April 12, 2016. This post is a tribute to Story Circle Network and its founder Susan Wittig Albert – for the force motivating me (and so many others!) to put into writing the stories running through our lives, our hopes. I found Story Circle in 2000 when I was still getting my feet wet writing poetry. At my first Story Circle workshop, prompted to write about something important to me, I spurted out the story of the rocking chair that helped me transition from home to college. I was hesitant to read aloud, but that seemed to be expected, and so I read. Susan Albert’s exclamation “You’re a writer!” went right to my heart.
Now Story Circle has given this blog its “Star Blogger” endorsement. I’ll figure out soon how to make this badge part of the blog’s opening pages (learning curves never end!) but for now …
… in gratitude, I go back to that rocking chair. Like many a story that defines me, over time my telling of the story tightens to the essentials. It feels really good to do so adding an image. (Those clouds are the sky two days ago over Austin’s St. Edwards University.)
February 24, 2016. Earlier this month I spent a morning with the Austin Jung Society – a mindful photography experience of a new sort. Rather than the familiar “center first, then take a single photo”, we were sent out to “take 50 steps and 50 photos”. I seldom can make myself stop with a single photo when called by an image, but indulging in FIFTY shots? Like a sugar rush!
The initially overcast sky gave way to clear sunshine, the lighting change ramping up the variety of imagery significantly. I chose to wander an alley in search of my subject and half way down the block … there she was, just waiting for me. I say “she” – our true mission in this workshop was not photography so much as letting the camera assist in communicating with a non-human presence.
The poem trio reflects the writing exercises interspersed with photo excursions. First, we wrote about encountering our “other”; then a love letter to our “other”; then the perceived response from our “other”. Collectively, the Jungian term for this process is Dialogue.
The image is a collage – a handful of the many photos. Enjoy!
Clearing the clutter on my desk I found a pencil scratched poem from a morning I apparently recognized as worth remembering. When better than now? I feel blessed to spot the poem about the wren I never did see.
I’ve paired this with a photo taken a different morning, also worth of re-savoring. The tree stands in the center of the Seton NW labyrinth, here in Austin.
Two reflections of morning joy – oh, to be able to carry a tune like that wren! I’d be singing along …
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January 27, 2016. Yesterday morning, driving along a familiar freeway, attentive to motions of other vehicles, exit signs, all the usual stimuli – suddenly James McMurtry’s voice singing “I only want to talk to you” leapt out of memory and song context to put me in Mother’s kitchen, desperate to talk to her. She’s been gone since this month, 1990. Her kitchen is not an option.
I went instead to my journal. Among other insights, this poem emerged.
The image is from the dining area at Red Corral Ranch, a retreat center I visit several times a year, near Wimberley, Texas. The shadows were moving as the breeze stirred the curtains. Not unlike thoughts changing partners for the next round in a square dance.
December 25, 2015. Today has been overcast and grey, mimicking traditional Christmas weather. No coats needed, though. The Ruellia appears to be celebrating this longer-than-typical growth season with an abundance of blooms – significant enough to send me back inside for the camera. It is Christmas – I’ll count this as Mother Nature’s gift.
December 16, 2015. Startled by the contrast added to the green grass I was tromping through, I stopped for a single leaf glowing up at me. It must have blown across the busy street from a nearly-bare ornamental pear tree. I picked the leaf up, brought it home, and later (still fascinated with its brilliance on an otherwise dull day) decided to photograph it, savor it, even if I can’t quite explain why it stirs me so.
I’d like to have such a burst of beauty right before my ultimate shriveling.
December 4, 2015. I am spinning with the heart-breaking understory of a young mother compelled to sacrifice herself for a cause she deemed greater than her own baby – left with grandmother on her way to kill and be killed. Compassion for the child comes easily. As for the mother? Much tougher. Yet nevertheless a little peace crept in while observing the Chiapas sage in first rays of sunshine. I don’t know the hows to stem violence, defensiveness, distrust. But I feel certain hate and relaliation are counterproductive. I won’t go there.