A personal note from Joan

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace. Only, that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us.”                    – Annie LaMott

It’s late June as I write, birds singing outside our antique adobe home (the little mud hut as I call it), nestled just above a tiny river in scenic Santa Fe, NM. It’s hot. Unusually hot. And our state is on fire. The largest wildfire in state history burns just north of us. To the south another fire rages, on track to become the second largest fire in state history.

There’s no shortage of trouble in our world. I won’t elaborate because you know exactly what I’m talking about. But life goes on and we have a choice. We can become overwhelmed, or we can open our hearts to one another and to the beauty that is still around us.

My husband Gordon and I took a friend to dinner last night at a Japanese restaurant in the mountains. Water from a stream flowed over a rock wall, releasing a cascade of coolness, the sound of the rushing water so refreshing. We sat together in the ancient pine forest, and some of the stress and grief we’d all been carrying began to fall away.

As the stars came out, conversation turned to respite and hope. All three of us spoke about what we could do to stay present and hopeful in these taxing times. What we all had in common was a love of nature and gardening… and the refuge of friendship.

“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and I am free.”
-Wendell Berry

Last year Gordon started planting desert agaves as our garden evolves into a xeriscape needing little water. Check out the photo of me standing next to one of his agaves, marveling at how anything could grow so tall so fast. It grew over 15 feet in just a few weeks, drawing water from…where?

Mother Earth still has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. Our desert garden reminds me daily that grace can arise and grow as suddenly as an agave bloom stalk.

Another source of emergent grace that buoys my spirit is the online community circles that I host along with my dear friend and colleague Gilah Rosner- an angel in my life. Together, we’ve developed different types of community circles where we reflect and connect with you, and learn practical tools to stay present and resilient.

Our intimate online communities have been a lifeline for me- and for many of you- since the beginning of the pandemic. We’ve updated them and created new classes too, and we’re thrilled to offer them to you again, beginning this fall.

Over the summer Gilah and I are taking time out to rest, renew and regroup. We need to wander in nature and sit by the still waters that Wendell Berry described with such beauty. I imagine that you need time to relax and re-create as well.

I’ll check in with you from time to time and let you know how my first summer off since I was 15 years old is going.

Have a beautiful summer!


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