Trusting Trail Angels

Many years ago, Eric and I hiked a 10 day section of a path called Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James.  This is a pilgrimage route which extends from many different places throughout Europe and culminates in the west coast seashore town of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where the bones of St. James are said to be buried.  There is a legend about St. James, that after his beheading in the year 44, that his bones floated from Jerusalem to Spain, which he had visited during his missionary years earlier.  So people from all over the world, not just Catholics, but from many different religious traditions- walk this path called the Way of St. James.  For Catholics it is an act of religious devotion- and people are given a special dispensation at the end after they walk it.  But these days, people from all around the world walk together on this path- sharing faith, doubt, and spiritual practice together.

The stretch of path that Eric and I walked was from St. Jean Pied de Port, France over the Pyrenees mountains, through the Basque country, past Pamplona and on into central Spain.  We walked the path shortly after our first baby was stillborn, and along that path we talked about our grief and our healing.  It was a path of pondering, considering, and growth.

There were some difficult moments along that path, especially over the Pyrenees. One day, after traveling several miles, I was at the bottom of a huge ravine, and it was muddy and slippery.  The pack on my back was too heavy, my feet had too many blisters, and I was just too tired to make it up.  In front of me was a Peruvian man, and he called to me in Spanish and said, I will help you- take my hand.

He then took out this beautiful rock which held a blue colored crystal-  that he had carried for many weeks on his path.  He said, here hold onto this- and you will have courage.  With one hand holding the rock, and the other hand held firmly by my trail angel, little by little we made it up that slippery path.

The rock traveled with me every day onward along the Camino, a sign that God would send someone as a guide or helper at pivotal moments.  I eventually lost track of that Peruvian man on the Camino- so I just call him my trail angel.  He was there for me at exactly the time that I needed, and he helped me onto the next point in the path.


Ballooning as a Bouquet

I would like to imagine us all ballooning borderless in free sky space, our strings dancing without tether and snugly fastened to something beautiful, a fleet of colorful harbingers of hope and all good intention. That something so unbound could be what unites, what affords commonality, connection. That your shape, your size, your hue be equally enjoyed as the next. That the right to clean air, the lift of buoyancy, and utmost belonging be available one to the next, still honoring what defines, what is given as uniqueness to this balloon bouquet. Oh, to leave behind the sense of sinister, the foreboding, and to fly- just to fly- if for no other reason than to celebrate a collective sensation of effervescence, of joy.

Image credit: Al Soot on Unsplash


Listening in the Snow

Wallace Stevens ends his poem The Snow Man with

“…For the listener, who listens in the snow,

And nothing (himself,) beholds

Nothing that is not there and nothing that is.”

Here in the Midwest this year we have had plenty of time to listen in the snow. A whole season dedicated to hibernation is a gift that not many creatures have (unless you are a bear); nonetheless, winter can be an invitation to slow and listen.

Gluggavedur is the Finnish term for “window weather”- those opportunities to be inside looking out at something beautiful. Acknowledging the times when you have choice to do that keeps winter fresh with offering repose and rest. Then there is a tandem energy of “hibernation bravery” — times when you feel compelled to get out there and be in the elements. Maybe you are not a big snow person, but even shoveling your sidewalk gets you fully into the experience of winter.

Whether you are hibernating, or braving the elements, we wish you a season with a bit more ease and inward restoration. May the Giver of all seasons find you here and meet you while you listen with a “mind of winter.”



Amongst hustle, between bustle glows a

bright star, its brilliance illuminating a

shadowed region you consistently overlook, wherein,

Wisepeople await who will signal,

directing you to the place which

you will find at the given time, the given place.

Not that there is hurry underfoot.

Not force, nor deception. It truly is just a poor woman

unsheltered, bearing something beautiful in the dark,

only farmhands who hear proclamations and live them well,

a season where oil lamps never die out. This mere

flash of hope against the night, but oh what

future might emerge from that flicker in each of us,

kindling a common fire to hover round?

Poem by Maia Twedt, 2022

Photo from Unsplash, Dan Kiefer


Sensing Sufficiency

Much of life is lived wanting more.  

More time, more experiences, more attention, more stuff.  Instead of reaching satiety we continue that everlasting search for… something.

What would it look like to acknowledge sufficiency?  

That I am enough, that I have enough, that enough will be available.

Sufficiency.  Satiety.

This is not a call to ignore deep need: poverty, war, inequity.  We ought to turn toward them, rather than away.  Turning toward creates awareness of our own sufficiency, which in turn fuels generosity.

In the Hebrew scriptures in the book of Exodus, Yahweh provides plentiful manna to eat fresh each day; however, it could not be hoarded, as it would spoil.  The effect was a trust in providence, of provision.  Also important is that these gifts were made available for all-  not just for some.

May a refrain be present among us: I am enough, I have enough.  May there be enough to go around.


Letting Go

Red sumac signals a transition,

drifting maple leaves a release,

a benediction of reprieve

o changing one,

who tilts the axis to

shift a season, let me

change too, and decompose

ambition and relinquish

so much striving 

my movement synchronizing

with a tender, transformed earth,

my breath with yours and blurred

among the colors, in its brilliance

and oh the quiet

Poem by Maia Twedt maiatwedt@gmail.com

Artwork by charlee gorham  charlee.gorham@gmail.com


Cultivate Calm with Ujjayi Breathing

Woodlake Nature Center, Walking Meditation Way Opening Workshops 2022

Maia Writes:

We need a repertoire of tricks to help ease stress.  Especially stress that is ambient and unrelenting- war, poverty and inflation, climate crisis, an unrelenting pandemic, racial inequality.  It all adds up into a communal equation of strain.

People are talking about the ujjayi breath, also called the “Darth Vader breath.”  Kimberly Wilson – cake baker extraordinaire on the Great British Bakeoff- and simultaneously a psychologist- is an author who writes about this and inspired me to try it. She says that this kind of breath of nasal breathing activates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is super cool!  Apparently, it is an “information highway” between the brain and the gut, running through all our internal organs. It releases a hormone called acytecolene which is calming for the body, and which is especially activated by constricted throat breathing like ujjayi.

So here is how you do it- it is simple. Constrict the back of the throat when you exhale (like you are fogging up your bathroom mirror)- only, exhale through the nose for a count of four, and inhale through the nose for a count of four, and then hold your breath at the top for a count of four- Repeat.  This pattern stimulates the vagus nerve, and honestly- I can feel immediate effect in my body when I practice this. Studies show that two minutes of this allows your blood pressure to drop and inflammation to decrease.

Obvious Disclaimer- this breath will not change the conditions around you- there will still be climate change. There will still be racial inequity. Inflation – also still real. And my kitchen is messy, my lawn is drying up, and my dogs need walking. But with this calm activation in the body, we are all more able to be a change agent in the world. Better equipped to express faith and values in the lives we live. A byproduct of this calm brings more awareness of divine guidance, and more openness to its leading. May it be so, for you- your loved ones- and your family Earth.

Source: How to Build a Healthy Brain by Kimberly Wilson

Falcon 9 Rocket Scrub

It took such planning,

Such precision, the

Certainty that something stationery could become airborne,

Effort encompassing good intention, good effort.

Good money.

Just that all the hope and vision in the world can

Bend toward something unforeseen:

Hope diverging from strategy, its

Position firmly in the realm of 

Universal beneficence, guiding

Tikkun olom toward global resonance and

Quiet restoration of the common canopy under which

We live, move, and have our being.

Maia Twedt, poet

Tikkun olam (Hebrew: תִּיקּוּן עוֹלָם, lit. ’repair of the world’) is a concept in Judaism, which refers to various forms of action intended to repair and improve the world.

The overturning (of Roe v Wade)

Barriers, photo by Maia Twedt

When we learned of it we became lost

In our hometown. Landmarks repositioned themselves like

Building blocks, some disappearing altogether into the

Quicksand of patriarchy. On dark streetcorners

Women stood in fear for their lives as always, shining of both

Terror and triumph. And if you look back now-

You may see them hardened into pillars of salt.

If instead you avert your gaze, negligence

Will encroach upon the future, spreading

Malignant tentacles over your children and theirs, in

This very body, this very home, this holy space

Shared one with another.

Maia Twedt, permission to repost granted

I am who I am

Infinity Room by Yayoi Kusama, exhibit at Hirschorn Museum in Washington DC

Maia Writes:

This is the season of graduations, and I have a Beloved one who graduates from high school in a couple of weeks. I am noticing the questions that are asked of young people at this stage. Queries range from “where have you been and what have you done?” to “where are you going and what will you do?”

It draws me back to the concept of the Hebraic God, Yahweh, who was given the name YHWH because this god was “the one who cannot be named.” This god made the response “I am who I am” when the people’s curiosity got the best of them. This god felt no compunction to offer a litany of references, nor to reply with all their godly qualities that proved fitness for the task ahead.

Instead this great “I am who I am” appears on the scene at random times, often unbidden, to show the people how more fully be who they are meant to be. YHWH leads them out of slavery. Guides them to new land. Invites them into communal life.

There is so much pressure to be a certain kind of a person, to aspire to a particular job or earn a good reputation. The “I am who I am” is the faithful reminder that I am who I am not because of successes or failures, or because of where I come from, or because of what I am becoming. I am loved simply by virtue of being human… being who I am. What a great relief and gift to be accepted in this way.

Note: This photo was taken by Maia in an experiential exhibit of artist Yayoi Kusama. Kusama is a Japanese artist who struggled mightily with mental illness, born in 1929, and just recently become popular. Her work utilizes the viewer as an instrument to express the concept of infinity, and she has created a series of Infinity Rooms. This is a visual reminder that we embody a fragment of infinity by an artist who is fully who they are, without apology or explanation.

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