Wednesday, June 29, 2016

...Another opportunity for deepening... ~ Buddhist thought for the day

"As a basis for change, we need to recognize that as long as we live in this world,
we will encounter problems, things that obstruct the fulfillment of our goals. If, when these happen, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face these difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that not just we but everyone has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and our capacity to overcome troubles. By remembering the suffering of others, by feeling compassion for others, our own suffering becomes manageable. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen as yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind, another opportunity for deepening our compassion! With each new experience, we can strive gradually to become more compassionate; that is, we can develop both genuine sympathy for others' suffering and the will to help remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength will increase."  
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama
(from The Compassionate Life)

Every day, it's another headline, another spiral, 
another argument online between sides. 
And I keep looking for ways to make sense of it all;
ways to give despair some meaning beyond hopelessness,
somewhere more opportunities for deepening. 

There are so many arguments 
that may seem to make sense in our rage 
but only add more flame to the fire. 

This thing that fuels understanding...
this thing that makes us see with our hearts...
that makes us step outside of ourselves...
that gives us a sense of peace.

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Florence Annunciation

While traveling awhile back,
I collected Annunciations for a client and friend who loved them.
And somewhere along my path of collecting them around Europe,
they have become my favorite as well. 

In keeping with our theme of Italy
for the setting of my novel,
this one is in Florence, Italy.

I love the cornucopia surrounding the scene
and the colorful wings of the angel Gabriel. 
He is often depicted holding the Madonna Lily
(Lilium Candidum)
which is thought to be the basis of the Fleur de Lis
as well as the symbol for Florence.
How fitting! 

I also love that in this depiction,
the Madonna is not putting her hand up
as she is in so many.
Often to me it looks like she is saying "Oh no, I couldn't possibly!"
or "Forget it, do you have any idea what that means?" 

In this one, it looks almost as if her hand is over her heart.

A Greek friend of ours,
who survived a very deadly form of cancer,
looks at every single day as a gift.
And when I see these depictions,
it reminds me to see every day as a gift from God and the universe
,,, for all of us. 

How will we use it?!  

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)