a new beginning

There is something about the turn of the calendar, the newness of the first of the month.  What are you about to begin? What is about to be birthed within you?

I am thankful for John O’Donohue’s poem, A New Beginning.  It is a true blessing and guidepost.  May it strengthen and encourage you as we begin, either for the first time or the hundredth.

Rolleicord V | Agfachrome RSX II 50, expired

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time is has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.

Rolleicord V | Agfachrome RSX II 50, expired

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with the energy and dream
A path of plentitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Rolleicord V | Agfachrome RSX II 50, expired

 

 

first roll

My sweet husband gave me a Rolleicord V for my birthday.  I took my youngest daughter out to shoot a test roll.  In honor of her coming out this year, I pairing the images with some of my favorite LGBTQ poets.

Rolleicord V | Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3.5 75mm | Fuji Pro 400

Rolleicord V | Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3.5 75mm | Fuji Pro 400

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
– Oscar Wilde

Rolleicord V | Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3.5 75mm | Fuji Pro 400

Rolleicord V | Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3.5 75mm | Fuji Pro 400

The Journey
Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Rolleicord V | Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3.5 75mm | Fuji Pro 400

Rolleicord V | Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3.5 75mm | Fuji Pro 400

“Please remember, especially in these times of group-think and the right-on chorus, that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended.”  ~Alice Walker

Rolleicord V | Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3.5 75mm | Fuji Pro 400

Rolleicord V | Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3.5 75mm | Fuji Pro 400

To all those still living with the secret of who you really are, I pray you will find a safe place where you can be fully you.  We need all of your true, queer, and beautiful self.

for courage

I have a few friends that are going through some dark days.  If we are honest with ourselves, we all have dark days; the days when the little things seem big and the big things seem impossible.  It is hard to be vulnerable and brave with yourself and others on those days. The darkness seems so powerful and overwhelming, we think to hold onto it all alone in the corner is the safest thing to do.  Maybe you need to do that first… for a few moments.  But the only way out of the shadows is to find the light within you and allow it to shine.  And on the days we cannot find our own light, we hold that light for each other.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fujicolor NPL 160 Professional

For those wanting the courage to find the light within their darkness, a blessing by the good John O’Donohue.

For Courage

When the light around you lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside

When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen

When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,

Steady yourself and see
That is is your own thinking
That darkens your world

Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,

Know that you are not alone
And that this darkness has purpose
Gradually it will school your eyes
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fujicolor NPL 160 Professional

Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.

Close your eyes
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark.
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground
Where your imagination
Will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fujicolor NPL 160 Professional

 

Find your light, walk in it, and let it warm the earth.

a fearful thing

My loving, kind, hilarious, and talented brother took his own life this week.  Why and fuck are two words I continue to say at least once an hour.  The tears flow as I think of his beloved wife and the days, weeks, and years ahead of her. My heart breaks as I think of my other two brothers that are grieving their best friend and faithful companion.  And I fall into a puddle of grief as I imagine the heartbreak of all our parents.

Why?

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Why?

When I was little, we would go to the beach and play in the waves.  Sometimes a wave larger than we were expecting would crash over our heads and take us under the water.  Sometimes we would swallow large amounts of salt water.  Others, the wave would tumble us into the sand and we would be dragged along the ground.  Others, the waves would be so strong, we would be tossed like a shirt in the washer and not know which way was up.  Most of the time, the wave would give us all three in one swoop.

This is how I experience grief.  I will be doing a simple chore, and suddenly, like a wave, I am taken under by sadness.  A memory of a happier time or the idea of my brother being this sad and hopeless will pop into my head.  Sometimes I simply weep, others I fall to the ground into a puddle of sadness.  Occasionally, the grief feels so deep and overwhelming, it reminds of tumbling in the waves, being hit by the sand, not knowing which way is up.

And just as suddenly as it all came on, I am back to swimming through life, knowing that the next wave will be coming- not knowing how strong it will come on nor how hard it will tumble me about.

As I swim and wade through these waves of grief, I catch my breath and try and soothe my tired and wounded soul.  I try and find moments of hope, quiet, and gentleness.  One way I find that is through poetry. It helps to hear the words of the broken hearts that have gone before me.

‘Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
to be,
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
And a holy thing,
a holy thing
to love.
For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.
To remember this brings painful joy.
‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.

Tis a Fearful Thing
~Yehuda HaLevi

 

Your body is away from me
But there is a window open
from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.
~ Rumi

To live in this world
you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~Mary Oliver, “In Blackwater Woods.”

Go out to the world and love each other today.  Be kind.  Be gentle. Be love. Be you.

simple prayers

I am enthralled with the New Zealand Prayer Book lately.  It all started when my church posted The Lord’s Prayer in the liturgy.  The quickly had me down the lovely rabbit hole of reading and reciting the prayers from this beautiful book.  You can find a copy of it here online.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

A Call to Worship

Holy One, holy and eternal,
awesome, exciting and delightful in your holiness;
make us pure in heart to see you;
make us merciful to receive your kindness,
and to share our love with all your human family;
then will your name be hallowed on earth as in heaven.

Lord God,
when you give to us your servants any great matter to do,
grant us also to know that it is not the beginning,
but the continuing of it, until it is thoroughly finished
which yields the true glory.

God of work and rest and pleasure,
grant that what we do this week may be for us an offering
rather than a burden;
and for those we serve, may it be the help they need.
Amen.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

The Lord’s Prayer

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

 

Do you have any new prayers or poems that have been illuminating your days lately?  I would love for you to share them with me.

~Staci Lee

in the rain

My Japanese Magnolia is blooming.

And it is finally raining.

Two of my favorite things are happening at once, and it makes my heart so happy.  Here are two poems or prayers I am enjoying right now during my morning practice with a few images of my Japanese Magnolia in the rain.

A Blessing for Beauty
John O’Donohue

May the beauty of your life become more visible to you, that you may glimpse your wild divinity.

May the wonders of the earth call you forth from all your small, secret prisons and set your feet free in the pastures of possibilities.

May the light of dawn anoint your eyes that you may behold what a miracle a day is.

May the liturgy of twilight shelter all your fears and darkness within the circle of ease.

May the angel of memory surprise you in bleak times with new gifts from the harvest of your vanished days.

May you allow no dark hand to quench the candle of hope in your heart.

May you discover a new generosity towards yourself, and encourage yourself to engage your life as a great adventure.

May the outside voices of fear and despair find no echo in you.

May you always trust the urgency and wisdom of your own spirit.

May the shelter and nourishment of all the good you have done, the love you have shown, the suffering you have carried, awaken around you to bless your life a thousand times.

And when love finds the path to your door may you open like the earth to the dawn, and trust your every hidden color towards its nourishment of light.

May you find enough stillness and silence to savor the kiss of God on your soul and delight in the eternity that shaped you, that holds you and calls you.

And may you know that despite confusion, anxiety and emptiness, your name is written in Heaven.

And may you come to see your life as a quiet sacrament of service, which awakens around you a rhythm where doubt gives way to the grace of wonder, where what is awkward and strained can find elegance, and where crippled hope can find wings, and torment enter at last unto the grace of serenity.

May Divine Beauty bless you.

Peace Within
St. Theresa of Avila

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

 

singing bowl

I can’t seem to get enough of Malcolm Guite these days.   I discovered him because of a sermon I heard him preach. I then listened to many of his teachings and sermons, still not realizing what a gifted poet he was.  While listening to a podcast of him being interviewed, I finally caught on to what I had been missing!

There are two poems I have reading again and again.   I am sharing them here for a couple of reasons. First,  I want to remember when and how I fell in love with this wordsmith.  Second, I wonder if there are others that would enjoy discovering this talented man.

Singing Bowl

by Malcolm Guite

Begin the song exactly where you are,
Remain within the world of which you’re made.
Call nothing common in the earth or air,

Accept it all and let it be for good.
Start with the very breath you breathe in now,
This moment’s pulse, this rhythm in your blood

And listen to it, ringing soft and low.
Stay with the music, words will come in time.
Slow down your breathing. Keep it deep and slow.

Become an open singing-bowl, whose chime
Is richness rising out of emptiness,
And timelessness resounding into time.

And when the heart is full of quietness
Begin the song exactly where you are.

Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

by Malcolm Guite

Bystanders and bypassers turn away
And wipe his image from their memory
She keeps her station. She is here to stay
And stem the flow. She is the reliquary
Of his last look on her. The bloody sweat
And salt tears of his love are soaking through
The folds of her devotion and the wet
folds of her handkerchief, like the dew
Of morning, like a softening rain of grace.
Because she wiped the grime from off his skin,
And glimpsed the godhead in his human face
Whose hidden image we all bear within,
Through all our veils and shrouds of daily pain
The face of god is shining once again.

I just purchased his book, Waiting on the Word, for this Advent season. If you are also reading this book or would like to join me in reading this book this Advent, please let me know.  I would love to have companions on this journey.