Bread (and Taxes?) and a Little Bach

You know I've been thinking about where to journey next.

Ever since I spent a year outdoors each day, I've embraced the idea of focusing on something for 12 months. Not in a rigid way. But in a manner that promises growth and surprises.

After the year outdoors, I embarked on an Art Pilgrimage. Along the way, I decided I might spend four whole years with the arts: Visual, Dance, Music, Theater.

When July came around this year, though, I wondered if I might skip Music. I don't know why. I just did.

Until today.

Listening to cultural icon Lady Gaga, I was struck by the complexity of her music. She seems like fluff, and her lyrics are over-the-top and sometimes naughty, but she is linked to the past through sound. I wanted to be able to tell my daughter what these links to the past were. I could sense them, but I couldn't place them— everything from Rock, to spirituals, to classical, to 80's pop seemed woven in and around Gaga's sounds.

That's when I made my decision. I will go with Music this year. As always, I don't know where this will take me. But I can hear, almost like a song, the possibilities.

Beyond sound, there'll be bread, for the girls and I. Last year we focused on Tea and learned so much about it, including how it influenced international economic policy in Britain. We all agreed that bread would be equally enchanting and historical, even biblical.

So the year is before us: Bread (and taxes?), a little Bach and the roots of music like Gaga's. I'm already tapping my feet (and the edge of my plate :).

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A Rosary Gift


The classic rosary style is a circle. We go round and round the beads. Our fingers walk a path that others have walked before us, and others will walk after us.

How sweet, then, that photographer Gail Nadeau joined my girls and I in this spiritual garden walk. Today I found this little gift in my in-box. A circle of roses for us. And now for you.

It strikes me that Gail has done what Luci Shaw speaks of, and what my girls were doing the other day in their own way...

"There is another calling for the artist, and that is one of linking earth to heaven, pointing the human to the divine, finding the connections." Part of the pointing is no pointing at all, but simply bringing one's own beauty and walking along.

Rosarie, by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

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Crossing Tea and Beads

button beads

Sunday mornings I have been wanting to stay home. I cannot explain this, except to say that it feels somehow illuminated by these words from Luci Shaw...

"If our lives are centered in God's reality, we can risk working out from that center in new directions."

The direction I've specifically felt is this sense of wanting deeper communion with my children, around our faith, in ways that feel artful and concrete. Church, for whatever reason, seems to take us away from each other rather than join us in memorable ways.

So yesterday we stayed home. We sat on the side porch and drank red tea from roses china cups. In a book called Tea: The Drink that Changed the World, we read about how Japanese monks developed tea rituals in the 1400's and how these rituals are still practiced "with grace."

Then Sara and I took turns reading from a tiny book called The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved. We learned that "rosary" comes from "rosarium," which means "rose garden." We learned that the rosary was made popular in the 1400's.

the rosary

As soon as I closed the book, Sonia declared, "I want to make a rosary!" Sara agreed, and so the beads were brought out.

bead finding

Over the next hour, beads were joined to beads. Little hands worked to string together the "decades" of the life of Christ— the joyful, the sorrowful, the glorious, and the luminous. Sonia, who often speaks as she works, suddenly said, "Connecting the cross."


I had just picked up Breath for the Bones and encountered this sentence: "There is another calling for the artist, and that is one of linking earth to heaven, pointing the human to the divine, finding the connections."

And I wondered if that is what I've been longing for in my experience of church: the earth side of spiritual life, whether tea rituals practiced with grace or beads that tell the Grace story— and me and my girls actively connecting the cross... from earth to heaven, and back again.

anchor and lifesaver rosary

Red, Gold & Garnet Rosary by Sonia. Anchor and LIfesaver Rosary by Sara.


Over at The High Calling, we're "connecting the cross," discussing Luci Shaw's Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith. Want to join us?

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The Balance Between Discipline and Freedom

Last year around this time, I made two decisions—one to continue with my art pilgrimage and focus on dance, the other to begin a tea pilgrimage with my girls.

As the year comes to a close, I know that I lost a little heart for dance once I had to stop taking ballet. I've done some reading, of course, including paging through Dance Magazine. I bought a book on visualizing, which was very helpful. It asked me to pretend I was a fountain or a light or a volcano or whatever, while I tried to live into a certain dance sequence.

This morning, doing some stretching, I remembered another bit of advice from that book: to imagine the direction and angle one is going in, at least a split second before making the move. It provides a surprising ease for the body, as it prepares the body for the actual moment. The opposite I'm sure you have felt. Maybe you go to reach for something on your bedside table, just as a reflection bounces off the mirror on the other side of the room. Your attention moves to the mirror, while your body reaches to the table. Ouch, now your neck has a sudden feeling of minor implosion. You need a little massage.

So it is good to stick with your direction, at least for a while.

The question is, do you want your whole life to be about reaching towards the bedside table? Maybe that is what you need for a while. A small movement in a small space, towards a familiar circle of scented lotions and hair bands, the picture of your daughter (or son), the lamp with the dangly pink crystals.

But maybe it is not.

Maybe you need your cotton pillow and the way it gives to the weight of your head and neck. Maybe you need the soft threads of your ivory sheets, and the shadows they make when you pull them over your shoulders and up over your hair. Or maybe you need something altogether different. The yard is calling from outside the door and down the red oak stairs.

It is good to stick with your direction, at least for a while. It provides an ease of emotional movement and makes you more effective in whatever you're reaching towards. Still, all it takes is a new moment of deciding... this, this is where I'm going now. Song instead of silence, the rosary instead of breath prayer, a journey into art instead of sitting with chickadees.

I am not sure where I will reach now that our tea pilgrimage and my year of dance is coming to a close. Maybe I will just pull my sheet up for a little while and dream before I move.

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