Thorns and Roses: a meditation on miracles + suffering

faith, poetry, the spiritual life

Daily I turn around and tragedy is before me, many far but some are near, twists and turns of events not my own and yet my own, reminding me that I am a colorful thread somewhere in the interwoven tapestry of this world. What hue is your thread? Quite sure mine is a deep burgundy, the color of wine and garnets, with a vein of shimmery metallic gold.

Poetry has always been my response to that which is intense and mysterious in my life. At this moment, I contend with the stress of a close friend who remains seriously chronically ill, and unimaginably heavy realities which have touched others around me. A musician friend recently asked me, do you believe in miracles? I didn’t know what to say… yes, yes I absolutely do ~ and yet, in the face of helplessness and hopelessness, what does this even mean?

By staying in this tension, with these twin weights of love and suffering… is this then the place of faith and of miracles? The mysterious realm of the heart, where heaven meets earth and the impossible is ever so possible?

Our brokenness meets our longing for wholeness as we receive the gaze of the compassionate One who is so intimately with us in our love and in our suffering. Perhaps my belief is that, more often than we realize, miracles happen via healing from the inside out.

From San Diego Art Museum

Madonna of the Roses, detail, 1485



life, delicate and fragile

gives way without warning

suffering weaves its coarse tapestry

a pattern of thorns and roses


foreheads to the earth

tease out our mirrored hope

as we stand on the promise

of miracles tenacious


begging receiving holding

the gaze of the compassionate One


Artists need Spiritual Retreats too

faith, prayer, the creative life

Those of us who create do so for a multitude of reasons, and what we ultimately end up with is a gift, whether for ourselves or for others. The world is thirsting for all us artists have to give through the experience of what we create – hope, beauty, joy, encouragement, healing, connection to one another and to our hearts, a vision of the world as it could be… but we need to be filled up ourselves in order to be this life-giving water for others.

Water as Presence

come Holy Spirit, bring the gift of your Presence

As someone whose idea of fun is spending time at a monastery, the retreat experience is one I have for years tried to share with others. For myself, as an artist living in a very urban area, making retreats has more recently turned into doing them at home.

And so came the notion a few months ago that other artists might need the same thing – a time set aside for a pause, to allow space for rest, refreshment and connecting with God. Creative people need spiritual retreats just as much as anyone. Maybe even more so.

What I am crafting this year is a series of self-guided retreats for artists and creatives that can be made at home, centered around the theme of water as the very Presence of the Lord, which is everything we need.

I’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks. Tell me, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a retreat?