You are my lover, my longing,
my flowing stream,

my sun,
and I am your reflection.

Mechtild of Magdeburg


The stream was cold and brisk.  Yet, with its shallowness I had no qualms about stepping onto the rocky bottom of the moving water.  The stream was nestled in a broad, flat area offering an apt transition from shoe soled to unshod feet.

As I stood within the movement, I felt a kinship with the larger stones and boulders.  The stream simultaneously caressed and moved freely around the rocks.  Invisibly the fluid motion was slowly eroding the seeming boundaries and edges into pebbles that could merge into the flow.   All this offered me a sense of the movability within seeming immobility, and a sense of endless change within an illusory solidity – nothing sensory ever remaining the same, yet continually posing as permanent and ungiving.

A group of clouds passed over the sun and away, melting the boundaries of distance between the sky and earth.   The freed midday light transformed the stream and atmosphere into a stretch of glistening translucence.  All life was belonging, momentarily bared and released from worldly insistence on separateness.  The moisture in my mouth was that of the clouds, and the streams, oceans and even the ground.  Similarly, the breath was fluidly that of the breeze, sway of the trees and every sound far and near – all seamlessly disappearing into and arising out of the un-nameable, sacred eternity.

Somehow, while standing there, the modern use of the term “live streaming” seemed more and more humorous.  In the streaming of life there in that moment, there was no need for special gadgets or links for connectivity.  It was simply awareness abiding in itself.

This moment was the birthday grace marking the end of one, and beginning of another, journey around the sun for this embodied life.  Thank you for also being within the stream of life.


This short practice invites awareness of stillness within movement.

 Prepare – 

  • Find a quiet spot, relatively free of distractions.  If you are wearing a watch or any other electronic device, please place it in another room.
  • Standing, shake each of your limbs, one by one.  Imagine you are shaking off any restlessness or inner distractions.  Then, move around in any way that will help you feel somewhat restful within your body.
  • When you are ready, stand still within one spot.  As you are here, invite a sense of balance between both of your feet and throughout your body.  Relax through your palms and fingers and breathe gently for 5-6 breaths.

Practice – 

  • Still standing, once again scan your awareness throughout your body as though you are finding balance – front to back, back to front, side to side, downward and upward.
  • Slowly place one hand on top of the other over your heart-center.
  • Pause and breathe here for a few breaths.  Imagine deep within the core of your being there is an inner sun whose light is radiating in all directions.
  • Then, imagine this sun is your anchor for steadiness and balance.  So, rather than gauging a sense of seeking balance from where your body is in the space around you, you are instead seeking a sense of balance from the core of your being.  Please take your time, there is no rush – and there is no right and wrong.  You are just practicing observing this shift in awareness outward to inward.
  • With that sense of being anchored inwardly, slowly lift one foot and once again observe a sense of seeking balance from a place of quiet steadiness deep within you.  Breathe on one side for a few breaths.  Then, slowly shift to your other foot.
  • With both feet on the floor and standing quietly, allow your hands to rest at your sides. Breathe 5-6 breaths.  Perhaps invite a sense of deep inner calmness and allow your senses to rest peacefully within the even flow of your breath.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Seated, relax your hands into a comfortable position, e.g., turned downward onto your knees.
  • Stay here as long as you are comfortable, quietly observing the gentle ebb and flow of your breath.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


The poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 49, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.   Photo by Robert Zunikoff.  H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.


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.






The weight of arrogance is such
that no bird can fly
carrying it.

And the man who feels superior
to others, that man
cannot dance,

the real dance when the soul takes God
into its arms and you both fall
onto your knees in gratitude,

a blessed gratitude
for life.

St. John of the Cross


As I walked through the neighborhood in the early morning, I felt the urge to change my route and make my way over a hill toward the beach.  It would be a little longer and more strenuous walk, and it was still relatively quiet along the streets.  That is, except for the birds, who seemed unusually persistent in their search for food.  Most of them were scurrying and quickly pecking along the ground.  Others were acrobatically exploring every side of a tree limb and the leaves.

The bird activity prompted me to remember a forecast for stormy weather. I felt a little “aha” within me as to why my body had felt the impulse to linger outside.  Although I had no scientific evidence to back up my “aha,” intuitively it seemed likely that my body had tuned into the atmospheric shift and felt an impulse to linger outdoors to be doing what the birds were doing – gathering and soaking up the available nourishment while the weather was drier and calmer.

There was something humbling about the glimpse of my nearly forgotten capacity of truly listening and living in sync with the larger bio-organism of all existence.  It stirred a feeling of deep reverence for the earth and soil not only supporting my feet as I walked, but being the source of all support of my life – e.g., food, shelter, relationships, environment, breath.  I felt the caress of the air around me, and felt gratitude for the trees and plants with their gift of reciprocity of oxygen and carbon dioxide, along with nutrients.

The horizon was pure blue.  As I meandered down the hill, ocean and sky seamlessly filled my sight, absorbing my awareness in the endless space holding all existence.  Even though some part of me knew that wild rains and winds were predicted to appear out of this blue expanse, I felt the “aha” ease into an “aaah.”   I was home, along with everyone and everything.  All existence has always equally belonged to this vastness.

As I walked along within this reverent sensibility, a flock of birds flew overhead.  Their flight felt like a gesture of heavenly grace.  The easefulness that they flowed through the openness made me smile.  For a moment, they offered me a bird’s eye view of modern humanity in its seeming quest to forget the subtle and rich interdependence and value of all life.  Before heading back to my little box that I call home, where my food is stashed in cupboards and in a refrigerator, I simply stood and took in all this togetherness and let myself fully belong.


This practice supports awareness of belonging.


  • Please find a quiet place where you feel a sense of safety and comfort.  If indoors, please remove electronics and any modern devices, including any digital watches (unless you truly need them for medical or emergency reasons).
  • Gently stretch out in any way that feels comfortable.  For example, reach one arm at a time overhead and toward the opposite side; or, place your hands on a cabinet, table, or back of a piece of furniture and walk, walk backward a bit and stretch out through your back.
  • Find a comfortable seated position.  If you are on a chair or bench, please rest the soles of your feet on the surface beneath you.   If you feel distracted, invite your mind to notice your breath – inhaling in and exhaling out.


  • Wherever you are seated, gently invite awareness of the support immediately beneath you, and then slowly acknowledge the layers of support beneath whatever you are seated upon. If comfortable, silently acknowledge that the earth’s surface supports all life around the globe.  Take a few moments, appreciating the interwoven fabric of earthly existence.
  • Slowly shift your awareness to the space above and around you.  Invite an appreciation of space always being there kissing every morsel of life. If comfortable, silently acknowledge space holding all life, including the air which we breathe.  Take a few moments to appreciate the intimate touch of space, even in its vastness.
  • Invite an inner feeling of a seamless community of life – beneath, above and all around you.  Slowly, stretch your arms to your sides, imagining one is reaching to the north and the other to the south.  Then, reach one arm forward and one to the back, imagining one is reaching to the east,and the other to the west.  Next, reach your fingers toward the earth and then toward the sky, acknowledging the downward and upward directions.
  • Once you have reached your arms in all directions, bring your fingers toward the place where all directions meet (at your heart center).  Bow your head slightly with your fingers still touching your heart.  If comfortable, appreciate your seamless belonging.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • Quietly, sit for a few moments.
  • When you are ready, transition back into your day.


This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 11, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  Photo by Valentin Hintikka.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.


I offer this particular HEARTH blog in acknowledgment of the enduring presence of the Indigenous People around the world.  With that, I wish to share a link to a vibrant, yet financially challenged, project Red Sunrise Taos Pueblo.  I ask that you consider supporting them to your level of comfort (scroll to the bottom of their page for their donation link).  Thank you.



SKY – forever home

SKY – forever home

Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner — what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

Rainer Maria Rilke

As a child, I felt the sky was home.  Life around me seemed to confirm this feeling.  The sky was predictably always there.  And, it seemed to hold and guide all that I experienced.  Even the adult conversation around me consistently referred to overhead happenings.  Thus, the sky became my deepest and continual sense of home.

I grew up on the Great Plains in North America where temperatures and winds can substantially vary within a single day.   My parents and grandparents would consistently consult The Old Farmers’ Almanac, which gave insight on possible weather patterns and the better times to plant to ensure the optimum conditions for healthy crops.

I would observe the adults and their nearly daily almanac references, and noted that the tone and spirit felt similar to when they entered into prayer or spoke of God.  It conveyed, and transmitted to me, a sincere reverence.   When I watched them walk across the land or go about their work, they moved slowly and carefully.  Their eyes were attentive to what they were doing, and always showed an awareness of the sky.

These adult behaviors and attitudes silently affirmed my relationship with the skyward beings – the birds, clouds, planets, and stars.   Through my young mind, it seemed reasonable for our family rhythms to be in concert with the sky.  At the beginning of the day, the arrival of sunlight brought the melodic sounds of the birds and the urge to wake up.  And, in the evening, the fading of the sun’s light brought a sense of comfort, as though the earth and all beings were being tucked into a calm slumber for the night.

These, and other regular connections with the sky, imprinted a sense of the sky as a reliable and mostly comforting presence.  Extreme storms or stretches of drought are less comforting.  Yet, even then the sky is ever-present.  Wherever I have travelled or lived, the sky has always been there.  It is forever home.

This practice supports awareness of inner spaciousness


  • Seated or standing, stretch your arms and hands open and upward.   As long as it is comfortable for your shoulders, really stretch from the center of your torso.
    • Invite in an awareness of the soft and generous spaciousness of the sky – boundless, formless, yet quietly ever-present, holding all.
    • Soften your stretch somewhat.  Imagine as you do this that the spaciousness of the sky is pouring into your upper torso.
      • Stay there for one or two seconds.  Tilt your head slightly upward and smile.  Breath in deeply.


  • Gently lower your arms, bringing your palms over your heart center – one hand resting lightly over the other.
    • Bow your head slightly.
    • Allow your eyes to rest in a gentle gaze or, if comfortable, allow them to close. As much as possible, release tension around your forehead, cheeks and eyes.
  • With your palms, still over your heart, recall the feeling of the soft and generous spaciousness of the sky. Imagine that gentle vastness is present within you under the surface of your palms, skin, bones and tissues of your torso.  There, in the core of your being, is your boundless, ever-free essence.
  • Feel the touch of your palms over your heart center. Imagine with this touch you are sealing in the awareness of your ever-present inner spaciousness.
  • While being absorbed in the feeling of spaciousness, allow your breath to effortless rise and fall. You may wish to lower your palms onto your thigh or lap in a comfortable position.  Or, continue resting them over your heart center.
  • Stay here for as long is comfortable – absorbed in a sense of infinite spaciousness – inside and out.

Transition Back into Your Day—

  • Slow lift your chin to a neutral level. If you had your eyes closed, slowly open them.  Taking your time look around the area where you are – perhaps noticing the space everywhere – between the objects, above you, below you.
  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • Then, again reach your arms and hands open and upward. Lift your chin again and invite a smile.
  • Lower your arms. And, when you are ready, transition back into your day.


This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 54, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  Photo by Gino Santa Maria.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2022.

YEAR-END BOOK SAVINGS!  My book publisher New World Library is offering a special 50% discount (and free shipping in the continental U.S. for orders of $25 or more on every book they publish, including my books:  Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems and Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems.  To save, visit by December 19, 2022.




LAMB’S EAR – gentle presence

LAMB’S EAR – gentle presence

Touched by all that love is
I draw closer toward you
Saddened by all that love is
I run from you.
Surprised by all that love is
I remain alert in stillness.

František Halas


There, in the dirt, was an empty hole.  Just the day before, there had been a thriving plant commonly called lamb’s ear.  I looked at the hole, feeling sadness.  Across the continent and an there are holes that once were homes, places of worship and schools, not to mention the accompanying absence of humans, animals, and even plants.

I was grateful for my attachment to this lamb’s ear.  Its disappearance gave me a way to just pause and honor the underlying grief around the small and big losses of the world.  The plant had been a daily reminder to be gentle and kind.  The presence of this plant reminded me that gentleness, kindness and generosity thrive in the midst of the more visible malice and disregard.

The furry leaves of the lamb’s ear always seemed like an invitation to bend down and greet them as I passed by.  My greeting was merely touching the soft and velvety leaves.  But, within that touch, I felt living gentleness and peacefulness.  This brought the reminder of a quote that I had heard long ago by Robin Wall Kimmerer that in some Native languages, the term for plants translates as “those who take care of us.”

The caring is most often that which is visible and recordable.  Hummingbirds, bees and other insects regularly visited this lamb’s ear for nourishment.   With antiseptic and other recorded medicinal capabilities, the caring could have extended to a temporary wrap over a wound, or a soothing cup of tea.  For the animal – likely a gopher given the dirt mound next to the hole – the caring was a full meal.

I feel the lamb’s ear had taken care of the inner me.  To reach toward the plant was a gesture of humility – I needed to bow down and let go of my acculturated human ideas of superiority and separateness from other beings.  Within the tactile connection there was the grace of loving joy upholding the preciousness aliveness of all life, regardless of label, shape, hue, texture, or sound.

The daily touch of the lamb’s ear gave me innumerable gifts.  Most importantly, it was the gift of a sense of the power of living with gentle presence.


This practice supports awareness of gentleness. 


  • Standing or seated, with your thumb slowly and lightly massage the base of your fingers, and then the palm, of your other hand.   Then, with both hands – and again lightly – make small squeezes up the opposite arm simultaneously.  Starting with your wrists, move upward over your forearms, elbow, upper arms, shoulders, and upper part of your torso.
  • Give yourself a couple hugs – changing the cross of your arms (i.e., left arm on top for one and right for the other).  If you wear glasses, please remove them for this next movement.
  • Lightly massage the back of your neck, your ears, and scalp.  Then, lightly move your palms across your face as though you are washing it.
  • If comfortable, stroke your torso, your arms one more time, and your legs.  When you are done, feel free to stretch, yawn, or moving in any way you feel inclined.


  • If standing, please find a comfortable seated position.  Invite an awareness of the parts of your body touching the surface beneath you – e.g., chair, bench, cushion, floor, earth.  In your mind’s eye, freely scan the entire area where your body and the surface beneath you are touching – without judgment, just noticing the sensation of sitting.
  • Lightly rest your fingertips and palms on the surface beneath you.
    • Invite an awareness of all earthly life being supported by our collective planet, whether sitting, walking, resting, slithering, crawling, swimming, or alighting.
  • Stretch your arms out to your sides. (Note:  please adjust as needed, being attentive to the current capacity of your shoulders.)
    • Invite an awareness of touching the air and space around you.
    • Breathe in deeply, and imagine you are reaching out from the center of your back through your fingertips.
    • On exhale, lower your arms and allow your hands to rest wherever they are comfortable.  Invite awareness of all earthly life – including you – similarly being held and nourished by air and space.
  • Place one palm and then the other over the center of your upper torso in the area called the heart-center.  Bow your head slightly.
    • Invite an awareness of the touch of your hands on your torso.  You might softly add a light pressure of your palms with a sense of loving reassurance that deep within there is steady, loving support wishing you safety, health, ease, and peace.  If comfortable, invite awareness of this unseen support gently caring for all earthly life – including you.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • Place your hands wherever they are comfortable.  And then, sit quietly for as long as you wish.
  • When you feel complete, return to your day.


This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 73, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.   HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2022.



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