Overnight sidewalk art, ice and leaf, Lindon, Utah, January 2020

There is something very sweet about this photo. In many ways, it is uneventful and perfectly ordinary. It’s on the sidewalk near my home, next to the garbage cans, and on the way to the carpark. It’s what remains from an overnight freeze — nothing designed by me or other human. Yet I was immediately taken by a certain beauty in this. In this frozen pattern that feels like it has some design to it. I don’t know the science of how this moisture coheres or freezes into this pattern. It just felt like there was something kind in the experience of seeing it. I stopped. Got my phone out. Harvested a few photographs.

Small kindnesses are things I’ve been thinking about lately. The ones that come from other people or the ones that I offer to others. Or the ones that come from nature like the momentary pattern that I caught in photo, that evoke a momentary palpability and relationship with beauty. In part, I’m thinking about kindness because a friend recently shared this passage from Danusha Lameris. It was included in a hand-mailed, and hand-written card, that I was delighted to receive.

Small Kindesses

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you” when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying. And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass. We have so little of each, now. So far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

For inspiration, and perhaps some beauty.

Only Momentary

Last week it snowed where I was. Quite heavily overnight. Perhaps four inches. Some of which accumulated on the trees, dressing them in a way that I find spectacularly beautiful. I felt a certain awe that reminded me of much childhood and young adult snow from my earlier life in Canada. Last week, by nightfall, most of the snow on the trees in the picture above had melted away, kissed by the sun. That beauty wasn’t meant to be permanent, though I suppose the melting away is a kind of beauty too.

Learning about the ways that life experience is momentary is significant for many of us. In its richest ways, this learning is about a non-permanence. Things change. Relationships. Families. Communities. Emotions. Orientations. Because it’s what is meant to happen. We appear as creatures of permanence, individually and in groups. Yet we are creatures changing all of the time, including the change that is regenerating skin cells to render us with “new skin” every 27 days.

I have known some of these times of non-permanence as loss. I have known some of these as change and evolution. I have not known some of these times at all, unaware — like 27 days of regenerated and sloughed skin.

A while back, thinking of such things, I wrote the poem below. I was trying to feel and understand a certain kind of seduction in the “forever” part of things. I was noticing how I wanted to feel the seduction for comfort, yet at the same time, knowing from a deeper place, that life and the contexts in which we live are much more momentary.

Enjoy. And to welcome some reflection on “momentaryness.”


Only Momentary

This place
is only a stopping ground,
attractive for its illusion
of permanence
and stability.

This place
is most lasting
in the awareness
that it is
only momentary.

Pray For Peace (Thank you Shawna LeMay and Ellen Bass)

Spring has sprung where I live. Crocus have come and gone. Daffodils are plentiful. The first tulips have appeared. Grass is greening. Last year’s lettuce and kale are boldly returning. Trees are flowering, like this one in my front yard. These blossoms are abundant now — pinks and whites waking to the season.

I can find in me the dimension that is seeking waking. And synergy of beauty.

Every now and then I peek into Shawna LeMay’s site and blog, Transactions With Beauty. I quite love her writing. I quite love her thinking. I adore her photos — just noticeably good shots of flowers that move me instantly.

Recently Shawna posted a poem by Ellen Bass, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. The poem is called, Pray For Peace. I love it’s breadth. I love it’s earthiness. I love it’s invitation to the simple and the involved.


Waking. Beauty. Prayers. Peace.


Pray for Peace

by Ellen Bass

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.

If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.





Nothing Other Than The Moment

I don’t know what these flowers are called. I’m just called to them, a few days ago on a morning walk, particularly with backgdrop of blue sky.

Beauty remains a medium for me. It’s what I go to, somewhat knowingly, to ground myself when complexity feels intense.

There’s no grand lesson in it for me. Just the feeling of a moment in beauty, sometimes just two breaths worth, that requires nothing other than the moment.