Looking and Not Talking

  I’m hanging in a wordless space, even as I write these words. Recently home from a family trip on the Oregon coast for the holidays, I’m savoring all I saw and heard there: my family, of course; and also blustery winds and rain; thundering waves; squawking seabirds; towers of sand; and fairy woodlands, waterfalls dashing amidst stones and trees adorned with moss, lichen and teeny mushrooms. People I love are still facing serious health crises and I’m silently holding them in my heart. Yesterday I gathered with friends as in creative silence we asked our personal dreams for 2019 to appear on vision boards. The visual storyteller Maira Kalman, when asked about her love of museums, spoke of the peace in “just wandering and looking…I think we have the opportunity to understand silence around us, and really looking all the time.  There’s always the opportunity. And there’s never a lack of things to look at, and there’s never a lack of time not to talk.” Looking and not talking. Yes, I’ve been in this space and do not want to leave it. So this month I offer a few pictures for you to look at and ponder if you choose, with some white space around them…                                                                   (The entire “On Being” interview with Kalman, sent to me by a dear friend, is fabulous and can be found HERE.)...

Minnesota November

Dusk descends early on this cold, gray cloudy November day. All day I needed the lamplight next to my chair to read, and now I spread the wool throw over me. Halloween/Samhain/All Soul’s Day ushered in the dark time, a reminder of death and ancestors, of mystery and shadow. In November, as bony trees appear, cold deepens and days become shorter and cloudier I sink into that bleakness, become more subdued, sleep more, dream more vividly, move more slowly. I make things in my home warmer and softer. I gather blankets and also thoughts, pondering the past, considering the future. And sometimes I just sit and stare at the brown landscape, or let my thoughts wander as I doodle. At least, I do these things when I can. My body and soul, embedded in the natural world, want me to do these things at this time. Yet end of year tasks natter at me (making charitable donations, health insurance choices, purchases needed before winter), as well as activities connected to the holidays (baking, cooking, sales and gift shopping, decorating, attending concerts, shows and parties). My rebellious heart cries NOT NOW! These things jar and distort the contemplative energy I feel in November and December. I love Thanksgiving because it can be a quiet feast with close friends and family, acknowledging our interdependence, expressing gratitude for being alive and for all those who support us in cold, dark times. Also harmonious with this season is a winter solstice gathering honoring insights gained from our time in the dark and celebrating the eventual return of the light. But the last thing...

Beyond the Sights

I just got back from 2 ½ weeks traveling around Alaska with Tom. We tasted Alaskan foods (seafood, salmon, reindeer, fireweed and honey ice cream); walked on the land; cruised on the water; rode a tram up a mountain; heard native stories, drumming and dancing; spent a day at the Alaska State Fair; and had numerous conversations with a variety of people. We saw mountains, glaciers, icebergs, rivers, ocean, waterfalls, forest, tundra, eagles, puffins, sea lions, harbor seals, porpoises, sea otters, beluga whales, humpbacks, bears, salmon, cranes, and a variety of sea birds. In our visual-centric culture of television, videos, facebook, and Instagram, What did you see? is usually our first (and often last) question. Although what I saw was gorgeous, it was when I was startled awake by other sensations that I was most awed: listening to the delicate plick of raindrops dropping on wet leaves in the Alaskan rain forest; hearing sea lions grunting and roaring to each other as they lay on rock shelves in the sea; taking in the scent of greenery, river and crisp mountain air mingled with the stink of dead fish (in pristine salmon streams in Alaska you must have both, since the salmon die after spawning); being startled by the sharp crack crack as a sea otter breaks open a crab for its meal; catching the distinctive prehistoric call of cranes as they fly high overhead on their seasonal migration; listening for the explosive exhale of humpback whales, and to the living silence they create as they fish, dive and flash their huge tails without a sound; sensing the air grow...

A Solstice Prayer

Our lives and hearts are so full right now, for so many reasons, personal, global and seasonal. I prepare for holiday celebrations, but my heart has few words. It craves solitude, silence and stillness. Between errands and phone calls I stare at the Christmas tree. As we approach the longest night of the year, I offer these words by Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Prayer for Remembering Where to Stand in the Winds   Creator, please let me not be a weather vane turning and jerking this way and that whenever the wind blows, allowing me no rest for long, in any direction.   Creator, let me be blessed instead, to be   the old lighthouse keep who stays and stays under the wide sky and with the long view,…   Please help me be the old one who cleans the glass daily, stokes the fire beacon nightly, and no matter how winds blow, the Light I’ve tended, will steadily flow over the tempest waters, and no matter how winds blow, the Light I’ve tended, will steadily flow over the calms.   May your holidays be joyous and nourishing. May you tend your light with gentle care. (I’d love to hear how you are doing this, if you are willing to share.) If you want to see a short video showing the rising sun on the winter solstice entering Newgrange, the 5000 year old passage tomb in Ireland, click here. I have found laughter helps keep my inner light shining.  For a chuckle, here are some amusing winners in  the “Comedy Wildlife Photography”...