Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25th, 2012
                                           Love Shines

Starlight shine on me

Moonlight shine on me

Sunlight shine on me

Source of all light, shine down
Source of all light, shine down
Light shines and darkness flees
Source of all light shine down
Source of all light shine down
All light shine down on me

Hope shines
Hope shines
Hope rises in me

Joy shines
Joy shines
Joy rises in me

Love Shines
Love Shines 
Love Rises in me

Source of all love rise up
Source of all love rise up
Love Shines and darkness flees
Source of all love rise up
Source of all love rise up
Source of all love rise up in me

Love shines
and we are free

copyright 2008 Cathy Aj Hardy

This song keeps circling back to my heart
especially when I can't feel it any more
or don't think I can sing it again
It carries a truth
about a deeper reality
something radiant
that cannot 
be destroyed
something glorious
that shines beyond
all human suffering and sadness
and I have tasted
deep suffering and sadness 
and walked with others who have tasted a sadness
far beyond my own
and yet
it is like a melody that I can only faintly hear at times
a sweet smell that is calling me home
an awareness that deepens if
I open my heart
this radiant
I believe
Love is Shining
even in my (our) deepest darkness
even when we cannot feel it, taste it, or sense it
it doesn't matter
the reality
Love is Shining

May hope rise in your bones
May joy rise in the depths of your heart
May love shine in the beauty of your soul
this day
and in all the days to come.

Merry Christmas

Monday, November 12, 2012


It has been a long while since I have posted here in 'blog-land'.
I've been walking the labyrinth the past few months....metaphorically speaking...
the labyrinth - if you have never walked it
is a meditative walk that goes back thousands of years.  One of the oldest labyrinths is in the Chartes cathedral of France.  The Catholic leaders were suspicious of this walk - but found that their own priests were secretly walking it regularly.  Today it is open every Friday and thousands of people walk it every year.  This particular labyrinth pictured above is called a 7-circuit labyrinth and is the model for the one I am half-way through creating on my own property.
When one enters the labyrinth - there is a feeling of anticipation that one is walking towards the centre.  But... it takes interesting twists and turns and you find yourself walking in and then back towards the outer edges over and over before you eventually do find yourself at the centre.  It is difficult for anyone to really describe well what the walk does internally.
But it is the best way for me to describe my journey these past few months. The inward journey of moving forward but then also going through spaces where it feels like one is moving backwards.
The journey of letting go, grieving and embracing a new life is not a quick weekend experience.  There is a long, long path of this transition.
My friend who visited China last year said that in one village - the greeting people give to each other is 'walk slowly'.  On the labyrinth one has to walk slowly and that is where I have been - walking slowly.
Observing, pondering, allowing.
And the interesting thing is that I find myself in a growing place of 'joyful expectancy'.  Almost as a pregnant mother - feeling life within my soul - new life that is becoming ready to be born in this world.
Life that grows slowly in dark places with no hurry - but patiently forming in hidden places.
There are new songs, new poetry, new stories, new understandings that have come from 'walking slowly' - and soon it will be time to share.

Monday, July 30, 2012

a hidden wholeness

This summer has been a rich time -  a time of friendship, beauty, rest and continued soul healing.
I've been doing some soul work on unconscious beliefs that I carry - that many of us carry - and been surprised at what I've uncovered.  Stuff I thought I had already figured out - but there are more layers to freedom it seems.  And soul freedom is what I'm singing about these days.
We've all heard the idea of how we sabotage our own success at times - and I'm realizing it is what happens when our internal beliefs are at odds with each other.....for example
I have a dream to do such and such.....at odds with......you are really full of yourself to have such a dream
and so a stalemate emerges....and the dream is aborted.
One belief that has really surprised me has been a basic belief of unworthiness.
'I am not worthy'....
   not worthy of a whole list of things.....including happiness

Why do we carry such garbage around in our hearts?
One concept that has become clear to me that the type of Christianity that we in the west have known has come out of pietistic background - where love of body, beauty, pleasure of any kind was seen as evil.  To love God meant to love self-abasement and denial of any sense of pleasure.
Therefore if I am happy - then I am probably not loving God, right????
I am probably being 'selfish' and against God???

Could it  be that these ideas are a little screwed up?

And I've realized it's not just me - but many of us are carrying these subtle but powerful beliefs - that keep us from shining to the fullness of which we have been created.
And then,  just yesterday I saw on Facebook:
'thank you Jesus for saving me.  Without Jesus I am WORTHLESS.'

wow - there it is - right in the open....a belief stated about being worthless
I have to express - I don't think that is the heart of the gospel

How does one sift through a pious Christian upbringing and hang on to the concept of grace & forgiveness and new beginnings - and shed the web of sticky beliefs that are so detrimental to being full of the light and life of Love itself?

In the Celtic tradition, there is a way of seeing the human being as whole from the beginning  - and that we carry perhaps a 'hidden wholeness' as Parker Palmer expresses.  Yes, we all know brokenness and are all deeply aware of our humanity, but underneath our brokenness, is the wonder of our souls.  I believe that Jesus was returning people to that knowing and returning them to a sense of their true value and worth - not declaring them WORTHLESS without HIM. 

 We are ALL worthy of Divine Love. 

once we taste the mystery of this, the magic of this - it pours out and we want to pass it on.  This is where grace lives. This is where joy is tasted.  This is where beauty begins.

To a friend today that is overwhelmed with life circumstances - and this may be for you, the reader,  too - here are the words I want to say:

Sending you love
And tender arms
I know it is a painful time and there is a great sense of judgement you are carrying about yourself.
No words from any person can easily lift this from you.
But I want to speak truth to you in the midst of this.
You are worthy of great love
You are worthy of knowing compassion
You are worthy to be called by name – beautiful human being that you are
Your soul holds a wholeness that is perfect – beyond all the brokenness
Nothing you could have done or not done will ever change this beauty in you
You are precious
You are loved

Monday, July 09, 2012

Patch by Patch

patch by patch  - on Pender Island

enjoying the beauty 
Pender Island

leading others in retreat
and leading myself
into a rhythm
of rest
it is a privilege to listen to others
and the beauty that emerges from people's souls
when they have been given 
and safety.
I would like to share a poem that was shared yesterday
by a young man on retreat here
His name is Adam Roper and he gave me permission to share this
work of art:

How do you heal from hurt
that isn't finished yet?
working its wry little magic,
you let it unravel
string by string
and sew it
patch by patch
until you 
have a story
to wear
as a precious garment
by spring
you'll know

another friend recently 
spoke with me 
about the ebb and flow 
of our healing
there is a myth
we tend to believe...
when I get better
when I am whole
when I am strong
when I am not a mess
then.....I can contribute
then.....I will be loved
then.....I can heal others
then....everything will be better

what I am learning
is that life is circular
in an ever widening spiral
of healing
and this poem 
so eloquently 
expresses this complexity
of the unravelling
I must allow
and the sewing back together
that is a mystery and a gift
to view life as a beautiful tapestry
of all the pieces


Saturday, June 30, 2012

peacock feathers and new life

last night I experienced again the sense of awe
of how little things can come together
that are inexplainable
all I can do in those moments
is tell the story and
be filled with wonder

2 weeks ago I went to visit a friend
after I left she called
she said 'where your vehicle was parked, was a peacock feather...did you lose it from your car?'
I thought that was strange.
I didn't have a peacock feather in my car and when I had parked and I hadn't noticed anything on the road.
So, I decided to google peacock feathers and see if they carried symbolic meaning
And I found that they have been known to be a symbol of resurrection.
Well this was pretty amazing as the friend I had visited had just lost a precious loved one.
So, it seemed that this precious feather was a possible sign of hope for her - but also for me.
Resurrection means new life, a new beginning from something that has died.
So, in these past two weeks I have had those thoughts in the back of my mind.
Last night, a friend gave me a beautiful gift of a blanket for my birthday, and as some of us were looking at it, I noticed that there were peacocks as part of the image on the blanket.  I mentioned how I had just learned the significance of peacocks and how I now was glad to have a beautiful blanket to help me remember.  One of the friends looking at the blanket stopped and looked at me and said - oh wow, wait til you open the gift I have brought for you.
and it turns out when she had shopped for a gift, all she was drawn to at the store was peacocks.  And so she bought me three things that were all symbolic of peacocks.
Yesterday was a day in my life - but it was also a day of resurrection, a day of new beginnings.
A birthday can be just a 'day', but it can hold an opening of a new chapter as well.
When events such as these come on a pile, I know that I can ignore the gift - or I can celebrate it - and say thank you!
THANK YOU for reminding me of new life
THANK YOU for inspiring me for new beginnings
THANK YOU for showing me there is abundance of resources and possibilities
THANK YOU that beyond loss, resurrection happens

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29, 2012


June 29, 2012
Today I am grateful
for life
for breath
for 2nd chances
for beauty
for forgiveness
for mercy
for friendship
for safe places
for kind hearts
for new songs
for joy
for dancing
for love
for laughter
for daughters
for family
for every lesson learned
for mentors
for inspiration
for the forest
for the river
for music
for children
for new life every day
for new beginnings
for the opportunity to be broken
and know my humanity
and to know the wonder
of grace
for community
for all that awaits me as I enter the rest of my life.
Thank you for being a part of my story.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Dancing into Joy

photo by www.rastudio.ca

Dancing into Joy

This week held the wild extremes of life
Celebration of life and love, music & friends
Desolation and grief over another unexpected death of a young 16year old
daughter of my close friend
Grief came close to my heart again
Walking into the home of fresh loss
is vulnerable
and tender
Ripping my own heart open again
with reminders of my personal losses
bringing me to a place of fatigue
and frailty
And then...
someone comes with a gift of dancing music
flamenco style
we listen in the car in my driveway
but then the music takes hold me
grabs my heart and 
leads me onto the dance floor of my driveway
I throw my self into the dance of life
the undercurrent of joy that still is at the root of my being
My body celebrates a knowing that is deeper
than any human circumstance
My heart experiences the wonder of transcendence
a place beyond my thinking
a place where all is well
and all will be well
And I dance
And dance
And the dance carries me
and reminds me of how to live
how to be present
how to carry on in the coming moments and days and weeks and months and years
always being rooted in the well-spring of joy
always yielding to what is beyond my human understanding
always saying YES
I will dance
I will sing
I will live

Monday, May 14, 2012

joyful receptivity

It was first through Carl Jung (Jungian psychology)  and then many others since then that I understood about the masculine and feminine nature that we all carry as human beings (the anima & the animus).  A man carries masculine and feminine qualities and a woman carries feminine and masculine qualities.  Masculine qualities would be loosely defined as goal setting, competition, accomplishments, being task oriented.  Feminine qualities would be more about 'being' than 'doing'.  Receptivity, nurture, beauty, rest, relationships.  One is not stronger than the other - both masculine energy and feminine energy are extremely powerful and needed for wholeness.

In our culture, we live in a masculine oriented society where we place huge value on our achievements and success.  Both men and women have lost the essence of rest and receptivity - but I think we as women have especially lost this....I know I did for many years as feminine qualities were deeply undervalued.  I did not know the value - of stillness and how stillness would then launch me into activity in more healthy ways.  I did not know the beauty of 'being' or 'rest'.   Women have learned to be successful in a man's world - we know how to compete, how to achieve, and how to fight for what we want.  Because women were so undervalued in society for so long - we have had to fight for our value and equal rights - but rediscovering our feminine qualities does not negate our value or worth.  Quite the opposite.  Ultimately we also need to know how to receive, how to be present, and how to rest.  This brings wholeness and beauty into our lives along with our many achievements and accomplishments in the community and personal lives.  

The men in my life who have also learned to embody these feminine qualities alongside their masculine qualities are some of the most amazing men I know - wholesome, rich in character, blessed in many relationships and life-work.

The phrase that has come to me this week about 'true femininity' has been this:  joyful receptivity.

It is quite a phrase - joyful receptivity.  
where do I allow others to give to me?  
Where do I allow space for Life to come and provide for me without me striving? 
Do I celebrate and give thanks for what has been given?

Alongside the goals I am setting for my day in my work and personal life, I want to open my heart to joyfully receive all the beauty that Life is bringing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

how do we see the world?

There is a website that I go to often called Sounds True...

I have listened to many inspirational authors, teachers and musicians here.
Today I listened to a recording of the late author and poet, John O'Donohue.
He was speaking on the way of looking at the world.
Here are some of his words that inspired me with how to live today......

John O’Donohue...

"An interesting way of doing some work on who you are is 
to take a look at the kind of ‘looking’ that you do? 
And ask yourself ‘what way do you behold the world?’

To the loving eye, everything is real.

And this is not love in a sentimental or na├»ve way. 

It is love as the gracious criterion of truth, celebration and reality.

Kathleen Raine –  the Celtic poet says...
'Unless you see a thing in the light of love, you don’t see a thing at all'

Love is the light in which we see everything in its true origin, nature and destiny.

If we could look at the world in a loving way, 
then the world would rise up before us in 
great possibility 
and invitation 
and depth."

How do I see you?
How do I see my work?
How do we see each other and live?

I hope these words inspire you today to open you up to looking with love at everyone and all that crosses your path today.

Monday, April 09, 2012

open spaces

Open Spaces

Recently I moved a painting
that filled a large space
to another room
where it delighted me more
but it left
open space.....
the open space
bothered me
what did I have to fill it?
it was blank
it was empty
it felt like nothing
and yet
I didn't want to fill it cheaply
it was a special space
a space I looked at often each day
it needed to have meaning
and be
you can't just quickly fill
open space
a holy space
with junk
so I continued to look at that empty space
and wonder when I would know
what to place there
One day
as I invited many people in
for an evening concert
one woman
handed me
an unexpected gift
a big gift
that I received into my hands
not knowing
what it was.
Late that night after the music
wine and eating was complete
and I was alone
I opened the gift
to my surprise
it was a beautiful hanging.
I knew immediately where it belonged
I hung it in the
open space
I stared at this beauty
this surprise
and I thought about other
open spaces in my heart
in my life
am I too quick to try to fill
what only a gift can fill?
do I allow time and discomfort to remain
with my
open spaces?
do I trust that
beauty will come
surprisingly and unexpectedly
in the open spaces of my heart?
can I enjoy the empty canvass
a clean slate
a new start
a fresh beginning?

Open spaces yield creativity
an opening of the heart
for new life
Open spaces open hearts
for change
a new way of looking at something

Open spaces allow room
for new growth, new life, new gifts
Open spaces can feel uncomfortable, empty, barren, and lonely......
but if we linger and wait.....
surprises may come knocking on our front door.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

sacrament of the woods

I grew up on church property.
The house I lived in for the first 10 years of my life was on the same large lot as the church building where my father was a minister.  Every time I stepped outside, the church was right in front of me.  The church and all that it was the symbol of affected me profoundly.  Ours was the only church in the community where we lived, so it was symbolic in the community as well - the place of sacrament, the place of God, the place of right and wrong.

My favourite aspect of the church property on which I lived was the sense of community that surrounded it.  There were always people coming and going.  There was always an activity to observe or be part of.  We had great New Years gatherings and events throughout the year.

As I write this, I am listening to the bells of the Abby ringing above me in MIssion.  We also had a church bell and I would stand by the man who would ring it on Sunday mornings and watch and listen.

The church also carried with it many aspects that I've needed to let go of.  There was an invisible line that you could not cross, and perhaps it was especially so being the pastor's daughter.  There were many parts of me that felt stunted in growth, too afraid to explore and discover who I really am...almost afraid of my own humanity, because it didn't fit in with the program.

Later in life, I discovered how becoming fully human is the most spiritual task I can have.  To be truly alive - to be all I've been created to be.....

I am not in a church today and it is 10:00 on Sunday morning.  Sometimes I do go and am connected with wonderful relationships in two different communities.
However, if you asked me what church I really love, my real answer would be this:

I belong to the church of the woods.
and what a journey this has been.

a while ago, a priest asked me how I felt about the Sacraments of the church- and living a sacramental life.  I pondered this a lot - and wondered if I had the courage to answer honestly. But eventually I did, because if I don't speak my truth now, when will I ever speak?

And this is what I said:

As I walk in the woods, I touch Presence.
As I gaze at the sky, as I take in the beauty of the mountains, as I watch the eagle over me,
I am filled with wonder.
As I touch the fresh moss growing on the dead tree trunk, as I hold the birch bark in my hands,
as I feel the sun shining on my face, tears fall from my eyes from the sheer beauty of it all.
As I step on old leaves under my feet, as I run my hands along the trunk of a Maple, as I take in the beauty of the the ferns growing around the shiny cliff rocks wet from all the rain,
I am connected to my Creator.
This is my bread.
This is my wine.

In the woods, I am taught so many lessons - lessons about letting go, death, rebirth, beauty, being.
In the woods, I am invited into true authenticity and inner freedom
There is no shame here - but an invitation to be fully alive and to be part of Creation in the most loving and beautiful way that I can.
There is refreshment here and food for the soul.

To this church, I go almost every day.
And I cherish each moment.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

our story

how we tell our story shapes us
how we speak our reality defines us

we all live a story and are part
of a great story, a great adventure

i have been learning a lot
about what I tell myself
and what I tell others
what is my truth, my story?

I may say:
I am alone
I am frightened of my future
I am overwhelmed with financial burdens
I am living with lost dreams

and it is true

or I may say:
I am surrounded with loving friendships
I am awake to hope for my future
I have much and am able to be a blessing to others
I am living with new dreams and possibilities

and it is true

when I live out of the first one - I live out of my poverty.  I want to hoard my possessions and move to self-pity.  Fear engulfs me and anxiety paralyzes me.

when I live out of the second one - I realize a sense of adventure.  I awaken to all that I have been given and I can choose to share. With surprise I receive the joy of giving.  Invitations for living and sharing multiply and my 'two loaves and five fish' that I yield to the Source of Life not only feed me but so many around me.  And I awaken to the joy of living in abundance.  Sharing with all my heart what I have been given - knowing that I am being taken care of.  And the mystery of community, intimacy, nurture, dreams and living with purpose and meaning become a daily reality.

It is true - there is more than enough
I am rich with companionship, love, friendship and community.
And I give thanks.

Friday, February 24, 2012

my real appointment today.....thank you

Today there was a moment
that surprised me
unexpected encounter
be aware
be awake
give thanks

I was in a new doctor's office
and waiting for my name to be called
an elderly woman sat two chairs over
and started to talk

elderly woman:  have you been here before? this is my first time
me: (I don't feel like chatting....)  yes, my first time

elderly woman:  I think it feels nice in here
me: mmmm ( remember I don't feel like chatting)

elderly woman:  I think the staff here are very pleasant
me:  hmmm hmmm

elderly woman: I'm learning to live alone
I soak in her words.....'I'm learning to live alone'

I have a moment inside of me where I transition from....'please stop talking to me' to - 'Cathy, wake up.....be awake, be aware'..... and I feel a shiver go through my body -

I turn and gaze into this face beside me......

me:  what happened?
elderly woman:  my husband died 2 years ago.  We were married 52 years.  I'm alone now.

me:  Did you have any children?
elderly woman - pain shooting across her face: yes, I had five sons.  They all died.
me: gasp
elderly woman:  yes, 2 died in car accidents, one died in a boating accident and 2 died of muscular dystrophy.

elderly woman - with a loving look in her face:  are you married?
me:  I'm alone too.  I'm learning to live alone for the first time. My marriage has ended.
elderly woman:  sometimes things need to end.  sometimes it is better.
me:  silence.....deeply listening

elderly woman:  you know, I could give up on life.  I know a woman, she gave up.  She couldn't face being alone and so she just sat in her rocking chair every day.  Now she is in the psyche ward.  I get afraid too, afraid of being old by myself.  But I choose to get involved.  I'm going to Uganda next week to volunteer! And I volunteer in the community. I've started having 'girls nights' with my friends!  Even though I don't understand all of life, I believe in eternity and everything will be OK.  I know that God is with me, even when I don't understand all the loss.

As she tells me this, I am gazing into her face.  Her eyes become sparkly and bright and she speaks with a 'knowing'.  She is radiant with beauty through her wrinkles and white hair.

I reach into my purse.
I take out a 'Love Shines' CD.

me:  I'm a musician - I want to share this with you.  Thank you for talking to me.

I take her hand.

me: I'm Cathy
elderly woman:  I'm Erna

Reception desk:  Cathy, time for your appointment.

me:  I believe I just had my appointment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

what is love?

Today I met with someone and they asked me this question, 'what is love'?
It is one of those questions where the answer seems so obvious but also so intangible.
What is Love?
I have no earthly idea!
But after some mulling - these are some of the ideas I expressed .......

'if you want to know how I have known love
all I can speak of is my human experience,
which is limited
by my own shortcomings.
I have longings and desires around love
but I have an inability to know
what the word
I think I might love someone,
but it is warped by my faults and my imperfections.
I think someone might love me,
but it is marred by my needs and desires.
Is this love?
It feels like more of an attempt at the
pureness of what love
at it's essence truly is......
perhaps I can say
that there are moments where I have tapped
into tasting of a
Divine Love.
This Love is
pure energy;
it is radiant,
without limits,
and is full of joy.
This Love is vibrant,
exuberant and
This Love holds no shame
nor does it condemn.
This Love is freeing,
life-giving and liberating.
This Love calls out one's true essence
and celebrates all life.
If I could live out of this energy,
I would be on fire!
But I forget sometimes
the beauty
of what I have tasted here
and fall back to my human tendencies.
I long to live more fully
out of this Love
to tap into the
Source of Life
which is deeper
than my humanity
so that I can express
in a small way
the wonder
the magnificence
that pure joy
of this Presence of Love'

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I breathe in the sky
I breathe out
I breathe in the light
I breathe out
I breathe in the trees
I breathe out
I breathe in the field
I breathe out
I breathe in the rocky cliff
I breathe out
I breathe in the river flow
I breathe out
I breathe in LIFE
I breathe out transformation

I breathe in eagles wings
I breathe out
I breathe in the rain
I breathe out
I breathe in the wind
I breathe out
I breathe in stardust
I breathe out
I breathe in the curve of the moon
I breathe out
I breathe in sunlight
I breathe out
I breathe in LIFE
I breathe out transformation

©Dec 2011 Cathy AJ Hardy
I'm Alive
this is a painting I did in 2003

(making large card-sized prints if you are interested in having a copy- thanks 
Craig Noa for helping me with this!)

Monday, January 16, 2012


This past weekend I've been thinking a lot about the word freedom.
In the most recent home concert where Boris Sichon & I performed, we sang for the first time an old Yiddish song called Dona Dona.  This song was made famous by Joan Baez in the 1970's.  
(BY THE WAY - if you would like to host a house concert or are interested in coming to one - please contact me for more info)
Dona dona was a song that went through the Warsaw ghetto during WWII and became symbolic of the journey of freedom for the Jewish community.
Singing this song on January 7th was a powerful experience - a way to connect with the past, a way to sing about the present and also a vision for the future.  We all long for freedom and it isn't always easily attained.  There are many things that hold us back from living authentically, whether we have physical chains around us or invisible ones in our minds.

In 2012 I want to sing about freedom.  

This weekend as I was thinking about the theme of freedom, a friend sent me this cartoon - which is called freedom.
I love this picture - it says a lot to me!  About taking huge risks and stepping out of the norm!!   
Cheers to freedom in 2012!!  


Saturday, January 07, 2012

begin again

Between me
And you
Between me
And all
I touch
The centre
Of my

Sunday, January 01, 2012

January 1st, 2012

Words to live into...
I have let go of New Year's resolutions
and in the past decade
have found a new way 
of entering into the New Year
I listen for a word
one word or simple phrase
and that word or simple phrase
becomes an inspiration 
for my whole year
these words haven't all been easy
but they have stretched me
and called me
and taught me

One year was the word 
One year was the word
One year was the word
Instead of feeing burdened by
a list of resolutions
I feel inspired and called on
a treasure hunt
of learning
The word for 2011 stayed at the top of my journal
every day
through good days and bad
and it called to me
I learned so much
and am still learning
I have a new word for 
Maybe I'll write about it
in 2013
but for now,
I have a lot of learning to do
here I come