Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Morning Light

©2014 Mary-Lynne Monroe
Early one Sunday morning, I went for a walk down a deserted road and saw the light and shadow playing games with each other across the hills. The bright, crisp sky and the early light brought more than a smile to my lips. I felt like dancing.... even did pick up the pace of my step a bit to accommodate the feeling I had deep down in my gut. That wonderful feeling of a day of freedom.

morning light
creating shadows
pulling from the depths
of the dark night
the dew
and shadow
and freedom
growing as it moves
across the land
coaxing all it touches
to sing

What time of day do you like? How do you feel about the morning light?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Suitcase Heart

They should tell you when you're born: have a suitcase heart, be ready to travel.
~  Gabrielle Zevin

As a lover, reader, writer and dreamer of myths, the concept of a 'suitcase heart' strikes a chord. Whether my physical body moves from one place to another or my etheric body flies in the dreamtime or my psychic body journeys when I write, my heart is ever ready to travel. The gypsy call has sounded ever since I was a child. In the fifth grade, we had an assignment to write about our lives. Mine was titled "My Travels through Life" even though I was only ten at the time! My family went on a two-week traveling vacation every year. It was from these adventures that my childhood biography was written.

Through the years, some of my adventures have been simple day trips ~ to the Coast to wander the small towns, skiing on the Mountain, visiting a friend living in the woods, windsurfing on the River. Others have been longer and farther afield ~ a week in California, three weeks on the East Coast, ten days in Ireland, then days in China, ten days in Israel and the Occupied Territories. One, longer still, a year living in Egypt ~ with side trips to Turkey, Jordan and Palestine. I continue to look for places to go ~ waiting for the right timing and the movement of my heart in the direction of travel.

Many of my journeys have also been in the dreamtime as well as in shamanic practice. These journeys often leave me slightly off balance as I discover and uncover a new, deeper center. I remain open to the continuing adventures!

Where have you traveled? How have you gone? What is your favorite trip? Do you want to continue to travel? Where are three places you would visit? Do you have a 'suitcase heart'?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Drawing The Devil

The Dragon Tarot by Nigel Suckling
This morning, I decided to draw a card from The Dragon Tarot deck. My query was "a strength for the coming week." Every now and again as I was shuffling the deck, I found myself asking for a "theme" for the week. I redirected my mind back to the "strength." I wound up with two cards..... for my split questioning? or because the cards themselves stuck together as I drew them? Does the reason matter? Not to me. I figure if two cards arrived, there was a reason.

The Devil was card #1 ~ the "strength for the coming week." What a card to draw! In the guide book for the deck it reads:
Whether or not you are fully conscious of it, your or someone in close proximity are already bound to some self-destructive attachment that can only end in tears. It is time to listen to your own inner voice of wisdom and a way out will soon become clear. The misfortune threatened by this card is not a force of nature, but a consequence of choice.
When I began reading the entry, I was thinking: Didn't I do this last week? I thought I was past this. Please don't keep it happening.

Then I read the last two lines and a new realization dawned. This card is a strength if I let it be that. If I listen to my own intuition and not second guess it or follow a course of action because I'm worked up about something. The results this weed are "not a force of nature" but open to be different according to what I choose to do. The 'strength' is awareness; an opportunity to stay awake to self-destructive attachments. I can choose how things will turn out.

Have you drawn a card randomly from a Tarot deck? What did you draw? What did it mean? Did it help you move forward? or make you freeze in your tracks? What other form of divination do you use or have you used?

Sunday, April 27, 2014


This is one of those uncredited or anonymous quotes that free floats on Facebook and Pinterest. It's also one of my current favorites.

I've spent many days, weeks, months looking at what I needed to become or how I needed to be in the world. How do I improve my ability to..... [fill in the blank: be in relationship, be a friend, work better, make money, live more easily in the world, etc. etc. etc.] I'm sure these ponderings, workshops, classes, meditations were all helpful in their own ways. I returned over and over again to doing something in order to become, well, honestly, I'm not sure what, only that whatever 'it' was, I'd be better being or doing 'it.'

Then I read this quote. The world went TILT and I went with it. 'Un-becoming' was a totally new concept to me. Not changing or improving or even letting go. More of an unraveling of what I learned and what I've been. It felt like a mulligan, the chance to re-do my beingness in the world. What freedom! Yet ~ as I said ~ everything shuddered as it shifted.

In every group setting in my adult life where we've discussed how to be in the world, the comparison to child-like trust and understanding is always mentioned. Every one. Yet not one of them suggested that perhaps we needed to un-become. Not only to unlearn or let go of things that no longer serve us, but to shift our being to that more innocent, loving, trusting phase of our lives. And in that process, to recognize that we were truly meant to be (something) in the first place. Something/Someone important. The original blessing of our life on Planet Earth, right here, right now. Something I am extremely grateful to recognize in this moment.

What do you believe about your life? What would un-becoming look like for you? How does it feel to think about un-becoming?

Saturday, April 26, 2014


A friend re-posted this prayer/image on Facebook ~ and I recognized it was speaking directly to me ~ to an encounter I had at work that very day.

One of my co-workers is incredibly upset with me though I'm not totally sure why. It has something to do with my challenging information that person put forward. Or at least, it was perceived as a challenge. I believe I meant it as questioning what seemed limited information, but not intending it to be personal. However, it apparently happened some time last year and I've forgotten the details ~ and even whatever the event was or events were.

All that said, the co-worker is currently extremely upset with me... to the point that every comment I make is either ignored or taken personally and reacted to with vehemence. I've been feeling put upon and wronged ~ in other words, self-righteous, because I've forgotten whatever happened and my co-worker has not.

The particular day that this was posted, we had had an encounter which I felt was more of the same. My self-righteous woundedness showed its rather unattractive head and I acted out that wounded aspect ~ though not in the presence of that co-worker. I spent the day rather uncomfortably ~ something niggling at me that my behavior needed a cleansing more than a whitewashing.

When I arrived at home at day's end, I went for a walk. My usual way of dealing with difficult issues is to carry on a conversation with the person (actually my personal version of that personality) and finding a nugget of what the core issue is for me. I did that on my walk. Two things surfaced: one was that my co-worker's opinion of me is none of my business. Whatever that person believes about me is not ME, but a reflection of that person. That opened me up for the second piece, which surfaced later ~ probably because I was feeling less wounded and defensive. That was my self-righteousness. What I was feeling, how I was reacting, also had nothing to do with my co-worker. It had everything to do with me, with my insecurity, with my pride, with my sense of self-importance.

I would like to add two more aspects to the prayer in the picture: a mind that seeks the truth and a voice that knows when to be silent and when to speak.

How do you handle your moments of self-righteousness? What parts of the prayer speak to you? What else would you add to the prayer?

Friday, April 25, 2014


"God must act and pour himself into you the moment he finds you ready. Don't imagine that God can be compared to an earthly carpenter, who acts or doesn't act, as he wishes; who can will to do something or leave it undone, according to his pleasure. It is not that way with God: where and when God finds you ready, he must act and overflow into you, just as when the air is clear and pure, the sun must overflow into it and cannot refrain from doing that."
~ Meister Eckhart

Before anything else, my disclaimer: I generally don't use 'he' God language. However, I am quoting Meister Eckhart and that's the language he used. Think about this in whatever terms feel most comfortable for you.

How amazing! I have free will ~ I can determine my actions or inactions. They are governed by my 'pleasure' ~ simply put, my own personal choice. If I want to stay home in bed until past noon, I can do that. If I want to sew a dress for myself, I can do that. Everything is governed by my choices.

Yet according to Eckhart, God doesn't have that same opportunity to choose. If God finds me ready ~ whatever that may mean ~ God must act. Like the river rushing to the sea ~ encountering rocks and a drop off, it becomes a waterfall or a set of rapids. The river has no choice. It can't say, "No, I don't want to do this now." It can't wait until later or change what it does or where it goes. It becomes a force that acts because it IS...... not because it chooses.

I've never thought of God in those terms ~ acting in certain ways due to His very nature. It's a thought I will continue to ponde

How do you experience God? What do you think is His nature? What do you think about His actions?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Grand Cardinal Cross

Between yesterday and today, a Grand Cardinal Cross has formed in the heavens. From all that I've read, it's a doozy. I guess that's in the nature of a Grand Cardinal Cross.

If you know the symbols in the picture, you know that Pluto is in Capricorn opposing Jupiter in Cancer AND Uranus is in Aries opposing Mars retrograde in Libra. Those four signs are the Cardinal Directions and the planets currently in them are highly influential. The nature of the Cardinal Cross is one of movement, the kind of getting up and doing something or going somewhere movement. This one has change coming through in spades ~ which will make it difficult to avoid. Our test? How we handle all the energy. Because Mars is in retrograde, it might be advantageous to simply go with the flow for the time being rather than begin anything too quickly. The cardinal nature of the cross will move things forward anyway. After Mars slows and begins direct movement (May 21st), then take the plunge to move on!

I am not an astrologer. From my perspective, an event in the sky as large as the Grand Cardinal Cross is decidedly worth noting... and worth taking into account as I move forward with plans and changes of my own. I have never been of the belief that whatever is seen in the stars is inevitable. My belief is that I can use the information to better understand what is happening or to be aware of and awake to the energies of influence. It's about the power of knowledge and of choice.

What do you believe about astrology? How do you use information like this? Do you want to know what's going on in the heavens?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let Loneliness Season You

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you as few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Absolutely clear.
~  Hafiz

More on the theme of loneliness. A different perspective. Embrace loneliness to let it season you.... to soften and change your nature ever so slightly. 

When cooking, the seasoning is the ingredient that changes and enhances the flavor of the meal. If something ferments, that too will change the taste. These processes take time. The change is gradual, not immediate. The longer the wait time, the richer and fuller the flavor.

That's true with loneliness as well. Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly... Most of the time, I'm anxious to get past the feeling of loneliness ~ that hollow place within me that echoes each breath I breathe. I want to fill that void with light and sound and say that I don't feel lonely. But the truth is that I can fill the space with noise and light all I want, the loneliness still exists, still rests like a well of unfilled promise in the pit of my stomach.

If I embrace it, I allow that divine ingredient entry into my soul. Although I can't say for certain what will come of that, I know I will be richer for having opened the door to let it in. Its entry reminds me of my need of the Divine ~ of the Ineffable One ~ in my life. One on whom I can depend ~ and from whom I can draw strength. One of the most important reminders in my life.

How do you feel about loneliness? Do you admit feeling it? Are you afraid of it? How can you embrace it ~ even for a moment ~ in your life?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Facing Midnight

©2014 by ML Monroe
A Clear Midnight
by Walt Whitman
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee full forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.

Sometimes I face midnight still wrapped in the book I'm reading or the blog I'm writing or writing/reading/learning social media or preparing for the next day. It's not the same approach as Walt Whitman describes. I love the concept of having that time for "free flight into the wordless." What does that even mean in today's connected electricity-bound culture? How can there be such a time as "wordless"?

My soul resonates with that concept. With letting go of all the hustle and bustle of the day. Really letting go. Being silent. That's not only being quiet. Silence is deeper. It permeates every aspect of my senses ~ it's a broader quieting, one that doesn't simply refer to a stilling of the noise. It goes beyond that, to a stillness of my entire being beginning at the center and expanding more fully.

Those themes Whitman mentions strike chords within me too. Night, the moon and the stars are all beloved by me. I am a creature drawn by and into the night. Yet until I read his poem, I never considered death a theme walking alongside the others. As the moon and the stars and the deep darkness of night continue to wane and wax and wane again, I will bring that theme out of its hiding place within me so it may stroll beside me instead. I will see what death has to say.

How do you interact with Whitman's themes? Are you a creature of the night? or do you prefer the light of day? What themes would be more suitable for daylight? What themes draw you?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Outracing Loneliness

I love poetry. Some poets touch my heart more deeply than others.... or maybe it's just the timing of reading the poem. I've been focused lately on the concepts of aloneness and loneliness and solitude. Naomi Shihab Nye magnificently captures that sense of loneliness stalking you or surrounding you as you travel through the day. With a passing comment from an unnamed, unknown roller-skater, a new thought emerges: What if you could outrace loneliness? What if there was a way to skate or pedal or ski or run fast enough to leave it in the dust? Then what? Your own personal loneliness gets left in the dust ~ "panting behind you on some street corner" ~ while you have the incredible opportunity to "float free" of it.

When loneliness hits me most closely, I want to remember this poem ~ to feel/sense/taste/see loneliness falling behind ~ as I move as quickly as I can, in whatever way I can, in the direction of freedom. I can outrace that sense of loss that permeates the word loneliness. It has no real power over me unless I choose to hand it over.

Do you feel lonely? How does it affect you? Can you imagine a way to outrace it? Practice that the next time it tries to disturb your peace!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Eostre ~ Goddess of Change

How Eostre Became the Goddess of Spring
©2014 by Mary-Lynne Monroe

Many, many moons ago ~ more full moons past than have ever been counted ~ the gods and goddesses quarreled over who should be honored at the turning of the seasons. Clearly, there were fewer turnings than deities.

As another turning approached, tempers flared ~ the arguments brightening the sun, melting the snow, warming the earth. Grass grew taller and greener. Flowers poked their colorful heads out through their leaves. Rivers burbled faster. Yet the arguing gods and goddesses barely noticed, so entirely wrapped in their arguments were they.

Zeus electrified the air with his lightning bolt. Thor's hammer thundered a retort. Kali spewed roiling lava over the land. Yemaya's surf pounded a tattoo in response. Every god and every goddess vied for acknowledgement, position and power. Their dueling responses signaled the coming season: Spring, when everything is grander and more colorfully explosive than any other season.

Weaving through the gathered crowd of immortals was Eostre, a goddess new to the Divine City, inexperienced with the ways of the gods and goddesses as they quarreled. Hair shimmering like spun silver, she listened attentively and quietly to the noise and chatter around her. In the midst of the other dazzling divine, her appearance though beautiful was unremarkable. Absorbing the view of the marketplace with its stalls of fruit, bread and other wares overflowing their baskets and tables, she found the abundance nearly overwhelming.
In the midst of the hubbub, she moved unnoticed. She herself, however, saw everything. Small creatures darted in and out among the feet and legs on the path. Her deep violet eyes missed not a one. Anyone watching as she passed the final table and crossed the threshold out of the City and into the surrounding woodland would have seen Eostre begin to shrink. Soon she was the size of a rabbit doe ~ then she was the shape of the doe, as she made her way deeper into the woods.

Once Eostre was deep within the woods, she stopped to rest in some underbrush beneath a tree at the edge of a small clearing. Recognizing the holy difference of Eostre even in the form of a doe, other rabbits hopped over to be near her. Birds flew to branches over her. Flowers and leaves turned in her direction as if seeking out the sun. Deer, badgers, squirrels and other denizens of the forest slowly filled the clearing near her.

Unknown to Eostre, the Moon goddess Artemis had followed her. Thinking she was alone with her woodland friends, Eostre shifted her form back to human. No animal ran. No bird flew away. No leaf turned away. All remained quietly in the clearing, focusing on the Goddess of Change. Artemis, watching this shift and aware of the honor bestowed on Eostre, stepped forward herself into the clearing. Instantly, every creature startled and fled.

Eostre herself startled at the sight of the Goddess of the Hunt. She too wanted to flee, but knew there was nowhere to go where Artemis could not follow.

"Why have you followed me?" she asked.

"Your youth and beauty attracted me. You appear as my Maidens do: strong, self-aware, mindful. If I hadn't watched you shape-shift, I would have lost you."

"That was my purpose: to be lost."


"All the anger and fighting wear me down. This is the season of joy, creativity, love, birth and growth. How can all that negativity call forth an honoree for a season of beauty and positivity?"

Artemis paused, leaning on her long huntress bow, and smiled.

"Will you return to the City with me?" she asked. "I believe we have found our Spring honoree."

"I will spend tonight in this wood, Artemis," Eostre responded. "You have frightened the creatures of the wood with your huntress ways. I will see them calm before I return."

"As you wish," Artemis responded. "As tonight is the Full Moon, it is my place to be in the night sky. I will be in the City again in the morning. Will you meet me at the gate by which you left?"

"Yes," she promised. "I will be there shortly after dawn."

As Artemis in her form of the Full Moon moved through the night sky, she looked down on the glade to see all the creatures again gathered around Eostre. The nocturnal creatures were awake; the diurnal creatures were asleep. All were at peace.

The next morning, Eostre entered the gate to the Divine City with Artemis at her side. As they moved through the streets of the City, arguments and conversations stopped. All heads turned toward the two goddesses.

When they arrived at the central square, Artemis took Eostre by the hand and led her to the fountain. The two goddesses stood side by side as all the gods and goddesses gathered. In the quiet, birds twittered in the nearby trees, frogs croaked in the fountain, dogs and cats walked through the legs of those gathered and laid down around the fountain. The movement and sound of these creatures did not escape the notice of the gathering deities.

Artemis raised her voice and said, "My sisters and brothers, yesterday as the Huntress I followed this radiant goddess into the woods, expecting to find her alone. But I did not find her so. She was in a clearing surrounded by every woodland creature ~ walkers, creepers, crawlers, fliers, jumpers, all of them. Even the flowers and plants were aware of her presence. Their devotion was keen."

She turned toward Eostre. "She spoke of the joy and beauty of this Spring season. From my place in the sky as the Full Moon, I saw her. Throughout the night, the fauna and flora of the forest continued to honor her. I believe she is our Goddess of Spring."

As one, the gods and goddesses raised their voices in approval. The dogs howled, the cats purred, the frogs sang, the insects buzzed. Every living thing agreed.

That is how Eostre became the Goddess of the Spring turning ~ and on the Full Moon!

Easter Sunday ~ Lent is Done

From Seasons of Celebration by Thomas Merton:
"Lent has summoned us to change our hearts, to effect in ourselves the Christian metanoia. But at the same time Lent has reminded us perhaps all too clearly of our own powerlessness to change our lives in any way. .... Is there nothing more than this?
.... Easter is the hour of our own deliverance - from what? Precisely from Lent and from its hard Law which accuses and judges our infirmity. ... here is the "grace" of Easter which we fail to lay hands on because we are afraid to understand its full meaning. To understand Easter and live it, we must renounce our dread of newness and of freedom!"

One of the lessons of Practicing Lent is that changing my life ~ giving things up ~ choosing what to give up and what to change ~ is not easy. It also requires me to accept my own weaknesses and shortcomings as well as acknowledge my own power and strength. Practicing Lent this year has been not only a different experience but a change of attitude and vision for me. Lent is about change and awareness ~ and, as Merton says, it's about the Law.

Now. Today. Easter. Resurrection. The grace to move forward bearing the gifts from Practicing Lent. I like the final line from Thomas Merton: "...we must renounce our dread of newness and freedom!" Change is a good thing. As I give up on some things, some habits, some fears, I replace them with more of what is good and holy. I feel a sense of renewal that is moving me toward a greater access of freedom, a fuller awareness of the blessings in my life.

What about you? What practices bring you to that place of newness? renewal? freedom? How will you move forward and onward in the light of this new day?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday ~ 2014

Looking down from the Rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be built on the site where Jesus was crucified ~ on Golgotha, is one of the most sacred, and most disputed over, sites in Jerusalem. [There was a church built on the site before 66 CE; leveled by Hadrian about 135 CE; rediscovered by Helena, mother of Constantine about 326 CE.] During Holy Week, hundreds of Christians come to see the church and to participate in worship services within, around and on it. [Six denominations ~ Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Ethiopians and Copts ~ own different parts of the church. None own the main entrance. The key resides in the care of the Joudeh family and the opening/locking of the entrance are in the care of the Nusseibeh family, both of whom are Muslim.]

I've been inside this Church twice though neither time during Holy Week. Within its walls, I felt the weight of the centuries of spats between the different sects. I also felt an incredible peace and sacredness within and all around the Church. I cannot imagine the beauty and the overwhelming press of worshipers at the vigil on Holy Saturday.

Why do I find myself looking back at that particular Church tonight? Because it marks for Christendom the place where the Messiah died. Holy Saturday marks the in-between time, the time when Jesus was neither in this world nor in heaven. It marks the time when the myth of Jesus, a myth that would significantly alter the course of the world for hundreds of years, was born. The myth wasn't born with Jesus' birth, but with His death. Tonight, this night of all other nights of the year, reminds me most deeply and dearly of where and under what circumstances Christianity was born.

What influence has Holy Saturday had on your life? What influence has Christianity had on your life? What myth of Christianity is most significant to you?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Coyote's Message
Late last night, I decided to drive the 'back road' to get home. I turned the corner onto a street I've taken many times at that same time of night. This time, I saw a figure in the road ~ a coyote. It stood in the middle of the road for the space of a heartbeat as my headlights neared it. Then it turned tail and ran back into the field out of which it had come. My personal belief is that animals appear in our lives like that ~ cross our paths, show themselves to us ~ for a reason. As a result, when I arrived at home, I looked up information on Coyote. I knew that in some Native American traditions, Coyote is the Trickster.

In the Animal Wisdom Tarot deck booklet it says: "Divine fool and free-spirited trickster, Coyote reminds us that life is a grand adventure." The advice is to trust oneself ~ to not take life so seriously.

Me? Take life seriously? Ha! Lighten up, trust and be open to change repeatedly appear as themes at this time. Yes, I often take like and myself waaaay too seriously. When I let go of that seriousness, the release allows for laughter, true delight, and a freedom deep within my soul.

Since I'd been out dancing and laughing, I thought I'd done my work around that release. Seeing Coyote reminds me to go deeper into the adventure, to dive into the trust of the process no matter how much resistance my mind presents.

What stops you from adventure? How seriously do you take yourself? What makes you laugh?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting Past Giving Up

Some days I want to give up. Nothing extreme like suicide or running away to join the circus. I don't have to go far to find that circus ~~ maybe it's giving up on the circus. I'm not sure. Resting on my chest is a sense of lost. Yes, I meant lost, not loss. Quiet, soft, yet smothery..... a hard-to-breathe get-me-outta-here moment. Ever have one of those?

It's not as though anything big has happened or anything significant has gone wrong. There are little things: the ironing board that fell on my foot, the less-than-supportive comments of my co-workers, the horn-blowing fool behind me on a packed street, the canceled writing session.... all a bunch of little things that individually ~ and even collectively ~ amount to very little. Yet that sense of 'lost' ~ of being adrift while all around me are sailing on by with a sense of purpose.

Maybe that's it ~ the lost sense of purpose. Asking those deep answerless questions. Seeking what truly, at the moment, isn't there.

Then I go for a walk in the neighborhood. Standing on a slight elevation, I turn back toward home and THIS is what I see. The mountain framed by trees. Looking like the top of a sno-cone. The beauty and intimacy of it ~ with no one else around to see it or me ~ takes my breath away. I pull out my phone to snap a slightly-out-of-focus picture and realize that sense of lost, of giving up, of blah disappears. In its place is a peaceful re-connection with awe, with the Ineffable, with Ruah ~ the Breath of Life. I am grateful.

What do you do when the blahs hit? How do they feel? What gets you past giving up?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Authentic Purpose

As March ended and April was about to begin, I drew three cards from the Wisdom of the Hidden Realms deck by Colette Baron-Reid. I focused on a different question for each draw. The final query: What strength/gift do I need as I step forward into April? The card I drew? The Mapmaker of Destiny.... even the name sounds auspicious!

From the guidebook:
"At birth, each human being is given a unique map with myriad paths that intersect with one another. Your Map of Destiny shows all the places you're meant to visit, places where you will be challenged to evolve into the highest aspects of the Self. ... Fate is transformed into Destiny according to how you respond to your circumstances. ... Pay attention as your map unfolds now. And remember that Fate makes the map, but Destiny is determined by the manner in which you engage your journey."

I like the subtle twist on the difference between Fate and Destiny. It grabs my imagination and ignites my intellect. Fate is what is handed to you by life, heritage, environment; Destiny is what you do with it all, how you act, react, interact.

As I've been Practicing Lent, I've paused to reflect on the past year, the past five years, the past twenty years, the past thirty-five years...... in short, on the whole of my adult life. It's hard to reflect on my childhood because there are so few choices I could make simply by virtue of my age. But once I became an adult, able to make my own choices and follow through on them, there was an element I could reflect back upon from the distance of time.

What I found was that no matter when or where or how, every chance I got, my heart, mind and soul always turned toward the Divine Essence. Every time. I found reasons to be grateful. I found reasons to rejoice. I found ways to express the awe that lived within and around me. I continue on that journey, using that glowing map of Destiny ever leading me toward the Ineffable. That connection, alive and vibrant, is what I need as I continue forward on my journey.

What draws you forward in life? Is there an overriding theme to your life? Have you taken the time to look for one? What would that time look like for you?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunar Eclipse ~ April 2014

©2014 Mary-Lynne Monroe
Last night over most of North and Central America, there shone an incredible Lunar Eclipse. I stayed up late to take some pictures ~ this is one of my favorites. I watched enraptured as the shadow crept across the face of the explosively bright full moon. 

Why stay up until past midnight, on a work night, to take pictures of this? I mean, it happens, right? There will be pictures on the internet, right? NASA and several observatories certainly posted some... NASA, in conjunction with the Marshall Space Flight Center, posted a live Ustream feed ~ in real time and the comfort of home. Remarkable to see!

Yet.... yet.... What I wanted, what called to me, what left me awestruck, was looking at the event itself in the night sky. I was the only one on my street for most of the time. As the full shadow slipped into place revealing the red glow Blood Moon, I heard doors creak open and saw a couple across the street come out of their house to look at the sky, then turn around and return indoors. The creaks of other doors happened again. I assume the neighbors who had come outside were all heading back in and into the comfort of their living rooms and beds. I was left alone again, with my camera, standing on my front porch, mouth agape in wonder.

As I write this I wonder who is the real lunatic? Me, the moon worshipper? or those who do not grasp the magnificence and wonder of our universe.

Where were you during the eclipse? What in our world, life or universe awes you the most?

Monday, April 14, 2014


When my daughter was young, I spent many hours watching children's shows on the public broadcasting network. Naturally, one of the constants on her list was Sesame Street.

I found it comical that when taking this picture, I thought of Cookie Monster gobbling up his cookies. Here, the branches are set to gobble up the moon.

Daily, I overhear others making connections over many things in our lives. A person in the check-out line says "You look just like...." to the clerk who's newly encountered. A new parent picks up a box of cereal commenting, "This used to be my favorite cereal when I was a kid. No way is my kid eating this sugar-coated nonsense!" A pair of teenagers in a clothing store share which famous person wore a shirt "just like this one" to a concert.

I laughed at this image because it reminded me of a younger version of my daughter and myself. It brought back sweet, loving, joyful memories. Perhaps the look-alike person was someone the speaker missed or thought of with fondness. Each of us connects what we encounter with something else. We have a file inside our brains keeping track of all that we've done, all those we've cared for or fought with or admired, the words we spoke and others spoke to us. I love those kinds of gentle connections that bring joy with them.

The connections made with people or situations that were not so positive are far more subtle.  Words spoken or looks given that brought with them feelings of shame or fear or separation are more difficult to pinpoint, to connect to the surroundings. I internalize the feelings in all of these situations, yet my mind seeks to erase the images of those moments. My bond to the specifics of the uplifting situations is strong and sure. With the darker side, it's more nuanced, fewer details ~ which is good, a form of self-protection.

I actively seek to stay open, not to judge myself or others for whatever it is I perceive. Also, to peer closely at the moments when I take on or dismiss what I feel and determine what is real and true or fake and false, what lifts me up or what brings me down. As I attend to these shifts, my awareness growing, I connect more with God, more in the NOW, and generally more at peace.

What about you? What makes you happy? What makes you angry? What do you do to connect or reconnect yourself to peace?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Writers Sometimes Give Up.....

©2013 Mary-Lynne Monroe
I was looking for some word of inspiration and turned to one of my favorite poets ~ Mary Oliver. This tidbit showed up in the quote stream found on the internet. I felt called into it... like Alice tumbling through the looking glass... only to see myself both reflected within and without.

As I've been writing these posts over the past month ~ and posting links to them in more public venues than my blog itself ~ I find my curiosity peaked to know what draws people in to read? what phrasing catches them? what line connects to the line of their lives? When I fell into this quote and let it surround me... when it flowed into me and was absorbed... I recognized that my curiosity and my questions sometimes took me off the track of my own writing and onto the track of writing what someone else might want. So, whether or not anyone chooses to read what I write, I am reminded to be true to myself, to the call of my own rough-edged myths and let that be what I write.

Gratitude flows around me like a mist. Gratitude for the teachers and mentors in my life. Gratitude for friends. Gratitude for every moment of life itself.

What motivates you? What "rough edges" do you smooth out to 'accommodate' others? What are you called to do with your life?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Your Unique Expression

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost.
The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you."
~ Martha Graham

In all of creation, there is only one of you, only one of me. Only one who can do the work you or I are in this world to do; only one who can be the fullness of expression that you or I embody. Sometimes I forget that. In my rush to make my world conform to the way I think it ought to be, I punch down and deflate the clay that defines me.

Think of what the world would have missed if Martha Graham confined herself to a box that did not include dance. Or if Mohandas Gandhi continued to live the way South Africa had told him he had to live instead of non-violently defining how he wanted to live. Or if my maternal grandfather had not left Poland to work in the steel mills of Chicago. Or any other number of people had allowed themselves to remain as they were told their lives should be.

I choose to march to my own drummer, to be a nonconformist. I choose to follow the star-strewn path of the dreamer, the storyteller, the myth-maker. What do you choose? In what direction will you point your life? Whose path will you follow?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Love and Fear

Recently, a friend asked: "Do you think fear is the heart of love?" My immediate response was simply: "No. Fear and love are opposites." My friend then affirmed the belief that fear indeed was the heart of love. According to my friend's belief, fear of being alone drives one to seek the company of another and of falling in love.

After those comments, another person entered the conversation and began asking questions. My friend turned away and I couldn't hear the comments, responses and the continuation of the conversation.

I continue to ponder that question. My current response would be:
Love is about serving and honoring the Other. Fear is about getting something for Me.
Love isn't blind ~ it sees everything, and chooses to love anyway.
Love is a coal I use to warm my life. Sometimes it burns brightly. Sometimes it flares into bright flames. Sometimes I have to feed it more fuel and fan it to keep it burning.

What do you think is the relationship between love and fear? What motivates you to love another person? What do you value most in your loving relationships?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Trust and Move

After reflecting on living a solitary life, on being alone, this quote popped into my world. That exceptional phrase: "We are not alone in the dark...."

One of the very first things we learn upon leaving the womb ~ and possibly even within it ~ is to trust and move. We must move in order to exit the womb ~ and we must trust that there is someone who will catch us when we leave and who will be with us once we are outside. It's an unconscious movement forward in life, on to the next phase of who and what and where we are.

Then we're here. in the air and with all this space around us, and we begin to learn or believe that we are unsafe ~ we begin to lose that innocent trust we once had. It takes awhile. We eventually slow down so the world can catch up with us.

I love this statement, though. It reminds me of times I used to walk down the streets of Chicago with my eyes closed ~ just for the space of a dozen steps or so ~ to see where I would wind up, which way I would be headed, if i could stay on a straight path, and how long I would trust that I was going in the right direction. I think it's time to play like that again.

How do you feel about the dark? How do you feel in the dark? How much do you trust the unfolding of your path? If you're not alone, who is with you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Ode to Enchanted Light
by Pablo Neruda

Under the trees light
has dropped from the top of the sky,
like a green latticework of branches,
on every leaf,
drifting down like clean
white sand.

A cicada sends
its sawing song
high into the empty air.

The world is
a glass overflowing
with water.

In the dreamtime of being among the trees, I am captured by Neruda's poem. His description of the light and its glowing, vibrant beauty connect me from the top of the day to the evening. I feel the glow through me as much as seeing it filtering through the trees. His words dance across my mind as I savor every iota of living each one describes.

There never seems quite enough time for me to whirl through that dream space, that moment where I ground myself with the words of someone I have never met, yet whose life influences mine in each touch of those words.

Since it is National Poetry Month, what poet or poem influences your life? Into what dreams do those words carry you? How do you let in the connections with the writer of those words?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Seeing Snakes

Often lately, while I'm walking around the neighborhood ~ or more precisely, the newly-being-built part of the neighborhood ~ I'll see one of these little garter snakes. Although I am fully aware that they are not harmful, their rapid movement across my field of vision startles me. I'm certain they're startled by all the activity happening in what used to be their home territory.

On my last walk, the snake was simply stretched across the road directly in front of me. I easily walked around it. Before doing so, I paused to acknowledge Snake in my life and in my path. It stretched, head up, looking in the direction it was traveling, yet, at the moment, motionless. I thought, 'How fitting! I am fully aware of this tiny creature yet it seems unconcerned about my huge presence right next to it.'

How often do I do that? Stop in my forward motion, perhaps because something seems odd or off in that motion, yet without truly seeing what the cause of that sensation may be. Recently, that seems to happen less. I'm growing more aware, more awake, more conscious. For that I am grateful.

In Pocket Guide to Spirit Animals, Dr. Steven Farmer says:
You're about to go through some significant personal changes, so intense and dramatic that an old self will metaphorically die as a new self emerges.
You're going to feel a surge of energy that will sharpen your senses, alert your mental faculties, and open up new channels of awareness.
The Snake is wisdom expressed through healing. It is a protector and guardian totem, along with its sister totems, the Dragon and the Serpent.
Snake energy is the energy of wholeness, cosmic consciousness, and the ability to experience anything willingly and without resistance. It is the knowledge that all things are equal in creation.
Snake is fire medicine, the medicine of transmutation.
On a material level, it is vitality; on an emotional level, it is ambition and dreams; on a mental level, it is intellect and power; on a spiritual level, it is wisdom, understanding and wholeness.
 I'm looking forward to increasing my awareness ~ my healing senses ~ my connection to fire! I feel my resistance to intense changes... this may be a wild ride Spring!

What creature has shown up in your life? What is it teaching you? What are you willing to learn? How do you express your gratitude for the lessons?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Being Solitary and Be~longing

For years, I've thought solitude and being solitary were the same thing. But they're not. I like my alone time, my solitude, my down time. Time alone gets me more deeply in touch with Spirit.

Being solitary is a different shift in my soul. I am alone and happy in that aloneness. I face that big empty space of not having a partner beside me to walk in the same direction. My trust in Spirit providing is full trust in the Ineffable One, the One Who Is.

I know people who are fine with moments, even days, of solitude. Time for themselves, for meditation, for writing, playing, creating, whatever lies in that deeper moment of themselves.

Those same people are not often comfortable with BEING alone, with a solitary existence. They pass their time in solitude knowing that at some point in the relatively near future, they are going to be back in the company of their partner or friends or family. They've gone away on vacation. Period. TTFN, nothing more.

Living a solitary life means finding that core spot within, the spot where others are not there to serve us, help us, keep us safe. They are there to BE with us, to simply live side by side. It's knowing where I stop and you begin. Knowing that at any point, the tide can change, I can be alone again, and I can survive.

What do you do with solitude? How does it affect you? How do you define the difference between a solitary life and solitude? How do you live a solitary life? How does it balance or unbalance you?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Raising Lazarus

Sts. Mary & Martha, by Ellen Francis
In the Catholic liturgy, today's Gospel is John 11:1-45, the death and raising of Lazarus of Bethany.
Two of the lines [42-43]:
"I myself knew that you hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me. When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!'"

Over the years, I have generally heard that Jesus' friends in Bethany were wealthy. Yet the name Bethany itself means "house of misery/poverty." It was also reputed to be one of the places where lepers were sent... perhaps a "poor house." Why is this important? It would better explain two things: first, why Jesus ~ the friend of the poor, downtrodden, outcast ~ would spend significant time there; second, why Martha would be distressed by Mary's choice to sit at Jesus' feet rather than work. Martha knew there were people who needed their help.

Beyond all this basic re-mything information lies the message this has for my life. In practicing Lent this year, I've reflected on what has 'died' in my life, what is being 'reborn' and what is 'resurrecting'. In general, those are different things. Letting go of my past, with its mistakes, fears, missteps, losses, has been one of the most difficult 'deaths' I continue to work through. The process allows me to sift through the dreams of how it was, how I wanted it to be, and how I can revision it. As I go through that, I find pieces that I want to resurrect, to say "Come out!" to so that I can feel more fully and robustly alive. It's a re-formation of those deepest parts of me that I allowed to stay asleep for a time. I'm excited about their return!

What traits or important pieces of you have you buried? or allowed to be asleep or buried? Do you want them to return? What do you imagine will happen if you tell them to "Come out!"?

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Puddle by M.C. Escher
There were many challenges in my past week. Lots of great and wonderful insights along with self-doubt, fears and stresses. I felt a bit like Escher's image ~~ beauty reflected in a puddle filled with tire tracks and footprints.

I know that I carry deep within myself the essence of beauty and wonder. Some days it shines through with shocking electric clarity. Other days it peeks out from behind a corner or sits quietly in a reflecting pool. Much of the time it is both visible and quiet in ways that don't over- or underwhelm.

Then there are the tracks that run themselves through the depths of me. I know I have the power to choose how I react to what others say or don't say, do or don't do. Yet on some days the tracks sink deeper into the muck of my being and leave their impressions in a different way.

All of this is gift. All of this teaches me about my own deep inner choices, about what I choose to take on, what I choose to leave behind, what lessons I learn. Who and what I am has been shaped by my choices. Those choices include the people with whom I share time and space, the places I work, play and live as well as how I choose to respond to everything in my surroundings. For all this, I am grateful.

What causes the tracks across your reflected beauty? How do you choose to respond? Are all your responses the same? or are some deeper or truer than others?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Re-Mything Noah
After seeing the new movie Noah, I was most struck by the minor, yet significant, alterations from the Biblical story of Noah.

Foremost, this is not intended as a critique of the movie itself. It was the epic tale itself that caught me up.

I've read the Biblical story of Noah more than once. I've heard it read in church and I've seen various movie segments that have encompassed that version of the story.

What the new movie Noah brought clearly to light were the details that were not in the other versions. As I watched, I was reminded of the enormity of the task of building a craft to house two of every creature on the face of the earth. The myth in my head was the Playskool boat with the two giraffes, two elephants, two gorillas, and whatever other animals were on it, that was often found in Sunday school classrooms. The myth played out had two of every kind of snake and bird and insect as well. I had not considered the lion needing to be beside the zebra. Predator and prey. All were included.

The other significant, yet rarely mentioned and often overlooked, factor was that all of those who were on the ark heard the cries of those not on it who were drowning. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights ~ not an unusual amount for the Pacific Northwest or Hawaii or a rain forest. For a land that consisted of significant desert? Different story. [Something else: 40 is a number of completion in Biblical mythological terms.]

What would it do to you to hear the wails of people dying? How would you handle that kind of choice? What myths/stories from your childhood do you see in a different light as an adult?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Returning from New

James Joyce in Ulysses:
Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence:the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.

The incredible language Joyce uses to describe the moon! Many of the words, though gorgeous in the richness of their meaning, are not used in everyday speech. Yet I love the wonder and thoroughness of his description.

The current phase of the moon is waxing toward full ~~ or barely past new ~~ whichever best describes your point of view. I see Her as returning from New ~ as though the sliver of silver that is the moon enchants and captures the imagination, the dream, the heart. I love the moon in every phase ~ "her constancy under all phases" ~ no matter how bright or bold or quiet she is, she is always available for us, always in our night sky, whether we see her or not.

What does the Moon signify to you? What words of James Joyce strike you as the best descriptors? Is there another element of nature to which you are more attracted? What do you find special about it?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Original and Unconventional

I don't really want to become normal, average, standard. I want merely to gain in strength, in the courage to live out my life more fully, enjoy more, experience more. I want to develop even more original and more unconventional traits.
~  Anais Nin

Much of the beauty in this world slips past because my mind is set to a pace that has become the norm for our culture. I miss smelling the roses, noticing a waterfall between the tree branches. dancing to music only my soul can hear.

I've always been an original. In the terms of Clarissa Pinkola Estes' stories, I felt as though I was a 'misplaced zygote' ~ as though I didn't belong in my family. Nothing big or bad. I simply felt 'different.' I felt that way everywhere I went. In school, at church, in gatherings of friends. Even when I participated in the same events as everyone else, I felt like an oddity, an outsider.

What Nin describes is not only allowing, but encouraging that originality. Perhaps even basking in the difference, the unconventionality. Her focus is on strength and courage, two traits I've been consciously cultivating recently. For me that means letting go of how I've defined myself for the past 20 years or so.... well, how I've allowed myself to be defined. How I've hidden behind some of the definitions. I believe it's time to move beyond them, to redefine myself. Or more precisely, to let who and what I am, and am growing into, shine. I don't need definition!

What defines you? How do you draw on your personal strength? your personal courage? Do you believe in your own originality? How does that manifest for you?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools

Looking for the origins of April Fools Day, I found several pages with 20 to 22 quotes for the day. One of them surprised me with its obvious humorous intent and by Edgar Allan Poe:  "I have great faith in fools -- self-confidence, my friends call it."

Someone known for his intense, often horrific, prose and poetry seems an odd character to write something with such obvious wry humor. It's difficult to imagine Edgar Allan Poe as a poster child for April Fools Day or humor. The myth of him carries such darkness and dreariness with it. Yet the myth is not the man. He was loved. [His wife died of tuberculosis after 9 or 10 years of marriage; when he died, he was engaged to a widow who had previously been his first fiancee but married someone else while he was away.] So this master of the macabre was also a real person. Could have fooled me!

Are there famous people who fool you with their human qualities? Or someone you may know who shows a side of him/herself that fools or surprises you? What quality do you have that would fool others because it is not one they regularly see?