For My Sister

Beach by Chris - 2.jpg

 

For My Sister

This is your portrait at age 42:
sitting on your favorite beach
watching the summer ocean curl in,
your hair clipped away
from your bare face,
a few wild strands in the salt breeze,
your luminous smile.
You make the kind of before-picture
where anyone would think, she’s already
beautiful.
This is you, by nature,
serene, an artist in wonder,
you, before you leave
what you came here
to remember.

 

Beach by Chris - 4.jpg

The photographs in this post were taken last week by my sister, Christine. I had written this poem a bit ago (and never told her), but was searching for a beautiful image to go with it. How serendipitous and ironic that the gorgeous shots I imagined should come from her! When she showed me her photos, I asked her if I could use a few for my next post, but I didn’t tell her about the poem. Surprise, dear sister! And thank you for beautifying my day.

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Find Water, and You Will Find Freedom

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Find Water, and You Will Find Freedom

Find water, and see beauty.
See beauty, and make art.
Make art, and feel joy.
Feel joy, and find freedom.

 

This poem is simple to read. But, if you choose to wade in, you might discover the poem as a body of water, coming in waves, one line at a time, each line becoming a contemplation or an assignment. Follow one, and see where you end up.

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“The most powerful presence in every poem is what is left out… {A poem} is about creating a sequence of words which work through suggestion and leave space for you to envisage, evoke, or incarnate that which is exactly suggested.” ~~John O’Donohue, From the recorded lecture, “Divine Imagination.”

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Monday Morning Mary: To Be Moved

cherry blossom 1

To Be Moved

When you make time
to travel to the cherry blossoms,
may you also clear your eyes

so that when you arrive
under the canopy of white lace,
the delicate spirit of each tiny flower
will have a direct path to your heart.

In this holy instant,
when your heart becomes a vase
as large as your being,
you will receive more beauty
than you thought possible.

Joy will rise inside you,
pure as water,
until you contain nothing else,

until you are fully moved,
and from your eyes
tears blossom.
Mary - Mariandale

 

Saturday the weather was gloomy, and the sky was as white as the blossoms, except for one brief patch of blue. But the thousands of cherry blossom trees at Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ were at the peak of bloom. The overcast skies in some ways made the blossoms appear all the more magical.

More scenes from Branch Brook Park, Newark NJ…

 

Monday Morning Mary: Our Lady of Dollar Store Daffodils

dollar store daffodils

 

Dollar Store Daffodils

Winter has not yet relented.
The earth has not softened.
Bulbs have not awakened.
Being tired of winter
does not change the weather.
You cannot rush the daffodils.

But you can ask:
Where might I find beauty right now?
What can I create in this gray space?
And most importantly,
What version of the truth
will I tell myself today?

Do not be afraid of dollar store daffodils.
Imitation by a pure heart
flatters God.
Mary Gray March

Monday Morning Mary: Life Is Not a Program

Encapsulating Ice
Programming 102

Life is not a program,
an algorithm
       to design and master.
IF/THEN is a construct of logic
       that keeps you locked.
OPEN the eyes of your heart
       to the beauty of elemental formations,
       the shapes of water and conversation.
Do not wait for conditions to be right.
SNAP the photo of the encapsulating ice
WHEN you see it.
       Or better yet,
STAND still for FIVE seconds,
and say,
       WOW.

MM walking

My Curly Scarf Makes Me Happy

 

Here’s the back story on the talent molecule featured in the photo of yesterday’s post.

It’s a very long, very curly, and very fun scarf that I just finished. My friend sent me the pattern, and I followed it—sort of. My talent molecules bubbled in my brain, and the end result is this unique scarf, which was delightful to make, and delightful to wear.

The first joy came in the process: selecting the yarn combinations, watching the garment take shape, seeing how the colors interact as they are hooked into fabric.

Combining an ombre yarn of dark teals and purples with a pure white yarn created a bright tweed that feels so much like a sunny day after a January snowfall. The last row combines solid teal with the ombre to give the curls definition.

Every time I see this scarf, I feel happy. The eight-year-old in me feels happy. Eight-year-old me is not afraid to love what she loves. Her joy is pure and free. She loves to stare at the colors, play with the curls, and wear this bouncy scarf that she made herself.

Even in this seemingly solitary expression of my talent, I make the world a better place. The joy of eight-year-old me radiates outward and shines on my subsequent interactions with the world. The joy becomes the gift I give.

What joy are you finding this week as you activate your own talent molecules?

 

My Body Is a Gift

Inside my breakfast pear, I found a happy person. Under the layers of peel and pear, I discovered a delightful gift.

My own body is such a gift. I sometimes forget that. I bury it under layers of self-criticism. I cover myself with a skin of derision, thinking maybe, it’s better if I point out my own flaws than have the world do it for me. With this burden, I look in a mirror and can see only imperfections. With this harshness, I cannot accept a compliment with joy.

Taking my own body down with insults is harmful to my well-being. Speaking harshly about my own hair, skin, or internal workings blackens my day. How can my body be its best without my love?

But when I let these layers go, and accept the natural characteristics of aging, illness, injury—of living—I see my body for what it truly is: a beautiful gift that allows me to express goodness and beauty in this world.  How can I not love such a gift?

As I love my body, I see miracles. I see the miracles of every system, cell, and space in my body. I see the daily miracles of renewal and healing. I release goals derived from dissatisfaction, and instead, with an attitude of tenderness and attentiveness, I listen to my body, and lovingly provide what it needs.

My body is a gift. Today I accept this gift with gratitude.

Giving Thanks When Things Seem Spare

Sometimes it seems that almost everything is gone.

Loss comes, and drains the blue sky and lush greens from our world. We focus on what is gone. Our vision is darkened as if by a veil. We struggle to get back to what we once knew, what was once ours.

But what is gone is no longer real. What is real is what is left.

Yes, loss itself is real, and for serious loss, grieving is a necessary process. But at some point, the fact is that the leaves have curled up and blown away. Our landscape has new space, a space that allows us to see more clearly everything that is still there, everything that is real. Inside illness, we have bodies that still do many things with ease, like hear or see. Inside job loss, we still have our talent. Inside heartbreak, we still have hearts that love.

Through the eyes of gratitude, our world slowly comes into focus, and we start to see simplicity and beauty in our world. We appreciate the delicate branches of a beech tree echoed by the sturdy silhouette of a linden tree. We find delight in three leaves, two beechnuts, and a glass pear.

For all I have discovered in spare landscapes, I give thanks.