Tag Archives: prayer

I have arrived. I am home. 

Reading Thich Nhat Hanh yesterday, I came across the lines: “I have arrived, I am home / in the here and now. / I am solid, I am free / In the ultimate I dwell.” Last night K and I walked the labyrinth over at Boston College and the first of the lines stayed with me, adapted a little:  “I am here. I have arrived. I am home.”

I passed on the opportunity to gather with others at the State House and chose this more solitary act instead. It was too cold to watch every heel/toe/breath but I sometimes sent a prayer heavenward: “get him out peacefully”.

All that urgent yearning and: “I have arrived. I am home.”  Such contrast!

December 19 — can we call it the “new longest night” of the year? “I am home. I have arrived.”

Today, my sister and I shopped for our holiday dinner at a little Salem market called Steve’s which she insists on calling Frank’s, a fact that would amuse you if you knew my husband’s family. Anyway, bringing my bags out first so that I could return and get her bags second, I repeated: “I am home. I have arrived. I am here.” Crossing the tarmac with plastic rattling — such an ordinary moment and one that I might normally on some level rush to get through! Instead, those grounding and life affirming words: “I am home.”

On the second trip out, imagine my delight when, just after repeating, “I am here,” I looked up to see a banner half a block away reading: Where You At?

“I am here. I am home. I have arrived.”

We had liverwurst with wasabi and mayo on pumpernickel for lunch and I left in time to miss the 3:00 school and shift-change traffic. It was a “yes” day.

And just now, I finished a Pussyhat for a friend marching on Washington next month. They’re supposed to be knit and I plan to also knit a few when my pink yarn arrives, but in the meantime, this one was constructed out of a cashmere sweater, polar fleece, and wool felt. (Pussyhat Project).

Don’t ask me why or how, but it feels like “moving on”.


Rabbit holes and labyrinths

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Two weeks ago, I was going down various paths on the internet which sometimes feels like going down a rabbit hole. Down and down you go! Poof! There goes the morning.

Some of the search terms: charms, voodoo, voodun, sigils, veves, Celtic knots, hemlock, protection. Remarkably enough, at some point using the query “veve, protection,” I came to a site with information about Yoruban cosmology that included a picture of the walking labyrinth at Boston College. It is particularly remarkable when you consider that by then I was specifically hoping to find a symbol from my own (Irish) tradition.

And there it was: not only my tradition, but my neighborhood, and even, my alma mater (which a friend reminded me means, “nurturing mother”) (BCLS ’89). This labyrinth is less than two miles from my home. So, of course I went.
IMG_2878IMG_2890IMG_2895Based on a pattern found at Chartres Cathedral, it is a unicursal — meaning that there is only one way in and one way out. The labyrinth was built as a memorial, dedicated to the twenty-two Boston College alumni who were killed in the 9/11 attacks.
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The design was an aid to meditation because no choices needed to be made about what direction to pursue. As I walked it, I prayed for my sons, for the descendants of the enslaved, for justice and peace and healing for our country — the usual, urgent things. But braided in and around those other things, was the prayer that I could somehow come to more regularly believe in my own essential goodness. It took about an hour. Afterwards, I felt grounded and renewed.
IMG_2896I went into the library and found more lovely and potent Celtic images — I’ll save those for another time perhaps.

Here is the charm I came up with. It’s a first pass and not original.

I like how the photo on the right crops the door molding into a crucifix.

Before the labyrinth walk, we went to Montreal. After, Schenectady. This weekend we will lay down compost and mulch and I will cook chicken and wilt greens with loads of garlic and we will figure out where to put some of my son’s things.

And: I will finish the Hearts for Charleston quilt (she said, but really meaning it). The front has been done for weeks but the labeling continues. Liz Ackert helped out generously by supplying some very beautifully stitched names. I am writing up the cover letter and ‘legend’ and will photograph the piece as soon as the last labels are on. My goal — by Friday of next week.

The first anniversary of the Emanuel AME murders in Charleston is only five weeks away.

‘all great words lead to silence’

The snow storm that they canceled half of school for today has not materialized. Light wet flakes are falling, but nothing sticks.

I heard a WBUR interview on ‘speaking of faith’ a while back and took notes while driving (but I don’t text, really I don’t!!). It was about language and prayer. Stephen Mitchell was one author who spoke (Roberta Bondi was another). He has translated major spiritual and literary works, including a Book of Psalms, the Tao Te Ching, letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, Gilgamesh, the Book of Job, and the Bhagavad Gita. Given that he spends his time with the most amazing of texts, I was particularly impressed that he said, ‘all great words lead to silence’.

In looking him up online, I was reminded that he is married to Byron Katie, whom I’ve mentioned before, whom I read often. In fact, he coauthored the book I consider essential, these days, to chucking some of my baggage: “Loving What Is”.

Funny how things connect, or show up, like the window and glass ball in this photograph.  Without my glasses on this morning and using the auto mode of the camera, I didn’t see the reflection until I downloaded the picture.  So there they are —  the surprise connections — two sources of inspiration married to one another, and one frame opening up into another.  Somehow, they read like signs of hope.

The dilemma — to finish or to move on?

8.5 x 11", collage

8.5 x 11", collage

(Notes and collage from last week):

Well, after many days working outside at a garden site and shuffling school forms around, calling guidance counselors, dropping off forgotten track items to the high school, ETC.!! , I have been downstairs, which is to say, in my studio.

I just made three things — none of which I set out to do, all of which I like very much, and all of which make the pile of things UNDONE even bigger.

So, what to do?  Force myself to finish before I play?  Just stop binding my pieces?

That last option is not a bad alternative at all.  Arlee, whom I discovered both in various flickr pools and in this month’s Cloth Paper Scissors, showcased a beautiful quilt with texture galore and unfinished, tattered edges.

The collage above was one of the pieces I made when I perhaps should have been finishing other things.  The text is printed on linen and on fake vellum — both fed through an inkjet.  They are scraps from my quilt, “Valentine to Iraq” (below), made some time ago.  I made the off-white paper with newspaper inclusions while teaching a UU religious ed class a couple of years ago.

Quilt, about 3' x 20"

Quilt, about 3.5' x 20"

This quilt was coming together as the American death toll in Iraq reached 3,000.  I originally planned to stitch 3,000 “x’s” on the quilt, representing the final kisses of mothers to their never-to-return soldier children, but stopped at a little over 1,000.  It gave me a sober appreciation for how large a number 3,000 is.  And now, of course, the toll is much higher.  And we’re not counting Iraqi deaths.

This is a chop-and-rearrange piece — some areas, therefore, have as many as six layers of fabric.  I’m not sure this is technically a quilt, because there isn’t batting behind every single square of this piece, which is mounted on felt.

Valentine-to-Iraq-Heart

The X-stitch-kisses at times resemble sutures.

Valentine-heart-rose

Crucifixes found their way into the piece, representing the enormous sacrifice both the soldier and his mother make (and his father and other family members/or her — forgive me, as a mother of two boys, this piece references our genders).

Valentine-to-Iraq-kisses-al

Here, half a heart is depicted, meaning what it is — a broken heart.

Valentine-all-mothers

The original statements, which I fractured and reassembled, were:  “All mothers of sons want them to live,” and “I now have sons and I want them to live,” and “I want all wars to end.”

Valentine-x-and-n

Another heart fragment, covered in kisses/sutures.

Valentine-to-Iraq-to-live

I wanted some of the embellishments to take on the look and feel of maps, or again, the edges of wounds.

Valentine-to-Iraq-WANT

Here you can see how the varying thicknesses relate to each other.