Linda DeGraf

March 2016 (Vol. XXIX, No. 3)

Dear Friends ~ The world we perceive with our senses is resplendent with texture and color and form. I am in love with this tangible world–the one of weight and substance, the one I can hold and stand upon, see and touch. And yet the iridescent blue in a butterfly’s wing comes not from pigment but from the way light bounces off myriad tiny scales, one wavelength converging on another, the unseen world creating color in the perceived world. There is a pulse beneath the flesh and blood, a resonance even within the stone, that cannot be explained. The alchemy of unseen interactions is at play and we humans need help in order to perceive them. Perhaps that is why music penetrates so deeply into our souls–because it is so much more than the wood of the instrument, the vibration of the strings, the touch of fingertips. A doorway through our senses into mystery, it can take us beyond everyday perception into the realm of feeling and of wonder.

February 2016 (Vol. XXIX, No. 2)

Dear friends ~ In February the holiday calendar directs our hearts toward love. What the world needs now, however, is not the amorous affection peddled in Hallmark valentines but the deep down, soul-searching agape love of attentive care, healing, and compassion. As Adrienne Rich would phrase it, we need to cultivate "honorable relationships" - relationships forged out of truth, respect, and integrity. But how do we get there? The cultural and political landscape of this country has set the bar so low for cultivating any kind of meaningful relationships that we need to relearn what it truly means to interact with each other honorably. In my teaching years, the most essential lessons were not about knowledge of the mind but matters of the heart—learning how to treat each other—how to love and to be loved.

Read Email Newsletter

January 2016 (Vol. XXIX, No. 1)

Dear friends, In one way of reckoning, January marks the turning of the year. A time for looking back, looking ahead, and most importantly looking inward. The crushing inequities and violence of our times, the hostile rhetoric, the choking fear-mongering and intolerance, threaten to lead us once more down a path of despair. If you've ever been out for a walk just after a heavy snowfall blankets the earth and garments the trees, you know the hushed magic, the grace-filled pause that fills the space with light. It's as if for that brief moment the snow beseeches us to see the world with fresh eyes. "Stop in your tracks, cease chattering and crashing about. Yes, there are bare and broken branches, gnawed bones, littered paths, starving birds and hunting hawks. But I have another world in view. If only you can be still and imagine it." Now is the time to act, not out of fear or judgment or despair, but out of the stillness of the Spirit and wisdom of the Light.

December 2015 (Vol. XXVIII, No. 11)

Dear Friends ~ In this part of the world, frost crusts at the edges of minute leaves and blades of grass. The chill air illuminates each breath, making us mindful once again how crucial warmth is to sustaining life. Whether sitting in a rocker by the crackling fire of a homey hearth or huddling over a trash can fire under the freeway to fend off the cold bite of homelessness, we gather round fires because we crave the heat and light they generate. In this moment of history when so much of the world has become harsh and bitter cold, people cry out for a rekindling of the fires of love and compassion. We need to build heart hearths–havens of warmth and light where we can look across the sparks and flames to see the same longings in each others’ eyes.

November 2015 (Vol. XXVIII, No. 10)

Dear Friends, In the Christian tradition Advent is a time of waiting and a time of preparing. It is a season for contemplating who we are, how we fit into the world, and what we hope for its future. For many of us, November is also incredibly busy with the last flurry of activity before winter descends in earnest. Out where I live in the woods away from the noise and bustle of city and town, one does not need to ask if there is enough silence —there is plenty of silence. Yet paying attention to it, listening to it, and allowing it to penetrate beyond the chatter of mind and angst of heart —that is a whole different kind of waiting, a whole different kind of silence —the kind in which something else may perhaps be heard.

Read Email Newsletter

October 2015 (Vol. XXVIII, No. 9)

Greetings friends, As crisp night air creeps in, leaves begin to blush and pale, and flowers in the garden dry into a brittle brown, it's becoming clear that autumn is seeping into the landscape. I know all living beings die. I know everything that is lost in winter will contribute in some transformed way to the new life that will emerge in spring. And yet...and yet as Edna St. Vincent Millay says, "I am not resigned." Doesn't stepping forth into the eternal light, melting back into the universal whole mean losing one's individual physical, sensual experience of self and others and the world? Watching someone else die means the achingly endless severing of connection to their presence in the only embodiment we know. But embracing our humanity means also grappling with mortality. How do we face into death with something more than resignation or terror? Is there a way that coaxes us instead to begin to understand the meaning of one's soul?

September 2015 (Vol. XXVIII, No. 8)

Greetings dear friends! Having been a teacher for many years, September puts me in mind of reflections on work and the convergence or divergence of making a living and composing a life—a distinctly middle-class conundrum that for so many people is subsumed under the pressing need to find any work at all much less with dignity and purpose. The questions change over one's lifetime. Trying to discover one's call flows into striving to accomplish great things, fulfill responsibilities, and perhaps transform the world. Immersing ourselves in work leads to the struggle to gracefully balance meeting the needs of daily life with the demands of a job. Along the way one wonders whether the work has meaning and how inner life flows into and sustains it. When one no longer has a job, is he or she still making a difference in the world?

July-August 2015 (Vol. XXVIII, No. 7)

Dear Friends ~ In a world filled with such ugliness and hatred, violence and sorrow, is beauty a luxury we really cannot afford? A distraction or false covering like the "sheep's clothing" thrown hurriedly over the wolf's crouching back? Or is beauty as necessary to our souls as the air we breathe is to our bodies? Nurturing beauty is a way to see beyond and within, to envision other possibilities, to dare to give care and attention to wholeness. In Matthew Fox's ORIGINAL BLESSING, he quotes Adrienne Rich as she names the world's desperate need for the unleashing of our creative power:

the passion to make and make again
where such unmaking reigns
the refusal to be a victim
we have lived with violence so long

Let us, therefore, choose making and remaking. Let us seek out beauty, pay attention to it, cultivate it, and create it in our work, in our homes, in our relationships, and our land.

June 2015 (Vol. XXVII, No. 6)

Greetings, dear friends ~ What is grace? It seems to linger just beyond our awareness until it seeps in unbidden and undeserved—the unexpected fragrance caught on the breeze, the cool refreshing stream with its melodic soothing of the heart, the warmth of the sun on an upturned face. It triggers the moments that against all odds soften our hearts. Perhaps it arrives on the fingertips of human touch or in the space between the notes of our allegro movements. Perhaps it is a gentle tap on the shoulder from beyond the edges of the visible world that causes us to turn our heads to listen and to look and to feel the blessings all around us. Whatever it is and wherever the source, it asks nothing more of us than gratitude.

Read Email Newsletter

May 2015 (Vol. XXVIII, No. 5)

Dear Friends, In the frenzy of life how do we learn to calm our minds and hearts long enough to embrace silence and open ourselves to encounters of the Spirit? We may think of meditation in relation to a particular religion or spiritual path. But it seems to me that we have much to learn when we embark on a practice of meditation regardless of the nature of our beliefs. We are all seekers of wisdom who long for the touch of the Sacred in our lives. Whether meditation is a gateway into centering prayer or a balm for healing or a threshold into Mystery, it is perhaps worth exploring as part of our unfolding spirituality.

Read Email Newsletter

Syndicate content