Not in Vain

Photo: Tina Breen
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

~ Emily Dickinson

Several years ago, we found a robin’s egg in our vegetable garden and to our surprise (dismay) discovered a tiny beak slowly sawing away at its beautiful blue/green shell. After countless phone calls and hours of searching for a nest to return the egg to, we found an organization that was willing to take this poor creature in. Wing & a Prayer was an organization run by Janice and Michael Enright in Bracebridge, Ontario. At any given time, the Enrights cared for hundreds of birds. These birds, that would have otherwise perished, were lovingly nurtured and eventually released back into the wild. (Regrettably, I cannot find their organization online anymore.) Just to give you an indication of their efforts though, for several weeks a robin hatchling requires nourishment every 15 minutes during daylight hours!

We never knew the fate of our little robin. I like to imagine though that perhaps one of the robins that visits us each spring is related to the one we saved. The story warms me too, thinking of my husband making the urgent 140 km trip to Bracebridge in the hopes of saving one precious bird.

Zen Keyboard

Photo: Patricia Moleirinho

If you want to make your own Zen Keyboard you will need an old keyboard (please remember to unplug it!), potting soil, and shade-tolerant grass seed. Place the keyboard in a window and mist with water once a day.

Hey Jazz Man

My first real job was store manager of an amazing book shop filled to the brim with high-quality used and rare books. Atmosphere was important to the owner and he preferred that we listen to classical music on the sound system. Often, when the owner left for the day, I would tune in to the jazz station, which was still acceptable to him. I really wanted to like jazz (it’s cool to listen to jazz, right?). However, I would soon become weary of it. The sound of drum brushes and cymbals for too long can drive anyone mad! Jazz fanI guess you would sayI am not. Occasionally, though, I come across a song from this genre that truly moves me. 

On Christmas Eve, my ex-monk friend, Alan, posted “Heather” by Billy Cobham on his facebook page. I was mesmerized. Alan posted these words with the song. And, really, could he have posted a more enticing description?

“Very late at night. Quietly listening to music. This track appears out of the ether. Gently, softly, close... and closer, the slowest ‘slow dance’ it’s possible to have. An experience that only two souls on this earth will ever know about and that’s how it will stay forever.”

Cherry Blossom Madness

Spring is my favourite season and it seems fitting that I pulled this card last night from the Tree Magick oracle card deck. The card is #22 The Cherry Tree (Vulnerability) and reads, “Every Spring is a new beginning, bearing a multitude of budding possibilities.”

I read a lot of Zen poetry and I’m in love with it. It’s filled with passion and longing, insight and wisdom. Here’s a Zen poem entitled “Spring Dreams”:

In spring, I dream through dawn,
but hear birds everywhere, singing.

O voice of all-night wind and rain,
do you count the petals that are falling?

~ Meng Hao-Jan (689–740)

Below are two short poems of my own. I dedicate them to my Korean friend, and kindred spirit, Tia (Hee) who loves trees as much as I do.
I stand beneath the moon
The trees are my companions.
I listen with my heart
For footsteps that never come.
(April 2010)

It must be beautiful to be a tree;
arms stretched heavenward
so strong, vulnerable, and free.
(Spring 2009)

If you would like me to draw a tree card for you, let me know. I would be happy to. Please indicate if you have a specific question in mind.

May the beauty of springtime lure you from your slumber. May your heart soften like delicate tree blossoms and love fill every cell of your being.

Boundless Bliss

As a birthday gift, I received last minute tickets to see Bruce Cockburn at Massey Hall in Toronto. It takes a lot to get me into the city these days, but Bruce did not disappoint. He performed with Jenny Scheinman who played the violin like I’ve never seen it played before (at times, like a guitar!).

My favourite songs of the evening were “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” and the instrumental piece “Ancestors” from Bruce’s latest album Small Source of Comfort. When I heard “Ancestors” I think I temporarily left my body and swirled around the majestic ceiling of Massey Hall in acoustic bliss.

I couldn’t find a decent video that did any justice to hearing “Ancestors” performed live so I’ve included “Boundless,” which was shot from the right Balcony. We were sitting on the same side in the Gallery where the seats are uncomfortable and we could hardly see anything. I don’t regret going though. It was an enchanting night and not one I’ll soon forget.

“Boundless” by Bruce Cockburn, Small Source of Comfort, 2011.
The howling wind, it sings to me
the sky looks troubled but I feel free
visions and feeling and ink on my hands
you can travel forever and never land.

(partial lyrics)

Tranquil Maria

I’m starting this off with “Tranquility” by the Australian band The Church. Someone once told me that this song reminded him of me. I was flattered because I had been working at opening my heart and bringing peace to all aspects of my life. It was confirmation of my efforts and the lyrics truly resonated with me.

The song, in my mind, is about leaving convention behind and connecting to our true, divine nature. Tranquility is a place where we are free to be ourselvessoaking up all the love and natural beauty that this amazing planet has to offer. For me, this would be on the beach in Maui or some other lightly populated Hawaiian island. But, I suppose Tranquility could be anywhere that is free from the trappings of societal restraints.

“Tranquility” by The Church, Hologram of Baal, 1998.

I heard about Maria, she hated the rat race
And she escaped to a beautiful place
Birds of neo-paradise groove in the trees
The name of her town is Tranquility

Protected by her mantra
Following the formula
In the sun thy will be done
And chasing her rainbows
Talking with her animals
Who say “You see, it’s Tranquility”

Under shifting dimensions horizon returns
Smoke in the distance as Babylon burns
Summer in the river scattering the net
And long to remember that it hasn’t happened yet

Protected by her mantra
Following the orchestra
In the sun thy will be done
Chasing her rainbows
Talking with her animals
Who say “You see, it’s Tranquility”

Protected by her mantra
Following the nebula
In the sun thy will be done
Chasing her rainbows
Talking with her animals
Who say “You see, it’s Tranquility”

Boys I’ve had enough
There’s no more smooth just rough
Don’t go looking for me
Leave me in Tranquility