Sunday, June 4, 2017

THE MAGNIFICENT QUIET

In his book The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle writes, "The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being."  I can tell you from personal experience that feeling that "oneness" is a life changing event.  And when I had my brief moment of enlightenment, ego was nonexistent. 

 It was an early morning in late March.  The year was 1987.   I had received word that my daughter had been killed in a car crash.  Empty, broken, stripped bare of all ego, I stepped out onto my deck still slippery with dew.   No robins sang, and the frogs in the pond were still.   No barks from distant hounds echoed through the early buds.   It was a quiet unlike any I had ever experienced.  A dry, silent breeze stroked my cheeks.  Tears bonded to my face.  And color became as vibrant and loud as if a part of me.   The orange of a dazzling sun peeking through towering pines, gelling with purple lilac swept me in, and I was separate from familiar earth yet more connected than I had ever been.   My senseless black soul mixed with verdant trees and blue sky and tawny brown dirt.   The new forsythia blooms blinded with brilliant yellow, and I was every color - every red flower, every green leaf.  And in the radiant hush, the magnificent quiet, I was one with all life.   I understood my connection to a universal energy.   My journey from then until now is chronicled in The Magnificent Quiet - Losing a Loved One, an Open Letter available on my website.  In this blog, I simply want to share a poem and a photograph.  

A MAGNIFICENT QUIET

 NO ROBINS SING, NO DISTANT BARKS

  THE FROGS IN THE POND ARE STILL.

COLOR BECOMES VIBRANT AND LOUD

ORANGE SUN, PURPLE LILAC SWEEPING YOU IN.

ONE WITH VERDANT TREES,

BLUE SKY, TAWNY BROWN DIRT.

FORSYTHIA BLINDS WITH BRILLIANT YELLOW

AND YOU ARE EVERY RED FLOWER,

EVERY GREEN LEAF.

A DRY, SILENT BREEZE STROKES

EVAPORATING TEARS, TIGHTLY EMBRACING YOUR SPIRIT.

AND IN THE BRIEF MAGNIFICENT QUIET

YOU ARE ONE.
 
Woods and Beach ©

Photograph with poem available photography page.  www.carolemarshallstudio.com
 
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

LIFE TOUCH

   "The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization.  And when native man left off this form of development, his humanization was retarded in growth."        
                                            Chief Luther Standing Bear

I am reposting my poem Critters All because I believe in these turbulent times common sense and decency need repeating.   I have included from my In Natural Flow photography collection  the picture Life Touch.


CRITTERS ALL

 HOW HUMBLE THE LINKS

BETWEEN ALL LIVING BEINGS.

BEATING HEARTS, EXPANDING LUNGS,

PAIN FELT AS STRONGLY AS PLEASURE.

FEAR EXPERIENCED AS DEEPLY AS JOY.

TWO-LEGGED, FOUR-LEGGED

RESPONDING TO KINDNESS,

DESERVING OF LOVE.

EACH BREATH, EACH WHIMPER

ENTWINED AS ONE SPIRIT.

ENHANCING THE ENERGY

PROPELLING OUR UNIVERSE.

A UNITY OF SOULS, A SIMPLICITY

OF TRUTH.

AT DAY’S END WE ARE

CRITTERS ALL.



 
Life Touch      ©

Monday, May 1, 2017

THE GIFT OF HELEN

She slipped in the door quietly.  She reached her right hand down to the burlap bag that was hanging from a piece of clothesline pulled taut across her torso.  Gently, she stroked the tiny cat whose fluffy orange head poked from the middle of the brown sack.  She bent down and kissed the feline between its ears.  Her long, gray braid fell across her shoulder.   She rolled her fingers around the silky threads dangling over the top of the sack and, one by one, gently pulled out ten ears of corn,
placing each plump, green ear along the length of the mahogany reception desk.  The old woman, wrapped in a shabby, brown coat and wearing muddy work boots, was in our medical office for her yearly physical. On subsequent visits zucchini, potatoes, and green beans appeared.  And every fall juicy apples from her orchard rolled out of the sack.  She was a lifelong New England farmer and remained a patient of ours for a number of years.  She brought fruits and vegetables for everyone on staff whenever she had an appointment.  But the food bounty shared paled in comparison to the extraordinary treasure of her presence.  Her name was Helen and everyone connected to our Connecticut family medicine practice who came into contact with the woman longed to be like her.

 

Odd things happened when Helen walked into the office for her appointments.   The chatter in the waiting room stopped. The staff went from high speed scurrying to slow, easy steps.  A palpable calm came over the room. Helen always smiled, not a big toothy grin, just a pleasant smile that seemed more for her than for show.   Clear, emerald eyes danced to the soft tones of her voice.  An unassuming “good morning” brought everyone on staff (including the doctor) to her side.   We fought over whose turn it was to take her vitals and who would assist in her exam.   And not one of us got antsy or annoyed when the waiting room grew packed while the doctor deliberately took forever with her visit. When she left, everyone in the office was a little calmer for the rest of the day.  The moments of unexplained composure continued with each of Helen’s appointments, until her health declined and she was admitted to hospice care near family.   Several weeks later, I was in New Haven having breakfast with a girlfriend who worked as a hospice nurse. She had just gotten off a double shift.  “You must be exhausted,” I commented.  “Not really,” she said.  “I actually requested to stay on through the night.”   She explained that a very ill patient had taken a turn for the worse.  The woman was so loved that the doctors, nurses, and aides all clamored to be with her in the final hours.  She had slipped away during the night with the entire staff at her side.  “We wanted one last moment in Helen’s presence before the mystery was lost forever,” said my friend.  “Everyone wanted to be with her, be like her, and yet no one knew exactly what that meant.   What we did know was that her existence was special.  Our dear Helen was a soul beyond the norm.”  I didn’t say anything to my friend.  I was a bit teary and dumbstruck over the connection.  Once recovered I wanted to keep my own memories of Helen to myself.   But I understood the magic.

 

While Helen wasn’t interested in computers, or cell phones, or other modern-day gadgets, spiritually it seemed to those of us who met her that she was light-years ahead of the world. Some said Helen was a gift.  She owned a serenity that had nothing to do with anyone else, yet everyone gleaned a calming moment from her, soaking up her quiet aura as if it was liquid gold.   Being in the company of Helen was akin to entering into a state of relaxation.  She replaced the bombardment of life with a tranquility that took a person deep into themselves to the experience of a breath softening, a heart slowing, a mind escaping the mundane to rest for a time on the mystique of a woman who stopped the nonsense.  She exhibited the very real possibility of being able to be at peace, from the inside out, with one’s place in the universe.  Her presence connected one living soul to another at a level unrecognized in a driven society.    Many believed she was not of this world.  How often it was said that Helen was an angel. How often I wondered if a person had to be born that way. Or did I simply not know where to begin.  Today I work daily on the Helen lessons.  Her teaching by showing not telling reminds me that I can experience my own path of harmony in a turbulent world.  At any given moment I can stop, inhale the magnificence of life and my connection to it all and exhale a silent thank you.  I have a remarkable teacher on my shoulder.  Doubt I’ll ever get to her level of personal peace, but what a privilege it is to try.  What a gift to have known her.  May we all replace, at least for a time, the bombardment of life.  Let us reach deep for that inner serenity waiting to be experienced and shared.   With love and gratitude for my encounters with an extraordinary woman, I pass the gift of Helen along to you, dear readers.    Our everyday mentor, how often it was said that Helen was an angel.


Beach with Book   © 
www.carolemarshallstudio.com

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

CRITTERS ALL

Have you ever visualized your ideal place?  My vision was a farm.  I saw it the day I rescued the little black kitten from the hands of our neighborhood bully who threatened harm to the squirming little ball.  Unfortunately, my mother wanted no part of a pet, so my father made sure a good home was found.  Then he said, "I'm sorry, but you know how Mother's allergies are.  Someday I suspect you'll have a place of your own full of cats and dogs."

I saw my farm right then.  The graveled driveway was winding and tree-lined.  The house was a two-story white structure with green shutters on the windows.  The front porch had a swing and two Adirondack chairs.  There was a chicken coop off to the left. Snippets of glistening bay peeked through the tall pines.  And there were animals - mostly cats, dogs and chickens on the porch, on the lawn, around the coop.  That clear image seen by a little girl was fleeting, but I've come to realize that childhood dreams live on the edge of possible until resurrected by chance or design.

Today I live in my ideal place with snippets of glistening bay peeking through tall pines.  Over the years, many dear critters have shared this spot with me and always will.  Yes, I have inherited my mother's allergies, but not her attitude.  Caring for pets is a humbling, grounding, loving experience not to be missed.  So I use a neti pot to wash out my sinuses and have tissues in every room, because the whole of my life is enhanced in the company of animals.  What Mother didn't get is that we are critters all.


CRITTERS ALL

 HOW HUMBLE THE LINKS

BETWEEN ALL LIVING BEINGS.

BEATING HEARTS, EXPANDING LUNGS,

PAIN FELT AS STRONGLY AS PLEASURE.

FEAR EXPERIENCED AS DEEPLY AS JOY.

TWO-LEGGED, FOUR-LEGGED

RESPONDING TO KINDNESS,

DESERVING OF LOVE.

EACH BREATH, EACH WHIMPER

ENTWINED AS ONE SPIRIT.

ENHANCING THE ENERGY

PROPELLING OUR UNIVERSE.

A UNITY OF SOULS, A SIMPLICITY

OF TRUTH.

AT DAY’S END WE ARE

CRITTERS ALL.

 
 
Critter Comfort   ©
CMS Photography www.carolemarshallstudio.com  

Monday, April 17, 2017

DEAREST

I have a bracelet with one single charm.  It belonged to my mother.  I accidentally came upon it when I was quite small.  When I asked Mother about it she promised to tell me the history of the bracelet when I got older.  Unfortunately, she died before that happened. 

The bracelet, safely tucked in my jewelry box in its black velvet pouch, moved around the country with me.  Honestly, I never looked at it.  I was a busy mom, student, writer.  But a few years ago, while searching for a specific pair of earrings, I picked up the velvet pouch and opened the tie. 

The bracelet slid onto the palm of my hand.  It was as beautiful as I remembered and still without a story.  I felt a familiar tweak of annoyance at Mother's secretiveness regarding many aspects of her life.  But I was an adult and whining, while often the first thing I do when processing bothersome situations, wasn't going to accomplish much.  So after years of nonfiction writing I switched gears, wrote the novel Dearest, and gave my mother's bracelet a story.  It's a good tale, but a book is not what this blog is about.  Today, as I honor my continuing natural flow journey, I'm sharing a picture. 

The single charm on my mother's bracelet consists of seven stones. Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Topaz.  I photographed the charm in a natural setting of holly leaves.  Some leaves were bright and green their sheen reflecting light, others a bit scraggly and weatherworn not unlike the flow of our lives.  But there in the middle sustaining soul and spirit is the charm of seven stones spelling DEAREST, saying I love you. 

DEAREST  ©

 
 

 This photo, a unique and special gift for the Dearest person in your life, is beautifully matted and ready for framing.  It's available on my website photography page.
www.carolemarshallstudio.com    

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A PEACEFUL MOMENT IN EVERY ROOM

I recently framed a new photograph.  It wasn't for a client, it was for me.  I hung All Seasons 1 (shown below) in my small guest room because while sitting there watching the latest blast of horrendous news on television I realized it was the only room in my home that didn't have a peaceful photograph on any of its walls.

My studio walls where I work are covered with photographs of animals past and present.  When I look at those trusting faces, I am flooded with good memories and happy thoughts.   In the living room and dining room, along with the lovely work of other artists, my Flower on Brick picture as well as a few beach scenes calm the innards after a long day.  My Autumn Tea photograph hangs in the kitchen and there are three more beach scenes in the main bathroom. 

With the news programs inundating our spirits with one overwhelming disaster after another, repeating them over and over for no sane purpose, I find myself looking for reruns of Andy Griffith and the innocence of Mayberry days.  I'm a product of the  fifties.  I remember a sweeter time.  And I'm a photographer with a goal of creating a sweeter scene, a kinder story one photograph at a time. 


All Seasons 1 ©
All Seasons 1- winter berries, spring forsythia, fall leaves and cones, summer sand and driftwood.  Seasons of memories and quiet reflections. I believe we all deserve to have a peaceful moment in every room.

www.carolemarshallstudio.com

Saturday, April 1, 2017

APPRECIATING SHADOWS

My photographs reflect my return to a natural flow, to following a path leading in the direction of serenity.  I find in each picture a lesson in personal growth.  Sometimes I put several found items together to create nature's story, sometimes nature puts things right under my nose.  Either way, I don't fiddle around with altering the beauty and possibly losing the message.  In the case of the Flower on Brick photograph I've posted below, rather than getting involved with technology, I chose to leave it alone.  I didn't realize at the time that years later I'd look at this flower and appreciate its shadows. 

I took the Flower on Brick picture a long time ago.  Carrying a small bouquet in from my patio to put in a vase on the table, this one fell from my hands.  After arranging the others in water, I went back out to retrieve the rouge bloom.  It looked quite sweet all by itself in the sun, so I took the shot.  End of story, until now. 

If you've been following my blog, you know that after many years as a working writer I've just recently returned to photography.  Most of my photos are new and fresh and tell a story of nature's natural flow as well as my attempts to return to a natural, peaceful way of life.  I've added Flower on Brick to this collection because when I look at it today I see the connection.

Flower shadows on the bricks, reminders of the many extensions of self - reaching out, moving beyond, finding new roads. 

www.carolemarshallstudio.com

               Flower on Brick                ©