For all the earth

Dear ones,

I find myself praying as I walk through forest and field these days. Praying with my mind as it sifts through the news of the day; praying with my feet as I send peace into the body of Earth. With every muddy, snowy footstep, I am sending healing love to all beings, even (and especially) those whose minds have been hijacked by the  hunger for war.

As always, I’m thinking a lot about the kids among us, wondering how best to offer the kind of honest courage and comfort that will help them to navigate a world that needs their wholeness and healing love.

For those of you who have children in your life, I want to offer you some strategies that I have found helpful over the years when talking with kids about painful or difficult events.  If you have friends and family members who may be able to use this resource, please feel free to forward this email using the “forward” buttons at the top and bottom of this message.

As I write to you, news of the world, and of the conflict in Ukraine, continues to arrive, to change, and to call for our discerning attention. I hope that as each day’s events unfold, you will take gentle care of yourself and the ones you love, even as you listen very closely for the particular gifts you are called offer to your community and to a world in need. As always, if you would like some support to deepen your own spiritual practice, or to help the kids in your life, I’m here. Please do reach out if you feel that some one-on-one spiritual mentoring with me would be helpful to you or to your family this season:

Wherever you are, whatever hopes and fears are arising for you, please know that you are not alone. You are on my heart. And I am giving thanks for all the many ways you offer healing and hope to the world each day.

Deep peace to you, and to all on Earth,


Dumpling Moon


Lunar New Year celebrations have begun this week, and I have a new story for you. The story is called “Dumpling Moon,” and it is lovingly dedicated to the families (past, present, and future!) of Peace United Church of Christ in Santa Cruz, California. If you’d like to listen, you’ll find the story here, on the Gathering podcast.

In the months ahead, I will be creating a monthly email almanac of earth and spirit: a place where you can find out about online gatherings, celebrations, and sacred stories for all ages, all through the year. My hope is that the offerings in this newsletter, along with the online community we are creating, will renew your sense of deep connection…to your soul’s wisdom, to one another, to the community of Earth, and to all the sacred lands and seasons we share.

If you’d like to subscribe to the email newsletter, please feel free to click here. You can also stay tuned here on the blog for news about New Moon gatherings, weekly meditation circles, prayer services, and online gatherings for kids and families. As always, I’d love to hear from you! If there are particular types of offerings that would support you and your loved ones as we travel through the seasons of the year, please do let me know.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you soon…


Seeds of Joy

The garden looks pretty much like this these days. But inside the house, there’s a growing stack of seed catalogs. Can I admit that I love reading seed catalogs at least as much as I love actually ordering and planting the seeds? I love the watercolor illustrations, the effusive descriptions of yields and colors, and of course the names of new varieties and old favorites. 

This week, I’m eyeing “Raspberry Sorbet” zinnias, “Chocolate Cherry” sunflowers,  “Camp Joy” cherry tomatoes, and a new variety of snap pea (“Little Crunch”) that will grow in a container if you’re short on space (or just want to keep your peas on the back deck, away from marauding deer…)

In case you’re in need of a little winter color, here are a few of my favorite seed sources…

Renee’s Garden Seeds

Territorial Seed Company 

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

Here’s to all the joy we’ll sow…this season and beyond…

“Unuttered Buds of New Life…”

“Let me only be still, and know we can force nothing, and compel nothing, can only nourish in the darkness the unuttered buds of new life that shall be.”

-D.H. Lawrence

Oh, January. You call to me. You call with new weekly planners and freshly sharpened pencils. You call to me with a hundred ideas about things to make and do and offer the world, with a hundred more on the way . And yet…you offer a deeper call as well. The call of long, dark nights and the stories they tell. The call of snow-laden branches that will not be moved, even by the wind. The call of slow-moving rivers making their steady way beneath the ice. This is the call I want to answer. Your call to simply listen, and discern. The call to simply wait while the multitude of projects and possibilities sort themselves into piles: here is the old way, attractive because it is familiar, reassuring, and redolent of past joys; here, on the other hand, is a call to new life. An “unuttered bud” of new life that will only unfurl if we hold still and listen long enough to watch, and wait.

I hope you are finding the time you need to answer whatever is calling to your soul this season! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

If you missed it in last week’s email newsletter, here’s a little gift for your listening this season…

Made for Joy

Made for Joy

Allow me to introduce you to a beloved member of our household: the Carrot of Joy. I wish I could claim credit for the fabulous moniker, but this particular carrot was named by its maker, a crafter here in Oregon who combines soft fleece, cotton batting, and a pinch or two of catnip to create toys that bring real joy – not only to cats, but also to humans who crave a bit of beauty in the toys that end up scattered all over the house. The Carrot of Joy came to live with us just a week after I arrived in Salem. One rainy afternoon, I pulled on my boots and walked over to the fairgrounds, where a huge crafters’ market was taking place. To be sure, I was shopping for holiday gifts and wanted to support the local economy. But I also wanted to meet the other makers in my new town – folks who had spent the past year sewing and painting, cooking and carving. Folks who had been slipping off to potting sheds and unheated garages and attic art studios to create things that make their own hearts sing. I wanted to thank all these neighbors who had hauled their creations to a frigid exhibit hall on a December Saturday in hopes of sharing beauty and joy with the community they loved. I’m pretty sure Blue would want me to tell you that this particular carrot has more than lived up to its name. I am also pleased to report that the Carrot of Joy still looks new, after three years of pummeling (which is more than I can say for many other toys that have come and gone!) 

I will be shopping at craft fairs and small online shops this year, supporting as many artists and crafters as I can, and I hope you will, too. May your holiday gifting bring joy to your heart, to your community, and to all the ones you love.

Holiday week…

Gotta love a town whose holiday parade features rodeo queens and a corgi cart! Thanksgiving week has been lovely here, despite the lack of snow. I’m so grateful for the friends who gathered with us around the fireplace, around a beautiful Thanksgiving table, around multiple festive leftover tables, and of course downtown, where the streets are filled with friends and neighbors looking to share light, and hope, as the winter holidays begin.

Out in the forest this morning, there was evidence of another feast. Main course: pine cones. Table: a huge tree stump worn smooth by decades of rain and snow and the footsteps of small, furry dinner guests.

This season, and far beyond, may every body, and every hungering soul, find a seat at the welcome table.

Over the river and through the woods…

The woods have been quiet this week. Except for a few early dog walkers, I’ve been alone on the trails, watching as ice forms along the banks of the creeks, listening to the deep, hollow sound of winter streams. Tomorrow, there will be the joyful noise of holiday gatherings — so welcome after last year’s strange silence. But today, I am giving thanks for the deep silence of the autumn woods, where flickers leave feathery calling cards, tiny mushrooms appear overnight, and deer carve hoof-shaped runes in the nearly frozen ground.

If you have a chance to leave a comment, I would love to hear what beloved places are calling to your soul here at the turning of the year. And, if you’d like to join me for a bit of sacred silence this season, there’s still time to sign up for our Advent retreat, which starts this coming Monday morning (click here to learn more).

This week, and always, I am thankful for you. May deep joy nourish your heart as you name, and give thanks for, all that you love, and for the world that loves you back.

Before the Light…

Can I confess that I love this time of year, when evening comes on early? It feels like a chance to go inward just a bit; to listen more closely for the life, and new life, that is always whispering just beneath the bright surface of our days.

In the season ahead, I’m looking forward to taking time for rest and retreat, and you’re invited to join me. Starting November 29th, I’ll be leading a series of four Monday-morning gatherings on Zoom: a time for listening, reflecting, and sharing, all in a circle of supportive friends. Click here to learn more. I’d love to see you there!

Weather Time

Here’s what November looks like so far, out of doors…and, well, in. The deer are wandering from house to house, sipping from birdbaths and eating windfall apples. Last weekend, we had our first snowfall, beautiful and fleeting. This morning, I stepped outside to find a strangely warm breeze blowing through the woods. Big dogs were racing around beneath a sky that was part sunlight and part lowering clouds. I sat and and sketched for a while with my back against a tree. Beneath me, the pine needles were soft and damp, settling into cool autumn earth.

As someone who loves weather, I will tell you that the variety of autumn come as an enormous relief and joy. This week alone, we had a night of soaking rain, one day of those thick, fluffy snowflakes, and another day when it rained and snowed at exactly the same time. Once, when my nephew, Spencer, was little, I spent a summer evening pushing him in the backyard swing. At the top of a particularly high arc, I called out, “How’s the weather up there?” Spencer’s face turned suddenly serious; the kind of serious that happens when you’re about to be lectured by a five year old. “Auntie Yael,” he said sternly. “It’s not the weather time. It’s just the sunny-every-day time!” Which is about the best description of a California summer I’ve ever heard.

Here in Oregon, there’s more rain on the way tonight, blowing in from the Pacific to soothe a landscape that has seen far too much of “sunny-every-day time” these past few years. We’ll be here, curled up with a book or two, giving thanks for the weather time, and thinking of Spencer and his friends. They’re out in the western forests even now, caring for these beautiful lands that hold us all.

Autumn Joy

Hello! As I write to you on this first day of November, a steady rain is falling outside my window, deeply watering the roots of the pines and glistening on bits of candy corn that are scattered like dragon teeth in the wake of Halloween’s chaotic joy. Last night, we stood outside for two hours in a freezing fog, playing ladderball with the neighbors between carloads of trick-or-treaters. When darkness fell, we all went inside for warmth, and light, and dinner. At our house, the evening included a screening of Coco, which is my very favorite way to usher in the holy days that arrive this week: Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, and the Feast of All Souls. In so many of our spiritual traditions, we recognize that there are certain times of the year, as well as certain special places on earth, where the veil between this world and the next is very thin, inviting us to visit with the loved ones who have crossed over from this life to the next. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that the veil is actually very thin everywhere and always — no more than an illusion, really. But there are certain times of the year when we living humans take the time to remember this fact. We set up altars with photographs and offerings, and we make time to commune with the ones who have moved on from this life, but whose loving presence abides with us always.

This morning, as the first November rain falls past my window, I’m remembering my grandpa Ferdie, whose birthday arrives this week, and whose birthday packages were always adorned with little bags of candy corn, his favorite treat. I’m also remembering my grandma Carol, whose recipes will make me smile this week as I begin to plan our holiday menus. And I’m remembering my great aunt Muriel, who always made a special trip to See’s Candies at this time of year, just to be sure that every child at our Thanksgiving table would find a beautiful chocolate turkey waiting patiently above their salad plate. 

If you’re feeling nostalgic for an old-fashioned transferware turkey (or a foil-wrapped See’s chocolate one, for that matter…) I still have a very few hand-printed Thanksgiving cards available in my web shop. (If you’d like a printed reproduction on a greeting card, I’m trying out Zazzle!) And, if you’d like to be the first to know about other art offerings and online classes I’m planning for the season ahead, feel free to sign up for my email newsletter here.

I hope you are finding time to honor your own loved ones this week, and to remember  that the veil between this world and the next is always more flimsy, and more joyfully welcoming, than we might imagine. 

Peace and autumn joy to you,


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