Archive for July, 2009

      After many years of cropping and clipping my informal photos, I decided to have a professional one taken for the second printing of Your Invisible Bodies.  I chose my friend and colleague Marlene Hielema, for she was so helpful to me in setting up this blog/website that I trusted her totally.  Quite a process!  I had no idea she would take so many shots, and take such pains to ensure good quality.  Because I know her personally, I shared a few thoughts prior to the photo shoot, then discovered tears welling up, and overwhelming sadness.  I knew I was grieving for my friend Kate Beattie, who was killed in a car accident a few years ago.  I just hadn’t grieved for her properly before.  An encounter the previous day had triggered memories and thoughts, and I awoke with tears in my heart.  Not a good state to be in when you want a photograph taken!

   So I repaired my mascara as best I could, then we took pictures.  The results are pretty good, don’t you think? Even though most of the 40 poses were similar, Marlene captured little differences in my expressions that determined this choice.  I thought longingly about an almost identical look that said “Let’s Party!” then chose the one displayed.  For the purposes of selling myself as an author of children’s spiritual books, this one says it better.  However, I was  surprised at how one’s eyes can convey different messages only seconds apart.  Marlene captured those changes.  I’ll let you figure out what this photo says.

Need a professional photograph taken?  Go to Marlene’s website, www.imagemaven.com.

Photo by Marlene, the imagemaven.

Photo by Marlene, the imagemaven.


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It’s been a month since I saw Velcrow Ripper’s documentary film ‘Fierce Light: Where Spirit Meets Action’.  Arusha here in Calgary sponsored a workshop following the film’s opening at the Plaza Theatre.  I attended the Sunday afternoon workshop with about 30 other activists.  I expected to meet a younger, more bizarre-looking man given the name, but Velcrow was middle-aged (do I dare say that?), bald and mellow.  Maybe he shaves his head; I wasn’t close enough to him to tell.  However, my 70-year-old skeptical outlook melted as he spoke, and I soon felt privileged to be in attendance.  It wasn’t just because of Velcrow, although his meditations were wonderful.  It was also because of the diverse people in attendance.  As well as discussion, Velcrow directed three exercises for 2 or 4 people. 

 The film itself is wonderful; if it comes to a theatre near you, GO.   Check out www.fiercelight.org to find out more about it.  The premise of the film is that effective activism springs from a spiritual source, which provides us with the strength to persevere even when the odds are formidable.  Without a spiritual base we suffer disillusionment and burnout, lacking the resources that could lead to success.  In the film are interviews with several spiritual leaders around the world, interspersed with interviews and progress about an inner city garden  threatened with demolition for the development of commercial buildings.  The people who tended the garden were inspiring; indeed, the whole film is  inspiring.

Our spirituality is the most intimate part of ourselves.  It is what keeps us going, what energizes us.  It is a never-ending  journey to  know one’s own spiritual centre.  What makes it easier  is a community of others  also discovering and living their own journey.  Everyone has their own purpose and their own fierce dream.  Interestingly, the spontaneous groupings demonstrated synchronicity  at work.  Our issues and dreams led us to find complementary listeners.  Thus, Spirit met Action within the workshop, easily and naturally.  Thank you, Velcrow.  May many blessings follow.

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Dillan's Sixth Birthday

Dillan's Sixth Birthday


At Dillan’s sixth birthday party, four  generations of friends and family gathered to help him celebrate.  We were outdoors, wearing summer clothes at last.  The 11 kids ranged in age from 3 to 10, and they amazed us by all playing cooperatively together.  Of course, they had a wide choice of activities:  a play castle, a rocking teeter-totter, a playground set with swings, monkey bars, and gliders, a small swimming pool filled with 8″ of water, water balloons that were to be aimed at a target on the fence, and lots of grass for rolling, running and jumping.  After they had worn themselves out with activity, they sat in a circle to give Dillan their presents.  We were awed to see them wait politely while he opened each present.  He held  up each gift, opened it (with a little help from younger brother Justin), smiled, and thanked the giver.  After, when the circled had dispersed, Dillan went to each friend, gave them a hug and thanked them again for the  present.   That was not coached by either parent, at least not at the time.  I knew that neither of my children ever showed the awareness to thank each friend a second time for gifts.  Where did Dillan get his confidence?  His manners?  Obviously, good training from his parents.  Thanks to them, here’s one little boy who is mature, loving and gracious beyond his years.

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Many years ago, while in a garden shop back east, I bought a large purple gazing ball.  I was so enchanted by its scope, colour and reflection I could hardly wait to get it home to my back yard.  However, once back in Calgary I realized that our frequent hailstorms would shatter the glass ball.  Instead of displaying it under the small tree in the back yard I put it in my front porch.  There it stood at the window for years, inviting gazes and questions.  When I learned it was also referred to as a ‘Witches Ball’ I felt even better about owning it. It drew both attention and reflection.

 Last month I decided the Schubert Cherry tree was tall enough to protect the ball during thunderstorms. A younger stronger friend assisted me in moving the concrete base to which the ball was glued.  We placed it carefully under the tree.  Over the next few days I often looked at its reflection, particularly when I was doing Tai Chi. It felt so good to finally have it in its rightful place.  

The first time I cut the grass near the gazing ball, I passed behind it carefully, noting its position.  I pulled the mower back and swung it around to do the other side.  WHACK! The handle hit the ball. After twelve years of pristine reflection in my front porch, there lay half the ball shattered on the grass, leaving a jagged semi-sphere glued to the base.  I almost cried.  What could be done?  Nothing. 

I felt like crying, but that wouldn’t help.  So I shrugged, picked up the gleaming purple shards and discs of glass, and thought about how I could have prevented shattering it.  More care and attention of course.  Greater thought about how to move the mower and my body with greater awareness of space and time.  Pretty basic lesson for me.  The lack of present awareness of the here and now tends to be a frequent contributor to my errors. I tested the half sphere, finding it still securely held in place. 

 For the first time I could see the inside of the gazing ball.  A gold-tinged silver orb reflected the world to me.   Except the reflection was upside down.  My  little house hung from a green ceiling and clouds floated below it.  My grade school lessons of the eye receiving upside-down images came to mind.   The eye needs the optic nerve to send the image to the brain to turn it right side up.

The half sphere was still beautiful.  Light played inside, gleams and glints darting in all directions.  What else can I learn from this?

. that the inside can be as beautiful as the outside.

. that inner reflection needs to be checked with a mind that restores conventional reality

 So I’m keeping my broken gazing ball on display under the cherry tree.  It reminds me of truths to honor.


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