Wednesday, November 27, 2013

bless it

Came across this beautiful Thanksgiving prayer/poem (or are they the same thing?), perfect for tomorrow:

Thanksgiving Day Prayer
by Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918)
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Monday, November 25, 2013

all in a day's work

It's a misty, mizzling morning when Henry heads out to work. He spends the whole day noticing, thinking, tending and connecting before arriving full circle back at his desk where he finally sits down to write, his "real" work. D.B. Johnson has given us a whole series of books about Thoreau in bear form, so simple and brilliant and beautiful that I'm sure Henry David himself would have loved them.

Friday, November 22, 2013

pie guy

I've got a guy who loves pumpkin pie. And today is a big day because he got his driver's license. At times like these, homemade crust is a must. Which is easier to make than Pillsbury would ever have you imagine. Thanksgiving week seems like the perfect time to share a good recipe.

Simple Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks cold butter (cut into small cubes)
1/2 cup ice water  

Mix flour, salt and sugar together and place in freezer for 10 minutes along with the other ingredients so that everything gets real cold. This makes all the difference! Then place the flour, salt, sugar mix in a food processor bowl and sprinkle the cold butter cubes on top. Process this for about 10-15 seconds or until it looks like coarse cornmeal. With the machine running, drizzle ice water through the tube just until the dough holds together. Divide the dough in half, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before using. When ready, roll it out onto a counter dusted with flour until you have a round disk about 1/8-inch thick.  Place in pie dish, add filling and bake as your recipe directs.

Monday, November 18, 2013

wild comfort

From Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore:

" . . . the little monk told him that everything we notice, everything we think, all the feelings we accumulate, don't just disappear when we get done with them. They lie submerged below the surface of our lives - anger, gratitude, beer advertisements, pride, gladness, the smell of the woodshed, dreams of revenge, the sour taste of shame. They bubble up at times we can't control, nourishing or nasty.

So be careful what you store, he said. Don't collect the bad stuff, and don't let anybody else leave their trash with you either. Let it flow through, in one door, out the other, like a scouring tide . . . pay attention to the present moment. Every moment we are wondering at the path of wind across the water or smiling to see a dog rest in the sun, we are not rehearsing our misfortunes. Every moment we are glad for the twilight of morning, we are not vexed. It is impossible to be at the same time grateful and spiteful. Breathe: sea-wind, kelp-brine, cold. Notice: firewood, otter track, foxglove, fog, a face flickering in the fire."
(illustration by Frann Preston-Gannon)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

dog days

This morning was wonderful because I got to love on these two beautiful dogs and their sister. When I wrapped my arms around one of them, I closed my eyes and for a moment it was Cocoa. I will never stop missing her. Mary Oliver has published a new book of poetry called Dog Songs. She says it much better than I ever could:  
"Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?"

Monday, November 11, 2013

November notes

November is textured and brilliant, a van Gogh painting with brush strokes of genius and soulful undertones. It's an antique brooch pinned on a jean jacket, the rare book collection in a hallowed library and the words of Henri Nouwen tucked into a leather bag for reading on the train. It's twigs and pinecones and birds nests, harvest moon and owl call, squirrels spiraling up the trunk of an oak tree on a frosty morning. November is autumn swan song and hello holidays, pecans to gather and sky-high pie piled with whipped cream. There'll be spicy chai tea, steam rising like perfume, and a few lines by Rumi that stay in your heart all day. November is for seeing life through a lens of gratitude, transforming the days into a precious present. Blessings upon blessings for those who pause to count them. And those who seek to be one.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

a better bucket list

Have you filled a bucket today? That's the mantra at the elementary school where my friend Layne teaches. Inspired by a picture book by Carol McCloud, it has nothing to do with the bucket list people make of things they hope to do in life. Instead, it's about recognizing that each of us carries around an invisible, metaphorical bucket. Acts of kindness and caring fill it up, meanness and negativity can drain it dry. Young children really respond to this. They discover that in filling other peoples' bucket with a dipper here and a dipper there of goodness, the level in their own bucket rises. Whether your bucket runneth over or is running on empty, living the answer to this simple question may be just the oasis you need.     

Friday, November 1, 2013

everyday saints

Julian of Norwich is the Patron Saint of Contemplatives like us and I love this hand-carved statue of her by Hank Schlau, an artist out of Mississippi. I own two of his wonderful pieces which are just soulful. You may know Julian for her quote, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." Words that offer comfort on All Saints Day when remembering and missing loved ones who have died.