Litany for Now

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It’s been a kind of wavy week at Full Moon Cottage, by which I mean the days became surreal midweek, when I received both my flu shot and third vaccine. For the next 48 hours, I was in and out of sleep, dropping days like I dropped stitches when I tried to learn how to knit. The weather’s shifting dramas contributed to the strobe-like effects of reality. Sunny, warm, rainy, chilly. Every time I opened my eyes, the light and temperature had changed from my last visit to the conscious world. And then, just as quickly, this morning I woke as myself, my body, mind, and spirit fully inhabited by me. And with all the aches, fevers, and chills firmly residing in the past tense

I am grateful for the shots and for two days of sleep.

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So today’s cloudy, gray, chilly and still presence has been wonderful, and I have big plans for this weekend: weeding and cutting back the gardens and planting bulbs. Because of our long stretch of warm weather this autumn, we’ve enjoyed long blooms, re-blooms, and the blooms of perennials that sometimes don’t happen due to early frost.

I am grateful for the color and blossoms.

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The past few weeks have also treated us to more rain than we received since early June. The trees, gardens, birds, and other wildlife have benefited immeasurably. The river has risen considerably, and the aridity that we felt in our spirits has also felt quenched. The rain’s music, beating on the roof and deck, sweeping across the yard in windy curtains of silver light, was a glorious treat. It felt like that Ray Bradbury story, “All Summer in a Day,” but of course, in reverse. (And no one was locked in a closet.) Climate change has made us sorely miss what we once took for granted. The rain was other-worldly after such a long absence. Pure gift.

I am grateful for the rain and rising river.

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I was able to harvest a lot of my herbs last week for drying and freezing, and they may even yield another batch. It feels so comforting to have the freezer and pantry filled with my favorite seasonings to last till next summer. And just holding the sage and thyme made me excited for the holidays.

I am grateful for garden blessings that feed and delight us throughout the year.

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While I was otherwise-engaged with unconsciousness and discomfort this week, Phillip set up grow lights for my houseplants, which had to be brought indoors from their summer paradise on the back deck. He also made meals, did the laundry, cared for the 4-leggeds, and so much more. He always does a lot for us; this week, he did it all. His own recovery was speedy and bouncy compared to mine. The 4-leggeds comforted me with kisses and snuggling, as they were able.

I am beyond grateful for Phillip and our 4-leggeds. And, of course, I’m grateful for houseplants beneath pink grow lights.

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Friends sent messages, shared photos and notes, and kept in touch…as they always do.

I am deeply grateful for my amazing friends.

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And, my fearless, gifted collaborators at Tra Publishing and I are sending the book, The Rare, Tiny Flower off to the printer imminently, for a late-March release. I love the illustrations by Quim Torres.

I am grateful for the chance to make dreams come true with these stunningly creative people.

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The world is not as I wish it were. I do not understand much of what it has become. The fear, anger, and intolerance that daily parade through the news are shocking; the sheer cruelties and violence spewed and rocketing around our world are abhorrent and dispiriting. But they are not all the news or even most of it. Everyone I know (and don’t) could likely fill pages with the gratitude they’ve gathered in one day, let alone weeks. Please, keep gathering and sharing your gratitudes. They keep us tender, loving, and hopeful, and those are medicines the world needs now, more than ever. The virus of hate cannot survive them.

I am grateful for each of you.

Be well and safe.

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

Observations

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There are those who choose to live parenthetically,
their lives bound by the known, protected and
unsurprised, and those who ride adjectives’ hills
and valleys and never stop, unlike those who live
as periods, going nowhere, in love with endings. My
great-aunt was all exclamation points and her husband
all ellipses, responding with desultory silence to her
tireless alarms. Adverb people are helpful but without
the moral clarity of verbfolk, all action, except for the
family branch that just is. Most, I suppose, are nouns,
being things, taking up space, using commas to add
things and more things for accrual’s sake, and needing
prepositions to store things in, throughout, during, and
despite. I love the question marks, their ever-tumbling
need to know always unsated, and then, of course, society
is phrases and paragraphs, and history is books, volumes,
but I would say I’m some part–the ink, I think–of an always
incomplete sentence, a ragtag bundle of words forever open
to new companions and the mystery of everything, the miracles
everywhere, lacking most specifically the wisdom of proper
punctuation, but then again miracles can’t be put into words
or held by language and I am newly-acquainted with miracles
every day, because I know where they hide and it’s always here
in plain view, making me wonder if maybe tomorrow

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

Be the Moon

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All it takes is one more person,
one more vote, one more
yes that joins the many
and everything tips from
worse to better. The flag
waves and a truce is called,
the heaviness lifts and
language sweeps clear
a path for martyred dreams
to resurrect, dreams meant
for everyone and all, and truths
too often out of reach but always
possible incarnate in words, once
again becoming real. This is peace,
when us and them recedes and all
voices sing what now and tomorrow
will be. We are made for co-creation.
Change.
Be the one joining many. Be the moon
that calls back the tide and all its treasures.
Why remain in darkness
when you hold the
power of light?

© 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.

Panning for Gold

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It’s hard to believe another Autumnal Equinox has arrived, although the temperature’s return to coolness, coupled with cloudy grey skies and moody winds, certainly heralds the season in its customary style. I welcome the bittersweet depths of it.

I’ve been able to take Teagan and Gracie out for walks, thanks to the miracle of a strong knee brace, and every day, another view or smell enfolds us more securely into autumn’s magic and mystery.

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Last weekend, my beloved and I completely rearranged the front garden. Because of my healing knee (which is strengthening slowly and steadily), Phillip did the digging and dividing, while I pointed most effectively and expertly watered the resettled perennials. The space now looks messy and a bit sad, I suppose, but I see the garden of my dreams, and will always remember a day when my dear husband loved me enough to dig and divide and plant (and, of course, replant again, off to the right) an entire garden, for hours and hours…just to make me happy.

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I treasure such days all the more because, of course, we’re aging and, curiously, time’s passage seems to be accelerating. While healthy and reasonably strong–the doctor did stress what “great knees” I have despite my injury (!)–I know it will not always be so, sooner than later.

Every day together is a gift. It’s always so, but I suppose autumn reminds me how briefly we rise and bloom before everything gets turned under for new–for other–lives to rise. Friends and loved ones have died, of course, and I miss them all, but when my close cousin lost her husband to cancer this past summer, I took an emotional dive unexpected for its intensity.

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Perhaps because our lives have been so intimately shared, seeing and feeling her grief as she finds her way without her dear one has made my heart sad. Her children and siblings are lovingly present and supportive, but no one replaces your heart’s partner and the decades of companionship, routines, private intimacies and jokes you’ve shared, or the dreams you hoped might still come true.

And so, I feel like I’m traveling beside her during this first year of loss, and every moment I share with Phillip I imagine her journey alone accompanied by memory’s whispers and echoes.

One of my patients once shared her grief journey following the loss of her husband…I remember she said how colorlessly life flowed by for a few years, just drained of anticipation, joy, and liveliness. She said she’d felt nothing but numbness. And then one day she was with friends in Piccadilly Square, walking through the door from a shop and back to a street crammed with people and life, and she said, “Just like that, there was color everywhere, and I wanted to be part of it…”

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I know my cousin will heal as the months and years roll by; she’s a strong and creative woman, and a treasured gift in the lives of her family and friends. In her own time, she’ll reconnect with the world’s needs and energy, but every grief, of course, colors every view perceived thereafter, and the lessons of loss become integral to every impetus to act and every response to life we offer.

And maybe these are the elemental gifts of grief, the palpable ways both life’s fragility and resilience are held by those with great grief as a boarder rooming forever in their heart. If grief’s paths are traveled with an open mind and spirit, however slowly and despite wavering and gradual degrees of acceptance, it can bestow a depth of wisdom and compassion we often otherwise lack. It’s a choice, this panning of the mud and shit of our lives for gold. And the gold is always love. Love gets turned under in the soil and feeds new life with its story and all those stories that came before. All the love my cousin and her husband shared, created, and offered to others throughout their marriage doesn’t end in grief, but in continued explosions of love blooming in the world, forever.

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So, here we are, together in our autumn, deeply aware of the ways years and lifespans edge away and must one day be turned under to nurture and make way for new lives and new stories. For now, we divide our fertile offerings to love and replant them, dreaming of gardens to come. Autumn reminds us that every day is a gift to be unwrapped with delicacy and attentive appreciation for all things that fade away.

What remains?

Look! Here is a beautiful garden that one man toiled for hours to dig and plant and tend and grow, just to make his wife happy. Because he loved her. And she loved him. There is the gold. Explosions of love forever.

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A Blessed Equinox and Autumn to all!

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

The Volition of Starstuff

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14 billion years of star shards
and splinters hurtling since the
Great Clap of Joy shuddered them
forth, breathing out an only-once explosion
of yes and promise, the holy commencement
of all; Love sent sailing through space, forming
new stars ringed with spinning planets, and
everything expanding with hope’s velocity,
all of the spreading mystery, the dark matter
and life rising everywhere: starstuff reborn
in fire, water, air, and earth; the mixing,
the need to bind–how atoms and lovers
have found each other again and again;
the urgent impulse to connect and co-create:
your ancestors in trees, watching the stars spin;
in caves beside fires while the night sky hummed
and whispered the story that would become yours;
people with your smile, nomads and settlers,
cottagers who sang with your voice in rooms
of stone hurtling through starry time; and the
once-ever maybe/maybe not of each one born
before you, their choices to turn here, look there,
accept and decline invitations…meeting, falling,
perfectly timing their passion and intimacy
with the only possible other, starlives uniting their
starlit molecules: these two, then those, co-mingling
all the way to you. You! Child of every embrace
that’s led to your arrival amidst all the billions
of chances you wouldn’t exist: All praise
the blessed unions and cradling of Love,
the need to bind and renew! Here you are,
gazing at the stars in the sky, feeling the shiver
of stars in your every pulse, the breath of joy
clapping and summoning your presence
in the dance, once and necessary. You,
named and known, precisely perfect, unique
and spiraling through everything to now. You,
crammed with gift and starshine to meet us
where we’re spinning, a constellation in need
of your light, your every shard and splinter.

And shall the story of these terrible times say
you finally stood fully brilliant, illuminating all
you were born to be in your miraculous moment,
fusing your holy inheritance of evolving embraces
and original starstuff with others offering theirs?
That together, each being everything Love called us
to be, we carried the world, pushing back darkness,
skimming on joy through hatred and fear to creation’s
own true yes and more light than it had ever known?

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

Note: Celebrating my friend Teresa Werth’s beautiful anthology of reflections and inspirational essays on the Covid-19 Pandemic:

 And also celebrating:

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All Gifts Are For Mending

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The world doesn’t need your anger,
and hatred never alters what it hates.
Release crazed worry.
Mother your fear.

Reject the noise of fools and madmen.
Set down the relentless self, the need
to be heard, to be right, to be favored.
Breathe with the music of starlit skies.

Listen.
Let the shadows speak.
What have they come to teach your weary heart?

Rest in the quiet fires of dawn.
Sleep in the hush of feathered nests.
Drift like clouds on the silver river.
Be the stillness of trees, rooted and willing
to flow with every season’s song: allowing, accepting,
and offering back the softness of the world.

Understand, finally, what it means to be strong,
how the world transforms through gentle patience,
and the heart, too. You can do this for yourself,
and then for all. All gifts are for mending.
Now.
Don’t wait.

Love is kind.
Let its trail unfold.
Fall in Love.
Rise in Love.

The world doesn’t need your anger,
and hatred never alters what it hates.
Find the better way.
Create what is wiser than war.
Meet the noise with silence;
Open your wounds to the mystery of new paths.
Forgive. Look beyond. Look within.
Again.

Meet in the softness of the world.
Now.
Don’t wait.
All gifts are for mending.

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

The Writing Spider

I’m sidelined this weekend by an iced knee and bit of pain, so I’m sharing one of my favorite old posts, from October 2011, with a brief update. Gentle Peace to all. xoxoxo Kitty

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single spider in possession of a good web must be in want of prey. But in the garden this season, I learned again that there are many ways we nourish and are nourished.

I first met Jane in early August, when I was weeding the large garden near the river. She had woven her distinct web across one of the sage plants, and its intricate stabilimenta zig-zagged, zipper-like, across the orb-web’s center. She was the largest and most brilliantly-colored garden spider I’d ever seen, so I fetched the camera and took several pictures from a respectful distance, and later researched her species and background. Her scientific classification was logical: Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Anthropoda; Class: Arachnida; Order: Araneae; Family: Araneidae; Genus: Argiope; and Species: Argiope Aurantia (like an orange, though she was colored in brilliant yellow and black).

When I learned that one of her nicknames is “the writing spider,” she of course became further classified as a kindred spirit, and I christened her “Jane” after Jane Austen, a name to which she did not evidence rejection. For more than a month, we met several times a week, and she hospitably endured my observations.

Understand, Gentle Reader, that were Jane to visit my home’s interior, the sound of my arachnophobic screams would make international (and possibly intergalactic) news, but spiders do not bother me when they are outside, weaving their webs and living their lives within the larger web of nature, the home we all share.

Miss Jane, I learned, liked to remain in one place for most of her life, a homebody like myself. The creation of her web took hours and its complexity was miraculous: its architecture could be up to two feet across and up to eight feet off the ground. She usually remained at the web’s midpoint, head down (as I always found her), awaiting innocent prey’s entanglement. When I met her, the remaining wing of a swallowtail butterfly decorated her web, as did bits and pieces of insects.

Jane consumed the center of her web each night, possibly for nourishment or to recycle chemicals used in the web’s construction, and re-wove it daily, including the delightful “written” zipper (“stabilimenta”) across the middle. I could not discover a definitive  explanation for this part of her web, except that some scientists have suggested it may serve as camouflage or in some way attract prey. I also learned that among orb-weavers, the Aurantia is known for her unusually tidy and clean web. Other orb-weavers are content with disorder, clutter, and mess. Jane rose yet again in my regard and respect. I never met Jane’s mate. He would have woven a “lesser” web nearby, including an escape line in case she attacked him; at any rate, he died after their love was consummated and she likely ate him. (Understandably, my husband Phillip does not like this part of Jane’s story.) But Jane’s partner did exist, for one day I discovered the egg sac, a delicate brown silken ball almost an inch in diameter, fixed near the web’s enter, and Jane hanging nearby, guarding it as vigilantly as  any artist watches over her creation. I read that within this tiny ball, up to 1,400 eggs were settled and would be harbored till spring, were they not harmed by birds, the elements, or other likely hazards.

We had a gentle frost one night several weeks after Jane and I became garden companions, and Jane was nowhere to be found; it is the common way for females of her species to die. I mourned her loss; we had an elegant, mutually intriguing (or so it seemed to me) relationship.

When I cut back the plants this weekend and neared the sage that was Jane’s home, I gently severed the branch holding her egg sac, and placed it under an evergreen shrub, settled within a bed of sedum and violets.

If the egg sac survives through winter, one day next spring, I could see what seems to be pollen or dust collecting within the silken sac…the tiny bodies of Jane’s progeny responding to Love’s call to write their own life stories. I hope some will decide to stay and grace our gardens with the elegance and artistry—and kinship—I shared with their mother.

We’re all here such a precious little while, invited to write the words, dance the dance, and create the art seeded within our spirits at its inception; the whole of life depends upon both our singular contributions and our abilities to form connections that welcome, encourage, and sustain the unique contributions of others.

It may be in the nature of the Kingdom Animalia to capture and devour prey; however, the instinct to forge connection and co-exist with deep humility, hospitality, and respect is also a lovely part of our mysterious story. In relationship, we nourish and are nourished.

Thank you, Jane.

Update: Every year since I published this, I’ve searched for members of Jane’s successive generations, and there have been many. This year I found several, and was happy to welcome them and share stories. This one looks so much thinner than Jane; I wonder how our months-long drought and diminished insect population have affected her. I’m checking often, as able, for her egg sac and hope we’ll see her daughters next year. Our families have formed a connection, you see, and that is rare and precious.

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And this beautiful orb weaver spun her amazing web on the exterior (thank heaven) of a deck door. She’s not as large as this photo makes her appear, but she is quite an attractive specimen. Were she inside my home, as I mentioned 10 years ago, my head would no longer be attached, having exploded with fright, but outside where I can safely admire her, I must admit she’s gorgeous, and we have had so few guests for so long, that it feels good to practice hospitality again, to form a tentative relationship and be grateful for her presence and gifts.

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

Soaring Possibilities

a poem for our inner fledglings

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In the end
there is no end,
there’s just another choice,
and some turn back
and some trudge on,
but others search
for soaring possibilities.

Back and forth,
the road’s the same–
predictable and known,
but in some hearts
new wings emerge
and thoughts take flight
in soaring possibilities.

Silence helps,
and emptying,
and letting go of should:
think upside down
and inside out,
release into
the soaring possibilities.

Many paths
through mystery,
a welcoming of gifts–
and all may join
and all create
and midwife life
through soaring possibilities.

In the end
there is no end,
there’s just another choice.
Can we be brave,
can we forgive,
can we embrace,
and holding hands,
and trusting hope,
can we choose love
and leap into
our soaring possibilities?

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

The Slow Pace of Deep Waiting

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The days are shortening and edged with the crowding shadows of autumn, and the morning and late afternoon hours, when lit, are golden, in contrast to summer’s high bright white and clear blues.

Great Egrets gather with the Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Canada geese and shore birds along the river’s edge, flying down its center, wading in its shallows, or perching high in the trees lining its path.

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A great deal of their day is spent in the practice of waiting. They stand, wander, and perch for hours, watching for the curve and contraction of shimmering fish that will serve as their next meal, but they also seem to wait in solitude or in flocks for signals and insights I can’t decipher. Yet.

I am learning the language of deep waiting. It has a hushed vocabulary of few sounds. It is slow-paced, low, and softly musical. I am a novice, learning how to breathe into it and sustain it all day and through my dreams.

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When the daylight fades into a dimpsy glow and then darkness, the Canada Geese gather in a huge flock, filling the river on the north side of the bridge at the base of our property. Some mornings I join them before dawn, as they stand sleepily huddled, waking to a new sunrise (this week, around 6:15). They honk, mutter, flap their wings, and turn around a bit. A few swim off in little flotillas, but not too far from the flock, and then, within a few minutes of sunrise, the first shift, furthest north, begins to call and flap and rises in a jagged east-west formation, flying south.

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After a minute or so, the next flight follows, and finally, the last line lifts over me and soars away, leaving me with a few Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and a Bald Eagle or two, who continue to patrol the river stalking food and answers, and perhaps the peace it gives them to watch the water continuously flow as the day flows into night. Shore birds hop, pirouette, and prance around the shallows, focused solely on their own next meals, and the green heron always stands alone like a monk in solitude, waiting with mystery and seemingly content with the day unfolding as it will.

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I linger for a while, waiting with the waiting, and sometimes return over the course of the day, or watch them standing, wading, and flying up and down the river as I sit and write at my desk. Their presence soothes me and anchors the passing hours in their just-once and eternal import. All these waiting creatures seem to say, “Every moment has meaning; the pace of our deep waiting is a lesson for you.”

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We’re back in a lockdown at Full Moon Cottage again, as area ICU’s fill with people who cannot trust science and common sense enough to wear masks, protect others, or prevent their deaths.

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So…the people stayed home redux. We wait out the pandemic, and the waiting still offers lessons and opportunities for creating, but this time, for me, there’s greater stillness and the listening has become part of the waiting; the waiting is where and how and why I hear. The pace is slower and the colors more muted. I watch the autumn butterflies flit and flicker through the gardens, and see they are my former life; now, I am the Great Egret, standing in the river, becoming the river and then the dusk, passing into night before another golden dawn returns. I am the shimmering whip of rainbow eluding the piercing beak. I am the Green Heron, allowing my life to unfold as it will. My pace is slow; my listening, deep; I am the one who waits.

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

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Larky celebrated his 6th birthday this week. He’s also acquainted with the slow pace of deep waiting. Or maybe he’s just tired from his party.

Kabul

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You give me your word
and I give you mine,
but someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

The heart turns on love
but lovers are blind,
so someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

We deal and we barter
our promises bind,
but someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

So here’s another airport,
another tragic wave goodbye,
broken hearts and handshakes,
some who stay and some who fly.

There’s need and there’s profit
and when they’re entwined,
someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

Complicit, regretful
new treaties are signed,
yet someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

And powers too great
are rarely too kind,
expect they’ll be leaving
accept that you’ll be left behind.

So here’s another airport,
another tragic wave goodbye,
broken hearts and handshakes,
some who stay and some who fly.

You give me your word
and I give you mine,
but someone’s always leaving
and someone’s always left behind.

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

Book News and Where I Am Today

Karl Larsson, Karin Reading, 1904

Dear Friends,

I was invited to be one of the contributors to this book, Navigating the Pandemic, now available everywhere. ALL proceeds go to: Society for Refugee Healthcare Providers (refugeesociety.org). The book includes thoughtful essays, poetry, and insights, and it affirms that we can survive the challenges we continue to face, also emphasizing that we can–and must–do better. I believe it’s a hopeful and honest record of these strange, sad, and blessed times. And it’s crammed with beautiful writing. https://www.dandelionbook.com/

I also want to share that my second picture book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, will be published by Tra Publishing in the spring of 2022, and they’ve most kindly purchased my third, Oliver and the Night Giants, for publication in fall, 2022. Each of these requires several meetings with my gifted editor, and co-creative sessions with a wonderful team of artisans. The entire process makes my heart merry.

My posting here has been reduced somewhat, I know, but my writing time has been as full and productive as ever. I’m currently working on a middle grade novel and several other picture books as well. These projects both feed my creative joy and keep my spirit centered.

Our weather has been either stifling hot and burdened with drought, or, as with last week, drenched in rain (yay) and terrorized by tornado warnings (antithesis of yay). I now have a routine for quickly packing and transporting electronics, matches, flashlights, dog treats, masks, spare clothes and etc., down to the lower level bathroom, where we corral and herd the 4-leggeds and ourselves to remain for the duration., while thunder booms and winds swirl without. This week, we are grateful for cooler weather and are back to having no storms on the horizon. Can’t have everything.

Our town and county are currently listed at the “high alert” stage for the Covid-19 Delta variant, so we’re not venturing out too often, given that our second vaccines were in mid-February, and our local population is only 50% vaccinated. (Because, why avail yourself of a free vaccine that will save your life and protect others?) We had to cancel eagerly-anticipated plans for a friend’s long stay at the end of the month and for attendance at a family wedding, also in a high-alert region. I was so looking forward to hugging my brothers, sisters-in-law, and everyone else I could, so it’s been quite a challenge to be tossed again into the space of “not-knowing,” and consigning future reunions to hopes, dreams, and possible-maybe’s.

Like everyone, I’m tired of non-compliance with scientific advice and lack of personal protection and where it’s led us, but I cannot wallow: there’s too much to do and grow and tend, too many better ways to be, and far too many blessings that deserve my gratitude, for me to be another misery agent in the world.

It seems that at no other time in my life have we collectively been so challenged to tend our spirits and grow into the versions of ourselves we’ve “always aspired” to be. There’s no room left for “someday.” This moment asks us to be present, compassionate, focused, creative, hopeful, and centered. Every moment always has, but I think we like to indulge and divert ourselves with other tasks, pleasures, and experiences, and put off the truly hard work of “becoming” until we’re jettisoned into suffering and loss, when transformation is the only way through.

So let us hone and shine our lovely gifts now, my dear friends, because now is when they’re needed. Let’s heal ourselves and heal our world, in hope and joy…and for goodness’ sake, may we seek several opportunities to laugh every day.

Also: Read good books. 🙂

Be safe, and well, and gentle peace to your heart and beloveds.

Books and books in every room…

© 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.

he was always a lover of things that take flight

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he was always a lover of things that take flight:
dragonflies circling a hatch of gnats,
the rising, descending circles of life;
butterflies flashing from spinning patterned
instars transformed from egg to fluttering light;
eagles conserving energy, wings outspread,
lifting like grace on currents of air;
music, the beloved accrual of sound created
note by note till song dazzles, wheeling through the world;
thoughts and dreams, unfolding, held tenderly through
each evolution the connected singularity of ideas requires,
a nurtured progression from flickering neurons
to language released, flying from mind to mind, such gift,
such gift these things that take flight; he was always
their lover, the one whose spirit now soars beyond us,
catching the light of a million stars and blazing it back
at the speed of love to our earthbound hearts.

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

belated, with the best intentions

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the rain fell as we slept,
an event momentous
in a time of drought,
of plague, and fire, and flood,
a time
when the spurned earth
seems to be shaking us off
for the rapacious
culpably careless pests
we are,
transforming herself
yet again, into a world where
only other lives will thrive, not ours;
and so the rain, falling as we slept,
seemed, in retrospect, a generous message
saying, “I could still be your home.
I could forgive you. we could
live together as loving partners.”
but then I realized
I was all the way through breakfast
and halfway through the day
before I whispered, “thank you.”

belated,
with the best intentions.

when lovers wake,
their first act is embrace,
their first words breathe of love.
and so it cannot be surprising
that gratitude too often shared
(if shared at all) in retrospect,
finally,
receives drought
plague, fire, and flood
rather than momentous rain.

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

Revisions

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Last week, we had some of our beloved dash trees cut down. They were killed by the invasive ash borer and their trunks leaned ominously towards the gardens and house. We’ll recycle their wood, but we grieve these losses, all up and down the trail and for miles around, and especially the deaths of those we’ve considered old friends and neighbors.

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One night this week, we spent a couple hours (midnight to 2 A.M.) in the basement bathroom sheltering with the four-leggeds from the tornadoes whirling through our area. There was damage to the east of us, but none here (this time), for which we are grateful, though for all the fear, wind, booming, and drama, we only received a half-inch of rain, nothing to counter the months of severe drought.

The past few days, we’ve had to close our windows against the smoke from the Canadian wildfires, which have severely lowered the quality of the air we breathe. More’s the pity, as  the recent heat wave has just decided to pack up and move along, for now, so open windows had been anticipated happily. The oppressive heat seemed to like it here, so I expect it will be back. The gardens are straggling, but hours of watering have kept them going. Revising their structure and design with increased native plants these past several years has helped them endure these droughts.

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 This summer’s drought has made a carcass of the river.  One sunrise, I masked against the pandemic and smoke and walked past more dead ash to the bridge to see if anything moved about. Two green herons hopped in the shallow water and fed; I prayed the smoke didn’t damage them more than the poison agricultural chemicals our local farmers have drained into the river. Still, something green is growing on the islands forming on the riverbed; I am uncertain if it’s a sign of healing or if it glows at night like another man-made monstrosity created in response to the great gift of life we’ve mishandled to the extent that NONE OF THE SENTENCES I’ve written thus far would have seemed possible a decade ago, though the wisest among us tried to warn that this is where we’ve been headed for at least a century.

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The Earth is shifting beneath and around us in response to our greed and neglect, and I grieve the losses, the billions of losses that seem to be crashing, or sighing, and falling all at once, here at the end of the road.

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We had so many chances to choose other paths.

But I’ve traveled with death so long, that I know it deserves witnesses who honor its presence rather than those who blunt the experience by entertaining regrets that can’t be altered. Death is the great revisionist; it needs witnesses who stare it straight in the eye, call it by name, and treat it as a guest, for its job is to lead life from chaos to new creation. It deserves people who call it death, not “passing,” people who ask for forgiveness, who listen to the lost dreams, who hold the suffering, who assure those dying it’s OK to move on, to surrender…The discrepant event in this vigil is that it’s not the Earth that’s dying, it’s the innocent lifeforms that are held in her loving embrace, fed by her deep need to create and sustain life. And the guilty species that’s caused The Great Ending is my own. Sadly, I fear many–or all–of us may also be shown the door in order for the Earth to heal and recreate herself.

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Like anyone grieving, I travel with anger, depression, bargaining, guilt, fear, and denial (still), often getting stuck with one feeling or the other for longer than I can bear, but I’m also beginning to experience a readiness and acceptance that this is the time of endings and beginnings for the Earth and I am here, with my gifts intact, to midwife the death-into-life that’s possible in any way I can.

I was thinking about this as we undertook a project to save a chair from my childhood: how funny and materialistic and insignificantly personal it seems to tie this one thing to the end of the known world as we know her, but I suppose, since the meaning of all of our existence is generated through our own embodiment and its connection to other beings and things in theirs, little experiences with things can seed deeper understandings…hence, stories.

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My parents bought this maple rocker when they were very young and, as was their way, they cared for it till my mother’s death left it in my care 50 years later. I can’t say I tended it well, leaving it in a corner of the basement, where Mulligan, the cat, worked out his frustrations with all things fabric-covered, until I took mercy and heavily shrouded the chair and a more wickedly-shredded ottoman in heavy sheets, both sparing them further damage and obscuring them from my view. They really didn’t belong meaningfully in my life anymore. 

During our (first) lockdown, I uncovered and sat in the chair one morning, waiting for the laundry to finish a cycle. Angels sang and trumpets sounded. Comfort! It was like being held and supported by clouds.  And it rocked so gently. Memories stirred.

I found old photos of the chair in various incarnations of upholstery, holding us children as we listened to stories or were rocked in loving arms, and I swear the atoms and energy and memories of all that love and all those stories tingled through me every time I sat in the chair. It had always been a source of comfort, a harbor where we experienced Love and were held in her embrace. Perhaps after all this time, almost 70 years, the chair could be revisioned and be a source of comfort and Love once more.

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I located some fabric and a local artist/upholsterer to recover the cushions while I sanded the wood down to its younger essence. Phillip oiled her dry wood and I waxed her, polishing life back into her. We revisioned the ottoman, too, and the two seem like long lost partners, gracing a small space for morning coffee, meditation, and long reads.

I feel like I’m sitting with all the good things in my life when I rest there, rocking and remembering, but also pondering the ways revisoning is the path we must follow now.

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Actually, wasn’t my poem, And the People Stayed Home, a call for revisioning? It invited us to listen, meet our shadows, create, and heal…And, when we’re able, we must grieve our losses and recommit to healing the Earth in ways still possible, whether that ensures our survival or not.

The Delta variant, and those coming in its wake are unrelenting reminders that the Earth isn’t yet ready for the return to what we deem normal; we have much more listening and shadow-meeting ahead, I think, in order to revision a world far more beautiful, loving, and equitable than “normal,” and to accept we may not survive to see it. 

And there’s the rub. The black holes of our egos and all they’ve required for life support need to be consciously reined in and invited to surrender, at last, to Love. There are many shrouds to pull back and old ways of being to examine in the light of wisdom and truth, sifting and winnowing, while we’re able. Perhaps we can sand ourselves down to new beginnings and bring humankind back to life in right relationship with all. We’ve been the cats destroying the Earth’s fabric for so long; I hope we can change, but I’m truly not certain we will.

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And so, it is a time to grieve the losses we’ve caused, the suffering our choices have ensured. Let us name them, hold them, ask their forgiveness, bid them farewell. Let us sit and rock, deriving wisdom from our memories, examining the choices we’re making now, discerning whether we’re capable of change and of revisioning an Earth where nothing is neglected and everything belongs, everything is valued, and everything thrives.

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I have made a promise to myself, rocking in my chair: Whatever comes, I will meet it in peace. If humanity can’t change the course of The Great Ending, then I will live every moment I’m able tending the life and love surrounding me, and in great gratitude for the chance I have had to live with Love and know her embrace. All, all my relations.

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

let everything fall away that is not love

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All who have loved us
live within,
and the love they knew,
and those before them,
back through time
to time’s beginning,
agape to omega
and so we are called
Sacred,
and meant to love
self
other
all,
until the Earth
is filled with
only lover
and beloved,
and Love its only
and joyful noise,
created
as blessing for
self
other
all,
in every sacred
moment,
with every loving
breath.
Let everything
fall away
that is not Love.

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

Seeking Wisdom

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The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name ~ Confucius

Last weekend we attended a local art fair, held in the public square. The day was hot and bright, so we thought it best to arrive when it opened and return home before the temperature climbed too high. Even though the fair was held outdoors, I wore my mask, one of a very few people to do so in the quickly-growing crowd of people. Everywhere I looked, there were groups of unmasked people of every age speaking in close conversations, exchanging money, sharing meals, crowding in booths, and playing instruments on stage.

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For me, it felt a bit like a Twilight Zone episode. Weren’t any of these people concerned about the delta variant of Covid-19? Yes, we were outdoors, and our local current risk level is “low” (43.8% of the population is fully vaccinated), but across the country, cases are up 70%, with a 36% increase in hospitalizations, as reported last Friday. The delta variant appears to be about 225% more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 strains, and young adults and children are at greater risk. Why not anticipate the tide turning instead of drowning?

The delta variant’s rapid spread means that, at some point, likely soon, the unvaccinated 56.2% of our population will be at greater risk, and those of us fully vaccinated could certainly experience unpleasant days of infection that probably won’t put us in the hospital, but will undoubtedly make us wish we hadn’t been exposed. (Read John Pavlovitz’s account of his ¾-vaccinated family’s experience with Covid-19.)

How could we know that Saturday’s crowd didn’t harbor a few delta-infected people? Why were so many people willing to call the pandemic done and done, take no preventive measures, and expose themselves and so many more to the virus? And all of this is preventable by choosing reasonable caution and practicing simple public health measures. We could all have worn masks, used hand gel, worn gloves, kept a safe distance, and still enjoyed the day and glorious art offerings.

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All over the world, it seems people are just deciding, against all scientific data and mathematical logic, that Covid-19 has disappeared forever. But calling a given day “Freedom Day” doesn’t make it so when viral variants are still thriving and seeking hosts. It would seem greater diligence than ever is needed as we travel to safer and healthier days. Wouldn’t that be the wiser choice?

I’m so sad that people, for largely ignorant reasons, are not availing themselves of the vaccine, not just because they’re now the sole population dying from the virus, but because they’re making stronger variants possible. We’re so close to defeating this virus and yet we keep pushing home plate further away.

Illogic and too-easily-consumed misinformation are prolonging and intensifying our collective suffering and may defeat the miracle of the vaccines already developed. Humans abhor sacrifice and discomfort. Historically, it’s always been so, but the vaccine is here, free, and accessible. Confucius says calling things by their proper name is the beginning of wisdom. There are people all over the world who would welcome the vaccine, while more than half of those in our community (and more than 40% nationally) reject its saving medicine and saving grace. Let us call such people selfish and irrational; let us call such times tragic and perilous; let us hope for a day we may call ourselves wiser and healed.

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

The Vigil We Must Keep

Sit with our Mother,
holding her hand in silence;
breathe with her dying.

Examine our guilt,
the ways we have weakened her;
ask her forgiveness.

Dusk slowly falling,
her breathing becomes shallow,
life circles her heart.

Stay present to her,
guide her through her life review,
all the miracles.

All the miracles,
the ways she loved and beguiled
her greedy children.

Our tears fall too late;
grieve the beautiful passing;
consider lessons.

Living unbalanced,
avarice, mendacity,
misuse of power.

Sad, blind corruption,
denying mortality;
predictable end.

Her heart quickens, slows,
weakly fueled by questions:
“Why could you not Love?”

When things fall apart
remain centered in Spirit,
breathing, still, watching.

Finally, we’ll see
everything was always One,
Earth’s beauty, our own.

What is here will pass;
observe the web unweaving;
life falling to death.

Innocent victims
dying by fire, flooding,
starvation we’ve caused.

Forgiveness granted
in choosing enlightenment,
embracing the cost…

Bearing the burden
of every choice we’ve made
and those we denied.

All is mystery;
if not for the Love of life,
for what would you die?

For death is a birth;
meet it authentically;
become something new.

Grow into the end,
all that rises must converge;
prepare and connect.

Perhaps there is gift;
beyond this sorrowing field,
an infant world cries.

The Earth collapses;
we’ll stand in rubble, redeemed,
waiting to create.

© 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.

Homestretch

It feels like we may have reached the homestretch of the pandemic at last, although a mindfulness and maturity regarding the delta variants and those yet to come are certainly needed as we emerge into our new world and adjust to the ways we’ve changed. Last week we prepared for our first guest since lockdown began in late February, 2020. We were excited to see her, a dear friend of many years, and to hear new stories and breathe new energy. Our efforts to finish up more of the painting and renewal of our living spaces went into higher gear (not that our friend would mind a ladder and paint can in the living room). So, we’re on the homestretch of that journey as well. There are many finishing bits and coats of paint to be added, but, for the most part, these rooms are finished. On to the beds and baths as the budget and time allows. It’s been interesting to see how the pandemic affected our choices for color and detail in our home…we seem to have subtracted a lot of dark color and chosen soft whites and neutrals that have made our home feel quieter and lighter…maybe “eclectic Shaker?” Very peaceful. A bit playful. Safe and happy.

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And what a lovely visit we enjoyed with our friend, sitting with wine, fireflies, firelight, and starlight, and sharing long conversations about our lives and the world and the meanings we’ve derived from the time of lockdown. Our time together was blessed with tears, laughter, deep joy, gratitude, and a sense of amazement, looking back at the road we’ve traveled and the wonder of the journey, a tentative gentle unraveling of this strange time’s losses and gifts before it’s all rewoven into memory. We sat on the deck, offering our stories to each other while the music and fireworks from the county fair drifted towards us across the river, the music of humans gathering in celebration, making meaning and stories together again.

One day, my friend and I went treasure-hunting, a common pursuit we share when we’re together. We both wore our masks and carried hand gel, but enthusiastically joined strangers and entered the hunt for delights. I found a large, never-used birdfeeder and garden shears; my friend found an old, classic electric mixer in pristine shape, and a chainsaw for her husband. We came home with our booty and Mexican carry-out, and more stories to share with Phillip…it was like old times, but shinier, as though we’d all been reborn. In a way, I suppose, we had. Gratitude, again; it’s always been important to us, but never fizzed through and leavened our moments quite like its ever-present merriment is sparkling now.

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And the gardens, despite our continued drought, are blessing us with their bounty, too. Berries, vegetables, herbs…To relax with a book and a bowl of treats we’ve grown feels like every good thing has come to roost at Full Moon Cottage, and only blessing could be right around the corner. I know life doesn’t work that way, but right now, for this brief brilliant time, hope is our guest as well, and I welcome and embrace it.

The 4-leggeds have seemed calmer these days, too, especially as our friend’s stay continued. We celebrated Teagan’s 4th birthday this past week, and Murphy was finally enticed to use the new cat condo. I have nepeta/catmint growing all over the gardens, so I cut some leaves and scattered them on the ledges of the condo, which is now his favorite perch. I don’t think Fiona will budge from her window seat, but Murphy is open to change and new adventures. I expect that’s how it will be for many people following the pandemic as well. Some will be willing to co-create the changes we need to save the Earth and reshape our interactions and values regarding power and justice; others will continue to resist. I hope we’re at a tipping point in favor of the Earth and all life.

The time of pandemic lifted us into a time of floating and the constant music of questions; we were as airborne as the virus, drifting into unknown places and patterns, unable to touch down, or to hold answers with certainty. For us, it was a time of great creativity, but also fear, anxiety, and soul-paring exhaustion. As our friend drove away on her long journey home, I felt as though our lives had resettled; we can feel the ground beneath our lives again. We can begin to reorient and move forward.

May we truly have reached the homestretch, open to the deep learning given to us in this time of mystery, and may we pursue the actions to which we are necessarily called to nurture changes and growth in ourselves and for the Earth.

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

Happy July!

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We’re kicking off our holiday weekend with a meal from our local Chinese restaurant, because why not? I love celebrating my country’s beautiful diversity! In fact, I think there’s much to celebrate this 4th of July: vaccinations, rain, gardens that yield food and flowers, a resurgence of bees buzzing everywhere, public servants fighting for our human rights, voting rights, the Earth’s rights, and the justice that is integral to democracy. Support them, and remain engaged. Happy July! May it be a month that lightens your heart and offers you merry days. Our first guest in over 18 months is visiting next week: Joyful, joyful! We were made for these times: let’s meet them with July-powered hope.

I’m off to start the celebrations!

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

Song for Ranjini

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It’s hard on such a dazzling day to say,
“You have passed; you are past.” Flowers
still bloom and buzz with bees nuzzling
sweet pleasing pollen near butterflies
skipping and flit-sipping nectar: life’s rising,
she’s falling, she’s delightedly calling from
each shining this and that blazing amazing–
oh, see how her joy juice is flowing through
death; yes through death to bright seeds
that light feeds and night leads to dawn-dew;
the world again offers a new garden view: life
will birth life, unfolding now into then; the
just-once-spectacular-when that we knew
with you slipped through our hands, through
our eyes, through our time here: it’s too brief,
but deep grief rests in great gratitude forever–
a place where we’ll meet after facing the future
you’ve passed; you are past and planted as seed;
you are near you are here you’re in each shining
this and that brilliance, flowing through death,
through death into always amazing eternally blazing joy.

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Dedicated to our friend, Ranjini Raghavan, a loving wife, challenging teacher, and dedicated social activist who died on June 25, 2021, from Covid-19. Ranjini was 53.

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