Belly Blessings

For thousands of years henna has been used by women to bless other women in honor of transitions, celebrations and thresholds. In Morocco, Berber women have been using henna for over 8,000 years. In India, women have used henna to adorn their bodies for marriage for over 3,000  years. When I was living in Mali, West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, girls and women blessed each other with henna for weddings and celebrations and I was the grateful recipient of many artful designs on my hands and feet. And now, 36 weeks pregnant and 15 years later I’ve been blessed by some of my community of women near and far with the American version of women blessing women for pregnancy: adorning one another with art in a culture where we can proudly show our bellies…

There is something so nurturing about the slow, quiet process of blessing a belly with art as a baby grows inside. My henna artist invited me to come up with an intention for baby that she would weave into the henna as she ‘drew.’ It was a rare and much needed moment of tuning in with this sweet being. Free of multitasking, I reflected on how difficult is has been to create moments of quietly connecting with this baby as so much of my time and energy is devoted to my other two sons and to work and to maintaining a basic order in my home. This was a moment to dip into the subconscious and draw forth the symbols that have accompanied women across time as we prepare for birth: for me it was a Tree that I wanted painted on my belly, and a bird. I needed to be reminded of the Tree of Life, and how for a brief moment my body serves as a similar vessel – home to new life and playing an integral role in the circle of life’s continuation. There are the roots that remind me of where I’ve come from, both in this lifetime as well as the history of my family. There is the symbolism of the family tree. With the owl I’m reminded of vision, even in times of uncertainty and darkness. She helps me to remember a quiet gracefulness, both when she is perched in the tree as well as when she silently flies.

Every time I look at the owl in the tree, I’m reminded that this is my time of quietly waiting for what is to come – and I do well to remember my roots and the ground, even as I know I’m about to take flight into something vastly new and mysterious…

IMG_1654Henna art by SarahKate Butterworth

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The Bison Ranch

IMG_1580IMG_1606IMG_1598IMG_1597IMG_1595IMG_1604IMG_1607IMG_1590IMG_1575IMG_1594IMG_1616-Terry Bison Ranch, Cheyenne, Wyoming

“In the distance of my years I cover myself with time
Like a blanket which enfolds me with the layers of my life.
What can I tell you except that I have gone
nowhere and everywhere?
What can I tell you except that I have not begun
my journey now that it is through?
All that I ever was and am yet to be
lies within me now this way.

There is the Young Boy in me traveling east
With the Eagle which taught me to see far and wide.
The Eagle took his distance and said,
There is a Time for Rising Above
So that you do not think
Your small world too important.
There is a time for turning your vision toward the sky.

There is the Young Girl in me traveling west
With the Bear which taught me to look inside.
The Bear stood by himself and said,
There is a Time for Being Alone
So that you do not take on
The appearance of your friends.
There is a time for being at home with yourself.

There is the Old Man in me traveling north
With the Buffalo which taught me wisdom.
The Buffalo disappeared and said,
There is a Time for Believing Nothing
So that you do not speak
What you have already heard.
There is a Time for Keeping Quiet.

There is the Old Woman in me traveling south
With the Mouse which taught me my limitations.
The Mouse lay close to the ground and said,
There is a Time for Taking Comfort in Small Things
So that you do not feel
Forgotten in the night.
There is a Time for enjoying the Worm.

That is the way it was.
That is the way it shall continue
With the Eagle and the Bear
With the Buffalo and the Mouse
In all directions joined with me
To form the circle of my life.

I am an Eagle.
The small world laughs at my deeds.
But the great sky keeps to itself
My thoughts of immortality.

I am a Bear.
In my solitude I resemble the wind.
I blow the clouds together
So they form images of my friends.

I am a Buffalo.
My voice echoes inside my mouth.
All that I have learned in life
I share with the smoke of my fire...

– Nancy Wood, Many Winters: Prose and Poetry of the Pueblos

Aftermath

‘Disaster’ – from the Old Italian “ill starred event” or “unfavorable to one’s stars,” stemming from ancient Greek ‘dus’ (bad) ‘aster’ (star)

Today marked the fifth day of Colorado’s ‘one hundred year flood.’ The torrents have been hammering down on and off for a week. A neighborhood walk this morning revealed glimpses of the somber process of reconciliation underway. Reconciling with what? The power of Water. Nourishing, necessary for life – and yet also profoundly severe, violent, abrupt. Washing us clean as well as dragging forth the mess of a century: mud, sewage and debris now strewn in a million new places leaving a path of the Uprooted, Overturned and Displaced. Water = gently smoothing stones over time while also in turn devouring 150 miles worth of asphalt. Water = life AND death.

IMG_1398IMG_1402IMG_1379IMG_1366IMG_1387IMG_1390IMG_1406IMG_1365IMG_1370IMG_1411IMG_1363IMG_1399IMG_1397*Photos taken Monday September 16th, North Boulder/N. Broadway, Four Mile Creek

County Fair…

IMG_1183IMG_1180IMG_1203IMG_1206IMG_1177IMG_1174IMG_1187“So now you must choose… Are you a child who has not yet become world-weary? Or are you a philosopher who will vow never to become so? To children, the world and everything in it is new, something that gives rise to astonishment. It is not like that for adults. Most adults accept the world as a matter of course…Yet a philosopher (regardless of age) never gets quite used to the world. To him or her, the world continues to seem a bit unreasonable – bewildering, even enigmatic. Philosophers and small children thus have an important faculty in common. The only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder…”

-Jostein Gaarder

Whales and Wonder…

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later life, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.

The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil…Once found it has lasting meaning.” – Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

IMG_2207IMG_2186IMG_2194IMG_2189IMG_2181Rowan holding an Orca’s tooth!