Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Want to Be an Astronaut When I Grow Up

This is not the first time I've revealed my love for all things space-y, so I might as well say it myself, having been accused of being one:  I will forever be a space cadet. In third grade, I spent a good deal of time deep in a comic book, learning all about training to be an astronaut. Mrs. Vincent, my third-grade teacher, also fed my obsession via a capsule of information where we learned about John Glenn, what astronauts eat in space, what the Big Plans were, etc. I ate it up and begged for more: 'More space, please.'  I still can't get enough.

As my personal exploration of space, via the computer now (supplemented with lots of standing under the night sky and looking up in wonder), takes me deeper into space, I feel that my exploration of spirituality dovetails with it, in fact they seem to be interchangeable in many ways.  This is a subject I have written about before and will undoubtedly write about again, but today I want to share with you a link that my son, Coleman, sent to me this morning. These are photographs taken by Col. Douglas Wheelock, during his command of the International Space Station. Besides being an astronaut, he's one world-class photographer. And I do mean world-class. His photographs are astonishingly beautiful. His photograph above looks like something out of  "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," one of my top ten favorite movies of all time. I would also venture to say he is one fine metaphysical writer. His captions are pure poetry. This is nature writing at its finest.

I may be prejudiced by my own love of space, but I hope you will click on the link below and will enjoy them as much as I did. Then, I urge you to click on the link to his biographical data in the introduction to them (an amazing look at what dedication to your chosen field can do) and to his twitter account. His full captions enhance the images with poetic descriptions of the incredible views he enjoyed from space.

This is art, this is science, this is spirituality, and it sets my heart on fire.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Love: A Lone Crow and Wild Turkeys

During the past three weeks I have been giving considerable thought to the healing power of Love. Several weeks ago I bought a book many of you might be familiar with. It's titled, quite simply, The Power. It's a companion book to The Secret, the secret being not so secret, as it is about Source and the infinite supply we all have, without measure, of all that we need.  The Power is dedicated to the subject of Love, in all its manifestations, and how it meets our every need. Love, being divine Love, as expressed in and through us, has given me much food for thought.

I have not always followed my own principles regarding the expression of Love. I have fallen far short at times. I decided to examine my own shortcomings through a bit of retrospection and introspection, and to make a practice of doing better, to practice what I preach more consistently. During this brief hiatus, I've been having fun in my own backyard. And more than fun, it has been illuminating.

While on a walk yesterday, under a blue-blue sky and with fresh snow under my feet (I love how the blue sky is reflected in the snow), I opened my thought to how I might express love without hesitation and exception. I had to start with myself, the only place anything ever truly starts. I opened my thought and my mouth, speaking out loud how much I love my Life, my Perfect Self, the Self that God, divine Love knows, without condition or judgment. Then I went on to express out loud my love for all my friends, including any that appear to be lost to the past; I spoke of my love for my family, every member, without exception. I continued along these lines as I walked. As I did so, a lone crow sailed across the road, just above the treetops in front of me. I spoke to it, saying hello and thanking it for the gift of its presence. It flew a short distance, then banked to the right, flying back to me, almost appearing to pause in greeting as it approached me, completing a circle as it flew. It did this one more time, flying a short distance, then banking to the right, briefly hovering before completing another circle overhead, then sailing on, across that deep blue ocean of sky.

If you have been reading my writings for any time, you have probably noticed that I believe we receive signs everywhere, once we become alert to them. Signs from nature are among my favorites. This certainly seems to be a nice affirmation for the direction my thoughts have taken.

I received another nice "sign" this morning. I had just sent an email to someone expressing my thoughts about the healing power of love, when I walked down the hall and into the kitchen. There, under the bird feeder, were four wild turkeys. They are probably the same turkeys that visited me this past summer. I took a photo of them from inside, but could not resist the desire to photograph them outside. I walked around the corner of the house and managed to snap off a few photos as they moved back toward the little patch of woods they had taken refuge in this summer. I cannot explain it, but those turkeys felt like Love itself to me. Another gift of Love's ever-presence, expressed through nature.

Someday when men have conquered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The photographs are mine.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To the Playground

For the past several days, I've been getting the nudge to take a break from blogging. I feel the need to step away. Today, the sun is shining brilliantly, not a cloud in sight, and it seems to be mirroring my decision back to me. I am very grateful that I followed through on my desire to share the beautiful art of Katherine Bowling before doing so. What a perfect place to take a break. It might mean a few days, but my sense is it will be somewhat longer. I will be back, I'm quite certain, but now calls for something else. That something else? I think I've forgotten how to have fun. So, I'm going to change that. I don't know what that means yet, but I aim to find out. I'll let you know.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Katherine Bowling: The Subject is Grace

Once in awhile I come across a new artist, someone I have never seen nor heard of before, and they stop me in my tracks. Their paintings call up inexplicable emotion and I can't shake it. Such is the case with Katherine Bowling, whose work I saw in a magazine this fall. Here I am, three months later, and I'm still talking about it.

The wonderful thing about art is, that each person gets to bring their own particular set of emotions to it, drinking it in and walking away, taking with them what they will.

When I worked in the gallery, my favorite conversations with clients were around why people respond as they do to certain paintings. Whether it's a realistic scene, which brings up memories of a place we've been, something we've seen and the emotions associated with those memories, or more abstract work, it always comes down to emotions. We each respond with our own unique way of viewing the world, our own perceptions. And so I cannot say this will strike you as it did me. This is just me. For whatever reason, it's not going away.

Her titles are singular and carry with them their own grace notes, as in this one, simply titled, View:

They have an ethereal quality, perhaps reminding us of a dream we once had that sometimes returns, unbidden, called up by circumstance.

Yes, someplace we've been, but can't quite recall....

She spends part of each year in a 19th century farmhouse atop the Catskill Mountains, surrounded by woods and fields, painting what she refers to as "ordinary stuff."  Using oils, she paints in somewhat of a fresco style, layering vinyl spackle on wood, not unlike plaster, then beginning with a base coat of bright color, which creates in her paintings that sense of light emanating from within. She often turns the painting around, letting the drips form aspects of the work. It's as though Impressionism wed Abstraction and out of it something new was born, something wonderful, something extraordinary.

She notes the early work of photographer Edward Steichen as an influence. I have always loved his photographs. Perhaps that's one element that helps explain why I'm drawn to her work. Considered the most expensive photograph in the world, taken by Steichen on Long Island in 1904, the photograph below recently sold at auction for $2.9. That's million.


I had a devil of a time trying to pick which pieces I'd share with you. Actually, it was quite heavenly. Emotions, of course, ruled the day, and my decisions. Here are some more that sang to me. Sirens on the rocks, I'm telling you. And I gladly surrender.

I sent an email to Katherine Bowling, requesting permission to showcase her work in my blog, and received a generous response in return granting me permission to use whatever I like, along with  a nice comment on my blog. I am thrilled!  Such a lovely way to start my morning. Her most recent show, "Moments of Grace," is at the DC Moore Gallery in New York City.

I encourage you to click on each and view them somewhat larger. The titles are included there, as well. I can imagine how wonderful they must be in person.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Cave You Fear to Enter

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.  
~ Joseph Campbell

The second year I lived in New Mexico, I lived about twenty miles north of Santa Fe, in a little area called El Rancho. I know, it sounds like a no-star motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, but it was a small settlement of folks who had probably lived there, or their families had, for a good many years. It is situated between two mountain ranges: the Sangre de Cristos to the east and the Jemez to the west. The views were outstanding and the sunsets to die for. Well, maybe not to die for, but they were awfully nice.

Perhaps it's the four fresh inches of snow outside my window, and more coming down (which I don't mind a bit; it's sort of nice and cozy), but I've found myself mentally wandering around in the area near the Jemez. It holds some wonderful hiking and exploring opportunities, which JB and I took full advantage of (JB and I were divorced by that time, but were working out our friendship). It was a playground of fine proportions.

Just up the road a few miles was an outlier of Bandelier National Monument called Tsankawi. It's one fine walk, culminating in some pretty spectacular views of those same two mountain ranges, plus the Pajarito Plateau. The real pay off is the Anasazi habitation site at the top of the climb, almost a thousand years old, complete with remaining evidence of their lives: pottery sherds, depressions where kivas had been, and some low rock walls. On the sunny side of the hill are several small caves and even a few petroglyphs.

Across the road from Tsankawi, caves that were once inhabited by other folks who had lived there line the face of a cliff made of volcanic tuff. They provided several other days worthy of exploration. These were not deep caves, just large rooms carved out of the soft rock, large enough to provide a living space, a place safe from the elements, where they could keep an eye out for uninvited visitors. Several of these were connected inside by narrow passageways. Black charred ceilings gave a sense of their very spartan lives.

We once set aside our fears of scorpions and other inhabitants, sat down inside one of them and had lunch. Looking out from inside gave me an acute sense of history and the Anasazi who had lived there.

This morning, looking out at the snow and thinking of these caves, the opening quote by Joseph Campbell came to mind. I posted it on my Face Book page, back when I had a Face Book page. I wanted to share it here, as well. It's a reminder to not be afraid to look inside, to explore the interior of my life, along with the exterior, and the ever-expanding possibilities that are there.

Note the small spiral petroglyph in the second photo of me, just to the upper left, a common symbol found among rock carvings. The circle of life? A symbol of time? Just one of the mysteries that makes exploring their history great fun.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Saying Grace

Several times I sat down to share with you the very special day I had yesterday with my two boys, Trevor and Coleman, and Coleman's girlfriend, Britta, along with their two fine pups, Bella and Bruce, but all my words seemed so inadequate. Instead, I decided to share this with you, which really feels more like a prayer, a pathway to grace:

The Snow goose need not bathe to make itself white, neither need you do anything but be yourself.
~ Lao Tzu 

 Photograph by Ansel Adams

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blue Moon on the Rise

It appears another myth I have long ascribed to our night sky has been debunked, depending on one's perspective or personal preference. Tonight is the night of the full moon, as well as a blue moon. I always thought a blue moon is the second full moon occurring in a given month, something that happens now and then in our lunar cycles. It turns out there's another explanation. A blue moon occurs when four full moons appear in a given season, the third one being the blue moon. At least that's what the Maine Farmer's Almanac of 1937 put forward as the explanation. Here is a link that describes these two definitions and how they came to be:

It doesn't appear to matter which explanation you choose. I'm sure all cultures have given it their own definition and perhaps with a more romantic if not metaphysical connotation. I'm going with the romantic. And, just to add to that notion tonight it's rising in my sign, Taurus.

When I was a child, I danced around the living room to Patsy Cline and, "Blue Moon of Kentucky." I would sing along with all the practiced twang I could muster there in the Minnesota north woods. In honor of tonight's blue moon, here's Patsy ...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Night With My Secret Boyfriend

Last night, I spent a couple of hours with my secret boyfriend. It's so secret, even he doesn't know. I have had a crush on him since I was ... quite young. He has always struck me as someone who, despite the outer trappings, has a vibrant inner life. There are qualities that seem to rise out of him that bespeak a kindness and innate goodness. You may have guessed his identity by now, photographs splashed all over my room and all:  HRH Prince Charles, the future King. I know, whoda thunk it?  He may not be the handsomest chap on the planet, but he cares about people and all life on planet Earth, and he wants to save the world. What's not to like?  Oh, yes, there was that thing with Diana. But, laying all judgment aside, what he offers the world has great value.

I repeat: what he offers the world has great value.

Sometime in the very early evening, I got the message to turn on the television. I don't get that message too often, so I listened. There was Brian Williams doing a preview of two shows scheduled for later. First, an interview, "Prince Charles: The Man Who Will Be King," followed by HRH new film, "Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World," in which he talks about ways in which we can protect planet Earth while creating an entirely new economy. He's been talking about this for a long time and even did a wonderful book and film on it many years ago. But did we listen?  I think we all know the answer to that. The good news is, it's not too late. Well, Charles, and a whole bunch of us commoners, hope that it isn't. Commoners, as in folks with common ground, that ground being the planet Earth.

I enjoyed the hour-long interview, but it was the film which followed that reaffirmed him as my Secret Boyfriend. Well, not so secret anymore. I hope you can handle this bit of information. I promise there will be no stalking involved, just quietly cheering him on and finding ways I can incorporate more of his ideas into my daily life.

The thing I especially like about him is that he doesn't just talk about it. He walks the talk. Organic farming is a way of life for him, and he is encouraging all of us to follow suit. Yes, he has a gardener, but that does not negate his point. He feels the world economy could be completely revitalized if we started understanding that nature offers us all that we need in the way of renewable energy and other resources, in an ongoing symbiotic relationship where everyone's needs are met - and he does mean everyone - and nature doesn't suffer at our hands. Around the world he is involved in projects that point to this as a very real possibility. It's happening for some already and he hopes it will become a movement. He states,  "We cannot sustain our human economy without sustaining nature's economy."

Did you have a chance to watch it?

I loved the part of the Cajun farmer in Louisiana who is now doing organic farming. And seemed very happy about it. At the end of his segment he said, with a smile,  "You'd think me and the prince went to school together ... but we didn't."  Then a really big smile.  It was so sweet, and his love of what he does was so apparent. He knows he's part of something that matters.

There were segments in India and Indonesia, all pointing to ways in which people are introducing these ideas into their lives and their villages and it's making a very real difference. I was torn between taking notes and just becoming enmeshed in what I was viewing. I finally set my notebook down and just watched and listened.

A woman in India who is leading the movement there, talked about the nine seeds she planted, representing nine planets. She feels this goes beyond our planet and includes a cosmic view in her vision of the possibilities. That struck a deep chord with me. Anything that talks about protecting our planet should include a universal vision, seems to me.

The other aspect to Charles that I've always been drawn to is his spirituality. He's looked into many of the world's religious traditions and those that are not so traditional. Although the program last night didn't go into it very much, he's a believer in alternative methods of healing, including spiritual healing. He talks of, "our interconnectedness with nature and a world beyond the material."

He's also an artist, with watercolor as his usual medium, including the two here, above and below.

Another aspect of his life that the film did not cover, is that several years ago he created a project in which an English village was built that did not allow cars on the brick streets. Houses, shops and such, all within walking or bicycling distance. It's a complete, self-contained, self-sustained village, not unlike the old English colonial villages, but a tad more upscale. Just a tad. Last night, he said he's been accused of being a dilettante. Call him what you will, this man has not sat idly by, twirling his sceptre.

And that's all I'll say about that.

Those two hours with Charles last night just flew by. I had such a good time. It may sound way too idealistic, but I hope the world starts listening. I think he has something to say, something to show us. Hope has kicked in again, just when it was starting to wane. Thank you, Your Highness. And I do mean Your Highness. Something we can all aspire to. Our higher selves, with a higher purpose.

Alas and alack, these are not my personal photographs. I borrowed them all from The Great, All-knowing Google.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Children of Atlantis

I tend to be late for the party, only buying my first computer a little over two years ago, so perhaps you've seen the videos of these underwater sculptures by Jason de Caires Taylor. A few weeks ago I watched one showing his latest installation, near Cancun, Mexico. He creates them out of cement and glass and has installed them in various locations around the world. They are works of art, but they also serve as a place for marine life to proliferate, particularly for the growth of new coral, which has been severely damaged by tropical storms, as well as human activities. I think the one near Grenada is my favorite. I can imagine moving among them might be very much like moving through a dream, observing the strange and wondrous. Like the possibility of Atlantis, one of the mysteries of life, I find them hauntingly beautiful.

I would suggest clicking on the You Tube logo in the lower right corner and watching it there, as it seems to flow better, pun intended.

Addendum: Here are additional photos from various installations, some of which are just exquisite in their detail:
A big Thank You to Linda Myers for pointing this out in her comments!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From Evening to Morning at Lonewolf

This morning, I woke up to a lovely message from Grethe, in Denmark, also known as Thyra, here in our blogging community. She shared in her comments a small video excerpt from the movie, "Bambi," accompanied by a "winter song" sung by a Norwegian singer living in Denmark. She even included her own translation of the first verse for which I'm very grateful.  I love how we are all connected. Her translation speaks right to the heart of my previous post, "What Peace Feels Like."

I remember watching "Bambi" at the Marlowe Theater when I was very young. I was sitting with my cousins, and with the news of Bambi's mother being shot tears welled up. I'm pretty sure they spilled over, too. My cousin, Mark, asked me if I was crying. Well, of course I was. Silly boy. I think he just wanted permission to do so also. We both quietly let the tears flow down our cheeks.

Here is Grethe's translation of the first verse in this video:

"There is nothing in the world as quiet as snow
while it softly through the air is falling
softens all your steps
shushing, shushing sounds
of the voices
speaking all too loudly."

I love the notion of softening our steps. It can apply in so many instances to how we walk here on the earth, as well as how we respond to others.

I try to quiet  "the voices speaking all too loudly," the ones from the world and those that sometimes seem to take up residence in my head. If I don't they'll take over and nothing good can come of it. I'm learning to let go and simply surrender them back to the nothingness they come from, knowing they're not my true voice, the voice of my higher self, the one that brings me that oh-so-essential inner peace.

Hearing the song being sung in another language really appeals to me. It crosses any and all barriers to love. Thank you, Grethe, for this video and for your lovely translation. I found it interesting that the production company, which has a very brief introduction to the excerpt, is "Singing Wolf."  I named my place, through dream guidance, Lonewolf. One word indicating no separation. We are one.

I took the photographs during my evening walk around Lonewolf.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What Peace Feels Like

It was an Ansel Adams kind of morning, the kind with soft snow resting on the branches of every tree and a stillness settling on everything. The only thing moving besides myself was the small rabbit I accidentally scared out of the lilac bushes that form a hedge in the back yard. I saw several sets of animal prints, some of which had wandered onto my back patio in the early hours of the morning, then through the snow to the apple orchard, stopping next to the barn.

I started with the notion of writing about Ansel Adams, but then I got this strong nudge to go out with my camera and see what I could see, noting those moments of grace that come when you take the time to look. I've always loved the details of any scene. Yes, the grandeur of the snow-capped mountains and the vista of a river valley with a ribbon of water winding through offer their own beauty, but give me the details, the close-ups of nature or of a ramshackle building, and that's when my eyes really start to see.

I walked around my yard, drawn by the prints that were leading me to the shed back by the barn. Unlatching the garden gate, it was fun to see my little patch of garden in quiet repose, all bedded down, "for a long winter's nap." Even in the silence of the oncoming winter something was happening in the non-happening. Maybe that's where everything that matters truly takes place.

Walking around its perimeter, stopping to see the barn and the garden from the far side of the fence, offered something different. I've always enjoyed seeing things from a new perspective, something I try to cultivate in all aspects of my life. 

In attempting to describe the feeling I had while walking around, I recalled something I had written down a few days earlier.The Greek philosopher, Plotinus, said, "Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together."  That's sort of how it felt, like I was a part, just a part, of something larger, something of a deeply quiet significance. Breathing in harmony with the earth, I felt what was happening in the non-happening, and I realized this is what peace feels like.