched, dug around, and finally located some of her treasured Christmas decorations, came home, and set them around our living room and her bedroom. Her happiness at discovering these when I brought her home that afternoon was a great boon for both of us.

We all tried so hard to lift each other’s spirits that year, despite the fact that our family, home, and relationships felt like they were constantly shifting. We knew Mama was dying, but not yet. Everything was strange and new. I recall how we stumbled and found our way again, over and over; how we juggled joy and danced sorrow and laughed and wept…how precious people are when the world feels like it’s ending and they say yes to love, anyway. Constant reawakening to need, and loss, and ways to demonstrate and experience love.

Christmas was coming soon, and Phillip and I had fun planning treats and surprises to keep gratitude and joy readily accessible. We read Christmas stories, sang carols, watched movies, and happily relaxed some of the dietary restrictions dialysis patients have to follow, so Mama could enjoy her holiday season meals and a few special desserts.

We wrapped a lot of little gifts and set them under the tree with presents that arrived from my brothers, and hoped we could make Christmas Day truly special for Mama. Naturally, we didn’t expect her to do anything but relax and enjoy herself as much as possible.

When I handed Mama the last gift, she surprised us by reaching into the pockets of her robe and presenting each of us with a small wrapped box as well. I remember looking at Phillip in shock: how on earth—and when—had she located and wrapped presents for us? She was never left alone in our home, could no longer drive, and certainly didn’t walk into town on her own. She didn’t have the strength for any of these things.

I opened my gift and discovered a sweet brooch that had been my grandmother’s. Mama knew I collected these old brooches and—somehow—had wrapped this treasure from her own jewelry box, as she’d wrapped some of my Dad’s wonderful old tie-tacks for Phillip. The pin is lovely, but I value it more because it’s come to symbolize what that year taught me about love and the infinite ways it may surprise and enliven our days, if we keep our eyes and hearts open.

Stripped of hope that her health would be restored, deprived of dreams for her future, dependent upon others for meals and much of her care, my mother still honored her need–with dignity and creativity–to gift those she loved. Living a completely circumscribed and regulated life, she was able to  delight us with surprise. Those with infinite expectations of the dawn will encounter obstacles along the way, but the point, as Thoreau says, is to stay awake and look for the surprising opportunities and blessings that always appear.

We looked forward to sharing our dinner with a good friend this past Saturday night. Due to the week’s warm weather and melting snow, I’d planned a “spring” meal of quiche, salad, fruit, and “something lemony” for dessert. When I woke up Saturday morning to see the new version of a winter wonderland, I thought maybe a hearty stew was called for…but decided to surprise our guest with the spring meal, anyway. She’s the kind of person who naturally stays awake and looks for the dawn’s surprises, and I’m learning, all the time, how to expect its  infinite wonders, too.


© 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.