Peace for your Path...

"peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." (unknown)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Morning

I was reminded of this beautiful song last night during church services. Though we didn't sing it right then, I hurried to copy down the words from the hymnal. I heard the song years ago on one of my favorite Christmas albums by Shawn Colvin. Her version is slightly different.

I had no idea that one of my favorite poets wrote the original lyrics or that it was even really a hymn. 
I just love it....

Here are both versions for you as an early Christmas morning gift. Have a most blessed day, everyone. 

Love, Robin

Words: Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894), before 1886

Music: "Garton," traditional Irish melody
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I hesitate to write this because I really don't have the words formed anywhere near just the way I'd like. But I am getting something like that pounding, bursting, hot feeling in my chest that happens occasionally when I find myself sitting in a large gathering of people and suddenly feel there is something pressing I need to say out loud. The incredibly frightening part of getting such a feeling (like that and like this) is that I rarely ever have a clue what I will actually be saying out loud until after I open my mouth. For a person (like me) who is deathly afraid of public speaking, this fairly frequent occurrence can be more than a little unsettling.

But it's been many hours since the Solitude Retreat this past Saturday morning when I sat silently on a bench  staring at my own feet and outward at the feet of Mary, and this suggestion of a thought is now rambling around and around in my brain so loudly now that no matter how hard I try to distract myself, I only think it will get louder until I finally stop, submit and write it out.

(This is how things seem to go for me. Big stuff sticks and won't turn me loose. I simply have to write it out.)

Maybe this suggestion is sort of radical. Or maybe you have thought about this idea yourself for a long time and to you it makes perfect sense (if so, please let me know). Because I don't know (and hopefully I don't have to understand it, but merely name it). For me, this growing awareness began surfacing many years ago, when I finally began stretching awake from the dark and sleepy stupor of myself. Since the moment the alarm went off, my stumbling, morning walk has been equal parts comforting and terrifying in a kind of "it all seems so simple and so incredibly impossible" type of way.

But anyway, here goes...

What if the Second Advent we are preparing for during this Christmas Season of Expectation is less of an external event than it is an internal one? What if those of us who have accepted Jesus into our hearts are now being called to a deeper awareness of the physical and figurative in-dwelling of Christ? What if the Kingdom of God is so readily "at hand" that it exists right this very moment, right inside our very own hearts, and that we are walking around not even aware of it? What if, like Mary, we are each - man, woman and child alike - preparing ourselves for a great and sacred Birth that is impossible to fully comprehend and also impossible to delay? What if this "Birthing" is really a "Submitting" to the Christ who has always been Alive and Dwelling in our hearts/minds/souls from our very first breath on earth? And, what IF Christ's heavenly entry back into our broken, human world is intended and necessary and required to start in the womb of our own broken human lives and bodies? What if this miracle can only happen by way of the LOVE we commit to share with one another and  ALL THE OTHERS  through the surrender of the gift of our lives?

I hope this was what I was supposed to say out loud to whoever might read this today. Thanks for listening.

Peace for your Path,

Sunday, December 11, 2011

sing a little song...

We'll have some very special young labyrinth walkers with us this week at Good Shepherd for just a little bit. Bring your singing voices along :) 
(This Thursday December 15th from 10am to 12pm)

The Friendly Beasts

Jesus, our Brother, strong and good,

Was humbly born in a stable rude,

And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus, our Brother, strong and good.

“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried His mother uphill and down,
I carried His mother to Bethlehem town;
I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

“I,” said the cow, all white and red,
“I gave Him my manger for His bed,
I gave Him hay to pillow His head;
I,” said the cow, all white and red.

“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm,
He wore my coat on Christmas morn;
I,” said the sheep with curly horn.

“I,” said the dove, from the rafters high,
“I cooed Him to sleep that He should not cry,
We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I;
I,” said the dove, from the rafters high.

Thus all the beasts, by some good spell,
In the stable dark were glad to tell
Of the gifts they gave Emmanuel,
The gifts they gave Emmanuel.

See you on the Path!

P.S. If you'd prefer our traditional silent labyrinth walking experience, then please wait and come just a little past 11am. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Third Thursdays on the Labyrinth is coming up next week!

All walkers are welcome to drop by anytime between 10am and 12pm to enjoy an open labyrinth walk on Thursday, December 15th in celebration of Advent.

Visit the Good Shepherd website for directions:

Peace for your Path,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron

“and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” – Ephesians 3: 17-19

A few winters ago, I was sitting on our lanai sipping my morning coffee when the most majestic Great Blue Heron glided past me to land gracefully at the water’s edge. I was immediately overcome by the metaphor of Christ’s own dramatic descent to earth to dwell among us. I trembled with the realization that the mighty Son of God temporarily relinquished his power over the heavens to humbly land on frail human legs so that I might begin to comprehend the true meaning of Love...

Silent Heron Herald glides,
steel-blue wings extend -
on willow-wisp legs.

( I just found this image on this lovely website:

Loving Father, Jesus, Spirit, thank you for the ways you speak deeply into my heart through the mystery of your Creation. Thank you for opening my eyes to the beauty of your natural Love. Amen

Robin Bradley Hansel

(Special thanks to First Pres of NPB for including my poetry and reflection in their Advent Devotional again this year).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent candles and socks-with-sandals

Transition day. I am claiming today as "Transition Day"....

Cool, cloudy Tuesday. Windows thrown open to welcome Winter's blessed breezes. Last year's Advent candles burning brightly to my right to symbolically prepare me for this newest Season of waiting...

Sting's "If On A Winter's Night..." CD is playing on my laptop while I work. Hot coffee in my cup. Fuzzy socks to warm me to my toes. Awaiting word of a new babe to be born tonight - a dear friend's first grandchild. Wow.

Life is very, very, VERY good!

Peace for your Tuesday Path, too.


Monday, November 28, 2011

[Advent Conspiracy] Enter the Story 2011


Let me explain...

Months ago, I started looking into charities committed to helping with the Global Water Crisis and fell in love with the mission of Water.Org. Then at the Casting Crowns concert last weekend all kinds of statistics were being shared about the crisis via World Vision. Last night at church, the Advent video below was shared by the Living Water International organization.

I am a (very) slow learner as additionally two weeks ago I got a very strong message one morning while making plans for our Holiday celebration. Clear, direct and decidely simple - the word that came to me was "water," and I wrote it on the chalkboard in my kitchen. All throughout our busy Thanksgiving time as a family, I looked at the word and gave thanks for the clean water flowing from my sink that I previously had taken for granted so many times.

Yeah - so I think now I am (finally) beginning to get it...WATER.

Water is Life. Water is the most basic physical need of all living creatures. Those of us who have clean water have a moral responsibility to conserve it, to protect it, and most of all, to share the blessing of it by helping EVERYONE in the world to get it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

walking and writing our gratitude

Join us TODAY anytime between 10am and 12pm to walk the labyrinth.
Bring along your gratitude journals....  
The Episcopal Church of The Good Shepherd 

Friday, November 11, 2011


"Lord, bid war's trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace." - Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Honoring all our heroes,
yet dreaming of a world with no reason for war...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


lovely words from Thomas Merton

"It is a strange awakening to find the sky inside you and beneath you and above you and all around you so that your spirit is one with the sky, and all is positive night."

- Thomas Merton 

Friday, November 4, 2011

nice idea Starbucks!

I was finally able to get my very own "Let's Create Jobs for USA" bracelet last night at Starbucks since learning about their initiative early last month on "Morning Joe." For my $5 donation, I received this nifty little red, white and blue wristband with "Indivisible" printed on it's silver bar.

Learn more at Way to go, Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network. Really love your idea...

Monday, October 31, 2011

to our sweet Jack Skellington...'s hoping you are Wellington today. 

Happy Halloween!

P.S. We tried to make you smile.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

magnificent mandalas

It was such a fun night at The Episcopal Church of The Good Shepherd making nature mandalas with new and old friends. Special thanks to Merike Seely for all her preparation (and this great reflection about the evening) and all the lovely and creative GreenSpirits who attended.

Visit our Labyrinth Wellness Facebook page to see the full photo album! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

gratitude to Schola Ministries for their special sharing...

I was so honored this week that Schola Ministries requested a copy of the recording of The Wisdom of the Labyrinth's July 8th, 2010 episode entitled "The Sacred Music and Ministry of GreenFaith Fellow, Sister Kathleen Deignan" to post on their beautiful website under "Conversations." 

Doing this interview was such a blessing to me last summer. The audio recording of it is also shared here in our own blog's sidebar. I hope you enjoy the personal stories of this amazingly soulful individual as much as I have loved listening to them again. Sister Kathleen's work in the world is truly an inspiration to our entire family. 

And her loving friendship is a treasure to my heart...

Monday, October 17, 2011

walk the labyrinth with us this Thursday at The Episcopal Church of The Good Shepherd

We'll be there from 10am to 12pm so please stop by any time to experience The Good Shepherd Labyrinth in its beautiful outdoor setting. The month, we'll learn more about the mission of Green Spirits:


October 26, Wednesday 
Create your own 
Nature Mandala. Quiet your mind and be guided by 
your own creativity. No artistic ability required. All  
materials provided. Free. 6:30-8:00pm in the church 

If you have any questions about upcoming 
events or Earth Stewardship at Good Shepherd, please 
call Merike Seely, the Green Spirits Committee Chairperson in the church office any weekday at 746-4674.

Visit WWW.GOODSHEPONLINE.ORG for more details

start your own chain reaction - learn more about the mission of Rachel's Challenge

Whenever I complain about a problem (see below post about the lyrics of the popular song,"Pumped-up Kicks"), I try learn how to be a part of the solution. Please visit and meet Rachel Scott: 

Take a few moments to learn about her beautiful and too-brief life and read her powerful words...

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I was loving this song when I first heard the band perform it on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. When our son told me he's heard it everywhere, and then asked me what I thought the singer was really talking about, I focused in on listening to the cheerful lyrics. And then my blood went cold...

This article is a good place to start with your own research. Please share and talk to your kids...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Robin's ladder

I was feeling super out of sorts this morning, so I let Lily take me on a walk through the neighborhood. My girl is much more stubborn and strong-willed than me (yes, that is possible), so really I had no choice...

Lily led me right to a rarely visited spot behind the playground that was cool and damp and breezy. I stood for a while, quietly watching a hawk soaring high above us next to one lone, wispy cloud. Then, I stared for a few moments at a magnificent dragonfly darting in and out of the shade just above our heads. 

The brilliant red flowers of a bush caught my eye. I had just moved closer to snap a photo with my phone, when I noticed these palm fronds stacked exactly like stair steps, one right after the other all the way up nearly twenty feet in a spiral around their tree. 

I thought of Jacob's dream ladder in Genesis and realized that right now I feel probably about as unsure as he did when he began his journey to a new land. Although work life is changing in good and exciting and blessed and terrific ways, even "good" can be scary as hell. 

In viewing my leafy ladder, I recall that dark, lonely night when God gave Jacob the vision he needed most. Today, that story of Hope has helped me to begin to shift my own vision out of the worrisome depths of wondering and back upward where it belongs.

Though I'd much prefer to SEE the path ahead of me and exactly where to step next, I do know that Path is most surely there...(somewhere).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"have the courage to follow your heart and intuition..."

my personal, peaceful, and non-political plea

And so it begins...again.

Each time we get close to an election year, they start arriving. The forwarded emails. And each time, feelings are sure to get hurt all around. This year I am doing a bit of  lobbying of my own right from the very start.

So, here goes:

(and oh, dear God, how I pray that my heart will be heard when I ask my friends once more this year)

kindly refrain from sending me any type of political-themed emails from any political viewpoint  
(especially those with any overtly religious slant)

And here is why...

Because I will love you regardless of how you vote. I will. I do not care. I do not want to know who you want to win. I only want to know that you take your voting every bit as seriously as I do. Which, I do take

v-e-r-y  s-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y. 

I hope that you will love me, too. And if not, then I tend to think that is your crisis of faith problem, not mine.

Yes. I know the issues. Trust me. I spend many (many) hours online every day reading and researching.
The issues? I got 'em. Thanks, though.

Yes. I know that many people of my particular faith background tend to vote a certain way. I often tend not to vote that way. And sometimes, I tend to vote that way. You see, I can actually go both ways. I study all the issues. I research all the candidates and then I pray with all my heart, soul, mind and body and then I vote.

Yes. This process works for me. This is how I do it. Thanks again for your concern, but I really, honestly, respectfully, truly, prayerfully and humbly say to you now from my deepest and most loving heart space that
 your advice.

Really, I don't.

But I do love you! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


So, I was just Facebooking and Tweeting away all morning, happily sharing with others about our lovely partner charity for OurGift.Org of The Palm Beaches, and the beautiful community event we attended last night to learn even more about their fantastic mission when suddenly a Truth smacks me right between the eyes. Whack!

And my head is spinning as I sit here trying to remember how it all happened. I'll try to write it out until I understand it a little better. Here goes...

First, I saw a hateful photo on an old friend's profile page that made me catch my breath with disbelief. Then, I saw a quote on another blogger friend's page that made me laugh. Next, I read a new posting on The Charter for Compassion's page and began thinking of the mom who spoke last night at the Parent-Child Center, Inc. event about her young daughter who was bullied so much that all her hair fell out from the stress. And then the handsome teen who spoke of how he was also bullied in school, because, of all things, he had cancer.

The Charter for Compassion is based on The Golden Rule with the whole "Love your neighbor as yourself" idea. Well, maybe, I began to sense that all these mean things are happening through people to others because the people doing, saying, posting, and believing it all DO NOT REALLY LOVE THEMSELVES. They look into the mirror and they hate the person looking back, but they don't even realize that they do. They think they are standing up for their "rights," but it is more that they desperately need to feel they are right and that someone else is wrong. They need to "WIN!" They excuse their actions by telling themselves they are setting a good example by teaching others who aren't "deserving" an important life lesson, but they are instead acting completely out of their own personal fear and miserable self-hatred.

I am referring to the scowling lady behind you in the grocery line, the loud guy at the next table in the restaurant, the arrogant minister, the judgmental news host, the boisterous politician, and - especially - the terrified person looking back at you from the mirror. The violence our children are acting out on one another in our society is being modeled first in own cozy American homes. The blood is on all our hands...

What if the truth is that we really can't stand to look at the One behind our eyes? Could we be the person who is actually unloved, not at the hands of the strangers we call bullies or enemies, but rather by ourselves?

Why are you - why am I - so unlovable? Is it because of some past mistake that I cannot forgive myself for allowing to happen? Or is it a lie someone who also didn't love themselves told me about myself that I believed and made into my reality when it never (ever) was true?

If we are called to love others as we love ourselves, then it seems to me we have quite a bit of work to do. We could begin by understanding the pain within the one person whose bones and flesh and heart and mind we are borrowing and walking around with here on earth. Hating ourselves breeds hatred in others. We can't take the first step toward truly loving our neighbors until we begin to love ourselves. We can't have compassion for other people whose cultures are not our own until we first cultivate a deep passion for what it is we truly believe within our souls. And we surely can't forgive our enemies until we first forgive ourselves.

And that is what (I think) I learned today.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


we make you kindly welcome...

... even ye googly-eyed folks! 

It was a really nice morning. Wearing my sunglasses turned out to be just fine with everyone. They gave all the new members these lovely yellow roses right before the service. I added my son's goofy eyeball glasses to the pic to make me smile once I got them home. I told my mishap story enough this morning to sweet friends that I am finally beginning to be able to laugh about it. Turns out, other people have had similarly klutzy experiences, too. 

This afternoon I am remembering all the many churches in my life's history: my kindergarten/confirmation/marriage church, my husband's growing-up church, our couple-first-beginning-to- grow-together-in-faith/Disciple/bible study/service/UMW/new baby/Companions in Christ/labyrinth/spiritual formation/always our Circle of Friends church, our Florida labyrinth church, and now our newest church home.

Our family is truly blessed with the memories of all our treasured friends we have met along this Spiritual Journey of Many Churches. And I think what I have come to understand is that it maybe matters not so much where you worship, but rather that you do so with humble people that you love who are simply seeking and sharing life together as they attempt to grow in their Faith as well. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

the cruelest month... April as T.S. Eliot reminds me in the first line of The Waste Land.

However, for me, September is historically turning out to be pretty darn crappy.

On Wednesday, I managed to severely scratch my left cornea in a freak accident here in the house that I could likely never recreate in a million, gazillion years (though I will never try).

Essentially, it happened like this:

One hurried and harried and stressed-out "me" not paying attention as we were five minutes from needing to leave for car line + One crazy, over-scheduled morning of routine doctor's appointments + One school backpack on floor + One mom (me again) being super-controlling and deciding to rearrange contents of said backpack for one teenage son who never needed my help to rearrange anything at all in his backpack as it is his backpack (and not mine) + One very sharp and ominous corner of a tall dining room chair lurking right beside the backpack = A very dramatic and depressing morning/afternoon spent at the Eye Institute (via a brief stop at the OBGYN office, but seriously, that is TOTALLY a story for another day - you don't even want to know - and I am only now just able to laugh about it the tiniest bit. "Um, Mrs. Hansel, we all greatly appreciate that you take your annual exam and mammogram so seriously, but actually, Mrs. Hansel, we all really think that you need to go to the ER (or anywhere other than here) just as soon as possible. Yes, right now. Yes, please go. Now. Go.")

An older lady, also a patient, on her way out of the Eye Institute later that morning told us that I was very lucky.

"Do you know how lucky you are, young lady? Do you have any idea?"

She told my husband and me that the very same thing had happened to friend of hers, and they had to take her entire eyeball out. Took it right out, she said. Thanks nice lady. That was a super helpful thing to say to me at that very moment. I will always remember you for your compassionate choice of words and your impeccable sense of timing...

The Good News - my eyesight will most likely eventually be just fine. I am deeply, incredibly grateful beyond words at this news, and I am already better today. Now it just feels like sandpaper rolling around in my eyeball and not like a searing, hot knife anymore. This is very good.

The Bad News - I am a truly lousy, wimpy, whiny, and pitiful patient as those of you know who read all about my journey with my broken ankle at very nearly the same time last September...I can only work at my computer for tiny little bits of time due to my blurry vision which is making me VERY GRUMPY.

I look only slightly better than Rocky did when he pleaded in movie #1 during his fight with Apollo, "Cut me Mick," and tomorrow morning we are finally joining the church we have been visiting for nearly three years. I will be looking very mysterious and "Hollywood" in my dark sunglasses standing up in front of the entire congregation. I suppose people might whisper to each other - "You see that one, yes, that one, the one up there in the dark sunglasses? Boy, she really needs to be here in church. God love her."

And they are exactly right. I do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

remembering a treasured friend

Our Coby who told us goodbye three years ago today...

I love you, my sweet old boy,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

words too beautiful to miss today...

Here is Sister Kathleen's complete blog posting if you'd like to read it. It is a completely incredible account from a person who was there in NYC serving in ministry in the days and weeks immediately following the event. This just arrived in my email box, and I am speechless with its utter beauty...Love, Robin

Saturday, September 10, 2011

a prayer to share for this weekend

Words to the prayer and music both written (and performed) by our treasured friend, Kathleen Deignan, CND of Schola Ministries:

Here is the link:
You can also share this link as an e-card if you wish

To read Sister Kathleen's entire (and simply wonderful) article on Huffington Post, please visit:

Peace for your Path,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Robin's "Spiraling Back to Center" article just published in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine

Sort of an exciting day for me :) 

My latest article, "Spiraling Back to Center" just came out today. It is also available online on pages 15-18 if you'd like to read it via the direct link above. It will remain in the archives on, too.

As always, thanks SO MUCH for all your support,

(And a special thanks to Brian Ferrie, Managing Editor of ADVANCE for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FL Gov. Scott open to Glades drilling

FL Gov. Scott open to Glades drilling

no, No, NO!!!

Completely, utterly, TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE in absolutely EVERY WAY!!!!

life's a HOOT!

My brain is mush as I (once again) try to get it to learn something new...

Tonight? HootSuite.

(But it is pretty darn S-W-E-E-T)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah

I have never once listened to this song without getting goosebumps - not ever.

Monday, August 29, 2011

HOPE six years later - a beautiful soul shares her story

If you have four minutes, please listen to the audio recording of this radio interview I heard this morning. It changed the entire course of my day.

It sparked in me a deep compassion that took me by surprise me and moved me to sobbing tears as I drove our son to school. Hearing Donald's voice and then Colleen's...I just can't put it into words how connected to them I felt. Please share it if you feel it, too.

Don't be embarrassed of your compassion, dear friends. It's OK to love people - especially strangers. The world needs our love and our HOPE as much as we need to share it.

Peace for your Path,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Caregivers Issue of the Veriditas Journal

Please let me know how you like the latest issue of The Spirit of Veriditas, Voices From the Labyrinth.

This is our Spring/Summer 2011 Caregivers Issue

Happy Reading and Peace for your Path,

Saturday, August 20, 2011

walking (OK, maybe RUNNING) in circles for weeks...

In preparation for this last Saturday and Sunday of summer vacation, I have decided to STOP and take a bit of my own advice...

1. Unplug from my computer and phone (right after I finish this post)
2. Take a long, hot shower (since I am still sandy and salty from our morning beach romp with Lily)
3. Breathe
4. Nap
5. Walk the labyrinth (or at least trace the wooden one resting on my coffee table)

Sorry things have been so quiet here on our blog lately. Lots of new, exciting details to work out with the launch of OurGift here in the Palm Beaches while still balancing some last minute summer fun with family. Life is good! Hope yours is too....

See you soon on the Path!


Pilates on the Path: Saturday confessions...

Pilates on the Path: Saturday confessions...: I've been a little busy preparing to launch OurGift.Org here in the Palm Beaches. I have to confess that my Pilates self-practice has suff...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pono on the Path

I absolutely LOVE this idea of living...(Thanks again, Amy, for another wonderful video to share).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

compromise, compassion and common sense

The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling - The Atlantic

Look! OurGift.Org Palm Beach is now on Twitter!

Please Follow!

I REFUSE to give up HOPE!

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." - Proverbs 12:12

"Hope" is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson from A Child's Garden of Poetry : Video : The Poetry Foundation

Here is the link to the video:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers├»»¿ : A Child's Garden of Poetry : Video : The Poetry Foundation

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Emily Dickinson, "'Hope' is the Thing with Feathers" from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson.  Copyright 1945, 1951, 8 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.  Reprinted with the permission of The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Monday, July 18, 2011

musings, manatees and Mystery

I had an experience while in the Keys a few weeks ago that I keep trying to "process". Yesterday, thanks to a Truth I heard my beautiful husband speak through the poetic words of Thomas Merton written in his New Seeds of Contemplation, I am thinking that I now simply need to accept what I saw and what I felt as Mystery...It is all part of "The Cosmic Dance."

Fluidity. It is all about fluidity, I think.

Manatees Are Fluid.

Part dolphin, part cow, part elephant, part walrus, part seal, part dinosaur, part human, part angel, part river, part sea, part you, part me, part we...

The three of us were still on the snorkel boat pulling into dock when the man besides us points to the water and shouts "Manatee!" Immediately, I am on my feet, searching and scanning the water - frantic for a glimpse. My husband sees bubbles right beside the glass bottom boat parked in the slot next to us., but I see nothing.

After seven years here in South Florida, I have only seen one shadowed manatee's silhouette near the beach and the bubbles from another manatee much further out in the ocean. Recently, I saw one swimming several feet from a friend's boat while it was anchored in the Intracoastal Waterway but really just barely. Many other times I have been with people who have spotted them all around me.

Somehow, I think I must just strain too much. I want to see one so desperately that in my striving, I miss them entirely.

In minutes, we are off the snorkel boat and walking up and down the dock scanning the water for bubbles. My husband, son and I look and look for the manatee for many minutes. I could feel how close it was, but I still couldn't see a thing. Suddenly Scott sees the manatee swim under the glass bottom boat and toward us, but again, I see nothing. He and Dylan continue to walk up and down the dock long after I had essentially given up and headed up to the bathhouse. I found myself starting to feel dark and exceedingly grumpy despite a really lovely day on the water as a family...

I walk back to the dock by the kayaks, and they are both still there staring into the water along with some other French tourists. Everyone is looking in all different directions. I quit feeling sorry for myself and get swept up again in hope and join them. Scott sees them first - not one but TWO - swimming directly toward all of us. The manatee silently glide under the metal dock we are standing on and disappear for several seconds which feel like hours. I am nearly trembling now, on my hands and knees, trying to feel beneath me what I still cannot see.

And then, they appear. A mother manatee and her calf. They are gray-speckled and massive with fan tails, almost looking more leopard-spotted by the sunlight pouring into the river than the dark gray color I had always imagined they would be. The water is so shallow and clean and clear, that they are suddenly more visible and real and tangible and silent than anything I have ever seen in my life except perhaps the azure-blue, almost transparent eyes of a homeless man named Rodney (but that is a story for another day).

I am captivated. Half gasping with joy, half crying, I watch them swim over to the mangroves. The baby calf moves under his mother and begins to nurse. A young woman paddles up in a kayak, and we are all pointing at the two manatee who are literally a foot from her, yet she cannot see them. My heart aches for her. We tell her to look right then left, and that now they are in front of her, and now under her. She looks bewildered and confused and just keeps saying "I can't see them, I can't see them."

They swim downstream for a bit into the inlet, and most everyone leaves except the three of us and the kayak guy. I am unable to pull myself away. And then, they are suddenly back, under us again, and I am now nearly on my belly, chin to water, waiting, waiting, waiting....The mother swims through first, back toward the mangroves. The baby follows and then, turns back, curious perhaps about this odd weeping woman perched so precariously on the dock behind him.

Whiskers - wrinkled nose - then polished black granite eyes surface less than three feet from me. He breathes out almost in slow motion and then back in again, eyes fixed on mine. I feel his warm air on my own face, smell the river on his skin, and then he is gone. The water is once again silent.

And I am left with a Joy that still, weeks later, defies words...

remembering "REAL"

And re-reading The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Always warms my soul...

Monday, July 4, 2011


surveying the surf

The newest member of our family...a six foot glass beauty of a board. Our son's first (of likely MANY) surfboards proudly purchased with his own money.

Heading back to the beach in a few minutes. OceanPrayers for fireworks-sized surf today. :)

Happy Fourth, Everyone!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the light from my kitchen window...

...illuminated one of my favorite prayers at an important moment just now.

Thanks, Emerson. You rock.

Monday, June 20, 2011

grateful for every single precious droplet...

We are in a very severe drought here in South Florida. The city of West Palm Beach is in danger of running out of drinking water. The situation is quite critical so today's brief rain shower was a particularly welcome sight. I hope you enjoy it, too...

Pilates on the Path: Drink it in...

Pilates on the Path: Drink it in...: "Always remember to hydrate well after practicing Pilates!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Sometimes, you just need to take a break on the Path...Peace for your day, Robin
(Photo of our Lily taken by Susan Dahlberg)

a very lovely home and garden

Learn more about the acclaimed landscape and garden designing work of Jon Carloftis and the history of The Rockcastle Trading Company at . Jon's work has been featured in numerous major magazines and on TV. He has designed gardens for clients throughout the United States and particularly in New York City. Jon has written many books, and has an impressive line of home furnishings and garden accessories. I especially loved his functional bird house designs for Louisville Stoneware - including one depicting My Old Kentucky Home.

lovely florida lake

Here is a bit of audio of the doves and other birds singing this past Sunday at Crooked Lake. Special thanks to Suzie and all the other "Ladies of the Lake."  You are treasured friends to me...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

sea turtles at midnight

Last night, I visited heaven right here on earth. From 10pm to 1am this morning, I walked the beach under the light of an almost full moon with three other sea turtle friends. We dressed in dark clothes, spoke in careful whispered tones and moved through the darkness stopping often to scan the sand in front of us for sea turtle tracks....It was total bliss!

I felt totally primal - at One with all and completed rooted in the Present. My own bare feet transformed to flippers in the soft, damp sand before my very eyes.

Each heaving breath of the nesting females was exhaled in my very own breast...Each wet, round egg became an extension of my own body and every other living body here on our planet - desired, prepared, released and then carefully covered over by giant, ancient flippers moving with the grace of a well-rehearsed ballet.

Back home, the Surfing Madonna rode the swells of my dreams - dwelling in my heart - calling, "Save the ocean...the Ocean...Save."

Save The Ocean

ALPHA OMEGA ARTS: Common Sense Should Guide Decision on Surfing Mado...

ALPHA OMEGA ARTS: Common Sense Should Guide Decision on Surfing Mado...: "SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE By Editorial Board CALIFORNIA - This controversy calls for common sense. The public gets it, even if public offic..."

Thursday, June 9, 2011