The Time of Monsters

Tell me again of the time of monsters.

The days were very dark, my child, and one rose up, a vortex of pain and ignorance, misshapen from the moment of his origin, molded in hate and ignorance, hidden from light, hideous and horrifying. He seized power, deforming truth. An infinite ego, he was eternally unsatisfied, rampantly vacuous, and predictably false.

And was he the most monstrous?

He was a buffoon: evil, inept, and blind to his disease, perceived by most as a grotesque ghoul with a soul forever impotent, its gifts rendered infertile. He was chaotic, a human storm, but only one. Yet, he was a flame too close to the time’s kindling: a moment and place prepared for fire. The world tilted.

And those who followed him?

Monstrous in their need for lies, their inability to face their pain. They were a frenzied mass of wounds who chose to blame and harm others, those strong enough to name and heal their weakness, brokenness, and grief, which is the harder, wiser path of loving humans. The monstrous chose the ease of hate and violence. These are always choices, child, the dark or the light. We choose our food and become what we eat; the monsters chose to swallow lies. They became ugly destroyers, corrupted puppets, triggered and subsumed. The world became unbalanced.

They were surely the most monstrous!

No. There were those more monstrous still. The elected who failed us. They had power; they were granted the privilege of leadership. They were taught in ivied halls to distinguish truth from lies. They were taught to disown actions better left undone. They had learned the priceless value of their honor, word, and souls. They took oaths and pledged allegiance, yet they turned; they turned and looked away. They lied and did not stop. They reached and reached beyond their greed, unsated. They rotted before us, transformed, then lost. They chose to be unmoored from truth. They chose cold, specific evil and they thought we did not know. We saw; we knew. The world began to fall.

But the world did not fall?

No, my child, the world endured. More of us chose truth. We kept the promises that we made. More of us chose connection, chose our light, our gifts, our mending, our courage–which means our hearts, which means the love that prevails over monsters, and exposes the lies, the evil, and the damage they inflict. Always.

What happened to the first monster?

He became the Lying Man, the effigy we burn on the eve of election, the casting of choices. Lying Man reminds us of possible evil, crouched and waiting for our assent. We recognized the power of ignorance and the greater strength of truth. We realized the care we must take in choosing those who carry our desire and speak in our voices. The Lying Man is ridiculed, yet remembered; he warns of the monsters among us, still, feeding on lies and offering them to the hungry, the desperate, and neglected.

And those who followed him? What of them?

Some chose healing; others retreated to the darkness they created. Their madness was defeated and their ignorance revealed. Their loyalty dissolved. They chose to be lost or found. Invitations extended may be refused. Always choice, my child. The world grew wiser. New ways were shaped to live and move within the light of truth. Learning evolved; we shared necessary sustenance, greater compassion, swifter justice, and co-creation. We are still learning, always students, erring on the side of truth, in allegiance to love. We meet our consequences, aware; we heal our hatred; we celebrate hope.

And what became of the most monstrous?

The most monstrous? Leaders who failed to do what was right. Their actions are remembered forever. They were the cowardly, the shameful, the fearful who chose lies, who chose greed over service, which is always choosing death over life. They destroyed their gifts, granted only and always to bless outward. They nursed despair; they cursed the light; they caused pain; they stirred anger; they fueled hatred; they told lies; they knew better. Their choices are tied to their names, told in our stories, on the wind, in our hearts, forever, unforgiven.

Know this, beloved: Gifts are bound to duty. We may extinguish our light. We may consent to paths of no return. We may barter our souls for emptiness. We may deceive ourselves and others. Mind your choices, child; we meet them every day. Humans are energy waiting to be used, changes unleashed and rippling through time, thought, and action. All is connected. Sweet lies, eaten, make us monsters, but we are free; we choose freely to consume them and to fall, forever. Let truth be our mirror. Stay awake.

© 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.

Beyond Winter

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Come, let us listen for miracles,
the crystal crickle of thin spring
brooks, spilling chilled over bright
still stones, the sighing exhalation,
singing of survival, life suspended
under ice, how winter’s frigid grip
again is sun-released, freed, the
eased movement thrilling, thawing;
rippling silver diamonds dancing,
water music trilling the surprising
deliverance from bitter immobility
to stunning new liveliness, flowing
in its channel of promised possibility,
there, always waiting beyond winter.

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I want to send a special hug of gratitude to those friends who joined me this past Sunday evening at the wonderful Zoom sponsored by http://www.vitality-society.com It was such a lovely surprise to realize you were with us; I wish we could have spoken. Know that your presence is held as a precious honor in my heart. I know some of you live in time zones that made it a great challenge to join us, and I am so very, very grateful. Bless you!

And: Happy News: This album is now released, available everywhere music can be purchased and downloaded…Gabriel Alegria and the Afro-Peruvian Sextet’s “Social Distancing,” is a concept album with the through-line themes of what it’s meant to endure a pandemic, individually and collectively, together/apart. A composition using the words from “And the People Stayed Home” begins and ends the album’s “story.” It’s beautiful. The cover is a 4-panel line-art illustration from photos sent in by fans. (I sent in a photo of my father and me, since he’s the one who gave me a love of jazz. We’re on the inside cover. ♥️)

I know some of you helped the supports the band’s fundraising to complete the album: it worked, and we are all very grateful!

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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.

Invitation to All

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Dear Readers,

I want to extend this invitation to everyone and hope you’ll consider attending! This Zoom event, sponsored by the Vitality Society, is for the entire family. The coordinators hope children will attend with their parents and grandparents, and that they’ll volunteer to read a page of the book for all of us, a suggestion I adore.

If you’re able to attend, I look forward to seeing you. 🙂

Join me on Sunday, February 7 from 7-8 pm ET for the Live, Love, Learn Book Series with Vitality Society, an online community for people 60 and better to remain at their best by tapping into their vitality, creativity and curiosity. All ages welcomed to attend.

Learn more and RSVP at http://bit.ly/vskittyomeara

Note that you will get an email with the Zoom link an hour before the event starts provided you RSVP on the event page. To RSVP, click Going on the event page and create a free account. 

Any questions about registration, contact Ana at ana@vitality-society.com

 

© 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 Quickening of the Year

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Last week we were gifted warmer days and our first vaccine.

The suddenness and utter unpredictability of a chance at the vaccine seemed cloaked in all the mystery, chaos, and illogic of things viral: A friend saw the notice on Facebook that a neighboring community’s senior center and community health department were offering the first vaccines for a two-day time period and appointment slots were, of course, filling rapidly. I signed up and received a late slot on the second day.

Our own local healthcare concern, that has benefitted from our money and insurance for decades, never got back to me regarding the registration I’d completed at their invitation. I’d felt increasingly frustrated as my neighbors all posted happy news of their shots being scheduled and received, but I couldn’t locate the correct bureaucratic pathway to learn why I wasn’t being contacted. I could only guess that the fact I’m just 65 might have pushed me down the list while older people received their shots first. Who knows? Maybe all my data crashed because of the apostrophe in my surname, which still seems to confound computer programs everywhere.

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At any rate, I was given this chance, seized it, and was blessed with an appointment. Then, I waited an anxious week wondering if the vaccine supplies would be depleted and my appointment canceled.

Not the way healthcare should work, I think.

Late in the day on the given date, Phillip and I drove to the site, about 30 minutes away. Because he’s not yet 65, he was ineligible, but I’d read that, since the thawed Moderna doses are only viable for a brief window of time before requiring disposal, it’s possible to get your name on a shortlist regardless of your eligibility, and you may receive a vaccine that would otherwise be wasted. I joined and followed the line of people as we were directed and, as soon as I reached the first indoor station, asked that Phillip’s name and data be placed on the list. I was told there were no extra vaccines allocated, but that could change.

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The entire ritual, for that’s what it became for me, was professionally and kindly orchestrated. Everyone participating was masked, hushed, cooperative, and somewhat stunned. Something miraculous and historic was occurring, and our little lives were communally, even sacredly, involved. After the shot, we had to sit in mathematically-spaced folding chairs, waiting through 15 minutes of observation. Friends chatted across prescribed distances, others of us sat in silent reflection, pilgrims not quite believing we’d reached a sacred destination. We were scheduled for our second shot, and then it seemed more than a few of us left the building, tears of relief spilling over masks.

I returned to the car, noticing the air’s perfume had turned from winter to almost-spring and the longer daylight was only now ebbing into a sunset of blended pinks, rose, and amethyst. A gentle hint of joy rested in my heart. Words left me. Feelings and thoughts that had fled over the past year, that I’d missed, stood at my heart’s door like long-traveled beloveds, hope and all her children, returning home.

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Then, Phillip told me that as I waited at one end of the building, he’d been called in for an unclaimed vaccine, filled out his forms, and joined the procession, only to witness a woman rush in, frantic and pleading. She’d filled out all the forms and registered online, but had forgotten a crucial step and was not scheduled…so Phillip, witnessing her suffering with his characteristic kindness, gave her his place and returned to the car. We were happy for me and sad for him, and in that emotional tug, headed home.

Zipping along the highway, halfway home, we were startled by Phillip’s phone beeping…another vaccine was available; could we make it back? We were so excited; I remember the car turning around, but it now seems almost fantastical how quickly we were parking it once again. The nurse at the door beamed at him, “You’re back! Come in!”

And 30 minutes later, once more returning home, but now in the dark, our joy was tangible; we’d won the lottery. I think we both cried at that point.

The next morning, despite our aching arms, it seemed fitting to celebrate with a hike at a nearby county park. Still cold, still winter, but we noticed the angle of light had changed, as had the birdsong surrounding us.

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Nature mirrored our renewed hope. It was time to emerge from darkness once again, cautiously, tentatively, but in the direction of the light calling us by name, as it always does.

Nothing has changed; everything has shifted.

Today is known as Imbolc, the celebration of Brigid, the Celtic goddess of healing, home, poetry, fertility, and fire. She was later woven into Christian spirituality as St. Bridget, and today is her Feast Day. February 1 falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

The energy of the year quickens, as the original word, Imbolg (in the belly), signals: our spirits are noticeably pregnant with the dreams that rose during our winter sleep. Now, they’re growing into conscious yearning for birth, into actions that will make them “real” in the world.

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The ancient Celtic wheel of the year honors not just the obvious quarterly turns of the sun and seasons, but the finer midpoints, or cross-quarter signals that change is constant; even in a year that turns predictably around the sun, back to where we’ve been, everything is new again, an ever-changing, yet prescribed, cotillion. The known and always-improvised dance to the music of Mystery, and held in Love’s ballroom.

For me, Christian spirituality enlarges these themes by symbolically connecting our choices and actions to the growing light. Lent, which means spring, imposes a time of pause and focused contemplation so we may meet spring’s high light (Easter) with renewed centeredness in our gifts and the ways they match the invitations of the world for the healing and connectedness of all.

Other theologies and worldviews offer similar stories of renewal and refocusing as the new year cracks through its egg and emerges into possibility and choice. The human story, no matter the veneer of its retelling, is always drawn to the turning from death and darkness to rebirth and light.

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And yet the recircling darkness of winter solitude and its resulting opportunity to contemplate our choices and the waves they’ve set in motion is a deeply necessary aspect of our humanity. What do our gifts compel us to offer the world? What do we owe the Earth and each other? What have we learned from the year that is passing? Who are we becoming? What are we creating in the studio of our life and spirit?

We need winter: our health and balance require time to meet our shadows, listen to them and slowly feed them light. We need the apophatic, negative space for clarity and depth. These encounters need not be cruel, frightening, or shameful, but pain may be an inescapable part of self-encounter as it is inescapable in all relationships. Yet, I believe these meetings, our winters, should always be guided by the understanding that the better we are able to offer love and forgiveness to ourselves, the more profoundly we may offer healing to others. It is a time of spiritual seed-planting.

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And now, some of those seeds are fertile and quickening.

Spring is not a rejection of winter, but an outgrowing, in gratitude for its lessons. Then the days grow longer, and our actions more assured and in better congruence with our new understanding of who we are now and why we’re here. If we choose.

Gently, gently, but no Easters without Lent.

And we come to know that every day, perhaps every moment, has its winter and spring, and perhaps its Lenten second of choosing sacrifice over gratification to better meet the next moment in Love…I mean, when I witnessed the caring staff tending all of us through the line to our shots and recovery, I felt transformed by their kindness, as though they’d led us from our long winter to a field of light. And when Phillip acted in love and selflessness to surrender his vaccine to another, I wonder if the weary staff noticed and were moved, even transformed? When yet another shot became available, did they remember the man who sacrificed his precious vaccine to ease that woman’s heart?

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So, welcome to all signs that herald more light, green life, birdsong, gardens ready for planting what will nourish, and invitations to our co-creation in what we know is good and true. May we embrace the lift in our spirits and midwife our winter lessons into action fueled by love, using the gifts we’ve come to share.

And when we do, we’ll see Love hold her door open, beaming, “You’re back! Come in!”

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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 World is Made of Gift

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The world is made of gift
and so it should be received,
a slow unfolding of everything,
each moment’s beauty, its essence
decanted, witnessed, its stunning
singularity welcomed, how from
nothing a delight is born, not twice
the same; birdsong, I mean, how it
pierces dawn’s silence then erupts
into just-once music, how this day
springs from that night, and now from
then; how shadows grow from light,
the way leaves unfurl from buds,
eat sun, transmute color, stem
to tip, green-gold-orange-scarlet,
or swollen air dispatches thunder,
and rainbows unroll, released from storms,
or how a vixen digs her den, hunts, sleeps,
and kits emerge in spring, pawing at life,
or syrup runs from maples, fire sparks
from flint, life uncoils from eggs or seeds,
or death, gifts and miracles spiral
everywhere, pouring in, flowing out,
a world drenched in correlation, mutuality,
giving, taking, always pulsing, time, I mean,
it passes: words to silence, summer to fall,
fire to ash, the moments, the senses,
the smell of the sea, salt tides dancing to
moonsong, the intoxicating rose, and touch,
how love will rise from touch, its spreading
heat, how the intricate snowflake, a prophecy
of pattern, will light upon your sleeve,
melting, as you read its message:
we are here, just once,
perfect, passing, connected,
flowing always into gift.

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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.

Contentment

A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness. ~ Leo Tolstoy

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This week, the sun appeared, figuratively and literally, after many weeks of darkness. Wednesday was restorative. I wept more that day than I have in years. And the tears sprang from a range of emotions: loss, grief, relief, and deep joy. But by 10 PM, I reached a place of such deep peace that all I could feel was restored and rebalanced, which reminded me again how greatly well-intentioned, ethical, and intelligent leadership contributes to our sense of security and calmness. For two nights, I have slept and had dreams. For uninterrupted hours.

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Yes, we’re each responsible for our self-care, but I can tell you that for this 40-year practitioner, meditation, breathwork, yoga, and a depth of spiritual practices followed in the absence of political and cultural stability have specific and dramatic limits. It’s easy to forget this when life is flowing more smoothly. So much of the journey is unlearning and relearning. Finding our center, losing it, and finding it again. Trying again, and with deeper knowledge and experience to find and root ourselves in presence to the gift of here/now.

But we’ve noticed the change: News bulletins aren’t dreaded; we’re not waking or living in constant anxiety; calamity isn’t a daily given. We didn’t know how tired we were nor how heavy a burden weighed upon our shoulders and spirits until it was lifted. I think that had a lot to do with the volume of tears on Wednesday. Release. Relief. Gratitude.

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Life feels brighter and merrier. Do we as a nation and planet still face many challenges? You betcha. But I believe there are now gifted adults at the helm who will sort, focus, and do the considerable best they can for and with all of us. There are so many people all over the world who need our help. I feel like it’s coming, and soon, for all of us. This allows me to soften my muscles, breathe, and relax. Who remembers relaxing? It’s so much easier to tend and nurture life with a communally-reduced anxiety level. Gratitude, gratitude.

At Full Moon Cottage, we’re welcoming the sunshine, regardless of the fact that it creates colder days. And the days are growing longer, too, another spirit-booster. The return to a higher quality of peace has led us to fill our days with pastimes and tasks that deepen our contentment.

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Seed and nursery catalogues occupy hours of blissful dreaming. I recently saw a meme that said something like, “I love flowers; I want all the flowers.” Claude Monet said, “I must have flowers, always and always.” I’m with Claude! I don’t know that I will ever have enough gardens and flowers, but I know that I’m imagining more gardens than I could ever manage to tend, so I have to narrow it down to a few new plants for the butterflies, other insects, birds, and bees. And a few new shrubs and trees, too. Sigh.

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Phillip has ordered his veggie seeds and will soon be getting them started under grow lights. And he’s been busy in his shop creating an entertainment center for friends who moved to St. Paul. We’re waiting for our vaccines to be started/completed before we can go shopping for the colored glass he needs to create the leaded windows he’s designed for the doors to this piece. Everything in its time.

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Walks have been bright and invigorating this week. Shadows were absent for so long that encountering their brilliant blue stripes and shapes patterned across the winter ice and snow is visually startling, like walking into the paintings of Carlos Cruz-Diez. (Below: Carlos Cruz-Diez, Induction du Jaune Rioja , 2014)

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And, late in the afternoon, we sit with the 4-leggeds and watch a British program called Escape to the Country, which takes prospective home buyers to the county of their choice throughout the UK, where they tour three properties within their stated budget, meet local artists, visit places of interest, and then choose a home, or not. We’re in love with the history, architecture, topography, and gardens, and have chosen about a zillion cottages for our own in the few weeks we’ve been watching the program. We can never decide which county is our favorite, but it’s a lovely dreamtime to share together as the sun sets.

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Contentment is a state we have not visited for a long time. It’s like returning to a place you loved but had left behind, or rekindling a once-precious relationship that time had dimmed. You discover not only the easy reconnection and renewal of affection, but burnished depths and treasures you’d missed. Contentment, clouded for years, has returned, and is coupled with our revitalized hope. Both shine like the sun, and we are grateful.

And from this place of contentment, may we return to the world and use our gifts to bless all; as we’ve been created, may we create, and as we are loved, may we 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.

19 January, 2021

Blackbirds

It is enough today
to say I am waiting;
I will sit and stare at the
white land and black river
running through it; watch the juncos,
downies, chickadees feeding; notice
the charcoal trees shadowed against
the milky sky, the trapezoid roofs of
pristine snow shading the barns and
homes into nightblack, the jet ink marching
across paper bleached so white all light waves
are reflected, scattering back snowlight, sweet peaceful
presence in the absence of more than black and
white, the shades of waiting and gestation;
me, breathing into the blank day of
all things white, black, simple;
the in-breath and exhalation,
before and after, as though
the whole world waits
on the tipping point
for this change,
an inauguration
of healing, of promises
fulfilled, the astonishment
of color, the complexity
of rainbows and rebirth.

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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.

Sleepless Women

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It was the darkest time of year in a year already dark.
The sun hid behind clouds, behind hills, and stone.
The moon was shy, floating deep in the river,
wearing a veil that covered the stars.

Disease flowed through the land; lies echoed;
anger grew claws and roared, everywhere.

The woman watched for light. She did not sleep.
Sleepless Woman, watching for light,
anxious for the world, hoping for strength,
cradling the truth.

She worked all the dark days
and cried, pacing in the night.
Sleepless Woman, weary, watching, raw with fear,
enduring hours, and days, a year of darkness.

Outside, anger roared and clawed the air.
The disease flowed through the people.

Lies wore other lies. Layers of lies
flowed like disease.

Sleepless Woman began to dream, awake, whirling,
dancing fires to light dark nights.
Sleepless Woman sang of what could be: how hearts
could heal, madness could clear, strangers could be beloved,
creation could renew the Earth, children could play in the world.

With justice, there could be space for love,
and hands could reach through forgiveness
and love could grow. It could create
a world.

And then,
in the dark, while the sun was hidden and the
moon veiled, floating deep in the river,
Sleepless Woman heard all the women singing,
saw the flicker of their dancing fires,
knew all the Sleepless Women were beside her,
anxious for the world, watching for light,
hoping for strength, dreaming awake, whirling,
singing what could be, cradling the truth.

And they sang, and they danced, and they did not sleep.

The fires grew.

Sleepless Women sang and the moon‘s veil slipped and floated, fading;
Sleepless Women danced and the sun began to rise and light the days;
Sleepless Women cradled the truth and the lies withered, dying to silence.
They summoned justice and space for love, and the anger fled, beaten.
They lifted their hope, and the madness cleared.
They shared healing, and the disease abated, tamed.

Sleepless Women dreamed, awake, and the dreams took shape
and entered the world. Beautiful, beautiful.

And all the Sleepless Women widened their arms,
released the truth,
and embraced the suffering.
They held the pain open to the burning sun
and hearts were healed.
The moon rose, brilliant, and stars lit the tears
in the Sleepless Women’s eyes.

Joy arrived.

There was everything to do, a world to create,
but first,
weary women slept
and welcomed visions of peace,
while the children played; they danced and sang
the music of women in the spaces where love was growing.

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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.

Returning to Ordinary Time

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The week’s madness, following our peaceful holidays, was profoundly unsettling and left me feeling desolated, abandoned by the joy I normally choose to meet the new day.

Like so many others, I was shocked, saddened, and utterly unsurprised that we had arrived at this terrible moment. We lost 5 lives, including U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick; the People’s House was entered illegally and violently, and desecrated; members of Congress, most of them trying to uphold our democracy, were imperiled; and all of this was done by a deluded mob unable to disentangle bizarre fabrication from fact, led by a madman and his enablers. It seemed a most disheartening way to meet the New Year, given our many preceding months of loss, depleted energy, and low tolerance for yet more disappointment.

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And there was no peace in being right, in forecasting this would be the likely result of putting a man so small, offensive, corrupt, and incapable in a position that demands a working intellect, wisdom, and a finely-calibrated moral compass. But his spectacular failure, 4 years of it steamrolling through our democracy, flattening our spirits, severing ties, cheapening everything held precious, has been nonetheless stunning. And the weakness and complicity of too many made this week’s events a probable reality. We told them this would happen; we tried to prevent it; they refused to seize the moment and rid us of him last year; here we are.

So, I suppose my response should also have been predicted: We-knew-this-would-happen-outrage, followed by grief, and then long hours of sleepless desolation.

Desolation can be a proper response to the events of Wednesday’s evil, and it can be illuminating, but it is not where we’re meant to reside. “Enthusiasm,” after all, means “in God,” or the delight of conscious intimacy with what we believe to be sacred, and so, identifying an absence of joy indicated I needed rebalancing and required consolation.

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Long years of pursuing spiritual health and integration has taught me life is a journey of continual discernment, where the integration of heart and mind, emotions and reason, is vitally important to our choices and actions. What am I feeling? How is it experienced in my body and breath? And what are the “right actions” with which to respond? Where is Love leading me? What is the movement? Where am I being pulled? What am I resisting? What do my choices ask of my gifts? How do each of the choices before me serve Love and all the relationships it’s led me to form? Art work: music, movement, writing, painting, sculpting, photography…anything deeply right-brained can help us through discernment, as can contemplation/meditation, and a form of exercise that works for you. I especially favor walking and yoga.

I stilled and listened. And looked to the magical wintry Earth, waiting for me.

The new year has blessed us with many days in a world flocked with rime ice, coating every stark surface revealed by winter. We experienced several evenings of freezing fog, which allows supercooled water droplets to be held as liquid within the fog, even though the air temperature is below the freezing point (32º F). Once the droplets freeze onto surfaces, a white deposit of exquisitely feathery ice crystals forms rime.

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I grabbed my camera, and Phillip and I headed to the nearby state park to hike and and heal. It is a precious sweetness to have a companion so blessedly matched to my mind, heart, and spirit. The years have smoothed our differences and deepened our respect; we are content to be who we are with each other and that is gift. So, together, we roamed the land where others discerned their life questions a thousand years ago, roamed the landscape of our hearts, and observed the beauty of rime ice clinging to forms, and offering its art, freely.

And, as always, walking healed and rebalanced our spirits. And, from a point of balance, it was easier to see ways that the horror in our nation’s capital was met with an equal amount of blessing: for example, resolute leaders working through the night to ensure the country’s rightful and necessary transference of power. And when that transfer is complete, it will include a Congress enriched by two new members who will allow the wheels of legislation to turn once more and actually take care of our country’s people and the Earth during this perilous time of pandemic and climate change, when everyone’s gifts must be equally welcomed to the table. And we have vaccines that will save lives, if we can remain patient.

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And when we arrived home, a package waited at the door. My dear friend in the UK had sent it six weeks ago, and she had been so very concerned about its confusing journey and the increasingly likely fact it wouldn’t arrive by Christmas. I kept assuring her it would arrive when it needed to…and it absolutely did.

The poor box looked like it had been drop-kicked, several times. It had holes, crumpled sides, dented edges, and ribbons and ribbons of packing tape, applied in what surely must have been a final effort to support its survival. I really doubted anything inside would be intact, but there you go: just when your spirits need lifting, Love comes through. Inside was an oil diffuser and a box of glass-bottled oils, and both items were in perfect condition. Literally, tools for re-balancing, arriving at exactly the right time.

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We’re moving on. We’ll get through this; we’ll survive and do better. And there is much to be done. The majority of the voters in our democratic republic have decided the course we’ll follow for now. All are welcome at the table, and, if some choose to refrain from participating, the door remains open, but moving on also means moving away from here and now. I hope those who are struggling will travel with their own discernment, heal, and join us. We need their gifts.

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In the church year of my faith, Ordinary Time settles in after the joyful rhythms of Advent-Christmas-Epiphany, and its presence is most wonderfully welcomed by my spirit this year. I yearn for all things ordinary: For a country that’s healing and a government that works. For anticipated, unmasked, open-armed reunions and new gardens. For traveling. For a peaceful exchange of ideas. For healing walks and an appreciation of the Earth’s simple and complex wonders. For meeting new people, at restaurants. For neighbors and families in joyful relationship, and for the surprise of perfectly-timed gifts.

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Happy. New. Year. Be safe and well.

© 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.

Epiphany

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December 26th
One person had posted:

How soon are you taking down Christmas?

Replies came quickly:
“DONE!”
“Today!!”
“So over it!”
“Already packed away!”
“Finished with this year.”

This year, this tired old year
of lockdown,
pandemic, and madness–
perhaps it
can’t end soon enough,
but I’m long-lived and learning
to breathe, to scrutinize reflections, to consider
the opposite of impulse and inclination.

Am I finished with this year?

I carry my questions
like a newborn, and travel
the landscape of my life:
city blocks of memories,
neighborhoods of years,
buildings crammed with months, and
just here, walking down December hallways,
I encounter my mother and grandmother,
wise women, spirit magi,
stepping out from doorways to enlighten,
one on either side of me.
“Life
is meant to illuminate.
Don’t let go of it all
so quickly.
Wait.
Sift.
Listen.
Epiphanies will come.”

And I stood in their light,
and knew.

A lifetime of sparks, flashing, but rarely
did I recognize my magi, all things,
everywhere: the passing word, choirs,
the overlooked stranger, the loss,
the leaf, the heat, this moment, the next,
messages streaming
from bag-ladies, blackbirds,
the screaming child, the exit sign,
the cruel lover, the doubting nun,
the wisdom in stories
told at tables lit by love…memories
all my memories,
so much wisdom shining,
overlooked,
strewn on my path,
impeding my progress
to new years; why weren’t
they ever new?
They felt like
every year that came
before
I rushed through
their front doors, insight and mystery
glowing unseen, the regret
of a busy life, of flying
past gift, such gift.

In my December hallways
the wise women said,
“Life is meant to illuminate.”

And, if we missed
the invitations
to break open and be new,
they’re still arriving,
new magi meeting us
now, and now, and
the wise ones,
waiting
in the hallways of memory,
still part of us, still offering
the chance to stand in light
and transfigure.

And this virulent year?
I won’t let go its hand
till all its darkness whispers
wisdom in my ready heart:
how fear summons tempests
only an infant held
at the breast can calm,
how sorrow
compounds to tonnage
only a cardinal
slicing through snowfall
can lift,
how one disease
reveals deeper and many,
and none are healed
if any are denied.

This moment,
this season, this year,
this tired old year,
this mighty magus,
we can’t
let it go too soon.
Wait. Sift. Listen.
Receive its
brilliant epiphanies

and illuminated,
transform.

© 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.

And when you’ve bid farewell to 2020, I wish you bright blessings and epiphanies in the year ahead.
Joy to your hearts from all of us at Full Moon Cottage.

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Honoring Christmas

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“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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The impact of Covid-19 on the global poverty rate has been dramatic.

In 2017, 9.2% of the world population, or 689 million people, lived in what is termed “extreme poverty,” meaning they subsisted on the equivalent of $1.90 or less every day. This was a reduction in the rates followed over the past 25 years. However, as recently as October 7, 2020, the World Bank estimated that the Covid-19 pandemic would push an additional 88-115 million people into extreme poverty. Climate change compounds this. By 2030, its effects could force another 100 million people into poverty.

There are other income groups the World Bank designates as living in poverty: 24.1 percent of the world lived on less than $3.20 a day and 43.6 percent on less than $5.50 a day in 2017.

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This week, the Washington Post reported that almost 8 million Americans fell into poverty over the past five months. The poverty rate jumped to 11.7% in November – up 2.4 percentage points since June. The federal poverty line is $26,200 for a family of four.

These statistics became more visually real for me as I browsed the captivating images captured by Bert Teunissen, a Dutch photographer who, since the mid-1990’s, has photographed Europeans in the type of home he knew as a child. The rooms shown are simply furnished and the subjects sit in natural light, as their homes were built before WWII, when both electricity and urbanization began to change world communities dramatically. Most of these people would likely not have qualified as living in what the World Bank identifies as “extreme poverty,” but they certainly lived in tiny spaces with few of the amenities and luxuries many of us enjoy. Spending time with them through these profoundly intimate photographs offered a deep meditation on want, need, gratitude, reciprocity, consumerism, and obligation.

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I invite your reconsideration that almost half of the Earth’s population lives on the equivalent of $5.50 a day or less. This speaks to who we are as a species as surely as do the ways we’ve managed the pandemic and our inability to mitigate climate change by lessening our greed and disregard for the Earth and her needs.

We are unbalanced.

During the season when so many of us celebrate once again the inbreaking of the Sacred into our lives and spirits, may I suggest there is very little authenticity to the celebration when we so easily tolerate a world where almost half of us live with so little, and usually in the locations most threatened by climate change that we wealthier humans have caused?

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We can do better, and must.

The verb “donate” has its source in the word for gift. I encourage us all to re-think the meaning of a Christmas or holiday gift and donate this year, like never before and all through the years to come…Donate energy, money, time, clothes, food, shelter, and love.

Donate locally and globally. We can look around our own homes and see if there are ways to simplify, recycle, pare down. We can plant gardens. We can bring food to pantries and shelters, and unnecessary clothes to thrift stores. We can work to downsize thoroughly, justly, and cleanly.

Here is a highly efficient and effective charity that allows you to sponsor a child, student, or elder with a monthly donation. We’ve been blessed by the connections it’s afforded us.

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I wish all of my visitors and readers a most blessed holiday and a far, far, healthier and brighter new year. But don’t bid farewell to 2020 too hastily. She has come with so very many important lessons we need to learn about the ways we treat ourselves and others, offer our gifts to the world, behave as community, and care for the Earth. Let us not shut out the lessons she has taught. And let us honor Christmas in our hearts…and our actions.

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I am grateful for every one of you: grateful for your light and gifts in the world, and grateful for your goodness. Be well and safe, and gentle peace.

This is an old poem of mine that I have shared before and offer again, with great love–recycled, as it were–as my humble gift to you.

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Welcoming the Stranger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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© 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.

Go Forth and Be Lovesmacked

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I still receive letters and e-mails, many times a week, asking if the writer may use And the People Stayed Home for this, that, the other thing or one more other thing. I deeply appreciate when people write to ask, and I try to be kind, even when the suggestions feel exploitative or as though my name may be used inappropriately–and I have to craft another polite, but firm refusal–but I’m me and human, and there are days I curse out loud because I really want to get on with where I am now and do not want to read about “the poem” one more time. I love the artistic collaborations I’ve been asked to partner with; I’m thrilled with the children’s book; I do not want to sell pharmaceuticals, or t-shirts.

Last night, a woman named Fiona wrote and asked if she could use it for a project that was not for profit…I wrote back, “Thank you; please share your plans and I will respond as soon as I’m able.” Dramatic sigh, and off to bed with a great fullness of self.

Early this morning, I scanned my mail and saw this:

“Thank you for your response! I live in a small close neighborhood in Minneapolis not far from the area where George Floyd was murdered. It is also an area with a lot of Healthcare workers at the University of Minnesota. The reason my parents came to this country in the first place was for my father to study medicine at the U. I have purchased a few hundred luminarias and blue LED candles to distribute to my neighbors to put out in front of their houses on Christmas Eve to honor the Healthcare workers and all those who have sacrificed during the pandemic and I wanted to include a note for my neighbors with the instructions. I thought your poem would be lovely to include with the note but didn’t want to do so without your permission, especially as I cannot control what happens to that note after I drop it off at their homes.

Thank you again for your consideration, it is really a lovely work. And if you do not say yes, I completely understand. Thanks again.”


Well. I cried. I shared it with Phillip, and we both had a moment or ten. Is this not perfect and amazing? What an incredible honor and perfect use of the words I wrote. How humbling.

The continual invitation to someone like myself, who can meet life cranky, ungrateful, and resistant, is that I am–over and over–gobsmacked/Godsmacked by people who meet life always looking for ways to soften its hard edges and love it back to health. They are my teachers and I am still learning.

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The glow you see on my face today is the gift of a Godsmack/Lovesmack from Fiona’s huge heart.

I know the word God is weighty and, sadly, resisted by many who have been cruelly and ignorantly harmed by others’ misuse of its healing power. I prefer the word Love. If we can agree that whatever is sacred, holy, divine, transcendent, and our source might be called Love, then I hope we can also agree that it can only be translated into the world through us, and if that can happen, then we can see that we live and move and have our being on an Earth, in a universe, that loves us back, always.

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And if we can wake up to that truth, we’ll work to change how we treat each other and the Earth. We are always in relationship with Love and either participating or refusing participation in the actions relationship demands; chiefly, the propagation and creation of more Love through the use of our gifts in the world for the benefit of all.

With gratitude for Fiona and all the Lovesmackers in our lives: Let us look for the Lovesmacks we may offer and receive; we’ve never needed them more. Go forth, and be Lovesmacked, and make it reciprocal.

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(Fiona also offered this link, reminding me that our firefighters also need love: don’t used candles; use LED lights in the luminarias.  https://quickcandles.com/products/eastland-white-luminary-bags-richland-led-tealight-candles-set-of-144)

© 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.

Awakening

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You walk down a road,
the one you know well,
taking you where you’ve
always gone, singing
the song you’ve worked
to make yours, adding
a minor note here, a
fiddle there, maybe the drama
of a bodhrán, the flutter
of a flute…it’s been pared
down over the years. The
orchestra left long ago. ‘Twasn’t you,
your great aunt would say, and perhaps
she’d be right. She always said she was,
and you never questioned. Your song is spare
but honest; anyone would hear
it and know it was yours, who you say
you are, been told you are; you’re proud
in a modest way, being that melody. It’s
enough. And then, comes a stranger, down
your very road, twinkling and shining
her song so purely, filled with such
joy, it lifts you high and drops you,
blinded and knowing
for the first time, the power
of a song that is the singer’s
and then yours, too; it adds
to you without subtracting, it enlarges
you, lifts you up and drops you
to your knees, grateful, fed, instructed,
not minding at all; in fact, ecstatic, knowing
your song doesn’t need to make you
feel proud or modest or anything
but spent and offered, joy spilling
over. You’ll be calling back
the orchestra for rehearsals.
Time for a new song to sing
down new roads. Breathe.
Begin, your light and music
shining from every pore.

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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.

Ease

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Now, at the convergence of everything
I’ve done and felt and learned, I know this:
all I want is to live my life
with ease, like a plum petal falling in spring
or autumn’s oak leaf curling inward,
joyfully twirling as it falls, because
everything falls; all our lives we’re falling,
gravity guides us to our graves:
here comes death, but why not
twirl into it with ease?

Why not
live my days as though they rested
in the deep embrace of my
grandmother’s quilts, or were cushioned
by clouds scented with summer rain? Resting
my heart in every moment’s corner of sanctuary,
the infinite fall into peace between breaths, the
ease of creation’s origin sparking at dawn.

Days of ease would invite the binding
of self with motion, with rest, with all;
the graceful knowing, this step
then the next, becoming the steps;
accepting they will vanish…

the ease with which my
mother ironed my blouses and
moved mountains–any that stood
between those she loved and what
they needed. And she loved
everything.

There’s nothing weak
in ease, nothing indolent; it requires
the steel of remaining present
and then melting the steel
by loving the moment, breathing
and releasing, with ease, molten rivers
of love
flowing into other lives, making
them strong as steel. I felt
strong in my ironed blouses,
mountains removed from my path, but I
took years to understand all the
power came from the ease
of living with falling
and knowing
that was Love.

If I could hover
over my past like angels
in movies, I know I’d see
the younger me ill-at-ease,
shining too bright to hide
the dark; dis-eased, as I sifted and
shifted through my 20’s, 30’s,
40’s. No one’s falling here,
I would have said. I wish I could fly
into my spirit as I confined her
joy and fire all those years
and animate that woman
with ease…

but then, I wouldn’t
be where I am now, with you
and everything I love, nearing
the clarity and peace of a life lived
from the stillpoint I seek. I feel like
I’m almost there, like I’m
falling with ease, twirling,
with a tranquil heart of steel,
its molten power soft and
flowing into a world,
that’s waiting
to feel strong
and loved.

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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.

Reading Ourselves Awake

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I’ve always enjoyed reading books aloud and being read to; I suppose this is due to the emotional and spiritual calm I experienced when my parents gathered us together and read to us when we were very young. There were no screens dividing us into isolated units of humanity in those days, just radios, and the huge televisions reserved for parental or supervised viewing, so listening to stories has always made me feel safe, loved, and highly entertained. Maybe there’s something about the voice telling us stories that awakens ancient cells, reminding us of our connections, our need to gather near the fire’s warmth to listen and imagine together, to remember who we are, where we have been, and to ponder what is asked of us as humans beholden to the rest of life on earth.

We were read to in the morning, at lunchtime, and before bed, often falling asleep to the soothing or repetitive story we favored. There’s something more intimate about the reader and listener sharing space than a narrated book on tape, but NPR’s “A Chapter a Day” was my mother’s daily treat as she completed tasks that kept her from devouring her always-present stack of books. 

The written word, spoken, was modeled as ritual and offered as spirit food, and so it has always been, for me.

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Later, I read to my middle school students, long past the age some colleagues thought it appropriate. My students loved it. It calmed them and gave them a bit of that peace and security I had felt as a child, a time of stillness that required listening, and offered the gift of being together, hearing stories. No academic expectations existed for this little time in the middle of our busy days, and if it lulled a few into needed naps, then the words were twice-blessed medicine. I read to my hospital and hospice patients frequently, too. There are a million ways to pray and awaken to Spirit.

On our long drives to my parents’ home for holidays, Phillip and I read books to each other, making the miles fly, and very early in our relationship, the practice spilled over into our daily morning rituals. At lunchtime and bedtime, we usually turn to separate books we’re reading, but it’s not uncommon for one of us to stop and share a paragraph or two that we’ve found especially startling, musical, or enlightening.

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During this time of year, as our bodies and spirits journey into darkness towards the solstice that signals the light will rise again, we have always chosen books that are especially nourishing food for our spirits. In the early hours of morning, Phillip walks the dogs; I feed the cats, make our coffee and tea, and light the Christmas tree and candles. Then, we sit and read to each other, a blessed time for all of us. I think of it as reading ourselves awake rather than to sleep.

This Advent, I’ve chosen Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, and Phillip has chosen Malidoma Patrice Somé’s The Healing Wisdom of Africa. While neither is new to us, reading them aloud, in small bites, has created a beautiful synchronous chorus of ideas echoing and underscoring themes that resonate with who we are, what we believe, and what we need to hear again during this time. These sacred hours and books seem to clarify and enhance our dreams for all the ways the world might work to solve the problems facing our Earth and all living beings. What else is the darkness for but to listen and to examine what we will become in the light?

I highly recommend both books and authors we’re reading this year. In past years, our Advent reading has been wide-ranging, including poetry collections, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett; The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; writers like Rumer Godden; Wallace Stegner; Richard Rohr; Aldo Leopold; Wendell Berry; Parker Palmer; Annie Dillard; Joan Chittister; Loren Cruden (we traveled with her book, Spirit of Place for one entire year) and so many more. We’ve shared a very eclectic mix and genre of books, whether the authors were famous and the books old friends or newcomers with fresh stories, wisdom, insights, and beauty to share. It’s always interesting to hear how our chosen pieces augment each other’s melodies and ideas. We sometimes pause just to allow the gifts to bless our spirits and settle.

Living alone requires amendments to the practice, but a little creativity can help. Most phones have speakers, so friends can read to each other; there are many ways to video chat; there are books on tape; and simply reading aloud to oneself and pausing to reflect, or perhaps incorporating a lectio divina practice (meditating on small bits of any text that touches your heart and spirit) can deepen the season’s meaning.

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You may discover this is a practice you’d like to follow every day. Perhaps you already do, and might share some of your favorite titles and authors in the comments. And please share any other rituals and practices that feed your spirit this time of year.

There are, of course, many ways to waken ourselves to the deep needs of our spirit and the world. In this dark season during this darkest of years, consider reading aloud and allowing the sacred magic of words to create light for your spirit and the way ahead.

All the blessings of the season to you. Be well and safe, and gentle peace.

© 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.

Invitations

You probably have grasped by now that for me, our art is our work-in-the-world; our work is our art.

And, while we’re using our gifts to create our art(s) in the world, there are invitations everywhere to support others in their own creation, and a million ways to do it. Subscribing to blogs is one. (Thank you!)

Engaging with people regarding their work-in-the-world is another: expressing gratitude, offering ideas and helpful critiques, sharing stories, purchasing goods…These things affirm for us that the paths and means we use to express and share gift–whether through media, or classrooms, or hospitals, or stages, or the offices and workshops we’ve chosen for our creativity to gestate and be born–are producing goodness that touches others positively. And, as I’ve said before: all of us are artists, using our gifts for our own welfare and the higher calling to serve our communities.

Or not.

Our choice.

And, in the current iteration of our world, the exchange of our gifts is also valued with the exchange of capital to support us and others in our basic necessities and the means to continue our work in the world. Paychecks are given in exchange for our energy, our gift.

We have always paid for what we value; now, we use “money” in the form of cash, paychecks, honorariums, grants, fundraisers, pledges, donations…Other people in other times bartered with goods, or provided shelter and food for traveling artists, or benefactors provided income to support them. Wherever two are gathered, there is quid pro quo because, at the root of it, that’s how both love and justice work, the give and take of gift, trust, community, and relationship. (The ways the values of our offerings can be skewed and thrown out of balance are apparent everywhere and the subject of books and wisdom not my own.)

It’s hard to ask for money. It is not hard at all to ask for support. The Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet has become a metaphor for me of all artists in the world, which is to say, for how we are all artists in the world.

For over 15 years, this band has united in creating their vision of music that speaks to a variety of populations and listeners all over the world. They’ve struggled financially, like so many artists, to remain committed to their vision, co-create their art, and viably support their families while doing so. They annually, prior to Covid-19’s restrictions, took interested fans on a cultural trip to Peru to immerse them in the people, food, arts, orientations to mystery/beliefs, history, and indigenous depths of the country and the Afro-Peruvian roots that color all of these gifts.

How many artists take such time and make such effort to unite their community of fans with the origins and meaning of their art? I think it’s remarkable and, because of this, and my own co-creation with these talented artists, I support them willingly and have frequently mentioned them as worthy of your consideration for support as well. They are not only joyfully gifted musicians; they share their gifts in every community where they perform, often spending several days working at schools with young musicians developing their art, freely creating a legacy of gift with their energy.

The band has just held a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds in order to produce their new album, Social Distancing, and have a new 48-hour only “stretch goal” which, among other treats, will feature contributors in their first-ever music video.

If you’re able to donate $30.00, you’ll be asked to create a selfie-video reciting my poem, “In the Time of Pandemic/And the People Stayed Home” (Please use the version linked, as there are others still incorrectly circulating.)

You’ll also receive 2 tickets to the band’s virtual concert (January 29) marking the album’s release, and be invited to an after-concert Zoom session to meet and chat with the musicians. Phillip and I attended a concert this past weekend and I can’t tell you how much fun it was: fantastic musicians performing in our living room, while we had a glass (or two) of wine, the dogs and cats by our sides, a fire burning…amazing. I may have danced a bit; happily, the cameras are not two-way.

It’s a LOT of a value for $30.00, if it’s something you can manage. I will look forward to seeing others’ videos reading/reciting my poem and how they’re integrated with the music video!

Thank you for all the ways you respond to the invitations to offer, co-create, and support gift/art/our work-in-the-world. We need it more than ever. It’s how we make light to see in the dark.

Here’s another link to the Kickstarter stretch goal. Have fun; be safe and well. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/afroperuvianjazz/the-afro-peruvian-sextets-social-distancing/posts/3035415?ref=ksr_email_backer_project_update_registered_users

© 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.

Peace, Love, and Joy

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And so we come to the season of the year that honors the light we’ve been called to be in darkness. We pause to reach for that light, call it holy (it is) and touch just enough to scatter it about, while music, feasts, gathering, and giving shake up our patterns just enough for the world to glow both more brightly and softly.

From a distance, the planet shines, spinning in this co-created light, before it dims once more and we turn back to our easy forgetting, unrelenting fear, and ready hostility. Why can’t our seasonal charity (love manifested in its highest and broadest form) remain the focus and fuel in our relationships with ourselves and others?

Why do we so readily allow the confusion between giving presents and giving ourselves–our presence–to direct our energy? Buying gifts, wrapping them in pretty paper and exchanging them is skimming the surface of the spiritual invitations the season offers. All the magic of lasting conversion is here and possible, but so is our fear of true transformation and the belief we cling to above all others: we’re not worthy.

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The inner scolder reminds us: the holidays are lovely, yes, but we can’t go on giving ourselves time to watch it snow, share delight, sit with loved ones, connect with our spirits, sing, laugh, wish merriment to perfect strangers, recognize our feelings, be at peace…We have to get back to work.

We can’t live in a world where it’s always Christmas, certainly not now. We can’t just choose to relax. We can’t just peace, love and joy our life away. Wrap it up, pack it away; we have to get back to work.

What is wrong with a species capable of creating, experiencing, and spreading peace, love, and joy, and then deciding we don’t deserve to do so all the time, every moment? Even in the midst of our winter celebrations, we cheapen these treasures by consigning them to the perimeter of our festivities and supplanting them with things, with overindulgence of our appetites, with running hard and fast from what “work” has made of us and our finite precious lives, and with excessively indulging our capacity for greed and offering miserly regard for our spiritual and emotional needs.

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We deserve lives saturated in peace, love, and joy, and our real work is making it so.

Let’s slow down and look at the world we’ve created by denying the true blessings of the season a real and deep presence in our every season, our every moment. We certainly haven’t used our gifts to their capacity if this is the best we can do.

We joke about people putting up their holiday decorations (I’m one of them, this year) before Thanksgiving, or we might attribute it, as I saw a home decorator write last week, to poor lighting in our homes which only becomes apparent when the daylight shortens. But let’s look more deeply; shake our hearts instead of our heads and look again: What do the lights strewn everywhere really signal?

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I think we start Christmas and other celebrations of light earlier and earlier–especially in a year of such darkness–because our hearts are yearning, unrelentingly yearning for peace, love, and joy to arrive. And to stay. Perhaps lighting a tree will conjure them.

And then, by those very lights, we might see the truth: Peace, love, and joy are within us, always. We just have to accept we’re worthy and choose these ways of being.

This whirlwind of viral time we’ve been given to witness and withstand can only be stilled by the counter forces we summon and let loose in the world, and they are ancient, and have always been our power.

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Peace. Love. Joy. All the words we wish each other in the dark of winter are the real bringers of light, the human magic that we must hurl at the storm to break it, and then calm it, and then wait as it dissipates, allowing the settling to reveal our path.

Every single one of us has the capacity to be what we most wish to see in the world, now, in this moment, by listening to our heart for the wisdom we’ve earned and are here to manifest: Compassionate regard for the well-being of all. Everything. Finding and animating these powers in ourselves, benefiting from their warmth, and giving the warmth away.

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Peace. The peace of our own breath, slowing and deepening. The moments of turning from the storm, withdrawing, retreating to breathe mindfully, reorient, and balance. Connecting with our heartbeat and noticing the blessings, everywhere, falling like snowflakes. Stillness. We can give ourselves this peace and offer it to others.

Love. Oh, my, does the storm weaken and scatter when it meets love. We can choose kindness before we respond to a stranger, a friend, our beloveds. We can consider others through the filter of love and we can love ourselves. We can listen to our self-talk and all the ways we are cruel to ourselves We can deepen our self-companionship.

Joy. The blessed lightening of deep joy! The happy letting go; the merry surrender of our stress and worry. Joy invites others to join us in memories of sweeter times, opening our hearts to all the happy possibilities to come. Levity is a profound power. May you always find reasons to laugh deeply and share joy.

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We know these qualities are ours from birth, but they come with the sacrifice and effort they require to be sustained. That change we feel in the air this time of year is the activation of our inherent power to generate peace, love, and joy in ourselves and others, throughout the Earth.

We don’t have to wait; we don’t have to limit or budget or pack away the light on January 2. We don’t have to pray for peace, love, and joy; we are these qualities, and the better prayer this year might be that we finally recognize it and live into the lives that this awareness creates. We deserve it. We are worthy. We are capable. And I think we’re more than ready. This storm will pass, and we will heal even more deeply if we just be who we are to our core: people of peace, of love, and of joy.

All blessings of the season to you, in you, and to everyone you love.

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

Discharged

Babies in Snow

In my journal, I note the day’s cadence
and realize that this year–staying home,

still, waiting, counting breaths, staring, losing count: I’m
not marching anymore.

For years, I marched in uniforms and haste;
I marched, chasing perfection and more, hoping
for attention and praise,
nods and small paychecks rewarding my marching.

I marched to the tunes of a tier of bosses stretching to the
tops of buildings, to rooms I never saw, an authority
of men; I pursued their goals,
agreeing they were mine: I withered;

I mean, my spirit dried like an ancient apple

and my gifts broke
from the weight of meetings, record-keeping, hours at screens,
group meetings, staff meetings, meetings to evaluate
meetings, over and over; had I really learned the protocol
for handling blood-borne pathogens? (Yes, years ago; it

never changed). But we acquiesced; we marched; we agreed to agree
that coffee mugs stamped with, “Win

win; make it happen” made our time
and overtime and all the marching
matter,

and rather than enter the wild joy of co-creation, we’d march to
performance reviews, team-building activities, time clocks, measured
breaks to intake food and to release, marching faster,

as though we–

unique in our mystery and gift, here only to be
stars mixing and offering our shining shards of joy
before flickering, then falling in night’s dark skies

–were feral beings, best disciplined, success-
fully managed through repetitive busy-work,
bureaucracy’s mazes,
and marching.

The body corporate: a communal dimming of light.

Spirits silenced, gifts shattered (march, march)
by the love-starved minds that ordered
our marching, directed its rhythms: I used to wonder:

Is this what we all wanted
for ourselves when we grew up; we, hopscotching, jump-roping, hula-hooping, skating,
swimming, daydreaming, playing through our never-marching childhood?

And what of those who created and commanded the endless
tasks, charting, paperwork, meetings, the marching

that devoured

our time, our holy only lives? Did they ever stare through their larger-office windows at the peregrine nesting on the sill (it made news, every year), and weep?

How did they

sleep at night, knowing the misery they purveyed?
Did they march in their dreams? Following orders and
climbing ladders?

And what is their cadence now, decommissioned, staying at home?

My days are filled

with dancing.

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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.

Walking in the Dark

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Phillip and I have both learned a lot about dog training over the years, through raising our own pups and fostering many others, but we’ve never mastered the trick of helping our dogs adjust to Daylight Savings Time. We barely adjust to this annual folly ourselves. Trying to edge sleeptime forward by just a few minutes and then more hasn’t worked worth a tinker’s damn in the almost-30 years we’ve been walking dogs morning and night. They know when it’s time for walks and bed and meals, and if these times don’t match our schedule and the clock for half of the year, too bad for Mom and Dad.

Being retired and in lockdown, it really doesn’t matter when we do what, but it’s always tricky adjusting to rising in the dark for our first walk and taking the day’s final stroll in shadow as well. If the full moon blesses us with brightness, our walks can be magical, but the new moon is perilous. We’ve learned that slowly is the wisest way to proceed and it’s a pace that suits the pups’ desire for maximum sniff time.

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And, even in the dark, I can perceive the analogy between our darkened dog-walks and the gloomy path we’ve all been traveling for almost a year. Many of us have been cautious and willing to sacrifice speed for the safer progress made by taking our time as we step forward through our days, but sadly, not enough of us. And so, the company of more than 250,000 of our family and friends will be absent from our future gatherings and tables. This is heartbreak at a level our country and our world have rarely suffered. And the tragedy compiles when we consider that much of these losses could have been prevented.

I don’t understand people who have chosen to repeatedly enter the world and mingle with others unmasked and without respecting distances, when we’ve been told for more than 9 months to do these things, along with washing our hands and staying strictly within a “bubble” of family members following the same safety procedures. These practices ensure greater safety for those who must go out into the world to help the rest of us survive.

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Don’t share air in closed or close spaces with people we haven’t been confined with all these months: It’s not that hard, but it seems impossible for many; and so, we find ourselves at a crisis point of infection and dying as we enter the holiday weeks.

I read that 40% of our population plans to gather with family and friends over Thanksgiving weekend, offering no consideration whatsoever to healthcare workers who are grotesquely overworked and excessively stressed in hospitals with no beds available to patients. And many of these patients are people who couldn’t be bothered to take a deadly disease seriously and now ask for our prayers, still without regard for those trying to keep them alive, who certainly deserve our prayers as well. This rampant rush through the dark to the arms of a deadly virus is without regard for our teachers, postal workers, EMT’s, grocery and other essential store staff, etc. And of course we will pray for these patients; we have been praying for them all along, praying they would avoid these choices, and now praying they survive them without harming others.

I don’t understand people who are so driven by fear and anger that it occludes their power to love beyond a small, known circle, if that. Truly, I’ve given long hours to opening my heart and trying to understand their denial, but I don’t, in the utterly real face of such virulence and death.

I have appreciated the frequent news program appearances by Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., a Professor and the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. His fact-based wisdom and advice center me and give me information I need to hear. He’s often quite blunt, sticking to sharing the pertinent science and data, but this morning he shared how he aches to be with his grandchildren; he’d love more than anything to gather with his family next week, but, “I love them more than that ache; we’ll gather virtually this year so we can all be together and well next year.”

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And it struck me again that this is the way we walk through the dark together: loving more than we ache, loving ourselves through and beyond the aches and losses of this hard, hard time to the peaceful days and celebrations yet to come. We can do this, and must. We’re all suffering together; let’s not choose actions that make us–and others–suffer more.

Ram Dass said, “We’re all just walking each other home.” This stretch of the walk is dark; let’s navigate it with love and travel safely to the brighter days ahead. We’re nearly there.

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In other news: our Full Moon Cottage Family is joyful, joyful, as we learned after an excruciating week of waiting for lab results, that Malarky’s tumor is benign. We’ve decided to postpone surgery and see if it might heal on its own, and are so very grateful for the prayers and happy energy that have been shared. Thank you. Thanksgiving will be very merry this year.

My friends, the lovely people and gifted artists who form The Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet, are nearing the end of their Kickstarter campaign to fund the final production of their 7th album, Social Distancing. I didn’t know this about Kickstarter before, but if the end date is reached and the goal isn’t met, the funds already pledged are all returned to the donors, and the artists, or whomever, receive nothing, so if anyone out there can help out with a few dollars here and there, they may just make it. I don’t want my money back; I want their music to be heard. 🙂

And, finally, our beautiful book is moving out into the world, and I hope it’s blessing those who hold and read her words. I just learned that, in the next few weeks, the Australian, New Zealand, and German editions will be offered for sale!

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Gentle peace; be well and safe.

Carol for the Wild Heart

Carol for the Wild Heart

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Let what is wild
in us remain so,
and in the world, too;
taming mutes instinct
and gift, subdues
the agrestal impulse, rejects
and rots the medicine
we came to be and share,
we, aflame with wild hearts
smother them, dousing
our wild fires, darting to
cages,
cages on wheels,
cages of glass,
of hallways
and rooms
where we pace
and plot,
we scheme
and devour,
we survive
through the fitness
of messages crafted
in sighs selling
lies, conforming
our wild desires, our wild lives
to dreary patterns, controlled;
we have made ourselves
ill,
tamed, trapped, and dying;
how strange, an animal choosing
its cages and searing itself with
brands, moving
from cage
to dulling cage
each fashioned,
by the very creature
bolting the door, who
every year, in the time
of dark and ice, lights
fires and listens to
its yearning heart
howling at the moon
howling through
stars and time
in songs and voices
finally its own,
howling
the uncaged
wild inclinations
to heal
to grow
to love
wildly,
to resist
cages.

© 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.