Erri De Luca (1950) is an Italian novelist, translator and  poet. He is selftaught in several languages including Ancient Hebrew and Yiddish. De Luca is also a passionate mountain climber. “The Weight of the Butterfly” is one of his books I thoroughly enjoyed reading and that illustrates beautifully this facet of Erri de Luca.

I feel like sharing with you in pictures some lines of one of his poems : “Considero Valore” or “What I highly value” :

“I highly value any form of life, snow,

a strawberry, a fly,

the mineral kingdom,

the constellation of stars.

I highly value wine, for the time of the meal,

An unvoluntary smile,

I highly value the tiredness of someone who did not spare one’s efforts,

and two elder persons in love.

I highly value all that will not be valuable tomorrow and all that has not yet  much value today.

I highly value all kinds of pains,
I highly value sparing water,

repairing a pair of shoes and

keeping silent when needed,

Rushing up to the first cry, asking permission before sitting, feeling grateful without even knowing why.

I  highly value knowing where the North is in a room, the name of the wind that dries the laundry,

The travel of a vagabond, the nun’s fence,

The patience of the condemned man, no matter the wrong,

I highly value the use of the verb “to love”, Amore,

and the hypothesis there is a Creator

Many of those values, I have not known.”

“Oeuvres sur l’eau et autres poésies, 2002”

Erri de Luca

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erri_De_Luca

Quote about books :

“I read old books because pages that have been turned many times and that bear the marks of fingers have more weight for the eyes, because each copy of a book may belong to several lives.

Books should remain free, unattended in public spaces so that they would travel with passers-by who would take them for a while and read them.  Then books should die like their readers, used by sorrows, contaminated, drowned, put inside a stove during  Winter, torn apart by children to make little paper boats. Briefly said, books should die in any way but not because of boredom and  privately owned, sentenced to life on a shelf”.

Erri de Luca

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Autumn and harvest

October 22, 2012

Grape harvest is over in most areas of my canton (Valais). Some grapes will have to wait for a mid November harvest though. The wine produced then will have more flavour, sweetness and this particular flavour “terroir”, from the local soil.John O’Donohue, Irish writer and philosopher, writes about “Autumn and the Inner Harvest” (Anam Cara). He tells of the four Seasons of the heart, Autumn being associated with old age.

“In the autumntime of your life, your experience is harvested. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one”.

As in the Celtic Wisdom, O’Donohue sees Autumn as the harvest of one’s soul that gives a deeper sense of strenght, belonging and poise. A quiet delight when this time arrives in your life.

I  like O’Donohue’s deep thoughts and, as I walked through those wineyards last Sunday afternoon, I remembered my mother’s words and memories of her younger years when she was helping her father taking care of their few vineyards over the same hills. It was a hard work for anyone involved. No machines were used. The work started in February/March and ended in October/November. A lot was to be learned over months and years. A harvest of knowledge and traditions were transmitted to sons and daughters, families’ links were valued and strenghtened. Most mountain villagers grew vineyards  on the foothills. Their earnings were  meagre and  when the grapes were brought to the communal wine cellars, the gain was much appreciated.  It used to be a joyful and singing crowd which walked down to the valley early in the morning (5-6am) during the season of grape harvest. Sometimes, on lucky days, a postal bus would drive the villagers and winegrowers down to the vineyards.  After a long day’s work under a hot sun the return home up to the little villages was much  quieter. Bodies hurt and voices kept silent.  Of course there was a big celebration at the end of the harvest. It coincided with this other tradition that is still present nowadays : roasted chestnuts (brisolée).  A feast when served with various kinds of cheese, cold meats, rye bread/butter, grapes and apple pie; we also drink must (grape juice not fermented yet). A simple and delicious meal-of-the-season.

All those thoughts and more went through my mind during my afternoon walk. I wished my mother would have been there with me, holding my arm, smiling, commenting, remembering and gleaning the few grapes that were forgotten or left for visitors or birds or beagles 😉 Yes, Nino was with me and I had some trouble keeping him close to me, especially when we walked near this beautiful  vineyard (below) that had not been harvested yet.

In a  photo album, I found this old picture of grape harvest in our area, Valais. My mother could have been there making a pause and chatting with friends. Those days are long gone….

Sewing for Life

October 10, 2012

Today, October 10,  is the 10th World Day for the Abolition of Death Penalty. Many events of all kinds are organised all over the world for this occasion. This year the emphasis is put on the progress  that has been accomplished for the past ten years regarding  a universal abolition of death penalty and also on the challenges to be  taken up in the future.

This quilt is a common project created in fact  for the International Day against Torture and Death Penalty, I sewed it  a few years ago.  The many embroidered squares of cotton were sent to me by members of various Human Rights organisations in my area, namely Amnesty International, ACAT, Lifespark.  Each plain cotton square has been stitched with the name of an inmate, one who is sentenced to death.  Behind each name there  is a life, its history and a fate which in several cases has already come to its end.

This quilt took me months to put together. It is filled with so many various thoughts and emotions. It was definitely not an easy quilt to sew. Nevertheless it was one  I wanted  to create with others for this special day, as a mark of our engagement for this cause.

As I sewed along, my thoughts went to these inmates, men and women sentenced to death, waiting for years  in their cells, a respite between life and death. In one month, one year,  ten years, even longer often, they will be escorted to the death chamber. Some prisoners receive a brief letter about their scheduled day and time of death. Others will never learn about their planned execution but in the end, all of them  have to follow the guards to a chamber or a yard.

How could I not think also of the victims and their shattered  families and friends ? I thought of their loved ones whose life had been changed forever in the most devastating way. Never to forget. Some families have found inner peace in a forgiving process. They are members of reconciliation groups, like  “Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation” http://www.mvfr.org/. I truly admire each and everyone of them, as I believe forgiveness is probably the most powerful action a human being can accomplish.

Then I also thought of other families, often forgotten, their distress and deep sadness is just as immense. They are the prisoners’ families, innocent of any crime and yet having to face this ultimate punishment : the scheduled execution of a spouse, a son or daughter, a Dad, a family member or a friend.

What about some of these death row inmates who had been claiming their innocence for years and who were proved right, only too late ?

So many thoughts went into every stitch of this quilt. Such inexpressible feelings under the embroidered names of those men and women whose  life or mental state went  very wild, violent and uncontrollable : feelings of despair, regrets, shame, revolt, remorse,  indescribable sadness, loss, hopelessness although at times Hope would shine dimly  in their borrowed time.

Yet, there is Hope that one day a universal abolition of death penalty will prevail. I truly believe that Justice, anywhere, can use other means  than a penal revenge to protect society from dangerous criminals instead of killing them. Is killing a good response and example for showing that killing was wrong in the first place ?  “An eye for an eye and the world is blind” said Gandhi.

I expressed my Hope in choosing colourful materials, mainly African, for sewing together the various embroidered squares. As if instinctively I wished bright shades could help healing painful scars in the heart of all those concerned, in an humble and compassionnate way.

Many thanks to all of you who joined me in this project.

“A Day at the Beach”

We were out in the recreation yard, just walking in our separate cages, exchanging thoughts. After they came to take F. back to his cell, I waited for my escort but he didn’t come. I guess he forgot about me.

I walked about until I ended up by the gate. A nice breeze was coming through the bars. The sun was shining and I closed my eyes and stood there, facing it.

The rays warmed my skin. It felt good, like when I used to stand on the beach. My eyes still closed, I saw oranges, reds and yellows, and I was somewhere else.

It was still and I could hear a bird chirping somewhere in front of me. My eyes still closed, I reached towards it but my fingers collided with the gate instead and I was at once brought back.

Still, It felt good to have been away, if for only a moment.”

Roy

More information on this World Day for the Abolition of Death Penalty here :

http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=889 

(Human Rights Education Associates)

Images and thoughts

August 9, 2012

Summer is well on its way. We are having  such a heatwave over here !  Unusual canicular  days are followed by violent storms, heavy rains and coolness.  Temperatures going up and down at brief intervals. Our landscape is especially luxuriant this Season,   gardens and fields are grateful : flowers, cereals and vegetables abound.

An orange-red rose, my favourite, with as many petals that open every day as the pages of a scented book you would read with delight.

Some of our fresh vegetables picked early in the morning and served for lunch. On the menu that day for our visitors: leeks with vinaigrette,  grilled zuchinis and chards au gratin with cheese. We will have to wait a few more weeks to taste our purple potatoes, something new this year.

It has been a rather busy Summer with little time for blogging and visiting you, my friends, I feel sorry about this;  there were several birthday celebrations, family and friends’ visits, excursions and picnics in the mountains but also quiet times along a river near  our home. Days are longer and as the sun sets on the water, I sometimes meet  a family of swans catching its rays as they glide gently towards the shore, hoping for some pieces of  bread I don’t always have.

Summer also  brought its days of sadness and loss. Two dear friends passed unexpectedly leaving family and friends deeply shocked. The sun shone brightly though as we all gathered in a small mountain village graveyard to pay homage to both friends, at a two weeks’ interval. Sadness for the great loss.

Sadness for all that remained to be shared and said. Sadness when the realization of their absence became more tangible every day.  Why so soon ? Unanswered question. At about the same time,  I began reading  a book about Celtic Wisdom by the Irish writer and philosopher, John O’Donohue: “Anam Cara” or “Soul Friend” in Gaelic. Thank you to Lumens Borealis http://lumensborealis.com/about/ for having introduced me to John O’Donohue’s writings.

Serendipity,  happy coincidence in a moment of distress ? I don’t know but here are  a few lines, comforting thoughts, that J. O’Donohue wrote about death in his inspiring book :

The Dead Bless Us

I believe that our friends among the dead really mind us and look out for us…One of the exciting developments that may happen in evolution and in human consciousness in the next several hundred years is a whole new relationship with the invisible, eternal world… We do not need to grieve for the dead. Why should we grieve for them ? They are now in a place where there is no more shadow, darkness, loneliness, isolation or pain. They are home. They are with God from whom they came. They have returned to the nest of their identity within the great circle of God…the largest embrace in the universe, which holds visible and invisible, temporal and eternal, as one.”

So much gratefulness for these lines and deep reflections about death, and about much more I read in this wonderful book.  Hardly a day passes without  thinking of those two close friends although now sadness is mixed with the serene and happy feeling of having known them both.

For  R. and J.-J.  I chose this Vivaldi Cello Concerto, largo. I know they loved it.

The circle of life. As days go by,  sorrow is followed by joy as a new life  has brought  happiness in my family. A baby girl, Alima,  is sharing her irresistible and peaceful smile with us all. A sweet messenger of Peace as  shown on the card her parents sent us :

“Jàmm rekk ! Kayra dorong ! La paix seulement”

Good wishes in Wolof, Mandinka and French. Alima’s papa comes from Senegal, her maman is my niece. The words  chosen by her parents to announce their daughter’s birth mean : “Peace only or Peace be with you”.

Welcome sweet little Alima !

Over the past month,  I have  been asked  if I was working on a new quilting project. Yes, indeed I was and still am. A quilt is finished and has been offered to my sister for her Birthday. Two others are in progress (WIP) ! But that is another story that I will tell you about later. Just a few shots to give you an idea.

Part of my sister’s quilt sewed with so much love.

Detail of a quilt I started after the devastating tsunami in Japan.

Choosing some materials for a new quilt. A small monthly quilt project.

The pace of nature

December 15, 2011

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience” (Ralph Waldo Emmerson).

Patience was  really needed to fulfill Scott Thomas’ last photography assignment for this year  http://viewsinfinitum.com/2010/12/08/assignment-seasons-2011/ The aim was to picture the same view during our Four Seasons and see the changes nature brought to a particular place in our surroundings. I chose a view close to me and that I love all year round: the landscape I see from   my kitchen window.

I started taking pictures in December  2010 on a day when snow fell like in a fairy tale. Snow flakes kept falling silently day and night leaving a strange quietness over the landscape. The bare rowan-tree outside the window became heavy with snow and some of its fragile branches broke. Gusts of wind brought snowflakes onto the window and they stayed there, frozen around the wooden frame.

“Winter teaches us what it means to close one phase of life so that we can begin something else, totally different, totally new. It gives us the joy of beginning over and over again throughout the whole of life.”

April changed the view from my window. Green fields dotted with dandelions and buttercups, the first soft green leaves opening slowly in the rowan-tree and a pot of daisies decorating the windowsill. Not much warmth yet but more light and the beginning of a long awaited Spring.

“Spring teaches us patience. Things – and we, a well – grow slowly. Do not overvalue the speed that races to produce what the heart is not yet wise enough to use well.”

Summer in a blazing heat around midday. Everything is growing wildly in the garden, the wheat fields  are looking almost white under the sun and bunches of red berries are now hanging in the rowan-tree for the great pleasure of lots of birds. This is the end of Season for daisies, geraniums will replace them later.  I often sat  in the shade of the ever present rowan-tree in this inviting folding chair.

“Summer teaches us that to have the fullness of life – great tastes, good fun, warm sun and wild abandon – we must have less of it than we expect. Too much of anything sears the soul.”

Fall and its warm colours;  leaves are turning yellow and rusty on the rowan-tree, purple heather has replaced  geraniums on the windowsill and a small mapple-tree is showing its autumnal dress. The fields are still green but with a touch of gold,  at sunset a light haze emerges from the  forest in the far. Almost all ripe red berries have been eaten by the birds preparing for a long migration to the South. Happy and excited reunions in the branches and a carpet of little red fruits on the ground.

“Fall teaches us the value of resting our minds as well as our bodies, the value of readiness, the value of transition. In all the in-between phases and places of life, we are given the time to allow our souls to catch up with our restless energies, to take stock of the present, to get sight of all our possible futures and choose between them.”

Thanks so much Scott for choosing this  theme for your last challenge this year. I took many pictures (with different cameras)  at each Season before choosing these four ones. I love the way Nature looks like through this opening. I  surely missed  a special light or a moody sky but generally this is how my Four Seasons would appear to you from my kitchen window. Although sometimes you may have some surprises…

Like this silent cat, sitting on a woodpile and  observing me patiently behind the window as I was preparing breakfast one morning. When I finally saw him, I could not help but opening the window and giving  him some of Nino’s kibbles. Behind me there were loud howls of protest ! Just an example of an early morning in my kitchen.

All quotes are taken from  Joan Chittister’s monthly Newsletter (The Monastic Way) and I thank her for letting me share them with you.

seeing differently

December 3, 2011

I wonder what comes to your mind first as you are looking at this picture ? A bunch of petals ? Allium sativum’s skin ? A   broken heart ? Or something else ?

How would you feel if suddenly your world would look in yellow or red or blue or whatever colour you cannot imagine right now ? Would it change anything for you ?

This is not a recent picture. Since the time I took this portrait of a lady deeply concentrated on her work, I could not figure out what exactly she was doing. I am always shy to take pictures of people in the street. The scene was so special, the mood in her workshop too, I just had “to click” from the street. From the various phials, pens and tools I had a quick glimpse at, I imagine she was doing some sort of calligraphy. What would you say she was making ? What do you see ?

Last Summer I visited a gallery in my hometown. There were two artists who presented their artworks. A lady (Mathilda Raboud) who had created some funny, cheeky and unusual ceramic angels and an Italian artist from Florence, Rosario Memoli. He had  worked with all sorts of textiles that he either sewed or stuck on a white canvas. It was  abstract art, a kind of reflection on the way space is organised between immobility and movement.

I know it is abstract art… but I could not help seeing it differently. Or rather finding a meaning to his particular creations.  Laugh if you want but it is what I seem to see in the  above picture : a proud rooster is chasing away a black and white sheep while his favourite polka dot hen is quietly nibbling at a flower 🙂

Same sort of tragedy with this other artwork by Memoli… I see a sort of hen (yes, again) and a strange mythological creature with a dangerous looking dented tail. They seem to be arguing. Could the reason be the many colourful seeds in the upper right corner that both are coveting ?  See the way my imagination takes over sometimes ?;)

For a long time artists have  shown us how to see and think differently. They taught us that there are as many ways as there are people since we all see everything differently. A liberating gift, isnt’ it ?

Rosario Memoli’s artworks bore no title. Maybe the artist intended to free our imagination ?  The writer Eugène Ionesco wrote in his book “Découvertes” :

An artwork is a series of interrogations. Since there is a construction, one can consider a work as an architecture of interrogations. Every artwork must be brought into question”.

A difficult choice

November 16, 2011

The following photos are new on my blog. Some have been posted on flickr, some were just waiting to get out of my archives. They were all taken in 2011 with different cameras.   Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge at Views Infinitum “Your Best Photos in 2011”

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/assignment-16-best-photos-of-2011/

was a great opportunity to bring them to light. Today, November 16, is the last day to present your three best pictures of 2011 (or more) if you feel like participating in Scott’s assignment.

I do not really consider them as my “best” but certainly they are favourites of mine. Each for its own reason. I did not take many pictures in 2011: loss of my  camera (Sony Cyber- shot), loan of another one (Canon) for a while  and finally getting a new one I need to get accustomed to (Panasonic Lumix ZX3). Nevertheless here are some pictures I am  very happy to share with you.

A Winter sunset in front of  my home. The day had been cold and the walk to the forest went at a brisk pace. I love how the light branches of a birch tree added a decorative frame over the landscape.

Snow fell heavily, sky and earth were of the same pale shade.  The dark wooden barn stood out in all this whiteness. I wish this image would make you feel the intense silence that was envelopping  the whole landscape. No cars,  quiet birds, even the wind had stopped howling.  A white silence all around.

The Joy of Spring after a long and harsh Winter ! Countless shades of green under a warmer sun. The soft sounds of grasses  brushing against one another was a real delight to listen to.

“To see one blade of grass at a time rather than simply a mountainside of green makes every element of life important”
Joan Chittister

Nino, of course, is one of my favourite models in photography. On that day, he was keeping a low profile…hiding in a field, looking rather worried. What you do not see are three black and white cows grazing peacefully a little further away. He is afraid of them although he has made progress during the Summer. Cows are everywhere around here, so many pastures for grazing.

I thought he was sleeping after his recent disturbing experience. He looked so comfortable and relaxed in his sleep but as soon as  he heard my “click”, he opened an eye ! “One does not disturb a dog who is sleeping”, we say. Yet, I did, just could not resist taking a picture …

On a sunny afternoon I was driving near a farm. I caught a glimpse of an extraordinary water- jet ! I stopped and looked at this beautiful sight : the sun was shining on the drops of water as if a rainbow had fallen onto the field. The sight was even more surprising when I downloaded the picture. Almost unreal.

A white swan gliding silently on a canal reminds me of a peaceful Summer walk.  There were fishermen, small boats, ducks and this lone swan hoping for some pieces of bread that I did not have.

Last October I visited friends in the South with my family. Ticino state is the only Italian-speaking area in my country. A little bit of Italy here and there. This door is the entrance of a pleasant B&B, an ancient house of the XIXth century, nicely restored and welcoming guests all invited to the same wedding. What a wonderful stay and wedding party !

Autumn arrived slowly, with days that looked like Summer so mild and sunny they were. Yet, little by little, terraces were deserted, leaves started falling, temperatures dropped.  Mornings are frosty and the forest is covered with a precious and rustling carpet, night falls around 6pm and soon the trees will be bare. Snow is just around the corner and next year too. With more pictures !

I hope you enjoyed this short travel through some of my favourite pictures. Thanks for traveling with me  and thanks Scott for another enjoyable assignment.

Sharing my reading

October 10, 2011

As promised, here are some of the books I read during these past months. They were either offered to me for my birthday, recommended and lent by friends or bought after I read a critical review. This is where I usually buy them.

“The Butterfly’s Weight”   is a  touching story . This is the title (translated from the French) of this little book by the great Italian writer Erri De Luca. A real jewel of a book. The writing is both poetic and thought-provoking. De Luca tells about an epic battle between man and nature. An old hunter, poacher, and an old, noble chamois; it is about their fight for survival. The originality of this book is that each of them, man and animal, tell the story from their own perspective. De Luca’s writing is just beautiful !
Unfortunately I am not sure this book has been translated in English yet, very few of De Luca’s works have been up to now. Don’t miss it when it will be.  This is a book I will surely read again. More slowly this time to appreciate it fully.

Another birthday gift. I know, I am a spoiled child… The friend who sent me the following book  always chooses books that I just cannot put down. I had never read anything by Carol Edgarian. She received great praise for “Rise the Euphrates”. I read “Three Stages of Amazement” in a few days, so engrossing it was.  C. Edgarian’s book is about the fragility and complexities of marriage and a demanding career. I found the central characters, Lena, Charlie and Theo very likeable and believable. Their story is ordinary and yet complicated and very humane with a touch of humour that I loved. A family journey at different stages of their life through love, marriage, motherhood, grief, betrayal, adversity, loyalty,  wisdom, hope.

The next ones are three books that I took more time in reading and reflecting upon. The first two books are real stories that  will remain with you long after their last page is turned.

“If Nights Could Talk” by Marsha Recknagel is a remarkable,  honest and courageous memoir written with great eloquence, even humour in spite of the tragic events that touched the persons involved in this stunning story. M. Recknagel’s memoir starts  when a derelict kid – Jamie,  her nephew – arrives on the writer’s doorstep. It is about the meanness and love in families, about evil and redemption and how one person can make all the difference in someone’s life by struggling to recreate a family. Marsha and Jamie are each other’s saviours. A beautifully written story, full of feeling and truths. I strongly recommend it.

“Shot in the Heart” (Un Long Silence, in French) by Mikal Gilmore. Mikal Gilmore writes about his brother, Gary, who was  sentenced to death and executed by a firing squad in 1977 after he committed a murder and refused any appeal.

“I have a story to tell. It is a story of murder told from inside the house where murder is born. It is the house where I grew up, a house that, in some ways, I have never been able to leave.”

Before  Gary’s tragic story devastated his own life, Mikal Gilmore decided to write this brave book to try and understand his heritage, to undo the blood ties and escape the family’s curse. M. Gilmore’s book is a real investigation both affective, painful and uncompromising about his own family and his origins. “Shot in the Heart” is a  very dark and courageous journey.

Today, October 10th, happens to be the 9th World Day against Death Penalty. The campaign focuses on a petition asking for a universal moratorium on Death Penalty. It will be the main theme of the 4th resolution of the United Nations regarding DP that will be voted on December 2012.

Both of these books are also powerful and humane documents about resilience. They are about the ravages caused by a devastated childhood where love and respect are just absent. “Murders of the flesh and the spirit”, as M. Gilmore wrote.  Reading those books was not only trying to understand the perversity of the acts that destroyed a family. It was  also about  realizing how someone’s childhood can be broken.

Then, I needed another type of reading, one I had meant to do for a long time. I chose Thich Nhat Hanh‘s “To Touch Life”. The Vietnamese Zen monk resides in a small community in France. He  teaches, writes,  gardens,  works  to help refugees worldwide. He also  travels all over the world to share his teaching about inner harmony. How to fulfil the unity (oneness ?) between body and mind through conscious breathing and meditation.

Before saying good-bye and wishing you a pleasant week, and a good reading – whatever  book is in your hands at the moment – let’s share a few quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

More inspiring quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh here :

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/9074.Thich_Nhat_Hanh

A call to nature

July 16, 2011

Quiet days in the mountains. A  vacation that offers plenty of time for reading, quilting, hiking and observing nature. A landscape I have been seeing for year, one I never  get tired of looking at.During a reading pause on a terrace between sky and earth, I went again through the June issue of a monthly newsletter :  “The Monastic Way” by Joan Chittister, OSB.  “Food for thought” is a very good expression to describe  what her spiritual writing means for me.  Re-reading slowly some of J. Chittister´s  words, I felt like sharing the thoughts she proposed for meditation on particular days in June.

“There is a call to nature in all of us”.  I went through my photos archives and found some images to illustrate J. Chittister´s thoughts on this  inspiring theme.

“Water calls us to explore the depth of the self. It washes away, wave after wave, the seismic shocks of the day upon our souls. It soothes the riled self”.

Sunset in South Texas. I sat with friends at the edge of this wide  lake. The day had brought happiness and sadness. We all needed some peace of mind that we found as the waves moved gently towards the shore and the sun shone over the quiet waters. Hardly any sound around us but the lapping of the waves and the occasional bird singing a few notes before night fell. Serenity.

“Fire drives us out of ourselves, it touches the spark within us that leads us to create new worlds in the face of the years gone to ashes before us”.

Sitting around a fire,  whether alone or with others, is always a special moment for me. Letting one’s  mind wander over the flames, imagining  the new paths they will follow over the logs and the shapes they create is fascinating. When a spark bursts brightly and loudly reality comes back and with it the deep pleasure of the present moment.

“Earth, the vast expanse of the plains, the colors in a far away meadow, beckons us to explore, to know, to touch, to grow with the environment around us. It makes us its own and teaches us what home is about”.

Vast plains remind me of  South  Texas and Russia, meadows  are spreading  over soft hills and in the valleys all around me. High mountain pastures, their unbelievably bright flora and rare wildlife  are very much  home for me. The varied environment I lived in taught me to explore and respect nature, to know its people and the culture they developed in their surrounding area. Nature taught me a lot about “home”.

“Air, fresh and soft, teaches us how little it takes to live, to go on, to be pure of heart, to begin to live all over again, to believe. “The whole earth”, Mohammad said, “has been made a mosque and pure for me”.

A sudden puff of wind  blew a cloud of thistles all over my camera and my face… light touches of a wonderful nature. Thistledown as light as the mountain breeze in a blue sky,  tiny seeds ready to be dispersed. So little it may take to go on and live all over again.

Many thanks to Joan Chittister http://www.joanchittister.org/ for letting me reproduce part of her writing in “The Monastic Way”  and share it with you.

Wishing you all a very pleasant weekend !

Mail in the letterbox

February 28, 2011

The day started under a cold mist but with a definite hint of a blue sky above. As often at this Season, mornings look dull and grey. Then slowly but surely the fog disappears leaving behind soft layers of this Winter haze.Off I went to the woods for a morning walk with my faithful little companion, as watchful –  and playful –  as ever.

It was a quiet stroll, no encounter of any kind although Nino could confirm you there were some deers around, for sure. Unmistakable tracks and scents tickled his nose.After a pleasant and  lazy walk  through narrow paths and slightly frosted fields, we were back home. One of us decided to take a nap…

… the other went to fetch the daily paper and mail in the letterbox. And then came The Surprise ! A letter from abroad with beautiful stamps that suggested forest,  berries and little visitors creeping under the pine trees. I immediately loved those stamps  and will keep them in a special little booklet. Smalls or inchies 😉

The content of this  letter sent by Gerry in Michigan  http://torchlakeviews.wordpress.com/ was even more appreciated !

An elegant handwriting on a card,  a fine drawing  by Thomas W. Ford : “Queen Ann’s Lace” flower. In Gerry’s  envelope I also found two delightful postcards by artist, printer and naturalist Gwen Frostic. The cards are original block-prints by the artist. I simply love them !  Precious art pieces from an amazing person I learned about on the following site. It is well worth reading about Gwen Frostic’s life and achievements.

http://web.archive.org/web/20010506005958/http://www.freep.com/womenhistory99/qgwen1.htm

Many, many thanks Gerry for this thoughtful letter and gifts. If my day started under the Winter fog, it certainly continued under a bright sun 🙂 This type of “real-mail” is precious indeed.

Long before her death, Gwen Frostic wrote her epitaph:
“Here lies one doubly blessed.
She was happy and she knew it.”