monarch

watercolor of monarch butterfly with cross shape as bodySeptember 29, 2015

Dedicated to my father-in-law, who flew away last night.

Say to your soul—’Come, soul, wake up…thou art coming very near to God, who sits in the Word like a crowned monarch in his halls.’ -Charles H. Spurgeon

Men pass in front of our eyes like butterflies, creatures of a brief season. We love them; they are brave, proud, beautiful, and clever. -Philip Pullman

impression

print of cross

September 28, 2015

For today, I made a patterned impression into very thick paint, then pressed the result onto a fresh sheet of paper.

Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent. -Dalai Lama

What counts, in the long run, is not what you read; it is what you sift through your own mind; it is the ideas and impressions that are aroused in you... -Eleanor Roosevelt

…you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you’re making. -C.S. Lewis

A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine. Dwight L. Moody

stairway to heaven

photo of sign saying stairway to heaven, highway to hellSeptember 27, 2015

Just documenting what I see around town, folks. Happy Sunday!

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.
-Lyrics to Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin

hinged

water color of hinge in cross shapeSeptember 26, 2015

Lately, I’ve been focusing a lot on what it means to feel aligned. The picture that comes to me most immediately is that of a hinge: when it is in alignment, the post is able to thread through it easily. Of course, when the holes are not perfectly in sync, that same post, which provides the hinge its stability and strength, cannot enter. One could say the same principle applies to us humans. When we are in alignment–that is, at peace, honest and true to ourselves, clear of resentment, fear or bitterness–Spirit (or God/the Universe/your Higher Self) can find a clear and open channel in which to flow, inspire, nourish, uplift.

When you’re unhinged, things make their way out of you that should be kept inside, and other things get in that ought to be shut out. The locks lose their powers. The guards go to sleep. The passwords fail. -Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that…Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation…It is the basis for true success. Without that alignment, you can still achieve certain things through effort, struggle, determination, and sheer hard work or cunning. But there is no joy in such endeavor, and it invariably ends in some form of suffering. -Eckhart Tolle

When the personality is aligned with the soul, it cannot perceive life except with reverence. -Gary Zukav

my form of confetti

red lentil pasta arranged in cross shapeSeptember 25, 2015

The fact that it’s Friday is cause enough to celebrate, but more than that, I’ve just found lentil pasta again (I’m not a grain or gluten eater)! These penne pasta are made from 100% red lentil beans, and the amount of protein and fiber they contain is astronomical. Now, that’s cause for celebration, and that’s my form of confetti. Happy Friday, everyone!!!

I’m interested in having fun with ideas, throwing them up in the air like confetti and then running under them. -Ray Bradbury

Make the whole life a game. There is no purpose there is no aim, nothing. Just take it lightly, easily. Play the game. That is worship, which is celebration. -Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Celebration has many different outfits but she always wears the same beautiful dancing shoes. -Mary Anne Radmacher

The miracle of your existence calls for celebration every day. -Oprah Winfrey

Life is a combination of magic and pasta. -Federico Fellini

purple haze

purple sky and blue ocean horizon lineSeptember 24, 2015

For today, an experiment with my luscious new oil sticks.

Yesterday and tomorrow cross and mix on the skyline. The two are lost in a purple haze. One forgets, one waits. -Carl Sandburg

[My father] had a name for the bottom of the sky–‘the hem of heaven.’ -Nancy Horan, Loving Frank

Let the magic happen. It’s always there…There is a higher essence to everything… You might…even see the smoky sky. You need to reach through the smoke and bring the light to you. Remember the possibilities of something greater then are right here. Be willing to go to the lightness. -Lena Lees

Purple Haze all in my brain, lately things don’t seem the same. Actin’ funny but I don’t know why. ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky. –Jimi Hendrix

the space between

four boxes form cross shapeSeptember 23, 2015

When you shift your gaze from the obvious to the space between–where nothing yet exists, where things are yet unseen–fresh, new solutions and possibilities can suddenly appear.

Spaces between the forms, or the negative shapes, play just as great a role as the positives …The positives make the negatives and negatives make the positives. -Stan Smith

Shape your space. -Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Truth lives in the spaces between words. It defies translation. -Ashok K. Banker

And above all, there is space between your thoughts. And from that space emanates a peace that is not ‘of this world,’ because this world is form, and the peace is space. This is the peace of God. -Eckhart Tolle

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

a cup of peace

four teabags in cross shapeSeptember 22, 2015

I do love my my morning coffee, but afternoons and evenings I enjoy a slow and contemplative cup of peppermint or chamomile tea. This particular brand adds a sprinkle of spiritual wisdom on each of its tags.

Empty yourself and let the universe fill you. -tag of Yogi teabag

Your soul is your highest self. -tag of Yogi teabag

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company. -Author Unknown

If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited it will calm you. -William Ewart Gladstone

A cup of tea is a cup of peace. -Soshitsu Sen XV

curves, circles, lines

watercolor circles and linesSeptember 21, 2015

Sometimes you get there in spite of the route
Losing track of your life and what it’s about
The road seems to know when to straighten right out…
I could wonder if all of it led me to you
I could show you the arrows and circles I drew
I didn’t have a map, it’s the best I could do
-Mary Chapin Carpenter

The world is made of Circles
And we think in straight Lines
-Peter Senge

A curved line for beauty, a straight line for duty. -Violet Linton

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains. -Tennessee Williams

sunday reverie

cactus dreaming or imagining it is a crossSeptember 20, 2015

The poor young man…has nothing left but reverie. He enters God’s theater free; he sees the sky, space, the stars, the flowers, the children, the humanity in which he suffers, the creation in which he shines. He looks at humanity so much that he sees the soul, he looks at creation so much that he sees God. -Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

True imagination is not fanciful daydreaming; it is fire from heaven. -Ernest Holmes

beautiful decay

aged, stained book cover and pagesSeptember 19, 2015

This is one of the many time-worn, weathered, beautiful books that I found in my dad’s extensive library after he died.

All these books, he thought, the residue of a planet’s intellect, the scrapings of futile minds, the leftovers, the potpourri of artifacts that had no power to save men from perishing. -Richard Matheson, I Am Legend

Epochs pass, weather erodes, people lose interest. This cannot be helped. But patina itself is worth appreciating. Patina is the value that age puts on an object. It’s what makes an antique antique. It is experience, maturity, the soft sheen of time…It comes from a life lived. -John Yemma

Human says time goes by–
Time says human goes by
-Anonymous

Things are either devolving toward, or evolving from, nothingness. – Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi

Write as if the wind will erase every word. -Marty Rubin

absurdities

altered package for monks crossThis gaudy (and originally gold) plastic, $4.99 monk’s cross first amused me when I shopped at Party City for Halloween supplies (I left empty-handed) a week ago. But I was more amused when  I discovered the very same cross for sixty-nine cents at a nearby thrift store. I knew then it was destined to come home with me. Laughing at the world’s absurdities is one of the great privileges of being alive.

I think any spiritual experience that’s worthwhile is not about ego and it will humble you in some way. And also, a Zen monk once said to me, ‘If you’re not laughing, then you’re not getting it.’ -David O. Russell

If human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween. -Doug Coupland

My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk. -John Keats

For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. -1 Corinthians 3:19 ESV

Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. -Albert Camus

interwoven

paper strips woven into cross shapeSeptember 17, 2015

The good, the bad, hardship, the joy, the tragedy, love, and happiness are all interwoven into one single, indescribable whole that is called life. You cannot separate the good from the bad. And perhaps there is no need to do so, either. -Jackie Kennedy

I have come to believe that we do not walk alone in this life. There are others, fellow sojourners, whose journeys are interwoven with ours in seemingly random patterns, yet, in the end, have been carefully placed to reveal a remarkable tapestry. I believe God is the weaver at that loom. -Richard Paul Evans

Everything is interwoven, and the web is holy. -Marcus Aurelius

rise up

rise up cross September 16, 2015

What does “rise up” mean to you? For me, it’s the way an unexpected idea or the feeling of joy comes. It rises up from a mysterious source within and then bubbles and foams and spills over into something tangible. Better yet, it’s like a wave that pulls its power from the ocean, rises to its height, then roars in its crashing strength.

Rise up nimbly and go on your strange journey! -Rumi

Reality is something you rise above. -Liza Minnelli

You yourself are your own obstacle, rise above yourself. -Hafez

an alternative to flowers

colorful vegetables arrange in a cross shapeSeptember 15, 2015

The lovely, luscious shapes and colors of vegetables are every bit as beautiful as flowers. So why don’t we fill our vases with bouquets of beets, eggplants, rhubarb, radishes and all other manner of nature’s edible prizes?

…in the more pleasing and varied field of vegetable life, we shall constantly find some new object to attract our attention, some fresh beauties to excite our imagination… -Joseph Paxton

Botany, the science of the vegetable kingdom, is…above every other, the science of beauty. -Joseph Paxton

…celestial hues indicated the presence of exquisite creatures who had been pleased to assume vegetable form…through the disguise which covered their firm and edible flesh…-Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion…Beets are deadly serious. -Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

This is God’s universe and he is the master gardener of all. -Suzy Kassem

cloud appreciation

cut paper blue clouds arranged in cross shapeSeptember 14, 2015

Did you know that there exists a Cloud Appreciation Society, complete with membership certificate, enamel badge and occasional newsletters for those who join? Sign me up! I can’t get enough of those shifting, fleeting, fluffy shapes–especially when they travel in packs.

We believe that clouds are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save money on psychoanalysis bills. And so we say to all who’ll listen: Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and live life with your head in the clouds! -excerpt from the Manifesto of the Cloud Appreciation Society

When I do not walk in the clouds I walk as though I were lost. -Antonio Porchia, Voces

Clouds on clouds, in volumes driven,
Curtain round the vault of heaven.
-Thomas Love Peacock

feeling fall-ish

leafcrosspostglowSeptember 13, 2015

I’m really longing for some crisp fall-ish weather, complete with the fluttering and crunching of falling and fallen leaves. But alas, I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and even when the cool comes, we probably won’t see too many of those golden-orange-brown beauties in flight around here!

There is almost nothing that has such a keen sense of fun as a fallen leaf. -J.M. Barrie, The Little White Bird

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. -George Eliot

Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day. -Shira Tamir

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. -Albert Camus

Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
-Emily Brontë

Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile. -William Cullen Bryant

ending is beginning

colored cross with skull showing throughSeptember 12, 2015

The eternal world and the mortal world are not parallel, rather they are fused. -John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see. -Helen Keller

A man is not completely born until he is dead. -Benjamin Franklin

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. -Richard Bach

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it. -Mark Twain

It is worth dying to find out what life is. -T.S. Eliot

things that are green

random green things organized neatlySeptember 11, 2015

Okay, here’s the deal. The color green has definitely been neglected in my daily crosses. Apart from that, I’m simply fascinated by organized groupings of random, mundane things. Happy Friday and weekend, everyone!

It’s not that easy bein’ green…
But…green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like a mountain, or important like a river, or tall like a tree.
-Lyrics to “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green, sung by Kermit the Frog

Green how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches. -Federico Garcia Lorca

A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green. -Francis Bacon

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises. -Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Trying to explain or define grace is like catching the wind in a cardboard box or describing the color green. -Cathleen Falsani

promises, promises

tissuepromisePaintHiConSMSeptember 10, 2015

Last weekend I stepped into a store whose manifesto of “living joyfully” was plastered everywhere, including the tissue paper wrap (I just had to buy something, of course–I felt so…joyful!). Among many of the sayings (number 17, to be exact) imprinted in white on the white tissue was “honor your promises.” I tore out a few strips of that particular quote and combined them with paint for today’s cross.

Honoring one’s promises–to both others and yourself–is a matter of integrity, but just as importantly, a matter of discipline.

‘Some people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,’ I said. ‘Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.’ -John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of — for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. -Socrates

He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations. Psalm 105:8 NIV

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. -Robert Frost

The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor. -George Bernard Shaw

the sands of (summer) time

vintage photo of little girl at beachSeptember 9, 2015

Labor Day has come and gone, and summer is officially over. Or is it? In this old picture, my sister looks forlornly at her bucket, presumably empty of sand–and of more summer days ahead. But hope casts a long shadow. After a good part of her adult years longing to live by the sea, she finally relocated to San Diego (where she hosted us this Labor Day weekend) for an eternal summer of sand and beach and ocean.

Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again. -Anne Frank

Write your Sad times in Sand,
Write your Good times in Stone.
-George Bernard Shaw

You must love the crust of the earth on which you dwell more than the sweet crust of any bread or cake. You must be able to extract nutriment out of a sand-heap. You must have so good an appetite as this, else you will live in vain. -Henry David Thoreau

…before them were the sands, with rocks and little pools of salt water, and seaweed, and the smell of the sea and long miles of bluish-green waves breaking for ever and ever on the beach. And oh, the cry of the seagulls! -C. S. Lewis

The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it. -Niccolo Machiavelli

encircled

assymetrical bangles arranged in cross shapeSeptember 8, 2015

I love this set of not so circular bangles for their jangling asymmetry on my wrist, but also for the simple, singular and graceful shapes they make apart from each other.

What kind of God would He be, if He did not hear the bangles ring on an ant’s wrist, as they move the earth in their sweet dance? –Kabir

A moment of grace. There rose up within me a profound sense of being loved. I felt ‘gathered together’ and encircled by a Presence completely loving, as if I were enveloped by the music of a love song created just for me. -Sue Monk Kidd

God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. -Ellen G. White

You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God. -Hildegard of Bingen

You are me, and I am You – what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves. -Sri Guru Granth Sahib

money tree

paper engraved birds sitting on a two twigs in cross formSeptember 7, 2015

Recently, I purchased a beautiful book entitled “The Art of Money,” which showcases paper money from around the world. The range of colors, subject matter (landscapes to animals to birds and far beyond), composition and artistry is really remarkable. Though I was loath to cut into any one of the book’s splendid pages, I “plucked” the sparrows from Denmark’s twenty kroner note and the blue-gray tanager from a Suriname guilder. And while we are on the topic of money, Happy Labor Day, everyone! As you may already know, this day honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

You are a free man, and let no organization come between you and your best interests. Do not let any man, or any body of men, tell you where you shall work, or where you shall not work, when you shall work, or when, you shall not work. If a man wants to belong to a labor organization, let him belong. If he does not want to belong to a labor organization, let him have perfect liberty to stay out. You own yourself. Let no man put a manacle on your hand, or foot, or head, or heart.Thomas De Witt Talmage

…the indestructible, the unchangeable, the universal currency of good will and peace…is a currency that is not interchangeable with silver and gold, it is a currency of the heart, of the good life, of the highest estate on the earth. -Virchand Gandhi, Jain scholar

In the land of light there is only one currency. The currency of love. -Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspirations

Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value: zero -Voltaire

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. -Matthew 10:29 NIV

sunday comics

Peanuts comic strips in shape of crossSeptember 6, 2015

Thank goodness the Sunday comics have endured. A little lightness, a bit of silliness, some hidden wisdom, and lots of bubble-gum color still peek out from a somber weekly recap. Some might call it their Sunday service.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
-Solitude, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, ‘Is life a multiple choice test or is it a true or false test?’ …Then a voice comes to me out of the dark and says, ‘We hate to tell you this but life is a thousand word essay. -Charlie Brown (Charles M. Schulz)

My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right? Snoopy (Charles M. Schulz)

All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog. -Charles M. Schulz (on Charlie Brown and Snoopy)

The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind. -H. P. Lovecraft

emojis and emotions

emoji face with crosses for eyesSeptember 5, 2015

The now ubiquitous emoji originated in Japan. Though it’s easy to assume that the word “emoji” arises from our similar sounding word “emotion,” it simply means picture(e) character (moji). Even so, I know I am not alone in stringing several of them together to express particular emotions!

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion. -Dale Carnegie

I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them. -Oscar Wilde

Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience. -Paul Cezanne

There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion. -Carl Jung