Mending: To make (something broken or damaged) usable again: to repair (something broken or damaged). To heal or cure (a broken bone, a sad feeling, etc.) ~Merriam‑Webster


Two months ago while mending a small hole in the shoulder of a favorite linen knit cardigan, I thought “mending – good topic for a blog.”

The idea has been workin’ me every day; not the writing but the daily opportunity for mending.

Recently I promised I’d print 15 copies of a rubber stamp I’d carved over a year ago. When I opened my box of stamps, the one I wanted was broken. I mended it together but the crack showed when inked and stamped. I made a new stamp but I liked the cracked image better. I tore pages out of an old gardening book and printed the stamp with the crack; fitting for the topic eco-spirituality. Everyone commented they loved their picture on a page that seemed perfect for them.

A few weeks ago when I picked my grandson up after school he breathlessly told me he needed to complete a computer game on his dad’s old I-Phone. He played while eating a snack, while I tugged his soccer socks over his shin guards and in the car on the way to his practice. Climbing out of the car he pleaded, “Please leave the phone on my desk so I can finish before we come to your house for supper.”

As I walked from the car to his house I dropped the phone on the sidewalk. The glass back shattered.

Close to tears, I left it on the dining room table with a note saying how sorry I was, and that it still worked and could be fixed with duct tape.

Later when Zeb and his family arrived for dinner he climbed onto the stool in my kitchen. I put my arms around him and apologized for breaking his phone.

He was surprised and began to cry. Then his mommy told him that she saw it on the table and mended it with duct tape and that it was “good as new.” After fussing a bit he hugged me and said he was happy it still worked – and “Gran, I don’t like what we’re having for supper.” Kiss it and make it better and cook something just for him. All mended.

It’s not always that easy. Years ago a wonder-full friend who listened carefully as I read out loud each of the papers written for my doctorate, died suddenly.   During an intensive week-long class I held my grief close. At the final gathering I mentioned how sad I was and burst into tears. A lovely colleague gathered me into his arms and held me while I sobbed my sorrow. He died suddenly a month ago.

This week we cannot escape the news full of deep sorrow and celebrations of mending – stitches only we can keep from unraveling.

This morning I sat outside with Mark Nepo’s book The Endless Practice, meditating on the words of all deeply spiritual advisers, “Stay Awake.”

In the middle of his book Nepo quotes the medieval Sufi master Muhammad b. Fadl Balkhi (854-932); “He spoke directly about what puts us to sleep: ‘One may lose faith in four ways: not acting on what one knows, acting on what one does not know not seeking to learn what one does not know, and keeping others from learning.’ Nepo continues, “Often, in clinging too hard to what is familiar, we lose our wakefulness. …consider your relationship with what you know and what you don’t know. Consider the condition of your ultimate concern.” (pg. 191)

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How To Yield

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How to Yield

Maybe I want it
Even long for it
Whatever it is

Let it stay where it is

Give it up
Even for a moment, a second, an
Eon of time – one atom
at a time

Give it over
To where it grows,
where it resides.
Let the roots plow deep
into the Earth.

It is not mine to take
Only to love and observe,
maybe water with my tears
or my dishwater

No matter
Let it stay where it is
a feast for my eyes.
~ Marian Methner, 2015

wisteria 007

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Spring Musings

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“sometimes money is as much use as rocks in the desert, when what you need is a cold glass of water.” ~Alex Shearer*

Spring Musings

Spitting rain this morning with intermittent sunshine…

Garden season began sunny and warm during February in Bellingham. One day last week I put lettuce and mache seeds into a half barrel of soil. Yesterday I planted a tree. It’s unusually dry for early March. I hoped for rain.

Last Thursday I finished Telling The Bees by Peggy Hesketh. The descriptive blurb on the back of the book includes this description; “…the inadvertent examination of a life unlived, told by the octogenarian beekeeper who didn’t live it.”

This is a theme I revisit each morning –  how will I live my today?  Today I must remember to be grateful while I finish filling out forms, again, to continue my medical insurance under Medicare, then water the seeds and the tree. I have a date with two grandkids tonight.

This morning my reading included the essay Fields of Force, by Martha Heyneman written in 1983 for Parabola. Heyneman writes, “Saint Francis saw a person in the sun – and in almost everything else… If I told you now that I saw a person in the sun, you might question my judgment. Don’t worry. I am unable. Standing up to go down and make dinner, I forget all about the sun. But his power is among us.”

She, as did I, “awoke with the sun, sat up, sang no hymn…” I put the (clean) water from a tap onto boil, ground coffee beans grown somewhere (organically of course in the shade and hand-picked), and sat with my coffee not paying attention to the miracles around me, only thinking as sunlight streamed in, I must wash the windows!

I noticed that my April calendar includes a foot washing which is practiced in many churches on Maundy Thursday, three days before Easter. The practice is based on the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples during the Passover meal before he was killed.

     “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one  another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:14-17

I’m reminded of  two photos from Christmas. Phoebe, one of my almost 12 year old granddaughters whose brightly painted toes are in the first picture after we were treated to a pedicure, saw the picture I’d saved from Harper’s Magazine, and said, “cute.” After I told her the story about those shoes she asked if she could have a copy of the picture.

toe nail polish    shoes  Harper’s Magazine photo by Shannon Jensen from her series A Long walk. The photos are of the shoes of refugees,children and adults, along the Sudanese border, some who walked as many as 40 days. (Harper’s Magazine/December 2014, pg. 75.)

Oh, how good it wold have felt to have your feet washed after that walk!

I am still reminded that I didn’t ask her name; the woman who washed my feet and painted my toenails,and told me in broken English about coming to Bellingham  for her children. She was going home late to cook their rice and give them baths.  I didn’t ask her name.

foot washingOrthodox icon of Christ washing the feet of the Apostles (16th century, Pskov school of iconography).  

** Alex Shearer, author of This is the Life, Washington Square Press, 2014

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Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
– Leo Buscaglia

A few weeks ago I was twisting a bag of fabric scraps into long chains. Phoebe, one of my 11 year old granddaughters came in and said, “Oh, you are making rope! We learned to do that on a field trip in 4th grade. Can I try?” Lucky me – for awhile we sat and chatted  twisting the fabric of that day into a strong rope.

Since then I have twisted what seems miles of  scraps into long thin colorful “rope.”  This morning picking out long scraps and twisting them together became a contemplative prayer practice similar to praying with beads.

As I prayed I became aware of how many people I’ve spent time with and how many stories I’ve been privileged to hear since I posted in early October.

Each of these stories includes some of the teller’s pretty raggedy times; times when we pull the scraps of our lives together hoping the places where we join the old with the new can hold. This morning I thought about those times in my own life as I added a few stitches to a joint that wasn’t going to hold without support.

Two friends and I are planning a 4 week 2-hour study for, using Fr. Thomas Keating’s work about going deeper into centering prayer. We talked about how our relationship has grown by telling stories during our planning meetings. We’re thinking about asking participants to break into groups of two or three because we know as Fr. Keating says, “When we go deeper into silence stuff comes up.”  When stuff comes up, those scraps of our life we haven’t quite known what to do with, it’s helpful to have someone nearby listening with her heart, twisting those pieces into a strong raggedy rope.


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Lightly child lightlly…

Even though you’re feeling deeply,
Lightly let things happen. Lightly child lightly.  ~ Aldous Huxley*

imageWallace and friend on the first day of school

I’m working on a quilt for my grandson Wallace who is on the cusp – his 13th birthday is today.  He chose a quilt pattern made of triangles.  The title of the pattern in the book Sunday Morning Quilts is “Nap Like an Egyptian.”

I’m using a fabric print that includes compasses. So, I found two books to go with the quilt, one about the Egyptians and the compass and the other about geometry in art; I’m inscribing that one“study your geometry.”

Wallace loves to draw. Once he told his mother after I gave him a fat empty book, “She really knows me.” I do know what it feels like to be an introvert, and I know wanting to do things “perfectly.” I love his sense of humor, his knowing what he doesn’t want, his art, and his feeling everything deeply. I’m inscribing the other book with the Huxley quote, “lightly child lightly.”

As I began making the quilt wonkier than the artist who shared the pattern suggested, I retitled it “Ancient Egyptian saying, Measure Twice Cut Once.” After about the third try, when the quilt and I were both falling apart, I was “sucked into frustration – trying to hard,” to make the pieces fit. Then re-membering, actually pulling myself together, I felt in my bones how much I love this boy my first grandchild. The light dawned and I told myself “do this with love.” Fill this quilt with love!

Duh. What more can I say but “lightly, child, lightly.”


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Random thoughts while pulling weeds

How do you know it’s summer in the North West? We don’t wear socks under our sandals.

This morning I pulled warm socks on before I sat in the early morning sun to read and meditate. Later I took them off when I put on my heavy Keen sandals to go outside and pull weeds where I’m digging in new rich soil to plant a tree and some winter vegetables. I won’t talk about the dent I put in the passenger side of the old Toyota pickup “passed around the family garden truck” as I delivered soil to the backyard.

The last of the early apples are composting under the trees. Containers of applesauce are in the frig. Peaches from the farmer’s market were turned into pie and there are bags of peaches stashed in the freezer for cobbler on cold winter mornings. Plums squish under the tires of our cars as we drive down the shallow street in our neighborhood.

In August I failed to submit the required paperwork to continue Medicaid. Last Tuesday I paid my penance by waiting my turn to resubmit information in person. I entered the institutional building, checked in by computer and sat at the end of the row of lines of at least 100 chairs with my book for a long wait. My eyes and prayers wandered around the room constantly filling with a stream of people, some with wriggling babies and young children. We were all there hoping “call me next” to provide some assistance with whatever our situations required.

One of my father’s favorite spirituals was “Angels Hoverin’ ‘Round.” An angel unknown to me until later the next day intervened on my behalf to correct a mistake and my Medicaid is not “new in October” but “reinstated” which means some outstanding bills might be paid.

That same day I waited at the edge of the schoolyard for my 3rd grade grandson. I love this task. I wait with the au pairs, baby sitters, grandparents, daddies with strollers, pregnant mommies carrying toddlers, and older tired looking parents. All of us, waving at teachers and their helpers are greeting running, leaping, noisy children mostly with smiles and hugs. One little little boy ran up to his big sister and gave her an overpowering hug that almost knocked her down. She just rolled her eyes.

Later while I was helping wriggling Zeb get ready for soccer practice by pushing and pulling his stretchy tight soccer socks over his stinky feet and shin guards then double knotting his shoes, he said, “Gran, I’ve been thinking about a question. What is life?”

Last Sunday evening my Bellingham family and I along with 15 others spent 3 hours on a boat in Puget Sound watching 45 Orca whales  including a 108 year old female named Grandma.


I put my camera down at sunset. The full moon was rising when the Orcas surrounded our boat for a last display of leaping and rolling, blowing, breaching and diving in what I could only call Holy Joy.

Again I must end this blog entry saying there is no ending… It is all mystery!

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It all makes no sense


Every growth, growth as such, is dialectical. It needs thesis, antithesis, and synthesis; synthesis again in its turn becomes thesis, and creates antithesis and synthesis — which again, in its turn, becomes thesis.

That’s the way the whole existence works. That’s why you find duality everywhere. The duality is thesis and antithesis. One can remain caught between the two, divided, split; there will be no growth. One can make a bridge between the two, and create a new phenomenon: that is synthesis. One can remain at the synthesis; then growth stops there, unless this synthesis again functions as a thesis to produce antithesis… ~ Osho *

I have tried walking many different paths. Many times I had no idea what my path or paths were. Some writers say when you loose the path you will always find the way back. That’s not my experience – in fact, I don’t want the “way back.” I carve my way through jungles making a new path. There really was a night I was lost in the jungle and as I’ve written before I did find the path home – the one that wound around the back of the mountain; the long way home branching onto new paths.

Christianity was my first path, cut by my parents through a small Episcopal church where the message was Love. Since then I’ve trod many paths, exploring many directions. Last week I attended a gathering of 25 people to engage in dialogue about Christianity and Muslim beliefs. One of the presenters quoted possibly Osho – who often cut an unsavory path but with good advice – “don’t get stuck on the bridge.”

During the gathering we were directed to discuss our “leaning/learning spiritual edge.” At first in a thinking outloud answer I said, “My challenge is to not stay stuck in the middle of the bridge.”

Later I told a story about one of my teachers asking a group of Wisdom students if  we considered ourselves introverts or extraverts. I replied I’m an introvert. Everyone laughed. The teacher, a wise man, said “she is a noisy introvert, she knows the Mystery and shows it.” This is where my challenges lie – not staying on that bridge being comfortable with someone else’s definition of me. Synthesizing my introversion and my outloud self  and sharing what I know of the mystery – moving off the middle of the bridge to where ever paths I’m led.

Two weeks ago I was with 4 of my grandchildren in Oregon. They and friends were chasing around in a very loud game shooting each other with foam darts. I asked one granddaughter what they were playing. The answer upended me. “Terrorist.” Suddenly I was once again aware of how, even in families with no TV, our culture invades everyone, everywhere.

I was moved to tears in the gathering of Christians and Muslims when one woman told us that she’d worn black and a veil for weeks when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Still thinking about kids playing terrorist, I told a friend about the kids play at a dinner party. He responded “there are always good guys, and bad guys.” Of course, but being a contemplative person, sitting on the bridge I continue to ask why, why, why?

One way I search for under-standing is to read read read and read some more. I have a pile of books by my chair and my bed – Brian Doyle’s The Thorny Grace of It; John Shelby Spong’s The Sins of Scripture, Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love. The Divine Conspiracy, Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard is here with a couple of Thomas Keating’s books about Centering Prayer. Jamal Raham’s and Rabbi Ted’s book about our misunderstandings of each others’ religions is on my bed. This morning I am deep into And Man Created God, A History of the World at the Time of Jesus; the subject is how religion uses empire and how empire uses religion.

Another way I ask Where do I stand? and Why? is moving into silence – deep silence where often I find the ground of my being and see the world through laughing eyes.



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