Be Surprised!

Two nights ago, I witnessed the most marvelous moonrise I had ever seen. 

The moon was one sliver shy of full, which only added to the rarity of the experience. 

I was driving at the time, and couldn’t stop to admire the moon or photograph it. I could only keep driving and keep marveling. 

What I loved most about the whole experience, was the surprise in that first moment I glimpsed the moon.

I wrote this poem today. I hope you like it.



P.S. The photo after the poem was taken last night (by me), the day after the Surprise Moon. Because the moon rises about one hour later each night, last night’s moon rose in the dark. Still spectacular, still surprising. 

Surprise Moon

Driving a tangle of highways 
through the slightly scary 
industrial lands, 
my car rises up on one of the many 
roadways over roadways, 
suspending me 
in a clearing of sorts,

just enough for the pastel blue sky to deliver 
on a silver platter of factory rooftops 
a gigantic luminous moon

a peach from God’s basket 
that should have fallen 
on an evergreen mountain in Maine 
not here, not at sixty miles an hour 
on a potholed road.

I shout with glee, 
things I cannot remember, 
half sentences, a child overtaken 
by delight

Nowhere to stop and pull over and marvel, 
I keep driving, heading deeper 
into the knotted roadways of the cities 
that line the Hudson River, 
stopping and squeezing and inching
through traffic

which is the oddest of gifts, 
offering me vignette after vignette 
of the urban moon, 
peeking around a warehouse, 
sitting like a jewel above a rowhouse, 
and wedged between these lofts and those.

Never has a moon been set 
this large, this orange 
against a sky 
this clear, this bright.

As I wind down the final cliff, 
the moon hovers 
like a cantaloupe-colored spaceship 
over the spires of Manhattan 
gilded by the sun just setting behind me.

Seatbelted in awe, 
I wonder, who should I tell? 
Who would care this much?

And then I wonder, 
who might care about me 
this much, enough 
to orchestrate an errand in urban traffic, 
just so I could be surprised.

Here’s the moon through my camera, last night, the day after the Surprise Moon…


Nature: Still Open for Business

Brook, March

Sun lays its mat on the water.
       Stones shine, watersong brightens.
Four trees stripe the brook with shadow—
       subtle bridges
from west to east, winter to spring,
       from nothing to something.


Living in a shut-down state means most of the places I usually visit are closed. But nature is still open for business, flaunting daffodils and ridges of forsythia, and the tiniest of red rust buds on the giant oaks and elms.

I walk the neighborhood almost daily, and it’s been my time to NOT think about the state of things, and focus on whatever nature is offering up that day. This is a pic I took when I stopped to listen to a local brook.

Initially I found it nearly impossible to make art with a head full of survival plans, grocery lists, and contingencies. But two days after taking the pic, I wrote a poem. I thought I was writing about the shadows that fell so neatly across the brook, but really, I was creating a bridge for myself, a bridge to cross over from artistic blackout back to creativity.

I hope you are well.


Looking for serenity this season?

Serenity Star:
A Writing Workshop for a Serene Season.

Have you ever written a poem or intention just for yourself? A poem of the soul to guide and support your journey? You don’t need to be a writer or a poet to gather words into a beautiful message. Join me for this online workshop, an hour and a half of relaxation and creativity. With delightful prompts, you’ll write your own poem, prayer, or intention, a star in the night to help you navigate the holiday season with serenity and light.

This workshop will be held online! That means you can show up in your smooshy clothes with your favorite wineglass or hot cocoa mug and simply click a link to enter our workshop “room.”

Think of this as a retreat from the tumbleweed of demands and emotions that arise in December. Think of this as a time of restoration, an hour to consider your focus for a time of year that for many of us gets completely out of control in one way or another. You will be guided through a series of writing activities, and will finish the workshop with a poem or prayer you have written just for yourself.

The workshop will be Sunday, December 8th at 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST.

Just as if you were at one of my in-person workshops, you’ll be able to see the other participants and share your thoughts and work (or not, if you don’t want to).

In a season where it’s easy to spend hundreds on gifts for others, you can gift yourself with this workshop for a gentle price of $35.

Sign up here.

The funny thing is, as we give a gift of time to ourselves, something good happens in our heart, and that goodness comes with us wherever we go. Your heartfelt work affects the world. Instead of just wishing for peace on earth, let’s create some.


Do something different this year.

Join me. Write yourself some serenity.

Possibilities, the Full Moon, and a Workshop

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.



Late July


Late July

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

aaron-burden-601561-unsplash cross in light

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
of resurrection—
hope, renewal, promise,
eradication of brokenness—
to a beautiful fruition
in my next thought.





Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

For One Who Is Unable to Leave the House


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.




Swan Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash.

Mother and Child Photo by Cheryl Racanelli. San Alfonso Retreat House.





Be a Serenity Star: Sleep Well

Be a Serenity Star: Sleep Well

Sweet Serenity Star,
Sleep well. Imagine
a single Energy Angel
of infinite sparkling
energy, watching
over you
all night, infusing
you, your every
cell and space,
with crystalline
of healing light.
This is your new
energy. Beautiful
All is well.


A gift of comfort and joy for yourself or someone else…my book of poems, 59 Prayers, available on Amazon.

59 Prayers by Cheryl Racanelli

Beautiful Starry Sky Photo at top by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash.

Be a Serenity Star: An Intention for the Christmas Season


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
(Perfect) Christmas.

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,
which is:

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.





Awesome star photo by NASA on Unsplash

Prayer for Those in Darkness


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
miracle granted.


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.

With love,



St. Lucy’s Church, Newark, NJ