Purpose: The Practice of Letting Your Life Speak


Heart Rocks
by Karen Dahl

The challenge, or invitation, for October is letting your life speak.  My life is about creativity quite simply. When I heard this quote on MPR, it was my life speaking: ‘When life is too big for words it comes out as art.’

—Karen Dahl


I light a virtual chalice to recognize and deconstruct the dark but real emotion of Loneliness – something every one of us feels, whether we have close friends, a life partner, a warm family, a great community or all of these.  Even if we are healthy, outgoing, strong inside and out and knowingly loved by others, loneliness will pay a call.  For some of us, it comes in momentary visits.  For others it can consume a whole chapter in our lives or define us even more profoundly.  It can cast an overwhelming pall or simply catch us off guard, like when we realize with indescribable sadness that we’re lost without those special ones with whom we shared private jokes or common stories.

Last fall, I took my dog on our daily evening hike through the woods.  Despite the darkness, I had no fear because we know the path so well.  But at some point, I noticed a grayish shadowy figure – too large to be a rabbit – duck into the tall weeds in front of us.  As we neared the spot, my dog stiffened.  Using my phone’s flashlight, I saw a pair of red beady reflections shining back at us.  Though I couldn’t make out its shape, I knew it was a coyote.  “Cool,” I thought!  But as we gingerly passed, I looked back to see it was following us.  Despite my shouting “SHOO!,” it kept on coming, leaving a 30’ gap.  My heart started to race.  After all, no one was around, nor was anyone waiting for us at home.  Who would know if something happened?  I decided to head to a neighbor’s house.  She offered to drive us home but mentioned that a coyote had recently followed her and her small Pomeranian in the twilight.  Given that she didn’t think it was dangerous and that my dog is large, I decided to brave the situation.  We got back on the trail — now cloaked more by a sense of adventure — and made it home safely.  For the next week we took our morning jaunts on the trail, where it felt safe in the light of day; however, we shifted our evening walks to neighborhood streets.  Then one night — when the snow reflected more light — I picked up a hefty walking stick and took back to the trail.  I was alert, armed and ready — but in my mind, I’d already renamed that animal Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Loneliness, like the single coyote, isn’t so dangerous.  But, like a pack animal stalking its prey, it knows how to circle up with self-doubt and self-pity and hive us off from others, seducing us into its dark and hidden lair.  By calling it out in the light of day and recognizing that every single one of us will know the challenging and sometimes desperate feeling of being disconnected – when we as humans yearn to belong – I believe we can minimize the deep power that loneliness has to pull and hold us down.

—Dana Boyle



When we let our life speak, sometimes it’s like a searchlight in the darkness, guiding us safely home.

—Ken Stewart


On Purpose

Just keep walking.  Trust
each foot will find the next
flat stone already beneath it.

Your newfound path—
it has been waiting patiently
for a lifetime or more.

—Bill McCarthy


Night Birds

Night birds have retired.
Small bones collect
under the owl’s tree as
we wait for the dawn.

I have sacrificed
the important parts
without a struggle and
for so little in return.

If only I had known
who I really was
before I became
who I am today

—Bill McCarthy


Two poems for ___________

Morning ritual

I went downstairs before you got up.
I wanted to sit in the early morning light
with my coffee and orange juice.

I didn’t want to witness once again
how you get up with a slump and a groan
like some humped over Segal figure
depressed to face a new day.

I didn’t want to see this again
to hear you groan and sigh.

I wanted to have my orange juice
in the early morning sun.
I wanted to step into my day
with a “Yes” and a “Yes, I will”
not a “No, I can’t” or a “No, that won’t work.”


At the edges

I stayed at the edges of your anger,
the edges of your sour impossibilities,
the bitterness of your mood
the harsh bark of your rebuke,
the tired cynicism of your no’s.

I stayed at the edges, then turned my back
to them and walked toward
a yes, and a
Yes, I will, yes.

—Ken Stewart