Emptying and Filling

A friend interpreted yesterday’s post as that I was waiting for Inspiration.

I meant it more as cleansing.  Sometimes I need to pause, empty, and fill.

It’s like with the breath.  When we exhale, there can be a pause, and then, the inhalation comes.  

Just like that, breath comes; life comes.

This is a busy time of year that balances on the darkness and push and pull to hibernate.  I love this time of year, that push and pull lit by scent and candlelight. I bring forth my holiday mugs, candles, treasures, and tablecloths. I inhale the scent of pine, and exhale delight. I’m grateful for what I have and what I can give.

This year the birth of our grandchild has added a new spark to the season, and we’re dealing with practical matters, financial matters, awakened awareness of a widening circle, a deeper immersion in all we share.

I walk along and look at each baby I see, acknowledge the mother or father who is pushing the wrapped-up being in their stroller/carriage.

It’s a different investment somehow. I feel carved open and raw in display.  I suppose that’s what prompted yesterday’s unraveling pause, but I am here and involved.

I see that this month requires extra awareness of balancing by feeling our feet, outside, middle, and inner, and when we walk articulating the whole foot, and as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Kissing the earth with our feet”.


It’s the time of year when we wear sweaters, perhaps hand-knit or crocheted, and then one strand stands out requesting a pull that followed leads to dismantling and unraveling what cloaked. 

New lines entice direction to flow.

I intend to meet the holiday season this way, release expectations and demands, and pulling a strand, allow all that’s unnecessary to fall away.

And after that, I’ll put on a sweater or two.


Quite a few years ago, I learned of the unjust incarceration of Jarvis Masters at San Quentin.  I’ve attended various hearings at the courthouse where we sit quietly to support the intention to let him go. I was thinking of him yesterday and then today I come to Rebecca Solnit’s words on why it’s important to read his book. I recommend it as we immerse in this season of love and light.

Solnit says: 

Jarvis Masters’s memoir That Bird Has My Wings: The Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row is a gripping, lyrical, heartbreaking account of how a black child full of hope and love, born into poverty and racism, was criminalized for running away from abuse, abused in juvenile prisons, set on the path to adult prison, and how once there he was framed for participation in a murder that has stranded him on death row for thirty years. And it’s also the story of how, there, he became a generous, compassionate, and creative person as well as a writer of great power.

–Rebecca Solnit, author of Recollections of My Nonexistence (March 2020)


A friend asks, “How do we meet change?”

I reflect as I change the candles, tablecloth and kitchen towels from harvest colors of orange, olive green and gold to a subdued crimson.  I enter the season slowly, so crimson comes before a bright cherry and cheerful red.

Perhaps some transition is tossed at us, or we are tossed – a hurricane, fire, loss, and other times, we move slowly through the shift, the change.

I’ve always felt each day of December deserves a special nod, a softer, loving pat, some bringing forth of transition to full appreciation of the dark which will then swing us back toward light, “young light” as my friend Jane calls it, and yet, in this moment, all feels young, tender, fragile.

I treat December gently, but today I recall that there’s also a tinge of memory of 2005 when I began chemotherapy the Monday before Thanksgiving.  We retain memories and touch, like bread dough when it’s proofed and risen enough to be ready for the oven. We touch and the indentation comes up to meet us but not all the way, just enough.

It’s raining and I love the sound of rain as I read of soil, and how properly aerated, it holds water as a reservoir for growth.

From this article by Walter Jehne: 


Without organic matter, mineral particles are packed closely together, very dense, with little or no space in between. Now life comes along, actively breaks the rock down, feeds the soil biology, and leaves organic detritus in there, and we can think of that detritus as little bedsprings between the mineral particles: they act as cements and glues, so it gives them structural integrity, but it also creates a sponge, because as those bedsprings push the particles apart, suddenly there are spaces, in the soil, full of air, and the soil grows upwards as it expands. (We know that from archeology because you have to dig down to enter the past.)

By making this change, nature has had a profound effect on that soil. By adding nothing, it has created this matrix of surfaces and voids. It is a bit like a cathedral. By having lots of bricks, and the cements or glues that can hold them together, we can make a cathedral. Now, you don’t go to a cathedral to look at the bricks, you go there to get in awe about the spaces, the voids, the nothing.

I pause to welcome this day, still dark, with some bricks of obligations to hold it together, but really what matters is the space, and there in the space is room for transition and change.

Sunday Ease

The day comes slowly to light, softly.

I’m with these words of Gary Snyder.  

As the crickets’ soft autumn hum

Is to us

so are we to the trees

as are they 

to the rocks and the hills.

Enter gently this new month.

Allow the fuel of compassion to move through each touch, the living, loving song of anchoring and swinging on moving in and out, the wings and heart of breath.  


Nothing on the calendar today so I sit and read and watch the rain fall and fall and fall.  The hills turn green and the danger of fire is over for the year. The sound is sweet and I reflect back on my life, on moments and days, so tender, as memories sink like rain to ground and trees.   

Stanley Kunitz wrote: It is out of the dailiness of life that one is driven into the deepest recesses of the self.

I see.

A Day to Pause

The day is cold, and dark, and rain is predicted to start in an hour. It’s not a time to hang clothes outside, and yet, I visualize a clothesline, expectations hung like clothes dragging it down, until dry, the wind blows through, and so this day unfolds before me, light with ease, dry to fly.  Despite what’s happening outside, I’m light inside.