1. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Content to be human and to shine

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    In my small village, I am known as the local Poetry Troubadour, the person who speaks poems by heart. A curious thing happens when I speak poems, whether to one person or 100. All performance nerves vanish, and the poems flow through me without effort or self-consciousness. Even mistakes –...
  2. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Beauty in waiting

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    “D’you want to see my latest project?” my friend Beate asked me. She walked over to a small table in a corner of the room. On it stood a mesh cage, about 3 feet tall and 2 feet deep with a long zippered opening on one of the side panels....
  3. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Live in truth with who I am

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    I’ve just returned from my second week-long retreat on the subject of death. That may sound morbid; it was anything but. (I wrote about the first one in an earlier post, What is left when you let go?) Once again, masterfully led by my spiritual teacher Kim Rosen, we examined...
  4. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Nest spotting

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    It was one of the first warm days after a bitterly cold and seemingly endless winter. The sun shone brightly, its rays calling me outside. Sitting at my desk, willing myself to work, I tried to resist. Honestly. But the sun’s magnetic pull was too strong. Surely I could still...
  5. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Heeding the call

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    Global alarm bells sound urgently. Everywhere people concerned about climate change are calling for immediate, radical action. In these times, how best to respond and serve with integrity? I have been tussling mightily with this question, waking up at night thinking about it. A good friend of mine revels in...
  6. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Views in winter

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    It’s been a winter of big storms, big snow, big drifts. The snowbanks on either side of our country road slope steeply upward six feet or more, reminding me of the snowbanks my siblings and I used to climb on winter mornings while we waited for the yellow school bus...
  7. Mary Lou van Schaik

    A holy string of losses

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    This week, we buried our last and oldest cat. Closing in on 18 years of age, Henry survived all the other strays who arrived to huddle against our front door. Fast cars on our country road, disease, and probably a hungry fisher claimed the lives of Martha, Max, Arthur, Freddy...
  8. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Wind, water, stone

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    This past September, I spent a week solo hiking the Pembrokeshire West Coast Trail in western Wales. Each day, moments of intense visceral joy shot through me as I beheld the stunning landscape and savoured the pleasure of my solitude. To my left, the wide sea and its constantly changing...
  9. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Eye-gazing with an owl

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    The other day, while I was hiking through the forest, a barred owl rose suddenly from a clump of mossy logs on the side of the trail. It launched itself in an upward diagonal across my path and settled on a branch of a nearby maple tree. Turning about to...