Path to Peace

The significance of my 2022 word for the year, “Peace,” turns out to be more universal than I thought, unfortunately. My humble notion to spend a quiet year focusing on inner and outer manifestations at a personal level have been usurped by horrific images coming out of Ukraine, a country I associated with sunflower fields and ornate architecture resting in Russia’s shadow. Turns out this bravely independent country is much more than that. As am I.

The Year of the Water Tiger has already presented itself as the opposite of peaceful — brash, ambitious, unpredictable and aggressive. The specter of war has latched itself to the Tiger’s tail and opened up the world’s wounds on a larger scale. Apparently Covid’s death and destruction didn’t deliver enough suffering. Or rather, pandemic was the beginning of a series of evils released by Pandora’s box that humankind must address.

In the face of constant turmoil and uncertainty, I keep coming back to the original inspiration for my choice of theme this year. During a family vacation to St. Louis in 2013, I stopped by a downtown New Age shop run by a soft-spoken young woman in long skirts and even longer dreadlocks whose presence was palpably peaceful. The mindful way she moved, the soothing tones of her voice and the gentle attention she paid her customers created a moving meditation that affected me more than all the years in a local meditation group. She was peace in action, something I had never witnessed in practice except among ancient nuns in a dying convent.

I have held that encounter like a mental mantra close to my heart all these years. As an adult, I’ve experienced fleeting moments of profound peace that embraced me with infinite love only a few times in my life, mostly at unexpected moments. I would like this feeling to happen more and often. How to find and hold peace despite the ego’s determination to disrupt and divert is probably one of life’s greatest challenges. Perhaps it is the greatest challenge of all.

The inner and outer journey required to peace is what I will be exploring in this year of turbulence. I can already tell that the path’s lessons will be difficult and costly. In order to gain, much will have to be let go. I know the ego part of me will fight like a tiger to keep the drama and chaos going, while my soul spirit which has always known the way, will patiently wait.

Peaceful Kingdom

The first month of 2022 has already tested my new word for 2022. Last year’s “Growth” certainly proved profitable and prolific in my little household. I always stand in awe of the power held by a word in focus and intention, and the unpredictable ways that my word will play out in the year. The literal outcome for Growth was that I started and bought more garden plants than I knew what to do with, while the spiritual journey led me to appreciate all that I don’t know and can learn from.

Each day as I stepped outside into my gardens, there were many surprises, some wondrous, and quite a few . . . not so pleasant. As I’ve revealed in previous posts, our urban bungalow lot is home or close neighbor to squirrels, rabbits, skunks, groundhogs and local felines, all of whom can make their presence known in interestingly destructive ways. Last year various deterrents were employed, with physical barriers working best even though chicken wire and row covers aren’t the most attractive solutions. Stinky sprays smelling of garlic and rotten egg were also effective until the rains came, or the critters got used to the smells.

However, the biggest (physically and destructively) perpetrator of them all, remains undeterred for the most part. Even in these last few bleak wintery weeks they have polished off whatever isn’t inert or tied down. As much as I love their quiet demeanors and soft doe eyes, the deer and I have a love-hate relationship in regards to gardens. So much so that I’ve decided that a good wire deer fence is a necessity for these urban herbivores who think that everything I plant is especially for them. And I do mean everything — even strong-smelling herbs and bristly shrubs aren’t off limits. I guess the herd hasn’t read the deer-resistant plant lists yet.

I also plan to continue offering sacrificial plants that they can eat like last summer’s extra tomato plants I stuck in the very back of the yard, an offering to the antlered gods and occasional ground rodent. Various raised bed frames and screens are in the works, too, since we can’t fence in our entire yard at this time. Barricades can make good neighbors and keep the peace in edible turf wars. Therefore, my word for 2022 is “Peace,” both internally and externally. My hope is that we all can experience peaceful communion this year, not only in our backyards, but also in communities, towns, states, countries and the world.

So may it be.

Finding the Magic


This blog’s long silence can be blamed on our move to the country, and lots of trips with the back of the car loaded Beverly Hillbillies-style holding what we thought were our “minimalist” belongings, which turned out to be quite a few.

Granted, the capacity of our hatchback isn’t cavernous, and we managed to relocate without a moving truck, but still, our “living with less” egos became a bit bruised over the weeks and months that dragged on as we filled box after box. We also were cured of the whole weekend-house-in-the-country mystique after we did our best not to buy and own two of everything, a feat that inevitably led to at least one item residing in the wrong place just when we needed it every week.

However, as I wander around still searching for hastily packed items that ended up in the oddest of places (paring knives with the bath supplies, anyone?), I’m constantly amazed by how everything seems to gravitate toward its perfect placement, and the stuff of my dreams (rustic bohemian cottage with flower gardens) is coming to life after thirty years.

Around every corner, and out the window especially, I’m struck full of wonder each day by a brilliant light beam, or the jewels of frost on an unruly tussle of native seed pods. A walk to the river nearby can lead to a sweet encounter with a baby river otter or the sleepy gaze of a garter snake. The sacred soul of this land that drew ancient prehistoric people to leave their calling cards in the form of earthworks and stone tools, is palpable here.

Which leads me to my Word of the Year, completely entwined with the prolific vegetation that could easily compete with Jack’s beanstalk, and heralded by the fairies that live in a world garden created in love. What could be more appropriate than “Magic” for 2018?

I’m sure that magic won’t be hard to find every day.