Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Me

Today has not been a good day for technology. I've been at this for about three and a half hours now, struggling with connections that don't want to connect, disappearing audio, and a host of other gremlins. My astrology-knowledgeable friends tell me to blame Mercury being in retrograde. Whatever is to blame, it's been frustrating.

That's Sunday Sounds is a bit of a departure. I recorded this song for my Aunt Louise and my cousins when my Uncle Jim died several years ago. It was a favorite of his. When I asked her how I could help, she said, "Can you sing Danny Boy?" Well, by golly, that I could do. So I did, recording it and sending it along with my love. The arrangement differs a bit from the traditional, and that's Jimmy Daughtery, a friend I've actually not seen or heard from in a long time (must remedy that!), on guitar. Since then the song has played for a few friends and family and at dear Uncle Jim's memorial service, but it's otherwise unshared.

I hope sharing this song comes across less as an act of narcissism and more as the act of courage that it is. In words taken from last week's Sunday Sounds, "Someone I am is waiting for my courage..." Maybe I'm tired waiting. :)

To courage, my friends...and to you, with gratitude, on this Sunday. Enjoy.

Photo Credits:

Danny Boy
words Frederick Weatherly and music traditional

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
'tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

But come you back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'tis I'll be there in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
You'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me
I simply sleep in peace until you come to me

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Josh Groban

Ever been moved to tears by a song? I don't know anyone who hasn't felt their eyes well up a time or two when a song touches something so personal, so intimate, so true that you are instantly in the emotion.

"Let Me Fall" is one of those songs for me. The song speaks so eloquently of fear and courage and one simple phrase out of all the lovely words...could have come from my own soul...

"Someone I am is waiting for courage..."

I'll let the lyrics and melody and voice of young Josh Groban say the rest. The song is from Josh Groban's self-titled album. If you like it, you can find it here.

Take courage, my friends.

Let Me Fall (From Cirque Du Soleil)

Let me fall
Let me climb
There's a moment when fear
And dreams must collide

Someone I am
Is waiting for courage
The one I want
The one I will become
Will catch me

So let me fall
If I must fall
I won't heed your warnings
I won't hear them

Let me fall
If I fall
Though the phoenix may
Or may not rise

I will dance so freely
Holding on to no one
You can hold me only
If you too will fall
Away from all these
Useless fears and chains

Someone I am
Is waiting for my courage
The one I want
The one I will become
Will catch me

So let me fall
If I must fall
I won't heed your warnings
I won't hear

Let me fall
If I fall
There's no reason
To miss this one chance
This perfect moment
Just let me fall

Photo credits: Breast Cancer Ribbon Rooster Courage Social Justice Take Courage Sign Black White Red Courage Sign Courage Bicycles Tedx Flyer Courage My Love Book Jacket Mail Box Prayer Flags

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: The Sid Series by Yvonne Perry

How do you help a young child explore the concept of inner guidance? How do you talk to your children about diversity, facing their fears, listening to their body's wisdom? Yvonne Perry has written a delightful series of children's stories that explore these topics and more.

Inspired by her grandson, Sidney, Yvonne has woven her weekend visits and adventures with Sidney into charming tales. Those of us who enjoy talking with children can take a hint from the straightforward, simple, loving language "Von-Von" uses when talking with Sidney about concepts as difficult as the death of a loved pet or as potentially frightening as a monster in the closet.

Perhaps more importantly, Yvonne's stories are written from a holistic approach. Sidney is an exceptional child with spiritual gifts, and Yvonne gently helps him embrace his gifts in a way he can understand. In "A Powerful Potion: The Power of Imagination," Sidney's dog, Blue Girl, is injured. Sidney makes a special potion to heal her. His Von-Von uses the experience to help him understand the power of his imagination...a gentle, age-appropriate introduction to magical concepts that sets the stage for more learning as he grows older.

Those who are looking for stories to share with very young children - or parents who would like some ideas for how to talk with their little ones about holistic spiritual concepts without getting over their heads - will find The Sid Series to be just the ticket. The illustrations are charming and fun, the stories short, simple, and sweet. Don't let that fool you...these stories carry big concepts. There is a definite shortage of material for children that touches on these concepts, and The Sid Series is a welcome breath of fresh air.

You can learn more about The Sid Series at Yvonne's Blog, or you can purchase a copy at Amazon. Stories can also be purchased individually, and there's a coloring book that makes a fun addition. Both the coloring book and the individual stories are available on the blog.

Hats off to Yvonne Perry for a great series!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Christmas music makes me smile...and that's good because there's no escaping it!  Today I heard Mariah Carey singing, "Joy to the World"...and she really rocks that song!  The lyrics of the song struck me as particularly appropriate today:

"Let every heart prepare him room..."

Whether you celebrate the birth of the Son or the rebirth of the sun...there's a lot of wisdom in those words. We have to make room in our hearts for the light.

Our world is instantaneous information, visual and auditory assault day and reports make sure we know the horrific state of the exploitation assures that every transgression and disappointment committed by public figures will be forced into our minds...economic pressures, holiday pressures, social all adds up to a lot of darkness.

Maybe one of the lessons of the season is to learn to let in the prepare room by distancing ourselves from the darkness just a not let ourselves be so consumed with all that is wrong that we leave no room for what is good and right and beautiful.

Kindness still exists in this world. Beauty is everywhere. Compassion can be found. The light of love burns brightly if we but make space for it.

Welcome the newborn Son. Welcome the reborn sun. Prepare him/it room. Let in the light.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Sounds - Three Weird Sisters

Another Sunday, another song...I love Sundays!

Today's song is "Hymn" by the amazing Three Weird Sisters. These beautiful ladies (and several friends, as evidenced on the featured track today) have been a constant presence in our home since we were introduced to them back in... well, I don't remember when.

I do remember when I heard this song; it was at the North Georgia Celtic Festival a few years ago. Three Weird Sisters opened their performance with "Hymn"...those voices rang out and the lyrics filled my heart to near bursting. After I wiped my eyes and enjoyed the rest of the concert, I checked the schedule, found their next performance stage, and got there early for a better seat.

Hymn is on the album "Hair of the Frog." You can find it here, along with "Rite the First Time" - another TWS album that has a place of honor in our collection.


By Gwen Knighton
© 2002

When there's fear in my heart,
Lady, I'm singing.
When there's gladness,
I'm singing, too.
Songs of joy, love, and pain,
Lady, I'm singing,
Sending all my songs
Home to you.

When there's work to be done,
Lord, I'm singing.
When there's sport to be had,
I'm singing, too.
Songs of play, love, and toil,
Lord, I'm singing,
Sending all my songs
Home to you.

Every breath I take,
Let me be singing.
Every step a dance
I dance with you.
Every beat of my heart,
Let me be singing,
Sending all my songs
Home to you.

All around the world,
Your children are singing,
Good and bad times,
We're singing, too.
Listen to the Summerland:
Don't you hear singing?
Bringing all our songs
Home to you.

(Repeat first verse)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pagans are Blessed by Christmas, Too: Mary, Did You Know?

As a Pagan, my view of the "Christmas Story" is most certainly not the same one shared by most of my Christian friends and family. Still, I love the holiday season and find a lot of lessons and inspiration in the Biblical story of Jesus' birth. One need not take the myth literally to benefit from it.

One such lesson has recently "smacked me up'side the head" and has put the story of Mary and the virgin birth in a whole new light. I can't claim credit for the insight all by myself. I read a blog recently that, woefully, I didn't save a link to and can't find (when I do find it again, I'll give proper credit,I promise). In the post, the author talked about Mary and gave me a lot of food for thought.

Mary is a wonderful example of courage, of accepting a calling even when your hands are trembling and your knees are week...of knowing that others may disapprove, may not believe, may abandon you...but going ahead anyway. Mary was a young Jewish girl, a virgin engaged to be married. In Mary's world, to conceive a child out of wedlock as she did was to risk her future marriage, her family, her community, her entire support network. She put the only life she had ever known on the line because she was called to give birth to the Son of God.

How many times in our lives do we receive a call to give birth to something? What gifts to the world die unborn because we lack the courage to accept the call, to receive the creative spark and carry it to term, to endure the pains of bringing it into the world, and to risk the scorn of those who do not believe? To write, to sing, to dance, to speak truth, to walk out of step with the louder drummer in order to be true to our own unique rhythms...these are sacred opportunities to give birth to the Divine. And it is only through our courageous yes and stepping forward into the unknown that our light enters the world.

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, "Mary Did You Know?" in a whole new light for me. May the courage of Mary infuse you with strength to give birth to your unique gifts to the world.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


From the heart of beautiful, loving, and gifted friend...another post to share with you. Her prayer is my own, so beautifully stated that I could not hope to improve on it. She has a gift, and she is a gift to my heart, in my life. You can find more of her heart and words here. May her words take root and grow strong.

- IndigoSatin

How do you say 'ENOUGH' so loudly that it makes a difference ?
Enough wars.
Enough killing.
Enough hatred.
Enough fear.
Enough hunger.
Enough vandalism.
Enough rudeness.
Enough gossip.
Enough lies.

How can we begin to radiate love and caring like a ripple in a pond ?
Radiate peacefulness.
Radiate nurturing.
Radiate compassion.
Radiate kindness.
Radiate gentleness.
Radiate truth.

Holy Father, please help me make a difference in those lives I touch. Help me choose my words and actions with more care. Give me the strength and courage to speak up when I should, and the greater strength to be silent when I shouldn't.

Divine Mother, please help me look outward to see more clearly the needs of those around me. Help me extend your gentle love and compassion. Help me see past my own tears to see those in the eyes of others.

Sunday Sounds: Bobby McFerrin

Good morning (or afternoon, or evening...whenever and wherever you are)!

Today's gift of music and prayer comes from Bobby McFerrin, from an album that rests near the top of the list of five albums I would keep if I had to give up all others. The album is Medicine Music and the song is "The 23rd Psalm."

This much loved Psalm speaks so profoundly of gratitude, of saying "yes" to all that is right now, of enough. And Bobby McFerrin's vocal brilliance and heart make this rendition more moving than ever. The fact that he acknowledges the female half of the All doesn't hurt my feelings, either. If you have headphones, do yourself a favor and put them on so you can really hear the magic.

Wishing you a gentle day of awareness, of gratitude, of enough.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

True Power: Speaking the Words of Power

How often do you speak "the words of power?"

I don't know how you answered that question, but my answer is, "Every time I open my mouth...and even when I don't." The words I use to speak and to think are part of my personal power. The way I speak to myself and others is one of the ways I exercise control and influence in the world.

Words have power. Magical practitioners of all ilks have long taught that word choice is important when we're working magically. Whether we're following a complex and detailed magical system with words and phrases used by magicians for centuries, or a less structured, natural form of spell work, the words we choose can affect the outcome, for better or worse.

Interestingly enough, we seem to place a lot of emphasis on the use of words in a magical context but very little on how we use words in all the other moments and events in our lives. And since we spend a lot less time on magical pursuits than on plain old life, that seems backward to me.

Maybe one reason people don't recognize the power of words outside the magical realm is the mistaken notion that magic is something separate, something apart from "ordinary" life. Magic is not a supernatural force. Magic works because it follows natural, universal laws that, even though the scientific world hasn't fully worked out all the details of why and how, work flawlessly. Of course, we don't always work flawlessly in our efforts to create a working partnership with those forces, but study, practice, and open-mindedness allow us to keep moving forward. And the results prove the efficacy of a system based on those universal laws.

Here's the thing: Natural laws don't differentiate between magical and mundane. What we call magic is really nothing more than heightened awareness of those laws and a deliberate effort to work within that framework to achieve a desired result. But the laws are still in place, still working, whether we're thinking about them or not. The law is the law whether we're working deliberately, with awareness and intent, or working unaware and without a plan. To use a tired but effective analogy, the guy who falls off the roof is no less likely to hit the ground than the guy who deliberately jumps. Gravity really doesn't care about awareness, motive, or timing. The jumper, because he is paying attention and working willfully, is more likely to land safely and nearer his intended target. The faller will surely hit the ground but with far less control and less likelihood of being happy with his result.

So...if words have power in a magical they not also have power in our daily lives? Why do we allow ourselves to speak thoughtlessly to ourselves and others, aloud and silently, when we know the power our words carry? Why do we allow hurtful words others have spoken to play back in an endless loop? Universal law allows our words to manifest realities. What realities are we building with our words?

Interestingly enough, most of us are more aware and careful about what we say to others than we are about how we talk to ourselves. I can't think of a better way to rob ourselves of power than to use words that tear down and hold back. We make a mistake and our inner dialog is, "That was stupid!" We do something well and we say, "I got lucky." Even if our conscious mind knows we don't mean it, our subconscious mind probably doesn't.

A dear friend caught me sending myself wrong messages one morning. I responded to her cheerful, "Hey, how ya' doin'?" with, "Fat and sassy!" She immediately said, "Oh, we've got to eliminate that phrase!" I told her that "fat and sassy" was really a good thing, to which she replied, "Does your subconscious know that?" Zap! I knew instantly she was right.

Jung is quoted as saying, "Even a lie is a psychic fact." When we choose words that do not support our position of power, of strength and purpose, what facts are we building in our minds, in our lives? Are we choosing words that will help us manifest the things we want, or are we ignoring the laws of the Universe and expecting them to ignore us in return?

Our daily words, spoken and unspoken, are powerful spell components that make up our lives. Choose carefully to manifest the results you want.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Priscilla Herdman

Today's Sunday Sounds is a very personal post. With Thanksgiving Day just behind us, I'm still enjoying a heightened sense of gratitude for all the good things in my life. Family and the beauty that surround me every day are at the top of the list. Friends sit right at the top, too...but I won't use pictures of my friends online without permission, and waking them up on Sunday morning to gather that permission is likely to endanger my friend status. Hence, no friend pics in the video. :)

Enjoy Priscilla Herdman's splendid voice on Raffi's "Thanks a Lot." It's from the album "Stardreamer" and you can pick it up here if you're as delighted by it as we have been. My husband introduced me to this album, and it has been a favorite ever since.

Oh, and the "percussion" you hear in the song is a rocking chair. Nice, huh? Yeah, I think so, too.

Thanks a Lot
written by Raffi
performed by Priscilla Herdman

Thanks a lot

Thanks for the sun in the sky

Thanks a lot

Thanks for the clouds so high

Thanks a lot

Thanks for the whispering wind

Thanks a lot

Thanks for the birds in the spring

Thanks a lot

Thanks for the moonlit night

Thanks a lot

Thanks for the stars so bright

Thanks a lot

Thanks for wonder in me

Thanks a lot

Thanks for the way that I feel

Thanks for the animals

Thanks for the land

Thanks for the people everywhere

Thanks a lot

Thanks for all I’ve got

Thanks for all I’ve got

- Raffi

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Treasures of the Pagan Blogosphere

My friend WitchGeek pointed me toward this blog, Pagan Godspell. The beauty of this post in particular almost made me weep. Such beautiful imagery and honest writing...well worth visiting often!

Speaking of WitchGeek, have you visited The Accidental Streghone? You should. WitchGeek is a researcher for the love of it and a good writer. His articles are well organized, well researched, and easily read, and always provide food for thought. Read his stuff.

While you're at it, check out Thoughts of a Tye Dyed Goddess. I have rarely read anything that so captures the beauty, ecstasy, and wildness of the Pagan experience. Sheer beauty!

I can't leave out WinterWolf's Howl. Winter MoonWolf is a passionate blogger. I don't always agree with his positions, but he never fails to make me stop and reconsider my own positions. And he turns out some fiercely provocative poetry from time to time.

The blogosphere is just chock full of people sharing their thoughts, they knowledge, their screw ups and successes. While some bloggers are monetizing their blogs, most are writing for reasons of their own. The perspectives they share are not limited to those that will be commercially successful. They'll make you think, inspire you, answer questions, raise questions, make you mad, and make you weep. For free.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Lyle Lovett "Here I Am"

It's true...I have been on a Lyle Lovett kick lately. That's nothing new...I've been a fan of Mr. Lovett for a long time. I always hope that sharing his music will create more fans.

"Here I Am" is witty, fast, and musically delightful. Enjoy...and if you find yourself liking Lyle Lovett more than you anticipated, please pick up a CD and give him a listen. I recommend "Live in Texas" or "Step Inside This House"...they have become my personal favorites.

Enjoy your Sunday and "Here I Am"...

I'm the guy who sits next to you
And reads the newspaper over your shoulder
Don't turn the page
I'm not finished
Life is so uncertain

Here I am
Yes it's me
Take my hand
And you'll see
Here I am
Yes it's true
All I want
Girl is you

Given that true intellectual and emotional compatability
Are at the very least difficult
If not impossible to come by
We could always opt for the more temporal gratification
Of sheer physical attraction
That wouldn't make you a shallow person
Would it

Here I am
Yes it's me
Take my hand
And you'll see
Here I am
Yes it's true
All I want
Girl is you

If Ford is to Chevrolet
What Dodge is to Chrysler
What Corn Flakes are to Post Toasties
What the clear blue sky is to the deep blue sea
What Hank Williams is to Neil Armstrong
Can you doubt we were made for each other

Here I am
Yes it's me
Take my hand
And you'll see
Here I am
Yes it's true
All I want
Girl is you

I understand too little too late
I realize there are things you say and do
You can never take back
But what would you be if you didn't even try
You have to try
So after a lot of thought
I'd like to reconsider
If it's not too late
Make it a cheeseburger

Here I am
Yes it's me
Take my hand
And you'll see
Here I am
Yes it's true
All I want
Girl is you

Friday, November 20, 2009

True Power: What do you believe? Part Two

What do you believe about death?

What do you believe about life?

What do you believe about choices people make and their right to make them?

We spend a lot of time out of our lives being angry or upset at other people for choices they make that have little to do with us. The anger or upset usually comes from worrying about them, feeling fear that someone we love will do something that will hurt them, cause them pain and suffering, maybe even kill them.

Love always wants those we love to be happy, healthy, and safe. That's the nature of love, isn't it? We want the best for our loved ones. And when we observe them doing things that aren't in their best interest, we react. We feel fear, sadness, concern, anger. And because we don't have control over our loved ones' lives, these emotions can seem uncontrollable, too. Often, those uncontrollable emotions evolve into anger at those we love for the choices they've made.

In the Craft, as in many Nature-based spiritual paths, there are several potential explanations of why we're here and why we do the things we do. Common among most of them is that we, like all of nature, are born, die, and are reborn in some manner, over and over again. Perhaps the cycle is endless, but most teaching I've encountered says we continue until we've reached some pinnacle in our development that allows us to escape the cycle. Life presents us opportunities for growth. If we fail to "get it" the first time, life just keeps presenting the lesson until we do. I've seen that pattern play out as truth in my own life more often than I like to admit.

If we truly believe this way, how can we be angry when someone fails a lesson, even repeatedly? Understanding that people learn from experience and in their own time does nothing to lessen the sadness we feel watching them, or the fear for their safety (which is, at its root, fear for our own potential loss). But such understanding can keep us from tipping over into bitter anger that eats at our own spirit.

Anger hinders compassion. It masks the true emotions from which it arises and blocks love. Yet, it is only through love and compassion that we have any hope of helping those we love. By examining what we really believe about living, dying, and the choices we make in the process, we have the opportunity to examine our truest emotions. Looking at what we really feel in each situation lets us take responsibility for our feelings and deal with them appropriately. We learn to sit with our true feelings, to allow them to be without allowing them to consume us.

Anger has its place...but that place is much smaller and less frequent than it may seem. Spend time with yourself and your own beliefs about life, death, and personal choices. Whatever you believe, understanding and owning that belief will help you on your road to peace.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Sounds Bonus: Lost Highway Records: Lyle Lovett

Lyle Lovett, one of my favorites, has a new album. I'm listening to "Natural Forces" online right now, and I will be purchasing a copy before sundown today.

If you're familiar with Lyle Lovett, give Natural Forces a listen. He's hard to peg into a genre. He's got a more "country" sound than a lot of current Top 40 country, but nothing like "traditional" country music. You'll hear hint of little Texas swing, gospel, blues, even jazz, and a lot of intelligent lyrics that paint stunning word pictures, and a wicked sense of humor.

The whole album is online and it's all good. My personal favorites on this one are "Loretta", "Whooping Crane", "Natural Forces", and "It's Rock and Roll". Treat yourself to some time to just listen.

Lost Highway Records: Lyle Lovett

Sunday Sounds: Dan Fogleberg

This morning...Dan Fogleberg and "Part of the Plan" from the album "Souvenirs"

So much of life seems like there is no rhyme or reason to the random bits of madness that dot the landscape. And yet...when I look back on my life, I know that the person I am today is a result of my experiences, the lessons learned and wisdom gained from dealing with the random bits. Maybe the plan is this: that we humans are unrepentant experiential learners; that we all write our own lesson plans; that trial-and-error is the only real learning style that applies to life lessons; that no one graduates without repeating a few classes along the way; and that we needn't feel too smug about watching someone else's repeats because we've all had (and will have) our do-overs. Maybe the plan is that we show each other compassion and just keep moving forward.

I like that plan. I like this song. And I like the fact that I can share it with you this morning. Blessings along the way, dear friends...may today's lessons be gentle and sweet.

I have these moments
All steady and strong
I’m feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know
I’m all worried and weak
And I feel myself
Starting to crumble.

The meanings get lost
And the teachings get tossed
And you don’t know what you’re
Going to do next.
You wait for the sun
But it never quite comes
Some kind of message comes
Through to you.
Some kind of message comes through.

And it says to you...

Love when you can
Cry when you have to...
Be who you must
That’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand...

I had a woman
Who gave me her soul
But I wasn’t ready to
Take it.
Her heart was so fragile
And heavy to hold
And I was afraid I might
Break it.

Your conscience awakes
And you see your mistakes
And you wish someone
Would buy your confessions.
The days miss their mark
And the night gets so dark
And some kind of message
Comes through to you
Some kind of message
Shoots through --


There is no eden or
Heavenly gates
That you’re gonna make it to
One day
But all of the answers you seek
Can be found
In the dreams that you dream
On the way.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

True Power: What do you believe?

Do you know what you believe?

Most people say yes. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most of the people who say yes, when questioned, don't really know what they believe about a whole host of things that affect their lives.

I believe (ah, here's one I know!) that what we believe is the key to how we feel, how we respond, how we live. I also believe (another!) that we can change what we believe; that things we hold as "truths" are more often than not "good guesses" and "cherished assumptions" that we've chosen to embrace; that many of those choices are based on faulty information and misunderstood (or missing) data; and that by changing what we choose to believe, we change how we see the world and how the world sees and treats us. Finally, and maybe most importantly, unless we do the hard and ongoing work of discovering what we believe and holding those beliefs up to the light, we run the risk of letting beliefs that don't serve us rule our actions.

To be in control of our own lives, we need to know what we believe, understand why we believe it, and ask ourselves, always, "Is it true? Does it serve?" Anything that isn't true and doesn't serve should be replaced.

We form beliefs based on things we're told, events we witness, experiences we have...and the way in which we perceive those things, with whatever level of understanding we have at the time, colors and shapes our beliefs. And since so much of what we think we believe about ourselves is based on input we receive and process and use to define ourselves and our roles in the world, we end up with colorful, oddly shaped self images, more akin to fun house mirror images than true reflections. We develop our beliefs about others in much the same way, often complicated and clouded by our ill-formed perceptions of ourselves.

Beyond what we believe about ourselves and others, beliefs about death, life, sex, work, love, learning, short, everything that matters...shape our lives in ways we don't always think about. We act on what we believe most of the time, even when don't know or can't articulate those beliefs. At other times, we ignore what we really believe in favor of some false belief we've cooked up to justify doing something pleasureable or avoiding something uncomfortable.

Discovering what we believe isn't always as straightforward as it might seem. In fact, it's much more a sneak-around-the-back process than a front door process. Beliefs can hide, and often we have to examine both action and motive to uncover the belief.

My personal journey into my own beliefs started with a gift. My ex-husband brought me a little book, Celebrate Your Womanhood Therapy, one of a series called "Elf Help Books." It featured charming little drawings of elves and short insightful sayings on each page. I can't quote the page verbatim, but it said, in essence, "True happiness is not found outside yourself. Happiness is a result of your thoughts, your beliefs, and your actions in harmony."

The statement rang true to me and since I was anything but happy at the time, I started thinking about my beliefs, my thoughts, and my actions. What I discovered, to my surprise, is this:

my actions were based on what I felt;
my feelings were based on what I thought;
my thoughts were based on what I believed;
my beliefs were based on... what?

That's where I got stumped. I reasoned that if I didn't know what my beliefs were based on, then I didn't know why I believed as I did, And if I didn't have a clue why I believed it, how the heck did I know it was true?

For me, discovery started with discomfort. I wasn't happy; if happiness was, as the book suggested, the result of harmony, then places where I felt most unhappy were places to look for what was discordant. Once I started to look, I discovered just what a mess I was! Things I claimed to believe, beliefs I claimed to hold dear, were nowhere evident in my life. Some things I thought I believed, or maybe thought I wanted to believe, I really didn't believe at all; I thought I was supposed to believe them, so I said I did and went on. But my life was telling another tale and the discord and chaos were pretty damning evidence. One discovery led to another, like dominoes falling. It was and is a slow process, one that continues today.

I don't even know where to begin to tell you what I learned and am still learning. The biggest lesson of all,I guess, is that I am not powerless over my thoughts and emotions. When I feel discomfort - anger, disappointment, fear, sadness, betrayal - I am not "stuck" with that emotion. I can dig deeper, look for the underlying belief that causes me to think the thoughts that cause the emotion. When I find it, I can examine the belief, look for its roots, discern its truth. Often, I find that the "belief" I hold so dear is really an assumption, a creative filling of gaps between facts based on some deeper, bigger belief that I wasn't aware I held.

I also learned, in the absence of irrefutible facts, to choose to believe the explanation that brings peace. So much of the time, we fill in motives when all we have observed is behavior. Most behavior (and there are exceptions, of course) doesn't really affect us all that much. It's the motives for the behavior that cause us the most misery. If someone steps on my toe, it hurts for a little while. If I believe she stepped on my toe purposefully, that hurts a lot longer. And if I don't know for a fact that the step was dileberate, I choose to believe it wasn't. It hurts less that way.

Examining my life, I learned that anytime I was acting in a way that was not aligned with what my intuitive, knowing self knew and recognized as the path of honor and wisdom, my life was chaotic and discordant. Let me tell you, that little nugget of wisdom, as obvious as it seems now, was a long time in coming. I wasn't listening to my inner voice. But that inner voice is the voice of our truest, deepest beliefs. It's the one that tells us we're ok, even when we're surrounded by the echoes of other voices telling us we're not ok. It's the one that knows what we love and where we're gifted and our highest purpose in this life. It's the one that tells us when we're about to act foolishly and do something selfish, arrogant, stupid, unsafe, unethical, or unwise...the same one we ignore for so many ill-conceived reasons. I got married twice when my inner voice was saying, "NO! This is not right for you!" because I didn't know how to back out of the relationship and wanted to avoid the discomfort of dealing with it. Talk about trading up! There's discomfort, and there's discomfort! And I put myself through hell and contributed to my partners' hellish experience because I didn't pay attention to what I knew, what I believed.

So I ask you again...what do you believe? There is tremendous power in listening, asking, digging, and finding our beliefs, questioning them, discovering their sources. There is even more power in having the courage to change beliefs that don't hold up to scrutiny. One of my favorite Bible verses (yes, I have favorite Bible verses!), John 8:32 (World English Bible), says it well: "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." The power to cause change to occur in our lives in conformity with our will is magic of the highest order.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Neil Diamond

Today's Sunday Sounds is one of the newer pieces from Neil Diamond. I'm sure Neil isn't aware of how much time we've spent together in my life, starting when I was about ten years old. My appreciation for his music matured along with his songwriting

There are as many interpretations of this song as there are listeners. People will argue passionately that it's a love song; others will argue just as passionately that it's about God. That's the thing about art; no matter what your original inspiration or intent, once you turn it loose in the world it morphs and changes through each eye and ear and heart on which it falls. Perception is a powerful creative force in itself.

My perception takes Neil Diamond's music and lyrics here and creates a prayer of gratitude for the love in my life...past, present, and future...friends, lovers, and that originates from within and without...divine love in human form.  That kind of grace is pretty amazing.

The album is Home Before Dark and the song is "Pretty Amazing Grace."

Pretty Amazing Grace Lyrics

Pretty amazing grace is what You showed me
pretty amazing grace is who You are
I was an empty vessel
You filled me up inside
and with amazing grace restored my pride

Pretty amazing grace is how You saved me
and with amazing grace reclaimed my heart
love in the midst of chaos
calm in the heat of war
showed with amazing grace what love was for

You forgave my insensitivity
and my attempt to then mislead You
You stood beside a wretch like me
Your pretty amazing grace was all I needed.

Stumbled inside the doorway of Your chapel
humbled in God by everything I found
beauty and love surround me
freed me from what I fear
ask for amazing grace and You appear

You overcame my loss of hope and faith
gave me a truth I could belive in
You led me to a higher place
showed Your amazing grace
when grace was what I needed

look in a mirror I see Your reflection
open a book You live on every page
I fall and You're there to lift me
share every road I climb
and with amazing grace You ease my mind

Came to You with empty pockets first
when I returned I was rich man
didn't believe love could quench my thirst
but with amazing grace You showed me that it can

In Your amazing grace I had a vision
from that amazing place I came to be
into the night I wandered
wandering aimlessly
found Your amazing grace to comfort me.

pretty amazing
pretty amazing
pretty amazing
pretty amazing
pretty amazing
pretty amazing
pretty amazing
pretty amazing

You overcame my loss of hope and faith,
gave me a truth I could believe in.
You led me to that higher place
showed me that love and truth and hope and grace were all I needed. 

Friday, November 06, 2009

The True Power of a Witch - Introduction

I am a witch. A lot of different images and thoughts may come to mind when you read that, depending on your perspective. There have been a million and one (give or take a few) essays, articles, and books about what a witch is or isn't, and I'm not going to write another. Rather than providing yet another definition, I'm going to focus on what is, in my opinion, the single greatest tool and power a witch - or anyone - can work with.

Most witches practice some form or forms of magic. This is not stage magic for entertainment, but serious, concious effort to affect change using natural laws and forces. Aleister Crowley provided a definition of magic that I like, claiming magic to be "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will." Indeed, being a witch is all about change, and nowhere is that more applicable than within ourselves.

As a follower of a nature-centered spiritual path, my personal walk also involves an attempt to live in harmony with nature. Mention "nature" and most minds turn immediately to the physical earthly environment. We've seen how important living in harmony with our environment is and the damage we've caused by not doing so. But the nature I refer to also includes me...I am every bit as much a part of the natural world as the rivers and trees. Part of my walk as a witch is to learn to live in harmony with myself and others.

For all the effort, mundane or magical, we put into changing things outside ourselves, we can expect only so much in return. Why? Because we are not the only actors and we are not in control. We have influence in the world, influence that can be increased with knowledge, skill, and applied will and intent, but we have control over only one thing. We control only ourselves - our behavior, our thoughts, and our emotions.

Through the power of personal choice, we have control over more of our lives than most of us know or acknowledge. The power to choose what we do, what we say, what we think and believe and, to a large extent, what we feel is inherent. It cannot be taken away from us. Circumstances can create limited or difficult choices, for sure. Yet even when the choices come down to "do or die," that is still a choice. Understanding, claiming, and using the power of personal choice is the power to create inner harmony.

One of the seven Hermetic Principles, The Princople of Vibration, comes into play here. I have not put in the time and study to call myself a serious student of Hermetics, but I have come to understand the Principles as universal laws. Like other universal laws, one need not ba a student to witness them in action. The Law of Vibration states: "Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates." Students of Hermetics seek to control their own vibration and, through that control, to influence the vibration of others. Of this law, it has been said, "He who understands thePrinciple of Vibration, has grasped the sceptre of power." Even without trying, we see evidence that the state in which we find ourselves, our vibration, if you will, influences the people and events around us.

I cannot count the times in the last five years or so that someone has said to me, "You have the most peaceful aura about you," or, "I feel calmer just being around you." Why would that be? Perhaps, despite all odds, I've been able to reach a vibratory state that is calm, confident, safe, and peaceful. Maybe...just maybe...I have found the center of my own personal power, and while I'm not perfectly in control all the time, I'm aware of and in touch with the choices I make about what I think, what I believe, and how I feel about and react to what happens to and around me.

My life was not always so, and while the steps I took and continue to take to reach this state were abundantly simple, it would be a boldfaced lie to say they were easy. Simple and easy are not synonymous.

It would also be a lie to say that I have it all figured out and nailed down in some sort of plug-and-play process. I don't. No one does. I've hestiated to broach this subject for so long precisely because it's impossible to tell someone, "Do this and you'll be happy." It's a very personal journey, one that requires a lot of intimate time with yourself, painful honesty, and constant catching of yourself in cherished lie after cherished lie. It's hard work...and the results are worth every single uncomfortable, foundation-shaking, long-look-in-the-mirror moment. Reclaiming power over your own life is dirty work with a huge payday. The kicker is that, in this sense, we live from payday to payday; the work of staying in touch with our own power never ends.

In a series of posts, I'm going to talk about my personal experience in reclaiming my personal power in my life. My experience is not unique, I'm sure, nor is anything I will share here groundbreaking news. We all have the same power, always have and always will. We give up that power and put ourselves into positions of victim or pawn, moved and controlled by forces inside or outside ourselves, forgetting that we are the source of most of those forces.

These posts will talk about how we can take back that control through:

What we believe
What we choose to think (and think about)
How we behave
How we feel and why we feel that way
Why the words, "I can't help it; it's just the way I am," should be wiped from your vocabulary
Why we create our own prisons and lock our own doors
Why then, no matter how bad it was, is not as important as now

I hope anyone reading will feel free to join in the conversation. I believe it to be one of the most important conversations we can ever have.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Faith, Hope, and Love

My daughter Amybeth wrote a note recently that must be shared. In her note, as in her life, she embodies the ideals of "kindness, compassion, tolerance, and civility" that I hold so dear. She also has a very fine way with words. :)

A thank you note...

So, recently, a very good friend of mine sent me a gift. She spent hard-earned cash and precious time out of her busy life to send me a quirky little piece of pottery that made her smile, and she knew I would appreciate its beauty. And on an absolutely perfect day in November, I opened a box that contained much more than a pretty piece of clay. That box held the most precious gifts in the world - Faith, Hope, and Love.

Michelle had faith that the package would arrive safely to its intended recipient. She hoped that I would enjoy her gift and that it would bring me as much joy as it gave her. And along with it, she sent her love - her love of adventure (how exciting to receive a package!) and her love of our friendship.

Opening that box filled me with gratitude and happiness, and humbled me beyond belief, that someone would think of me so fondly, even though we haven't seen each other in years.

Most of you know that my spiritual beliefs tend toward the "alternative," and you all have differing paths as well. I know that there are numerous points of contention among our collective denominations. However, whether we are LDS, Methodist, Nazarene, Baptist, Pagan, or Unitarian. I am consistently reminded of how similar our beliefs can be. And I'd like to say a prayer of gratitude to Diety for setting you all in my path.

And so, here's a little Faith, Hope, and Love from me me to you. I have the utmost faith that we will continue to respect each other's differences and cultivate our similarities. I hope that we will be walkiing, talking examples of kindness, compassion, tolerance, and civility to our communities, and I send my love to each and every one of you, each and every day.

~Amen and blessed be~

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Melissa Etheridge

The divine in me ... the divine that is me ... wishes the beautiful, incredible, divine you a wonder-filled fall Sunday. The Universe IS listening ... pay attention to what you say today ... speak truth ... speak love ... speak gratitude. Send a message to yourself and know that you are loved.

Blessings, friends...and may the coming year be filled with living, with love, and with gratitude.

Melissa's album, "The Awakening," has a place of honor in my collection. Maybe it has a place in yours.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Emerald Rose

We had a wonderful Samhain celebration here last I will carry with me all year. As a result of my well after two AM bedtime and my hungover without the alcohol, sleep-deprived state this morning, today's song is a gentle, wordless offering. :)

Emerald Rose is one of our family's favorite bands. They played at our wedding; in fact, we scheduled our wedding around their availability because we wanted them there so badly.

Look for more Emerald Rose in the future; they are fine songwriters and performers, and do some tasty covers, as well. For today, enjoy Autumn in Asheville from the album Archives of Ages to Come...and please, if you enjoy the muisic, support these independent musicians by making a purchase to add to your collection


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Poem from Maithri... beautiful, loving, and as yet unmet friend, Maithri Goonetilleke, and his amazing blog, The Soaring Impulse. Words so true, so necessary to hear and remember, they must be shared.


There are days when nothing seems right. When every shell you pick up on the winding shore is broken. When the silken treasure slips through your fingers too quickly. When comforts are empty. And the world is noise.

On those jagged edged days, when the wind is screaming for a reason only she understands. And you find yourself all alone.

Turn your face to the sun.

There is goodness in the world, that even the river of tears cannot erase.

There is love in the world, that the numbed armies of fear can not destroy.

Sometimes that goodness is everywhere apparent. It pours from the heart of every moment. From the light of every smile.

On those soft days, love hides in the eaves to drop like sweet honey on your forehead and sings her lilting lullabies in the arms of the winds.

But on some days, Beloved. On days like today....

We need to look, to see.

So turn your face to the sun.

Even when she is nowhere to be seen.

Go inside yourself. Find a speck, a splinter of beauty to be grateful for.
'Yes', the day has worn you. And 'Yes' our mistakes have been so many.

But say 'Thank you' anyway.

Take account of all that is in your possession.

A mind. A heart. A body.

A life that breathes, even if for just one more day.

Now count the eyes that have smiled
at you on your wild journey,
the hands that have held you tenderly,
the ears that have listened,
the prayers that have been made on your behalf.

And whisper your 'Thank you' again.

Count the sky that has watched you grow
with His painted eyes,
The heaving waves that find their echo
in the tides of your breathing,
The little birds that have sung
you their songs,
The stars which have been a lamp
to your path,
and are your
rightful inheritance.

Count unexpected laughter,
Count undeserved grace,
Count Passion and Love making and Dreams yet to be born,
And bow your head and say 'thank you',

Now count the lives who still need your light,

The hungry, the sick, the helpless,
Count the children who will die today
and imagine if with the breath of your body
you could help just

Turn your face to the sun,
And know yourself as a child of the light.

You are the Goodness that cannot be extinguished,
The love that burns through the darkest night.

And perhaps,
In turning
You will see what i have seen,

that this day where everything seemed wrong,
was not your curse,

It was your gift,

Your chance...
To find inside yourself a forgotten 'thank you',

To smile in the face of the grim suppressors,

To stand in the heart of the glowering darkness
and turn your face to the sun.

Copyright - Maithri Goonetilleke 2008

Photo - Linda Davenport 2008

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Paul Simon

Sunday again? Yay! That means I get to so another Sunday Sounds post. You have no idea how hard it is for me not to just fill this blog with music every day. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share the music that stirs my soul.

Today's offering: Paul Simon's "Under African Skies" from the album "Graceland". The beautiful female voice is Linda Ronstadt, another favorite of mine.

"This is the story of how we begin to remember..." I am, finally, here in my middle years, beginning to remember what I had forgotten as a younger adult...what I think I knew as a child, though it was discouraged right out of me as early as possible...the divine spark of creation that lives within me and the form it was meant to take.

If you like...and if your musical library doesn't already include a copy of "Graceland", you can purchase a copy at Heartsong Recommends... Please support artists you enjoy when you can.

Joseph's face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked his days
Under African skies
This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

In early memory
mission music
Was ringing 'round my nursery door
I said take this child, Lord from Tuscon ,
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won't bother you no more

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

Joseph's face was as black as the night
And the pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked the length of his days
Under African skies

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: What can I do from the center of my circle?

Today is Blog Action Day. Each year on October 15, bloggers around the world join forces to write on one topic. This year's topic: climate change.

As a follower of an earth-centered or nature-based spirituality, you would think the topic would be near and dear to my heart and show up frequently in this blog. You would be half right. Since you haven't seen a lot of posts about it, you probably know which half.

Yes, I care...deeply. And it's a big, big topic...too big for me to wrap my head around most of the time. I find it easier to talk about basic human rights and gratitude because those are things that I feel most empowered to do something about. My path of action isn't as clear about everything. Scientists and environmentalists argue; politicians rail about emminent doom or scream that it's all for progress and for the best. Both the science and politics confound me.

Since scientists haven't nailed it down completley yet, I don't feel too bad.  Amid the debate of what is and what isn't really happening, my favorite definition or explanation so far is this:

Anthropogenic factors are human activities that change the environment. In some cases the chain of causality of human influence on the climate is direct and unambiguous (for example, the effects of irrigation on local humidity), whilst in other instances it is less clear. Various hypotheses for human-induced climate change have been argued for many years. Presently the scientific consensus on climate change is that human activity is very likely the cause for the rapid increase in global average temperatures over the past several decades.[22] Consequently, the debate has largely shifted onto ways to reduce further human impact and to find ways to adapt to change that has already occurred.[23] (Source: Retrieved 10-15-09)

Which brings me to the "action" part of Blog Action Day. What can we do about it? How can we "reduce human impact"... or at least make our impact positive?

Forget for a minute the political landscape, power struggles, oil companies, manufacturing...and focus on your personal environment. Picture yourself as the center of a circle with a radius of 100 feet. What is contained within your circle? Let's for a moment consider that circle your Sphere of Influence. What changes could you, personally, make within your Sphere?

I've been assessing my own Sphere of Influence, and I've come up with mixed results.

I'm at home this morning. Within my personal Sphere of Influence, the light is on the bathroom, though no one is in there. My refrigerator is stocked with food, much of which came from very far away. I have shoes in my closet that were made on another continent and had to be shipped here by a variety of coal and steam and fossil-fuel powered conveyences. My car is a mid-sized, gas-burning sedan that seats five, and it usually carries only me or, occasionally, my husband and me.

My Pagan-who-loves-the-earth score isn't very high, is it?

On the other hand, I'm working from home this morning rather than firing up the car for the 40 mile round trip to the office and back. We grew a garden this year, eating and sharing food that didn't have to be trucked or shipped from anywhere, fertilized with compost we made all year, and bearing not a trace of pesticide. That garden patch has already been replanted for fall with healthy turnip greens. My recycle bin, currently overflowing in the kitchen, is full of plastic, glass, and paper that won't end up in the landfill.

The saying comes to mind: "Just because I can't do everything, it doesn't mean I can't do something."

That saying is quickly followed by: "Just because I'm doing something, it doesn't mean I can't do more."

More garden next year means purchasing less food floated over oceans or trucked over road and rail. Moving to full-time work at home reduces emissions from car trips. Seeking out local vendors when possible reduces a little more. And it's all within my little Sphere of Influence.

Also within my Sphere of Influence this morning is my keyboard, reaching out to you to ask you to join me, to raise our awareness of what we can act on ourselves. It's admirable to understand the larger issues in climate change, to take political action and make a difference globally. It's equally admirable...and just as take action within arm's reach.

I'm doing it now. I can still do much more. And I'd like to know what you're doing. Please share your ideas and the actions you're taking within your own Sphere of Influence. Together, we can all do more.

Illustration credit:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Four Thousand Beautiful Words

I haven't done a photo post like this in a while, but I had the urge tonight to just share things that have caught my eye of late. Grateful eyes see beauty everywhere. With all the rain we've had lately...well, there seems to be a theme.

A Gerbera daisy in my yard

Beads of water on a leaf on the deck

Cherry tomatoes in our garden

Water droplets on the dressina plant

All photos by Linda Davenport 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Gaia Consort

Welcome back to Sunday Sounds!  Today's offering is by a Pagan-oriented band out of the Northwest, Gaia Consort.

These guys are so, so good! Pagan music in general has gotten a lot better in the last few years. Artists are maturing and, more importantly, audiences for Pagan music are growing, attracting a larger group of musicians to the genre. That's good news all around.

I've always wanted to open a Midwinter (Yule) circle with this song...and maybe this year I will. But first, I'll share it with you. The song is "Gathering" from the album, "Gaia Circles." It's a great album all around, as is everything I've heard from them. I also have "Evolve" and will be purchasing more soon. If you like what you hear, I encourage you to support Gaia Consort by purchasing their music. You can find it here on Heartsong Recommends... or at the the band's website. They've generously made MP3's of almost all their music available on the site and encourage sharing to get the word out. Of course, sharing the joy doesn't buy their biscuits, so please consider making a purchase if the music moves you. Enjoy!

From the East and in-breath of dawn
From the South, where fire is born
From the West, where the water is rising
From the North, where Gaia calls home

We have come to offer our story
We have come to open the well
It is balance we're seeking in all things
We have come to offer our selves

Salmon in the streambed, Raven in the sky
Will you be the voice of Gaia?
Willow in the marsh grass, Redwing fly
Will you be the voice of the world

Lizard on the rock face, tongue flick air
Will you be the voice of Gaia?
Heron on the tideflat, Great Brown Bear
Will you be the voice of the world?

Building up a bonfire - calling back the light
Calling up a green man - WE ARE GATHERING
Calling up a storm cloud -calling back the light
Calling up a horned one - WE ARE GATHERING

Here - now

The light on the leaves which brings flesh to the bone
which makes possible love and the dancing allowed
The salt in the sea & the sunlight reflected
like jewels in the mist that the forest will breath
The brush of the skin against skin and the nerve
that will carry the song to the tongue and the mind
The air in my lungs that feeds the fire in my blood
that brings the life to my heart and my reason for being

Building up a bonfire - calling back the light
Calling up a green man - WE ARE GATHERING
Calling up a storm cloud -calling back the light
Calling up a horned one - WE ARE GATHERING

We have come to be part of a healing
We have come to celebrate life
As we wake her, Gaia she's dreaming
We have come to call back the light

Salmon in the streambed, Raven in the sky
Will you be the voice of Gaia?
Willow in the marsh grass, Redwing fly
Will you be the voice of the world

Lizard on the rock face, tongue flick air
Will you be the voice of Gaia?
Heron on the tideflat, Great Brown Bear
Will you be the voice of the world?

Building up a bonfire - calling back the light
Calling up a green man - WE ARE GATHERING
Calling up a storm cloud -calling back the light
Calling up a horned one - WE ARE GATHERING

Calling up a whirlwind - calling back the light
Calling up a Wild Thing - WE ARE GATHERING
Lovers in the Dark Moon - calling back the light
Calling up an Oak King - WE ARE GATHERING

Copyright 1/6/97 Christopher Bingham

Friday, October 09, 2009

Waning Moon, Falling Leaves...Life Marches On

I'm working at home today, sitting behind my laptop screen at my dining room table. The doors onto the deck afford me a healthy dose of sunshine and an ever changing floor show of bird, leaves, wind, and weather.

Moments ago I heard a rustle and looked up to see a flurry of leaves falling to the ground, shaken loose by the breeze...and I was broadsided by memories of so many autumns, so many cool breezes on clear days, with skies so blue my eyes ached, leaves falling around me, crunching on the ground as I walked.

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. As a child, I couldn't wait for the days to get crisp and cool. I would put on a cozy if ill-matched sweater and go outside, marveling in how different everything the smells changed, the sounds,the light, the feel of the air. 

Watching those leaves fall brought that all back to me. I can smell the air standing underneath the two scalybark hickory trees in the front yard of a house where we lived, even though I'm in my kitchen. I can feel my red cotton Buster Brown sweater with snaps up the front and my rain boots and warm socks. And I'm crying...and I'm not sure why.

Fall comes with such matter how sweet the summer, there is no holding back, no slowing the progression of time. This is my 52nd October...I'll see my 53rd November in just a few weeks...and while I know that there will be countless more beyond, I won't always see them. The autumn breezes that energize me and the smells of fallen leaves on damp ground that thrill me every year will go on. One day, I just won't be there to see it. And I honestly don't know if I'm crying because I know my time in this life will end or because the time I've had has been so damned precious, so sweet and juicy and rich.

I don't know what happens when we die.  Nature teaches me, though, that life is endless...that everything that lives dies...and lives again in some form. I trust that it will be so with me, too, and I'm not afraid. I'm not in a hurry...but I have no fear. If anything, my days are so much sweeter lately. The recent death of a young friend and that of at least two other young men that I'm aware of has heightened my awareness of the brevity of life and my gratitude for every moment.

One thing I do know...sitting here working when I want to be outside dancing in the falling leaves is taking every bit of discipline I have. Life is short and fall is wonderful and leaves make the best waltz partners, much to the amusement of my neighbors. Ah, but what of it? Life is too short to worry about giggling neighbors. 

I'm outta here...lunch hour will see no sandwich or soup today. Instead, I'll be twirling in the backyard, arms flung wide, laughing and singing and soaking up Mama's last dance before the long sleep.

Strike up the band...a fiddle tune, if you please...and make it lively...

Photographs: Linda Davenport 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Sounds: Jeff Buckley and Eva Cassidy

I couldn't decide between two songs for this week's Sunday Sounds, so you get a two-fer!

These songs are written by two immensely talented songwriters. I've heard both Leonard Cohen and Sting perform their respective songs and they moved me deeply. But Jeff Buckley and Eva Cassidy, two gifted singers who died young, "owned" these songs. When they sing the words, something more than the original composition results, something bigger, richer, purer. 

I hope you enjoy this morning's Sunday Sounds. If you like anything here and want to support the artists with a copy of your own, please visit Heartsong Recommends... where you can purchase from Amazon.

First up...Jeff Buckley singing Lenoard Cohen's, "Hallelujah."  You may recognize the song from "Shrek" where Jon Bon Jovi did a very fine job with it. But it's Buckley's version that makes me cry every time. The album is "Grace."

Well I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do ya?
Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Well Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Well baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Well maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who'd out drew ya
And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen in the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah


Hallelujah <<(held for a long time)

Sting's "Fields of Gold" is a beautiful song of love that transcends loss. Again, Sting sings his own words admirably, but Eva Cassidy takes this song to an entirely different emotional place. Someone may prove me wrong someday, but right now I don't see how anyone or anything could make this song any better than this. The album is "Songbird."

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold

So she took her love for to gaze awhile
Among the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me will you be my love
Among the fields of barley
And you can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold

I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We will walk in fields of gold
We'll walk in fields of gold

I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We will walk in fields of gold
We'll walk in fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
As you lie in fields of gold

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold