Manna Meditations

storm passing over …

Manna Meditations, Day 37


The sky is bruised black in places … and still, the light shines through:

Think, for a moment, about what this might mean.



Secrets, Self-Portraits & the Subconscious … & also, a Silver Lining

I am a keeper of secrets — especially from myself.


A long time ago, I realized¬†I was one of those souls who felt everything too deeply —

Who wept inconsolably when I saw a little bird crushed by a car tire.

Who agonized over the troubles of friends and characters in books.

And so, over the years, I learned the trick of keeping all this emotion where it couldn’t hurt me: ¬†I’d sink it deep in the cold¬†waters of the subconscious — repressed.

This is both a useful habit, and a dangerous one.


A year ago, when I began photographing my own body, I learned another trick:

In an unguarded moment, my face would say a great deal of things I never knew about myself. ¬†In the hollows below my eyes, the hard lines of my mouth, I’d suddenly see all the secret emotions I’d been hiding from¬†my mind. ¬†A lot of these were emotions¬†that should have been acknowledged honestly and released many years before.

And so, I’ve learned to recognize my soul’s unguarded moment when it comes. ¬†I might be hiking over a mountain pass or ambling down the grocery aisle. ¬†I might be hunched at¬†my work desk, or mowing the lawn. ¬†But wherever I am, when I feel my subconscious rising to my musculature, my skin, I pull out my iPhone and snap an image, before the moment can pass:


Slowly, I’m teaching myself a better way to heal.


I’ve mentioned, briefly, that I’ve been carrying¬†a quiet¬†hurt for three weeks now.

And it would be easy at this point to ignore it, forget it, sink it below the surface like a body in a lake.


Earlier this week, while walking in the woods at twilight, I feel a strong emotion cross me like a shadow.

I pull out my iPhone.

I snap a picture:


There.  Do you see it?  Slow ache and sleeplessness and regret?  Me too.

So now, the only question is what to do with it.


It would be such a simple thing,¬†to do what other people do when they’re hurting: ¬†buy a drink. ¬†Dye my hair. ¬†Ride around town¬†with friends. ¬†But these things are deliberate distractions from the hurt, and lately¬†I don’t want to be distracted. ¬†Because if life has taught me anything, it’s this:

When¬†my soul is wide-open to hurt, it’s¬†also open to joy.

When¬†my senses are attuned to my troubles, then they’re also attuned to magic and mystery¬†— my spirit suddenly imbued with the language to understand¬†each word the wind whispers in the leaves. ¬†And I don’t want to miss this.

So I get out my paintbrushes,¬†my camera or my journal…

I give myself permission to feel it all.


Three days ago, in the fading light, I take a long walk.

On the last uphill climb toward home, rain begins to fall, and I could run for shelter, but I don’t.

I lift my face, let the rain¬†fleck me all over — drops of wet cold that sequin my hair, my skin, my lips.

I close my eyes and breathe … feel a sense of wonder¬†crossing over me like light.

I take out my iPhone.

I lean back and snap a picture:


This¬†is what a silver lining looks like. ‚̧


On Quiet Grief, & Quiet Goodness …

Can I tell you a secret? ¬†For a little over a week now, I’ve been quietly carrying a private hurt — one I caused myself.

And I won’t explain any more on that subject, except to say that¬†for days now the hurt has been dogging me like a shadow, the way deep hurts often do.


A few days ago I went for a walk, and I thrust my face in an open magnolia bloom. ¬†I gasped in a lungful of its lemon scent …

And it was good.

I walked farther, and fireflies sparked around my ankles.  Locusts whirred in the trees.  I stroked the silken fuzz of a mimosa bloom, and glimpsed for the first time how each baton-shaped pink petal is tipped with gold.

(Have you noticed, the way mimosas fold their leaves up for the night?  Believe me:  all the world sleeps, and starts again).

I walked a little farther still, and suddenly a doe stepped¬†lightly¬†across my path,¬†three spindly-legged fawns following behind. ¬†I caught my breath — oh, God, what beauty, the way their white spots glowed in the dusk, the way their wide eyes¬†stared into mine…

This¬†world is bent and broken… And also, it’s¬†breathtakingly good. ¬†


I’d be a fool not to see. ‚̧