Grandmother’s Love

Grandmother’s Love

yet one word
frees us from all the weight and pain in life:
That word is love.
Trans. by Robert Fitzgerald


I noticed a small rip in the flowery blue fabric. This caused me to look a little more closely at the quilt that I had had for about three decades. It seemed impossible that wear would ever show on something that had been carefully stitched by one of my grandmothers—my mother’s mother.  She was a corseted, strong woman who had always seemed to be the essence of durability. Her patterns were as firm as the shapes on the quilt.

More than one hundred clusters of colorful hexagons span the quilt’s surface. Like many who have little money, my grandmother let nothing go to waste. She had pieced together a home by patiently and creatively using and re-using whatever was available. The quilt, which is aptly called “Grandmother’s Flower Garden,” represents how she turned scraps into a lasting story of quiet love.

The hexagonal form of the quilt pieces is the most efficient use of material.  Bees construct their honeycombs with hexagonal shapes, where each side fits together without leaving gaps. Hexagons are found elsewhere in nature, such as in DNA, snowflakes, and crystals, as well as a large cloud formation over the north pole of the planet Saturn. The heart of two interlocking triangles—one facing upward and one downward—forms a hexagon, symbolically representing eternal, divine love flowing between heaven and earth.

True love seldom, if ever, looks for recognition. It just continues to express itself in different ways throughout our lives. For the most part, it is masked over by the despair and stress of mortal existences. Yet, there are the bees diligently pollinating plants and making honeycombs, and the quilting bees of women sitting around a table, stitching together the front and back of quilts. Their efforts and work remain mostly anonymous until there is a tear, or a decline in their population. Then we notice that the loving infrastructure is more fragile that we had imagined.

For a long while, I had dismissed Sophocles’ words on love. They seemed to offer easy terminology to respond to the suffering of others. The simple phrase “frees us” shifted my perspective inward to recognize that, at the core of kindness, compassion, and service is a hexagonal garden of love. To know—and to be—that love is a lifetime of focus and work. I hope to take one small step each day by noticing a bit more of the lessons within everyday life.


This practice supports your awareness of love.


  • Find a quiet location. Silence your phone and other devices off or to airplane mode.
  • Seated, gently shake out through your arms and legs. Then, stretch out in any way that feels comfortable for you, e.g., reach one arm up and lean to the side.
  • Allow your hands to relax in your lap. Take a few smooth, easy breaths, perhaps noticing the gentle opening and releasing in your chest as you breathe.


  • Imagine yourself surrounded by six luminous orbs, each infused with love.
    • One sphere beneath you, one above you, one around each shoulder, and one around each hip. (This is like a circle of love around you.)
    • With your hands resting in a comfortable position, e.g., on your lap, take six breaths – Inhaling, invite each orb to slowly grow outward until it slightly overlaps with the adjoining sphere.  Exhaling, allow the glow of each orb to be a little brighter and softer.
    • Rest one hand on top of the other over the center of your chest, symbolically, your heart-center. Imagine that beneath your hands, there is another glowing ball of love.
      • Take another six breaths – Inhaling, invite the love from the core of your heart to grow outward until it enfolds all the other circles.  Exhaling, allow yourself to be bathed in love. Every cell, every atom of your being is soaked in love. For just one moment, allow yourself to let go into this ocean of love. Be love.

Transition Back into Your Day

  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • Lightly touch your nose, mouth, eyes, ears, cheeks, and skull. As you do this, invite the memory of ever-present love to settle into all your senses and your mind.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


This reflection is an excerpt from Our Inherited Wisdom:  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, Kate Vogt, Pages 320-325.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.

Please join me this summer for “Transcendental Love”  –
3 Thursdays (June 22 and 29, and July 6), 3:10 – 4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Zoom.  For information and to register, please visit the College of Marin Community Education website.






RIVER – eternal presence

RIVER – eternal presence

losing its name
a river
enters the sea

John Sandbach

I stared out of the window of the train in anticipation of the first glimmers of morning light.  Along with most of the train’s passengers, I boarded in the heart of Manhattan pre-dawn and was headed to one of the area airports.  A childlike part of me was filled with curiosity about the unfolding of the light of the day.

As the train snaked along its tracks, the sky began to brighten and slowly reveal the outside surroundings.  At first, it looked like someone had been playing with a set of large, grey-colored Legos.   A colony of rectangles filled the land, some stretched lengthwise and others rising upward at various heights.   These solid masses seemed lifeless – not even a window to reflect the rising light.

But, as the morning light grew, the broader landscape began to sparkle.   Just beyond the flat rooflines there was another community.  A river undulated across a wide marshland.  Flocks of birds rose out of the grasses and reeds into the sky, and the river sparkled as it flowed along toward the eventual openness of the sea.

I felt soothed by the presence of the river.  Even though its waters were likely tainted by the industrial world that had sprouted around it, this river still glistened in the morning light.  Without asking for anything in return, it has nourished and sustained countless forms of life over an unnamable amount of time.  Rather than clinging, it has journeyed onward, reflecting and carrying the light.

This river renewed my awe and appreciation of the endless flow of rivers – not only those of water, but of the night sky (e.g., the Milky Way), of blood within my body, and the sacred river of life.   May I travel as humbly and generously as a river.

This practice supports awareness of fluid vitality. 

Prepare –

  • Standing, pause and notice your energy and how you feel, e.g., calm, agitated, dull.
  • Gently shake out through each of your limbs, one at a time.  Imagine that you are releasing tension from your muscles.
  • Invite your body to spontaneously move.  If nothing naturally arises, lightly twist your torso from side to side a few times, move your hips in circles, or dance around.
  • If comfortable, give yourself a big hug and invite an inner smile.

Practice –

  • Continue with a more playful form of movement in any or all of the following ways, for about a minute:
    • Move as though you are piece of kelp in the ocean, moving with the ebb and flow of the waves.  If comfortable, invite arms to slowly swish around as you sway from side to side; or,
    • Imagine you are walking downstream through a shallow creek.  The bottom is sandy and a little uneven, so you need to use your torso and arms to stay balanced; or,
    • Rest on the floor on your back.  Imagine you are floating on a quiet and calm pond on a warm summer day.
    • While doing any or all of these, notice the sensations and feelings, albeit imagined, of being moved or moving within the water.
  • Pause, standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms relaxed at your sides.  Take note of any shift in your energy from when you first began.  There is no right or wrong, just noticing.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Come to a seated position.  Invite your lower body to be supported by the surface beneath you, and your spine to rise gently upward.
  • Lightly close the lids of your eyes, bow your head slightly, and place your hands over your heart center (one hand over the other).
  • Invite your awareness to the gentle ebb and flow of your breath – a slight expansion of your torso and belly on an inhalation, and a gentle relaxation on an exhalation.  Stay here and breathe for a few breaths.
  • Relax your hands in any position that is comfortable, e.g., palms upward on your thighs.  Pause and sit quietly.
  • When you feel ready, transition back into your day.


This poem is from Mala of Love:  108 Luminous Poems, page 107, by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt (editors), published by New World Library. Photo by Jaimie Tuchman.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.

Join me for my short, 3-week summer class!
Transcendental Love
With the help of poets from around the world we’ll explore love for the other and beyond.   Logistics: Zoom, 3 Thursdays (June 22 and 29, and July 6), 3:10 – 4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time.  For more information and to register, please visit the College of Marin website.




EARTH – divine home

EARTH – divine home

You are the sky and the ground.
You alone the day, the night air.

You are the meal that’s being brought,
the flowers and their watering.

You are all this.

Translated by Coleman Barks


The road stretched across the flat landscape like a taunt ribbon.  The only rise in the land was in the distance.  There, the flatness rose into hillsides and mountains.  Otherwise, there was a seemingly inert expanse along both sides of the road.

Having grown up in such flatness which most view as nothingness, I felt a sense of joy being in this landscape, which was uncluttered by buildings and fences.  Although my childhood home was a different place where the land was parceled and purchased for farmland, I felt a keen kinship with this desert parkland.  The appearance of emptiness signaled rich fullness.

And indeed, in just slowing down and noticing, the openness was clearly full of life.  Recent rainfall had formed rivulets and streams. Birds and butterflies floated overhead. The ground that had dried had an intricate jig-sawed surface of crusty shapes of all sizes and forms. Spiders and bugs crawled between the cracks of earth’s natural puzzle.

Sweet smells and colors emanated from the soil.  Muddy spots had deep brown hues and patterns of paw-prints from those moveable beings who lived within the area.  Their prints reminded me that I was a brief visitor to not only this place, but the earth.  As if to emphasize that reminder, short-lived plants had broken open into lush communities of yellows, blues and purples.

A visitor, a shared part of the timeless earth story.  That is what we have been, and are together – the land, rain, water, sky, birds, mountains, animals, flowers and insects, all supported by and belonging to the earth, spinning around the solar orb.  Like the great unnamable divine, life, too, is nameless.

My human mind, with its trained hankering for name and hierarchy, was rendered mute in this landscape.  Here the voiceless truth remained, preserved by countless beings over millions of years.  Descendants of the earliest humans, the native people, still belonged to this land.  They understood, and understand, the richness in seeming blankness, nothingness, vastness – each is part of a fluid and sacred stream of life dancing from sky to earth, and back to sky.   Only the mind called me back to labels and words, but my heart lingers in the memory of home – an endless horizon between heaven and earth.


This practice supports awareness of the ground of life and takes a minimum of ten minutes.


  • Find a quiet spot, either inside or outside. Remove extra digital devices around you, including any on your wrist (unless it is a medically prescribed device).  For the device you might be using for this practice, set it in airplane mode.
  • Standing or seated, slowly shake out one arm, then the other. Then, squeeze and your fingers of both hands a few times.  Shake out your wrists.
  • Allowing your hands and arms to be still, shake out one leg, and then the other. Take your time. Whether standing or seated, curl your toes under and stretch them apart a few times.
  • Then, gently roll one shoulder a few times in each direction, and then the other. Try to slow down and really feel the movement in each shoulder.  (If you have shoulder issues, please feel free to skip this step.)
  • If comfortable, soothingly brush your palms across your face, scalp, ears and neck. Then, lovingly stroke your hands across your shoulders, torso, arms, hands, legs and, if easily reachable, your feet.


  • Find a comfortable seated position. If you are seated on furniture, allow the soles of your feet to comfortably rest on the floor. Whether on the floor or furniture, without slumping, take a few moments to fully settle into the support beneath you.
    • Perhaps close your eyes and invite a sense of gradual unwinding away from the chatter and distractions of the day. Imagine the earth is saying, “Welcome.  Make yourself at home.  Settle in and allow your body weight to be fully supported.”
    • Release any holdings you may have away from that support as much as you can. The earth is the physical ground of life, continually inviting life to surrender into reverent awareness of the grace of living.
  • Place your palms facing downward on your thighs. Allow the your fingers and hands to fully relax into the support of your legs and the support beneath your feet and legs.  Allow yourself to notice if you are holding an alertness in your hands as though ready to reach or grasp something at any moment.  If so, reassuringly pat your hands on your thighs giving them a cue that you are giving them a little break from their daily toil.  They can relax and be supported.
  • Once you feel some ease in your hands, invite your palms to turn upward and your fingers to softly release. Imagine you are now the earth and holding all life in your hands.  Rather than being fearful of this responsibility, just imagine being the earth holding all life.  You are supporting the sacredness of all life – flowers, rivers, animals, trees, insects and all beings including yourself.  You hold sacredness in your hands.
  • After a few moments, bring your palms to your heart center – either one over the other or together. Slightly bow your head as though looking toward the center of your heart.  Invite a smooth and easeful breath.  As you breathe, imagine you are being breathed by the divine, in the form you hold as your true belief or simply pure vastness.  The divine is in your heart, breathing you.  The breath holds you and all life.

Transition Back into Your Day

  • Continue to sit quietly for a few moments.
  • If you wish, silently offer a prayer for the well-being, health, safety, peacefulness of all.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.

The poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 91, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The land references are: my childhood home on a family farm in the part of the Great Plains known as in Greeley County, Kansas, U.S.A.; and, the story landscape is Anza Borrego Desert State Park in California, U.S.A.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.


Mark You Calendar for my Summer Class “Transcendental Love” 
With the help of poets from around the world we’ll explore love for the other and beyond.   Logistics – 3 Thursdays (June 22 and 29, and July 6), 3:10 – 4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Zoom Virtual Classroom #5866 with the College of Marin Community Education.  (The college will begin registration on May 15, 2023.)



Spring overall. But inside us
there ’s another unity.

Behind each eye here,
one glowing weather.

Every forest branch moves differently
in the breeze, but as they sway
they connect at the roots.

Translated by Coleman Barks


The front walk is covered with leaves and branches from the surrounding trees.  This is a common occurrence in the fall when the ground receives layers of new nutrients from the trees.  The earth is cushioned with colorful foliage and padded for the winter chill.

Yet, winter has come and gone.  The hills are covered in crisp green tones, frilly cups of daffodils are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood.  The soundscape seems suddenly filled with birdsong throughout the day.  Deer have reappeared outside our back-window, dining on the new sprouts of ivy.

This year it seems the trees have had a spring-cleaning.  Over the past few weeks, gusty winds and stretches of rain have swept through their limbs again and again.   With each storm, the skyward broom passes through the branches, finding even more lichen-covered twigs and leaves that have waned in chlorophyll.   Seemingly with each stormy sweep, the trees have yielded more and more hidden excesses. And, slowly, the sunlight freely finds its way into the wider open spaces between the canopy.

As I go to sweep and gather up the remains along the walkway, I notice my broom has disappeared.  I had forgotten that someone had borrowed it a few days earlier.  While I could use a rake or another garden tool to move the leaves to the public composting, I chose to leave them.  The broom would reemerge and I could sweep another day.

In the meantime, the trees are reminding me to allow life’s storms – e.g., small and large losses, disappointments, slights or hurts – to interrupt my habitual patterns enough to shake loose the unneeded excesses in the branches of my mind.  The wise and lasting words of sages, prophets and saints speak of the poisons of greed and hoarding, whether material or social-psychological.  While I find unsettling a disruption in the familiar, I am inspired by how the trees reveal that the season of letting go and shedding is boundless.

I, too, can consistently let go and recalibrate. One of the most recent gifts was an insight.  It arose simply out of observing this uncharacteristically weather turbulence.  The shift in perspective was subtle, but one that immediately flooded me with appreciation for the most ordinary.

There are actually no words to fully share and specificity the change in inner perspective, but, in short, I truly feel that the richness of the world sparkles within every morsel of life.  And, even more intensely within the voices of those other two-legged beings who live around the planet.  My gift was being with my siblings and their families this past week where I could truly experience the potent wealth of just being alive.  I offer gratitude to the great, unseen broom.

This practice brings awareness of letting go. 


  • Find a comfortable seated position.  If you are seated on a bench or chair, please place the soles of your feet on the floor.  However you are seated, please take a moment to acknowledge the enduring support beneath you.  The earth is always there supporting all life.
  • With your palms upward and fingers relaxed, softly bend your elbows and hold your hands in front of you (mid-chest height).  Invite softness in your forearms and forearms.  Invite a sense of letting go of your unneeded tensions and excessive attachments.   Quietly breathing, stay here for a few moments, softening and releasing.


  • Place each palm on the opposite shoulder.  Slightly bow your head.  If comfortable, softly close your eyes.  Imagine everything unneeded or that causes internal or external harm is being received by the earth – your forms of speech, ways of interacting, or thoughts.   Pause for a few moments and breathe quietly.
  • Open your eyes, if they were closed, and lift your head to level.  And, once again, open your palms in front of you.  Imagine you are receiving the grace of natural abundance from that which upholds all life.  Pause here for a few moments, quietly breathing.
  • Return your palms to your shoulders and allow your head to bow.  If you have a particular faith or belief, invite their presence.  If not, invite awareness of being embraced by boundless, loving support.  Breathe here, surrounded, enfolded and nourished by unseen grace.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • After a few moments, bring your head back to center.  Allow your palms to rest wherever they are comfortable.
  • Sit for as long as you are comfortable, peaceful and refreshed.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 85, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.








FRANGIPANI – The World Within A Tree

FRANGIPANI – The World Within A Tree

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

Translated by Coleman Barks


I have long been taken by the endless generosity of trees.  They are more than human to me, and hence I refer to them with human sounding pronouns, such as she or her instead of it.   As a child, I relied on the elm tree in our front yard for understanding and insight into life.  Some of my deepest and most foundation lessons came from the elm, especially to never forget humans are latecomers to the larger earthly family.

Now, whenever I travel, my first guide to any terrestrial region on the planet usually is a tree.  Exceptions are high altitudes or other non-treed areas.  The tree may not be native to the area, but is quite literally a very grounded local inhabitant.  Almost as a center of a compass, a tree has a full view of the surrounding terrain and has been a quiet observer of the passing of generations of occupants.   The tree’s steady presence feels like an invitation to slow down and see the broader view. While I might just be a visitor passing through, I, too, belong with her and others into this part of the worldly epic.

Most recently, I spent about one third of my waking hours with a frangipani tree.   She lived outside the home where I was staying with my dear friend (aka husband) Jay for a half a moon cycle –  it was near full moon when we arrived, and shortly after half-moon when we left.   During that I time, I began to remember childhood lessons from the elm tree; for example, I observed the grace and fluidity with which the tree danced with the wind, received nourishment, welcomed any insect, bird or mammal and unhurriedly grew new growth.

Within the constant change, the tree was still fully herself.  She was there at sunrise and sunset.  If I happened to arise in the middle of the night, she quietly reflected the light of the moon and stars.  Morning and evening birdsong arose within and around her, yet her quietness remained.  Leaves and blossoms slowly came and went, and she gracefully reached outward and upward.

Like a prayer for the well-being of the earth and all beings, she graced the air with her elegant fragrance.  Her scent seemed to glide between worldly and extra-worldly realms.  I could imagine why some cultures attribute her blossoms as sacred, while others consider them as symbols of death or the supernatural.  When coupled with their physical beauty, the smell of the blossoms seemed to evoke a full universe of feelings and memories.

Not surprisingly, when I checked with friends later about the meanings of the frangipani flowers, I heard:  hope, passion, intensity, courage, strength, romance, friendship, good fortune, devotion, godliness, nobility, power, purity, death and rebirth, innocence, clarity, healing, beauty, energy, strength, being welcomed, fertility, transcendence, optimism, play, warmth, immortality, and joy.  So much lovingly flowing from just one tree!

I hope you also view trees as more than inanimate supports of our human activities – breathing, cooling off in their shade, taking photos, eating, sitting (furniture), building, reading (paper books and media) and playing music (wooden instruments).  If anything, my wish is that trees inspire the “humus” (soil, dirt, earth) in humanity to patiently live within the ancient presence of other beings.

This practice brings awareness of our interconnectedness with other humans and species. 


  • Choose a day when you have some extra time in the morning.  On the night before, just as you are ready to go to sleep:
    • Simply remember a moment in your day when you were aware that you were interacting with one of the elements, e.g., air, or the life of another species.  (There are no further instructions here, but follow your own intuition, e.g., ask yourself, how did that interaction enrich or support your life?)  If nothing comes to mind, don’t worry. Just invite awareness that throughout the day, your existence has been supported in all sorts of invisible ways.


  • When you awaken from your sleep and still in bed, notice what you first notice. No judgment, just noticing.  Take your time.
  • Then, before you arise, bring your awareness to the bedding on your bed. For just a few moments, reflect on your bedding.   For example:  How does it feel on your skin? Soft? Scratchy? How do you feel, taking the time to notice an everyday item?
  • If you feel so inclined just for this single morning of practice, you may wish to extend this to a more analytical inquiry.
    • For example, you might reflect on:  Where was the fabric made?  How did it get to the factory or place where the bedding was made? Who transported it?  Who made the bedding?  What elements support their lives, e.g., water?
    • You don’t need to spend a lot of time on this, nor try to find answers to the reflections. This is simply a way to help reawaken our awareness of and respect for the anonymous, intricate, and delicate web of our existence – human and non-human.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • Arise. If you have time, sit quietly for a few moments.
  • When you are ready, move into your day.


This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 74, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The practice is an excerpt from Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, pages 141-143.  Photo is by “shelter” on Unsplash.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.


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