Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I recently gave a talk at a parish in Dana Point, CA: St. Edward the Confessor.

I felt quite proud to be bridging the gap not merely between believers and non-believers, or Democrats and Republicans, or the East Coast and the West Coast or any other such negligible distinction, but between a far more significant divide: L.A. and Orange County.

When I checked into my hotel, the desk clerk handed me about a 20-pound gift basket. It turned out to be from sprightly parishioner and faithful supporter Pat Arndt, who is in her 80's, does yoga, and was the catalyst for getting me down there.

The basket contained a bottle of water, a tall can of coconut water, two candy bars (Caramello and Heath), a giant fresh pomegranate, a red candle, an amber glass candlestick holder fashioned from part of an old lamp, a St. Raphael pamphlet, a peacock card with twine cord (in homage to Flannery O'Connor), and a book called The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty, by Robyn Griggs Lawrence.

"Simply put, wabi-sabi is the marriage of the Japanese wabi, meaning humble, and sabi, which connotes beauty in the natural progression of time. Together, the phrase invites us to set aside our pursuit of perfection and learn to appreciate the simply, unaffected beauty of things as they are."

"As is so often the case with wabi-sabi, the first step in appreciation building is to simply take a walk. Walk slowly, and allow yourself to take in the gifts that are available to you. Look at the the broad horizons, then narrow your gaze to a pebble"...

the folks at St. Edwards gave me
fruit salad and flowers to take home with me!
Live oak from Pat's back yard,
imperfectly twined about a window latch


  1. Heather,

    I love you! Thanks for letting me be in the moment with you. Lovely.

    BTW, I couldn't open the slide show. Don't know if it was just me- got a Google error notice.

    And thank you for all these recent posts- so many life-changing events you've been through, and your voice remains YOU.

  2. What a wonderful gift!

    That book is going on my Amazon wishlist.

    Much to be said for seeing things as they are, in their true beauty, without trying to "fix" or "perfect" them.

  3. Thanks, dear ones--sorry about that link; someone else emailed me privately and said they were having problems. It worked for me last time I checked but I think my brother Ross, who put it together, may have taken it temporarily down to tweak the music. Will replace with new link if and when it becomes available and in the meantime, sorry for any inconvenience...

  4. Hello Heather,
    I am in Japan. There are not many Catholics here. There is a church in Tomobe, but I have only surveyed the exterior--very modest, but I think there is an attached convent. This is the countryside. I suspect that many of the parishioners are Brazilian or Filipino immigrants. I have been a bit afraid of the place--the service is all in Japanese. My Japanese is embarrassingly deficient. I miss the church though. One of my favorite haunts used to be Seattle's beautiful St. James Cathedral. I am an RCIA "drop-out". Not by choice, but by circumstance.

    The job was here, and homelessness was in Seattle. It all happened at the time of the Great Financial Meltdown. Wabi-sabi is indeed a reality. I can see it in the ambience of "artful decay" that surrounds any abandoned building or object in Japan. Objects that are "dying" somehow still flourish in this strange beauty. Maybe I can send some photo examples if I can figure out the application.

    All the best,


  5. speaking of Japanese Catholics, I just discovered Shusako Endo. Somehow I suspect you are already a reader. But if not.....


  6. William, that'd be great to have some authentic wabi-sabi photos and how exciting to hear from a reader in Japan! And hi Morgan--I thought I'd read Silence but I just looked at the synopsis and apparently not. This is good to know/be reminded of Shusako Endo...


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