Tuning Into Peace

new moon sunset

I looked up and saw a crescent moon in a sunset sky of blues, purples and pinks.

I was in a busy parking lot, walking from the grocery store to my car. It was evening commute time, and the road was filled with continuous, impatient traffic.

The beauty of the moon took my breath away, so I stood still for a few minutes and turned my attention away from all the traffic. I took a moment to gaze at the moon.

I breathed in the peace of the moment’s interlude.

I tuned into the peace that was being offered to me, right in that moment.

I think these invitations to feel peaceful and centered, even in the midst of frantic activity, are all around us.

I believe we are offered these moments by life, all throughout our days.

It is just that I don’t step into very many of them, because my mind is elsewhere, and I move right past them.

The peace was an elixir for my soul.

The moon set a few minutes later, and the sky filled with stars as I drove home from the grocery store. I was marveling at how this peace is offered to us all the time. I thought about how much peace is available to me, right in every moment, when I just tune into it.

What moments of peace are available to you, during your days? I invite you to go on a treasure hunt for them.

The Awakening of Sunlight in Snow

berries high relief

It is warm and sunny today. After many cold, cloudy days in succession, this is a welcome change.

At midday, I walk down the driveway for my walk, and I’m immediately aware of the warmth of the sun on my jacket. Even though it is only the beginning of winter, the sunlight makes me feel really good, like I do in the springtime, when everything is waking up.

I can feel myself waking up to everything around me: the bright blue sky, the glistening bits in the snow, and the big chunks of snow that are falling off tree limbs and roof lines, as things are just beginning to melt.

I turn onto the road, and there is a breeze blowing in my face. It’s chilly; it comes directly off the snow-covered farm field across the street, and it wakes me up too.

It is like I see more of the landscape when the sun is bright and the air is crisp. The birds that are feeding on the seeds at the side of the road are more visible than they are when it is dark and grey. The silhouettes of the trees are clearer against a clear sky.  Red berries stand out against the skeletons of the bushes.

I also interact more with my environment when it is clear and sunny and bright, than on those days when I’m hunkered down against the grey. Everything is in high relief, like a picture that has very sharp resolution.

All of this is an invitation to wake up, to my walk, but also to my life.

As I breathe in the crisp air, I just feel very grateful and alive, and I wonder where all of that vitality goes when it is darker, and more grey. I renew my commitment to feel awake, alive, and aware, when I’m out on my walks, especially during the long, grey winter ahead of me.

Aliveness and vitality are everywhere. It is just that sometimes I have to look a little deeper and wider to see them, and engage with them.

What wakes you up?

A Walking Prayer


This time of year it’s easy to walk with the sunrise. The sun rises relatively late, and I can get out before most people begin their day.

This morning the air is cool but not uncomfortably cold. There is a slight breeze that is gentle on my face. As I walk by my neighbor’s house, I’m hearing the soft ringing of the chimes that are hanging on her porch.

The sun rises with the promise of a new day. The early morning light is strong and powerful.

The rhythm of the day feels different before sunrise. It’s quiet; most people aren’t out and about yet. There is not even any birdsong this time of year.

Nature is my sanctuary, or temple. Nature is my “something bigger than myself,” and I find it really accessible on my walks. It is easy for me to attune to the energy and creative spirit of Nature.

Prayer, to me, is simply honoring what is sacred to us. As I tune into the rhythm and spirit of Nature, my walk becomes a prayer.

This intimate connection with Nature is what made me want to move from the city into the country thirty years ago. Some people find their “something bigger than themselves” in other people, or in a city, or in a church. I find it in Nature, and I always have, since I was a very small child.

We all need this kind of intimate connection, but we all find it in different ways. What is your way? And, what is your prayer?

First Snow

first snow too

All sound is muffled and everything is still. Snowflakes are slowly and steadily drifting to the ground.

There is something magical about the first snowfall of the year. Every year, I experience this feeling. For me, there is a sense of wonder, as I see it all with beginner eyes.

Through the intervening seasons, I have forgotten the immediacy of the rigors of winter. I am seeing and feeling with a childlike sense of awe and wonder.

This makes me curious about how I see my life, as I live it, day to day. I wonder what would be possible if I were able to come to it with more of a sense of beginner eyes.

Could I recapture some of that innocence of seeing? Could I feel, again, some of that feeling of amazement at the most ordinary things?

How can we come to our lives with that spirit of freshness?

Scattering Seeds

milkweed pod

Today I was out scattering seeds on my land.

I gathered these seeds in the prairie. I’m sending them off with wishes that some of them take root next Spring, in the abundance of sun and rain that will be available to them then.

I marvel at how each variety of seed looks so different. The varieties of texture and size and color are incredible.

Each seed, however tiny, has in it the intelligence to guide it to full fruition. It knows what it is to be and it has a pathway to get there.

Like the seed, we have intelligence deep within us, to guide us along our way.

For years, I doubted this, because I couldn’t reliably access it. I’d receive intuition and inspiration occasionally, but, honestly, it seemed a bit arbitrary and capricious. Kind of like a friend that you couldn’t count on to be there for you. My guidance seemed to come and go at its whim.

Our inner essence knows what we need to know, in order to grow and to create, and to thrive. Our bit is to learn how to tune into that intelligence within. I’m guessing that this is something that the seed doesn’t have to give much thought to, but we humans have a lot of distractions to cope with.

My inner wisdom seems to move at an altogether different rhythm and pace than I do. So, first, I need to entrain to its rhythm by meditating or doing some slow breathing.

My inner intelligence seems to share what it wants me to hear, rather than what I want to know. I need to be open and receptive to whatever might arise from within, rather than what I think it should tell me.

And, I need to be sincere in my invitation and intention. It helps me to surrender to the wisdom, and to allow to come whatever is meant to come into my awareness in that moment. Being curious helps me be open and sincere.

So I just tune in and ask, with a sincere heart: What do I need to know, right now?

It could not be simpler, but I find that it isn’t always easy to shed all of what I bring to the process, so that I can be an open, clear receptive field of listening. I want to be like the land, open and receptive to the fertile seeds taking root.

Take a moment to breathe deeply. What does your inner wisdom want you to know right now?

Seeing a Different World

same road

My dogs never see their world the same way twice.

I have a lot to learn from them.

My husband Harold and I take our dogs for two to three walks a day on the same stretch of road, about two miles round trip. Yes, we vary it with visits to the parks when we can, but for the most part they are in the same territory a few times every day, 365 days a year.

I’ve watched them. Every day they act like they’ve never seen the landscape before. Never smelled the same smells.

They are eager and excited because it is a new world to them today. They don’t seem to think “here we are again, in the same place, how boring.”

I work in my home, so my universe is much smaller than it is for most people. I often go for a few days without going out of my immediate neighborhood.

Many of us orbit around the same things day after day, cycling through home, work, and community, except for the times that we go on vacation or travel farther afield.

Except that, as my dogs know, they aren’t the same things. People are changing, weather is changing, nature is changing, light is changing. An infinite number of variables are dancing in an infinite number of combinations, which yields a different miracle in every moment.

The trick is to be present for the miracles.

When I’m really present, focused completely on what is right here, right now, I know that my world is never the same. There is always something different in it, in every moment. No matter how many times I have been “here,” I’ve never been here right now.

How do I cultivate that kind of presence? It helps me to deepen attention to my senses.

When I’m out on a dog walk, I tune into my environment with all of my senses, rather than tuning out, listening to a podcast, or going over something in my mind. What am I seeing today? What do I feel on my skin, or under my feet? What are the subtle things that I am hearing? What is catching my attention?

It is so simple to do this. When I do it, I do pick up on different things every day.

It is also pretty amazing how easily I can zone out and miss the whole walk, if something else is on my mind. So, it does take a conscious commitment to be present.

What it yields, though, is a whole different walk than the day before. My world becomes fascinating again.

What are you seeing in your world today?

What’s the Good of Process?

01 mandalaI know that many of you have creative practices where the product never “goes anywhere.”  What good is it, if it never goes anywhere?

A lot of people in our culture would argue that our time and energy are better spent producing something that can benefit others.

Our culture highly values product, or the end result, over process.

And for those of us who truly value making a contribution to others, what good is it to invest significant time and energy into something that will never be shared?

I want to make a case for making art that never goes anywhere, even for those of you who don’t consider yourselves artists. Maybe especially for you.

And, I also want to make a case that immersing ourselves in our creative process does benefit others, even if it is indirectly.

For me, art-making (Soul Collage®, glass work, mandala-making) is a process of connecting to the creative spirit within and feeling my way into what wants to be expressed or created through me.

I quiet myself and sense the impulse in my body of what line wants to be drawn next, in a mandala, or which image is the next image to be placed in a collage. I feel where it is to go. It’s not me making it happen. I am allowing it to happen through me.

As such, it’s all about the process and not the result.

It’s about my connection with the creative spirit within. Art-making is then a practice of entering the unknown and surrendering myself to the mystery of not knowing what is to come next, or what wants to be made. It arises out of the silence, the listening, and the “feeling into.”

I empty and allow creative spirit to express through me, and to delight me. In this process, I grow beyond my previously-perceived assumptions and expectations. I am almost always surprised at what comes out.

Is this not good practice for life? In life, we often think we know where we are going, but how much of our lives is spent in not knowing? A lot. And where are we taught to embrace not knowing, or how to be with not knowing? Not very many places.

So this is my case for art-making, or creative practice, specifically with the intention of it not going anywhere. It’s excellent practice for life: for listening to the creative spirit within that is always available to guide us in and through Not Knowing Land. And for learning to distinguish that voice (from others within us), and to respect and follow it.

Art-making or creative practice, done in this way, is a transformative process, because I allow myself to be transformed by the creative spirit within. I let it have its way with me. I practice listening and feeling the impulses. I practice getting out of the way. In this way, I am transformed a bit; I grow.

And since I grow through this practice, I am a different person when I go out in the world, and interact with others. I have the potential to be more creative and more open, and more receptive to others and life. In that way, others benefit from my creative practice.

It took me a while to be able to come to my art-making or creative practice with this level of detachment to the result. I, like everyone else, have been trained well by our culture to produce good results and to be sure they make a difference.

Being detached to the result just becomes a part of the practice of doing art in this way.  When I notice that I am beginning to care what it looks like, how good it is, whether I like the result, I consciously let that go and surrender to the process again.

Are you interested in playing with art-making or creative practice in this way? There are an infinite number of places to begin, but here is an easy one. It’s a simple and lovely video called How to Grow a Mandala. Anyone can do this, even with no artistic or creative experience.

Where in your life can you honor the process of creative spirit expressing through you, just for it’s own sake?


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