Dedicated to the tender-hearted and courageous souls who shine their light -- despite everything. -Annie O'Shaughnessy
From the Introduction by Ann O’Shaughnessy
I was 14 years old when I sat on the old velour couch in the dusty upstairs of our barn and wrote in my journal about love and nature. I wanted to be the next Anaïs Nin. “What do I want?” I wrote, “I want to love and explore and experience everything I can.” The couch we had bought for a dollar at a tag sale smelled of spilled beer and smoke from my older siblings’ parties. A layer behind that was the smell of wild creatures who had made the barn their home, and behind that the smell of coal smoke from my father’s blacksmith forge on the first floor. I don’t think I could have written something so naked in some spotless sitting room. This musty, dusty, dimly lit barn was perfect for dreams.
These were secret words and secret worlds, but I think back on them now as the guiding words of my life. Even at 18, when my friends and I sat around a dorm room, stoned and earnest, talking about our life goals and plans, I stuck to the same trajectory, waxing poetic about love and nature. “Love is my purpose!” I firmly stated. The talking stopped. I squirmed under their focused attention as they asked again, “No…like, what do you really want to do with your life?” Embarrassed, I tried to muster up a better, more serious response.For years afterwards I would ask myself the same question, over and over again. I longed for a work that I could pour my heart and soul into. The answer came when I was 34 years old, in the form of Heron Dance. Founded by Rod MacIver in 1995, Heron Dance began as a celebration of works of love: people doing good work, people whose lives were led by love. Through his watercolors and words it became an expression of his deep gratitude for the gift of life and his love of wild nature. I know now that Love is a worthy purpose. If I could talk to my 18-year old self, this is what I would tell her: “Live in love by availing yourself to beauty when it comes across your path; serve something greater than yourself; tell your truth to yourself over and over; surrender your old stories of fear and self-consciousness so that you can make the big space in your heart for Love to flow. Pour your heart into what you love. This is your purpose — don’t let anyone or anything dissuade you.”
I think that those who serve most potently, work on levels of consciousness that have to do with radiating love — maybe God’s love. My own experience is that people who work with love operate on some level deeper than the conscious. It is important that you have a brain and use it, but that is secondary. The basic premise is that you allow something to come through you. Then you use your intelligence to give your work form, to give your heart’s work discipline and logic. But the transformative energy, that which can change events, that heals, that helps, that serves, comes from somewhere deep inside. -Julie Glover, Heron Dance interview, Issue One
It is so still in the house. There is a calm in the house; The snowstorm wails out there, And the dogs are rolled up with snouts under the tail. My little boy is sleeping on the ledge, On his back he lies, breathing through his open mouth. His little stomach is bulging round — Is it strange if I start to cry with joy?
—Inuit Song, as recorded by Knud Rasmussen
Let us keep this truth before us. You say have no faith? Love — and faith will come. You say you are sad? Love — and joy will come. You say you are alone? Love — and you will break out of your solitude. You say you are in hell? Love — and you will find yourself in heaven. Heaven is love.
— Carlo Carretto, In Search of the Beyond
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, nature is incomprehensible at first. Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop'd, I swear to you there are divine beings more beautiful than words can tell.
— Walt Whitman
Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
— Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
From the age of six to fourteen I took violin lessons but had no luck with my teachers, for whom music did not transcend mechanical practicing. I really began to learn only after I had fallen in love with Mozart's sonatas. The attempt to reproduce their singular grace compelled me to improve my technique. I believe, on the whole, that love is a better teacher than sense of duty.
— Albert Einstein
In music, in a flower, in a leaf, in an act of kindness... I see what people call God in all these things.
— Pablo Casals
Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, 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, languages, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.
— Jalal ad-Din RumiThe Heron Dance Book of Love & Gratitude
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