When I woke last week at 5:40 in the morning, I caught the full moon retiring in the still-black sky. Within minutes, it tangled itself in the oaks that are still holding fast to their brown curls. An hour later, as the sky brightened, I wondered, should I leave the warm comfy cove of blankets and drive to a hilltop to photograph the setting moon with the mercury dipped unseasonably below 20 degrees? No. Nah. Uh… Yes. Within 4 minutes I was out the door into the shock of cold. Minute by minute, the moon was sinking closer to the horizon. I drove a few miles until found a decent hilltop. The sun pitched a glaring fire behind me, and the moon, light as a slip, peeked shyly from a fringe of young treetops. I got the shot.
Did I have a tripod and take a world-class photo? No. But I did it. I did the thing I set out to do. And it was exhilarating. Sometimes, though, I don’t do it (whatever the it might be), or I don’t even set out. That’s because sometimes I get stuck in the sea of possibilities. Sometimes it’s just a puddle of possibilities that trips me up. Either way, I don’t get going. I swim and swim in my thoughts. But that day, I deliberated for under 30 seconds. And I did something. Not the perfect thing. But, the thing.
I recently flew across the country to San Diego to attend a conference for creative women. On top of fun and fabulous, the conference turned out to be incredibly practical and deeply insightful. Before we got into the tough stuff, we were asked to choose a word tattoo to place on our body somewhere. I had to glance over the list, and choose a word that spoke to me on some level. I chose possibilities, but it felt more like possibilities had chosen me. I didn’t really want that word. I already have notebooks, mindmaps, and cabinets full of ideas and possibilities. Sometimes they weigh me down because, as I said, I swim and swim in that sea. The last thing I needed was more stuff to swirl around in. Then it hit me. What I needed was a new way to relate to possibilities. A way to let them rise up around me and follow me like a glitter cloud, and yet be able to just choose one. Any one. And go.
Without mulling over my other tattoo options, I promptly sponged possibilities on the soft inside of my forearm. Huh. It looked oddly natural, as if it belonged to me in a way no other word would have belonged.
The little black script has since washed away, but its spirit lingers. Capturing the full moon in the pale morning sky last week, I sensed the dawn of a new friendship between me and my possibilities. I didn’t take the perfect shot of the moon. I just took a good one.
On December 8th, I’m offering an online writing workshop! I’m so excited because writing is one of my favorite ways to work through possibilities! I’ll be sending out more information on the workshop in a day or so. I hope you’ll join me!
So here’s the moon and your possibilities. Here’s to taking the shot from wherever you wind up, less than prepared, in that less than perfect circumstance. Maybe the shot you take will even be a good one. But no matter what, your day will be better because you took it.
Just before daybreak
blue jays light the morning song:
I am here, alive.
I wrote this haiku two days ago, and had planned to post it this morning, but I had no photo to include. First things first, I wanted to water my flowers this morning, before the heat. As I dragged the hose across the lawn, what should be directly in my path but a blue jay feather.
A find like this was automatically for me three things: a sign (all is well, because that’s what feathers mean for me), a reminder (don’t forget to post that blue jay haiku), and a gift (here’s the photo you were looking for).
Haiku are fun to write. If you’ve never had a teacher tell you the formula, it’s 3 lines with 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Writing a haiku is like buying a pair of shoes: beauty, comfort, and fit!
Prayer Before Dawn at Easter
May the light of Easter
come to the dark woods
where I now wait
in this arena of brightening birdsong,
and rise in me in a new way
that I may bring the brilliance
hope, renewal, promise,
eradication of brokenness—
to a beautiful fruition
in my next thought.
For One Who Is Unable to Leave the House
When the world has folded in
and left you stranded in your own home,
may you remember that you are not alone.
While you are not living as freely as you once did,
may you remember that you are held
in the earnest circles of prayer,
by someone who may not know you,
and yet loves you, dear Child of God.
May you be free of the harsh filter
that would narrow your vision into pain and criticism
so that you see in your past a trail of fruit and wonder,
God’s goodness as it has unfolded throughout your life.
Even now, as you live with loss, may the angels
soften your sitting, your resting, your dreaming
and open for you the flowers of beautiful thought,
reminding you that you have gifts yet to give—
kindness, love, and the enduring leaning toward God.
This poem is dedicated to those whom I know and love who are no longer able to leave their house freely and are living within the space of their home. It’s also my prayer for everyone I don’t know who suffers the loneliness and isolation of having an illness or injury that keeps them from participating in the life they once had. May you be blessed.
Mother and Child Photo by Cheryl Racanelli. San Alfonso Retreat House.
Be a Serenity Star: Sleep Well
Sweet Serenity Star,
Sleep well. Imagine
a single Energy Angel
of infinite sparkling
all night, infusing
you, your every
cell and space,
of healing light.
This is your new
All is well.
Be a Serenity Star: An Intention for the Christmas Season
This year, I’m trying something new.
I’m creating a practice:
Be a Serenity Star.
Right about now
I usually start “Christmas Thinking,”
that endless rumination
on the infinite ways
to do or not do
the things I believe
are required for a
Despite my efforts every year
to manage Christmas Thinking,
I deplete myself.
I lose sleep. At both ends of the night.
But this year instead,
when I find myself
getting caught up in what
doesn’t really matter,
I’m choosing to
find a Serenity Star,
1. a soft illumination
in the sky or field or mind
that guides me back
to the Present Moment.
2. someone with an inner light
that illuminates a kinder way
and welcomes me back
to my true self.
This is a practice.
Something to return to
a thousand times a day
if need be.
Find a Serenity Star.
Follow a Serenity Star.
Be a Serenity Star.
Prayer for Those in Darkness or Despair
O Beautiful Mother upon a Cloud
with your mantle of sky,
adorned with pearls of light,
Lift me from despair and darkness
into the brilliance of your gaze.
Keep me lifted
in mind, body, and spirit,
supported by angels
guided by stars,
that I may move fully
into your presence
and receive the gifts I need.
With deepest devotion,
I thank you for every
Recently I visited the historic Saint Lucy’s Church in Newark, New Jersey. Built in 1925 by Italian immigrants, the church has all the beauty and splendor of a cathedral. Marble columns, murals painted by Gonippo Raggi, statues of all sizes and types, and marvelous stained glass windows that tell the stories of faith, sorrow, and triumph.
I was particularly taken with two very different statues of Our Lady of the Cloud. One statue rendered Mary in a beautiful sparkling mantle. The other was surrounded by lights. Although I’d never heard of this name for the Blessed Mother, I felt called to pray to this beautiful woman of light and hope. After a quick search, I learned that Our Lady of the Cloud refers to the appearance of the Blessed Mother to a small village in Ecuador in 1696. She appeared on a cloud in the sky above the village.
I also found a standard Catholic prayer to Our Lady of the Cloud, but it didn’t fit. I tried for a week or two to write something broad and beautiful, devotional and deep. In the end, I went off the track and wrote something spontaneous, simple and real.
Although the prayer is written in first person, when I say this prayer, I’m also praying for all persons in despair or darkness.
Any time I’m feeling overwhelmed, even by ordinary circumstances, this prayer is a reminder for me to look up, be held, and say thank you.
Wishing you beauty and bounty this Thanksgiving.
St. Lucy’s Church, Newark, NJ
I’m so excited to be offering another poetry writing workshop at Yoga Synthesis yoga studio! The next sessions are Wednesday, November 7 from 1-3 PM and Friday, November 9 from 7-9 PM.
Register now, and save $5, or pay $30 at the door.
Discover how a simple practice of writing free-form poetry can transform and deepen your relationship with yourself and your world. Each of us has been given the gift of creativity, with infinite possibilities for expression. Read more…
Play with words, dream with words, heal with words. Come and find your words.
Yours in love in healing,
I’m so happy I can share my work with you in a new way! My book of poetry, 59 Prayers, is now available in print. 59 Prayers is a collection of poems that blossomed from the union of my writing life and my spiritual life. It’s not a book of religion or sanctioned prayer, but an exploration of love, doubt, suffering, and joy.
As some of you may know, I’ve been on a long healing journey. During that time, when so much stillness and solitude were required, poetry became a lifeline. The writing process enabled me to transform negative energy and amplify positive energy. I chose to examine ordinary events through the slow lens of poetry. I created poems that made me feel better. And I have always hoped that the poems would make you feel better, too.
59 Prayers includes some poems that have appeared on this blog as well as other poems I’ve written from the same sea of experience. Some of the poems in 59 Prayers come from a place of struggle or questioning, others from a sense of communion or divine presence. Some of the poems offer blessing for special occasions or life events, such as marriage or interviewing for a job. Others seek to find meaning and beauty in an imperfect world. It’s my hope that you will find the book to be an experience of blessing and healing.
Thank you for following my blog and supporting my work. The world needs more love, and this is one way I’ve chosen to contribute.
59 Prayers is available for purchase on Amazon.