Winged Flight

This gallery contains 10 photos.

    We had a family of robins hatch and grow on our shared duplex back porch, and it was a true delight to see them as small and so helpless to taking their first flight.   Reminds me a … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

The Importance of Play

Every year I go to a quiet place for a one week silent directed retreat to nurture my own connection with Spirit.  (A silent directed retreat is one where I am quiet all day except for a one hour a day meeting with my spiritual companion, called a spiritual director.)  In fact, I spent my 50th birthday week in such a place (http://prairiewoods.org).  I love the quiet, the stillness that develops over the week, the rest, and the learnings that stay with me as I go back about my daily life.  It’s the week I talk to God, I tell my granddaughter.  What I don’t say, because she is young, is that I really come to listen.

This year was different.  You see, part of my active listening to God meant usually bringing something to DO.  I’m an artist and a crafter – I sew, I quilt, I knit – all sorts of textile arts.  I have done this since I was very young, and have rarely stopped.  I enjoy doing something with my hands.  It’s relaxing, and it can be challenging or artistic or meditative at the same time.

I’ve sewn my way through grief, crocheted an afghan during a stressful personal time, and knit socks instead of turn on the TV.  It’s my play.  In good times and bad times, it’s always there for me, it’s always the same, and at the same time there’s always something new to learn that engages my brain in a different way. It’s a passion. So when I go to my annual retreat weeks, I bring some crafty projects along to help me work through whatever has come up.  For me, it’s a way of allowing my heart and soul to process the ever-deepening relationship with my God, and my hands are busy.

I’m lucky, my husband understands my obsession, as his passion is golf, as it has been since he was first given a set of golf clubs when he was 12.  Many years later, he is not tired of the game, it’s relaxing and meditative and challenging all at the same time.  Whether he is wrestling with a personal or spiritual issue, or socializing or competing, he goes golfing.  He absorbs the game as if it were the food he needed to live.

Only this year, as I mentioned, was different.  I arrived at my week with tendonitis in both hands.  I had to leave everything behind, and even cautioned on how to properly read a book without using the swollen tendons.  UH?  What?  OK, what has this in store for me? I was lost for a day or two, challenging me to not DO and just BE.

And so, in BE-ing, gazing into the woods, I noticed a deer.  Beautiful creature, glistening where the sun is hitting her back.  The slim legs and graceful step as she bent down to eat something, and then glanced up.  She came closer, and then looked straight at me.  I told her she was beautiful and thanked her for her presence.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another deer peeking from the woods into the clearing.  Just peeking.  It was crouched low, carefully watching the first deer.  Then, suddenly and with a huge burst of energy, the other deer bounced out of the woods, much as a child would: “Surprise!”  The first deer jumped up, startled.  They played.  They ran and jumped.  A third deer joined them.  I was witnessing the magic of nature at play.  I felt a part of it, my brother and sister the deer and I.  And it was so with the birds in the garden, and the bunnies on the woodland trail.  In the wind, the leaves on the trees seem to play as they reflected the sunlight.  Nature at play seemed to be everywhere I looked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Play is vital to all living beings.  The deer were being deer.  My husband is authentic to who he is on the golf course, as I am when I am engaged in the play of textiles.  And just as authentic as I am listening to my God.  It is about the time we both take to just be who we are, which in turn helps us to become more authentic with each other and with other people in our lives.  Yes, I might have been concentrating on sewing instead of gazing outside, missing those magical moments.  And I might not have.  That’s not the point here.  The space I’d been given to ponder my idle, painful hands gave me instead a new appreciation for them and all they do for me.  They will heal, and I’ll be back on the knitting needles soon enough.

Do you have a passion that carries you through your life?  And if you say: yes, my kids or my husband, or drinking alcohol with my buddies – that doesn’t qualify.  You can’t have another person as your hobby.  It’s not fair to you and it’s certainly not healthy for the people in your life.  This is more personal; this is you and the craft or activity, such as basketball, gardening, or reading.  It’s a place, among many, you can become more fully yourself in relationship to the Spirit.  It strengthens you by enabling you to rest in the play of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We grow and change and God continues to reach out to us.  God delights in play, and we can see this in all of nature.  To follow your passion fully is to also delight in it.  Play in it.  I’d love to help you find this passion.  I’m also trained to help you in your own private directed retreat, if that part of this story attracted you.  We can arrange something even if you can’t leave home for a week.  You can find me at deb (at) debcannon (dot) com  or 319 321 7195.

Posted in Just what am I up to?, Spiritual inspiration | Leave a comment

Ode to My Socks

Hi there!  Yes, I am known to disappear for a bit, just got way busy.  Sometimes life changes at the speed of light, and us mere mortals catch up weeks later.  I’ve been taking a couple classes on sock knitting.  One at Craftsy, www.craftsy.com and at R.Rabbit’s Fiber Studio www.r-rabbitsfiberstudio.com    

It really helped to have these resources at my disposal, highly recommed them both if you are seeking to learn knitting socks.  It’s a rather high learning curve, and I churned out 5 socks and unwound them until I got something that actually fit.  So, here they are!

Socks for my Man!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He LOVES them!  Love, love!  I was so excited, even if they were a couple months late for his birthday in April.  Oh well.  I’m learning to spin, too, and is taking as much patience to learn, and I’ll show you when I’ve got something to show!   It’s muck so far.  My goal is to spin the yarn and then knit the socks.  I know, I know, I’ve posted things I’m gonna do and then I take steps backwards.  Turns out I just didn’t have the required skills, and so I sought out classes and I’m in better shape.  And falling into love with it all!   Haven’t stopped sewing or quilting, rather, adding to my textile skills overall.

Ran across a lovely poem I thought I’d share, from the book “ten poems to change your life” by Roger Housden.  It’s by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Mitchell.  I love that this poem is included in this book, pointing us to the Divine in our very material world, that this world and the Divine are one, if we but look.

Ode to My Socks

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted with her own
sheepherder hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as if they were
two
cases
knitted
with threads of
twilight
and the pelt of sheep.

Outrageous socks,
my feet became
two fish
made of wool,
two long sharks
of ultramarine blue
crossed
by one golden hair,
two gigantic blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet
were honored in this way
by
these
heavenly
socks.
They were
so beautiful
that for the first time
my feet seemed to me
unacceptable
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that embroidered
fire,
of those luminous
socks.

Nevertheless,
I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them
as schoolboys
keep
fireflies,
as scholars
collect
sacred documents,
I resisted
the wild impulse
to put them
in a golden
cage
and each day give them
birdseed
and chunks of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle
who hand over the rare
green deer
to the roasting spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and then pulled on
the
magnificent
socks
and
then my shoes.

And the moral of my ode
is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it’s a matter of two
woolen socks
in winter.

 

 

 

Posted in Fibery goodness, Just what am I up to?, Poetry for your heart, Spiritual inspiration | Leave a comment

More Camp Cardinal Love

Hi -

Posting more pictures from 2007 of the area I wrote about  (@Deb Cannon 2007):

Posted in Gardening, Spiritual inspiration | Leave a comment

Bluebell Love

I know, I know, it’s been awhile.  Where *did* February go?  Or March?  All a blur to me!

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  For years I had come to this place in the early spring to take in the bluebells.  Vast numbers of them, all blooming at the same time.  Just beautiful, and took my breath away, a natural wild place just steps away from a busy intersection.  I felt I’d encountered Mother Nature herself here.  When the lilacs started blooming, I’d rush to this place to take it all in.

 

Only now I was looking at a parking lot.  I was angry at first, then confused, then determined to save some of the remaining bluebells.  How could they have done this?  Didn’t they know what they had? After returning with a shovel to rescue the plants who clearly were going to be wiped out (see below), and replanting it in my little garden, I started thinking about the whole process of change, and how it does sometimes catch us off guard, and we rush to preserve the beauty we once knew, but it’s gone and it will never be the same.

Our lives are sometimes like this.  We anticipate something going the way we always thought they would, or wished they would, like my encounter with the bluebells.  Only sometimes it’s bigger, we have a habit, behavior, or relationship that has served us well, and all of a sudden it isn’t working anymore.  We may not have been aware of how ingrained or entrenched it was in our lives.  Something happens, and it isn’t there or is new and unchangeable or unavoidable.  There is darkness for awhile, as if someone turned the lights out in a windowless room. We cannot comprehend or guess how an event will turn out, or what life lessons there are to explore in this situation.

 

Run over by a truck

 

Sooner or later, most of us choose to deal with whatever is now added or changed or gone and determine how to go forward.  We begin to explore how to create the newness this change requires of us.  Many people lean on their understanding of a Higher Power – Spirit, Mother Nature, God -  as a part of this moving forward.

Is the change a bad thing or a good thing?  Is this even a valid question?  If you believe, as I do, that Spirit is constantly conspiring for our good, why judge at all?  The Buddhist practice of non-attachment comes to mind.  It just is the way it is.  How to move forward? What can we do?

Let’s look at this more closely, with our hearts open wide.  Is it a different story?  Is there more than one way to look at this?  Where is Spirit in this?  Or will we stay wounded?  It is entirely our choice.  Let me repeat that.  It is entirely our choice.  When your heart is open wide, it wants to choose Love.  What does that mean?

I applied this to my situation with the bluebells, and opened my heart to see what else was there, what had I missed in my first assessment?

Yes, there was a parking lot.  It is the new Coralville trail parking lot off Camp Cardinal road in Coralville, Iowa, USA.  I love to ride my bike, and this trail is particularly pretty in the spring with beautiful trees, moss, May apples, ferns, natural phlox.  Having a trailhead for this bike trail is a good thing, it will keep bikers from having to cross the busy road to find a restroom or a drink of water.  Perhaps, I thought, they did not know about the bluebells.  Clearly the construction had started before the bluebells bloomed.

So I began to look around.  I saw a few bluebells, valiantly blooming despite being dumped in a big pile of dirt or run over by truck tires.  I felt sad.  They seemed to scream at me, please save me, please save me.  Was that my own voice, wanting to preserve what I thought I had lost?   Or Spirit telling me I might be able to save some of these plants?  This one clearly was history if I didn’t do something.

Again, I returned to an open heart and continued looking around the construction area.  It really did seem as if some of them wanted to be saved, to be loved again, allowed to spread out.  So, I took this one home and it is planted in my shade garden.  I continued my search, as we must do to move forward.  Was there more to see?

 

 

 

 

There is always more to see!  An open heart allows us to see so very much more!  And in the distance, far off, I caught some Hope.  A light, shimmering under the trees.  My heart leaped!  They weren’t all gone!  There were some left!  I was SO HAPPY!  This patch of bluebells could start a new blanket of blue beauty.  This picture doesn’t do it justice, just think of 50 times as many flowers in an undisturbed area, but I’m happy for what is there.

 

Yes, I would call the authorities to try and let them know these bluebells are there.  And next year I will certainly check on their progress.

 

An open heart cannot stay wounded.  Spirit will always give us Hope.  I was so wrapped up in my initial reaction I was not looking for signs that Spirit was at work within my heart.  Anger, fear, confusion, doubt – these are all emotional states that obscure the inner workings of the heart.  They are part of life, they will always be with us.  It’s our choice to look within and follow where we are led, trusting that no matter how lost we feel, we will get through them and perhaps even be led to new beginnings and a new life.  These movements of Spirit can be very small, or very big.  The loss of this natural place was not a loss at all, but a change.  A change that will benefit a lot of people accessing the trail, and perhaps next spring more of those people will enjoy what I love about this area in the spring, the blue carpet of loveliness.

And thanks for all the thoughtful discussion on my ongoing mission to change Holiday 2012 into something more closely aligned with my own beliefs.  I really appreciate it.  Am coming across some interesting ideas, including having participants bring a gift for a specific charity of my choosing, like Domestic Violence.  I would love to be able to benefit someone besides myself and all the other people who really don’t want or need  or can buy for themselves what I’m giving them!   Think about it for your own family.

Blessings to you all.
Deb

Posted in Family Stuff, Gardening, Spiritual inspiration | Leave a comment

Evolutions

Hi!  January ends today, we’re in to February, 2012!  Been thinking alot about evolutions, and by that I mean evolutions of the heart and mind.   And yarn, but I’ll get to that in a minute.   We take in experiences and let them change us, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  I like to choose the better, choose the lesson in the experience rather than get stuck in what went wrong.

As I ponder my previous post on how I’d like to make Holiday 2012 more closely aligned with my heart’s desire, I was introduced to this Joan Chittister poem that struck close to what I was feeling.  It’s from “The Monastery of the Heart:  An Invitation to a Meaningful Life”

A Listening Heart

There is a magnet in a seeker’s heart
whose true north is God.
It bends toward the Voice of God
with the ear of the heart
and, like the sunflowers in the sun,
turns all of life toward
the living of the Word.

This listening is pure of pride
and free of arrogance.
It seeks wisdom–
everywhere, at all times–
and knows wisdom by the way
it echoes
the call of the scriptures.

The compass of God implanted
in the seeker’s heart
stretches toward truth
and signals the way to justice.
A truly listening heart knows
that we lose the chance for truth
if we give another–any other–
either too much, or too little,
control over the conscience
that is meant to be ours alone.

And yet, at the same time
mutual obedience,
real listening,
holy listening
forever seeks the spiritual dialogue
holy wisdom demands.

This listening with the heart
to the insights of another
is not the obedience of children,
or soldiers,
or servants,
or minions.
It is the obedience given to a lover
because of love alone.

 Breathtaking, isn’t it?  Read it again, how does it speak to you?  I was also very moved by a quote from feminist theologian and scripture scholar, Dorothy Soelle:

For many years I was so disgusted by the commercialization that Christmas has endured, so sickened by the terror of consumption, the pressure of buying, giving and eating, that I did not want even to think of Luke 2.  The violent context in which we live had blocked the light of the text, which seemed to me hopelessly instrumentalized for lies.  The baby in the manger was embarrassing, like rich almond candy.”

Now if THAT doesn’t make you pause and think, well, maybe this blog just isn’t for you.  Or maybe you’re already there and wondering what took me so long!

On a lighter, much more luscious note – I did mention some yarn having to do with Evolution, didn’t I?  this yarn I’m using for my next shawl goes from purple to green seamlessly, and the name of it is Evolution.  I LOVE it!  I mean, it’s just mouthwatering to have it in my hand.  AND I finished another shawl, I was so happy!  It turned out smaller than I really would have liked, but it’s still a shawl, and I learned alot while knitting it.  So I’m showing off some fibery goodness here.  If you want more information on the shawl, it’s here:  http://ravel.me/debcquilts/xbx85

And the Evolution yarn:  http://www.twistedfiberart.com/   Looking around there is very satisfying!

I’m also trying my hand at spinning my own yarn, that’s a whole other skillset.   Daunting right now, but I’m still practicing.   Evolving in my art and craft, learning new things, new ways of being.

My shawl:

Finished Shawl

The very cool yarn, of which you will see another shawl sometime soon:

How pretty is this?

Many blessings to you all as you evolve!

Deb

Posted in Fibery goodness, Poetry for your heart, Spiritual inspiration, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wise Women Also Came

Hi!  The winter holiday is over, and I’m glad.  It’s not that I’m a Scrooge, please don’t misunderstand.  But Christmas celebrations are largely put on, and particpated in, by the women in the family.   We think of and shop for gifts, we cook the meals, we decorate the house, we plump the pillows for guests.  This year the work left to women (basically, me) exhausted me so much I passed out at around 8 pm on Christmas Eve, but my ‘family’ simply continued on without me.  There’s more, oh so very much more, but I’ll hold my keyboard still, I’ve said enough.

I can tell you with certainty this will not ever, ever happen again, whatever I have to do to make it right for me, I will do.  That’s all there is to it.  It’s just time to stop the nonsense and bring my Christmas celebration to a more genteel place.   It’s lovely to think of a peaceful, joyous Christmas.  *sigh*  Oh, it’s not like I haven’t had glimpses of it, after all, there’s more than one side to the family, more than one celebration that have been perfectly wonderful.   Just not a whole season, not a whole weekend.

A quilting podcast I listen to (Frances, of http://theoffkilterquilt.wordpress.com/  )mentioned on her last episode how tired she was, not that she minded, but she was just wondering what the heck it was really all about.  I think women have been doing this for a long, long time without questioning where and when and why.

Come to think of it, I think women were at the birth of Jesus, along with the shepherds.  I’ll share a favorite poem here by Jan L. Richardson, from Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas, United Church Press, 1998:

Wise women also came.
The fire burned
in their wombs
long before they saw
the flaming star
in the sky.
They walked in shadows
trusting the path
would open
under the light of the moon.

Wise women also came,
seeking no directions,
no permissions from any king.
They came
by their own authority,
their own desire,
their own longing.
They came in quiet,
spreading no rumors,
sparking no fears
to lead
to innocents’ slaughter,
to their sister Rachel’s
inconsolable lamentations.

Wise women also came,
and they brought
useful gifts:
water for labor’s washing,
fire for warm illumination,
a blanket for swaddling.

Wise women also came,
at least three of them,
holding Mary in labor,
crying out with her
in the birth pangs,
breathing ancient blessings
into her ear.

Wise women also came,
and they went,
as wise women always do,
home a different way. 

Now, to put away the tree……
Love, Deb

 

Posted in Family Stuff, Just what am I up to?, Poetry for your heart | Leave a comment

An Advent Prayer

As we approach the deep wintertime, and all that goes with it, we are asked to look inside us and take rest in our souls.  While shopping last weekend, I found a beautifully framed prayer in a second hand shop among some interesting Native American pictures and artifacts.  I don’t know the origin of the prayer, but it rings true for me and I hope you, too.

O Great Spirit,
whose voice I hear in the winds,
and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me!
I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.

Let Me Walk In Beauty,
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make My Hands
respect the things you have made,
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make Me Wise
so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.

Let Me Learn
the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

I Seek Strength,
not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight with my greatest enemy – myself.

Make Me Always Ready
to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.

So When Life Fades,
as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to you without shame.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice – whatever your tradition I wish you warm and wonderful blessings.

Posted in Poetry for your heart, Spiritual inspiration, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You Too Will Find Your Strength

Hi!  It’s been a bit.  I’ll share a little more Rilke, as well as a finished project and some thoughts.

First, my beloved Rilke, from “Rilke’s Book of Hours, Love Poems to God” translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy:

You too will find your strength.
We who must live in this time
cannot imagine how strong you will become -
how strange, how surprising,
yet familiar as yesterday.

We will sense you
like a fragnance from a nearby garden
and watch you move through our days
like a shaft of sunlight in a sickroom.

We will not be herded into churches,
for you are not made by the crowd,
you who meet us in our solitude.

We are cradled close in your hands-
and lavishly flung forth.

Beautiful, eh?  So was The Christine Center, where I spent my retreat time. It was simply lovely, all that solitude, and meeting God in the deer who met us in prayer.   The website is here:  http://www.christinecenter.org/   Give it a try!

While there, I finished my shawl.  Here’s the link:  http://ravel.me/debcquilts/lss   For the non-knitters of you, Ravelry is the Facebook for yarn lovers.  I am more active in Ravelry than I am Facebook these days.   So much yarn, so little time.   I like it for its portability, and am challenging myself these days with shawls, as you can tell below.  I’ve had false starts a number of times.    Here’s the one I’m wrestling with now:  http://ravel.me/debcquilts/xbx85

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Deb

Posted in Fibery goodness, Poetry for your heart, Spiritual inspiration | Leave a comment

Oh, beautiful silence

A lazy Sunday afternoon after my 5 y/o grandson and 3 of his friends from our neighborhood spent yesterday afternoon and dinner with us.  Fun stuff, lots of antics.  Makes the quiet now all the more special.  I hope to have them over again soon.  The beauty of their innocence, the openness they greet life, their creativity, the ‘in-the-moment’ they live their lives – all so inspiring.  Why do we lose that as we grow older?

I didn’t take these yesterday, but a few days before, so they don’t include the grandson.  I was too busy to even grab the camera.  But the rest of them, including my biggest boy of all (husband Jim) are all here!  I see God in all their faces.

 

I look to Rilke, again from the “Book of Hours, Love Poems to God” by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy, to hear more about this presence, this life, the joy:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going.  No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Many blessings to you all -
Deb

Posted in Family Stuff, Homesteading, Just what am I up to?, Poetry for your heart, Spiritual inspiration | Leave a comment