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You can’t get there from here……

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unknown photographer

          “Sometimes we plan a trip to one place, but something takes us to another”
                                                                         Rumi

No one would have mistaken her for a leader, or perhaps she was a leader without any followers.  Her hair hung to her waist, the last foot of which was a tangled mass of dread locks and beads. The beads appeared to have been threaded in so long ago that any hope of retrieval would have had to involve scissors. Every inch of what remained from head to bead was dyed various shades of neon red, green and purple.

Her body was covered in exquisitely drawn and coloured tattoos enhanced by piercings that appeared on various exposed body parts. The finished effect resembled a moveable human art piece. If she had been a bird, she would have been a Macaw.

Our paths intersected when we both chose to attend a two-hour Labyrinth workshop that was offered as part of a weekend yoga symposium. I smile every time I think about the unlikely bond we forged when it all went ‘terribly wrong’.

For the uninitiated there is a difference between a Labyrinth and a Maze.  A Maze is designed as a problem to solve and a Labyrinth can be walked to solve a problem. Previous experiences walking a Labyrinth had revealed that there are points as you move forward where you have a sense you may have ‘taken a wrong turn’ or ‘lost your way’.  Trust the path even though you may feel lost and eventually you will spiral your way to the center  and out again with new insight.

Our group of ten was led to a large gym where a canvas Labyrinth had been assembled.  Encouraged to start walking it when we felt ‘called’ there was initial awkward glances and shuffling.  Sudden movement and a blur of color swept past; the Macaw had been ‘called’ she would be our leader.

I followed behind, gave her space and stepped forward…

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unknown photographer

Having previously walked a Labyrinth alone or with one other person I was unprepared for the delicate dance of meeting and passing others on such narrow pathways.  This interaction became not just a metaphor for life but an enjoyable physical exchange. Approaching another person on an adjacent pathway would compel you to turn completely to the side, arms out, sometimes face to face other times turned away.  When three of us would intersect on parallel paths we all moved and turned in unison.

I was enjoying this immensely until I noticed a short distance ahead our ‘Leader’ had stopped unexpectedly and appeared confused. Coming up behind her I could see the dilemma, there did not appear to be ‘a clear path forward’.

With military precision she sized up the problem, the canvas Labyrinth was comprised of three pieces that were held together with velcro. The larger outer paths matched up but the center did not, it had been put together incorrectly.

She looked at me urgently  “We have to tear it apart, turn it around and start from the beginning.”  The Facilitator standing on the sidelines started to mumble things like “we don’t have time to fix it….. it takes a long time to assemble…..it is not my fault”….. the Macaw would have none of it. Taking orders from no one, she was now in charge and failure was not an option!

Without further instruction I followed her to the edge of the canvas where we found the points where the two seams met. The sound of ripping velcro filled the gym. The other participants moved in to help and within minutes we ripped it apart turned the center piece and reattached the seams.

The Macaw was now back in her rightful position at the entrance to the properly assembled Labyrinth. The dance this time as we turned and moved forward was that  much more joyful now that we knew we would be taken both in and out and to the all important center.

She and I parted that afternoon with a nod of mutual respect.  I caught a glimpse of her the following day as she flitted across the campus en route to another workshop.  Silently I bid her ‘safe travels’ it will be difficult for her to fly under the radar with such bright plumage.

Human error and the inability at some points to see and take action appears to be a frailty that may well be our undoing.  The planet we depend on for our survival is starting to wither with our demands that she give more and more with little given in return.
We appear to have lost our center.

There comes a point both personally and on a planetary scale that things appear ‘FUBAR’, to steal a military term my feathered friend would approve of…. when that point is reached the only solution to an obviously wrong course or path seems to be:

“Tear it apart, turn it around and start again from the beginning.”

And from there we will again find our Center.

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unknown photographer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand to Heart (Street Photography 1)

(while working on another piece this morning I found this in my drafts, I meant to go in to delete, but in the end my hand and heart pushed Publish)

I am going to try a short series of poetry inspired by (my second love) street photography, a series I took last year at the Easter Sunday Parade in the French Quarter, New Orleans.

 

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photo credit westcoastwoman

 

Each step you take, from here to there

each hand you hold, they’ll sometimes care

some filled with light some fighting dark

you’ll find what’s right, you’ll make your mark

your heart will break, can’t help you there

you’ll find one hand that let’s you care

but in the end, your hand to heart

is what will lead you home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

3 a.m. sentence(s)

DSC_1384 (1)photo credit west coast woman

 

Dusk til Dawn
Shadow and Light
the veil is thin

The call goes out
spiritual refugees
seeking a conscious oasis-
awaken to
torrents of words
whispering past as
we linger between
the threshold of
one world and another

in

out

Truth drifting on
shattered hearts
hover just beyond
the collective reach,
pluck what is close
as mist envelops
the pain the loss the love
the ephemeral words
the 3 a.m. sentence(s)
the puzzle being solved
piece by piece
Together, Apart

We wait for Dawn.

J.S.

DSC_2178photo credit west coast woman

 

 

 

Featured

She let go……

unknown photographer

Searching for the right words to describe a ‘moment in time’ and you discover someone already found and assembled them for you…..

She Let Go
by Safire Rose

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of judgements.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around in her head.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the Prayer Line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good, and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her.

And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…..

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Featured

Exposed

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As if in reply
to an unformed question
illusion of secure
grounded, stable
is revealed
perhaps reformed

Life nursing life
Foundations on shifting sand
surrenders, exposes
no safe haven
no inland retreat
life recalculating

Trickster emerges
Coyote, Raven
New vision. New rules.
No limits…
Co-operators are standing by,
“Woof, Woof, wanna play?”

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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 screen.  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”