Thursday, August 18, 2011

Room to Grow

Over the past several years,  this tree has grown from a spindly random sprout into a giant, towering over my home. Countless hours have been spent in its shade, semi-secluded from neighbors, thinking, writing, reading, laughing, praying, crying, eating, wondering.

A few springs ago, I woke to a freak May snowstorm that had dumped a foot of heavy wet snow over everything newly green. My dear tree, my shelter from life's storms, had split down the middle.

A tree-fixer person gave me a plan to save it, which a friend executed. This tree has done much for me over the past several years as I've been learning to live alone. I will do much for it in return, to help it survive its own battles with whatever would threaten its existence.  
This afternoon, I got out my saw and removed chunks of the 18-year-old bench that had been installed a decade before this tree even dreamed of sprouting. Two other times I'd taken a sliver out of the bench, but recent growth had the tree beginning to dislodge the planks. As my saw bit through the final inch of lumber,
I swear I heard the tree sigh in relief.

My tree taught me that sometimes things need to be cut away, in order to give room to grow.

What in your life is squeezing too tightly?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Still More Joy

The power behind these words steadies me:

Don't postpone joy
until you have learned all your lessons.
Joy is your lesson.

~Alan Cohen *

I'm home now, after five days away--five days overflowing with God's transformative teaching. I'm unsure where to start this day, what task to put my hand to.  How do I allow what I've learned this past week to inform my daily life?

Still unsure, I listen. And listen some more.

Gratitude bubbles up for the beauty immediately surrounding me.

And I turn to this poem by Violet Ker Seymer, #16 in the Christian Science Hymnal:

As sings the mountain stream, Past rock and verdure wild,
So let me sing my way to Thee, Thy pure and happy child.

O boundless source of might, My praise must e'er increase,
For Love is Life eternally, Whose blessings never cease.

I sing my way to-day, My heart is joyous, free,
For what is Thine is ever mine, I find myself in Thee.

And I do find blessing. Peace. The courage to take one step forward, into this day.

* for a ridiculously wonderful overflow of joy, visit

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Joy, Freely Given

Today I dedicate this blog post to a fellow artist whose generosity of spirit overwhelms me.
Amanda,, has long been a source of inspiration to me. Her commitment to a vibrant, juicy, artistic life spurs me to aim for the same.

On Amanda's blog for today,, she has launched her first e-book and wonder of wonders, is offering it as a gift. Wow.

My copy is already downloaded and printed out and displayed, eye level, at the nexus of my home.

I plan to change the pictures often, as the spirit moves me. In fact, as I was taking these pictures, I switched out the pages--look closely and you can tell!

Already, after only a few hours of walking past these vibrant pages, the level of joyful expectancy bubbling in me has risen markedly. I am finding joy everywhere, even on the sticky wrapper from a recently slurped down waffle cone :)
Amanda, sister artist, lovely  human being, fellow child of God--I salute you. And I thank you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fresh Start

Hello, dear ones.

This spring for me has been juicyfull with growth and new beginnings. I do so hope you have been having the same. Don't get me wrong: a lot of that growing has felt like the hacking of a hoe as it breaks up winterhard ground. Given a choice, I would have wanted to decline, except for the knowledge, hard won, that prepared ground receives seed far more easily.

During the past couple of weeks, I've been away at a Bible study conference in California. Deep diving into the Book of Books, at Asilomar ("refuge by the sea") on the Big Sur coast . . . for me, it doesn't get much better than that.

I've been home a handful of days now, spirit-saturated with an overflowing of gifts from the Divine: peace, direction, possibility, wonder, gratitude, hope, and so much more that dances just beyond the reach of words.

I'll let these images of the vision board I made yesterday speak to what I'm feeling. If the text is too small to read, try clicking on the image--that should enlarge it. [Nope, I just tried clicking and nothing happened. I'll add the text.] [Ah . . a lesson in dropping perfectionism--the first image was supposed to be last, but it got jigglebumped into the first spot, and I can't move it. Okay. I surrender. Happily.]

that big pink "empty" spot insisted on remaining "empty"

(the whole picture)

Something beautiful is happening.


. . . you owe it to yourself to experience

a true breakthrough

effortless and fluid

as if lit from within


lean into the mirror and say . . . wow

Dear fellow journeyers: may you feel God's tender touch today. Share with me, if you like.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Feeling Hopeful

It's 2:00 a.m.

Yep, I shoulda been in bed hours ago.

Instead, I'm here, paying tribute to beauty . . .

. . . to having survived a bitter long winter of the soul . . .

. . . to feeling the uncomfortable yet exceedingly welcome itch of new growth.
May you, too, experience the unutterable joy of having your heart come back to life.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'm Back

Tonight's eastern sky, just before sunset.

I have no idea why so many weeks have elapsed between my last post and now. Or why, tonight, at 10 minutes after 10pm, I am suddenly here, writing. But here I am. I'm tired and ready for bed, and yet parts of my heart feel as sweetly fresh as this soon-to-be-blossoming lily, dressed in morning dew.

I feel as though I have been "in transition" forever and a day. Sometimes I honestly wonder if I will ever make it beyond transition. Will I ever grow to the point where old hurts are mainly healed? Will I ever manage to do much more than survive emotional crap?

Then I remember my new gratitude journal which gets written in multiple times a day. I remember the sharp sweetness of praying for friends in need these past weeks. I remember holy times of stillness recently when I have listened long enough, and deep enough, to feel God's presence so strongly I can almost touch it.

This, then, is enough. More than enough.
P.S. I've said it before, but will repeat it: it means a great deal to me when people leave comments. You don't need to say much. Just a "Hi there" means a lot. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"He knows the angels . . . "

"He [God] knows the angels that you need,

and sends them to your side,

to comfort, guard, and guide.

These words from a favorite hymn capture the feeling of how God met me right where I was a couple days ago, and showed me quite vividly what an incredible tool He has given me, in the form of artistic expression.

Sunday afternoon I found myself swamped by some unsettling thoughts. I knew I had to l eave for house church that evening in less than an hour, but I couldn't see how I could pull myself together in time. Right as I reached out in wordless prayer, I heard, "do something arty." Before I had much time to process that, I called my sweet daughter/friend/fellow artist and really wasn't surprised to hear her echo that thought, "Why don't you work on this week's prompt for ThursdaySweetTreat?" The next 30 minutes were amazing.

My hands felt as though they were moving of their own accord, but I know it was the me deep inside, responding to the great Creator, the great Artist. I kneeled on the floor and taped out a message.

Then came drips and drabs of the two colors in my nickname: AquaMaureen. Then came blowing through a straw and the pure fun of seeing how different puffs of air and wiggling the straw to semi-direct the flow made magic happen.

Then the peeling away of the tape.

Ah . . . by me just being me, the me God made me to be, joy is exposed. Joy shows itself to lie underneath all of my life. Joy tells me that God, divine Love, is everpresent.

The alarm goes off--time for church--time to wash my hands and leave my little spot on the floor . . . let the paint dry, but take the newborn joy and sweet serenity with me. Thank You, God of all good, for showing me these ways of turning to You when my world seems upside-down. Thank You for showing me my world in all its upside-up beauty and glory.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eyes to see

This gangly geranium is SO me! All the life and color and joy in me, pressed against the window of winter and wondering if I just imagined last week's warmth.

My little garden buddy says, "No, you didn't imagine sitting on the deck last week, taking a sun bath. But neither are you imagining this fresh layer of snow. Be patient, my friend . . . this snow will melt and water all that is busy underground, gathering strength."

If I close my eyes, look with my heart, I can see this brave tuft of grass spreading all over the front yard, waving in sunshine.

I can see water in this pond shooting skyward, sparkling in the light.

I can see this blade of green at the base of a shockingly red tulip, opening up to show its yellow and black center.

Ah . . . see how the heat generated by this insistent growth is already melting the snow. This tiny field of daffodils can already see itself laughing in the wind.

And here come our newcomers . . . transplanted hybrid iris from a friend's yard last year. I once cut a bouquet of them while they lived in her yard that was so magnificently tall and gorgeous that it kept tipping the vase over. How will they do in MY yard? Will they be shy their first year? or will I see what I remember them to be: waist high, with stalks like broomsticks, and blooms of lavender/blue beauty bigger than my hand?

My eyes are open again, and yes, I see yesterday's snow and today's heavy obscuring fog. But I can also see, from deep within, the beauty about to blossom. I just have to know where to look.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yes, YES, Y. E. S. !!

Like so many, I've trudged through a long winter this year. Snow and ice have brought their own unique beauty, but my heart has longed for nourishing warmth, for the freedom to be outdoors without the confinement of coats, mufflers, boots, and gloves. Like this scraggly persistent geranium, I too lean toward the light and press my face against the glass.

I can get so mired in my own difficulties. To offset that, I pray daily, often hourly, for God to keep my heart and soul tender towards others and their journeys. I ask God to help me fulfill what Jesus presented as the two great commandments: to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The people in Haiti. In Japan. A friend whose husband and life-long dance partner just passed away. A mother who cares for grandchildren because their daddy--her son--is in prison. I ask God to help me pray for all these people. And I ask Him to help me have the courage to do whatever it takes to see healing in my own life, to keep hope alive when progress seems measured in 100 steps forward and 99 steps back. Help me, God, to cherish that one step forward.

God answered those prayers this morning by nudging me out the front door, to inspect my gardens. Here, after just a little elbow grease (well, maybe more than just a little), fresh flowing water will sparkle and bubble.

Here the sun has kept watch all through the winter and tells me to turn him around, so that he can bring a fresh smile.

Here, just out of sight underground, extravagantly fuchsia peonies are gathering themselves, ready to spring skyward and burst into glorious bloom.

Here, daffodils and tulips, lilies and irises, all quiver with new life and listen for their time to emerge.

And here, oh wonder of wonders, at the far end of the garden, in the spot nearest the sun, poised to get the most warmth and light of all, tiny blades of hope show their face and make me almost cry with joy.

Spring doesn't "begin" just when the growth shows. It lives inside us during any long winter of the soul, out of sight perhaps, but ever growing, through cycles of blossom and rest, renewal and flowering. We must never give up hope. Never give up believing. The day will arrive when the growth finally shows above ground and we can glory in the visible beauty. But until that day comes, the whole world needs us to keep believing. Believe in what we can't yet see, but what our heart tells us is still alive, still growing, deep inside us.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Winds of Change

I'm one month into a three-month self-assigned project. It started on Valentine's Day, and will stretch to mid-May. In a nutshell, the task involves going through every box/tub/shelf in my house and sorting it all, with a core intention of discovering what is in each box.

As I expected, the work has been tumultuous, as I uncover all sorts of my writings, from published pieces to barely decipherable scribbles on faded paper scraps. Photos, travel plans, printed out emails, magazines, newspapers, all sorts of stuff deemed Very Important at one time, all "saved" in boxes and tubs, as I would change around the different rooms of the house, sleeping here and having an office there, and then later, switching all over again. All the expected shifting as a family of 5, homeschooled until college, grows within the home. And then all the unexpected shifting, as the children mature and leave, and then the husband leaves as well.

I've been in tremendous transition since spring of 2004, since I first began living alone. As it turns out, this project of mine, named the ButterFly project, is scheduled to end 7 years, almost to the day, that I became the sole inhabitant of this house.

One month into the project, a couple days ago, was my birthday. Daughter and son-in-law came by with a potted plant of spring beauty . . . . later in the day, I hit a huge emotional roadblock when I got some news. Right as I was shaking from overwhelming sobs, a friend came to my front door with homemade rolls and yet another plant of yet more liquid sunshine. Surrounded by such love, I was steady again by morning.

It has been a very very long 7 years. But oh, I see so much growth. And I feel such hope. I have absolutely no idea what life will be like once this house is purged of painful past, and is home to just me, living in the present. And honestly, the prospect scares me at times. As hurtful as much of my past has been, it is still what I know. But that huge unknown stretching before me is already inhabited by the God who has sustained me all of my life. And She has only good for me.

So here's to spring. To growth. To flowers--and lives--that glow with joy and possibility.