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Selkie Girl by Jessica Shirley with kind permission
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Virgin A Day ~ As Your Field of Roses Grows and Grows

SSC-dottori-lJesus in the Temple ~ 13th century french painting
What is Supposed to Happen
By Naomi Shihab Nye
When you were small,
we watched you sleeping,
waves of breath
filling your chest.
Sometimes we hid behind
the wall of baby, soft cradle
of baby needs.
I loved carrying you between
my own body and the world.
Now you are sharpening pencils,
entering the forest of
lunch boxes, little desks.
People I never saw before
call out your name
and you wave.
This loss I feel,
this shrinking,
as your field of roses
grows and grows…
Now I understand history.
Now I understand my mother’s
ancient eyes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Virgin A Day ~The Visit (a poem by Noelle Renee)

Botticelli’s The Madonna of the Magnificat
The Visit
A rush of white wings, disturbing and distant,
Word whispered from the mouth of God, filling the feminine ear.
Enfleshed then, the Ave Child, swells the belly of a brown-skinned girl,
who tenderly dreams of loving a man, a fashioner of homely, wooden things—
stalwart sacrificer of cedar, he builds a sturdy life for she who knows not man.
A Jew of low degree, she has no family name to expiate the shame of her new shape;
a girl grown up in temple, she knows the lot of those who transgress Law.
Yet hearing in her heart the Holy Word, she feels the joy,
of one who carries within her womb—tender mercy, incarnate love.
She, least liberated, ponders the embryonic epiphany of an enslaved race.
Invoking ancestral voices, she articulates the deep heart cries of a nomadic people, who journeyed far from occupied lands, and placed their hope in the historic promise
of an invisible, yet uncompromising God.
It is for this promise that her people have suffered;
it is for this reason that they exist at all.
It is her uncompromising assent to conceive the impossible
that makes visible the destiny of a chosen, yet outcast tribe.
As her man molds the corners of a cradle for the unknown, unborn child
She weeps for the sacrifice of trees, green saplings
Cut down by loving hands to bear a sacred son.
Dreaming that night, hand on her belly, she sees other hands, hateful,  Herodic,
Cutting down cedars, young but mature, to bear and sacrifice the Savior of the world.
Suckling our little God, she experiences intimacy with the Heart of Heaven;
Soul searching in silence, she knows woman’s limitless love for her own flesh—
Heart severed in sorrow, she comprehends the reach of the human spirit to accept the sudden and startling embrace of that which God chose to become.
--Noelle Clearwater (c)1996 revised 2012

 I wrote this during Christmastide some years ago, thinking about Mary and her significant role in the drama of the birth of the Messiah. It is a beautiful story and she is an important archetype for many women, but she is often made to seem small in the larger scheme of things. I think that her motherly love, her suffering and poverty, and her choices and sacrifices are profound. Many women make these significant choices every day but they are not celebrated in this way although they should be. It is the women of the world who make the deepest changes in their children and so to the world.
--Noelle Renee

*Poem is copyrighted by Noelle Clearwater.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

“A Virgin A Day” ~ Virgin and Child in A Room

Hans Baldung Grien
ca. 1484, Schwabisch Gmünd, Germany - ca. 1545, Strasbourg, France
School: German
Nuremberg, Germany
Painting, Oil on wood, 48 x 37 cm
The heart is the inner face of your life. The human journey strives to make this inner face beautiful.
It is here that love gathers within you. Love is absolutely vital for a human life.
For love alone can awaken what is divine within you. In love, you grow and come home to your self.
When you learn to love and let yourself be loved, you come home to the hearth of your own spirit.
You are warm and sheltered.”


John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Mary Did You Know ~ Sung by Clay Aiken

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Postcards from Paradise: from “A Virgin a Day series ~ Joan of Arc


Vaucouleurs to Chinon, February-March, 1429

"I was born for this."

"Fear not: what I do, I do by commandment.

My brothers in Paradise tell me what I must do."


©2009 nicolas evariste

Domremy, February, 1429

"But since God had commanded me to go, I must do it. And since God had commanded it, had I had a hundred fathers and a hundred mothers,

and had I been a king's daughter, I would have gone."

"It pleased God thus to act through a simple maid in order to turn back the King's enemies."


©2012 Thomas Hawk

The Trial, February-May, 1431

"Had I known the hour and that I would be taken, I should not have wanted to go.

But I would have done their bidding in the end, no matter what was to befall me."

"As to whether victory was my banner's or mine, it was all our Lord's."

"There was neither sorcery or any evil art in anything I have done."

nicolasevariste flower

©2009Nicolas Evariste

Joan of Arc

by Leonard Cohen

Now the flames they followed joan of arc
As she came riding through the dark;
No moon to keep her armour bright,
No man to get her through this very smoky night.
She said, I’m tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
A wedding dress or something white
To wear upon my swollen appetite.


Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way,
You know I’ve watched you riding every day
And something in me yearns to win
Such a cold and lonesome heroine.
And who are you? she sternly spoke
To the one beneath the smoke.
Why, I’m fire, he replied,
And I love your solitude, I love your pride.

tendresse evariste

©2009 nicolas evariste

Then fire, make your body cold,
I’m going to give you mine to hold,
Saying this she climbed inside
To be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart
He took the dust of joan of arc,
And high above the wedding guests
He hung the ashes of her wedding dress.

Angels nicolas evariste

©2010 nicolas evariste  

It was deep into his fiery heart
He took the dust of joan of arc,
And then she clearly understood
If he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
But must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

 infinite universe evariste

infinite universe ©2009 nicolas evariste


Underwater nicolas evariste

underwater ©2009 nicolas evariste

"She was truthful when lying was the common speech of men; she was honest when honest was become a lost virtue; she was a keeper of promises when the keeping of a promise was expected of no one; ... she was full of pity when a merciless cruelty was the rule; she was steadfast when stability was unknown, and honorable in an age which had forgotten what honor was; she was a rock of convictions in a time when men believed in nothing and scoffed at all things; she was unfailingly true in an age that was false to the core; ... she was of a dauntless courage when hope and courage had perished in the hearts of her nation..." Mark Twain,Joan of Arc



About the Photographer


Brenda K. Stumpf

I've been Creative Director for the past 15 years at Prime8 Interactive.

Our work has been featured and/or won awards in publications such as CMYK magazine,

Flash Visual Jumpstart, The One Show, Promax Broadcasting, the Addy's, and How Magazine.

I recently turned my creative attention to photography, with a focus on underwater imagery.

I am currently working on projects both in the US and abroad.


Note from Noelle Renee:  Please visit Brenda’s website where you can view more of her incredibly beautiful photos here at

My gracious thanks to her for allowing me to post her phenomenal work here on The Angels Wear Fins.



Quotes from Joan of Arc are taken from the book Joan of Arc: In Her Own Words. Using only material compiled from her trial transcripts and testimonies, translator Willard Trask arranged her exact words in this unique autobiography. The signature is what remains of her actual historical signature.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception ~ The Wings She Has Carved Herself Out of the Cold.




Surrounded By All The Falling

After four days of rain
sunlight fills the branches like returning birds,
one of those flocks men believed
they could shoot at forever and never reach the end.
They went fluttering, one by one,
to extinction in seven years.
But this day startles in its sudden gold,
its colored persimmons, rust and fallen

blonde madonna-and-child-g
pine needles blond as a child's hair on the barber's floor;
the sound of his snipping businesslike and crisp.
When loss reaches her, she cannot even cry out,
But where has it gone?

madonna-with-child-1658.jpg!xlMediumAnd the sky is so utterly blue it can barely be faced.
It is time to plant bulbs again,
to fork and seed the empty beds into flower.
I turn to feel the sleep-warmth of your hands,
the even breathing that tells me you are close by...

Raphael Madonna and child
it is still the only story that lets me wake content,
emerge from all the falling of dreams,
the crowded harbor of ships whose riggings
ring like bells,
dance like circus wires

The girl slides down from the swiveling chair,
her hair combed to new curls.
Soon enough,
I can tell by the day's
windowed, blowsy beauty, it will begin to snow.

Botticelli Intaglio
She will lie down in it, carefully move
her arms once up, once down
and rise to contemplate quietly, a long time,
the wings she has carved herself out of the cold.

~Jane Hirschfield

Bobby’s Ave ~ Pure Bliss

Please have a listen. I have heard Bobby McFerrin do sing this and had the pleasure of accompanying him along with thousands of others in an audience. It was a wonderful experience.



The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is universally celebrated on December 8, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on September 8. (Anglican)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Reclaiming the Human Within

BeautyBeast_Marianna Mayer (1)
Beauty and The Beast Marianna Mayer and Mercer Mayer "Beauty's task is... to look where others would not, and to perceive the man within the Beast. The Beast's own task is patience, and the reclaiming of the human within himself" Windling, T. Years ago, when I was a young woman of 21, I had a job in Santa Barbara at a small boutique on State Street called “The Midnight Butterfly.” It is no longer there, but my memories of it remain vivid for one reason in particular. At that time, State Street was not the posh tourist attraction that most people flock to now in order to escape the realities of urban life. Back in the late 70’s, homeless people were still allowed to sit or sleep on the streets, use public bathrooms regularly and mix with Santa Barbara locals and tourists alike without being harassed by police to move on to another less colorful, less populated spot. During my lunchtime, I would see the homeless men downtown, (they were mostly men back then) gathered in front of what was then The Schooner Inn and Donut shop. Most had been drinking all night and into the morning, yet there was a forthright and generous comradeship among them. Before changes were made to divert traffic on the main freeway, many of the men camped all night beneath a lofty fig tree with wide and sheltering branches that grew in a small park beside the railroad tracks. On my days off, I would see them there in the afternoon and early evening, drinking and cooking, setting up their sleeping bags within the roots of the great tree as if she were a source of succor and solace that they found wanting elsewhere. Not one of them was unpleasant to anyone, and I knew several men by name. Occasionally, I would buy sandwiches for some of them, although I don’t think it was food they were interested in.  There was one fellow about thirty years of age, who particularly attracted my attention sitting in front of the donut shop most of the day. I remember asking him once what he was doing and he replied that it was his task to “hold up the building which was crumbling quickly.” His name was George and he told me that he was originally from the Deep South. He had a lovely, rich, baritone voice like dark honey on warm bread; it was during my afternoon lunch breaks, in fact, that I would find him on the corner where he would be kind enough to play me a couple of tunes. The  melodies flowing from that old instrument were bright and vibrant like sunlight on a warm coastal day.  We became friends in short order. As a friend, he asked me if he could walk me home from work when it was dark to which I agreed. George would come into my place on those evenings, play me some songs that he had learned over the years and I would feed him dinner. Sometimes he would simply walk me home and leave after giving me a hug. I never knew where he went when he left although he was always clean and appeared better taken care of personally than many of the men on the street that I had seen. Because I was young and unfamiliar with life on the street, I tried now and then to help George acquire work, and he would dutifully fill out an application, but I believe he rarely arrived for an interview as liquor and low self-esteem had stolen his better angels from him. One night, as we were walking home in winter, it began raining incredibly hard, and I asked George where he would be staying for the night. He assured me that he would find a place and told me not to worry, but something in me didn’t feel right, and I asked him if he would like to stay. I lived in a studio with an efficiency kitchen and half bath, so small that if you stretched your arms across you could reach both walls, with your fingertips. He accepted my invitation and rolled out his sleeping bag on my rug near my bed. As the silver rain beat down on the roof of the old Victorian in which I lived, the two of us remained cozy and warm for the night. I asked George if he would like me to read him a story. He looked at me in great surprise and then smiled and said, “Yes, that would be nice.” I went to the shelf and brought down my copy of Marianna Mayer’s version of “Beauty and the Beast” the most beautifully illustrated I have seen. I sat on the floor next to him and he lay in his sleeping bag as I read him the story of a woman who was able to look and love, where others could not, and a beast who was finally able to find again what was most human within himself. (paraphrase of T. Windling’s quotation). When I finished the story, George remarked to me, “That is the first story that anyone has ever read to me. My father always told me that I wouldn’t amount to much.” And then he went off to sleep. I hope that his dreams were good ones, of dancing with a princess in a rose garden while drinking out of a fine goblet with birds serenading him as he looked into the eyes of his beloved. I would like to say that there was as happy an ending for George as there was for Beauty and the Beast, but I don’t know that that is the case. I knew him for a couple of years and then he disappeared from Santa Barbara altogether. I still think of him, and it has been 34 years since that night that two lonely grown children shared a roof, a midnight conversation and a fairytale together. If you are reading this George, I still see you.
--Noelle Clearwater (all rights reserved by author). For a history of homelessness in Santa Barbara, please see this incredibly well written post from Isabelle Walker’s blog