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A HOME WHICH MAYBE NEVER WAS

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Hiraeth is a Welsh word that perfectly describes my yearning for the emotions I experienced around Christmases long past. I am not alone in my ‘hiraeth’, without prompting I hear the same yearning in the voices of people I meet on the street this time of year.

It is an ambiguous loss for a season that arrives each year without fail, earlier and earlier with less and less of what my heart is longing for.

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I was decorating the tree last night when I came across the ‘Eagle with Santa hat’ ornament and as I placed him on the tree it brought to mind an incident last summer that involved two mismatched birds. Their uneasy coexistence had caught my attention days earlier and I photographed them as they perched side by side in the pond in front of the house.

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The Eagle is one of a pair whose nest can be seen from the house. Over the last ten years, I watched them raise their young, watched when despite all their careful tending, guarding and feeding they occasionally ‘lost’ one of the young eaglets before it could fledge. One year both eaglets were killed in the nest by a Golden Eagle and one of the pair was badly injured in the attempt to fend off the attack.

Enter the Crow……. the Scavenger and the Predator, these two are not ‘birds of a feather’ but with wonder and curiosity I  watched them ‘flock together’.  The Crow mercilessly dive bombs the Eagle from above when he is perched in the nesting tree but other than the occasional glance upward the Eagle seems unaffected by this constant annoyance.

Other than that, Eagle and Crow coexist peacefully enough, although the Eagle could easily do away with him with one movement of his powerful beak, he does not. The Crow always ensures he is above the talons that could make short work of him. There is a form of mutual respect between the two.

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Perhaps that is what I’m feeling as I experience this homesickness for ephemeral memories of Christmas past. It is the slow erosion of mutual respect that is starting to permeate many parts of our human society. As a species, we appear to be on the verge of entering uncharted waters on many levels.

I have experienced a few ‘Christmas moments’ this year and as I look at the photograph below I realize that is probably what I am longing for. It is the fleeting moments of moving side by side with other human beings.  It is the bravery it takes to spread our wings without knowing what the future will bring, and the trust that it will hold us.

Mostly I feel it is sharing and respecting this exquisite little blue planet that we find ourselves on at this moment in time.  Instead of feeling sadness for a “home that maybe never was” I will go forward this year with gratitude for ‘what is’ and for this beautiful home that we all share.

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Ripple in Still Waters

Walking and watching the River yesterday, the power of nature, constant movement, wearing away, giving in. Photographs and words hardly touch it, “there is the trying though”….

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River
Shapes stone, cuts stone,
Banks and bottoms
Nothing escapes the reach,
the filing down, the silky caress
water seeking touch, truth,
the constant Reveal
what is hidden, Exposed.

Three a.m.
thoughts, inspirations,
no escaping the raw Reveal,
comfort knowing others
are Awake
giving in
to the flow, tumbling,
releasing, realizing,
You Can’t Push the River

There is the trying though,
interior ache
screams it’s message
mouth and arms stretch open
breast exposed
All exposed
shape, cut, touch , caress
reveal, Allow

The Run of the River.

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OLD MAPS NO LONGER WORK

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Just this tonight, while I wait for the stars ………

a poem by Joyce Rupp

Old Maps No Longer Work  

I keep pulling it out –
the old map of my inner path
I squint closely at it,
trying to see some hidden road
that maybe I’ve missed,
but there’s nothing there now
except some well travelled paths.
they have seen my footsteps often,
held my laughter, caught my tears.

I keep going over the old map
but now the roads lead nowhere,
a meaningless wilderness
where life is dull and futile.

“toss away the old map,” she says
“you must be kidding!” I reply.
she looks at me with Sarah eyes
and repeats “toss it away.
It’s of no use where you’re going.”

“I have to have a map!” I cry,
“even if it takes me nowhere.
I can’t be without direction,”
“but you are without direction,”
she says, “so why not let go, be free?”

so there I am – tossing away the old map,
sadly fearfully, putting it behind me.
“whatever will I do?” wails my security
“trust me” says my midlife soul.

no map, no specific directions,
no “this way ahead” or “take a left”.
how will l know where to go?
how will I find my way? no map!
but then my midlife soul whispers
“there was a time before maps
when pilgrims travelled by the stars.”

It is time for the pilgrim in me
to travel in the dark,
to learn to read the stars
that shine in my soul.
I will walk deeper

into the dark of my night.
I will wait for the stars.
trust their guidance.
and let their light be enough for me.

by Joyce Rupp

“Don’t Frack With Me”

Sometimes our interactions with people don’t have to be long or emotional to have an impact on our lives. I love taking photographs, at this point in my life mainly of people,  candid not posed, quick shots, captured as they happen.

This photo captured just such a moment that occurred a few years ago and I loved everything about it. His message, determination and energy spoke to me every time it revolved up on to my computer as a screen saver.  I did not know him but as the months passed and his cheerful photographic presence reemerged intermittently, I felt he and I formed a bond of sorts. His message and my capturing of it.

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Months later I was in town and I came across him, deep in conversation. He did indeed appear to be someone you would not want to “frack” with, at least not verbally. When the conversation ended I approached, told him about the fabulous photo I had of him and asked for his contact information . He complied, I forwarded and that was the last contact we had except the occasional rotating of the picture on my computer screen.

These last few months have been a time of deep reflection for me, I have been introduced to the word liminal as in liminal space or liminality. Interesting how a word can elude you for a whole lifetime until it is needed to describe the place you find yourself. Suddenly the word seems to emerge all around in books, readings and quotes .  The quote below is from Jean Shinoda Bolen from her book Crossing to Avalon that came across my desk again recently.

“This is a time of liminality for me, of passage from one part of my life to another when I am venturing psychologically out beyond my known world; heeding a call to live my life more authentically even as it puts me in conflict and uncertainty.”

I lay in bed one morning recently wondering about this passage and what I felt called to do as this “part of my life” plays out. The message came through very clearly, write, write and take photographs, not just photos but portraits that really capture the essence of people.

Rising that morning I started to clean the bottom of the cage of my forty-eight year old parrot (another blog piece) I placed pieces of our local paper on the bottom of the cage and as I went to put the third and final piece in place a photograph caught my eye, it was in colour and very familiar, it was the photo I had forwarded at least a year previously and it was in an obituary for a John Lawrence Olsen.

I contacted his granddaughter for permission to write this piece and she told me that the family loved the photograph. He had lived for 87 years and from the content of his obituary he lived a life that more than likely had put him into much “conflict and uncertainty.” I am honoured that of all the photographs that had been taken of him over his lifetime this one was chosen by the family to commemorate who he was at his core. The first line of the obituary reads:

“This photo pretty much captures John Olsen – his positive, let’s move forward approach, his political involvement, and his sense of humour.”

So thank you John, even though our only contact was this photograph. I needed that inspiration on that morning to see my way forward.

I have a number of portraits I have taken in the last few years of people unknown to me  that speak very clearly about who they are at their core. The photo below was taken on a trip to New Orleans earlier this year, the occasion was the Easter Sunday Parade in the French Quarter. The picture tells the story and I am sure that story will be different for each person that sees it……

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for me she is living her life with a very clear message…… “Don’t Frack With Me”

What Goes Around Comes Around

Whirligigs… even the word conjures up feelings of being off balance and out of control.  A bit of folk art with moving parts, a wooden duck with rotating wings, windmill like designs that turn in the breeze…. never gave them a second thought until I was introduced to the moveable ‘art piece’ that made it’s way into our neighbour’s lives.

This rotating neon metal circus invaded their living space, complete with visual noise so loud and obtrusive it became impossible to see anything beyond it. “What ocean? What mountains? What sky? ” This perpetual motion machine had been permanently cemented into their sight line without consultation or consideration.

How bad could it be?

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Yes….. that bad.

The visual was jarring enough but it was the whirling that was the most disconcerting, you were pulled on to a tilt-a whirl ride that was difficult if not impossible to exit, the eye kept being drawn back in each time you tried to look away.

As of this writing the fate of the Whirligig is still to be discussed, there will no doubt be careful conversations and negotiations that will illicit emotions on either side of the property line. The fact that such an object even exists would be laughable if it wasn’t so much a comment on our times. A time when consideration and respect for others appears to be waning, slowly giving way to a culture driven by immediate personal gratification and less and less regard for how actions affect others.

This situation had me sitting on my deck musing about life and occasionally glancing down the beach towards the still rotating object of my reflection. It brought to mind the unavoidable and sometimes predicable events in our own lives. The challenges each one of us face when “unexpected” situations present themselves.

These are the moments in time when circumstances can stop us dead in our tracks, the death or loss of a loved one, a beloved pet….a myriad of bigger or smaller losses that we have no control over.  Times we feel we are suspended in time, while the rest of the world carries on moving around us, our vision distracted by a personal, interior Whirligig that we have installed ourselves. It has not been cemented into our thoughts or our view, but it may for a time be just as permanent and all consuming as the physical one.

We have all at one time or another been caught in this whirlpool of thought and emotion, unable to break free. Perhaps it is the letting go, the surrender to the pull of the water that is being asked of us. “When you feel like you are drowning, that is the time to dive.”…

“You are water, whirling water,

Yet still water trapped within,

Come submerge yourself within us,

We who are the flowing stream.”

Rumi

 

Don’t Go Back To Sleep

“For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.

From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.

Unable to see I heard my name being called.

Then I walked outside.

 

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the door sill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.”

Rumi

 

One year ago today I had little sleep and was up early preparing the house for a “gathering”. This was to be no ordinary gathering although there would be arrivals and departures and a champagne toast.

This clear, crisp October morning was the day our mutual friend Georgia had decided to take her step across the door sill where the “two worlds touch” and we would be there to see her to the door. It was a day that will stay with me forever and allowed me  to understand on a deep level what it really means to stay awake in my life.

It also brought me to a place of wondering about Courage, and just what that is in our lives. It sometimes takes Courage just to get through the day when faced with big changes or obstacles in our lives. Many people when asked about their acts of Courage reply that they just did what had to be done. Is it that simple and that complicated? Seeing what needs to be done in the moment and stepping forward and doing it.

Georgia saw what she felt needed to be done and despite a body that was failing and various levels of support for her decision she made her way with Courage and determination towards that place where the “two worlds touch”. She invited me on that journey months earlier and with a Courage that she saw in me and I did not know I was capable of, she and I walked forward together and made arrangements for the “gathering”.

Words were spoken, glasses raised and four people held Georgia’s hands as she stepped across the door sill aided by a doctor who was more of a ministering angel, on to her “next great adventure”. In the Grace of her departure she taught me about Courage in a way I had never experienced before and thank her to this day for the honour of her companionship and for teaching me the true meaning of the word.

Don’t Go Back to Sleep…….

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Wildly and Dangerously Free

Will start with a quote from one of my favourite authors that sums up how I see the world from this vantage point, this age, this piece of ground that I currently have the privilege of occupying.

“It is a strange and wonderful fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. Rilke said, ‘Being here is so much,’ and it is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free.”

John O’Donohue    Anam Cara

Will share stories, photographs and quotes that wake me up and help access the part in myself that is ‘wildly and dangerously free’ ….. just trust, see where it leads.