Archive for October, 2011

‘Be The Garden’ – Late October Disorder

October 28th, 2011 (No Comments)

“Being the garden” in the middle of autumn is complicated. As one who revels in order and a sense of completion, I am always grateful when this time of the year has passed. Today, the garden is in great disarray. Winds and rain have wreaked havoc with tender stems, pulled down a birdhouse and flattened once magnificent borders. Countless weeds are sporting their bounteous seed packets, just waiting for the next sunny day to gleefully multiply. Come back next month at this time and hopefully the leaves will be raked, the broken plant stems and shriveled annuals will be molding on the compost instead of in plain view, the fragile tubers of dahlias, and cannas stored away in the basement. Like at the end of a long active family day the house will be tidied, the dishwasher humming, and all the children tucked asleep in their beds.

There is something about us humans that tends towards needing order.  We have little patience with the transitional seasons of mess and disorder, when life teeters on the brink of chaos. It is hard to stay present to the unfinished, the unknown, and the disaster that feels like it might be waiting around the corner unless we work to keep it at bay. Meanwhile, if we stop long enough to listen and pay attention, a whole new vista awaits.

This splendid circus of color and confusion, all of fall’s unpredictable weather patterns bring snapshots of unparalleled beauty.  Who hasn’t marveled in the constantly changing parade of fall foliage, the morning mist trapping the heat of summer, or the spectacular autumn sunsets? Have you noticed the incredible colors of certain seeds? The way each leaf twirls in a different dance to meet the ground?  Rot and decay become divine artistry when seen in fungi and slime molds. The earth is burgeoning with surprise. It is in fall that I often come upon my friend the praying mantis hiding in the vines.  How about those zillion little creatures that scurry away when you lift up a planter?

Autumn is a season of opposites. On one hand the melancholy of death howls the loudest; all that green, all that flaming color evaporates into thin air, leaving the stark blacks and grays and the dull ochre of decaying matter. But despite this more obvious dying process, in autumn a new vista opens. Sometimes just clearing out weeds, fallen leaves and general garden detritus reveals another view. With fresh clarity I can see that genuine transformation has taken place since this time last year, or five … ten … years ago. Subtle change is also easier to perceive with the more expansive view this season brings. Summer in all her glory has a way of overwhelming me with her abundance, but once the leaves fall and settle – after all that swirling – maybe we can find way to see more clearly.

Is it possible to find a place of rest in the midst of the swirl of the unfinished and the ache of unfulfilled longing? Today can we let our souls lead us to a shift of perspective, maybe the discovery of some wide open space within us? What gifts does this beautiful and messy season of autumn want to offer you today?  

Autumn Circle – Friday Oct 28 1.00 – 3.30pm

October 24th, 2011 (No Comments)

Come and join the circle this Friday! There is no fee but if you’d like to give a donation to this work at Stonehaven you are most welcome. What does it mean to “Be the Garden”?  That is our theme for these monthly circles.

This morning I was looking at my garden and noting that despite the more obvious dying processes of autumn going on, there are enormous growth changes that have taken place since this time last year, or five … ten … years ago.  Sometimes just clearing out the weeds, fallen leaves and general garden-life detritus, opens up another view. Genuine change has been happening all along! A bigger more expansive view is possible this season; summer in all her glory has a way of overhelming us with abundance and once the leaves fall and settle – after all that swirling – maybe we can find a way to see more clearly.

This Friday afternoon for a couple of hours we’ll be taking time to slow down and pay attention to our colorful inner gardens. We’ll be sharing conversation and silence around this autumn theme; it is always remarkable how much we learn from each other in these circles. We don’t fix or straighten up each other’s gardens, we never pull up each other’s weeds, we do all we can to respect each other’s diverse and unique soul journeys.  Come for a few hours and trust that you’ll find whatever wisdom it is that you need for this season of your life.  Did you know that a lot of good planting can happen in a fall garden?

Let me know by phone 610 3040547 or email if you are coming. By the way, the next circle will be held on Dec 2. Hope to see you … and feel free to bring a soul-friend with you!


Fall Program – New Circle Conversations

October 10th, 2011 (1 Comment)

“BE THE GARDEN” … this coming year at Stonehaven.

We have become an urbanized consumer culture that lives increasingly hooked and dependent upon technology and mechanization.  The quiet wisdom that comes from rural life and religious or indigenous practice that plants us in the soil of the earth and her peoples, is often run over in the frenetic pace of our lives. As Richard Louv has said in his new book, “The Nature Principle”: The future will belong to the nature-smart … those individuals, families, businesses and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

Stonehaven is a suburban property in Main Line Philadelphia dedicated to thoughtful contemplative dialogue. It is a place where the landscaped garden, the quiet stream, and the untamable forest offers you space to slow down and listen to your own life speak.

This following season we will be offering different programs – a few hours, a full day or weekend retreats considering these questions:

  • How do we live as humans in this world … Being the Garden?
  • How do we recognize and honor those natural values that come from the earth, through respect for all her creatures and creation?
  • What can we learn from a closer attention to our own place on this planet, from listening and observing the rhythms of the seasons and the many uncontrollable elements of our lives?
  • How do we actively “garden” our relational lives – as communities of practice in our professional work and in our personal lives – in our families and neighborhoods?
  • What “habits of the heart” can we nurture in order to care for our personal soul growth and become better citizens of this planet?
  • How do we employ the tools of silence and conversation in a circle of diversity, and still maintain our own integrity as individuals?
  • What does it mean to tend our “inner” garden?


Monthly Friday afternoon Circle Conversations  1.00 – 3.30pm : Sept 30, Oct 28, Dec 2 … and into 2012

October 11:  7.00pm ... “Democracy from the Inside Out” .Watch a special web-cast with Parker Palmer.  Parker will talk from his new book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy.”

Join us for dessert and conversation to follow the program. We will consider this very timely and absolutely important, “pre-political” message, with the focus on “us” and not “them”, and our commitment to five habits of the heart and the range of things each of us can do in the settings of our lives.