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A Tree or a Green Thing?

One of my favorite things in all the world is trees. Specifically, the tops of trees where they brush the sky. That’s why I silently rage when our city electric service sends crews around to cut back tree limbs that have stretched out too close to the electric lines. I have a gorgeous tulip poplar that has grown too close to the lines and has to be trimmed back every few years. Actually, “trimmed” is not really the word for what they do. “Hacked” is more accurate. Over half of the street-side of the tree gets cut bare of limbs, and this year the workers cut branches off the sides as well. I understand that this is done to prevent branches from falling onto the lines and cutting off electricity for our neighborhood during storms, so I say nothing and try not to look at the damage our tree is taking. Still . . . it seems like too much.

Anyway, the electric-service crew came by and hacked away at the poplar this past week. Then today we met with an arborist about trimming – gently – the rest of our trees. It was obvious that the arborist loved trees just by the way he talked about them, the way he described going into the branches and cutting away just enough to keep the tree healthy.

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way,” said William Blake.

Maybe one reason I love trees is that I grew up in West Texas, where trees are few and far between. In our new subdivision, there were none at all until my family planted mulberries and ash trees, which did not gain their full height until after I had moved away.

I do remember climbing a tree in my grandmother’s front yard. It was a locust with jagged limbs and dry, crackly bean pods. As trees go, it was short. Which was why I could climb it. I would perch in a crook where a branch joined the trunk and survey the flat field of grass across the street as if I were a lookout on a ship and the grass, waving in the wind, was the ocean. It felt like a private and privileged place to be.

I had another encounter with a tree this week – or part of a tree. I introduced my grandson to a footstool that my Granny – his great-great-grandmother – made out of a tree stump. I have no idea where the stump came from, but I wish I knew. I wish I had thought to ask her.

Trees hold stories. The tulip poplar in my yard was just a twig when my oldest son brought it home from school on Arbor Day. We stuck it in the ground not expecting it to grow. The dogwood in our front yard was planted by former owners of our house in memory of a grandmother. The hackberry in our backyard held a treehouse so long that the floor of the treehouse buckled as the tree trunk expanded. Even my Granny’s stump footstool could tell a few stories, I’m sure, if it could talk. I hope it will be around long after I’m gone and my grandson has given it to his grandchildren.

In 1658, Sir Thomas Browne, an English author, wrote, “Generations pass while some trees stand, and old families last not three oaks.” Imagine tracing your family back across the lifespan of three oak trees. According to Garden Guides, the average life of an oak ranges from 100 to 300 years. That’s a long time, time enough for someone to decide it’s just a green thing that’s standing in the way.

But I’ll take my cue from the poplar planted one Arbor Day long ago. It was so small when it was first planted that it got mowed over. Since then it’s been windblown hacked, but still it stands, making the most beautiful tulip-shaped blooms in the spring. There’s a lesson there for those who are open to it.

“You will find something more in woods than in books.

Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Wishing you shade, shelter, and the beauty of trees this week!


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Text and photos © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.


Truth or Flapdoodle?


“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.

It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

– Mark Twain –

Mark Twain had the rare talent of being able to say something funny and quite serious at the same time. Maybe we laugh because he hits the target, showing us a part of ourselves that we’ve never seen before. He holds up a fun-house mirror, and our reflection is both hilarious and grotesque. Funny and frightening. The light-hearted warning. I’ve seen both this week.

I’ve been reading the book Weaponized Lies by Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist and cognitive psychologist. I picked it up, because our nation is awash in lies claimed as truth and truth claimed as lies. Fake news. Alternative facts. And outright lies used as manipulation. I’ve been wondering how to tell the difference between truth and lie – and how our children are going to be able to tell the difference. So that’s the grotesque, frightening, warning part of what I saw.

The funny, light-hearted part is from another book I was thumbed through: Horsefeathers and Other Curious Words. I’ve had the book in my library for several years, and it caught my eye this week, so I pulled it out – and found several words to use when I hear a lie. Or at least when I want to call B.S. Thanks to the book, I’ve not only been reminded of these words, but I’ve been educated about exactly how they came into our language in the first place.

Hogwash! In the 1400’s, hogwash was the swill fed to hogs. By the early 1700’s, it had become a term used to express contempt if you thought a statement was not worthy of human consumption.

Flapdoodle! Word historians think flapdoodle was an 1800’s twist on the 1700’s word fadoodle. But where fadoodle came from, no one knows.

Balderdash!  In the 1500’s, balderdash was a light, bubbly liquid. In the 1600’s, it was beer mixed with wine. At that time, Ben Jonson said beer mixed with buttermilk was balderdash. Whether anyone really mixed beer and buttermilk or just the idea of it was nonsensical, the word balderdash came to be used for anything that was absurdly mixed.

Poppycock! This word came from the Dutch and would not be said in polite speech. It’s a form of the S in B.S.

There’s no shortage of other words I could use. Nonsense! Absurd! Twaddle! Hooey! Baloney! Bunk! Malarkey! Ridiculous! Preposterous! I can even invent some. You may have a few rich terms of your own.

But if you want to call B.S. and get a bit more Mark Twainian about it, try “Hogwash!” Or “Flapdoodle!” Or “Balderdash!” Or “Poppycock!” Or if the lie is really preposterous (like a person accused of a crime pardoning himself) use all four: “Hogwash-flapdoodle-balderdash-poppycock!” Or maybe just roll your eyes and snort.


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Text © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Photos courtesy pexels.com.


Touching the Year 2107

This morning, I spoke on the phone with my dad. He’s strong, wise, and soon to be 91 years old. Recently he met the newest member of the family, my grand-niece who is only a few months old. My sister sent me the picture of Daddy holding her, and I told my dad how much I enjoyed seeing him with his baby great-granddaughter. He said, “If she lives to be my age, she’ll still be around in 2107.”

Okay, I can’t imagine 2107. I can’t even imagine 2020. I can hardly keep track of recent and current advances, much less envision 2107!

But one thing, I know, doesn’t change: human nature. From ancient times until now and on into the future, we humans deal over and over again with the same character issues. We advance toward moral wisdom by taking two steps forward and one back. Or two forward and ten back. It seems that we’re in the stepping-back mode right now. It’s the one area in which we seem to have regressed: the practice of moral goodness and integrity of character.

I just finished writing a new book, The Gift of an Inner Moral Compass, and I’m preparing to speak at a conference in August on the subject of children and morality. It’s a timely topic, seeing as how so many adults are displaying so much ugly resentment these days. When I was asked to address teaching moral values to children, I rolled my eyes and whisper-shouted, “Duh! Easy answer: We have to stop being such bad examples!” But, then, I know it’s a bit more complex than that, and good-hearted parents and teachers are looking for the answer to a different question: “So what do we do when our leaders model the opposite of moral wisdom?” And . . . well, I guess you’ll just have to read the book.

Truly, there is hope. In Frederick Buechner’s novel Godric, he wrote, “[A]ll the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarce fill a cup.” So, too, I suspect, all the evil that ever was, set next to goodness, would scarce fill a cup. There is goodness all around us if we will just look for it. There is goodness all around us if we will just be it. I hope we’ll figure out the moral way forward long before 2107.

Neil Postman, an educator and media theorist, wrote, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” How amazing that we, here today, will touch 2107 and beyond, even if we don’t live to see it! Maybe we can’t turn the wheel to goodness and wisdom all at once, but we can turn it little by little in “a thousand small ways,” as David Brooks says in his book The Road to Character. Just bend each hour toward goodness. Bend each day toward goodness. Each month. Each year. Bend life toward goodness. Touch the future.

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Text © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Photos courtesy pexels.com.


A Hundred Secret Things


“Who bends a knee where violets grow

A hundred secret things shall know.”

Rachel Field

Where violets grow is . . . where I live. Tiny violets are everywhere this time of year. They’ve scattered themselves across my yard. They’ve somehow managed to plant themselves in every pot on my back deck. They’ve taken up residence in the weed-prone strip between the sidewalk and the wooden ties that border the raised-bed garden. And I love them. It’s a joy to see them return every spring.

This week I had to pull wild violets out of a few pots on my deck so I could plant other flowers. My sixteen-month-old grandson was helping me with the task when I scooted aside a planter and discovered a gathering of what we used to call “roly-polies” or “doodle bugs” or “pill bugs.” I scooped up a few and showed my grandson. “Look! Roly-polies!” Who bends a knee where violets grow may discover roly-polies.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time pointing and saying, “Look!” And not only to my grandson. I’m a House and History docent at the Cheekwood Mansion on the grounds of Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. As I lead tours, I’m always pointing out features that I find interesting, like the stone wall in front of the mansion drive. The topmost stones are precisely cut and fitted, but as the wall descends toward the sloping ground, the stones become rough cut and rugged. The gardens closer to the mansion tend to be more formal, while most of the gardens farther away are less formal and even wild. The formal-to-informal, tame-to-wild aspect symbolizes the move of man back to nature, which was a feature of American Countryplace Estate mansions built in the first half of the 20th century. But most visitors don’t notice these details unless they’re pointed out. I know I didn’t. So I say, “Look! Isn’t this fascinating!” I nudge people to notice.

Noticing is a prerequisite to a sense of wonder, and so is its cousin, curiosity, that inquisitive interest that makes us pay attention. Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you. Your life itself then becomes the work of art.”

How does your life become a work of art? Well, what you looked at or listened to or smelled or touched or tasted became part of you. You stored it in your memory, adding it to all your experiences, those “hundred secret things” that come in every color, shape, and size. Who bends the knee where violets grow enriches the heart, the spirit, the soul. Who bends the knee where violets grow becomes a work of art.


“If a flower blooms once, it goes on blooming somewhere forever.

It blooms on for whoever has seen it blooming.”

– William H. Armstrong, Sounder

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Text and flower, landscape photos © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Other photos courtesy pexels.com.


Planting a Secret Message

As I planted my new impatiens this week, I wondered about their name. Impatiens. It sounds a lot like impatience, which I figured couldn’t be right, because these are bountiful, beautiful blooms that patiently survive my sporadic gardening.

It turns out that I was wrong. That’s exactly what the name means: impatient. It seems that the seed pods “discharge forcibly at a slight touch,” an explosive trait I’ve never noticed before. They obviously do this quietly and on the sly. I plan to do the slight-touch test when pods form this season.

Flowers have long been used as symbols and presented as messages. In Victorian times, people were especially interested in giving flowers significant meanings. Victorians often conveyed their feelings by sending flowers, which must have felt a bit sneaky, like sending a secret, coded message. Pink carnations proclaimed, “I will never forget you.” Red carnations announced, “My heart breaks.” Striped carnations meant, “I cannot be with you.”

And impatiens meant impatient. But here’s the interesting thing: Impatiens also came to symbolize motherly love. I guess that makes sense. Impatience and motherly love often go together. I’ve certainly felt both simultaneously. But now that I’m a grandmother, I’ve found patience much more accessible. Maybe that’s because I’m aware that my time in the world grows shorter with every passing day, so my priorities become clearer. When I look at my grandchildren, I think, “I have all the time in the world for you.” What, I wonder, is the flower for grandmotherly love?

Last summer I visited Norway, where the family of one of my daughters-in-law lives. The windows at the back of their house gives a perfect view of the sea. Each morning while sipping my coffee, I watched slow-moving ships make their way up or down the coast. The ships eased past, looking as if they were in no hurry to reach their destination. They’d get there when they got there. Patience.

So I’ve decided to rename my impatiens. I’m calling them “patiens” instead. I have a planter full. If I were to hold them all as a bouquet, I’d have my arms full. They’re my bright, quiet reminder to stay in a calm, peaceful place. To have patiens.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two –

time and patience.”

– Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


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Text and photos © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.



To See the Ordinary


“[I]t takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the ordinary.”

David Bailey, photographer –

This past weekend, Art and Soul, the artists’ studio where I take classes, held an art market. All the artists who were offering art for sale, including me, met on Friday evening to hang our work. During this set-up time, each of us periodically took a break and strolled around the space, expressing delight and amazement at the displays of our fellow artists’ work. It was like being in a museum. Each piece was unique, brought into existence by an artist’s hands and eyes and heart.

The pianist Glenn Gould once said, “The purpose of art is the lifelong construction of a state of wonder.” In my experience, that’s absolutely true. A state of wonder. That’s the way art affects me. Art (visual arts, song, dance, theater, photography), whether it’s unusual or wildly creative or thought-provoking or calming, calls me to pay attention.

Later, as people walked through the art market, I noticed that while many people seemed as full of wonder as I was, not everyone was drawn to the art that drew me in. In fact, some hardly paid attention at all. They wandered in and wandered out. I realized that the state of wonder is not really in the art but in me. I’ve chosen to pay attention. So I can choose to see the wonder in the art. Or not. In the same way, I can choose to carry that state of wonder with me into every day. I can learn to see – really see – the ordinary.

Or not. Our usual paths can become so familiar that we don’t even notice them anymore. We can wander through life with our minds traveling back to yesterday or forward to tomorrow or down into a screen . . . and never pay attention to the patterns of petals on flowers and veins on leaves and seeds on grasses and anthills and vapor trails and puddles and roly-poly bugs and cracks in sidewalks and reflections . . . and on and on and on. It can take one glance to be drawn to something extraordinary like a piece of art. But as David Bailey said, “it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the ordinary.”

So here’s wishing you the eyes to see the ordinary and a heart to sense the wonder.

“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes

but in having new eyes.”

Marcel Proust


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Text and photos © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.


When the Light is Right


“I have captured the light and arrested its flight.”

– French photographer Louis Daguerre

A honeysuckle hedge runs the length of the fence on one side of my house. In winter months, it’s a wooden sculpture of interlaced branches. Last week, it leafed out and bloomed seemingly overnight. Now the birdhouse on my back deck is perched in a tumble of honeysuckle. One morning, I grabbed my camera and focused on the birdhouse, but there was a shadow on the hedge that I wanted to edge out, so I lowered the birdhouse in the frame of the photo and snapped the picture.

Later, reading in the sunroom in my favorite rocking chair, I glanced up and noticed that the shadow was gone. The shot I originally wanted was available. But I was now focused on an article I was reading. Just a few more lines, I thought, and then I’ll get the picture. When I finished the article, I picked up my camera, but a curved shadow had fallen across the entire face of the birdhouse. Again, the light was not right.

Because I take pictures of shadows, I’ve learned the lesson about the light over and over again. If I like a particular shadow, I have to get the picture right at that moment or the light will shift and change everything. I’m obviously an amateur photographer, but I’m learning a most important lesson: the light has to be right.

Professional photographers insist on the right lighting and know how to get it. They come to photo shoots with large lamps and screens to soften or deflect light. My older son used to light sets for film and video shoots, and he would spend hours getting the light just right.

In nature, some things show up only in the right light. Rainbows. Reflections in water. Sparkles on stone. The light has to be right.

Life often feels like a process of trying to get the light right. Some days we’re navigating through fog. Not only is the light not right, it’s not there. Sometimes we’re making our way forward, but the shadows keep shifting. At other times, it feels as if the sun is fully out, clearly revealing the path.

I’ve been reading the artist Shaun McNiff’s book Trust the Process. “The creative spirit will always have its good days and bad ones,” he says. “This inconsistency is an essence of the process, which moves according to its inherent chemistry and not my expectations. . . I am asked, ‘What is the essential quality that carries us through difficult times?’ In my experience it has been acceptance tied to a faith that the weather will change. Through it all I have to keep ‘showing up.'”

Life is a process, and you are the work of art. If the sun is not out today, it may be tomorrow. Or the next day. Keep showing up. The beauty in you is illuminated when the light is right. And the truth is, when the light comes from within you, the light is always right.

“My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –

It gives a lovely light.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Text, birdhouse, and shadow photos © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Rainbow and candle photos courtesy pexels.com.


Sixteen Secrets of Keeping Quiet


“Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.”

Pablo Neruda

This week, my one-year-old grandson said a couple of new words: “puh” (up) and “tep” (step). I keep encouraging him to say, “Mimi,” which is my grandmotherly name, but he’s said it only once, and once seems to be enough for him at the moment. He talks in full sentences, but for the most part, his words are his own language.

I enjoy language and words. I guess that’s no surprise. Sometimes when I’m reading or writing, a random word stands out from the rest, and my mind begins turning it over and around and inside out. Occasionally it’s an unusual word, but most often it’s a word I use all the time.

That happened recently when I read the title of a Pablo Neruda poem, “Keeping Quiet.” It’s a common phrase. I’ve used it myself, but I had never thought of how interesting it is to use the word keep that way. What does it mean to keep quiet? Ever since, I’ve been noticing different ways we use keep. “Keep a secret,” “keep at it,” “keep track of it,” “keep up with it,” “keep on keeping on,” and “playing for keeps” (which, I discovered, came from the game of marbles). I also knew, from writing fantasy novels, that a keep is the strong tower in the center of a medieval castle. A dungeon, too, was often called a keep.

Enter the dictionary. Keep can be traced back to Old English cepen, which means “to observe,” and cepen possibly entered English from the Old Norse kopa, which means “to stare.” That struck me as strange, because that definition didn’t seem to fit keep – until I thought of a keeper, a person who guards or watches and is responsible for taking care of something. So:

Keeping the traditions means observing them, protecting them.

Keeping a secret means we watch over it. We are responsible for it.

Keeping the peace means we don’t get complacent but stay alert to what brings peace and hold onto it.

Keeping someone company means we pay attention to them.

Keep your word means attend to what you promise and holding yourself to it.

Keep off the grass means observe it and take care not to trample it.

Synonyms for keep are maintain, stay with, persist, sustain, remain in, preserve, embrace, support, tend, guard, defend, comply with, respect, celebrate, support, nurture, nourish.

Now here’s the fun part (for me). With those synonyms in mind, return to the words that started all this pondering in the first place: “keeping quiet.” What does keep quiet mean? Well, we just found sixteen secrets of keeping quiet:

Maintain quiet. Stay with it. Persist in it. Sustain it. Remain in it.

Preserve quiet. Embrace it. Support it. Tend it. Guard it. Defend it.

Respect quiet. Celebrate it. Support it. Nurture it. Nourish it.

At this link you can listen to Sylvia Boorstein read Pablo Neruda’s “Keeping Quiet.”

“Now you keep quiet, and I will go.”

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Text © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Photos courtesy pexels.com.


How Do You Eat Sunshine?

That sounds like a riddle – how do you eat sunshine? In a way, I guess it is. How do you eat sunshine? How do you drink clouds? How do you taste spring?

Those thoughts came to me during a choir rehearsal at church. We’re preparing for a Celtic service, and one of our songs, a Celtic prayer, begins, “Be gentle when you touch bread.”

“Be gentle when you touch bread,

let it not lie uncared for,

taken for granted or unwanted.

There is such beauty in bread,

beauty of sun and soil,

beauty of patient toil . . .

Winds and rain,

Winds and rain . . .

There is such beauty in bread.”

a Celtic prayer

When I first heard this prayer, I was struck with a sense of wonder. When we eat bread, we’re eating sunshine and wind and rain! Our most basic nourishment is filled with the elements of nature. Such beauty! I’m planning to serve a fruit salad with dinner tonight. I’ll be eating sunshine. What a joyful thought!

Okay, I know some of you are thinking, “Right, we also eat the dirt and the manure mixed in with it.” Yeah, I went there, too. It’s especially top-of-mind with the recall of romaine lettuce this week. One theory is that the lettuce was tainted by animals wandering through the lettuce fields – or birds flying over, doing an air-drop. That’s not such a beautiful thought.

But then there’s that other way to look at it. If it’s choosing between seeing the glass half full or half empty, I choose half full. I choose to experience the wonder of eating sunshine, drinking wind and cloud, tasting the goodness of rain and snowmelt, and being deeply grateful for it all.

So this week, taste a little sunshine! Bon appétit!

P.S. You can enjoy The Celtic Collection by Margaret Rizza at this link.


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Text © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Photos courtesy pexels.com.


How to Fill a Space with the Beauty of Peace


“Filling a space in a beautiful way.

That’s what art means to me.”

Georgia O’Keeffe

When the artist Georgia O’Keeffe wrote about “filling a space,” was she referring to the space of a canvas? Or to her studio where she painted? Or to a gallery where art was displayed? I don’t know. Maybe all three. But the simplicity and grace of O’Keeffe’s definition of art connects with me. Maybe because I’ve wandered through galleries, worked with fellow-artists in a studio setting, and filled blank spaces of canvas and paper with whatever beauty I can summon from my own soul.

I was struck this week with a realization: In the midst of all our world’s crazy and horrible and dangerous and questionable events – and the responses to those events – the earth just keeps blooming and fading and offering itself, usually in the background quietly and steadily, sometimes as the main attraction, thundering, blustering, flaming, and flooding. No matter what we humans do, no matter how oblivious we are, nature finds a way to keep budding in cracks and crevices, to keep nesting in rafters or ruins, to keep shining and shading year after year. To keep filling space in a beautiful way.

I think it’s possible for us to join that calm beauty, not just surviving but thriving. I think it’s possible for each of us to be a space full of beauty, full of calmness, full of peace. I think it’s possible to carry that calm within us wherever we go, so that every physical space we step into is filled with beauty and peace simply because of our presence. Each of us is a piece of art. Each of us can be the beauty of peace amid the chaos.

But disturbing news keeps raining down on us so hard and fast, it’s hard to keep our heads above the floodwater. How do we fill ourselves with the beauty of peace so that we can become peace for the world?

First, we need to realize a wise and gracious truth that Frederick Buechner expressed perfectly in his novel Godric: “. . . all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” All the ugliness that ever was, all the unkindness, all the destruction fade to insignificance next to beauty and kindness and creation.

Second, we need a way to center our souls on peace when we get jolted out of joint by the chaos around us. In my last post, I mentioned seeing worry as a helium balloon that we can let go of, letting it sail away. Here I offer you another practice to try: HALF it. When one of my grandsons was struggling with anger, I guided him through this process. It can be done anywhere. HALF is an acronym for Hands, Abdomen, Lungs, Face. When you find yourself tense from worry or anger or stress, focus for a second on your hands. They’re often curled in fists. How about your abdomen? Is it tight or jittery? How about your lungs? Your breathing is probably shallow. And your face? Jaws clenched? Scowling? Eyes narrowed? Take that tension and HALF it.

Hands, relax. Shake them if you need to.

Abdomen, relax. Soften your belly.

Lungs, relax. Breath deeply through your nose. Blow out slowly through your mouth.

Face, relax. Unclench your teeth and jaw. Raise your eyebrows. Blink and refocus.

Still tense? HALF it again. And again. And again if necessary. Because what we need is the calmness to think logically and wisely about whatever is causing the tension, worry, anger, and stress. What we need is to fill the space of our inner self with the beauty of peace so that we can carry that beauty wherever we go.

As I was thinking about HALFing tension and inviting peace, I thought of the line “If you can keep your head,” which is from Rudyard Kipling‘s famous poem “If –.” Kipling was familiar with a chaotic world. Although he wrote these words in 1910, they feel timely today. Here it is:

If –

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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Text and photos of Karyn Henley art and dandelion © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

All other photos courtesy pexels.com.