The Daily Muse

A  Garden Journal -- February 2006

Last Update: February 17

 Magnolia soulangeana blossoms and fallen petals.

February 7 - evening

It is growing late but I am feeling tremendously energized by some projects that I am working on. I cannot elaborate on the details quite yet, but they revolve around the ideas that I was exploring in last month's Daily Muse... the central theme is hope. Suffice it to say that we all could use a little more hope in our lives and I feel blessed right now to have some people who are helping me to realize what it means to live using hope as your compass.

In the meantime, here are a few harbingers of the coming season... these images come from the courtyard of Goldsmith Hall on the University of Texas campus, home to the UT School of Architecture and one of my favorite places in Austin.

Close up of another magnolia blossom.


A wide shot showing two of the four magnolia trees and two very impressive Sabal mexicana palms. This shot gives you a sense of the courtyard which is one of the most inviting spaces in Austin if not the entire state of Texas.


An architectural emblem and a natural one.


Ephemeral and timeless...

February 14 - morning

Earlier this week I was reading one of my daily messages from Beliefnet when I found the following quote from Hegel, "Because a thing is familiar, it remains unknown." It reminded me of the divine mystery that awaits us at any moment if we stop to pay attention to the miracles that surround us. As humans we can't help from labeling things and categorizing them, making them "familiar." But, by doing so, we diminish the possibility that we can really see them for what they are. Moses really saw that burning bush, but the mystics tell us that all of the bushes are burning, we're just too busy to  see anything but the labels we've stuck on them. 

A moment ago, one of our cats jumped into my lap looking for his morning snuggle, I was intent on beginning this entry so I gave him a few perfunctory pats on the head, but he wasn't satisfied with that, he demanded that I really give him some love and he tried to attach himself to my chest. When I glanced down and looked into his half-closed eyes and felt his little motor purring the label fell away... I had to stop and thank him for his affection and return some of the love he wanted to share. Its a small thing, but it is the stuff of life.

We lose our capacity for reverence when all we can see are labels, no matter what we are looking at. The writer, Thomas Moore, once said that, "We work with the stuff of the soul by means of the things of life." The spiritual journey and the divine is not out there, it is right here. I think spirituality should be grounded in the material, but it is very different from materialism. Our culture is always pressing us to dismiss what is right in front of us and get busy getting more stuff, bigger stuff... I'm not suggesting that we go out into the world and acquire stuff, we simply need to look the stuff that we have (and each other) in the eyes and be thankful for its presense in our lives. Our gardens, our friends and loved ones, and yes even those affection craving cats.

February 17 - morning

Speaking of looking things in the eyes... Yesterday, I was out in the garden taking my "second cup of coffee walk" when I had a close encounter with a mockingbird. I was standing in our circle of possumhaw hollies when I heard a soft warbled note - I turned to see the mockingbird in a branch just a few feet from where I was standing. If I had raised my arm to touch him I could have. Every year a mockingbird or two lays claim to the hollies in our garden and tries to defend the huge berry crop and I am sure that is what he was up too. We shared a few moments looking into each others eyes before I slowly retreated leaving him undisturbed in his kingdom. Later that day, I was teaching a class at The Seton Cove, and Patty Speier, the Director of the Cove, opened the class with a reflection quoting a brief story from Meister Eckhart. The story tells of an encounter with a rabbit, its a meditation on the calming gift of the rabbit's presence and the rabbit's eyes.  I wish we could all offer just that sort of presence to one another. After doing a paired yoga excercise, my yoga teacher, Keith Kachtick from Dharma Yoga frequently asks us to look each other in the eyes for two full breaths and then thank one another. We rarely do this with our friends and colleagues... try it, it is a blessing.

An older picture of Luna with her adopted son, Fez (from 2003.)

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