Liminal Space

One of my favorite things to do in the liminal space between winter solstice and the first few weeks of a brand new year is reflecting on the year that has passed and visioning the year that is to come.

Liminal refers to that transition place between the past (what was) and entering a new space (what’s next) – a time of waiting, and not yet knowing.

This liminal space holds the promise of transformation, if we allow it to do its magic.

One of the ways of entering this mystery is through creating a collage of images. I save images from junk mail, catalogs, or brochures throughout the year.

collection of images

collection of images

Our unconscious already knows what’s waiting in the wings…

As I create my collage trusting that I will find the right images and that they will arrange themselves in just the right way into a synergistic whole, something exciting and mysterious emerges. I always know when it is complete. I may not always know the deeper meaning of everything in the collage, but it usually reveals itself as the year progresses.

This is the collage I created at the beginning of 2017:

2017 collage

I can see my anxiety reflected over political issues introducing a year of more political engagement than I have probably had through my entire life. There are images that remind me of my spiritual practices that help keep everything in perspective and balance; a tenderness for youth and innocence – yes, we are accountable and responsible for the condition of the planet we are leaving behind for our descendants; the need for nourishment, health, and self-nurture to balance out the starkness of the struggle for good; the need for both connection and solitude.

And it was an intense year, with lots of opposing forces, both on the inside and the outside, both within relationships and on a national and worldwide scale.

I will create another collage for 2018, again honoring and invoking that liminal space described so well by R. Rohr:

“…where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible… This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy. The threshold is God’s waiting room. Here we are taught openness and patience as we come to expect an appointment with the divine Doctor.” (Richard Rohr, Author and Theologian).

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: 2017 Favorites

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Christmas for the Birds

Cleaning out my fridge, I found a few old nuts, seeds, dried figs and a jar of rendered beef fat. And I had orange halves left over from squeezing fresh orange juice. So – always wanting to find a use for everything, I made bird feed mixing peanuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and chopped up figs together.

After warming up the suet, I poured it over the mixture and had to quickly place everything in the fridge to harden. The liquid fat was dripping out of the holes on the sides. It got a little messy there. The fat hardened soon enough and everything was ready to be hung on tree branches outside.

Doesn’t this look delicious!?

It took a day or two to trust this colorful new feeder, but this little downy woodpecker claimed the offering and seemed to enjoy its meal.

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Introducing my Emerald Mountain Sanctuary blog

Hello to all my Beauty Along the Road readers!

I would like to introduce you to a second blog which I started on my business website, Emerald Mountain Sanctuary.

My husband and I recently completed the construction of a small retreat and conference center in the mountains of Virginia, USA, and hosted our first event, the annual planning meeting of an internationally active organization. The group felt nourished by daily walks in the woods and across the fields, which infused fresh creative energies into their indoor work.

My latest blog post there was inspired by an ancient elm tree I befriended while I spent a week at the Kripalu Institute in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts this fall.

Take a look and let me know what you think. Better yet, if you are in the area, come and visit!

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Serene Sunday

A perfect day – cool, blue sky, no deadlines… only spaciousness, timelessness, and serenity.

So we embarked on a Sunday drive to nearby Pocahontas County (West Virginia), down to the Greenbrier River. Today, the river water reflected bridge pillars and a pale blue band from the top of the bridge – a play of textures and colors punctuated by dried up grasses.

It didn’t take long before we noticed the water fowl that gather in the area, mostly mallard ducks.

The male mallard has an iridescent green head, a brown chest and mostly grey wings and belly while the female has mainly brown-speckled plumage.

On the other side of the bridge, in deep shade, a large flock of mallards and a lone Canada goose were peacefully paddling around, perhaps quieting down for day’s end.

The days are getting very short now and the lengthening darkness invites quiet reflection and inward focus. May this coming winter be one of serenity and peacefulness.

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene.

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Autumn Festivals in the Black Forest – Sasbachwalden

Harvest festivals mark the transition from summer into autumn by showcasing the bounties of the region. When I visited the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in Southwestern Germany last October – the area where I was born and lived for the first 20 years of my life – I had to choose between an over-abundance of events.

My favorite festival was the Erntedank- und Weinfest (Wine and Harvest Thanksgiving Festival) in Sasbachwalden, one of the most beautiful villages in the Black Forest. The main event was a parade consisting of music bands, floats, harvest and crafts demos with an emphasis on traditional ways.

Huge haybale characters and a traditional hay wagon marked the beginning of the parade route.

Hundreds of people were gathering along the side of the road leading into the village

I marveled at all the dirndls and lederhosen outfits many of the spectators wore with a sense of style and pride

Floats were elaborately decorated with flowers and often displayed specialties of the region (bread, ham, wine, beer)

A very popular theme, of course, was grapes, grape harvest, and the fine wines of the region. This man carries a wooden container on his back which was traditionally used for harvesting grapes. The second man pretends to fill a ceramic pitcher, traditionally used for serving the fizzy new wine.

Monasteries were famous for their wines and other spirited beverages as well as abundant vegetable and flower gardens.

And here is Bacchus himself, the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility. His oversized glass was filled with real wine and his reddened face betrayed his liberal indulgence along the parade route.

Wine and schnapps were freely passed around (no cheap candies here) to anyone who asked:

Many Germans join music bands (Musikverein) as children which often becomes a lifelong hobby and social connection. Each band wears distinctive clothing reflecting the traditional costumes of their town or region.

All ages participated and enjoyed being part of the parade.

There was a joyous spirit of celebration, fellowship with relatives and townspeople, and a sense of proud contentment.

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