Category Archives: photography

Community & Friendship’s Delight

delighted sitting Buddhas ~d nelson

Dear WordPress Community, and Friends on the path,

So easily mind goes here, then goes there.
The mind can go in a thousand directions
including thinking that it’s alone.
But, with mindfulness, concentration & insight
we can remember the path upon which we’re stepping.
On this path are also countless beings supporting us,
at this moment, some of them are of the human-type.

delightfully recycling, together in Deer Park

I’m reminded of so many elders and others
who are isolated and feeling lonely right now.
They wish so much to be with other human beings.
I’ve had these feelings arise, myself
and I’m only almost an elder.
Perhaps you’ve longed for human companionship, also.

delightful flower

I’m offering a bow of gratitude for all the friends who came
joyfully together on retreat with me recently.
It felt very comforting, connected and safe to be vulnerable being
with those I’ve known for years, but see infrequently.
I feel so fortunate to have had conditions which introduced me to teachings
of understanding & love, the mindfulness community and many friendships.
I recognize that not everyone has had such favorable conditions.

interbeing rock delight

A diverse collection of friends took a moment to share in a beautiful portrait of what community is about, each in their own words. Community as relationships with others; sometimes neighbors, sometimes spiritual or like-minded friends, sometimes far away, or even scattered across the blogosphere.
I’m touched by their personal expressions of how crucial community is
to our most basic well-being and feelings of connection.
Their intention is to help others feel welcomed and welcoming into a community.
Some of us may feel encouraged to let go of feeling alone
& build or strengthen our own “community”.

collective energy of mindfulness

This 7 minute collage of many voices, entitled Community & Friendship’s Delight can be viewed on-line at:  (There’s even a rare glimpse of me towards the end)   🙂

Signlessness Liberates, but Please Show Us A Sign!

Where there’s a perception, there’s a deception ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Antonio: Me siento bienvenido (I feel welcome) ~d nelson

The miracle of sight & other senses brings extraordinary
shapes, beautiful colors and pleasant sensations
into this ordinary daily life
of privileged human existence.

Generally when I see, say, a flower
then bend over to touch and smell it
my perception is validated by sweet fragrance
and a sharp, thorny prick.

welcoming people, prickly flower and dog neighbors

All too often I find that reality
& my perception are at odds.
At first I saw a snake,
but upon closer examination
it turned out to only be a rope.

Buddha approves of this message

Signlessness is a door to liberation
helping us see what is and is not there
without the external sign or form.
Perhaps we cannot see our parents
or ancestors except in old photo albums.
But if we look deeply into our own two hands
we see that, as continuations of them,
our ancestors are in every cell of our bodies.
A farmer can look out, now
and see fields of healthy, organic crops
that will be there when the conditions
of planting, nurturing and time have passed.

signs acquired for my community!
purchased at:

While signlessness is a spiritual/philosophically rewarding/enjoyable pursuit
sometimes it’s quite proper, even necessary to show a sign.
Right now as many peoples are being outwardly
discriminated against, facing verbal & physical abuse
it’s important to show compassion and welcoming
to neighbors, without discrimination.
How will the vulnerable know that they have allies?
How will other neighbors know they are
not alone in caring about others?
I’m certain most citizens are caring, open and inclusive.
By showing a sign of our caring, we move on
from being a silent majority
to happy, connected neighbors & friends.
It would make me smile
hearing how your community
shows signs of Jesus’ teaching
to “love thy neighbor.”

signs of neighbors welcoming all neighbors


We the Jury Find the Defendant…

After spending a week and a half on jury duty, in the same courthouse as 2 years ago,
a renewed confidence comforts that when an alleged crime comes to trial,
justice is possible, at least in my community. May it be so, someday, across our lands.
Therefore I’m re-posting this piece from a couple of years ago, below 🙂

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. ~ Wm Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

blind justice ~ nelson

blind justice ~ d nelson

The Judge states that jury duty is our civic obligation & should be served with pride. That she is there as a judge of the law. That charges are on paper, but not yet proven. The prosecution is required to demonstrate the burden of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. That we sworn-in jurors are to be judges of the facts, the facts based on testimony & evidence presented during the trial. That the accused is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He is being charged with forgery & second degree burglary, both, felony offenses. A digital beeping is heard in the courtroom. Then a digital voice stating, “low battery, low battery.” It is the radio collar placed upon the defendant’s ankle. The court is recessed for this technical interruption. Hereafter, the names have been changed to protect those involved.



Direct Evidence:
Mr. Accused Citizen, hereafter referred as MAC, entered on the Bank on Sept 1st and handed a check to be cashed made out to him for $1609 along with his ID to the teller. Upon looking at the check and thinking it may have been altered, she took it to her supervisor for approval. The supervisor also thought the amount looked altered, and the written payee name looked suspicious. She came out and told MAC it would take a few minutes to process. Supervisor looked up the phone number & called the customer of whose check was presented. Customer, an older woman, confirmed that the amount and name were not correct and she would come to the bank to confirm. She had made the check out for $69 to the water company, placed it in the mailbox to be picked up. The next day she notice her mail missing before the mail carrier arrived. The police were then called to the bank. When the supervisor came out MAC had fled the bank, leaving the check & his ID behind. After the police arrived the supervisor received a phone call by a younger woman claiming to be the customer; she says it’s ok to cash the check. Upon being asked by the supervisor her date of birth the phone is hung up. This is reported to the police. The bank teller, supervisor & customer testify as eye witnesses to these events.

jury badge

jury badge

Circumstantial Evidence:
Images from Bank’s surveillance camera shows MAC at the teller’s window. There’s the check which was altered; MAC’s first & last name are written around the water companies name. The amount is changed by adding numbers & words, from $69 to $1609. Displayed with the overhead projector, this looks like it was changed by a child.

The officer testifies that she found MAC walking down the street a week after the crime. He approached her and asks if she’s looking for him because of his ID being left in the bank. She reads him his rights, informing him that he is under arrest. She then asks for him to write down his name, the date and a few other words. He gives her the handwriting sample. He tells her the check was being cashed for an acquaintance who made the check out to him. Says he knows he did something stupid. He’s brought to jail and held for a couple of months until a hearing occurs and he is granted bail. At initial hearing the officer testifies that MAC told her that he saw acquaintance writing on & altering the check. This confession is not in her initial or follow-up written reports.

courthouse, upstairs jury room

courthouse, upstairs jury room

Walking peacefully upstairs with others to the jury deliberation room, smilecalm breathes deeply to relax inner anxious energies. Other jurors start speaking out on their views. There’s a general sense that MAC did not “mastermind” this crime, but that evidence implicates MAC’s guilt in the lesser offense of possessing, with the intent to pass on to the Bank, an altered or counterfeit check, knowing that the document is counterfeit. Were this decided, the requirement for burglary would also be met. After many voices speak out loudly, smilecalm remarks that some of us are more quiet, less competitive and would benefit from an orderly and inclusive discussion. To that request there is agreement. Smilecalm asks if we can read the written definition of these charges, which is done. We start to recount from memory & notes what MAC testified on the stand. He seemed angry, he swore, he apologized. He told of his being home that day. That Jen, the acquaintance, came by looking for her closer friend who was not at home. She then asked MAC to help her out by cashing a check. Said she was given this check by her grandmother to whom she had sold a wood chipper. She could have the check made out to MAC, and she would give him $200. She didn’t want to cash it herself because she had a warrant out for her arrest. He said Jen had not caused him any problems in the past, so he was willing to do her a favor and make a little money for the effort. She left, returning about an hour later with the check. MAC has no car, so she drove them both to the Bank & went in together. MAC said that after the supervisor came out and said to wait, he noticed Jen had left. He figured at that moment something was wrong so he left to find her. He knew then it was stupid. He asked “why is my life so much trouble?”



Fellow jurors argued that while there was no evidence that he had stolen the check from the mailbox, or that he had done the altering of words and numbers on the check, he must have known this check was altered. Somehow jurors remembered MAC saying he saw Jen writing on the check. This would create doubt in MAC’s story. Smilecalm said he did not hear him say that, rather, only that was stated by the police officer. The court testimony record needed to be re-read to the jurors. After some time the court recorder arrived and read his words. He indicates she brought the check already filled and he looks at it briefly, sees his name, the amount and that it’s signed, all while on the way to the bank. He never sees Jen writing on it.

Those in the room confide that they would not cash a check for someone that they don’t know well, who states they can’t cash it because they have a warrant out for their arrest, and that they would look carefully at the check scrutinize it. Exhibit 2b is passed around the room. It is a court document that shows that Jen was convicted of check & credit card fraud & possession of an illegal fire arm in this same court one month ago. Expressing what is true in his heart, smilecalm shares about his time with others living in poverty & despair, in urban areas & Indian Reservations. How it is possible to do what MAC had done, without realizing the crime or consequences. That if MAC truly did believe Jen’s story; that a check from her grandmother for an item sold was made out to him to cash, to help her out of warrant’s eyes, to make a couple hundred bucks, then there was reasonable doubt that he committed the crimes, as defined. Other jurors shared their experience with down & out, so called low-life relatives & acquaintances. How low self esteem & unmet economic, social & emotional needs can give rise to ill-advised actions. The energy of empathy and wisdom spread throughout the room. There was no longer any certainly that MAC knew before going into the bank that this check was “not true”, and therefore intended to defraud. With with collective sense of harmony for the sake of justice, Smilecalm offered his gratitude to each of them as they prepared to leave.

enter fearlessly

enter fearlessly

Returning to the courtroom, the judge asked for the verdict. She glanced at the paper, then looked over the 3 pieces of paper, one for each charge, over again. Nodding affirmatively, she handed the papers to the clerk to read. We the Jury Find the Defendant not guilty of forgery, … not guilty of 2nd degree forgery & … not guilty of 2nd degree burglary. Everyone in the courtroom looked surprised, including several bailiffs awaiting, as if expecting this defendant to continue playing out the sad role of a throw away in this society. The judge thanked us for our service and dismissed us. Walking out, I smiled to the prosecutor, to the weary public defender, to MAC, to the women in the gallery weeping, perhaps a mother & sister. A fellow juror commented that he appreciated the compassion conveyed during the deliberations by smilecalm, who smiled humbly in return. May all involved in this dance of justice be well, May we all find fairness, compassion & mercy when our judgment day comes.

court wi-fi access code, with fingerprints :-)

court wi-fi access code, with fingerprints 🙂

“The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.” ~Hada Bejar

Needing Roads, Bridges or Walls Poll

“Education is all a matter of building bridges.” ~ Ralph Ellison

brokeroads, no access to redwoods for some time ~d nelson

brokeroads, no access to redwoods for some time ~d nelson

If not for potholes & much bigger detours
oh, the places I would go!
Knowing that redemption & freedom
are my journey, itself
necessitates roads.

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around
I’m gonna keep on walking, keep on talking
marching onto freedom land. ~civil rights song

After crossing over to other sides &
experiencing their exotically sensual beauty
it’s unimaginable to burn bridges
or allowing their disrepair.

Don’t burn down the bridge
you just might want to come back. ~Albert King

Needing shelter from the storm
it feels comforting having 4 walls surround me.
But there’s no place for more barriers
separating me from neighboring countries,
those of different faiths, cultures, or other
fellow brothers & sisters of humanity.



And how about you, dear friend? In need of roads, or road repair?
How about needing a bridge, to get back home or across a great divide?
Aside from a home, are you in need for mightier, fortified walls?
If so, are these walls or fences to protect you
or to protect others from you?
Thank you for taking this poll
by contemplating and satisfying my curiosity.

I’ve built walls
A fortress, steep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock
I am an island ~Paul Simon

Letters of Love Deluge O’er Me

Nothing can survive without food. Everything we consume acts either to heal us or to poison us. We tend to think of nourishment only as what we eat through our mouths; but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our nose, our tongue, and our body is also food. ~Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Art of Communication

After Love's Deluge ~d nelson

After Love’s Deluge ~d nelson

We know that everything needs food
including our love;
the love burning inside
& our love over there.
Our sadness, also
will always linger if kept fed.

After Love's Deluge 3

After Love’s Deluge 3

Desiring use of kind, loving words
& practicing using such words
of love is a type of food.
Our volition, or deepest aspiration
is an important nutriment;
like downing a refreshing glass of water
quenching drought-induced thirst
within ourselves & the world.

rain letter

rain letter

Quite often it’s useful to write down
our words and meditate on them,
ensuring they are words we really mean.
Let heart’s expression freely flow.
Inspired words, conceived, written & rehearsed.
Writing love letters is a practice
of cultivating inner love & peace
instead of fear, anger or blame.
Our loved ones eagerly await such letters.

After Love's Deluge 2

After Love’s Deluge 2; flooded

We can also write love letters on topical issues
concerning ourselves, our community, our planet.
This helps us come from a place
of love & compassion and not despair or rage
when addressing issues as significant as survival.
Important concerns written clearly
with heartfelt, loving words can touch
hearts of our elected officials, civil servants & journalists.

Candy might be dandy
& floral expressions, divine.
But, upon receiving an emotional
deluge from your loving words,
imagine your dear valentine’s true smile.
Can you also, visualize the potential
heart opening affect
on even our most love
starved public servants.

peace letter

peace letter

Possible steps for writing a love letter (but do what feels right for you) :
1. Meditate for 20-30 minutes. Bring to mind what you want to write about, what moves you to write this letter. Bring to mind the person you’re writing to, what you love about them, what you’re grateful for, what moves your compassion for them.

2. Allow 30 minutes to write a love letter, sharing from the heart.

3. Ask a trusted friend to read the letter and reflect on it with you.

4. Wait a day or two. Re-read the letter. Revise if you see ways to make your love and compassion more clear.

5. Send your letter 🙂

An example love letter Here & Here, too

You already know the names of loved ones & friends.
Names & contact information of U.S.A. elected officials & current issues at these links:

This post inspired by current social and legislative events &
this song 🙂

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

…And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring
us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. ~Matthew 6:11-13, the Bible

bread of life ~d nelson

bread of life ~d nelson

Despite retirement, the public health nutritionist within me
smiles to the Lord’s Prayer’s humble, redemptive words of gratitude.
Everyone needs suitable & stable sources of sustenance
whether it be from wheat, rice, other grains or plant-based foods.
Really try imaging how hard it is to be grateful and love
thy neighbors on an empty stomach.

bread of life 2 ~d nelson

bread of life 2 ~d nelson

For 10,000 years wheat was cultivated, stored, stone-milled and consumed.
The breads of old nourished western civilization.
In the industrial era, new technologies changed things.
Mechanical mills turned wheat into barren white flour.
Chemical and genetic technologies made it pest, drought and blight resistant.
Wheat was modified to be easier to harvest, dramatically increasing yield per acre.
Genetics were also altered to increase gluten for better, fluffier baking properties.
In the past century science speeded bread mixing, kneading, rising and baking
times from 6 or more hours to about an hour.
Unfortunately our bodies have not adapted to the new products’
genetic changes as quickly as they’ve been introduced
and many of us have become intolerant to altered glutens
and breads; sadly, as breads nourished so many of our ancestors.
Breads made in slow-rising, homemade methods, such as sourdough
can be tolerated by some with gluten sensitivity.

sourdough starter ~d nelson

sourdough starter ~d nelson

“The point is that you can’t be too greedy.” ~Donald Trump

Everyone also needs bread, in the form of cash or other currency
to acquire needed shelter, provisions & medicine for themselves & their family.
May we actively cultivate our compassion to help others in these hard times.
If we still have bread to share, perhaps we can kindly offer a slice
to those in real need, regardless of race, gender, religion or ideology.
While national leaders are turning American Democracy into a Plutocracy
to further enrich fortunes of the most wealthy & military,
many of us will soon have no health care benefit, especially women,
many will be removed from affordable public & subsidized housing.
Immigrants & refugees without large sums of cash will be banned.
Retirees will soon find their pension funds looted
and potentially end up on the streets with increased masses
of homeless, refugees, mentally ill and dying.

bread of life 4~d nelson

bread of life 4~d nelson

There’s a rumor that Official State TV announced white is the acceptable preferred color
& male the acceptable preferred gender, just like the administration’s cabinet.
Christianity now seems the official religion of the USA, with Muslims unwelcome.
Dare I say these acts fail to exemplify acceptance, tolerance, or wisdom of non-discrimination.
Curious, I’ve asked church-attending friends to share lessons they live by
& was told of Jesus’ teachings to feed the poor and heal the sick.

bread of life 8~d nelson

bread of life 8~d nelson

Maybe an alternative fact, maybe not, but
it’s said the newly renamed White House Castle spokesperson
quipped, in a poor French accent, when asked
what will happen to the impoverished & elderly
who’ll become unable to acquire adequate bread of life
under these new austerity programs,
Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.”

bread of life 5 ~d nelson

bread of life 5 ~d nelson

During the last supper, Jesus Christ told his disciples: “This piece of bread is my flesh. Eat it.” That was a radical statement. He must have noticed that his twelve friends were not awake, and when he saw that he wanted to say something strong to wake them up, to help them live fully in the present moment. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Let Mavis Staple’s voice touch your heart with her performance of Stephen Foster’s 1854 song

Parable of a Particular Peacock

Particular Peacock ~d nelson

Particular Peacock ~d nelson

As long as can be remembered
from east stretching west,
Peacock’s rainbow presence
has auspiciously symbolized beauty
as well as joy, grace, & love.


There was hopeful exuberance
when GoldenBoy was born.
His mother’s aspiration to transmit
loving-kindness & compassion to him
was fulfilled for only a year until
her grave illness & untimely death.


In the sad confusion that followed,
GoldenBoy was abducted & taken
to dark, distant relatives
residing way down below.
Kept away from others,
he was placed before a mirror
that beckoned him not to turn
away from his glorious handsomeness.
“Keep looking, as you are the most
beautiful, important boy of all.”


Aggressively schooled in Objectivism-based lessons;
that selfishness & taking from others
while both dominating & humiliating them
is morally acceptable & the only rational good.
Believing that rules apply only to others
teen GoldenBoy craved all attention & power.


After years of searching high & low,
guided by ancestors up in heavenly abodes
his loving relatives dared enter the netherworld to find
& reclaim GoldenBoy for realizing his mother’s dream
of him being embrace by light & love.
Recognizing his learned self-centered, confrontational, ungrateful demeanor
as an expression of unremitting loneliness & protracted pain
his loved ones placed him in the care of wise Peacock Master.
He was given a mirror that only reflected
back into his own heart.


For the rest of GoldenBoy’s life he apprenticed at a shelter
taking care of others, listening with empathy to their stories
of happiness, despair, poverty, immigration, trauma, abuse & loss;
feeding them, dressing their wounds,
helping some get back upon their feet,
burying broken bodies of the fallen.


Shortly before his own passing,
Elders deemed GoldenBoy deserving
to dance in a rhythmic way
at the onset of shadowy clouds,
outspreading his tail
as esteemed peacocks always have,
bringing beauty & hope to those in need
beholding a living-colored rainbow
alighting a way for all in darkness.

Many things can be taken from us, but no one can ever steal our determination or our freedom.
No one can ever steal our practice. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh