This Morning, I Do!


The cardinal pair which is faithful to choose nesting sites in our garden is a consistent source of delight for me.  Their song draws me from my own nest with pillow and lamp, put down my book,  walk barefoot on the cool wet stones of today’s path.  I am called to pay attention, to  have my heart pierced as the sun rises, to love this world and to cherish this life, to exclaim of the dearness given to me new every day.  I love Mary Oliver’s poem that prompts these words for me.


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?
~ Mary Oliver, “Peonies” from New And Selected Poems


006Advent is a season of anticipation, of expecting, of waiting for birth.  My first response to the noun expectancy points to waiting in anticipation of important creation and change. I am reminded of my pregnancies – the anxious wondering of confirmation followed by wonder, amazement, and yearning for birth, then holding my sons to my heart.

Then, my grandchildren have been welcomed with joy in planning, preparing, making room!  For each of our granddaughters, I have begun writing a letter as soon as I heard the announcement of their conception.  I write that letter during our time waiting for them and give it to their parents when they are born to be kept until they are ready to keep it themselves.  I am journaling right now to the girl child who will come into our arms in the Spring. She is already in my heart.

Advent is like that journal for me – an expression of unconditional love and longing, a looking forward to the promise of a coming that will forever change our lives.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you for reading and commenting on Stones and Feathers!  I enjoy sharing these images and thoughts with you, and am looking forward to “blessing the space between us” in 2013.  (Phrase from the title of John O’Donahue’s book, which I hope you will include in your reading list this year)


It’s a Wonderful Life

November 14, 2012, my 72nd birthday.

I have made it my custom for years now to give myself birthday gifts which no one else can give me.  I cherish the hugs and surprises from my husband and children, love every phone call and email, and smile all over with my granddaughters’  “Happy Birthday, Granmary!”  But no matter how else I spend my time having a happy day, I give myself music – this is the time when I begin playing my favorite Christmas albums, beginning with James Galway’s Christmas Carol and going on to thrill to an English Handbell Choir, Renaissance pieces by the Tallis Scholars, Handel’s Messiah, and John Denver’s Muppet Christmas, which was the one my little boys loved to listen to when they decorated the Christmas tree.  It still makes them laugh and we still play it when the tree is staggering to stand up and be dressed.  but I also play Paul Hillyer’s Home to Thanksgiving.  And in the last couple of years I have added a gift to myself.  I write a list to go along with Hillyer’s music.  This is a list of sacred ordinary things from throughout my year and is a way for me to move toward the celebration of Thanksgiving in our family, which also is the springboard for Advent.  Since I keep a gratitude journal where I record 5 things I am grateful for each morning, I simply make my birthday list from that journal, choosing 2 or 3 entries for each month in the past year.  Just remembering and writing these things is a reminder of hope and joy. What a gift!


In my 72nd year, these are things for which I give thanks:

greens from our garden on the table with peas and cornbread

time to curl up with a book

walking around the lake on a clear, cold day

pain management for Joe

silent room, dark except for Christmas tree lights

Christ, who came, is come, and will come

warming my aching fingers on my coffee cup

my son taking down the Christmas tree and making our dinner

safety during a storm

winter sunshine after the winds

puttering and pruning in the garden

rainbows on the floor from the prism in leaded glass at our front door

the buttery taste of winter squash

memories of babies and boys

my husband’s gentle spirit

morning quiet time

13 bean soup

settling, being settled

deep colors of roses blooming in January

mockingbird singing on top of our rose arbor

“hope is that thing with feathers that perches on the soul and sings….”

Sabbath heart

a perfectly timed call from a dear friend

hoping in, not for

the poetry of Luci Shaw

my nursing education and experience

books on hold at the library

planting Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato seeds

quiet – no rushing to fill with noise

still – no rushing to “do”

May I Have a Word With You?

When I am writing, I roll words around in my mind like I am tasting something. Reading a word, speaking a word,hearing a word, or writing a word may be as breathtaking as holding a lovely piece of glass to the light. As a mother, I delighted in a baby’s first word. The first word a child reads for himself brings a sense of accomplishment for him and encouragement from others. Of course, we find meaning as we begin to string words together in thoughts and sentences, and the words used in the craft of story telling are amazing tools, but a single word when considered alone can be a source of amazement.

My husband, Joe, and I  had the same  English teacher in high school.  Mr. Everett  loved the word murmur . A musical friend’s favorite word is alleluia. I love the words dappled and  candlelight. Author and world traveler Francis Mayes says that two of her favorite words are linked together: “departure” and “time”. Poet Molly Peacock says she first fell in love with the word joy because it had a circle inside!

I think I fell in love with poetry because I love tasting the words and looking at them through the light.
I think Gerard Manley Hopkins may have felt that way, too.

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things—                                                                                     
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spáre, strange;
Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:

Práise hím.