November 2022 (Vol. XXXV, No. 10)

Dear Friends ~ Two challenging, yet inviting, questions have plagued me over the past month. We see escalating wars across the globe, natural disasters made worse by climate change, and an ever-evolving world virus situation. Covid’s ever-changing variants force scientists to remain vigilant with new vaccines to counter them, while some tackle monkeypox and other virulent viruses. As I write, we in the United States have entered the harvest season, preparing for the feast of Thanksgiving. Other countries and cultures mark the Harvest in other seasons, all with myriad meals and festivities.

No matter where we are in the world or what tangible crops we gather in, let us ponder together what we each, personally, harvest from these times in which we live. Perhaps another way to look at it is to consider what we bring to nourish and diversify this table of plenty.

Listen to silence. It has so much to say.
~ Rumi
Rumi harvest
Open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest.
~ John 4:35
As I watch'd the ploughman ploughing,
Or the sower sowing in the fields, or the harvester harvesting,
I saw there, too, O life and death, your analogies;
(Life, life is the tillage, and Death is the harvest according.)
~ Walt Whitman, "As I Watche'd The Ploughman Ploughing,” in LEAVES OF GRASS
Walt Whitman Leaves Of Grass harvest

You are the Silence
Beyond birth, beyond death, beyond experiences,
Beyond doubts, beyond opinions.
Beyond whatever it is your body is going through,
Whatever thoughts your mind thinks.
You are beyond that.

~ Robert Adams in SILENCE OF THE HEART
Robert Adams Silence Of The Heart harvest
No sky could hold
so much light -
and here comes the brimming,
the flooding and streaming
out of the clouds
and into the leaves,
glazing the creeks,
the smallest ditches!
And so many stars!
The sky seems stretched
like an old black cloth;
behind it, all
the celestial fire
we ever dreamed of!
And the moon steps lower,
quietly changing
her luminous masks, brushing
everything as she passes
with her slow hands
and soft lips -
clusters of dark grapes,
apples swinging like lost planets,
melons cool and heavy as bodies -
and the mockingbird wakes
in his hidden castle;
out of the silver tangle
of thorns and leaves
he flutters and tumbles,
spilling long
ribbons of music
over forest and river,
copse and cloud -
all heaven and all earth.
~ Mary Oliver, "Harvest Moon – The Mockingbird Sings in the Night,” in TWELVE MOONS
Mary Oliver Twelve Moons harvest
To live a contemplative life is to be open enough to see, free enough to hear, real enough to respond. It is a life, and so has its own rhythms of darkness, dying-rising. Simply enough, it is a life of grateful receptivity, or wordless awe, of silent simplicity.
S. Marie Baha Meditations On Silence, Meditations On Nature harvest
Go deep into the silence. Absorb it. Let it scare you. Let it reshape you and expand your awareness.
~ Pythagoras, as quoted in GOLDEN: THE POWER OF SILENCE IN A WORLD OF NOISE by Justin Zorn and Leigh Mars
Pythagoras Golden: The Power Of Silence In A World Of Noise harvest
Gentle us, O Compassionate One, that
We tread the earth lightly
And with grace,
Spreading peace, goodness, and love,
Without harm to any creature.
For in gentle serenity is strength
And assurance;

Confusion and suspicion find
No home here.
In all things may we be be grateful,
Our hearts open to joy.
~ Nan Merrill from her interpretation of "Psalm 105” in PSALMS FOR PRAYING
Nan Merrill Psalms For Praying harvest
Surviving is for those who have no God’s child you were meant to thrive... You were meant to dig deep and reach out...Balanced believers dig their roots and reach out for others.
~ Mark Hall in THRIVE
Mark Hall Thrive harvest

She will give the bread of understanding to eat,
And the water of wisdom to drink.

~ Joyce Rupp from her interpretation of Ecclesiastes in THE STAR IN MY HEART: EXPERIENCING SOPHIA
Joyce Rupp The Star In My Heart: Experiencing Sophia harvest
Harvests are a time to remember your sacrifice.
~ William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer in THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND
William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind harvest
Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you sow.
~ William Arthur Ward
William Arthur Ward harvest
We have to say "Thank you” whenever possible even if we are not able to reconcile the human creatures’ free will with the Maker’s working out of a pattern. Thanks and Praise are, I believe, some of the threads with which the pattern is woven.
~ Madeleine L’Engle in GLIMPSES OF GRACE
Madeleine L’Engle Glimpses Of Grace harvest

Silence isn't just the absence of noise. It's a presence that brings us energy, clarity, and deeper connection.

Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz Golden: The Power Of Silence In A World Of Noise harvest

September 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 8)

Dear Friends ~ Summer brought a small respite from covid restrictions and many were able to visit family and friends, relishing once again seeing our loved ones in person. While planning a get-together with a group of long-cherished women friends, an idea percolated to invite a group of contemporary and historic women to share nuggets of women’s wisdom with you, dear readers, male and female. All are welcome. Come in. Pour a cup of tea or glass of wine, put extra sugar in September lemonade just this once, extend your summer travels and welcome visitors old and new. Pour a libation and toast our inspiring sisters. ~ Mary Ann

Learning to love differently is hard
Love with the hands open, love
With the doors banging on their hinges
The cupboard unlocked, the wind
Roaring and whimpering in the rooms
Rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
That thwack like rubber bands
In an open palm.
~ Marge Percy from "To Have Without Holding" in THE MOON IS ALWAYS FEMALE
Marge Percy The Moon Is Always Female women's wisdom
I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
~ Rosa Parks with Gregory J. Reed in QUIET STRENGTH
Rosa Parks Quiet Strength women's wisdom
When sleeping women wake, mountains move.
~ Chinese Proverb
women's wisdom
When you get into a tight place,
and everything goes against you
till it seems as if you couldn't hold
on a minute longer, never give up
then, for that's just the place and
time that the tide'll turn.
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe in OLDTOWN FOLKS
Harriet Beecher Stowe Oldtown Folks women's wisdom
From the time we are born there is a wildish urge within us that desires our souls lead our lives, for the ego can only understand just so much. Imagine the ego on a permanent and relatively short leash; it can only go so far into the mysteries of life and spirit.
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés in WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES
Clarissa Pinkola Estes Women Who Run With The Wolves women's wisdom
Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.
~ Emily Dickinson in a letter to T.W. Higginson
Emily Dickinson women's wisdom
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay from "God’s World" in RENASCENCE AND OTHER POEMS
Edna St. Vincent Millay Renascence And Other Poems women's wisdom
See a time for inspiration.
See a time blessed in God’s Love.
See a time given to the children of God.
While you pray see a time...
Never has a time been as this...
{The Holy One} blesses and comforts you and gives you inspiration.
Earth children, sing so sweetly.
~ Janet Hurley with Matthew Fox in PSALMS FROM THE HILLS OF WEST VIRGINIA
Janet Hurley Psalms From The Hills Of West Virginia women's wisdom
All day may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
~ From "In beauty may I walk", Traditional Navaho Blessing Way Prayer
women's wisdom
Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.
~ Sarah Louise Delaney in ON MY OWN AT 107
Sarah Louise Delaney On My Own At 107 women's wisdom
To get to you,
I traveled light years
Through cosmic storms and dust,

Only to find you sleeping
on your simple cot.

Stepping back,
I folded,

My gray ragged wings.

I could see why he chose you,
The glow of your pure breath...

I didn’t mean to frighten you,
Just wanted to keep looking...

I wanted to breathe in your innocent air,
Look at your soft,
Surrendered hands...
Another second ...
Before I told you the news.
~ Claudia Serra from "The Moment Before Everything" in ANNUNCIATION edited by Elizabeth Adams
Claudia Serra Annunciation women's wisdom
Eternal Listener, give heed to
Your people,
You, who dwell amidst the angels,
Shine forth into the heart of
All nations!
Enliven your people with compassion
That peace and justice
Might flourish.
Restore us, O Holy One;
Let your face shine upon us,
Teach us to love.
~ Nan Merrill from "Psalm 80, Verse 1" in PSALMS FOR PRAYING
Nan Merrill Psalms For Praying women's wisdom
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
~ Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn women's wisdom
For your prayer
your journey into God,
may you be given a small storm
a little hurricane
named after you, persistent enough
to get your attention
violent enough
to give you to new depths
strong enough
To shake you to the roots
majestic enough to remind you of your origin:
made of the earth
yet steeped in eternity
frail human dust
yet soaked with infinity.
~ Macrina Wiederkehr in A TREE FULL OF ANGELS
Macrina Wiederkehr A Tree Full Of Angels women's wisdom
I am thinking, or trying to think, about all the
Imponderables for which we have
no answers, yet endless interest all the
Range of our lives...
Mystery, after all, is God’s other name...

But, but---
excuse me now, please; it’s morning, heavenly bright,
and my irrepressible heart begs me to hurry on
Into the next exquisite moment.
~ Mary Oliver from "Trying to Be Thoughtful in the First Brights of Dawn" in SWAN
Mary Oliver Swan women's wisdom
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
~ Annie Dillard in THE WRITING LIFE
Annie Dillard The Writing Life women's wisdom

April 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 4)

Dear Friends ~ Here in the Northern Hemisphere it is Spring. The earth re-covers herself in the iridescent greens of emerging grasses. Bulbs push their stems to light. Carpets of tiny, illusive flowers herald the season. There are hints of recovery in both local and global news as Covid vaccines become more available. Questions abound: Will our children recover from learning lost? Will lost livelihoods ever be found? Will we ever recover from losing loved ones, over 500,000 in the U.S alone, my 93-year-old mother among them?

As spring and summer follow... winter, so our lives have seasons. Help us to live in the eternal moment, awaiting your perfect timing in all things.
~ Nan Merrill in "Psalm 105" from PSALMS FOR PRAYING
Nan Merrill Psalms For Praying recover Buy on Amazon
Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh recover
The unbounded spaciousness
of Silence,
filled with the clear light
of Awareness,
dissolves the roots of pain
and sorrow.
~ Kalidas (Lawrence Edwards) from "Take Refuge in Silence"
Kalidas recover
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain... they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits along with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
~ Kahlil Gibran from THE PROPHET
Kahlil Gibran The Prophet recover Buy on Amazon
The recovery of faith in our creativity and in the artist within each of us and the artists among all of us is no small thing. It has to do with the rekindling of the spark of hope and vision, of adventure and blessing, that a tired civilization needs...
~ Matthew Fox from ORIGINAL BLESSING
Matthew Fox Original Blessing recover Buy on Amazon
Mankind, there has come to you a guidance from your Lord and a healing for... your hearts, and for those who believe, a guidance and a mercy.
~ The Koran (Yunus, 10:57)
recover Buy on Amazon
If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain "move from here to there" and it will move.
~ Matthew 17:20
recover Buy on Amazon

...Deep. deep down in the earth
There is the pure water

The way is down
The old sources have become clogged
New wells are sought...

That might be there
Deep down
For us

I have met her
That one
Who holds a true divining rod
That one who is seeking pure water

~ Emily Brown from "The Burning Bush" in Liberating Liturgies, Women's Ordination Conference, 1989
Emily Brown recover Buy on Amazon
Silence belongs to all of us— it is who we are, it is what we are. If we are to experience and embody authentic peace and love, if we are going to bring true healing to our wildly violent and endangered world, we are going to have to learn to live within this essence which joins us together as brothers and sisters.
~ Robert Rabbin from "The Healing Power of Silence" in Natural Awakenings, February 2013
Robert Rabbin recover

The law of love governs the world. Life persists in the face of death. The universe continues in spite of destruction going on. Truth triumphs over untruth. Love conquers hate.

Mahatma Gandhi Peace recover Buy on Amazon
Be silent,
Only the hand of God can remove
The burdens of your heart.
~ Rumi
Rumi recover Buy on Amazon

for a brief moment early spring rain ceases,
the sun breaks through
grey sky...

threads of gold
thin enough to pierce the forest,
glitter on dewdrops...
bows to brilliance,

where everything arrogant
takes off its shoes
to stand on holy ground.

~ Joyce Rupp from "For a Brief Moment" in MY SOUL FEELS LEAN: POEMS OF LOSS AND RESTORATION
Joyce Rupp My Soul Feels Lean recover Buy on Amazon
Let us now open our hearts to recall those who have died from the coronavirus. Strengthen those families and friends who remain behind, to comfort one another and to wipe the tears from our eyes. May each one find peace and let the memory of our loved ones itself be a blessing.
~ Cardinal Wilton Gregory in a prayer offered on CNN as the United States reflected on the 500,000 lives lost, February 22, 2021
Cardinal Wilton Gregory recover

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke in "Sonnets to Orpheus. Part One, XXI"
Rainer Maria Rilke recover

December 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 11)

Dear Friends ~ Advent themes swirl in my mind, each an Advent wreath candle: Hope, Faith, Joy, Peace. Regardless of location, languages, ethnicities, or skin tones we humans celebrate these age-old notions in diverse ways. Yet we know their challenging opposites: Hate, Fear, Despair, and Conflict haunt us.

In the Christian Advent story, young, pregnant Mary and her husband travel to fulfill a census requirement. Although angels reassured her, I can’t help but feel Mary’s fear on this long journey, realizing her baby is coming in a strange place, sharing "emergency housing" with barnyard animals. Yet Mary maintains hope. Her joy spreads to shepherds and kings. Mary’s faith proclaims all will be well. Her tiny child comes heralding peace.

May our slowing down this Advent be our gentle protest against the violence of our rushing world. May our slowing down give quiet, steady witness to the values of attentiveness, carefulness, patience, receptivity, stillness. May our slowing down enable us to make real and meaningful connections with people, nature, work, art, and (most importantly) with God.
~ Melannie Svoboda, SND in her blog "Sunflower Seeds", November 28, 2016
Melannie Svoboda Sunflower Seeds advent

My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

~ John 14:22
Remember it’s time for justice and peace to kiss and truth and kindness to embrace.
Remember it’s time for us to turn and face each other, ourselves, and God again.
Remember it’s time to hasten that day!...

Hope is catching and it is loose in the land, set loose by words and impassioned belief that
God is paying attention to what is going on in history, and that God has plans, as [God]
always has for those ... made to live in peace...
Megan McKenna Christmas, And Epiphany, Advent advent
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air...

Hope spreads around the earth, brightening all things,
Even hate, which crouches breeding in dark corridors...

We beckon this good season to wait awhile with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you to stay awhile with us.
~ Maya Angelou, excerpt from "Amazing Peace"
Maya Angelou Amazing Peace advent
Surely the holy one is not deaf.
He hears the delicate bells that ring
On the feet of an insect as it walks.
~ Kabir in THE SONGS OF KABIR, translated by Rabindranath Tagore
Kabir The Songs Of Kabir advent
God is so free and so marvelous {doing} wonders where people despair... tak{ing} what is little and lowly and mak{ing} it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly... God marches right in {and} chooses people as... instruments and performs... wonders where one would least expect them.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer in GOD IS IN THE MANGER
Dietrich Bonhoeffer God Is In The Manger advent

Jesus came to us as a child so that we might come to understand not only that nothing we do is insignificant, but that every small thing we do has within it the power to change the world.

~ Joan Chittister, OSB in BECOMING FULLY HUMAN
Joan Chittister Becoming Fully Human advent
The proper response, as Hanukkah teaches, is not to curse the darkness but to light a candle.
~ Irving Greenberg in THE JEWISH WAY
Irving Greenberg The Jewish Way advent
All that is necessary
To make this world a better place
To live is to love as
Christ loves, as Buddha loved.
~ Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan advent
Peace is inside all of us.
We just need to share it.
~ Jacoba Barber-Rozema, age 10
Jacoba Barber-Rozema advent
In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will...

Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edges of our fingertips.
We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case
and make all things new.
~ Walter Brueggemann in AWED TO HEAVEN, ROOTED IN EARTH
Walter Brueggemann Rooted In Earth, Awed To Heaven advent
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope...
To celebrate the Promise of Peace.
~ Maya Angelou, excerpt from "Amazing Peace"
Maya Angelou Amazing Peace advent

BLESSINGS of joy and peace! May the Promise of this season find a home in your heart!

~ Nan Merrill, 1992
Nan Merrill advent

July/August 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 7)

Dear Friends ~ Years ago, a friend made us a gift, a calligraphed beginning of a prayer attributed to Pierre Teilhard de Jardin: "Above all, trust in the slow work of God." From a central spot in our dining room, these words reached out to me often while raising a large family and working with kids. The prayer calls to me now as the heat of July and August arrives on the tails of righteous anger, fires of social unrest, and the terrible toll and world-wide anxiety surrounding Covid-19. What can we parents, grandparents, educators, pastors, ordinary humans do for our world's children?

In the child is much knowledge, much wisdom. If we do not profit from it, it is only because of neglect on our part to become humble and to see the wonder of this soul and learn what the child can teach.
~ Maria Montessori in THE THEOSOPHIST
Maria Montessori The Theosophist child
"Every child is an idea of God."
~ Eberhard Arnold
Eberhard Arnold child
As infants we enjoy an intimacy with everything around us: tiny stones, butterflies, flowers, birds, animals both stuffed and real. We live in a world of beauty and imagination. Ecstasy comes easily. We feel at one with nature and the realm of dreams...The past, the future, the present: these are meaningless to us, for we have the ability to blend them into one. We can be anything we want at any time...Then at some point in our lives, that awareness changes...adults convince us that we are not all one.
John Perkins The World Is As You Dream It child

"I encourage you to spend as much time with your family as your time allows, whether it's dancing, playing, walking, cooking, cleaning, being silly, or just hanging out. This can be a scary time for kids, and nothing will help ease their fears and encourage their cognitive and social development like spending time with you." ...This same teacher is also emailing us [parents] a daily photo of a bird to identify...and sharing out-of-the-box ideas for the students' unit this month on an appropriate topic: survival...but the words above are the words I will treasure as a parent for a long time. They will remind me to take a break from refreshing the updated coronavirus map, checking my school email, and cursing Amazon's multitude of out-of-stock items.

Instead, I'll look my 12-year-old daughter in the eyes and ask, "How you doing, Baby Goose?" I'll accept my son's challenge to a muddy soccer game in the backyard. I'll take him by the hand and walk up our mountain one more time, grateful that during a crisis when all we have is each other, "each other" is exactly what we all need.

~ Justin Minkel, an elementary school teacher in Arkansas, "What our Children Need Most Right Now": in Education Week., March 2020
Justin Minkel child
If I am slavishly attached to the previous moment
Or if I'm already living
tomorrow's moments,
Then I am not free for
the moment of the eternal now
~ Macrina Wiederkehr in WALK IN A RELAXED WAY
Macrina Wiederkehr Walk In A Relaxed Way child
"Patient Trust"

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you. Your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don't try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin child
Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement...get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
~ Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel child
The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson in Nature, Chapter VIII, 1836
Ralph Waldo Emerson Nature, Chapter Viii, 1836 child
Joy is the by-product of something not looked for.
~ Nan Merrill
Nan Merrill child

We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.

Maria Montessori To Educate The Human Potential child