Saturday, November 14, 2015

For Paris

Today, may we let ordinary things show us
How to make room for heartache and hope
Baking bread
Letting soup simmer all day
Paying attention to the taste of hot sweet tea
Letting the scent of cinnamon slow us down

Let’s make love to this day
In the way we linger and listen to each other
Finding a way to be still for three breaths
Letting our hands come to rest on the table
Sitting in the centre of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune”
Softening to the sadness

There is a way to be with anger and fear and grief
A way to hold them with so much tenderness
That terror cannot take root
Let us make a light of that tenderness
Leaning into each other, feeding each other
Creating together a heart that can hold it all

~Oriah House © November 13, 2015

Debussy’s Claire de Lune: 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Finding The Beloved

It’s not about doing anything
Not about earning or accomplishing
Not about trying harder or moving faster
It’s simply a whole-hearted willingness
To walk to the end of the dock
And let the rising sun
Fill me and ignite
The old forgotten hunger
And every time
Every. Single. Time.
When I let the longing guide me
When I turn my face just a little
The Beloved is there
~Oriah House (c) 2015
The spectacular photo (which inspired this writing) is from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming. Thank you Karen heart emoticon. For me, "walking to the end of the dock" is about clearing the inner chatter for a moment, breathing in a spaciousness and returning to my willingness and my hunger to meet the Beloved in this moment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Learning From Yesterday's Story

I’m reading “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr, the story of two children during the Second World War- a blind girl in France and an orphaned German boy with a passion and talent for building radios. The book opens in 1944 with the Allied forces bombing German-occupied France. 

Immediately I was gripped by the reality of civilians on the ground in any war. For them the bombs that fall threaten death whether they belong to occupying or liberating forces. 

And I think of the Syrian refugees piling their children into inadequate rafts in the hopes of getting their families out of the place where bombs are falling. 

Yesterday, on a CBC radio call-in show, listeners were asked whether or not we could do what our newly elected government has pledged to do and take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year. I held my breath and listened. Over and over men and women called in and said emphatically, “Yes, we can.” There were stories of churches, community organizations, and small collections of friends and acquaintances who are privately sponsoring refugee families or getting ready to support those who are government sponsored.

I was surprised to find my eyes wet with tears. I was moved and lifted up by people's profound willingness to help. 

Each year at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month- the anniversary of the moment when the First World War ended- I stand in silence with others, remembering the cost of war and honouring those, past and present, who risk and often give their lives in our armed forces. 

The slogan most often used today is: Lest We Forget. I am so grateful for the privilege of being able to remember. May we listen to and remember and be guided to offer what we can by the stories of war- past and present. May we honour the sacrifices and the suffering by working for peace in all we do. ~Oriah © 2015

(Photo from Paul L at )

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Living Together

Yesterday I side-stepped the to-do list and went to the park. There, beneath an almost impossibly blue sky I soaked up the sun and the people around me. They gave me hope. 

Behind the bench where I sat two young men with dreadlocks and tshirts that sported the Jamaican flag spoke softly, their voices flowing in the musical cadence and rhythm that makes my inner dj play a little reggae.

A group of older Asian men and women played croquet, shouting at each other and erupting into shared laughter when a shot went wide.

Next to me on the bench, two women with different European accents talked about their mothers- how they missed them, how they wished they had lived closer in their mothers' last days.

A small circle of teenagers did yoga on mats laid out on the grass.

A young woman with a stroller entered the park. She was wearing traditional Muslim clothing for women- a long-sleeved garment that skimmed the ground, a head scarf without a face veil. As she moved past the place where I sat, one of the men behind me called out to her, and moved quickly in her direction.

Everyone in the vicinity seemed to notice and stop what they were doing to watch. The man who'd called out ran across the grass toward the woman, barely pausing to scoop up a small jacket on the ground. He held it out in front of him.

“You dropped this,” he said. He stood more than a yard away from the woman. She turned toward him and paused looking startled and pale. They both seemed to hesitate, unsure of what to do next.

Then she stepped forward, took the jacket, nodded and smiled broadly.

And the man with the dreadlocks put the palms of his hands together in front of his heart and bowed to the woman whose smiling face was round and shining beneath her headscarf. 

The noise of the croquet game resumed, the budding yogis changed positions, the women on the bench nearby went back to their conversation.

And I thought, “We can do this.”

Oriah House (c) 2015

Another wonderful pic from Karen Davis at​- this is just how the leaves looked against that blue sky yesterday.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Dreaming with the Ancestors

Often I do an Ancestor Speaking ceremony at this time of year- the time when many of the meaning-making stories of some cultures say the veil between the worlds of the living & the dead is the thinnest. I call on the ancestors who love me (always a good qualifier :-) ) to speak to me and guide me, offering gratitude for their lives and for their presence now. This year I am going to focus on the Grandmother I did not know about for most of my life.

Years ago, I sat with and learned from a Midewin elder. The second time we met she looked at me and said, "You are one hand from the full-blood in your family." Honestly I thought maybe she just could not believe that the blonde blue-eyed young woman in front of her was willing to spend so much time alone fasting and praying in the bush. But I was wrong.

A few months later my mother (unprompted) said, "Maybe you do all this weird native stuff because Grandpa was native."

Yep, turned out the racism in the family had buried the story that my mother's grandfather's mother was First Nations.That would make her and I one hand- or five generations- apart. I went back to the elder and told her. She just smiled and nodded.

Lately my thoughts have turned toward this Grandmother, wondering who she was and what she might have to teach me now. So this weekend I will ask to dream with her, to learn from her, to know how to honour this heritage by supporting First Nations people here, now in my own country in their quest for justice and self-determination..

May your weekend be filled with the joy of connection- whether with ancestors who love you or with trick-or-treaters. ~Oriah

(Love this picture from Karen Davis at​ - makes me think of the crack between the worlds where we can meet and dream with those who came before us)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Instead of Discipline

So, I've been thinking about discipline- you know, the thing we think we need to find if we are going to do the things we know are good for us (like eating well, exercise, daily meditation etc.) I can clamp down with my will and pick up those aspirations daily- but at times it just feels like endless work, and sooner or later I run out of steam.

So lately, I've been trying something different. Instead of berating myself and insisting that today (or tomorrow) I will dig deep and find the necessary discipline, I've been thinking about giving myself gifts.

As in- today, I'm giving myself the gift of taking a walk in the autumn leaves, of taking my time in prayer and meditation, of making a wonderful stew for dinner. If I can keep my attitude in the range of doing something kind for myself (as opposed to doing something I think I "should" do) not only is it easier to create good self-care, it becomes about receiving that care with gratitude.

And that's just a more enjoyable way to receive the gift of this day. ~Oriah

(Photo of spectacular fall colours from Paul Bardis.)

Friday, October 23, 2015


On one level, it's been a challenging week. On three different days, plans to meet with friends from far away (and have reunions with local folks I have not seen in years) had to be cancelled- the spirit was willing but the old body was seared with a pain that would brook no opposition. I was disappointed. And, lying in bed, I had lots of time to think about my disappointment- to watch it, feel it shift and change- get lighter and then heavier.

We all know the old maxim about avoiding disappointment by not having ANY expectations. As a human being, I don't find this particularly helpful. If we don't make a plan to meet there will be no disappointment when it does not happen- but then again, we will not get together.

The "trick" seem to be holding our expectations lightly. I was doing well with that at the first cancellation I had to make- these things happen, it's not in my control, deep breaths of releasing. . . .

The second cancellation was harder, in part because it was something I was going to do for someone- and I really really really wanted to do it. (I am sure you can hear my attachment in that "really, really really.")

Having to cancel a third plan. . . .well, let's just say I was beyond disappointment and into gloom and doom. You know, the stories of this will never change, my world is shrinking, I will have no friends left at this rate. . . . . .

Not good. Not helpful. Not necessarily true.

So, my question was- why is my mind so eager to go here? Assuming I am not masochistic (I am not) why would my mind want to race to worse case scenarios?

And I got it- to avoid disappointment. If I expect to be too ill to ever go out and meet friends, I will never be disappointed.

And I suspect this malformed strategy has to do with my dislike of the feeling of disappointment. Why? Disappointment isn't death. It's just disappointment. What if I focus on holding expectations lightly. . . . and holding disappointment with a little tenderness when it arises? This too- like all else- will pass. And if we let it, if we don't get caught in the mind's stories we cannot know are true, disappointment can remind us of what we love and prompt us to fully enjoy the taste of these things when we are able.

And today? Today I am meeting a friend for late lunch!

~Oriah House (c) 2015