• evansph2

Writer Austin Kleon says that his recommendation about making New Year’s resolutions is to take very tiny bites. He recommends choosing one small thing that you want to develop a habit around; Drawing, writing, meditating, walking or whatever it is that you desire to have more of in your life. Then make a very small commitment that will be easy to follow through on EVERY DAY. For instance, you might choose to write one haiku every day, or draw one doodle or one coffee cup-sized mandala in your notebook, or write one page or one paragraph in your journal, or meditate for 5 minutes, or read one poem, copy one quote. The trick he says is to buy a little calendar and to give yourself a big X each day when you complete your goal. Your ongoing task is not to break the chain of Xs. Meaning that you complete the tiny step EVERY SINGLE DAY. That’s why it’s important for the goal to be tiny and doable. At the end of the year you will have 365 pages in your journal or doodles in your art-book or walks that you took or new poems you discovered or quotes you've copied, or haikus you wrote or photographs you took or 1825 minutes of meditating .

Of course, you can always do more than your goal – you can write three pages or write an entire poem, or make a whole drawing or meditate for 20 minutes. But, if you promise yourself that you will do the one tiny goal, you’re more likely to create the habit. I am debating about which tiny task to choose for myself beginning Jan. 1. I’ve already got a small calendar that I anticipate putting the Xs in!

Or, maybe like the poet May Sarton, you will choose to find 5 minutes of silence each day.

New Year’s Resolve

The time has come

To stop allowing the clutter

to clutter my mind

like dirty snow,

shove it off and find

clear time, clear water.

Time for a change,

Let silence in like a cat

Who has sat at my door

Neither wild nor strange

Hoping for food from my store

And shivering on the mat.

Let silence in.

She will rarely mew,

She will sleep on my bed

And all I have ever been

Either false or true

Will live again in my head.

For it is now or not

As old age silts the stream,

To shove away the clutter,

To untie every knot,

To take the time to dream,

to come back to still water.

by May Sarton

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  • evansph2

I’ve been casing about for a holiday topic for this blog – and coming up empty with my own

thoughts. So, here is a story from the author GK Chesterton which I found in a wonderful book “Spiritual Literacy. Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life” by Frederick and Mary Ann Brussat.

Chesterton is telling a story about how he learned the truth about Santa Claus as a child – and how he has come to think of it now as an adult.

“…. What we believed was that a certain benevolent (being) did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea. Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void. Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.”

May your stocking be filled generously and may you remain grateful for all that comes to you from benevolent invisible sources. Here are a few of my own words about this holiday season;

I stand like an island

in the stream of Christmases

that scroll on the screen of my mind.

I am the child who waits for Santa,

the teen who is too cool for it all,

the new mother who wants everything to be perfect,

the mother who watches the kids leave home,

The one who cries every Christmas eve

as the candles are lit one by one at church,

the one who welcomes new faces around the table,

and who misses the ones who are no longer there

but whose presence is palpable..

Now presents for Grandchildren lie under the small artificial tree.

I stare at the tree with ornaments tokening

this passage of time;

macaroni glued on a cardboard tree painted silver,’

“baby’s first ornament, ornaments made by a dear friend

over many years, photos of kids on Santa’s lap,

an isinglass candleholder from my Grandparent’s tree,

ornaments bought on several vacations.

All hang on the string of lighted memory

under the shiny star that has cast

such good luck on us all.

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  • evansph2

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

I recently was shown a photo of this sculpture, “Expansion, Half Life” by sculptor Page Bradley. I am so taken by the beauty of it and also the metaphor. About the work, the sculptor says.

"From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a container already built for us to fit inside: A social security number, a gender, a race, a profession or an I.Q. I ponder if we are more defined by the container we are in, rather than what we are inside. Would we recognize ourselves if we could expand beyond our bodies? Would we still be able to exist if we were authentically 'un-contained'?

The sculpture immediately made me think of Leonard Cohen’s famous lyric about the cracks being how the light gets into us. But, this sculpture seems to be about the opposite idea -- that our cracks are how our inner light gets out into the world. Do you have an inner light? How do you let it get out into the world? How are you defined by the container of your body, your gender, your psychology?

Apparently, the sculptor felt she had pushed the limits of sculpting the human figure and decided she wanted to break the rules wide open. She carefully made a wax sculpture and when it hardened, she dropped it forcefully onto concrete – whereupon it broke into several pieces. She didn’t have a plan about what to do next. Eventually, she had each piece cast into bronze and reassembled the pieces leaving all the crack lines and then had electric lights installed inside the piece. ~~. from an article, "The riveting story behind the striking sculpture" by Alice Yoo in MyModernMet.com

It has a tremendous beauty – and also is a beautiful metaphor. It is something like the Japanese Kingtsu where they repair cracked teacups by putting gold into the cracks to highlight them. But here, the artist leaves the cracks and allows light to emanate from them. When I feel broken into pieces, I want to remember this sculpture and the marvelous creativity Page Bradley shows us. Not to repair our cracks – but to let our inner light shine out through them.

Here is an excerpt from a poem along the same lines by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer;

The Way It Is – Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Over and over we break

open, we break and

we break and we open.

For a while, we try to fix

the vessel, as if

to be broken is bad.

As if with glue and tape

and a steady hand we

might bring things to perfect

again. As if they were ever

perfect. As if to be broken is not

also perfect. As if to be open

is not the path toward joy.

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