A Walk in Winter with Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson reminds us that hope sheds light in dark places.

Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘Hope’ is a beautiful reminder of the enduring capacity for hope that resides within us all. The poem speaks of hope as a bird, soaring through the sky despite the storms that surround it during flight. 

Emily Dickinson’s poetic words encourage us to keep our hope alive – to recognize hope’s power to transform anxiety into optimism, anticipation, and resilience.  She found beauty and inspiration in the smallest of things.  Her words have an elegant simplicity that speaks directly to our soul.

Hope by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

I invite you to join me in reciting Hope by Emily Dickinson.

Standing on the Banks of the Cheakamus River

Reciting poetry in nature is an extraordinary experience. Perhaps it is the way that words sound when surrounded by the noise and vibrations of the outdoors. Words resonate and energize the spirit when spoken out loud, carried by the wind into the unknown. 

Words carried by the wind into the unknown.

Cheakamus River

This summer, we attended a family wedding held at the Cheekry Ranch, which is situated by the banks of the Cheakamus River, in the heart of British Columbia’s unique coastal forest.   It is a place that offers the serene tranquility of nature’s vibrant life-force; a pathway to connect with the earth and find a moment of peace.  

Cheakamus River

Hearing the flow of a river and feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun shining down through moving leaves, I recall the poem, A Distant Song, by John Gould Fletcher (1886-1950)

A Distant Song

Whether awake or sleeping,
   I cannot rest for long:
By my casement comes creeping
  A distant song.

A song like the chiming of silver
  Bells which the breezes play,
Seeming to float for ever
  Towards an unseen day:

A song that is weary with sorrow,
  Yet knows not any defeat:
Through the past, through to-day, through to-morrow,
  It echoes on life’s long street.

Could I but make words of its power,
  Bring it from the future here,
Men’s souls would be waking, that hour,
  To the victory against fear.

But the vague sweet stanza befools me
  With its calm joy, time after time,
And no failure here ever schools me
  To cease from an idle rhyme.

That music afar, unspoken,
    ’Tis I have done it wrong:
I caught, and I have broken,
    A distant song. 
This poem is in the public domain.

Dazzle My Heart, Mural Artist Michelle Hoogveld

Urban art is a form of self-expression and social commentary that has the power to alter any space into something special, memorable, and exciting. There are many different types of urban art: there are “street artists” who leave their mark on buildings; there are artists who specialize in creating characters out of found objects; there are mural artists who are revitalizing cities across the globe.

The City of Montreal Celebrates Art

Montreal’s Mural Festival is an 11-day event that brings artists from around the world.  With a mission to reinforce Montreal as a “go to global destination for contemporary urban art,” the MURAL Festival has transformed Montreal over the past six festival seasons.

Dazzle My Heart”, a permanent mural by Michelle Hoogveld, was a collaboration with Mural Montreal in 2021.  Presented by the City of Montreal, this project was a part of a revitalization initiative for the city’s various neighbourhoods.

“Dazzle My Heart” was a massive undertaking, considering that the hotel is over 171 feet high.  Imagining the artist working on a sling stage suspended from the rooftop of the hotel takes my breath away. Michelle Hoogveld’s creative energy transformed the building with vibrant hues which included over 80 different shades of colour.

“Dazzle My Heart” Montreal, Quebec

Dazzle My Heart by Michelle Hoogveld

Le Germain Hotel Montreal unveiled a major project collaboration with Mural, North America’s largest urban art festival. Following its official re-opening after extensive renovations, the boutique hotel is exhibiting an impressive, permanent mural — Dazzle My Heart, by Canadian artist Michelle Hoogveld — on its front and side facade. This initiative is part of the 2021 Mural Arts Program presented by the City of Montreal to revitalize its various neighbourhoods.” Michelle Hoogveld Website

My last thought:  mural art is often seen as something only young people do, but I believe creating extraordinary urban art is ageless.  

Robert Henri, the American painter, and teacher, reminds me that, “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”

Celebrating World Kindness Day

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”

George Sand

It all started September 1997, in Tokyo when Japan brought together like-minded kindness organizations from around the world for the first time to establish the World Kindness Movement.  Its mission is to encourage individuals toward greater kindness.

Kindness is a simple concept yet has the power to increase our personal wellbeing, the wellbeing of our family and friends, and those who cross our pathways.

Kindness is essential in everyday life.

When we invite kindness into our daily thoughts and actions, we widen our awareness of the human experience. We foster a deep desire within ourselves to engage with others in creating compassionate communities

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”

Mark Twain

World Kindness Day is an annual event which was first introduced in 1998, by the World Kindness Movement.

In A Japanese Garden

“Every day is a journey,

and the journey itself is home.”

 Matsuo Bashō

Gardens create moments of serenity in the midst of a chaotic world. They invite us to find peace, encouraging us to let go of our stresses and worries. The sights and sounds of nature are distilled, not amplified.

Like all great art, gardens reveal their secrets gradually as we align our hearts with the rhythm of nature.  I invite you to join me in stroll through the Butchart Japanese Garden and be transported to a place where time stands still.

Matsuo Bashō is Japan’s most famous haiku poet.  He developed the haiku form during the Genroku Period, which is known as the pinnacle of the Japanese Renaissance.

“How I long to see
among dawn flowers,
the face of God.”

Matsuo Bashō

“Hidden and unknown
Like the new moon
I will live my life”

Matsuo Bashō

We Shall Not Cease From Exploration

Throughout the centuries, humanity has traveled the planet in search of new places to explore and live. We have crossed oceans on boats, trekked through mountains and deserts, and invented wings for flight. We have gone underground—into mines, caves, and now into space itself! Exploration is embedded in our DNA.

We seek opportunities to see new places, meet new people and have new experiences.

Granville Bridge, Vancouver B.C.

The steady process of discovery is one of the defining characteristics of being human. It is part of what it means to be alive. We see the diversity of life through art, architecture, food, customs, and language. As we learn more about our surroundings, there is a sense that we belong to a greater narrative.

We will never cease from exploration.  And when we return to the beginning, we shall, as T.S. Eliot wrote, “know the place for the first time.”

After traveling for three weeks in September, we returned home fresh from exploring. As we traveled to Granville Island via the False Creek Ferry, I felt that sense of seeing the skyline of Vancouver for the first time.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Burrard Bridge, Vancouver, B.C.