Monday, February 28, 2005

Not withdrawing from the world very well

Hello Everyone. This seems to be quite a lively place. It took me some time to read the new entries. I hope you will excuse my being slow to get started. I went back to the B&B where I was staying before coming to the Abby and brought the rest of my things. I’m a little embarrassed in my little cell, I guess we are supposed to be withdrawing from the world and doing with less. Once I had moved my things in, there was hardly room to turn around. I have a lot of camera equipment. I am interested in photography, especially of old buildings and ruins. It is one of the reasons that I came to the Abby. I hope to be taking photographs of the Abby buildings and some of the ruins of the Old Abby, perhaps the cemetery or crypt if there is one. As far as art is concerned, I do collage, sometimes using my photographs but I move very slowly and I am not very prolific. Sometimes I only do one or two a year, but they are usually quite complicated.

I tried to think where I might be useful, but haven’t thought of anything yet. I don’t cook, even for myself and though I like plants, I don’t know anything about them. Perhaps if you like music I could play for you some time. This is what is filling up the rest of my room. I have brought my instruments. I have two Celtic harps, one a small lap variety and the other larger as well as a two flutes, one traditional and the other wooden. For the most part I seem to be attracted to huge musical instruments, however, and I have also have brought my big French pedal harp and my cello as well as my Bodhran’s (Irish drums.) You can see why my small cell is quite crowded. I will assure you that I checked the cell doors carefully and they are sound proof. You will not be bothered by my playing, the doors are very thick and solid, when the cell door is shut you cannot hear through it and I will be conscientious about keeping it shut.

Thank you to Ana das Neves and Believer who came to speak to me when I was here briefly before and hello to you all.
From: Louise Anna Holmes

Pure Alchemy

When I joined the Abbey I was attracted by the notion of monastic retreat. Thomas Moore said that it is a mistake to think of the monastic life as a withdrawal from the active world for traditionally the monk is extremely active on a number of fronts.

This Abbey is clearly no exception. There is a palpable sense of industry here and just as the monks were actively committed to a communal style of living so are residents here. No wonder Heather is so addicted to this cyber world. It seems to me that she has surrounded herself with people who are producing words and images of extraordinary beauty. And, all these offers of help in the kitchen! I could turn my farm into a commune yet.

This morning when I was making some bread Dad wandered in. They were playing an old Vera Lynn track on the radio and we spontaneously waltzed around the kitchen table. He is not quite as nimble as he used to be when I was young and we went to the country balls. Dad always loved to dance and nothing gave him greater pleasure than to walk one of his daughters onto the dance floor.

But I am drifting between different realities. I am never quite sure when I am in the Abbey and when I am not. As I stood doing some dishes this morning I found myself thinking of Lemuria. The rich purples of my Asters caught my eye and I wondered if Asters are flowering in Lemuria right now. Is Lemuria in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere? Best not to strain my brain too much I think!

Instead I thought I would pop on my apron and plan some dinner. Now that Sharon is here we can expect some stunning Southern comfort dishes. Her Chicken with mash sounds just brilliant. While she throws all of that together I am going to make a Chocolate Saucing Pudding to die for. The Abbey's wood fired stoves are perfect for this sort of dessert. It is easy really. You cream the butter and sugar and add eggs, milk, chocolate and flour and pour the chocolate cake style mixture into a elongated dish. Then you sprinkle the mixture with sugar and more chocolate and pour a couple of cups of boiling water over the top. The dish sits in a tray of water in the oven and it takes about forty minutes to cook. When it comes out of the oven it has a cake consistency with a rich chocolate sauce underneath. Pure alchemy!

What do you think Sharon?

Valentine Woman Posted by Hello

Valentine Woman

Valentine Woman

A decorous, wild, volatile woman,
Sometimes a fierce, lonely nymph blushing.
A heart made of intricate lace,
Sometimes speaking with fire,
Leaving an essence that lingers.
You taste a delicate passion that whispers beloved.
Beguiled, dazzling silhouette of an ancestor.
Behold your creation and nestle your divine.

Your fabric is resistance,
A brocade brooch is your heart.
Droplets of loneliness are rich on your cheeks.
Bitter aromas blend with your flaring nose.
Chosen green eyes entice the aged,
Fierce bohemian they encounter.

Mischievous is your countenance.
Creation is your birthright,
Descendent daughter of angels,
The keeper of doves who hearken the holy.

Restless silence is your isolation.
A graceful falcon you are deserted, condemned.
Your prison is a restless quiet,
Where you lurk with varnished luster.
Drenched with embraced detachments,
Your reverence unfolds emptiness.
Instinct is your coating.
Repressed is your smoky journey into richness.
A decorous, wild, volatile woman.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Haiku of the Trees

monarchs of the forest~
the redwoods
stand guard

the rustle~
frozen leaves in moonlight
nature's songs

indian summer breeze~
leaves dance
fall anticipation

sacred grove~
humus carpet
misty silence

My Plane Was Late

So sorry to be a late arrival at the Lemurian Abbey. My plane took off from DFW airport 2 hours late due to terrible thunderstorms! A case of jetlag is forcing me to put off unpacking my bags, until I wander the grounds here and follow my nose to the kitchen. I hear great things are cooking on the stove! I'd like to volunteer to help out in the kitchen and share some of my Texan cooking for anyone wanting a nibble or two. I may cook up a Mexican feast for everyone, including my homemade Salsa and Queso dip with hot fresh tortilla chips as the appetizer. Soft 4 cheese enchiladas, spanish rice and a big Mexican salad will more than likely be first on the menu, so work up an appetite ladies!

Nice to be here and I look forward to getting to know you all. :)

Danish Easter Letter

To day I send out my Easter Letters "gaekkebreve in Danish".
When it is Easter in Denmark, we make letters for each other called "gaekkebreve".

It’s a piece of paper with holes in. You send them to your friends, and they try to guess who you are.

You write your name like this: ……….

If your friend guess who you are you owe him an Easter egg. But if your friend can’t guess who you are your friend owe you a Easter egg.

In the “Gaekkebrev” there are verses and flowers called snowdrops.

A link to Danish Easter:


Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Immanent Grove (As it looks ~ well, sometimes . . .)

The Immanant Grove

Hello Monas! Jane, have a safe trip and come back soon! I will be gone at the same time on my journey, perhaps we will meet in the Highlands or crossing a vast desert . . .

Bobbi I heard you up early going out into the world to witness Gaia’s Dance, and Irene . . . When I am running around in here my habit thing is usually flapping around and I am likely as not causing trouble (Ahem! Hello, Abbess!!) But if you meet me in The Grove you will find something different. I am there most mornings when the stars are stirred down from the sky and the mists breathe from the ground like songs of waiting. The Grove does move, but if you watch for it, and you listen for the whispering of the trees you can usually find it. You can watch the sunrise bloom and paint the Abby with warmth if you know where it is going to do it, there is a rather elaborate circling of standing stones, but that is another story . . . Irene, bring your friend Ana, I like her circling already. I am very fond of circles. Everyone who wishes come out to the grove at dawn . . .

Lunch is served

When Heather insisted that I join the Lemurian Abbey I really did hesitate for a whole host of reasons. She has often talked about the internet and all the people she works with in cyber space but it felt like this was her private world and that I would be intruding. I should have known better. I used to attend some of Heather's writing classes before I moved to the country and they were always fantastic. We sat around her table and wrote and always had brilliant suppers.

I am not sure why it never occurred to me that I would be made so welcome here. Thanks so much Winnie, Ana, Irene and Barbara. I was very encouraged to hear that the smell of my scones drew you down into the kitchen. You can come and help me whip up things any time you like Winnie.

Call me Bonny! Whenever Mum called me Ebony it sounded like I was in trouble and usually I had been sprung doing something that I shouldn't have been doing. I remember once a friend and I convinced a neighbours little girl that cold cream was icecream. Sandra and I hid when we were called that time. We knew that we really better make ourselves scarce. It took us some time to live that little debacle down.

Dad just wandered in from the garden with fresh eggs from the chooks. They have been laying quite well.

So I thought that with a couple of dozen eggs I could whip us up a delicious lunch. What I am going to do is cut some smoked ham off the bone and grate some tasty cheese. I will lay some ham, cheese and chives in the muffin plates and then fill them with a mixture of eggs and a little milk. When they are cooked we will have tiny muffin sized frittatas with Salad. There are plenty of salad vegetables growing near the wild garden and I have some fresh tomatoes that are just delicious. I will add some avocado and capsicum and then pour over a dressing of lemon and oil with black pepper and a touch of mustard. Dad also dug up some new potatoes and I thought I would put a whole lot of them in the pot and dress them with butter and parsley.

Has anyone got any suggestions for dessert? I will make a range of herbal teas and coffee for us but it would be great to have something sweet to finish off on out in the el Fresco garden area of the abbey.

I sometimes get lost in circles

Good morning or good evening for you. The entire region is covered with snow. I have allways heard old ladies talk about big snows but seldom seen one. Tonight I'll stay home, instead of going to the local bar have my usual night espresso. This may seem strange to you, but as well as being the only way to meet young people in the village, we take espresso at all times, even before going to bed. It also has another advantage: the bar is air conditioning and it is hot inside. Like all the houses in the village, our only has the fire place in the kitchen and some electrical heat. I could not wait to find my way to the cell here in the Abbey, after cleaning the dinner dishes. My father is playing cards with the neighbour and calling the cards by their nicknames: 2 "a duck"; 4 "little chair"; 7 "a scene", and so on. Mother is making a new tablecloth for my "bragal" (goods you carry when you are married), but I already have 4: 2 in embroided linen and 2 in crochet. This one is special, red, with christmas motives. I wonder if I'll haver put any of those in a table... for a husband. Grandma is sewing wool, so she makes socks for us, with five needles. They are watching the soapopera and comment every scene and character. I wonder if they would care for what I've to say.
Again, I got lost in circles. I was telling about my black stones and how Irene told me the symbolism of sun and moon and stars, and how I came to see a book where the eye goddess was represented in many ways. I now know she still lives among us, in our prayers. She is Santa Luzia, Saint Light, and when we turn on the electric light we say before "Santa Luzia nos alumie" (Saint Lucia lights us) and after "Boa noite nos dê Deus" (God give us a good evening). I wonder if any of this can interest you. I'll try to make it more vivid, when I'm more acquainted to the silence of the Abbey.
May God give you a good night, my sisters that are still asleep.
For those awakening, I tell you "Aí vem o Manuel do dia, que tudo dá e tudo cria" (Here comes Manuel (Emanuel = Christ = Sun), that gives and creates everything)
Have a good day in your respective jobs.

A day in the sewing room Posted by Hello

A short absence

This morning I have to pack up my bags and leave the Abbey for a while. A month of therapy is in order. I am afraid that in the visible world it carries me 100 miles away from my cell. I hate to leave as so much is happening around here and I have just began to explore, but I am sure Heather will not give my cell to anyone else. I will just have to postpone my meetings with other Mona’s until I return. I shall keep up my journal though and cannot imagine not producing new art to line the walls in my cell on my return. I do have one more art project to post though. I finished my sewing room project. My ragged, well used book is now beautifully adorned. (If I do say so myself). Farewell Mona’s I have not met personally yet. I feel I already know you from your writings. I am sure I can catch-up when I return. OHHH I must try a scone before I leave. Love to all and happy creating.

Gathering Inspiration

There are a growing number of souls wandering the Abbey. Finding their way....making their way.

Early in the morning I wake, if I have slept at all, and lurk the vast hallways. Scarcely seen as I slip silently past the moonlit windows of the great hall which lead the way into the abbey gardens. As I enter these gardens I hear behind me the quiet hum of the Abbey coming to life as it welcomes in another day.

It has become my habit to slip down the stairs almost unnoticed. To wander in the dawn of the gardens, letting them imprint their beauty on my soul and infuse my heart with inspiration. The lights and shadows, the early morning mists that rise up with the sun reveal the forms and textures of the gardens as no other time of day can. As I run my fingers across the wrinkled blankets that enfold the trees my arms ache to create. The nature of the mother, the greatest artist of all, humbles me.

Bobbi Fetterly

The Muse Dances in the Wood

Playing and Preparation Procrastination

In the Alchemist’s Lair I am supposed to be getting ready for a journey. Instead, I am running up and down the halls with my habit thing flapping around. It was those scones . . . Ebony Wilder! She is down in the kitchen lashing stuff all over scones and you can smell them all over the whole Mona! I was trying to pay attention to what I was doing, but it was such a beautiful day outside, the scones and somebody down the hall was playing the Beatles all afternoon. You know who you are!! I suppose I am not the only person that spent the afternoon twisting and shouting around rather than accomplishing anything. Luckily for me, I have a very forgiving Muse, I don’t do a lot of that Culpa stuff. My Muse was out in the Grove dancing herself, if you had looked out the window (which you probably did) you would have seen her.

I do have a couple of things that I need to do. The first is to ask: DOES ANY ONE KNOW WHERE ANITA MARIE IS??? The last time she turned up missing she wished that someone had gone looking for her. It makes me a little nervous when she turns up missing. Nobody has heard any strange knocking from INSIDE any floors or anything have they? Just a little heads up. Just wondering. Who saw her last? Has she taken her flashlight? (Torch to you Aussie’s) I hope you don’t think that I am nosey and wondering what you are all doing when you are not posting all the time, because I am not, it is just that, well Anita Marie, she gets into things . . . However, I haven’t much doubt she can take care of herself.

I might get into the habit of following Ebony Wilder around . . . No, I already got into my habit, that is why it is flapping around while I am running up and down the halls.

As I have said, I am preparing for a journey. Every self respecting Alchemist has to go off looking for the Philosopher's Stone every once in a while. I hope you are not stuck with Harry Potter for your only knowledge of this important artifact. Not that Rowling was all THAT off about the whole thing, but she did play a little fast and loose and of course, the whole thing is complicated beyond the beyond the zebra, if you know what I mean. I mean, are we talking about a STONE? Or are we talking about a means to and end? And so. Is Alchemy only concerned with a search for a method of upgrading less valuable metals or also of perfecting the human being as well? Thus, is the Philosopher's Stone only a means to making gold from base metals or might it be a way to cure illnesses, prolong life, and bring about spiritual revitalization? Perhaps the Philosopher's Stone is made of a common substance, found everywhere but unrecognized and unappreciated?

Wealth. Spiritual renewal. Longevity. Health. An elixir of life! The Philosopher's Stone is like gold, but even better. Gold is a means to all wealth, but the Philosopher's Stone is a means to all ENDS, a universal means. And it's lying around for the taking. It's everywhere! You just have to have the wit to recognize it and learn how to use it. That is what I am up to.

Anyone want to come along? I’ve heard tell of a Bacchanal going on in the West Woods that sounds interesting along the way. My friend Shelley (yes, he’s a guy, but you’d go by Shelley too if you’re other names were Percy and Bysshe. Couldn’t you just DIE!) Anyway Shelley is all off about “‘Tis the bacchanal triumph that makes truth dumb!!” I don’t know, Keats can fall asleep while trying to write an ode. I am heading toward Wales, but who knows where the road will take me. It is one of THOSE roads, it doesn’t always go the same place that it went before. OH! That reminds me. Someone remind me to explain about the Immanent Grove before I leave . . . just so people don’t get nervous. I’ll go into more detail later, but YES, it does move. Now, I’m going to go see what Ebony Wilder is up to. Vegemite?


Can I Be The Housekeeper

Heather and I have worked together and since I retired we have maintained a friendship. She has convinced me that I must join her here in Lemuria. I am not so sure that this is a good idea but she has assured me that I will fit in and enjoy the tranquillity and serenity of this sanctuary. Knowing Heather I cannot quite imagine her being an Abbess or presiding over an order but she is full of surprises and I do know from personal experience that she is totally committed to writing on a daily basis.

Unlike Heather I am no longer a member of the mainstream workforce. I retired early after working as a teacher in a school where Heather used to work and I am now living in the country with my husband. We bought some land in the country and apart from my involvement in the local community I have been working hard to create a garden that will be open to the public.

I have a large house that can house a number of guests and I enjoy cooking. I am not a gourmet cook preferring to cook hearty Australian country meals for a crowd. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of sitting at the table, knowing that my guests have savoured one of my meals.

Please excuse me as I feel my way here. Perhaps I could be one of the cooks and whip up some nourishing meals for you all. I am a plantswoman but I plant intuitively rather than by name. I see things in nurseries, read magazines and experiment. My friends tell me that my garden has spirit. Dad still manages to come and help me but these days he mainly gives advice and is happy to just potter in the orchard, content to prune my roses.

If you go down to the kitchen during one of your breaks you will find that I have made some fresh scones for morning tea. In Australia, in the country, we are big on morning and afternoon tea. It is sometimes called smoko. My scones are made simply. I sieve three cups of self raising flour, add an egg and then use a mixture of cream and milk to make the dough. I usually cut them with a large glass tumbler and put them in a very hot oven for ten minutes. Enjoy with lashings of Raspberry jam and cream but have one or two with butter and Vegemite.

Will any one get upset if I take on a housekeeper role and busy myself in the garden? Perhaps I could work in the walled garden and plant some lovely old English favourites. Dad will have a few suggestions about what to plant.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Empty veassel creation

How linked is God and art! It amazes me that such a source is so available. Daily writing sets the stage for me for expanding my spiritual view and once emerged in the thought of creation miracles appear. Thomas Moore, in his book,"The Soul's Religion" admits he is not good at wood carving but once he cuts into the wood it releases God energy and he is transported into spirituality. He says that we should show no concern for anyone who may not like our efferts because that is not the purpose. What more worthy purpose then stepping a bit closer to God.
My favorite phrase, "Energy flows where attention goes," is So true. This picture started as a disaster as I tried to reproduce my oil painting on cloth with dyes and acrylic paints. The idea came from a sketch of a ruins by Feininger. Then ideas flowed...I printed the picture on cloth, then I resized some ancient pots from a magazine, cropped them smaller and printed them on cloth too. Next failure was trying to put acrylic texture on the good..and then I remembered my fusions..and cut some to put a design on the pots. Now I am figuring out what to do with it. It is held together with scotch tape right now. BUT: the point here is the great results from combining writing and art. I am thankful tonight that Heather created the Abbey and that I found it and joined. Jane

Empty vessels. Posted by Hello

I have come to the Abby

I have made it to the Abby. I had some trouble with this and I am still not sure if it is going to work. I have read the things that people have written and this seems like a special place. I don't know where I belong or what I can contribute, but I am glad to be here.
From, Louise Anna Holmes

Concentric Circles - Lemurian Abby

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Concentric Circles

The crystal waters of Lemuria’s Water Garden
Are hushed and plangent, deep with dreaming
There is mystery here, secrets whispered, magic singing
Lay your palm against the swirling water and you will feel it
Telling you tales of this land of breathing metaphor
Singing songs of this place of meaningful mists, which cloak the world in question
Against your palm the sweet water will continue to whisper
Of long sweet hours of meditation and contemplation
Of writing for the sheer relish and delight of writing

Lay your palms against the radiating water and you will feel it
The pull of this land, twining like ivy around your bones, sinking itself deep
Into your heart, your mind, your memory, your dreams
Claiming a piece of yourself, a part of each tomorrow
This land will have claimed you, to the root of your sighs
And yet, you will have given only the time it takes to accept
And you will find yourself rewarded with the unparalleled gift
Of yourself
Whatever you were seeking, you have found here a safe harbor
Abundant shelter; supportive solitude

Lay your palm against the inspiring water and you will feel it
Lift your wet hands and touch your eyes,
See images, ideas, and visions bloom thick and bright behind your eye lids
Lift your wet hands to your lips
Taste concepts, thoughts, perceptions; salty, rich, bitter, sweet
Look at the water sparkling on your fingertips
See those droplets turn to words, falling from your fingers to glisten on the paper
In scintillating spills of rainbow composition
Smile down calmly into the clear dimpled water, at the unadorned grey rocks below
Knowing in simple serenity that the water is water
And that the images, concepts, and words
All belong to you

Lay your palm against the encircling water and you will feel it
Concentric circles, rising from the top
The sweet spinning of synchronicity . . .
Circles touching circles, always reaching outward to touch more circles
The ever expanding, widening dance of possibilities
Gifting you with the ultimate understanding; that everything is connected
To everything

Sitting beside the crystal waters of Lemuria’s Water Garden
You will see the moon rise, a sonorous sphere of gold
Which the alchemy of night has hung, reflected round and resonant in the rippling water
Lay your palm against the sweet, gilded water and you will feel it
The golden moondeep possibility,
that after a lifetime of endless circling,
you have finally
Come home

©Edwina Peterson Cross

A triangle of rivers

I do not know why I was born in a town with a River's Name, a Cold River, when there is no river at all passing by this town. Saint Irony might have made it, since my hometown stays in the middle of a triangle formed by three REAL rivers: Rio d'Onor, the Honour River, Rio Sabor, the Flavour River and Rio das Maçãs, The Apple River. They all have lots of pure, cold water falling and running by the Granite Rocks in their sides, beneath the folliage in their benches, all but my Cold River.
That is why, when summer arrives, I can not take a refreshing bath in the village. The Onor and the Sabor are too far away for a lonely girl driving an old Renault. The Maçãs is only some kilometers away from home, and it is my favorite.
It is at the Maçãs that my journey to the Abbey begins. Many times I've been there, but never noticed, bellow the watermill, that the small island of stones hides a mistery. All those are the black stones once used in school classrooms, hanging on walls, but in smaller sizes. Some are the size of your hand, some are square, some like bricks, some like little standing stones in top of European hills taken down by time and men.
It must have been three summers ago, when I noticed the stones, and while bathing, half of my body in the water, bitten by small fishes, my hands started touching stones, measuring stones, caressing stones. Then, with one of those little phalus, used as a pencil, I started engraving the square stones. I draw spirals, moons and suns, birds and beasts, but most of all I started drawing spriraling eyes, owls eyes, and the breasts, the dress of what, I only knew it after, is the Goddess of Eyes. I was not drawing for amusement, it was an urge for me. I drawed like in trance.
Summertime went, I returned to the museum. It is a small, generical museum at the city near my village. We have roman coins and 19th century oils, old church garnments and folk dresses. We do not have many visitors. Time is long there.
I take care of the books that nobody reads, books full of traditions recollected by old men in the fields and forrests. I also sell the tickets and the souvenirs by the front door. One day I remembered to take some of my engraved stones to the museum, and guard them as talismans in my desk, where the pencils and t-shirts gain dust. They were there as rememberances of the river.
One day a group of tourists came to the museum and one of the women started looking for souvenirs. She stopped by my stones and asked if they were for sale. I told her they were mine, that I had drawn them. She said I was an artist and I blushed. But she convinced me they were very interesting when, after taking my e-mail address, she told me what they reminded her of. She told me about spirals, moon and sun, and all the symbols I had carved in some black stones one summer afternoon. On and on we developed an electronic friendship and became intimate, though she lives in the capital of the country, some nine hours from here, by bad roads.
After these stone stories, many other occurred, and Irene convinced me I had to meet the Abbess, and tell her about things that happen when I'm very calm and contemplative, when nature meets me and I meet nature. It was a path long before walked that brought me to the Abbey doors, and I'm here to remember it, and to put it in words. Now, it is chill in the cloisters, I'm going to retire to my cell and have some sleep till the cock anounces mourning, like in the village. Bless you, my sisters, for this night and for the centuries to come.

A sidetrip

Being me on the way to the sewing room I got lost and then distracted. I must have made a wrong turn some where as I ended up at big, glass double doors leading into "The Library". I had to go in and look around.
It was a huge place with a balcony surrounding the outer walls. The immensity of it took my breath away. As I stumbled around searching for an index file or guide of some kind I noticed a cozy reading section with huge coffee tables in front of overstuffed chairs. On the tables were daily copies of the thoughts of others who also lived here. I snuggled into the biggest, softest chair and began to read.
I am really impressed. What a marvelous group of people, and so many different approaches to art and writing. I am so tempted to interact with each one. But then I realized if I enter into this pleasure I would be taking away from their time and the exploration of my own direction. I think I will have to resist this impulse and just wait until I run into one of them during my activities. I am very tempted to search for that workroom though, that raps around this library. I wonder if I can get a key too.
I enjoy reading Winnies poems and thoughts. She seems to have a tongue in cheek humor that I like. People having different opinions are inspiring to me as it makes me look deeper into my own thoughts. The word pride surprised me and I immediately looked around for a dictionary. In my mind the word pride never entered the equation. There are so many thoughts that surround words it is a surprise that we are even able to communicate. The dictionary furthered that thought, as Pride went from proper respect for ones own dignity (positive) to excessive self esteem; (negative) and ego goes from the conscious personality component that directly controls behavior and is most in touch with reality, (positive ) to extreme self importance (negative). In my experience in the abbey I was hoping to avoid the traps of reality and go deep into the mystery of the inner self. Perhaps I picked the wrong words. I am glad she mentioned it though.
But time flies and I should be in the sewing room finishing my book cover. First though I found the dialogue on what name to call us amusing. I laughed when I read calling us Monas’ . I can not come up with anything I like better yet. On the way out I noticed a section on creativity . As there seems to be no check out desk here I slipped it into my sewing bag and hurried back the way I came.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mea Culpa

My understanding of the Abbey changes daily and I am now debased of the foolish notion of ease and perfection. Yesterday and today have been terrible days for me. My faults, sins, shortcomings, whatever I or anyone else choose to call them, have tumbled down on me like pots and pans from an overfull cupboard.

Writing ideas have appeared in tangled masses and have refused to unsnarl no matter how much I work on them. The beautiful manuscript page, so clear in my mind, lies in physical ruins, due to impatience and lack of focus. And the worst of it, my cell window is once again small, high and unreachable. It still lets in the light, but denies me the beautiful view of the sea that was mine for so short a time.

Two nights ago, after having shared the beauty of a lingering sunset with Oreo and Tookey, I rested in my cell content to read and eager to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the joys and miracles of the week. Before bed, I climbed the chair one more time, leaned my elbows on the sill and took deep breaths of the cool salty air. An inky blue sky above me was sprinkled with stars and the full moon laid a milky white path on the calm sea. I did not think anything could be more beautiful.

The following morning I arose early, determined to hurry through work in order to make my way down to the lovely beach just visible beneath me. Oreo left, Tookey soon flew off, and envious of their freedom, I found myself unable to concentrate on my journal. Curious about the new members of the Abbey, I wondered if I might meet one or two of them on the beach. A longing for the ocean convinced me that my promise to write and draw every day was unrealistic.

Still the promise had been made, so I took out my manuscript page and began to ink over the sketched letters. In my hurried state a slight imperfection blossomed into a major mistake when I tried to thicken a line I'd drawn too thin. Like a haircut gone awry, each attempt I made to repair one part made the rest look out of synch.

Finally I gave up; there was no way to salvage the page. Disgusted with myself for choosing a project so far beyond my limited ability, I decided to abandon the entire idea and try for something simpler. But not right then. The day had treated me cruelly, the Abbey had disappointed me, and the talent of the other artists had robbed me of my self-confidence.

I didn't bother putting my drawing things away, just stomped out, leaving the room a mess and made my way down the long row of doors until I came to the one leading down to the sea. It had opened so easily the day before, but this time it wouldn't budge and I thought it had been locked again. I tugged and pulled, stubborn and determined to open it and get my reward for the abominable way I'd been treated.

I nearly fell over backwards when it finally let go. Inside, the stairwell seemed darker than the last time and colder. I wished Oreo had come with me. I remembered the unpleasant feel of the damp walls from before but, without a railing to guide me, I had to hold on to something as I descended the uneven stone steps which were slick with moss and slime.

I started counting them after about two ordinary flights, they seemed to have no end, and the way never got brighter or warmer. I arrived at the bottom at eighty-seven and found myself in a bleak cave with crabs scrabbling about my feet and the stink of rotting sea weed and dead fish in my nostrils. The ocean was gray and as angry as the black clouds that littered the sky. A cold wind was whipping up the waves and, with an ungodly screech, a gull flew into the cave. I put up my arms to protect myself from the huge wings as they came straight toward my face, then turned and fled back up the stairs slipping and sliding all the way.

Shaking with fear and cold, I slammed the horrible door behind me and ran to my room where light poured in as bright and sunny as when I had left but from a small, high, unreachable window.

It was too much. I couldn't stay alone in my cell, not then. My head pounded as I headed to the garden and I offered a quick prayer of thanksgiving when I found it in the same spot, bathed in sunlight, sparrows twittering in the quince trees, a cluster of sulphur butterflies fluttering over a bed of marigolds.

I sat down wearily on one of the benches and noticed how filthy my brown robe was; there was a tear near the hem, and my shinbone was aching. I must have fallen coming up the steps and not even been aware of it. At last, I took a deep breath to calm and center myself and noticed an unpleasant odor coming from the plant nearest me. The bluish-green leaves were attractive, but they were definitely the source of the smell. "Rue," the marker read, "often called the herb of grace or the herb of repentance."

It sank in after a bit and I slowly realized I'd been the cause of everything that had befallen me. I listed all the faults I'd been guilty of: impatience, lack of focus, envy, self-pity, willingness to go back on a promise, demanding instant gratification, comparing myself to others, stubbornness, anger, lack of perseverance and, perhaps worst of all, a lack of gratitude for the gift of my own talent.

Seeking to quiet my troubled spirit, I took out my Bible, turned to Psalm 94 and read, "When I said, 'My feet slippeth;' thy mercy held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The sewing room

I am afraid I rushed my morning meditation today as I was anxious to return to the sewing room. After leaving breakfast yesterday I wandered through the halls, peeking into any open doors and discovered a sewing room. Bells rang in my head! That is what I will do for my art project. In my room I have a very old paperback copy of "The Tao to Inner Peace" by Diane Dreher. It is well worn and I have always wanted to recover it.
I rushed back to my cell to collect the materials as my mind visualized different things I could do. Just before I went to bed last night I had been experimenting with paint on fabric for the next art project, plus played with some gold paint on an orange scrap. That would work perfect for an embellishment on a book bag. Now I need to figure out something to use for a handle so I can carry it out to the garden to read. I spent the rest of the day working on it and now I just have to do some finishing touches.

Winter Journal Posted by Hello

Observations / Day One

Winter Journal

White, quiet snow
Frozen fog at day break.
A captured moment through
womanly eyes.

Fluttering, chilly yellow finches
happy with seed.

Undisturbed tree swing buried and still
in Artic wind.
No child voice today.

Deer grouped together, steaming frosted backs
hoofing it carefully to a barren wooded shelter.
Ever so tranquil crunching.

Earth sadness covered in a fresh milk hue.
White, quiet snow.

Lemurian Abbey

Lemurian Abbey
Dear Abbess and fellow residents,
I need to make a small confession, or perhaps it is a series of small confessions.
Let me start with the key. Yes, I too found a key in my cell. I had been hiding out in the scriptorium, doing my little sketching on the odd scraps of vellum, after hours when I realized it was late and I should make an attempt to get some sleep. So I padded quietly through the abbey, back to my cell. Everything was very still. I went over to a niche where I knew there was a fresh candle and I lit it. As I did this I noticed a beautiful old key lying there, with a tag. On the tag, very worn and hard read, I made out the letters EPIPHANY. Where did this key come from? What would it open? Instead of waiting till morning to ask the Abbess if she had lost such a key, I figured I would just go back out and look around and see if I could find this EPIPHANY. There was no sleeping now.
You see ever since I was a child, I've been fascinated with keys and where they may lead. I had a story book in which a boy and girl are exploring the countryside, a green rolling hilled countryside, when suddenly they discover an old iron key. They carried it with them and soon they came to a big rock and in the rock there was a hole, the shape of a key hole. They tried their key and sure enough it fit and suddenly they found themselves in a whole other world. They met a queen in dark robes and you know this all I can remember of this story. I don't know what happened to the children, I don't know what happened to this magical place. But ever since then, I have been collecting keys in a little leather bag, hoping that one day I'll find the end of the story, or a rock with a key hole in it.
So here was another key, begging me to take it exploring. How could I do anything else even though morning prayers would be coming too soon. So back out into the corridors with my fresh candle, and I wandered somewhere close to the scriptorium, down a corridor I have walked every day since coming here, and I saw, as if for the first time, a door with very unusual iron work. My eyes were drawn to this door. So I looked for a keyhole and sure enough there it was, with EPIPHANY stamped into the iron work.
With heart beating wildly (I was sure it would wake everyone, the drumming sounded that loud to me) I tried the key. The door flew open. It seems that there is a whole huge secret workshop space right next to the scriptorium. In fact it seems to wrap itself around the scriptorium. As I wandered around in this space, I couldn't believe my eyes, such tools, such vellums, and leathers, and pigments. Every where I looked there was spaciousness and possibility. Things were beautifully organized and just begging to be worked with.
And so that is why you haven't seen me for a few days. I've been lost in this most beautiful hidden workshop, behind a door with the word EPIPHANY stamped into the iron work. I've been working on my Book of Days.
I have much to show you, so although I am making my confessions I have to say I was not wasting my time.
Most sincerely your anchorette,

Welcome New Community Members

I have brought a gift to welcome the new members of the community . . . I went down to the kilns a few days ago and whipped up a batch of terra cotta and fired up a nice vase. Then I spent an afternoon painting it so it looked welcoming. When I had sealed it, I filled it with water and went to the rose garden for flowers. This brings up a question: What hemisphere are we in? I will tell you: Both. Neither. Never ask an Alchemist a question if you want a straight answer. Wherever we are, there are almost always roses. So I bring these and sit them here on the table of the cloister to welcome those who have just come anew to our Abby . . . Patricia, whose name I have seen, but whose voice I have just heard for the first time. Bobbi, who I am surprised I didn’t meet down by the kilns. Traveller, are you staying long? Fran, my dear, Jane, Lani, Ana das Neves: I leave this welcome for you. Welcome to our Community.


1) * noun: (ecology) a group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other
2) * noun: a group of people living in a particular local area
3) * noun: a group of people having ethnic or cultural or religious characteristics in common
4) * noun: a group of nations having common interests
5) * noun: common ownership
6) * noun: agreement as to goals
7) * noun: the body of people in a learned occupation
8) * noun: a district where people live; occupied primarily by private residences
9) * adjective: belonging to and maintained by and for the local community

Well, here we are! Which definition fits do you think? I seems to me, by the way we are already working independently the first definition is out - yes, inhabiting the same region, but not interdependent nor necessarily interacting. Except by chance.

Number two seems most basic and most likely. We are a group of people living in a local area. We are more than that though, for we are all here for a purpose.

Three? I think not. I rather think that our religious and cultural divergences would be fairly staggering if we decided to lay them out. Most beautifully we needn’t lay them out, but can carry on with our own agenda with the respect of those around us.
I hear what you are saying Jane about pride. I happen to disagree for I sing the songs of Walt Whitman and Clarissa Pinkola Estes and I would be nurturing and celebrating myself and singing myself as well as singing your praises around the rafters, perhaps too loudly, but I respect your thoughts and what you are doing here and I will be silent. I thank Barbara for her comments on my poem titled “A Druid Walks in Zion” I know our paths are not the same, thus her thoughtful response means even more. No, number three doesn’t fit and it seems one of the nicest things about the place.

Well, we are not nations, but I suspect we have common ownership. I mean, I certainly had the right to go down and invent myself a kiln to make a pot with. I even invented the skill to make the pot as well, that was the most fun! So I’m going to say, yes to number five. I think we have common ownership over our own imaginations. There wasn’t an Alchemists Lair here before I got here. Whatever is going on down in the catacombs and over in the cemetery, I think we all know perfectly well Anita Marie is causing it. Yes to number five.

Six. No. Our goals are our own. That is a fascinating idea in and of itself. Many goal oriented orbits happening within a greater orbit that is merely containing them? What about that Lady in Blue? What is she up to? Probably nothing. Are you kidding? Never ask an Alchemist a question if you want a straight answer.

I’m going to say yes to seven. I’ve made an executive decision that being in an Abby constitutes a learned occupation, even though we each have different callings here. What are we though? I don’t think I want to be a Monk. No. Not fond of Nun as a designation either. Abbette. Abbaleena. Abartist. Abbestudioso. If you live in a Nunnery you are a Nun. If you live in a monastery does that make you a Mona? If you live in a Convent are you a Con? If we wanted to be monks Heather could be a Archimandrite! That’s a great word, but I don’t think its worth being a Monk over. We may have to take a poll. Think about it and have a good day neighbor.

Yes to eight because we live in our cells. (We could be Cellulars!)

The last one is an adjective. Anyone up for being an adjective tonight? You know, it’s sort of like a Baskin-Robbins run or going skinny dipping or something. We’ll just all meet down by the herb garden and . . . yeah. You know all about being a noun. Ever thought about being an adjective? Bring your flashlight (or your torch, if you come from the ‘other side’) wear sturdy boots.
Trust me, I’ve been called a "walking thesaurus.” Are there other thesauri among you? Hummmm? dicionário de sinónimos . . . come on down! . . .


Welcome New Community Members

Monday, February 21, 2005

Coming Home, An Ideal

Moving in today, I am inspired by a vision - to achieve a life that is different from the mainstream of society.

In finding my cell I must remind myself to ~honor~ poverty. To be thankful for the things I do have but also thankful for what I don't have. Perhaps I don't have ... because I am not ready to receive at this point in time.

My small dwelling has white - washed walls and smells of the cold, winter morning. I can't touch the one window, the only source of light, nor view the outside. A single bed sits to the left of the window with a down mattress, pillow, and sheepskin coverlet. A wooden box is at the foot of the bed.

A long writing table faces the other wall and is constructed of pine boards. The simple chair has a cane seat. I run my fingers across the tiny holes. Upon the table is a lantern and above the table is a simple shelf. I unpack my books.

By the wooden box is a wash stand with a pitcher and bowl. A tall pewter cup stands alone on one side. Lavendar soap and a pumice rock are on top of a linen towel.

I put my clothing in the box, my shoes on top. I am amazed that what I brought fits perfectly in the space.

My art supplies and writing journal fit neatly on one end of the table.

I try my chair on and sit quietly as I hear morning office being sung. I ask myself where to begin? And I am reminded, begin at the beginning ...


Stepping outside

For the first time since entering the monastery I entered my morning meditation totally void of motivation. My art project is less then inspiring. What I had created in my mind falls flat once I began to maneuver the paints. I should be use to this. There is nothing inspiring in underpainting, but now I do not even have my oil paints, which I love to maneuver, with me. Oils can be messy and acrylics seemed a much more practical medium for using in a small cell, but with the acrylic paints there is no familiar smell and the paint does not flow and blend as it does with my oils. Perhaps I should try a different approach to this project. Better yet perhaps I should just leave this cell for a while. After all, I have not been out of this room for 5 days.
Slipping on blue jeans and a sweat shirt I headed into the hall in search for energy and motivation. The hall was dark and dimly lit from alcoves in the walls. Each alcove held a religious art work. Thomas Moore wrote of how art carried energy of its own which we could absorb. I stopped at each one as I moved down the hall, trying to catch the essence of what the artist was sending, but the symbols did not change the mood I was in. Perhaps another time.
I headed for a door at the end of the hall. Hopefully that would head outdoors, as right now I craved the sun. As I walked along I heard a screach, much like a bird, within the building. I stopped, startled and a bit apprehensive. It seemed to come from the room ahead where the door stood ajar. I moved slowly ahead and once I could see into the room I found myself staring straight into the piercing eyes of a parrot perched high in the window. He spread his magnificent wings and started screeching loudly as I hurriedly moved on. He was definitely protecting his owners cell. Once outside I had to laugh. This was the last thing I had expected to see in a monastery.
Once outdoors my mood quickly lifted and I pleasurably strolled and absorbed the suns energy. It is very understandable why our ancient ancestors worshiper the sun. One of my missions here at the monastery was to collect methods and sources of absorbing spiritual and creative energy. I have slowly been collecting a routine of worship here and the outdoors must fit in the schedule. How many ways are there to collect spiritual and creative energy? The days here will hopefully reveal that to me. But now I see an herb garden ahead and a door nearby leading back into the rear of the monastery. There is a rustic wooden sign above the door and it says KITCHEN. I am hungry!

Sunday, February 20, 2005


My first week in the Abbey passed quickly and, some would say, uneventfully. I worked, slept, ate, meditated in the cloistered garden and read snatches of the herb book in the evenings. The time, however, was full of subtle and unexpected miracles.

I soon became accustomed to the fact that day or night, whether writing in my journal, or working on a manuscript page, the light from that small, unreachable window was always perfect, then just when I'd reach a point where I determined the day had lasted long enough, the light would slowly become dimmer, soft shadows would fall, and within half an hour I'd be asleep in the welcoming darkness.

I continued to leave the door to my cell open, although I'd already given up the idea of catching the person who delivered my meals. Oreo roamed whenever and wherever he wished, always returning in a pleasant mood ready to butt heads with me and purr in my ear, and, of course, always ready to eat.

On the third day I decided to give Tookey a bath. I opened her cage and after pouring some water from the pitcher into the basin I gave her my arm and lowered her in until she stepped off. Usually timid with anything new, she immediately plunged her head into the water and splashed it onto her chest. In an instant she was thrashing both wings in wild abandon and screeching in delight. I added water three more times before she was satisfied and by then I was almost as wet as she was.

"You are beautiful," I told her, although there's nothing quite as ugly as a wet parrot. Most of her primary feathers had turned brown and her fluffy pin feathers stuck out in fierce spikes. Her orange and black eyes dilated with excitement. I put her on top of her cage in the sun and left her door open so she could go in when she wanted. Just as I took a step away, she unfolded her wings and gave a huge shake, showering me again in the process.

The pitcher was nearly empty, as was the basin. All the water was on the bird, on me, or the floor. I was drying things off when I noticed faint, pink rosebuds painted on the fluted rim of the basin. I checked the pitcher, sure enough, climbing up the handle, more roses. The set had been plain, unadorned white. I'd wondered why it was even in my cell when the shower was right down the hall. Could it have been meant for Tookey all along?

As puzzled as I was, I didn't give it another thought, because right then my soggy, old bird, who hadn't flown in years, gave a loud squawk and lunged and scrabbled her way up onto the window ledge. Totally unnerved, I pulled the chair over and climbed up to try and coax her down, but it was obvious she intended to settle in and stay right where she was.

I calmed down after awhile and resumed my writing. The Abbey, I reassured myself, was safe for all creatures, including middle aged parrots. Tookey stretched a wing now and again, rested, fluttered and preened until she was dry. Then she flew off.

The Abbey is full of paradoxes. At home I would have been unable to work, afraid for my pet's safety, here I simply did what was expected of me and trusted in God to do the rest. From time to time I'd look up to see if she had returned, but without any worry or concern, simply out of curiosity.

Lunch time came and went, still no Tookey. I took my usual afternoon break in the garden, hoping to see her perched in one of the quince trees and was disappointed to find she wasn't there either. I suddenly realized this was the first time I'd worried about anything since I'd come to the Abbey. I opened my pocket Bible to Matthew 6 and read about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, reminding myself that God was taking care of all my needs (and Tookey's) and that I'd come to the Abbey to practice my writing and art in the context of my faith.

I drew for the rest of the day, abstract forms, stain glass possibilities, patterns, lines, shapes--straight and symmetrical, flowing loops and curves, and every one led me further into the contemplation of the majesty of creation and the wonder of the Creator. The movement of my hand became worship, my eyes adored, my voice praised, and all my heart gave thanks to God's awesome power.

I have no idea how long I worked (drew? prayed?) there is no clock in my cell and no way for me to judge the time, but eventually I felt weary and lay down on the bed to rest. I awoke, I think because I was hungry and smelled food. Evidently Tookey returned for the same reason.

I saw her up in the window when I brought in my dinner tray. As soon as I uncovered the plate of angel hair pasta, she swooped gracefully onto my shoulder and snuggled her face against mine. Her feathers were soft from the bath and had the scent of the open air. She would have been more than willing to eat directly from my plate but after a bit more nuzzling, I filled her dish with pasta and put it in her cage.

While she ate, I used my dinner knife to pry open the hinges to her cage door and remove it. Her cage was her home, as this cell was mine, but never would either door be locked again.

Oreo soon joined us and after we had finished eating, I again slid my chair over to the window, but this time with a difference. When I stood on it I could lean my arms on the sill and, for the very first time, look out. The view took my breath away. A pale blue sky with a cluster of clouds riding on the horizon met a glittering azure sea. Gulls called out and wheeled the heavens searching for fish. Waves crashed against rocks and tumbled onto the sandy shore beneath us.

Oreo leaped up and strolled the ledge a few times, then sat to one side and began to wash. Tookey flew from her cage, her green and yellow feathers more brilliant than I'd ever seen them, her orange epaulets sparkling like a firebird's. Retrieving something from a niche in the stone, she waddled toward me and presented it as a gift.

A small scallop shell. A sign of pilgrimage.

Humbled again

This mornings meditation started out with unsettled feelings. Something deep inside was bothering me. Slowly a knowingness came over me. I was bothered by my humanness. My ego had surfaced. One of my main goals in entering the monastery was to always be humble and to ignore that others would read my words. To reach into SELF I knew I had to place ego aside and speak only with my truth. But then I read that Heather has publicly published my words and I run off to take a look. AHA..Ego looms its self centered head. Of course I had to reread my words.
I also thought I had written from my soul but then the last sentence loomed in my mind. "I search for truth. " Yes, that is a noble endeavor, but honestly it was not the truth. It was a zinger sentence, a dramatic ending, a way to finish with a cliff hanger. I feel ashamed.
I did my search for spiritual truths when I was in my thirties, and at that time. After months of reading, thought, debate, and meditation, I came to the conclusion that there are no universal truths. The very word Truth has to be provable and with no exceptions. Although I do believe: "Thy shall not kill; , if my children were threatened by a killer or rapist I would kill. The fact is "Truth needs to be proved. but faith is believing in the unproveable." I am now humbled.
And now I know I must once more empty. With that thought I receive glimpses into my next art work. I love the work of Feininger, and in the 70s’ I did an art work inspired by one of his diagonal thrust drawings. It is the green one on my blog. I am going to in some way incorporate it in the background and place ancient pots in the foreground. I do not know the medium…..perhaps with cloth…..perhaps more fusion…,,,,."
Ok, that is enough of that Jane. Your meditation is over. Go create.""

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Hearing the Piper


Crone Jane, I hope you do not mind. I will not disturb your meditations, you'll never even see my shadow, but it seems that, as always, you have brought inspiration with you. Your words on meditation and prayer are so rich. Another poem has escaped!

I come here to empty
Piper Play on . . .
Wash away the remains of what has gone wrong
Scrub off clinging patches of dried, crusted dirt
Scour off bitter remnants of old, festered hurt
Piper, here in the golden throat of your song
Is a note that is sweet, echoed and strong
I will learn to be like it, wash away all that’s there
Until I’m a hollow bowl waiting for prayer
Waiting to be filled with an inspired wine
Ambrosia of creation, gift of the Divine
Like your note, I’ll come hollow, and wait to be filled
I’ll be the snow where the Master will build

I will be the empty canvas where the joy dance is drawn
Piper play on . . .
Piper play on . . .

©Edwina Peterson Cross

A Druid Walks in Lemuria


I read with interest Crone Jane's last message on prayer and meditation. I am and have always been intrigued by the various different interpretations of both that there are in the world. I like Jane’s definition that prayer is asking, meditation is listening. I do believe they are intertwined and that even in the intense, focused act of prayer, one probably out to stop fairly often and . . . listen. Here is a poem of mine some will find heretical. It is at least ironic, as I sit here encased in walls of stone. Poor Francis . . . God said “rebuild my church,” and beautiful Francis thought he meant the building. Some people never get past thinking it is a building, that the Divine is made of stone. I don’t mind being inside the walls for this time; my lair has openings to the winds twelve quarters, the trees twine inside and the birds come and go. Through them I can see the full circle of the sky and watch the Lady Moon in her dance across the heavens. And of course, I know how to open all the doors and I know the way to the grove.

The Druid Walks in Zion

Wherefore build temples of bricks and clay
And wash them white
Spired symmetrically round?
Man in his delusions
Building with his frail hands
Another ladder to heaven
Concrete steps to carry him to the stars
A ephemeral vessel in which to talk to God
To pull on his sleeve
To hold his collars
Until we are sure he hears our weighty words
Gifted with speech, man has filled the universe
With the whispering of his importance
And forgotten that in stillness
One can hear

Wherefore build temples of bricks and clay?
When The Temple is here in eternal peace
Built in savored splendor by infinite hands
Before temporal man ever thought to speak
Pointing with glory in a stretch to the sky
Cradling heaven in a circle of immortal stone
Wherefore build temples of bricks and clay?
Walk soft here in the sacred silence of His space

©Edwina Peterson Cross

I have finished my first project and have produced something different then I have ever done before. I started with an acrylic background and then added the face done by Michaelangelo. I died som virgin yarns I had picked up at a rummage sale and dyed them in the microwave to the colors I wanted and sprayed them on to freezer paper sprayed with acrylic medium. After it dries you peel it off and adhere to the background arond the photo. I feel the joy I was seeking.
Art Project one Posted by Hello


Saturday, February 19, 2005
Sitting quietly on my meditation mat on my third day I am slowly finding a direction. I have added a shelf for the books I have brought, a table for art work, and a desk to write at, and for now it is enough. The walls will stay bare until I have something I have created as a direct results of my meditations. I started a small collage last night. I am not going topreplan but let it evolve as I hope my meditations do.
Prayer is asking, Meditation is LISTENING..I will be silent and listen:
To hear I must empty out. I must become an empty vessel. Preconceived beliefs, expectations or goals will block the small soft voice within. "Piper, play on."
Art and all the humanities are gifts from God through tapping in on the creative energy force. I ask for emptiness so I have room to receive something new and be worthy of such a gift. I ask for humbleness to not feel self pride for something I could not create without God. I ask for emptiness and the ability to hear and produce.
I now know what I am seeking. I am seeking joy. I seek a life that makes you smile. A life where you produce something creative that did not exist the day before. A life that fills your heart with peace, accomplishment and joy.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The monastery?

Meditation 1: What do I consider a monastery is? What do I search that this cell can bring me? What is to be found within these walls that brings me here? These are the questions that arose as I sat on my mat to meditate and I realized that I must first answer these questions before I can proceed.
Looking at images of monasteries around the world I do not view them as I do a church. I am under the impression that churches are filled with believers who feel they know the answers and monasteries are a sanctuaries for seekers who wish to know. I do think that many who enter feel they know and just want to give all their time to their belief, but from my readings, most who have contributed to literature are still seeking. I think people enter the monasteries to get to know God deeper then they are able when they participate in the secular world.
As far as my cell is concerned, I think I know the answer to that. In Lemuria I was free to roam from one adventure to another, and the very act of exploring shielded me from my inner self, I was enjoying but also shielding my soul from too much exposure. The adventures led me close to self, but always there was another path, another door to open. Here, within my cell there is no adventure. Just myself and my soul and hopefully a teacher from the unknown.
So what do I hope to accomplish? What do I seek? I need to look deeper inside for that answer. I must be patient. I must not jump to poetic conclusions or impressive answers led by the ego. I hope to reach humbly into the part of me that knows God. I hope to find truth.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Day 1,

Entering in the middle of the night I have no orientation what so ever of my surroundings. Looking around my assigned cell I feel good, surrounded by spiritual energy. Even though the walls are completely bare I am pleased that my cell has two deep set floor to ceiling, narrow, glass windows . The first rays of morning sun now stream through them, leaving a path across the floor. Nature plays a big part in my spirituality and I am pleased that I can sit in the window seat and scan from earth to heaven. I would hate to have only a small window high in the wall like some of the cells.
The only furnishing in the cell at this time is the double bed on a wooden platform that sits on the floor, with drawers all around for storage. My suitcases and boxes of art supplies are stacked in the corner and I am ready to begin my first day as a novice in the Order of Soul Food. I have no idea what is required. I must explore, but first I need to pull out my yoga mat, center my mind and body, and MAKE A COMMITMENT to do daily meditations.
Day one
How can I use this space of time, cloistered in the Lemurian Abbey, to my best advantage.
What would be the best spiritual art project?

Lost in the Abbey

Oh how easy it is to be lost, but I found my way back to my cell. I think my map must not be quite complete, or maybe the abbey is a little more complex than I thought it was at first.
So now I can sigh deeply, light a candle, and consider what I've learned from the teachers in the scriptorium.

1. Don't hold on to the pen so tightly. This is important in illuminating manuscripts, in copying out text, but it is very important in life. Hold things gently and if things want to slip away, let them.

2. Look with attention to details. Look in the rafters, you may see angels there. Look at the tiniest details. They will fill your heart with wonder. This is really good when you get lost and make a "wrong" turn. Don't panic, just start paying attention. Where ever you are, you aren't lost to you.

3. Give yourself time to play with the materials. Playing will feed your soul. If you have to slip into the scriptorium during the night in order to do this, do it! Some days you will be able to remind yourself that you give yourself time, that you can play and you can feed your soul.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Work and Leisure

I tucked my new brown robe and sandals under my arm and went to find the showers, Oreo trotting along at my side as if he were a dog. It was a good thing the Abbess had given me the map, I'd never seen so many doors in my life and none of them marked.

When I returned to my cell, I read her note again. It was obvious I should get straight to work, equally as obvious she didn't want me to get distracted, but those doors were driving me crazy. "Most of the doors you pass will be locked." Did that mean don't bother, keep out, or have a look? The map showed the small portion of the monastery open to me. So, if some of the doors were unlocked, was that part unrestricted? I had thought the Abbey would offer clear cut insight, rules, and specifics, and yet it was giving me exactly what ordinary life offered, choices, contradictory advice, and confusing signals.

"So, I guess we're back to the "free will" thing again, huh, Lord?" I resolved to work diligently until I thought I deserved a break and then investigate. I left my own door open, hoping to, at least, get a nod from whomever delivered the meals.

There was no point trying to write, my mind was bubbling like an alchemist's cauldron. I emptied my tote bag on the bed and spread out the various papers I'd brought, made piles of pencils, markers and other drawing supplies.

Since I had nothing but a few pictures on the Internet to go by, I was at a loss as to how to begin. I had brought some lovely neutral colors, egg shell, cream, cocoa, and a brown. The idea was to enclose several of the pages of an unwanted book, covering them completely, and turn the new pages into a modern day illuminated manuscript.

I decided to make some templates before I started cutting anything. I'd packed in a hurry and forgotten to bring scrap paper, but the manila envelope that had held the paper would do.

"I have everything I need to begin," I murmured, recalling the Abbess's words.

I soon ran into a glitch, my paper wasn't long enough to fit, but as often happens with art, what doesn't follow the plan leads to something even better. I extended a cream colored sheet with chocolate brown ( vanilla and chocolate--of course! Why hadn't I thought of that?) which gave me a two-inch strip of rich brown near the binding. This would make my initial letter really pop!

"Lord make me an instrument of thy peace," the opening line of the St. Francis prayer was to go on my first page. I worked for hours, it seemed, on the "L" trying different sizes, shapes, drawing tools, until I finally decided to cut two elongated "S" shapes out of shiny gold paper, fit them together, then added a similar shape at the back of the letter to give it more character. I thought it might be a simple enough alphabet for me to use throughout the project, since lettering wasn't exactly my strong suit in art.

Satisfied that I was off to a good start, I looked around my little cell and took in the fact that I'd just arrived the day before and already I'd begun a project I'd been longing to tackle for months. The room's gray stone walls and minimal furnishings were not particularly inviting, but the bed, little more than a cot, had been blissfully comfortable and the light from that strange window had been perfect for my project so far. My curiosity got the better of me; there was nothing visible but blue sky, but I pulled the chair closer to the wall and climbed on it. Even standing on my toes the window was still way above my head.

The exercise felt good. I had no idea how long I'd worked, but my shoulders and legs needed stretching. I walked into the hall and tested the first door I came to; it was locked up tight. And the next and the next. For some reason I thought it might work better if I started from the far end and worked my way back. I was right, the second door opened with a creak and looked down on a dark and dusty stairwell. The sides of the walls were moist to the touch and I watched as Oreo stretched forward to sniff the damp, musty air.

"Smells like rotting piers and sea water to me. What do you think?"
I asked.

He appeared to give it some thought, then sauntered back into the hall.

"Well, that's good enough for me, some other time, perhaps. I'm not supposed to go off adventuring yet, but maybe next week we'll check it out. It doesn't smell sinister, just stinky. I didn't know we were near the ocean, but I bet you'd like it."

White-tipped tail held high, he trotted ahead a few doors and stopped.

"That one, huh?" The door opened quietly and easily as though its antique hinges had been recently oiled. I heard the sparrows first and then felt the warmth of a summer breeze. Oreo was already padding silently over the slate floors and heading into the garden before I even crossed the threshold. I'd seen pictures of cloisters with herb gardens in books but this was the first time I'd ever seen one in person and its beauty took my breath away.

The garden was enclosed on all four sides by a series of gracefully columned archways that connected to each other at a height perfectly designed for sitting. In Mediaeval times, this was where the monks or nuns would meet each other, work, read, and meditate.

Herbs needed for healing, and seasoning food were grown here. I wondered what else they might be used for and suddenly longed for a laptop. The Abbey must have a library where I could learn about them, I thought, and perhaps someone who could explain their uses and tell me the legends associated with them. I walked the pathways slowly, grateful that the beds were labeled. Parsley, basil and chives were the only ones I could have identified on my own. There were four distinct sections at the corners and several divisions in the center of the garden, beds were marked off with low wattle fences. Two lovely fruit trees caught my eye, about as tall as a man and with twisted branches, they turned out to be quinces.

I lingered a little longer then turned to make my way back to my unadorned cell and the work that was waiting for me. I found my meal tray had arrived and with it an exquisite leather bound volume on herbs.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


To: Anita Marie Moscoso
From: Costello
RE: Catacombs

Anita Marie, do you know Patricia McKillip? “The Riddle Master of Hed” or more to the point, “Harpist in the Wind.” Some important things to consider if one is going to go into the catacombs of an Abby, especially the Lemurian Abby. If you know McKillip, I give you this for meditation purposes before you venture into the catacombs : “He was standing in a tomb, hidden beneath the great school, and he had interrupted the last living wizards of Lungold burying their dead.” If you do not know McKillip: we need to talk.

Slipping Into Something a Little More Corporal

Yes, Virginia, there is an Alchemists Lair.
Keep in mind, of course, that there are Alchemists and there are Alchemists. The same could be said for Lairs. I am glad to see both Barbara and Anita Marie Moscoso here at the Abby. I hope you will soon get used to me. I am sometimes forgetful, particularly when there has been too much daylight and then things . . . happen. Well. There ARE footsteps and rattlings. I don’t want to worry you, but some of us do sometimes forget to put on . . . Well. You know, if you’ll excuse me I’ll just slip into something a little more corporal. If it gets to be a problem the Abbess will do something about me. She always does.

Speaking of which, or rather whom . . . Abbess dear (my, I DO like all those repetitious letters, so alliterative!) Do you have more than one Blue Robe? I DO hope that since you are the Abbess it does not mean that I have to be Costello. I have a sneaking suspicion that that is exactly what it DOES mean, however, and I am not sure how I feel about the name. I shall take it into the Meditorium and Meditate upon it.

I did want to put to rest some rumors that might have been circulating through the grape-vine. This is a fascinating concept, don’t you think? The grape-vine would probably be the best place for rumors; you can almost see them sparking along. I’m very fond of grape-vines, I like to draw them. I believe that I will draw a grape-vine with a rumor running along it. What do you suspect a rumor looks like? I suspect it would depend on whether it was a vicious rumor or a benign rumor or a stale one or whatever. We won’t have vicious rumors at this Abby, though I may paint them. It seems to be OK to paint things that you don’t really want lurking. I mean, have you seen the Sistine Chapel? Oi Vey!

Where was I? Rumors. Grape-vines. Rumors could run down hop-vines, but they are kind of hairy and it might tickle the rumor too much. We do have both kinds of vines here at the Abby since we like to brew and we like to stomp. More about that later. Rumors. It might have perhaps been whispered that not all of the inhabitants of this Abby are completely serious at all times. You might have heard the word: irreverent.

I want to be completely sure that you know this: the word irreverent is very fun to write long hand because of all of the r’s and that whooping v . . . it just really Flooooows. ‘A word to tip your hat to,’ as our friend Emily would say if she were here. Indeed! And as it happens . . . Well.

No. There is not really any crepe paper in my cell. Nor colored lights, nor balloons and I don’t have any posters of Johnny Depp on my wall (even on the back of the door.) My cell looks just like yours, very small, and minimally furnished, old fashioned pitcher and wash basin, writing desk and straight back chair. I did get a larger window, but I have claustrophobia and SAD and I am ODD as well. The stories about all those folderols, trumpery, sundries, whatsiss and frills was merely an Abbilical Legend. I will ask you, if you visit me in my cell, not to go knocking on things or, you know, moving or displacing things such as the Kokopelli rug.

Again, it is good to have you here. ALL of you. Sometimes there are birds of fire where you least expect them, I have found it best not to expect them and them you never know when you might be rewarded.

Alas! I believe I am: Costello

Friday, February 11, 2005

Moving in -- Day Two

I awoke this morning, after a peaceful night's rest, and fed Tookey and Oreo the food I had brought with me. I'm unsure of where I'll be able to purchase more, and I have only one week's worth for each. The area around the Abbey seemed empty and desolate as I drove in yesterday and the last town I passed through had to be at least an hour away.

Wondering what I was supposed to do about my own breakfast, I ventured out of my room and nearly tripped over a tray that had been left for me. I caught a lovely whiff of orange spice tea as I lifted it and carried it back into my room. It was too large for my writing desk so I used my solitary chair as a table and sat again on the remarkably comfortable bed. Fresh toast, still warm and riddled with the yeasty pock marks of home made bread sat in a vine basket waiting to be slathered with butter and dolloped with apricot preserves. I dug right in while I read the note from Heather which she'd tucked beneath the bread basket. " Welcome to Lemurian Abbey. Enjoy your breakfast and please begin your projects as soon as you have finished. Although there are others here, I would prefer that you remain solitary and silent for at least the first week. To that end, your meals will be delivered and the empty tray will be removed if you just leave it outside your door. The Abbey is large and confusing to navigate. I've enclosed a map showing only the small portion of the monastery that is presently open to you. You may walk through the halls, and of course, use the showers and facilities, however most of the doors you pass will be locked. Even the windows are placed high so that you won't be tempted by distractions. Feel free to let Oreo roam whenever he chooses, he'll be perfectly safe. And don't worry if Tookey gets raucous, the stone walls are thick and forgiving. Heather--P.S. There's a gift waiting for you in honor of your St. Francis project. I hope you like it."

I had no idea what she meant by gift; it was only later when I placed the tray in the hall that I found the package, a pair of sandals and a brown robe similar to the one worn by St. Francis and his followers.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A Common Chapel

The word "monastery" is derived from the Greek monos, meaning alone. Early monasteries originated in Egypt as places where wandering hermits gathered. During this early stage of monastic development, there was no generally accepted rule that governed monastic life. Early "monks" lived alone, but met in a common chapel.

There are no specific rules governing life in the Lemurian Abbey. Monks live alone but can meet and communicate with one another here in this common chapel. They can do this by using the comment option.

Pilgrims visiting the Lemurian Abbey Chapel cannot make comment here.

Anyone wishing to join the Order of Soul Food must an application in writing to The small annual fee for a private cell is being directed towards building the Abbey, one brick at a time.

Moving Day

Lemurian Abbey! I'd expected to find perhaps only the foundation or an outline of a building, but to my amazement I saw a huge gray stone monastery reaching into the heavens and spreading out in all directions.

Heather greeted me in a flowing blue gown and made me welcome despite the fact that I was dressed in forest green sweats, trailed by a black and white cat and carrying a large bird cage. I nervously explained that Oreo had practically insisted on accompanying me, since he felt a vital part of my writing after our trip down the manhole and, I babbled on that, I had to bring Tookey since it was impossible to find anyone who could feed a neurotic, menopausal Amazon anything other than an extremely long stalk of celery. Heather has evidently had strange encounters with nervous novices before because she never lost her elegant composure, although I did notice she insisted on walking on the side opposite Tookey's cage after the bird reached out and tried to grab her sleeve.

My first impression of the place is that it's so complex and maze-like I'll never be able to find my way back to my room if I leave it. Well, this is from someone who gets lost in a revolving door. It's also one reason I'm already glad I brought Oreo. Once I feed him, he'll remember where he belongs and lead me back if I get confused.

My room truly is a cell, very small, and minimally furnished. The length of the bed is the length of the room. An old fashioned pitcher and wash basin just fit the table that holds them. I have a writing desk and straight back chair and, high up in one rough stone wall, a small window lets in the light.

I wanted to ask Heather about the strange rumors I'd heard about lemurs and an alchemist's tower. I wondered how many others had come and who and where they were, but she didn't linger, just told me to have a good night and that we'd talk more tomorrow.

She turned as she was about to leave and asked, "You did bring the supplies you need for your projects, didn't you?"

I held up my journal and pen and pointed to the canvas tote bag I'd placed on the bed. "I have some things in there for my altered book, but I've never made one before and I don't know if I've brought the right stuff."

"You'll soon find in the Abbey that you have everything you need. Sweet dreams, " she added.

When she was gone, I put my tote full of art supplies on the chair and laid my journal and pens on the desk. I had arrived at Lemurian Abbey in broad daylight and been shown to my cell. In the few minutes Heather and I had been speaking the day seemed to have ended. Light from a sickle moon was pouring milky white beams through my window and I was longing for sleep. Was I suffering from jet-lag? Was I on NJ time or Australian Time. I was so tired I couldn't even recall if it was winter or summer.

I noticed a metal hook protruding from the corner of the wall near my writing desk and hung up Tookey's cage. She was fast asleep. Turning down the blankets, I snuggled into bed with Oreo curled at my side. Tomorrow I would begin. "I have everything I need," I murmured over and over until I fell into a contented sleep.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Building Begins

Beautiful Francis alone on a hill
He heard the call to build
He worked alone in the winter chill
A pledge that must be fulfilled
Barefoot in the snow
His fingers worked to the bone
The spirit dream must grow . . .
He bent to pile the stone
Sister Sun, My Sister Moon
You build with words not stone
Get me a cell and a line to the muse
You shall not build alone

Edwina Peterson Cross