Category Archives: Spiritual

Tribal Dance

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Our poor guineas have been trying for months to do the hatching thing to no avail.  They lay a clutch of eggs, then the doggies come along and snatch them.  Laying them out in the middle of the yard will do that.  They finally got smart and went over to  the wood’s edge on the outside of a fenced pasture.  The dogs can get there but they dont know it.

About 6 weeks ago, they began laying their eggs.  They lay everyday until they think they have an ample supply, then they pick odd lady out to sacrifice the next thirty days of her life to sitting on those eggs.

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Fifteen was the magic number.  I kept thinking…I don’t know if I want 15 more guineas runnin’ around here making all that noise.  And shooing them out of the barn at night so they don’t poop all over my barn floor.  Only goats are allowed to do that.  By george, that guinea sat on those eggs every minute except 10 or so minutes in the late of day.   She’d get off and the other 4 would chase her around saying..get back on that nest.  We told you…..  She is Cinderella and they, the wicked step sisters.  I imagine she did not even lay any of those eggs herself.

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Last week, we had 5 hatch.  I went out one morning and saw little things wiggling underneath her.  I snatched them up so they would have a chance at survival.  With all of our dogs, cats, etc.  They would last about a minute.

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Four guineas.  The fifth came later in the day.  They are growing like weeds.  Healthy as can be and will be out running around when they get older.

Cinderella sat on the eggs for about 3 more days and said..I’m outta here.  You guys want more keets, you sit on them yerself.   10 have been left unattended.  Since she stopped sitting, they have either died from hypothermia or they were not fertilized.  What I have decided is that the internal clock  or gestation of the mommy guinea is 30 days and she can detect that when that has come and gone she must be done, whether the eggs are done or not.  I, quite frankly, am glad.  I only got 5 new guineas and that is plenty.

Another sort of tribal dance…

I received all of Eric, my son, and his wife, Emily’s wedding photos last week and need to go through them.  I will  post some special moments of that torrential affair next time.  One photo makes me laugh or cry, I don’t know which….

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I think Eric’s and my feet tell the story here.  It was “our” dance.  It was a song that was interwoven in my past where our parent-kid relationship was concerned and I thought of my kids with a  hearty passion every time I heard it for years.  I would sing it with verve  and gyration where ever I was.    The day was stressful with the rain and when I began to hear the song, I sang and danced circles around my son.  I celebrated the hearty passion that I feel about him and my two other sons.  Eric was taken aback.  Didn’t know quite what to do or how to answer back.  I don’t blame him.  There may have been some feelings of embarrassment on his part.  There were days in my past I was capable of embarrassing my children for all the wrong reasons.   When I begin to feel bad about how I may have made him feel, I stop myself and think….this time my “out of my head” response was a full-blown celebration from my heart that could not be contained.  Not even in front of 200 people.  I was out of my head.   In love.

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He says….Holy Father, let this be over.   God love ‘im.

I can’t wait to get through the 1000 photos and pick the very favorites to share.  When I shared with someone about the weather conditions at our wedding and how that changed the expectations I had for the wedding, they said…Wait til you see the photos.  They will tell the real story.  They do tell the real story.  The wedding was gloriously us.

God bless,

Karen

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Organic Hoosier Apple? And Thomas Merton?

The beauty queen of the Shieling.

The beauty queen of the Shieling.

Oxymoron?  I have been told there is no such thing as an organic Indiana apple.  We began out orchard from scratch 6 years ago.  This year was the first time blossoms presented themselves.  We decided to let the trees do their thing.  No sprays.  No powders.  No nothin’.  Just a dose of wishing and a little prayer.   Well.  Well.  Well.  Here we have an apple.  A most gorgeous one.

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Not a bad size either, if I do say so.    I will admit that this is by far the most beauteeful one of the bunch.  But the bunch tastes pretty wonderful.   We plan to cull them next year to hope for larger apples.

We have picked 4 five gallon buckets full.  Not bad for the first season.  And you are wondering….are they diseased?  Is there such thing as an organic Hoosier apple?  They are not diseased.  Nothing too terrible got to them.  They have this black splotchy stuff on them.   I have read that the black splotchy stuff is harmless and it washes them apples up nice and pretty.  Just like the store makes them.   I bet there are children (and adults) that think apples grow in the back room of the grocers.

Organic apples in Hoosierland do indeed exist.

End of apple story.  Have you heard of Thomas Merton?

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He was a Trappist Monk priest who lived as a hermit for many years at The Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky.  Wikipedia describes him as a poet, a social activist, and a student of comparative religion.   He was all those things but much more.   He is known for studying and embracing many other religions in an effort to bridge social/religious gaps between other religions and his, Catholicism.  An ambassador of sorts.

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He has written many really good books.  Look his work up if you haven’t already.

Thomas can be considered a “cool dude”.  He is by far not the stereotype priest or monk.  And has had much controversy surrounding his life because of his unconventionalism.  Life before monkhood took him places that made him very uncomfortable.  Same places I (and probably you too) have been.   He did not feel a part much of the time and felt out-of-place in this world.  Check.  Check.  Been there.  Alone in his thoughts often.  Check.  When he encountered life that included God, he began to feel more himself.  Though rebellion in a sense remained with him.

His writings have taught me about contemplative prayer and embracing solitude.  Contemplative prayer is a state, not too unlike meditation, that  you enter into with God and just be.  In His Presence.  I am with you, God.  Wholly.  I am sitting with You.   Opening a door to let your relationship grow on God’s terms and not yours.  By staying silent, we are inviting God to do the talking and not us.   It is a powerful form of prayer.  It is,  by and large,  the type of prayer that has so greatly enriched my relationship with Him. How can I hear Him if I am doing all the talking.  I really want to know what He has for me.  What He has to say to me.  And if I face the truth, what I have to say in any matter doesn’t work or matter or interest me.  Really.

He spent years in communication with other religious leaders and finally was able to participate in an interfaith conference between Catholic and non-Christian leaders in Bangkok in 1968.  He spoke at the conference, went back to his hotel to rest up and was electrocuted stepping out of  the shower and died at the age of 53.  Controversial even in death.    There are numerous books written by him that are wonderful, inspiring, and educational as well as an autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, which is also a great read.

Apples and Thomas Merton are both food for the soul.

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

• Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”

God bless,

Karen

 

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Liberalism. Conservatism. Liberation.

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For as many people there are out there, I am fairly certain that there are that many definitions for liberalism and conservatism.  Just as I am sure faith has as many definitions.     I don’t think about either one often.  I know what my value and belief system is and I think that is all I need to know.

Last weekend , we were out with friends for dinner.  And a great one it was.  The other Mrs. and I were talking deeply profound matters while the Mr.’s were talking about…hmmm….. I don’t know.   She asked me if  I thought I was a conservative Catholic.   I said yes.   She disagreed.  She thought I must be liberal because I am not  judgmental  of the people who have another value or belief system than I.  Then,  I began wondering what the heck.    We interrupted the probably not so deeply profound conversation of the men and I asked Pops if he thought I was liberal or conservative,  thinking I may be off base and don’t know what I am.  Like I said, I don’t think about it often.  He said that I am most definitely conservative.  That’s what I thought.  You got it.  I am blond alright.

I do not share my political views often since it would often come across as me vs. you.  Or me good, you bad.  Or me smart, you not.  In today’s atmosphere,  I do not mean to participate in division tactics.   I will not begin here either.  But it seems to me that we,  as a culture,  are more interested in judging each other rather than respecting our differences in our values and beliefs.

I have been all gobbly gooked since this conversation.   I pose a few questions out into the thin air.

Am I wrong if I value something that you don’t?  Or vice versa?  Should I be chastised?

Is it my job to judge your values and beliefs? Or your job to judge mine?

Am I NOT doing my job if I  don’t make a judgement?

Is it even important to form an opinion on every livin’ thing?  Maybe let one slip by unnoticed.

Does judging cause separation?  Division?

Because I feel strongly about something and I don’t talk about it,  does it mean I really don’t feel strongly?

If I don’t speak out my values, am I considered tolerant of anything?

Is it enough to live out my values and beliefs?  Does that speak louder than loud words?

 Is judging each other too big a job for any one of us?

It is all very curious to me.  I believe you think one way and I think another,  but what now?  Nothing now.  That’s it.

Enough on liberalism and conservatism.

Liberation.

We have lived in this house 2 years.  The builder put a door hitch on the inside of the closet.  Because of the door hitch, I have not been able to open my underwear drawer more than three or four inches for two years.

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No kidding.  Who knows what is in that drawer?  if I can’t reach it in the narrow opening, it doesn’t get reached.

UNTIL TODAY….

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I took off the hitch.  Excuse me, I should be saying latch.  I took off the latch.  Or hitch.  My underwears drawer is open.  After two years.    I have been LIBERATED.

That is LIBERATION, baby.  That IS liberation.  Yeah.  That is li……………..

God bless,

Karen

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Jesus Christ is Risen Today….

…..at our farm.

Some of you may know that Pops and I have felt that along with this here farm came a responsibility to glorify God.  We felt it when we bought the property and have taken it very seriously.  We want to share this property with others, that they may also come and be in nature and use the land for renewal, refreshment and relaxation.  Our idea is to provide others with a place to retreat whether it be a formal, facilitated retreat, a meeting place for the good of others, or simply a place for families and friends to gather to renew their spirit with each other.

Phase I  was to get us here and up and running.  We have done that.  Phase II  is under way and thankfully is a whole lot less back-breaking….. but emotionally?  The most exciting.  When we bought the property we chose (or I think rather, He chose) a spot for our outdoor chapel.  A place where one can go and pray.  Lay down their sorrows.  Lift up their thanks.  And praise His Holy Name.  The chapel will consist of a crucifix and a stone wall that you can belly up to and pray.

We began last year by making a clay model of the corpus and cut wood from our beloved front yard trees that died.

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I took the model up to Indianapolis this Spring to have it cast in bronze at a foundry who work with artists.  Was a totally cool place.   Almost made me want to change mediums.

This week we put it all together and to the chapel area it went.   The thought of having a place to worship on our property tickles me to no end.  Maybe I can take my cot up there and have a sleep over.

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Helper

Helper

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We packed our tools into our gator when through and turned around to see this stunning sight.

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The light at the base of the tree BLEW our mind.  Thank you, God, for accepting our invitation.  Pops and I were dumbstruck.

Phase III is a cabin for da people.  God will provide when He thinks we are ready to handle it.  My heart has been feeling a tickly sensation in the past few weeks.  I wonder if it means we are ready.  Or maybe He was readying me for today’s miracle.

God bless,

Karen

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Empty Wagons Rattle The Loudest

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What?

A friend quoted this old saying on Facebook a few days ago.   I have never heard this before and for some unknown reason I couldn’t let it go. It struck a chord in my pea brain .  When things rattle for a while in my head, there is usually a reason.   

I looked it up and some of the definitions for this witty saying are:

The least intelligent of us are the loudest.  

One who uses many words to make up for the lack of substance.  

I even  came across the quote:   “A loaded wagon makes no noise.”      It is to mean people with real money don’t talk about it.  Huh?

Who makes this stuff up?

I didn’t grow up in a family that used witty old-time sayings.  I’m a little dim in this department.  But they are fun.  Especially if we can make up our own definitions.

Before I had a chance to look up the meaning,  I had made my own mind up.

Perspective is everything, isn’t it?  Experience is everything, isn’t it?  And really, what is reality?  Is it a concrete thing?  My reality surely isn’t the same as yours.  Sometimes I even question whether my siblings grew up in the same house as I did.   Their reality is not the same as mine.  Mine is not the same as theirs.

Oops.  Sorry.  Getting off track.  Get back on the wagon, girl.

My interpretation comes from my experience.  For much of my life my heart  felt empty.   And since I am very symbolic and use symbols in my art a lot, I saw an empty wagon as an empty heart.   In my art,  I use  boats and vessels to represent people.  They speak holders of our souls.  Wagons …not too different than boats and vessels.

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Okay……So I got my empty wagon.

Rattle the loudest.  Have you ever seen a child (of course,  you have) that makes a lot of racket because he isn’t getting attention?  A child that has been abused or neglected or has a sad heart that is rebellious in order to make himself  be heard?  The class clown in school desperate for attention?  The guy with the lamp shade on his head?

And to the other extreme, the people who lash out hurting and/or killing people?  Their cage is rattled, so they need to rattle everyone else’s cage.

Or an adult that doesn’t know how to express the wounds they feel  or dont know how to go  about healing those wounds so  it is manifested through loud, rattling anger?

It wasn’t too far in the distant past that I felt like I was an “empty wagon rattling the loudest”.  My heart hurt and I wanted people to know it.  I wanted ME to know it.  But I didn’t know how.   There was no peace in that wagon.  It’s like a baby crying for her bottle and can’t ask kindly because she doesn’t know how to speak.  So it all comes out ugly and creaky.  And cranky.

How do we heal from our wounds so that we can fill our empty wagons with a calm and peace?  For me?  I had to  admit to myself that I hurt and ask God to help me heal.  He is very clever.  He uses many people in my world to help in that process.  I just have to be open  and accepting of  that help  and be willing to do what I am told.

At all costs.

Prayer.  Prayer and more prayer.   It is a miraculous journey to see the hurts dissolve and be replaced with strength, hope and joy.  I think for many, many years I was not even cognizant that my wagon was empty.  But the clanking in my ear grew stronger and stronger.  It could not be ignored any longer.

My wagon aint full everyday, let me tell you. There is some clankin’ around here and there.   But it hasn’t been buck empty for a long time now.   It gets easier to  notice when I am rattling louder and louder and I load up the wagon with soft fluffy pillows.  It is work, but anything worth doing is work, right?

I think I like that old saying,

Empty wagons rattle the loudest.

God bless,

Karen

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Wedding Bell Blues?

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I can only blog from my perspective and this girl has been in a state of trauma this past week.  They say there is always a “let down”  for all involved in the planning of a wedding.  I can say my let down began when we exited the church last Saturday to a down pour of 3 inches of rain in an hour.  I know you’ve all been there.  You’ve planned an event and had a vision of how it would play out.  I had visions of Lori’s cookies and fancy cupcakes dancing in my head.  Moonlight dancing under the beautiful lighted canopy constructed from saplings  by our son’s now father-in-law.  Etceteraaaa.  Etceteraaaa.  You name it.  We had it figured out.

SOO many beautiful flowers put together very thoughtfully by sisters.

SOO many beautiful flowers put together very thoughtfully by sisters.

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The ceremony was spectacular. I felt a peace and calm from the whole congregation.  I could have sat there the entire day.  THEN…….

We arrived at our house where the reception was to be held.

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It wasn’t a bad deal if you didn’t mind swimming with moles, voles, snakes and near extinct turtles.

Oh, and adding the wet/dry vac activity to the agenda  so  all the people could suck  the water and mud out of their cars.

Every vision and plan was thrown by the wayside in a matter of 30 minutes.   In my head, I just wanted to go to bed and hide from what my eyes were looking at.

The great thing was that I didn’t meet a person all  day that did not have a great sense of humor and many thought it only added to the festive atmosphere.  “Really?”  I kept saying.  One gal came up and said, “I LOVE rain at weddings.  It means that God is washing over the couple with many blessings!”  That quote was my life-preserver that day.  No pun intended.

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The bride and groom, along with all of their friends, had a ball.  I think they were a little dumbstruck, as we were,  but I think age was on their side considering it has taken me a week to stop staring out the window paralyzed.

I had to bat myself on the head midweek finally.   I was so fixated on all the wasn’t and should have been.   What about the mountain of blessings that took place?  What about the killer ceremony that took place that united my son to Emily forever.  They are now one.  What about the fact that Eric and Emily’s faith in God is growing?  What about the weekend of huge fun (and challenge) with our new in-laws that are just awesome?  They came three days early and worked their tails off with us and stayed three days after and worked their tails off.   What about all the people who were here that obviously care so much for us?  What about all the people, many of whom I do not know, that pitched in and helped out when they saw we so desperately needed their help that day?  That blew my mind.

I was working in my studio yesterday when I felt God speak to me.  I love when that happens.  Sometimes it is clear and wonderful.  (wonderful doesn’t mean warm and cozy.  Many times it is “oh no” wonderful.  It’s wonderful cuz I actually hear  when He is speaking)  He said, “What makes you think that what you had planned was what was supposed to happen? What makes you think it was the right thing?”  Ouch.  But, you know what?  It was a relief to hear that.  Took the pressure off.     So I said back, ” Yeah.  What made me think?  Forgit that, man.”


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God bless,

Karen

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Dreams. I Have Dreams……

When I’m awake.  When I’m asleep.  -Brandi Carlile.

Her Dream song has been in my head for a week now.

I looked on my iTunes to see how many songs I have in my library that are about dreams.  22 songs are about dreams.

Since I have a hard time sleeping like I used to,  my dreams are somewhat limited to when I am awake.  But, boy, do I have dreams.

I find it fascinating that we have been given a mind to dream. When asleep, we can live a whole different life than our reality. That may be a bad or good thing.  Calgon, take me away.   But awake,  we are given a gift of hope and dreams and if we have faith,  we can sometimes see it become a reality to enjoy.

I haven’t always had faith.  That doesn’t mean that I did not progress or get things done.  I did.   But when I didn’t have faith or belief that my God was interested in teaming with me in my hopes and dreams, it was more like an existence.  Moving through the motions.  A complacency.   A settling for a status quo.  A I’m-not-going-to take-risks and leaps-to grow attitude.

My motto is “If there is a will, there is a way”.  It always has been.  Physically, I have been able to accomplish most of what I set my mind to.  But in the past 15 years it has been vastly different.  DSCN0170

Ladders have found themselves in many of my paintings.  At one point in a state of depression, I decided that my ladders indicated descension.  Sinking.  But the greater my faith grew, the more I realized that my ladders symbolized ascension.  Reaching above my capacity to receive and then to achieve my dreams and hopes.  I came to the realization that in order to grasp my dreams I needed help from above.  Once I realized that, man oh man, my dreams and hopes came alive.

I be climbing ladders all day.   I get a dream in my head.  Sometimes they are pretty big dreams.  Like this here farm.  I run up the ladder.

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Talk to God about my dream.  He asks, “What does this have to do with Me?  How will this expand your love for Me?   What are your true motives? How will this help others grow to love Me?”   I answer Him as I think I know the answer or I say “Hmmmm, I don’t know” and run back down my ladder.    I have found that if  my will is in line with His will, and I am willing to go the extra mile to make them come true, there is no other feeling like it.  Explosion of joy.

I think that is the difference between before when I didn’t have  faith and after.  Before, I would have a dream, make it happen and it was checked off my list.  It didn’t bring that explosion of joy that impregnates all aspects of my life.   That continues to feed and breathe.  Yep.

Once I get  permission from above, which is the biggest detail, I set out to get ‘er done.   I can see the dream a reality in my head.  It then becomes a matter of patience, patience, patience.   Reaching for the stars takes time, calculated effort and  a fierce drive.  Lots of dialogue with my team partners.   And because God is on the team He will move mountains to make it happen.  It truly is a wonderful collaboration.  I am forever grateful to have invited Him to be on my team and that He is my biggest  supporter.

Dreams. ………I have dreams.

God bless,

Karen

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