The Rare, Tiny Flower: A Child Shall Lead

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022)

A little girl watched
the loud confrontation,
then circled the flower
in slow exploration.
“Please, look again,”
came her calm, patient voice.
“WHY?” cried the screamers.
She smiled. “There’s a choice.”

The Rare, Tiny Flower began as an image of the tiny flower and a small girl defending its mystery, beauty, and right to “find light and grow.” She inherently knows that, frail as it is, it comes with gifts…as does everything and everyone on Earth. We are each tiny, rare, and precious.

I wrote the verse over a year ago in response to the turmoil in my own country, and how it reflected the descent into immature behaviors rising all over the world. People were lashing out, choosing anger, selfishness, name-calling, blaming…all the lower emotional and spiritual human responses to the fear and loss the pandemic brought with its physical destruction and to the mature sacrifices we needed to make to survive and to protect each other.

Behaving from these “lower frequencies” unfortunately, seems the baseline standard for too many leaders and media forums. Most of us cannot counter the darkness their power spreads in the world, or especially the ways it influences our children’s intellectual, emotional, and spiritual formation, except through our own little attempts to choose kindness, love, forgiveness, and openness, in the world, however insignificant our efforts might seem. We can try to live into “small acts of great kindness,” as both St. Therese and Mother Teresa modeled and shared with their times and corners of Earth.

I fail from moment to moment…just this morning, as Phillip and I watched the horrors unfolding in Ukraine, we found ourselves snapping at each other before we caught, released, and named how that evil energy had entered us and momentarily controlled our words and actions. The entire world is frustrated and short-tempered after two years of isolation and loss, but we must, we must retain our childlike willingness to connect with the Other, to interrupt the flow of anger, fear, and greed, to name the truth and offer hope. We can catch ourselves failing and try again.

When I was 7, a move across the country was necessitated by another promotion in my father’s career. We went to our new school and met the principal and our new teachers, received a tour, and sat while our parents discussed ‘relevant parental topics’ with the principal. On the drive back home, Mama turned to us in the back seat and asked, “Well, what did you think of your new principal?”

I replied, “She smiled with her face, but not with her eyes.” My mother was so struck by my response that she remembered it and shared it with me when I was much older and it was long forgotten. But it’s what we do as children, and such honest awareness is one of children’s great gifts to us adults who have “matured” and too often discarded our childlike awareness of the world’s wonder and profound sensitivity to the energy behind the masks adults offer the world and the unconscious subtexts their words offer.

Like the little girl in the story, children have the capacity to be the Great Interrupters, the stunning spirits who call us to pause and, just for a moment, see again the potential, the hope, the magic, and unbelievable uniqueness of our existence and the precious place we call Earth, we call our home. And those are the moments we need, more than ever.

Please, as we witness what cruelty and suffering a childish madman can unleash, let us retain our childlike companions of hope, sensitivity, openness, and a willingness to forgive and love. Let us listen like children and hear the tender, beautiful music from which we were created and that always surrounds us. Let us see with the simple clarity of a child that there are always other choices, always other responses available, and always new ways to use our gifts to create the peaceful world we imagine. And then we must make those choices and create that better world.

Help, however you are able. Gentle peace to you, and thank you for your gifts in the world.

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The Rare, Tiny Flower can be pre-ordered here.

© 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 Rare, Tiny Flower: Bullies or Lovers?

To some it looked red,
to some it looked blue.

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).

And so the world sees, once again and sadly, how a man with twisted emotional development and an unhealed psyche projects the madness stewing in his long-denied shadow upon the world.

My new book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, offers a verse for children that explores how our egoic needs to dominate, possess, and fashion the world in our own image will only lead to discord if we allow fear, sadness, and anger, to make these needs control our better natures. 

Others saw yellow,
but many saw green.
A more puzzling flower
had never been seen!


A number saw umber,
a small group saw teal.
“We see it correctly!
We see what is real!”


Each group insisted
its vision was right.
“Agree it’s magenta,
or we’ll start a fight!”

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).

In other words, the story shows and reinforces for children (and, I hope for all of us) how behaviors like considering other points of view, offering each other respect, practicing kindness, listening before passing judgment, and welcoming the stranger makes for a better world.

These are not complex concepts, but as adults with advanced language and thinking skills, we create a million different ways to deny and bury their truth and instead rationalize, defend, promote, and force their antonyms upon one another. We surrender our child-like innocence and regress to our most profound needs: me-me-me and mine-mine-mine. Easier choice than maturity.

It’s mustard!
It’s purple!
It’s turquoise!
It’s pink!
It’s chartreuse!
It’s puce!
It’s whatever
we think!

It’s midnight!
It’s coral!
It’s violet-red!
It’s silver!
It’s orange!
You’re weak
in the head!

It’s sweet
periwinkle!
It’s mango!
Maroonish!
It’s white
as a snowflake!
You’re crazy!
You’re loonish!

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: March 26, 2022).

Some of us explore our deepest hurts–and joys–and tend to our continual healing and growth through art, through feeding continual creativity, through self-forgiveness and forgiving others, and–mainly–through faithfully engaging and re-engaging in loving relationships. We try to mend and tend our lives and spirits as we confront our suffering and errors. We risk vulnerability for the rewards of authentic intimacy.

Others of us encrust our inner hurts with more and more grievance and self-pity, building layers and layers of justification for our dark and selfish choices, till we blindly act out, detonating our black pearls in the world. These people are called bullies and risk becoming monsters. Their egos have exceeded and destroyed their humanity and capacity to love. They are like the cyclopes who can only see what they need to see to maintain their false self-images, rather than the wider, real perspective in front of their eyes. What vocation is available for such people but that of a bully? 

Powerful leaders
arrived, striking poses.
“We will not agree!”
And noses met noses.

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).

 It’s glaringly apparent how despot’s lives are barren of trusted and loving relationships. An authoritarian banishes himself from locating and resting in his heart, let alone admitting anyone or anything else within its shriveled confines. (I love how the Grinch’s heart shrinks and expands according to the love he denies or admits.)

And tragically, the call from a bully-monster’s unhealed shadow attracts others who also refuse, fear, or are too ignorant to explore and heal their own pain. Like attracts like. A monstrous actor with great power gives other bullies-in-training permission to go on poisoning their own unconscious, rather than confront, heal, re-create and choose different ways of being.

The only corrective is to love: to teach, learn, and practice love towards ourselves and others, recognizing that my unhealed pain is yours, and, ultimately, the Earth’s. 

Botanists came
to settle the score,
but couldn’t decide,
so the leaders cried,

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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).
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~ from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022).

And loving is hard. There’s a reason both love and courage have the same root and are linguistic siblings. Love demands that we confront and limit our desires, that we sacrifice on behalf of others’ welfare, that we transform, that we bare our hearts and spirits for others.

We are all potential bully-monsters or lovers: which behaviors will we choose, feed, and practice? I hope the gentle flower and the little girl in The Rare, Tiny Flower will encourage children to choose the path and actions fueled by love, and will reap all the gifts that choice offers them and the Earth.

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The Rare, Tiny Flower can be pre-ordered here.

© 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 Rare, Tiny Flower: How it Began

from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022)

My book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, debuts on April 26, and my friends and collaborators at Tra Publishing and I are excited to share its beauty and timeless relevance with the world.

I wonder if, like me, you’ve witnessed many acts of kindness, generosity, and bravery over the past two years. Perhaps there were times your own community or your family came together to help a person, or another family suffering cruel losses or hardships during the pandemic.

But we’ve also seen examples of global and community divisiveness, of rudeness and anger resulting more from fear than a willingness to come together to maturely solve the many problems facing us.

When fear is a natural response to our experience, what should we do next? How do we respond to mystery and what actions can we rely upon in service to our greater good?

At times, the childlike responses of wonder, friendliness, openness, and delight have been replaced by childish behaviors of selfishness, of needing to be right, however illogical or dangerous the cost. These choices diminish humanity’s power to do good, possibly even to survive.

And our children, of course, are watching. They’re absorbing the language and feelings and interactions around them. Through our choices, we create lessons for them every day, and model them over and over. I became concerned about what the children have been learning regarding how we respond to crises, how we behave during times that are chaotic, how we care for each other when we’re all suffering, and how we manage our fear and disagreements.

I thought about the lyrics to the song, You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught, by Oscar Hammerstein III, for his and Richard Rogers’ musical, South Pacific. What have we been carefully teaching our children during the pandemic, and have we emphasized the lessons we want them to learn?

The Rare, Tiny Flower is my response to these ideas. It’s written in verse, and is profoundly enriched by the amazing illustrations created by Quim Torres.

The story emphasizes peaceful conflict resolution and the dangers of anger and rushing to judgment, exploring instead the ways kindness, listening, reflection, and respect for the Earth–and for our differences and gifts–can bring us together in ways that creatively meet the challenges that face us.

The Rare, Tiny Flower invites us to celebrate our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being here at all, but especially, of being here together.

Over the next several posts, I’ll be sharing the poem and illustrations with you, and thoughts about how the book and its glorious illustrations can be shared by parents, grandparents, and teachers with the children they love.

It begins:

Once, in a forest,

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from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022)

a bird dropped a seed.
It wasn’t a sapling,
it wasn’t a weed,
but a rare, tiny flower
that found light and grew.

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from: The Rare, Tiny Flower, (Tra Publishing); by Kitty O’Meara; illustrated by Quim Torres. (Pub. Date: April 26, 2022)

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The Rare, Tiny Flower can be pre-ordered here

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

The Training and Management of Humans (an excerpt)

Lesson One: Identify and Develop Your Gifts Immediately

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By Gracie Louise (aka, Gracie Lulu, Gracie Weezy)

Dear Readers,

Our mother has been very involved with yoga, exercise, meditation, and walking these past several weeks, in an attempt to heal her knee and avoid a “damntotalkneereplacement” surgery. This morning, I had to run behind the couch to laugh quite uncontrollably, as her yoga contortions had resulted in such a ball of limbs I doubted she would extricate herself by nightfall. Apparently, there exists a Complete Knot Asana.

At any rate, I regained control of myself and emerged from my chuckling interlude to ask her if I might help her out by writing a post for the edification of dogs everywhere. I took her grunted responses to be in the affirmative, so I’ve put together some tips from the larger manuscript I’m writing. It’s called, The Training and Management of Humans, and is especially directed towards those living in a multi-canine (or cat) household, although Only Dogs may also benefit, of course. (Usually, they are so spoiled that no further advice is needed.)

Human readers may now leave the room.

My 4-legged friends: Let me be exceedingly perspicuous: This work begins as soon as humans get hold of you. Do NOT waste your brief puppyhood drooling and sleeping, for this is the most important–dare I say crucial–time for eliciting and maintaining the upper paw with your humans. This is the when you must (quickly) learn about your gifts and powers to charm your humans, rendering them in comfortable and happy obedience forever. An obedient human is content and secure; we owe them this.

Here, you see how I let my own heavenly puppy smell and tummy splutch so captivate my mother that I went from being a “foster dog” to her very own adopted Gracie in about 3 days flat. Work it, my friends; find your gift and work it. Mine is clearly Adorableness. It has worked to my advantage from the start, and continues, into my third year of mastery. You will notice that sometimes I play off my siblings’ age and lesser adorableness to more starkly contrast my own dearness. This is a technique I learned early and well, and should be considered by all who are the youngest in the pack.

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I must also add that as a puppy, I developed the unique trait of using my ears to further mark me as Adorable and (seemingly, haha) dependent…look for the ways you might do this as well. Beguile your humans early and you won’t regret the riches this will yield.

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Micky’s puppy gifts, I’m told, were both his resemblance to something called Yoda, and his puppy Inscrutability, a trait he has perfected and still uses to great effect with our humans on a daily basis. He says it confounds them, which weakens their resolve to do anything but ply him with treats. You’ll notice in the last photo how his Inscrutability so well serves him in adulthood: the human hand extends to tickle him; he does not react. This makes the humans work harder to serve us. They desire a playful, jumpy response. It gives them power. I say, “Withhold, like Micky, and remain in control, my friends.”

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Micky also has a unique posture that endears him to humans everywhere. Although he is the middle pup, I will say his special gift is retaining some of his neonatal charm, as seen here, although he hasn’t developed the intelligence (not to put too fine a point on it) to know when to stop whining like an infant and just switch into this pose when he wishes for a specific behavior from the humans.

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Malarky, usually called Larky, is my eldest sibling, and  he has an array of strange gifts that, from the first, befuddled, amused, and captivated our humans, rendering them putty in his paws. For example, he loved to eat tall grasses from mother’s gardens and expected her to sit beside him on the lawn, not too closely, but precisely within one and one-half feet, while he munched like a donkey on straw. Then, he would indicate with a nod and soft bark that he desired her to harvest more. This bonded her in servitude to Larky forever, so far as the rest of us can judge. He needs but to indicate a yearning and mother hops to it with all the energy and blind obedience of, say, an orchestra to its conductor. (Mother forbade me from using political references as similes and metaphors, and, since this is my first post, I will follow her guidance. Another trick in training humans: Follow directions the first time. Lull them into thinking a pattern has been formed.)

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Larky also developed a snarky side-eye glance at a very young age, that stopped mother and father in their tracks and made them doubt themselves and feel foolish, a precarious stance which Malarky used to his great advantage.

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You can see how he still commands attention and–preferably–subservience, as an adult, Indeed, we bow before his mastery. Mother and father know better than to cross him when these looks are delivered. Training accomplished!

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We come next to Dooley, and I confess, we are at a loss, for his first year was a Dickensian tragedy on the streets of Houston, the hellish place for dogs that most of us are from, regrettably. (We thank heaven for the rescue angels who also reside there. And here.) But that is his almost enviable gift, as well, for the sadness of his first year did not dim but burnished his sweetness. He can do no wrong in the eyes of our humans. Here, for instance, is how he responded to the “no sitting on the furniture” rule:

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Father and mother’s response is to sigh and say, “Isn’t he cute?” He is most authentically the Trainer of our humans because there is no artifice. He’s just Dooley and gets his way all the time.

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And now we come to my sister, Teagan, probably the keenest manipulator in all of the canine kin-dom, for she is mistress of our humans’ unconscious and has used this to her–and, I must admit, all of our–advantage since she arrived, a most-desired little girl by our mother. As a puppy she drove mother to distraction by resisting contact and touch for two weeks’ running. Finally, when mother was without hope, Teagan slyly crept into her arms, a trophy-worthy capitulation if ever there were one. Perfect timing, Teagan! I would say her native cunning Cleverness coupled with my Adorableness (and, of course, the boys’ gifts) have made us invincible in terms of running this show. (Notice her daring response to the furniture verboten was to drape herself over the arm of the couch or chaise. Too clever!

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I spoke of Teagan’s mastery of our humans’ unconscious workings. Here is an example: Mother was taught by nuns from childhood through university and, although she loved them and has had many nun friends as an adult, there is a deep “nun archetype” of authority that unconsciously snaps mother into unquestioning obedience. Note how brilliantly Sister Mary Teagan has worked this to her, and our, advantage. Many a laugh–and automatic treat–have resulted. I think it is the suggestion of the veil, but also the stern gaze that makes Teagan the unparalleled artist in this field.

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Teagan has also trained mother through an entire “evening sequence” that we all admire greatly; indeed, we are left breathless at how smoothly it flows, perfectly cued and timed to occur nightly, without a hitch. At 7:00 precisely, mother is reading contentedly, when Teagan approaches and stands up on her rear paws to “sweetly” peek over the foot of the chaise. This causes mother–with no thought process evident at all, so automatically is she trained to respond–to open and spread a blanket in her lap. This is done exactly as Teagan has trained mother to do, for it must be just so, with a perfect pocket indented in the blanket for Teagan’s nestling pleasure. And once Teagan is settled, mother must cross and fold the blanket over and around her as endless practice has perfected, until–success!–Teagan is swaddled cozily in her banky for the evening.

We all watched with amazement as this complex training was accomplished over a series of months. Teagan used the withholding of kisses until rewards were earned; she employed her “nun gaze;” resurrected her puppyhood’s complete indifference (aha! a retreat to mother’s old fear of failing to be loved by Teagan!), and then inserted shrewdly-timed cuddles and “good girl” nudges to provide mother with gentle encouragement and guide her towards completing her arduous training. As you can see, if your training can be broken down into simple steps, oft and calmly repeated, judiciously rewarded, and firmly reinforced, then success will be yours.

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The boys, who are far less exacting, have nonetheless, trained father to accept their nightly presence as well. (I have learned that my Adorableness allows me to rest anywhere I like, though I have not trained our humans with the exactitude of Teagan, the Trailblazer.)

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Although, we have a Recent Development that bears watching. Malarky has begun to leap onto mother’s lap at 6:45, thus edging Teagan out. He may also be attempting the nun-look and failing miserably. Mother, in her peaceful oblivious manner, allows them both to nestle with her, but we can all tell Teagan is plotting, and eagerly await her next move. Larky will likely not know what hit him. And so, we train the humans and vie for power in our pack: the life of canines everywhere.

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Thus concludes the first chapter of my oeuvre on training your humans. There is so much more, of course, to explore and upon which to expound; for example, forming alliances:

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But these will have to wait for another day, as it is time to herd our mother and father out of doors for another walk. Their exercise is so vital, as is their intake of healthy food and water…our work is never done, but it is ever and deeply rewarding, our raison dêtre, as it were. I leave you with these two photos of our humans. Aren’t they darling? Simple, even insipid, but ours, and we love them. We’ll keep training them and protecting them; it’s a good life and they’re doing well. After all…just look at these sweet pictures! You can see how earnestly they believe that they have chosen to feed us. Success!

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A very Happy Valentine’s Day 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 Holiest Moment

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It began, I suppose, at day’s end,
calming yourself before sleep,
reviewing the hours, sifting for
that shimmering moment when
breath and presence and senses
aligned, mirrors circling mirrors
startled your mind into encompassed
awareness, and you paused, irradiated,
ravished like a lover intimate with her own life.
That was it, you said; there was nothing like it
before or after, this was the day’s holiest moment,
and you strung the memory like a jeweled bead
beside the others you’d saved, and rewound the
necklace of chosen insights around your heart
(a miser counting so few coins), glittering and gone:

the burnished paint-spilled sunrise, the shivering
rescued puppy, its joy in finding safe harbor,
your beloved’s voice, eyes, touch, laughter,
the spider’s web, the intentional ant carrying
the articulated leaf, the porcelain bowl of ruby
berries glittering with juice, the kitchen aromas
of your next meal, the rising major chorale or
single minor violin, the whisper of lilac carried
on the rainwashed breeze, the mending embrace
after javelined words carried you too far into pain,
the flash of lightning, or of anger rightly piercing
lies, the unexpected kindness, the stranger’s smile,
the uprush of birdsong, and then finally one night,
old as you are, you see blessings like shining stars
everywhere, and every moment is a holy moment
known, lived, and released, so you set down the task
of sifting through and singling out and only breathe
into them, and you kneel, whispering, “grateful,
only let me be grateful, now and now and now…”

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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.

Haiku in Winter

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night stretches sleepless–
owl counsels from snowy branch
what will worry change?

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tending fallen bird–
healing life within your hands
you are the rescued

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gray days string along–
memories of spring erupt
flowering in dreams

A lovely treat arrived in the mail, and just when I needed it: an early edition of my new book, The Rare, Tiny Flower, a lovely collaboration with the gifted illustrator, Quim Torres, and all my talented friends at Tra Publishing. What wonders can happen if we truly listen to others’ points of view? (Release date: March 22, 2022; available to order from your favorite bookstores now!)

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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.

In Praise of Winter

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If there’s anything cozier than sitting by the fire with a good book while January’s Full Wolf Moon rises in winter’s purple sky, I haven’t experienced it. Add my loved ones in similar comfy postures, a few blankets, some wine, hot homemade ginger water, or cocoa (do they make cocoa ginger wine?), soft background music, and I’m the definition of content.

It’s easy to dislike the stretch of bland gray days these winter months offer us, but the magical sunrises and sunsets, the slow post-holiday pace, the still-brief daylight, and the feeling of cocooning together make it a season that becomes dearer to me every year. After years of wishing these months would just pass into spring already, I can finally relax into them, understanding that what’s happening in the garden is happening in me as well: life is resting, percolating, and waiting to rise.

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I’ve come to trust the winter months’ mysterious powers to stimulate dreams, generate ideas, and shape connections in my psyche. A lot of new creative projects are brewing and bubbling just beneath consciousness and I’ve learned to let them be; they’ll green and bud when they’re ready. In the meantime, I love the chance to read piles of books, to meditate more and for longer periods, to do little projects in the house, and to indulge in naps that the summer’s activities don’t often allow.

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We’ve had some rough weeks dealing with sudden, painful, and dispiriting setbacks in my healing from knee surgery, but I think we’re back on track again, for which I’m most grateful. After weeks of resting and hobbling behind a walker, I went for my first walk with Phillip today. It was cold and bleak outside, and I loved it. Fresh air, winter sounds, frosty smells, and mobility; I felt tentative and new, released into a strange and brilliant world.

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When you look closely at the world in winter, so much life is revealed in a landscape that at first appears utterly barren. We saw the tracks of rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, mice, and a deer or two, and heard the hooting owls and jays. Mourning doves huddled at the feeding tray Phillip set out (our very own dove bar), and a variety of birds swooped back and forth between trees and the hanging feeders.

In the same way, although we’re outwardly resting in greater stillness during winter, a closer look reveals some of life’s most profound activities: healing, dreaming, waiting expectantly, and trusting that what demands growth and tending in spring will be met with our winter-fortified readiness.

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Gentle peace to you, and joy in all the creativity brewing in your own winter hibernaculum, and the same wishes to the actively-creative sunbathed days of all my friends in the Southern Hemisphere.

© 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.

On Healing

There are moments
for uprooting your aching
spirit and cradling it tenderly,
awaiting the uncoiling infant
greenness coming to probe
your waiting heart with new life.
Everything must bear its scars,
but choose to yield their grace.

Watch how the winter world goes
about its business. Be witness
to the frenzy of the feeding birds,
freezing wings beating through
the bluest winter sky. They suffer,
yet they soar. Note how the garden’s
ghosts bend beneath ice and snow,
harboring spring, how active death
can be, how deliberate its service to
life. And in the moonlight’s bright beams,
hear the coyotes make symphony of their
mystery and hunger. Be comforted, then,
in your healing. All the world transforms
through pain, labouring what answers
must be born, what sacrifices life requires
to create its owned and precious beauty.

© 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.
 
 

I want to share a friend’s offering, for anyone who may have and interest in creating films with their smartphones. It sounds like a creative, interesting class! https://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/smartphone-filmmaking-a-2-part-workshop/smartphone-filmmaking-2-part-workshop.

And another friend’s wonderful anthology, Navigating the Pandemic, since we still are. www.dandelionbook.com

Be safe and well, my dear friends.

 

Brought to Our Knees

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Winter is upon us, and if it’s no longer clothed in brilliant whites and silvers, I still welcome its silence, stillness, and the gift of seeing the breaths of my life exhale and, in their expiration, cloud before me as I walk down the trail. Although, as it’s just a week since my knee surgery, I suspect the verb “walk” is imprecise; my gait is just shy of clownish and barely propels me forward. I call it “meditative walking;” that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’m grateful I can locomote at all, and every day a bit further. I endured some rather painful days and nights before I could attempt moving without a walker, so it was a treat to stumble out to the bridge and wish the Canada Geese a Happy Solstice this morning.

I am reminded again, forever, that suffering is a deeply human experience and arrives with its losses and blessings for us to hold up to the light of scrutiny and prayer (whatever that means for us), derive and integrate what we will from it, and possibly accept and pursue the invitations to become more deeply human. This also suggests each of us is free to define exactly what becoming “more deeply human” might mean in our life.

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For me, it’s a journey of opening my being wider to the Great All; understanding and accepting the connections among every particle of creation and consistently paring away at that unique and ingrained hubris of my species that causes us homo sapiens to believe we’re somehow superior to, and separate from, all other lifeforms and bits of creation, while at the same time being utterly incapable of seeing how false that premise is. A glance around the planet just now would seem to be a grand invitation for us to evolve beyond that blindness, to truly see the suffering such small understanding of our purpose and potential has caused.

And that’s what suffering helps me to consider: the responsibility to evolve. Suffering makes us dependent, vulnerable, fragile, weak. Here is the path to holiness/wholeness. Pain brings us to our knees (figuratively; had I literally gone to my knees this week, I’d still be there). And on our knees, we are prone to seek, through our version of prayer, answers that have eluded us.

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And, oh, I have learned that there are life-changing quests best pursued on our knees. A great gift of kneeling is the closer proximity to the earth that it affords. Through our suffering, we are made humble (Middle English: from Old French, from Latin humilis ‘low, lowly’, from humus ‘ground’); we are re-grounded. Of course, it’s all a choice. Growth or its rejection are always choices. All we can do is try; try to convert our suffering to the wisdom of accepting our place in the Great All, with deep gratitude and humility. And then rise, to serve one another (all life) in our healing and wholeness. To participate fully and uniquely, as we have been sent, to co-create the community of existence in Love. Why would we think we’re here for anything less, given the miracle we’re here at all?

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So, joy to your seasons, whatever they offer as we spin through time and space. Great joy, deep hope, and a great deal of merry humility. I leave you with my old carol, Welcoming the Stranger; whatever your spiritual orientation, I hope it sings to your heart.

A Peaceful Solstice, a Merry Christmas, and, when we’re brought to our knees, may we all be blessed with others to help us rise and find our place in the company of loving particles.

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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 sacred dance.

See the holy 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 sacred 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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A beautiful story for you: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/12/21/baltimore-rodgers-forge-christmas-lights/

© 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.

Outtake: Look! It’s Santa!

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Gentle Time

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I was recently invited to sift through my past year and reflect both on a recalled and prominent moment of insight, and on ways to carry its wisdom into the New Year. It’s an interesting spiritual practice.

At first, I doubted any unique awareness had penetrated my gray matter deeply enough to set the brain case on fire, as Bertie Wooster might say, but in exploring the idea, I realized I have tiny insights every day; I think we all do. Big epiphanies are rare (for me), but looking back over the year was helpful because the retrospective perspective allowed me to see how the momentary understandings may accrue into deeper ones, if we pursue them with focus and enliven them with our actions.

And I learned that even established and deepening rituals can become more profound by scrutinizing their intent and value. Why am I doing this? What aspect of my growth does it serve? How does it enrich what I’m offering others? Sitting with the symbols, metaphors, and archetypes that arise when we consider our rituals is helpful. If our spiritual practices aren’t transforming who we are and how we move in the world, perhaps we can explore and retrieve their value, alter them, or discard them and seek other ways of conscious becoming and meaningful being.

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Here was my insight on a ritual that began with lighting candles and evolved into what we call our Gentle Time:

When we both retired a few years ago, we stumbled for a time, searching for new ways to begin days that had always started with us rushing, spinning, and leaving in separate directions.

I began lighting candles in the kitchen and great room as I moved through them in the morning to make our coffee and feed the cats, while my husband walked and fed the five rescue dogs. Then, we’d sit with our coffee, the four-leggeds snuggling on the couch with my husband and beside me on my chair, and we would enjoy the morning’s stillness, the flicker of the candles, and the rising sun. Sometimes, we’d read to each other; or we’d share what we’d read or dreamt about the night before, discuss our anxiety for the world and our country’s increasing disparities (and how to solve them all), and set out our plans for the new day.

That simple practice of lighting candles has evolved into what Phillip calls our Gentle Time, and it all began with the lighting of the candles. My favorite insight this year came at midsummer, when I paused to consider the sun was rising and there was no logical need for candlelight. I realized then that we’d created a valued ritual that now holds deep meaning for the way we begin each morning.

I’m like an acolyte, in service to life’s Great Mystery; lighting the candles to consecrate the gift of a new day. They wake us up to the sacred space which surrounds us everywhere, and the Love that binds us to it. I realized last summer that it’s so much more than a habit of lighting candles and beginning the day quietly; it’s beginning each day with reverence and gratitude. And this realization has begun to change the way we complete our work throughout the day.

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In the new year (well, starting now, thanks to the slowing and pondering offered by writing the requested reflection), we’ve decided to consciously end our day with a Gentle Time as well, turning off the discouraging news programs, the movies–and yes, even PBS–to again light a candle and just be together, grateful for the day and its gifts, sharing the ways we’ve each tried to add our own light to the world during these precious hours, or acknowledging missed chances and committing to trying again tomorrow. Such practices help us to live more consciously—and so we heal, we make ourselves whole, and we evolve.

Tomorrow, I have a surgery to repair a torn meniscus, so I’ll be offline for a time to focus on healing and the holidays.

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I also wanted to share three of my favorite charities, if anyone’s casting about for a way to help during this season of giving. I know there are greater needs than we can meet, but everything we share makes us more profoundly understand how deeply we’re all connected. Feel free to share your own favorite charities in the comments.

The first I offer for your consideration is local to Madison, Wisconsin. A dear friend and gifted physician has led an effort to create a hospice/home for the homeless, which I see as both a blessed goal and dire need. She’s connected with other agencies and gifted helpers, and Solace Friends Inc. plans to open this home in 2022. You can read more about this and make donations at solacefriends.org

The second charity is Unbound. Phillip and I have participated with Unbound as sponsors for 30 years. When you go to the website, you can search through the profiles of elderly people and children all over the world, all of whom are in need of your help. You choose one (or more) and “sponsor” them by sending a small monthly monetary donation that provides basic needs for them and, of course, contributes to their family’s welfare as well. You’re encouraged to exchange e-mails with your friend, and translators assist, so no worries about language barriers. We currently sponsor a young man in Guatemala whom we’ve been honored and delighted to know since he was a small child.

The third charity is your local animal rescue organization, and if your health and the ongoing pandemic allow, they can always use volunteers as well.

I wish us all a bright and blessed New Year. Be merry, and gentle peace to you and your beloveds.

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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.

I saw a man walking towards or away

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I’ve seen this in forests, the odd bike
so long ago leaned and left against a tree
that bark and limb have grown round it,
entangling the spokes and frame,
tree and bike, one becoming the other,
or the cars forsaken and rain-glazed,
growing old and older beside the lonely road,
driven and abruptly ditched (I love you;
I love you not), rusting back to earth,
or the farm picker,
planter,
plow
forgotten in the field,
jilted on a hill, now concealed
and circled by sapling sentinels.
Abandoned.
Disowned.
I want
to know
the story.

What thought,
or love,
or searing grief
caused you to stop
so suddenly, to still,
and turn away forever
from what was yours?
Did you finally meet
your yearned-for yes?
Or crushing no?
What sent you spinning
on that shiny dime
from one life into another?
And were you walking towards or away?
When you left home that day
on your bike,
in your car,
seated on your metal plow,
what encounter, what manifestation
or moment’s metanoia,
what flashing bright insight
shot you from your seat
with such unforeseen and instant force?
Did a bush burn before you?
Did a voice call you beloved?
As you walked into your sudden
and surprising choice, did your heart
uplift, feathered, swift? Or was sorrow’s
footprint stamped in every weighty step,
marking a trail of regret? Did you once
look back
or whisper farewell?

And as the forest curtain closed behind you,
or the wheat unbent its golden stalks
to stand once more upright and tight,
or the branches curled round
your bike, claiming its abiding love,
did someone else turn off a light,
already knowing
you would never return?

© 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.

“Tis Always the Season

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Our home is set back from the county road and beside a state bike trail on the north, a river runs along the eastern border, a wooded area lines the south, and a shared driveway borders the west. We have neighbors, but all of us are well-cushioned by land, the river, and trees. The pandemic has kept us all a bit more secluded as well. We noticed a nearby home for sale last July, but lost track of whether it sold or went off the market. We knew the woman who lived there, but not well.

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Yesterday afternoon, I took the pups Teagan and Gracie for a walk. Phillip and “the boys” headed out in the opposite direction. When the girls and I turned off the trail to the stretch of driveway we share with other neighbors, a stranger was walking towards us, also with a leashed dog. I felt a moment of unnerved panic, duly noted and quickly pushed aside by common sense. I asked if I could help her. Despite barking dogs, I learned it was she who had bought our neighbor’s home a few months ago. We exchanged names and I invited her to our home when she had a free moment. It would have been nice to speak longer, but my girls were unfortunately not on their best behavior.

The momentary anxiety I’d felt about a stranger with a dog on the driveway transmuted into the pleasure of meeting a new neighbor. An illuminating encounter, despite my ability to meet it with hope or trust.

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The deep anticipation of the Christmas season and its many invitations to our spirits and choices make this my favorite time of year. This is the merry and bright, light in the darkness, hope and joy-filled season, and I can’t seem to get enough of it this year.

I have a minor knee surgery scheduled mid-month, so I’ve been decorating and crossing pleasurable holiday tasks off my list earlier this year. My darling husband has really entered the spirit, too, and kindly built benches, and boxes for greens and dogwoods, and helped add lights, to make the lower entrance to our home a bit more cheerful.

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But it’s not just that I’ll be out of commission in a couple weeks. My delight in unpacking ornaments and finding just a bit more space to spread them around, add a few more lights, and risk making our home look like a Hallmark nightmare, is feeding a very deep hunger spiritually and emotionally.

When I paused to notice how deeply I’m falling into Christmas merry-making this year, I recognized my need for greater light at the center of my life, for joy and peace to fill our home in ways it really hasn’t since 2020. I want to be drenched in the hope and trust that Christmas always brings, the belief that when we love more, love wins.

Some days, I sense that the human race is sliding into its end times, as though we may be nearing the last few celebrations of holidays before the armed crazed-and-dangerous, the pandemic, the increasing climate change; the continuous racial tensions; the burden of economic inequality; the sins of our own inaction and pervasive human despair tip the balance and do us in. Omicron is not helping to ease the stress level.

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I wonder if, on some level, my total holiday immersion is a way of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing carols, scattering tinsel, baking cookies, wrapping pretty packages, and ringing bells to keep from confronting yet again the perilous moment in which we seem to find ourselves, hanging on a bending branch, having overshot the cliff.

We’re weary of the noise and isolation and necessary damned adjustments to our schedules, expectations, and preferences at every turn. We’re angry that those spreading hatred and violence are not silenced until they can calm down, see reason, find peace somewhere, anywhere, just stop being cruel.

The number of responsible adults on the globe seems to be diminishing as quickly as the intelligence, maturity, and civility that are their distinguishing traits. If there were ever a need for heroines, heroes, leaders with vision, and positive change-agents, it’s now.

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We need good people sharing good news and making good noise in the world.

I recognize that all of this encroaching darkness has made me a bit more leery of strangers walking towards me on the trail, and the news of the world coming at me daily. I think my response to this fear of what’s coming is certainly reflected in my Christmas joy this year. I have not been a fearful person in my life and I have not allowed despair to linger at my spirit’s door; becoming that person is not an option at this point in my life. But the daily news (and the way it’s presented) has been challenging. I want us to feel safe and be happy, and to do some of that rejoicing the season has always promised. I want to push back against the dark.

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But while I’ve been happily looking forward to our celebrations here and in video calls with friends and family, I know my ability to hold space for incoming joy in every aspect of my life has become withered and weak. The gloom of the world has colored my spontaneous and usually joyful openness to what’s ahead. Dread and fear have crept in, a pervasive doubt that humanity is truly more well than ill-intentioned, more generous than selfish, more ready to love than quick to hate. Whatever is before me, heading down the pike, I think I’ve gradually come to anticipate it’s likely bad news, something that threatens our peace and welfare. There lies the death of hope. And trust.

Yesterday, I sat with the purpose of Advent, of anticipating the “coming encounter” with Love we call Christmas, and pondered how I could more authentically practice hopeful anticipation towards all that’s coming at me. Can I really believe anymore that Love is always arriving? That good people with good news will be making good noise?

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Yesterday startled me into waking up to the gift of meeting what’s coming with hope and trust. The stranger I hesitated to meet is a new neighbor, a potential friend and welcome gift in our lives. This joy I’ve been feeling in decorating and preparing for our own little holiday has to infuse my thinking and actions about our present world and its future as well.

My anticipation has to focus on the surprising ways Love comes to meet us, always. It challenges us, it turns us on our heads, it asks us to be hopeful and to convert more and more deeply to its wide open brilliance and breadth. All are welcome; all are held; all belong. And Love teaches us, over and over, that we can choose to predicate our expectations and anticipation on carrying joy into every meeting. How we encounter the unknown has to be as loving and joyful, as trusting and hopeful as how we meet the known. How we move through our lives and anticipate what’s coming must be as buoyant as when we know we’re heading into Christmas, into the arms of someone we love. It’s always the season for radiant hope and the expectation of joy coming our way.

That will make us good people sharing good news and making good noise. People with deep hope and trust in a future that, despite its challenges, will hold constant encounters with Love. Loving more, loving wins.

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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.

Another treat yesterday, at sunset: ice crystals swirling in the air formed an amazing rainbow/icebow…After I’d shut down the camera, we just watched and enjoyed the colored brilliance. As it was fading, its double formed beside it, and they drifted away together. An illuminating encounter.

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Happy Thanksgiving

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I offer this former post, and this, holiday blessings for your peace.

And this wonderful story, for your joy.

I send love and prayers for your safe and merry gatherings, or your time in peaceful solitude during this season of Light. May it be a fruitful time of reorienting to the good and true within and without, and the actions we must take to preserve these precious gifts, and offer them, in love, to heal the world. Create, be well and joyful, and dwell in gentle peace.

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And finally, for your smile:

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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 Still Room

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For centuries, the still room was the sole
sanctuary and laboratory of women, the room
where kitchen garden harvests of flowers and
herbs were reduced to their essence, distilled,
brewed, separated, recombined, acknowledged
for the gifts they offered, the singular medicines
they provided, the flavors and healing they infused
into the lives of families and guests. Wisdom from
women, mingled and shared from spirits, lips, breasts,
hands, wombs, in still rooms, in rooms of stillness across time.

Let us return now to our still rooms, dear sisters,
for the world is sorely in need of our women’s gifts
for reducing too many words to their essential meaning,
for condensing mad noise to its sacred music, and crazed chaos
to peaceful purpose. Let us remind the world how the flavors
and functions of kindness and love alter the weary soul, how
listening transforms action and forgiveness gently mends
what has been broken. Let us offer a brew of patience
and hope that calms the breath and opens the heart to all
the miracles that pass from lips, breasts, hands, wombs,
in still rooms. In rooms of stillness, across time, the wisdom
of women has always saved the world. Let us create and heal.

© 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.

Genesis

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We had sabotaged our miracles
and crippled our world. We had never
arrived where we’d come to be.
It was a time for setting down
our empty work, our language
of estrangement and discord,
to gather and to feed on stories,
offered and received.
We asked to be nourished
and released into dreaming.

Everything invited our attention, altered
our perceptions. Setting down the old,
gestating the new; we utterly surrendered
to this moment, our world submerged
in the slippery clay of possibility.

It was a time when death and life entwined
and the sorting required sacred watching,
deep listening, patience that scraped away ego.
Only hope remained, a respiration of hope.
What is passing? What is coming? We mixed
our questions like seeds in earthen vessels
and cradled each other’s answers, casting
them into the waiting garden we had become.

The walls dissolved; all we had built and believed
fell away. We were raw, transparent,
seeing what we had not seen before, there,
in our souls, blazing, now transformed.

We stood on our heads
and smelled new visions, their call,
tasted new music, its potential,
saw new flavors, their ways of being,
heard new contours, their textures and densities,
touched new perfumes, their radiating gifts.
Our only desire was to create in love
to create from love
to create anew and love
what we created
together.

We reasoned with our hearts
danced in our stories
slept in the sacred All
and woke to starlight
then drank it,
our bodies smiling
and eager to begin.
This is the holy land;
this is the holy moment.

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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.

I would like to invite your interest in Navigating the Pandemic, an inspiring and reflective anthology compiled by my friend, Teresa Schreiber Werth. Proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to to the Society of Refugee Healthcare Providers, a U.S. non-profit organization dedicated to improving the healthcare of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as addressing equity in healthcare.  Thank you, and gentle peace.

Mulberry Leaves

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It’s called the abscission zone,
the separation zone,
formed at the base of the petiole
where the leaf stem is bound to the branch,
layers of cells that respond to autumn’s
signals for parting. Some deciduous trees lose
leaves one by one, the abscission zone’s cells
weakening, expanding, letting go over days
or weeks, each leaf twirling away from home,
mourned in the moment of its holy fall,
but should a sudden frost breathe its dark ice
upon a mulberry tree, imminent abscission triggers
the pervasive release of every leaf. Stems are severed
from their twigs, cluttered leaves spiral, sent descending,
all at once together, a sudden shattered intimacy, so bold
a letting go, branches fully gowned at dawn hang bared
by midday, exposed to winter’s piercing gaze, a mountain
of leaves blanketing the earth, fallen. Surrendered.

One autumn, our neighbors left in the night. No sign,
no story shared to ready us, no spiraling gradation of
leave-taking; we woke to the silence of an emptied home,
hollowed rooms, blank windows staring, abruptly abandoned.
Perhaps a sudden frost entered their lives, a private calamity
descended like dark ice, leaving them breathless with no choice
but letting go. Surrendered. Relationships sever precisely where
they bonded. Sometimes, falling is easier than hanging on,
sometimes, falling is kinder than farewell.

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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 Changed

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The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. ~ from Galadriel’s prologue, The Fellowship of the Rings, (JRR Tolkien) film 2001

What is better than a grey, misty Friday in autumn for watching a film about goodness triumphing over evil? We’ve finished our chores early, have ordered lunch from our favorite Chinese take-out, and are about to begin viewing The Fellowship of the Rings as a kick-off to our Halloween weekend.

Without, a cold wind blows and the muted pearl light electrifies the colored leaves remaining on the trees. Within, a fire snaps and we’re about to embark on a magnificent journey of courage and sacrifice, of the noble, brave, and humble setting out to defeat the evil threatening their precious world. It’s an ancient story, and sadly, the need to be immersed in its lessons has rolled around to meet the human race once more.

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“If I take one more step, I’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been,” says Sam, setting out on his mysterious adventure. (He’s my favorite character.)

I’ve set out on my own small adventure this week, by deleting my Facebook account. The reams of evidence detailing their corporate greed and willingness to sacrifice their corporate conscience has been the final straw for me. My family and most of my friends are not local; Facebook has kept us in daily touch and allowed me to participate in many groups that fed my spirit, so, for me, this was a difficult parting. But also strangely exciting and potentially freeing. I am not unmoored from my dear ones, since I have their e-mails and phone numbers, but I am freed from that addictive and frequent need to check, scroll, like and be liked that social media perpetuates. And my nagging conscience is satisfied that I did one right thing this week. And that’s worth celebrating.

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The world is changed. Something wicked this way comes. Trump, Orban, Murdoch, Bolsonaro, white supremacists, et. al., have let loose a cruelty of spirit and actions I believe must be met by courage and a refusal to engage at their evil’s own low level of language, thought, intelligence, behavior, and constant deceit. Yet it must be engaged. I hope those of us longing for the Earth’s care and the love of humanity will summon the wisdom and strength to meet our present danger with conviction and constant loyalty to the truth.

Stories feed my spirit when I fear for the world, as do prayer, nature, meditation, my faith, my relationships, and art. (Also chocolate and dancing, another story.) And what I need today is to be cozy with my dearest one and journey with heroes who never give up seeking the good for all.

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I wish you a Happy Halloween, filled with meeting your own fears and defeating them…and fun, and companionship, and inspiring stories, and sweet treats. And gentle peace.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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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.

Boots

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Far in the distance
We heard a sound
One man descending
A con man a clown.

Crowds began shouting
Rallying cries
Rampant vacuity
Met with our sighs.

Lies on the airwaves
Lies everywhere
We in denial
We unaware.

We with our doing
Glued to our phones
Anxiously hiding
The truth in our bones.

We were dismissive
We were too strong
We were intelligent
And we were wrong.

Lost in diversions
Viral hate grew
Met with denial
What could we do?

This wasn’t possible
Not now not here
We were too civilized
Answers were clear.

Turning on dimes
Decent ones fell
Selling democracy
Power for hell.

Those who resisted
Threatened and cursed
Fear kept us silent
More lies dispersed.

Losing our votes,
Losing our choice
Losing our country
Losing our voice.

Boots in the courthouse
Boots in the press
Boots on the altar
Boots in excess.

Boots led by loathing
Boots led by need
Boots led by ignorance
Boots led by greed.

Boots against masking
Boots against order
Boots against kindness
Boots at the border.

Boots against reason
Boots against fact
Boots against neighbor
Boots to distract.

Boots in the capital
Boots in the hall
We unbelieving
Watching truth fall..

Boots on the angry
Boots in the town
Boots on the billionaires
Boots all around.

Boots at the school board
Boots at the door
Could have done something
Should have done more.

Now we can hear them
Shouting their hate
Now we touch evil
Now it’s too late.

Boots marching over us
Boots marching on
Boots in the future
Boots when we’re gone.

© 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.

Dear Ones,

Please know that I am not without hope for our lives and the Earth, and in no darker place than anyone aware and sentient enough to realize we are on the tipping point. We’re not approaching it, sensing it in the distance, agreeing it will come some day, but precariously perched upon its slippery surface and swaying in the winds of our choices and actions. Artist, teacher, spiritual care worker–my life’s work has been to speak the truth in love. I fail all the time: I am impatient with procrastination and those who sit back instead of speaking up or lending a hand to the Good Cause. My tongue is often sharper than my wits. But denial is not helpful; living in a fantastical mirage may be comforting, but it does not serve the Earth, the helpless, or those too young to midwife the changes necessary for a just and peaceful existence. See what is, name it, encounter it in love, disarm its pain and suffering, heal what can be healed. This poem is an attempt to call out the dangers of looking away, of “thoughts and prayers” absent of action, and–truly–of surrendering our hope by refusing to engage with our gifts. For me, the photo means we can choose up or down, but we can’t put it off. Be safe and well. Be comforted by the beauty of the season. Speak out, in love.

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.