home

Home means something different for everyone. For some of us, home is a safe place where we were nurtured and loved and allowed to grow into ourselves with confidence and a fierce sense of self. For others, home was a scary place that needed to be avoided. There wasn’t a sense of safety or compassion. For some, home wasn’t a place to discover all that we were meant to be.

While the girls were growing up, we tried to create a home that would nurture and protect, love and defend, and care and empower. Our house was a place that you could feel safe and be shown compassion and grace. As girls grew up, they began returning this gift of compassion and forgiveness to Andy and me. We weren’t perfect, but perfection wasn’t a goal, kindness and compassion were. Our kids are no longer kids, they are all adults living their lives and chasing their dreams, but this will always be their home.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Kodak Portra 400

My oldest daughter has recently left our home. She got married this April and moved out with her darling husband, and they are beginning to make their own home. And while our house isn’t the place that they live, I hope they still consider our house, a place they can come back to when life feels harsh and unkind.

Each of us needs this place- a place that we can come back to when life is harsh. A home within themselves that they create that is safe and nurturing, even if it is your own compassion that makes it so. This takes work. Just as it has undertaken work for my daughter and her husband to create their new home, many of us will need to do the job of building a new safe home within our own hearts.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Kodak Portra 400

Some of us didn’t feel cared for or nurtured in our childhood home. Because of this, we might not be sure of our own needs and wants. We will need to learn of our needs and learn to nurture ourselves. Some of us didn’t live in a home where it was safe to feel all of our feelings in a constructive and compassionate way. We will need to learn how to experience our feelings with grace and curiosity. Some felt so unsafe that the world seemed like a fearful place with dangers around every corner. With bravery, we will need to see that while the world holds some risks, it can be a place we can move around with more curiosity than fear.

As we recognize the places of our hearts we need to reorganize and find healing, we will begin to create a safe home with ourselves. And as we learn to feel comfortable and secure within our hearts, we will become safe spaces for others as well. We will have created a home that others can come and visit and experience the safety and love that we have surrounded ourselves with.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Kodak Portra 400

I recently came upon this poem.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

— Derek Walcott

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Kodak Portra 400

Give back your heart to yourself.

Read those words again, slowly.

Give back your heart to yourself.

It sounds so simple, but it takes courageous work. But it holds such promise. A promise of a home that we can be our whole and beautiful selves in, a whole and beautiful self that this hurting world needs.

How are you creating a safe and sensitive home within your own heart? What practice do you pursue to show self-compassion and care? How are you giving your heart back to yourself?

 

I am thinking about the word home with my friend, Melissa.  Journey to her blog for her thoughts on this word.

 

Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent when we celebrate the hopeful cry, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.”  It is an interesting proclaim as we are in the middle of Advent’s darkness, isn’t it?

How many of us, while in darkness and question and pain want to proclaim joy?  For me, joy is not the go-to emotion while wandering in darkness.  Joy is not what I usually ask for.  I usually ask for relief or rest, but never joy.  And yet, Advent reminds us- here, now, in the middle of the dark nights of the soul, joy is there.  She is waiting to surprise us.

So for this Gaudete Sunday, I am sharing with you two poems that have met me while I have been in a dark place and they gave me hope, and with hope came the little surprise of joy. I am pairing these two poems with images from my Japanese Magnolia, that blooms in the middle of winter.  And although I first edited these in purple, my small homage to Advent, today I give them to you in black and white, as a reminder of the darkness each soul must journey through.

First, John O’Donohue’s For a New Beginning.

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 it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing 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 gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

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

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at 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.

And then Mary Oliver’s The Hermit Crab.

Once I looked inside
the darkness
of a shell folded like a pastry
and there was a fancy face—

or almost a face—
it turned away
and frisked up its brawny forearms
so quickly

against the light
and my looking in
I scarcely had time to see it,
gleaming

under the pure white roof
of old calcium
When I set it down, it hurried
along the tideline

of the sea,
which was slashing along as usual,
shouting and hissing
toward the future,

turning its back
with every tide on the past,
leaving the shore littered
every morning

with more ornaments of death—
what a pearly rubble
from which to choose a house
like a white flower—

and what a rebellion
to leap into it
and hold on,
connecting everything,

the past to the future—
which is of course the miracle—
which is the only argument there is
against the sea

May joy surprise you this Advent.

 

 

deep breaths

On some days this world seems harsh and unloving.  We have forgotten to listen to others, ourselves, and the Love that holds us all together.  I have been sitting quietly with myself and reading some of the mystic mothers that wrote about our God… and writing prayers of my own.  May you sit with these words with deep long breaths… giving your precious soul a break from the harshness of this world.

I Am That
Julian of Norwich
I am that.
I am that which is highest.
I am that which is lowest.
I am that which is All.

Consumed In Grace
St Catherine of Siena

I first saw God when I was a child, six years of age.
the cheeks of the sun were pale before Him,
and the earth acted as a shy
girl, like me.

Divine light entered my heart from His love
that did never fully wane,

though indeed, dear, I can understand how a person’s
faith can at time flicker,

for what is the mind to do
with something that becomes the mind’s ruin:
a God that consumes us
in His grace.

I have seen what you want;
it is there,

a Beloved of infinite
tenderness.

Gentle Mother
Staci Kennelly

O powerful, voluptuous, and gentle Mother
who has filled the world with beauty
Open my eyes to behold your gracious hand in all thy works:
the warmth of the morning sun
the cool in the long shadows of evening
the predictability of the changing moon

Hear me as I rejoice in your whole creation including my own heart
Help me as I remember your intimate warmth and constant compassion
Hold me as I rest in the sureness of your devotion and love

rainbows of love

Today is Coming Out Day. And while there is more freedom to come out that there was in 1939, it still isn’t safe for many of our LGBTQ friends to simply be themselves.  Here in the US, they can face discrimination and hate from their very own family and “friends”.  In other parts of the world, they can face death.  In honor of my LGBTQ friends and family, here are some poems that were written by LGBTQ poets and some rainbow photos.   While there are many who don’t understand and are cruel, hateful, and discriminatory, many of us see you how you are- loved, worthy of equal rights and treatment.  To quote an old rector from my church, “… being gay is a gift from God.”  You- all of you- is a beautiful gift to this world.

 

red

Frank Bidart, 1939

Queer

Lie to yourself about this and you will
forever lie about everything.

Everybody already knows everything

so you can
lie to them. That’s what they want.

But lie to yourself, what you will

lose is yourself. Then you
turn into them.

*

For each gay kid whose adolescence

was America in the forties or fifties
the primary, the crucial

scenario

forever is coming out—
or not. Or not. Or not. Or not. Or not.

*

Involuted velleities of self-erasure.

*

Quickly after my parents
died, I came out. Foundational narrative

designed to confer existence.

If I had managed to come out to my
mother, she would have blamed not

me, but herself.

The door through which you were shoved out
into the light

was self-loathing and terror.

*

Thank you, terror!

You learned early that adults’ genteel
fantasies about human life

were not, for you, life. You think sex

is a knife
driven into you to teach you that.

 

orange

 

yellow

Mary Oliver

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place

 

green

 

blue

 

Reinaldo Arenas

As Long as the Sky Whirls: For Lázaro Gómez

As long as the sky whirls
You will be my redemption and my doom,
magnetic vision,
lily in underwear,
salvation and madness
every night waiting.
As long as the sky whirls
no infernal could be a stranger
because I have to take care that that would not harm you,
No joy would go by inadvertent
Because in some way I have to reveal it to you,
As long as
the sky
whirls
you will be the truth of myself,
the song and the venom,
the danger and the ecstasies,
the vigil and the sleep,
the dread and the miracle.
As long as the sky whirls . . . but perhaps the sky whirls?
Well: as long as the sky exists.

 

purple

Love is love is love is love is love.

journal findings

I keep coming across poems and quotes that have touched me or rang true for me in some way.  As I record them in my journals, I am noticing that I keep coming back to a few thinkers and poets over and over.

nature-7

Minolta X700 | Fuji Pro 400

Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.

-St Teresa Avila

nature

Minolta X700 | Fuji Pro 400

I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.

– Meister Eckhart

nature-6

Minolta X700 | Fuji Pro 400

Lovers share a sacred decree –
to seek the Beloved.
They roll head over heels,
rushing toward the Beautiful One
like a torrent of water.

In truth, everyone is a shadow of the Beloved –
Our seeking is His seeking,
Our words are His words.

nature-2

Minolta X700 | Fuji Pro 400

At times we flow toward the Beloved
like a dancing stream.
At times we are still water
held in His pitcher.
At times we boil in a pot
turning to vapor –
that is the job of the Beloved.

He breathes into my ear
until my soul
takes on His fragrance.
He is the soul of my soul –
How can I escape?
But why would any soul in this world
want to escape from the Beloved?

nature-5

Minolta X700 | Fuji Pro 400

He will melt your pride
making you thin as a strand of hair,
Yet do not trade, even for both worlds,
One strand of His hair.

We search for Him here and there
while looking right at Him.
Sitting by His side we ask,
“O Beloved, where is the Beloved?”

nature-4

Minolta X700 | Fuji Pro 400

Enough with such questions! –
Let silence take you to the core of life.

All your talk is worthless
When compared to one whisper
of the Beloved.

-Rumi

nature-8

Minolta X700 | Fuji Pro 400

Do you have a favorite poet or poem that draws you in again and again? I would love to know what makes your heart jump in agreement.

 

 

trust the slow work

My tree continues to grow buds.  Besides the one bloom, she has yet to cover herself in pink wonder just yet.  I am waiting, eagerly but patiently.  I know what is in store.  I know it will be glorious.  I know it will bring me great delight.

As I wait, I think about the prayer written by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

raintree

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

raintree-2

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

raintree-4

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

raintree-3

As the weather is keeping many of us indoors and asking us to slow, may our hearts trust and say yes to the gentle rhythm of our souls.

for a friend

I have a dear friend who had to watch as her mother journeyed from this world to a world her soul calls home.  I was not there, but I know this friend well and know with full confidence that she held each feeling, each thought, each moment with the grace and love they deserved.  She has been an example of grace and compassion to me so many times in our lives together, but most especially as she walked the rough and cruel road of cancer with her mama.  I can’t stop thinking about her this week.  Each year, for her birthday, we sit on my porch and just be.  And each year, the jacaranda trees that line my street, bloom in full vibrant purple.  While some are still blooming, others are losing their flowers. My street is lined in purple. It is as if the trees know it is a time to mourn.  This post is for her.  I love you, my sweet friend.  I am holding you gently, just as the earth seems to be holding the fallen flowers of our jacaranda trees.

jacaranda-2

The Guest House
Jelaluddin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

jacaranda

Meditation is a way of slowing down so as to descend into the depths of yourself in the present moment, where God lies waiting to grant you a deep experience of your eternal oneness with God.
~James Finley

jacaranda-3

Love Sorrow
Mary Oliver

Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her
into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing a street. For, think,
what if you should lose her? Then you would be
sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness
would be yours. Take care, touch
her forehead that she feel herself not so
utterly alone.

jacaranda-4

I know she is not the only one that is feeling the sting of death.  It is something we all must walk through.  May we all remember, with courage, to love and hold one another gently.