Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Book Now Available on Amazon

My Heart Leaps: A Book of Graphic Psalms is now available on Amazon.com.

 My Heart Leaps LinkThere are two editions of the book available. There's the "standard" edition which is a perfect bound paperback (8.25"x8.25", 96 pages) Each graphic psalm is formatted on two pages with the image on one page and the text on the facing page. ($22.99)

The other edition is the more compact "devotional" edition which is a perfect bound paperback (9.6"x7.4", 56 pages) Each graphic psalm is formatted with both the image and text on the same page. The image is slightly reduced but the content is the same. ($17.99)

The "My Heart Leaps: Graphic Psalms Journal" is the same size and binding as the "devotional edition" (9.6"x7.4", 54 pages) It is an accompanying journal for the book. It contains 40 journaling pages, one for each of the 40 graphic psalms included in the book. The journal can be used with either edition of the book. ($8.50)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Holy Longing

I attended an artist workshop this weekend taught by Doug Walton. It's always an adventure to paint with Doug. This time we were invited to bring our own travel compositions to paint (usually we have models or subject matter he brings from his world travels).

The Benedictine Monastery in Pecos, NM became very close to my heart during my month there this summer, so that was my chosen subject matter. I worked on three paintings this weekend, two were of the monastery building. Of those, one is "eh" and the other I haven't finished yet. The one I haven't finished yet has some dead tree branches in the foreground (like the ones on the wind swept bluff above the monastery)...the instructor liked my tree branches so much that he suggested that I leave the monastery out of the painting..."I don't think so!"

The only one I finished is a painting of the wonderful life-size statue called "Hosanna Madonna". The statue is carved out of a dead tree on the monastery grounds along the Pecos River. Here's a photo of the statue:

Here's how it feels to me:

I love this imagery...not just in celebration of new physical life but also new spiritual life. I see that God is always in the process of bringing forth new life in me which I need to gratefully embrace and celebrate.

Revisiting my time in Pecos, made me feel a bit homesick for the place. One of my fellow classmates described the experience this way:
"The silence and prayer remain with me like a little monastery within and I have a holy longing to return to the quiet." (Ray McCracken)
I am grateful for my "little monastery within" that calls me to return to the quiet.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tending My Feminine Soul

I leave on Wednesday for vacation. I'll be in Georgia for a couple of days then will drive down to St. Augustine, Florida with my sister to spend a WEEK with the women folk of the family. This is an annual event and open only to the women in the family. Normally, no children are allowed, but this year we've made an exception for my sister's 3 month old nursing daughter who is the most adorable, well-behaved baby ever (otherwise, we may have voted her off the island).

My dad died of cancer almost 4 years ago and less than a year later, my mom was diagonosed with breast cancer. After 2 rounds of chemo, a mastectomy, radiation, and now ongoing "anti-hormone" therapy, she's holding her own. After going through all that, she decided there's no time like the present for enjoying life. This annual week at the beach together is one of her priorities...last year she asked us to promise to come this year even if she weren't still around. Thankfully, she is still around and we look forward to good laughs, margaritas, sitting on the beach watching the sunrise, walking in the surf, key lime pie...

I'll check in when (if?) I return. : )

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Heart Leaps Book

After much prodding by God and others, I have finally put my "graphic psalms" into book form. Doing the artwork and writing were easy compared to formatting it into a book and actually letting others look at it! The material is rather personal and I feel a bit vulnerable in sharing it. Fortunately, I'm in a different place in my life and feel somewhat detached which is perhaps the reason I've been able to "put it out there".

The images, words, and scriptures have come as I have spent time in the private sanctuary of my own heart. I was very grateful for the intimacy I had in my relationship with God and for the images and insights that came to me during our times together. In my view, God and I had a good thing going and I was content with things just the way they were. I some times say that God kicked me out of my prayer closet, but that's not exactly true. God first put it on my heart to share what I had received, 4 years ago, at the graduation mass of the Anglican School of Theology. I was very moved by the Eucharist, particularly when the priest held up the elements and said, "The gifts of God for the people of God." At the moment, I realized that what God had given me was not just for me but was to be shared with the "people of God".

I've learned a lot in the process. The technical challenges were significant but not nearly as great as the personal and spiritual challenges. But as usual, each challenge brought the lesson I needed for the next step in the process.

So I offer up my book saying: "The gifts of God for the people of God."

May this book open a window to God for you and bring a fresh breeze of the Spirit to your soul.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fragrance of Presence

A short clip from prayers at the monastery...I sooooo miss the monastery and the friends I made there! I've been feeling "homesick" for the place and people who are so dear to my heart.

The bells for morning prayers


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

MeMe (What does that stand for anyway?)

a. List these rules on your blog.

b. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.

1. I do not like the cold. On our honeymoon (the end of December), we stayed at in a small one-room cabin (two-room if you count the bathroom) cabin on the Oregon Coast. The night we arrived, my husband built a fire in the fireplace (to help his young bride stay warm), only to fill the cabin with smoke which left us standing out in the dark and cold until the smoke cleared.

2. I come from a "blended" family of 7 kids...most people don't know whose kids belong to whom because we have such close relationships, both sibling to sibling and children to parents. I feel very blessed.

3. I have one of the cutest granddaughter's in the world. Just take a look and judge for yourself:

(My daughter made her hat...to see more of the lovely headwear my daughter makes, visit my daughter's website: The Portland Beanie Company.)

4. I did my Master's Thesis on the "Geographical Ecology of Acorn Woodpeckers".

5. I can't hear that I have an accent. (I have a "corrupted" Georgia accent that I guess is very distinct, or so I'm told, even here in Texas.) I can hear when other people have an accent but I can't hear my own. I can't carry a tune very well either but I can tell when I'm off or when someone else is off. (The cool thing is that I found out that I can chant!)

6. I'm a homebody. We've lived in Texas for almost 8 years and I've never been to Houston, Austin, or San Antonio. I've never been to the Texas coast nor the hill country. I"ve never been to 6-Flags over Texas nor the Ballpark in Arlington but that because I have NO interest.

7. Even though I'm a homebody and don't travel much, I did go to Africa in 2001, which was pretty amazing. I went to see my 16 year old daughter who was doing mission work in Malawi.

c. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

This is as far as it goes cause I don't know 7 bloggers to tag.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back Home

I'm back home after my month of study at The School for Spiritual Direction at the Benedictine Monastary in Pecos, New Mexico. My time away was rich...I was especially blessed by the wonderful people I met, both the community members of the monastery and the other school attendees.

I've been home for 4 days now and still feel like I'm experiencing culture shock. It's a rather curious thing that everytime I start to feel bothered, even the slightest bit, I hear the chant that was recited at the start every service:
"Oh, God come to my assistance, Oh, Lord make haste to help me."
It makes me smile...and when I chant along with the recording in my head, it feels like a peaceful OhhhMMMM...really amazing. Hopefully, I can hold on to that.

After studying various "schools" of spirituality, all of which are based on finding God in the silence, I've decided it would be a really good idea to develop a form of spirituality that helps you find God in the noise...I'm working it...the "OM" chant may be a main stay : ) (Of course, I don't know if there's another way to learn this "discipline" besides hearing it repeated several times a day for a month by monks and nuns!) I let you know what I come up with : )

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Off To The Monastery

Next weekend, I leave for a month-long spiritual direction program at the Pecos Benedictine Monastery. I attended a retreat at the monastery a few years ago and was blessed by this unique community of brothers and sisters. I enjoyed the quietness and solitude as well as the beautiful scenery around the abbey.

Alas, I will not have internet access while I am away so I won't be able to read or post until I get back in mid-July. Will check in when I get back.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bird Blessings

I have had a life-long love affair with birds. I've been intrigued with birds since I was a child and even earned a Master's degree in Birds. (Actually, that's not exactly true...I did do my thesis on birds, "The Geographic Ecology of Acorn Woodpeckers", but my degree is really an interdisciplinary degree in Biology, Ecology, and Statistics.)

Birds really are quite magical, aren't they? I recently traveled to Minnesota and Georgia and on both trips, I was enchanted when I heard bird songs I had not heard in a long time.

One morning, as I stood out on the deck of my friends' home in Minnesota, I heard a familiar chant: "Poor Tom Peabody Peabody Peabody". And instantly, I knew who was hidden in the brush: a white throated sparrow. And then one night in Georgia, I stepped outside and heard the clean call of a Whip-poor-Will from the nearby woods.

Both experiences some how transported me to a mystical place between worlds...the natural world, the physical world and my inner and outer world. It was a rich, wonderfully alive space.

(The painting above is one of the Mockingbirds that call my yard home and argue with the cat about who owns this tree.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Celebrating New Life

This is my new little niece, Ashlyn Susannah, born May 4th, 2008. I took this photo with my cell phone yesterday... believe it or not, she was 4 days old when I took this picture. She doesn't look or act like a newborn! She holds her head up and looks around taking everything in. She's AMAZING!

I'm in Georgia with Ashlyn's mom and dad, her grandparents, aunts and uncles and we're all having a wonderful time welcoming her into the family.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Full Heart

My heart is full after my short trip to Minnesota last weekend. I am so thankful that I made the trip...I was touched deeply by the deep faith and love of this dear family and their community.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

He Loved Well

I got a call yesterday from a friend of a dear friend. She was letting me know that my friend's husband had passed away rather suddenly. Needless to say, I was shocked and saddened.

My friend's husband was a fun guy and a wonderful husband and father to their 4 children. His physical presence will be missed but his spirit will remain with us and continue to be a strong presence because he was that kind of person. If my friend is open to suggestions for his grave marker, my suggestion will be: "He Loved Well".

I will be leaving in the morning for St.Paul, MN to be with my friend and reminisce. I knew right away which pictures I wanted to contribute to the gallery at the wake and was very thankful to be able to find them in my big box of photos from years past.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Living Presence

My friend introduced me to her grand Elm tree.
It really was quite spectacular...

Drinking in Sun and Rain
Since before my father was born
Living Presence.

"Blessed is the woman who trusts and hopes in God. She is like a tree planted by the waters which spreads out its roots by the river, and does not fear when heat comes. The leaves are green and there is no anxiety in the year of drought, nor does it cease from yeilding fruit."
Jeremiah 17:7,8

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creativity Flare

The other day a friend of mine passed on an old quilting magazine she had finished reading. I do a little quilting but what really inspired me was an article on dyeing fabric using flour paste as a resist. The thought came to me to try it with watercolor paper as an underpainting. I ended up with some amazing results.

Butterfly Frenzy

I read a post on Oprah's "A New Earth" forum asking if others had noticed that the grass seemed greener this year. I had to agree...and not just grass but everything looks more alive and vibrant to me. These recent paintings show a little of what I'm seeing and feeling this spring.

Singing Flowers
(This little family of flowers was singing their hearts out along side the road.)

Vegetation Vibes

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I don't know what's going on with me but for some reason, creativity is seeping out in new and interesting ways. I did some abstract paintings a few weeks ago with my daughter and her friends. They (the paintings, not the kids!) weren't anything special...I had done them mostly to demonstrate techniques for the kids. A week or so ago, the thought came to me to cut them up and do some paper weaving of sorts. So that's what I did and found it be great fun and very satisfying for some reason.

Here's one of my creations. No deep meaning...it just is.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Back Home

Our son, Lance Corporal Arild Doerge, returned from Iraq to his Reserve Station in Waco, Texas on Thursday, March 27, 2008.

YAYYYY! I'm so glad he's home safely. He's a little on the skinny side but otherwise looks great. He is a tank mechanic and was part of a Maintenance Unit in Haditha. Fortunately, he wasn't involved in any combat. He helped recover and repair broken equipment and helped with patrolling along the border with Saudi Arabia.

He has about a month of active duty in Waco then will return to reserves status and go back to work, school, and friends. We thank God for his safe return and good health.

Arild with proud Mom and Dad and little sister, Nadley.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Red Buds In Bloom

I just returned from a trip to visit my family in Georgia. Spring is in full swing across the southeast.

I'm especially partial to the red buds...they were my dad's favorite and they always make me think of him. He passed away 3 years ago. You can read about my dad here: MY DAD.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Soup Night!

Thursday is Soup Night at our house and all are invited! I never know who or how many will show up but it's always a fun time.

I instituted soup night a few months ago for two reasons. One is that my kids are always eating at their friends' houses and I decided we needed to do our part in feeding the youth of the community. The other reason is that the kids liked my soup and wanted to know when I was going to make soup again. So I said, "How about Thursday?" And they liked it and we decided to make it a tradition.

Every week is different. Sometimes we get more of my daughter's friends...fun kids from theatre. Sometimes it's my younger son's friends...mostly guys from the neighborhood. This week we had a bigger crowd than usual since my older son is home from college on spring break.

After they eat, they may hang around for a while watching an episode of "The Simpsons" or something. But then, around 7 or 7:30 they load up and head to the local coffee shop for "Open Mic Night" where several share their musical talents. In addition to having gifts in music, the kids that come are gifted as poets and writers, artists, lettered athletes, theatre performers, photographers/videographers, and more...and that's just what has unfolded so far.

I am so blessed to know these amazing young people!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

I don't really know why I do it, but for some reason, I live with things until I can't live with them. Well, duh...or maybe not. See the problem is the way things sneak up on you, how things come on so gradually and slowly that you don't notice the change. I guess it's like the frog in the pot with the water slowly heating and they don't realize and they're cooked alive. Oh happy day, when we realize and jump out of the pot before it gets too hot.

See this thing? It's my sewing machine...a pretty old one but well made. I've had it for years and it has served me well. (It was "pre-owned" when it was given to me 7 years ago.) About 3 years ago, it started groaning a bit when I pressed on the foot peddle. After a while, it stopped groaning and refused to start unless I patted it (by giving the wheel a little push with my hand). Well, over the last 6 months or so, it had gotten so bad that I had to use the wheel like a treadle and constantly push it with my hand to make the needle move.

Earlier this week, I was inspired by a friend to do some creative fabric art. I set up the old machine and then for several hours, I frustrated and wore myself out working the old machine. I was so disgusted with the old thing that I went out and priced a new one. I would have bought one but they were out of the simple model I wanted. (I only do straight and zigzag, nothing fancy.)

So I came home empty handed. But my creative urge continued to intensify. Fortunately, the thought came to me to open up the sewing machine and see if I could figure out some way to fix it. (How complicated could it be?) For at least a couple of years, I had the sense that a belt was loose. So I found the right screw driver, removed the screws, and lifted off the cover. I easily found the floppy belt and saw that next to it on the casing was a wonderful little screw...all I had to do was loosen the screw, cinch up the belt, and tighten the screw back down. WaLa! The machine works like new!!!

And here's one of my creations.

For me it represents my emerging "authentic" self. I don't know if you can see the different materials I used but each has meaning to me. The maroon color is dryer lent...I washed a new throw that left a handful of beautiful lent that I couldn't bear to throw away. I do a lot of laundry and make the most of it...it represents "embracing my life". The blue jean material (my preferred attire) represents my humanity . In the blue "gathered" area, there are two materials with green, one next to the maroon center, that one is "mystery". The arching stain glass window green/purple material represents the sacred/spiritual. And then there's the upward movement guided and intertwined with Divine calling and Presence.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Meme? My First.

Katherine tagged me for this meme.

Here are the rules:
1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.
2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.)

F is for Friendly-You know how guys try to pick up gals? I love doing that with most anyone just because I love people and find them wonderfully interesting.
O is for Open-Open to new ideas, open to learning, open to God/Love, open to others, open to me.
R is for Resilent-I've been through my share of difficulties and have had some pretty tough "teachers" in my life, which have taken a toll, but I always rise again, usually stronger and more compassionate.
T is for Tender-That's how I feel a lot...toward God, toward others, toward myself.

N is for Natural-Natural in the sense of being relaxed and easy going...in my dress (tennis shoes and jeans mostly), in my style (no make up, casual hair style...what you see is what you get). I'm a biologist by training and love the natural world. I had 6 babies by natural childbirth (no meds) and mostly eat organic, natural stuff .
E is for Ethereal-Ethereal in the in the mystic sense. Since I was a child, I've had that "other world" kind of feel.
R is for Realistic-Embracing reality is a surprise gift that has come to me in my 50's. I'm "Loving What Is" (which is the name of a book by one of my favorite people, Byron Katie)
Fortner is my maiden name. These were the first "facts" that came to mind for each letter, except for N...I confess that the first word that came to mind for N was "neurotic"! I feel that way at times, but I have not been diagnosed as such, so I decided it does not apply!

I'm really not connected to the blogging community well enough to tag 7 people! Especially 7 people that haven't already been tagged so maybe one of my R's should be for Rebellious cause I'm not doing number 3.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Transformed By The Renewing of My Mind"

So are any of ya'll reading The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle? I have to admit that Oprah talked me into read this book (The New Earth is Oprah's current "Book Club" Selection).

My mom has been a devotee of Tolle for years and introduced me to his first book (I think), The Power of Now, several years ago. Though there were things I could relate to in his writings, for some reason, I just wasn't one to jump on his band wagon.

The New Earth is a little more interesting to me, mostly because it provides a framework for understanding human behavior that I think is helpful. I do agree that it's our "thinking" that's more of a problem than reality. Identifying the "ego" and "pain body" is certainly the first step. The "second" step is not so easy....UNLESS you have been introduced to "The Work of Byron Katie." The work is an amazing tool for questioning our stressful thoughts and "stories".

This is what Eckhart Tolle says about Byron Katie and "The Work":

"Byron Katie's Work is a great blessing for our planet. The root cause of suffering is identification with our thoughts, the 'stories' that are continuously running through our minds. The Work acts like a razor-sharp sword that cuts through that illusion and enables you to know for yourself the timeless essence of your being. Joy, peace, and love emanate from it as your natural state."
Eckhart Tolle, author, The Power of Now

The great thing about "The Work" is that it's FREE. Everything you need to know about "The Work" is available for free on the website (http://www.thework.com/). You can even call their "hotline" and talk to trained facilitators who will do "The Work" with you so you can experience it for yourself. (That's one thing I love about "The Work": you can learn about it and practice it with paying a cent!)

"The Work" is the most effective tool I have found to deal with stressful thoughts. Scripture talks often about the importance of tending our minds: "speaking the truth in love", "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ", "be transformed by the renewing of your mind", "think on these things". "The Work" helps me renew my mind and open my heart to the Spirit.

What is "The Work"? It really is very simple. It consists of four questions and a "turnaround" which you apply to any stressful thought that you have. The four questions are:

Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it is true?
How do you react when you think this thought?
Who would you be without that thought?

You can read more about the process including the "turnaround" part on "The Work" website: http://www.thework.com/

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"The Great Madness"

I recently read a book called The Shack by Willam P. Young. A good friend recommended the book, otherwise I doubt that I would have picked it up myself. I was pleasantly surprised and greatly blessed. The author gives rich expression to some difficult theological concepts and illustrates the character and heart of God beautifully and powerfully. A friend of mine wrote: "It is amazing how my attitude has changed since reading this book. I have been given tools to love the “unlovable”, to understand “the mean spirited”, to pray for “the evil”. I have a greater understanding of that which I do not understand." I agree.

Product Description from Amazon:

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book! http://www.amazon.com/Shack-William-P-Young/dp/0964729237/ref=ed_oe_p

Recently, I had an epiphany of sorts. It really wasn't a result of reading this book, but the framework for the story helped me define what had happened in me. In The Shack, the main character, Mack, refers to "The Great Sadness" that had come into his life when his young daughter was murder. I haven't ever experienced something that terrible, but about 10 years ago a series of events brought into my life what I now see was a "Great Madness". I was angry as h*ll but had no way to process it or resolve it. "The Great Madness" lived in the recesses of my soul...until recently. It wasn't a simple process, but the dark clouds of my anger have started to part and light is beginning to shine into those hidden places. I am lighter...freer...more alive. I am very grateful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fish I Have Loved

Pal Pescado passed away today. Pal was my fish who kept me company at the kitchen sink. He was my third fish in recent years. I don't know why he died (unlike Buddy Beta whom I killed...more about that later). I'd only had Pal since Good Friday. He was a gift from the neighbor who knew how much I missed Buddy.

My daughter hated Pal. She said he was weird...and he was. But he was his own fish and I learned to accept him the way he was. I wondered if some of it had to do with his name. "Pescado" is fish in Spanish only this particular word for fish is fish on a plate ready to be eaten! Poor thing, maybe that's the reason he seemed to prefer laying on the bottom of his bowl. I guess his name should have been "Pal Peces" which is the name for a free swimming fish. But that didn't really fit him. He was very different from the other two fish I've had.

My adventures with fish started a couple of years ago. Don't really know why but the thought came to me to get a fish. I mentioned the idea to the gals at Curves who helped me decide on getting a single beta to keep me company near the kitchen sink. I went to a wonderful aquarium store that sold things (and creatures) I never knew existed. I eventually located the betas floating in their little tiny containers and was drawn to a small, simple looking one. Then I selected a specially designed "beta bowl" with a light, that came with food and some kind of drops for something or other. After stopping by the grocery store for spring water, I went home and set up house keeping for my new pet. I named him "Friend Fish".

"Friend Fish" was great company for me as I worked at the kitchen sink. I loved watching him swim...I marvelled that his small cramped bowl didn't seem to constrain him at all. When I came over to the sink, he would swim up to the glass and then swim a lap or take a twisting dive to the bottom and back to the glass. I marvelled at how he could be so free in such a small, constricted environment. That's when it struck me that perhaps this was what true freedom really is.

I'm not sure what happened to Friend Fish but he died and after a reasonable time of mourning my daughter bought me a new fish. "Buddy Beta" was incredibly beautiful and seemed to strut around the fish bowl. He loved to fight with me for his food. He'd come up the glass and fan out his gills and stare me down. After thumping the glass a couple of times I would reward him with a few flakes of beta food. I loved that he loved to fight with me...a true fighting fish...I loved that he was his authentic self.

Sadly, I killed Buddy : ( I had been out of town for a few days and when I returned home, I noticed that his bowl was about 1/3 evaporated and murky...he was swimming around OK but it was stinky and gross so I decided I needed to clean his bowl right away. Unfortunately, we were out of spring water (or any bottled water) which is what I normally use. I thought our water purifier took out the chlorine so I used that but apparently it doesn't. I tucked him in that night in his clean clear water only to find him laying on the bottom the next morning : ( He was such a pretty fish...the prettiest beta I've ever seen.

These are the fish I have loved.

So Rich

It's mid January. Yesterday I bought fresh blackberries and raspberries...they were amazing...brilliant colors...plump, sweet.

How did this come to me? Something that only royalty could know in years past? How could I be so blessed? So rich...

"Taste and see that the LORD is good." Psalm 34:8

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Call From My Son

I had the most delightful surprise this morning: my son who is with the Marines in Iraq called and told me he was back from his mission. He's been out of contact for several weeks. He left his base in Haditha before Thanksgiving but couldn't tell us anything about the mission they were on. Turned out, he and his unit were part of an effort to secure the border with Saudi Arabia for those making pilgrimage, The Hajj. (I like thinking of him on a "peace keeping mission".)

December 18, 2007 - December 21, 2007 Hajj (Annual Pilgrimage to Mecca) The Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca, consists of several ceremonies meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, such as submission, brotherhood, and unity, and to commemorate the trials of the Prophet Abraham and his family. Required once in a Muslim’s lifetime, over two million Muslims perform the pilgrimage annually.
(From Islamic Networks Group

He said they stopped and talked to groups of pilgrims and the shepherds and locals along the way. Thankfully their "securing" was in presence only and pilgrims were able to pass through their area peacefully.

It's amazing to watch my children finding their way. I have two other sons who are pacifist for religious reasons...needless to say, we often have interesting, lively conversations when they get together. The one in Iraq, volunteered to go (he was in the reserves and chose to activate) siting the treatment of Kurds in Iraq. My mother's family is Jewish and "ethnic cleansing" is an injustice he wanted to help combat. Of course, it is a complicated situation with no easy answers but it doesn't change the fact that he is doing what he thinks will combat evil in this world and I am very proud of him.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Waking Up Slowly

The last few years, I've had a "theme" and an accompanying image for the year. I don't really choose it, rather it comes to me in a knowing that expresses something of my growing edge. This year my theme is "Waking Up". I'm not sure what it means or how it will unfold but I have the sense that it will be all encompassing...body, soul, and spirit.

"Waking Up Slowly"

This is the accompanying image for the year. It came to me the other morning as I was "waking up slowly" (a rare treat). As my eyes gradually adjusted to the early morning light, I realized that my soul and spirit were waking up in a similar way.

softly the morning
whispers my name
opening my eyes
in first light
my path
slowly spreading out before me
flowing, mysterious
calling me
my day
ready to be lived
all I want
all I need
mine this day

waking up slowly

Happy New Year!

First an apology for being slack in sending out my e-letters. Some of you have requested my "monthly newsletter". Needless to say, they haven’t been monthly, not even quarterly for a while. One of "heart felt intentions" for this year (aka "New Years Resolutions") is to be more regular about sharing my art and reflections with you, mostly because I enjoy the spiritual community and sacred dialog that comes as a result.

It's for that reason that I have decided to join the blog world. Instead of keeping it all to myself in one-on-one interactions, I want to "share the wealth" that you bring as you "fill out" my offerings.