You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Beauty’ category.



Hands of Reconciliation

An icon in the “shiver” series: Janet O. Hagberg, artist, with Joseph Mallard


Listen, O people, in the silent chapel of your heart; and the Beloved will speak of peace to you, to the hidden saints, to all who turn their hearts to love. Surely new life is at hand for those who reverence love; O, that harmony might dwell among nations… Restore us again, O Spirit of Truth; burn us with the refining Fire of Love! We cannot live separated from you; cast out demons of fear, doubt, and illusion. Revive us again, we pray, that your people may rejoice in You! Have compassion on your people, O Holy One, and grant us our salvation. Psalm 85 excerpts, Psalms for Praying, Merrill


Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity! It is like vistas seen from atop a mountain one has climbed…or like the stillness of a sunset after a long day’s work. It is like a shimmering rainbow breaking through a summer rain. When men and women dwell in harmony, the Star of Truth appears! Ps 133 Psalms for Praying, Merrill


To you I lift up my Spirit, You who are enthroned in every heart! For, as the young child holds tightly the hand of its parent, as those in the throws of disease look to one who brings them comfort, so our spirits seek the Heart of Love, that we might find mercy and forgiveness. Have mercy on us, O Compassionate One, have mercy, that we might turn from our blind and ignorant ways. Too long our souls have been veiled by fear; have mercy, lead us to the path of wholeness. Ps 123 Psalms for Praying, Merrill




This icon emerged from the idea that people can choose to be part of the solution in the racial reconciliation process, each in his or her own way. My mentor, Joseph Mallard, who is an African American male agreed to draw his arm and hand on a piece of cloth for me. And then I, a white female, drew my hand and arm as well. I put them together to depict an icon of people working together to reach the heart of love in all of us. We chose to represent racial reconciliation but this image could also depict family reconciliation, brothers and sisters, males and females, friends, or colleagues. We hope this image spreads far and wide and gets healing conversations going.




What message of reconciliation do you desire to bring to the world?


How will you go about doing that with your gifts and skills?


With whom, if anyone, do you have a desire to reconcile?



Just a note to say that 10 of Red Sea Band icons are on display at Taraccino Coffee shop, located at the interesection of University Ave and E. Hennepin Ave in NE Mpls. (right next door to the Brueggers and kiddy corner from Surdyks). They will be there until the end of July.

Here’s one of them: Tamar on snare drum.

I hope you enjoy them.  Janet



In accepting Janet’s gracious invitation to be a guest writer for her blog, I wanted to remember what she had named as her original intention for her web site. As my search unfolded, the phrase that captured my attention was the one that described her desire to create an oasis of “beauty, hope, and healing.” I immediately felt drawn to the possibility of speaking into these themes from my own lived experience. So, I here begin with a story about beauty and have included a picture of myself (see photo at end of story). While I understand how this pairing likely appears quite presumptuous, please allow me to explain.


For better and for worse, I arrived in this world a highly sensitive, largely introverted caregiver and not surprisingly found myself growing up in a family that seemed to need a lot of what I had to offer. Hardwired to fix and to please, I mostly unknowingly functioned from the sole motivation of trying to heal all the hurt I sensed around me. (In later years, I often thought the perfect epitaph on my headstone would read “Died Trying.”) While most of the behaviors this purpose fostered were applauded, like getting top grades, assuming positions of leadership, etc., some of the other behaviors, the self-abandonment, the perfectionism, the anxiety, weren’t quite so positive. In essence, these more challenging parts of myself have comprised what I have gradually and affectionately come to understand as my “life work.”


Early on, my grand plan, and as you might imagine I often had one, was to approach this desired work intentionally and gradually over time through periodic workshops, visits with a trusted counselor, and much later on, in ongoing conversation with God and meaningful engagement with my spiritual director. That plan was gaining momentum as I left college for the world of work and was in forward motion as I married and later left the world of work to raise our three daughters.  As is often the case in my life, my well-laid plans don’t always yield the hoped for results in the desired timeframe. Another plan was yet to unfold, a series of events actually, that I have come to call my ten-year tsunami. In those ten years, my one sibling and I moved our parents from their home of 35 years into assisted living, companioned them daily as they faced the ravages of advanced age, and celebrated their lives when they died within six months of each other. At the same time, my husband and I helped send our three daughters across the country to college. Shortly after they graduated, we helped plan each of their three weddings and offered our support as they all moved out of state.   We then welcomed three grandchildren. Finally, we decided to sell and move from our large family home and build the home where we now reside.


I fully realize that for many people, perhaps most, this is merely the stuff of life and nothing whatsoever to come undone about. I, on the other hand, who was often referred to by my lifelong friend as a “bag of nerves” and who frequently observed myself, in trying so hard, as someone who could wring the joy out of absolutely anything, was all but undone. For me, and I was able to see this most clearly in retrospect, this was my refining fire. Given how I am wired and with what felt like so much life coming at me, I could hardly see straight let alone maintain any semblance of balance or health. My default response of rising to the demands of life in white-knuckle fashion and running as fast and trying as hard as I could until everything was seemingly taken care of was no longer working. It eventually became apparent to me that if I had any hope of surviving, God was going to have to help me change my long held ways. That thought, on top of everything else that needed doing, somewhat comforted but mostly overwhelmed me.


Thankfully, the phrase God began gently whispering to my soul was “in the midst.” As I cleared interior space for this idea to more fully unfold, a few things became clear. I could no longer wait until the demands of life ceased, to begin taking care of myself. While I didn’t have control over much of what was happening in those years, I did have control over how I would respond.   Making sure that my core habits of praying, eating, sleeping, and exercising were in place was mine to control. At this same time, a dear friend suggested that I consider asking myself on a daily basis, “What is my part to do? In other words, where is God, where are others? As unbelievable as this might sound, I had always simply taken on as much or more than I could, so the idea of a part presented a whole new perspective. I also began to understand at a far deeper level the statement my spiritual director frequently made, albeit with great love and gentle humor: “Tracy, there is a God, and you’re not it!”


As I further opened myself to the idea of a new way of being in the world, I was deeply moved by the divine guidance I continued to receive. It was actually about two years before the close of this ten-year tsunami that I was celebrating a birthday and also well into the seemingly unending sifting and sorting that accompany a downsizing move. I was bringing order to my external world, so why not my internal one as well. I decided to make a list of all the ways God was encouraging me to reshape my being and doing. I wanted to name and claim these emerging awarenesses and then, in time, secure them to one of the main doorways in our home as a daily reminder. On my birthday, I invited Janet to join me in front of our home, still much under construction, as I proclaimed before God and her the learnings I was beginning to gather from my tsunami, those things God was inviting me to bless and release and those God was inviting me to claim and embrace. This ritual was deeply meaningful and invigorating. Unfortunately, in the process of moving, the list was inadvertently misplaced and assumed lost.


Just recently and again in what seemed to be God’s perfect timing, as I looked for something else, I happened upon this list. What a welcomed reunion and what an impactful surprise to recognize all the important growth and movement that had occurred in my life. My precious proclamation reads: release a life of overwhelm with few limits and boundaries and claim a life with healthy limits and gracious margin; release a life of self-abandonment and embrace a life of self-compassion; release the desire to be enough and embrace the desire to be whole; release a life of compulsive giving and helping and embrace a life of balanced giving and grateful receiving; release a life filled with obligation and embrace a life of celebration; release a life of being stuck in anxiety and embrace a life in the flow of creativity; release the tendency to please and embrace the desire to be authentic; release the need to control and embrace the capacity to accept; release the burdened adult and embrace the playful child!!!


As only God could orchestrate, New Year’s Eve was a day away and 2015 would mark the year of a brand new decade for me, the big 6-0! Our home happens to be on a small lake and one evening some kind neighbor went out with his snow blower well past my bedtime and created a path around the entire perimeter. The first thing that occurred to me when I awoke the next morning to see it is how much fun it would be to skate again after a mere thirty years. With our entire family home for the holidays, I asked if anyone might want to make a trip to Play It Again Sports. Many of us piled in the car and “Dita” (what my grandchildren call me) and a few others returned with skates. Just as the sun was setting on New Year’s Eve, our youngest daughter and I sat on our dock, laced up our skates, and, haltingly at first and then quite gracefully and very joyfully, glided around the lake. This convergence of breathtaking soul growth, courageous body engagement, and glorious life timing was an exquisite gift, a true turning point for me. With each stride, I felt lighter, freer, more invigorated, more excited to embrace the beauty that is my life.




In writing this piece, I became aware of my natural inclination, when reflecting on beauty, to look for and see beauty in others, in the natural world, in art, in dance, in the phrasing of music or written word, but rarely in myself. This is especially so when I wrestle alone with all of my shortcomings. I was then reminded of the following gloriously powerful message:


Woman Un-Bent

By Irene Zimmerman


That Sabbath day as always

she went to the synagogue

and took the place assigned her

right behind the grill where,

the elders had concurred,

she would block no one’s view,

she could lean her heavy head,

and (though this was not said)

she’d give a good example to

the ones who stood behind her.


That day, intent as always

on the Word (for eighteen years

she’d listened thus), she heard

Authority when Jesus spoke.


Though long stripped

of forwardness,

she came forward, nonetheless,

when Jesus summoned her.


“Woman, you are free

of your infirmity,” he said.


The leader of the synagogue

worked himself into a sweat

as he tried to bend the Sabbath

and the woman back in place.


But she stood up straight and let

God’s glory touch her face.





Questions for Reflection:

~How might you relate to the experience of a life tsunami or refining fire?

~What fruits were born from your experience of this?

~How has God been whispering to you, calling you forward?

~What points might you want to include in your own proclamation of growth?

~What are the ways you see and celebrate beauty in your precious life?



Warm greetings! I’m Tracy Mooty and the consistent thread woven through my nearly sixty years of life is soul care. I’ve especially enjoyed sharing this with my husband of 32 years, our three daughters and their husbands, our three grandchildren, and our two pups. We’re an active bunch who enjoys golf, Frisbee golf, tennis, pickle ball, and most every board and card game! Janet and I first met at Colonial Church years ago and thanks to her mostly gentle prodding we’ve partnered to offer all sorts of retreats and programs. She’s also the reason I’ve entered into this adventure. J


c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All Rights Reserved.




Christmas: Words and Voices

I sang in a choir this Christmas for the first time in years. I wanted to sing praise to God out of gratitude for God’s presence in my life. After our worship concert last weekend I could hardly speak for all that moved within me from the experience.

I would like to share with you just two of the most precious of my memories–for whatever gift they may be for you.

The first is the words to one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard:

For Him All Stars Have Shone

He is so small the stars bow down

The fierce winds ease their breath,

And careful shepherds look upon

the one unsullied birth.

They kneel and stare while time seems gone

and goodness rules the earth.

The blight on man is all undone,

And there will be no death,

For though this child will be nailed on a cross,

he’ll be so since he is the jewel of untold worth.

For him all stars have shone.

Bob Chilcott, sung by the Colonial Chorale

Oba Ti De: Here Comes the King

The second gift is a recording of a song we sang that not only stunned the audience but the choir as well. This recording is of a different choir, but the feeling is the same. I felt like we were angels singing to the skies. It is an African song, in two African languages, and it is translated as Here Comes The King. I’m including the link to youtube. It’s about 4 minutes long and well worth it.

Jeffrey Ames, sung by the Choral Union.

What moves you about these words, this music?
How does it speak to you of Christmas?
Spring at its finest

Spring at its finest

Reflections on this image: I took this image on my early morning walk this week.

What does spring mean to you?

What is your favorite symbol of spring?

What is springing forth in your life this season?

What do you need to do to prepare for new growth in your life?

A wise old mystic said that God puts within each of us a spark of the Divine. “The real question though,” the old man said, “is, how close are you willing to come to the fire?”

It is a question I have asked myself for several years. In fact about ten years ago a friend of mine, Debra, who does exquisite beading, made me a necklace depicting the two phases of my life, the busy achieving part, and the slower more reflective part that had more recently emerged. In the middle of the necklace she put in the words “How close fire?” meaning that the answer to that question was what had shifted me to this more reflective part of my life. I share the necklace with you in two photos, one of the whole necklace and one in which you may be able to see two of the words, “how close,” if you look closely at the black beads on the right side.

2014-03-15_15-35-26_4042014-03-15_15-34-32_376Reflections on this necklace:

How close are you willing to come to the fire?

2012-12-09_15-01-32_912 Near Christmas a year ago I posted a beautiful picture of fresh show falling on lighted trees near the Mississippi River. This week we had several inches of beautiful snow and I went out to capture the essence of it in photos. This one made me chuckle. However if I had to ride this bike home I’m not sure I’d be quite so humored. For those of you in sunny climates; look what you’re missing!

Reflections on this photo:

When nature stops you in your tracks, what does it allow you to do differently?

What do you like best about the winter (or your wet season-for those not in snow country)?

How do you deal with living in the darker months of the year?

How do you experience God in the dark?

The Burning Bush

Exodus 3: 1-12 (NRSV)
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law …
and he led his flock beyond the wilderness and came to Horeb…
There an angel of the Lord appeared to him

in a flame of fire out of a bush;
he looked, and the bush was blazing yet it was not consumed…
God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

And he said, “Here I am.

And he said; “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground…I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery

of my people who are in Egypt;
I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters.
Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them
from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”

© Janet O. Hagberg, 2007

Reflections on this icon

When has God appeared to you in an unusual way?

How did you respond?

When have you stood on what felt like holy ground? Where?

How is God being “fire” in your life now?

What is the call from God in the midst of your experience?

Dorothy Dances

This is no child that dances. This is flame.
Here fire at last has found its natural frame.

What else is that which burns and flies
From those enkindled eyes…
What is that inner blaze
Which plays
About that lighted face…
This thing is fire set free —
Fire possesses her, or rather she
Controls its mastery.
With every gesture, every rhythmic stride,
Beat after beat,
It follows, purring at her side,
Or licks the shadows of her flashing feet.
Around her everywhere
It coils its thread of yellow hair;
Through every vein its bright blood creeps,
And its red hands
Caress her as she stands
Or lift her boldly when she leaps.
Then, as the surge of radiance grows stronger
These two are two no longer
And they merge
Into a disembodied ecstasy;
To express some half-forgotten hunger,
Some half-forbidden urge.

What mystery

Has been at work until it blent
One child and that fierce element?
Give it no name.
It is enough that flesh has danced with flame.

Louis Untermeyer


Reflections on this poem

When have you felt an deep inner longing for a creative activity?

What sets your soul ablaze?

How have you felt embraced by something or someone beyond you?

How are you “dancing” with the Holy flame?


For the next several weeks I will be sending images and quotes and verses about the all consuming love of God. God’s love for us and desire for us to come closer starts with that little spark that he ignited in our souls when we were born. More about that later.

My hope for you this whole holiday season is that you will allow snippets of time to take in the pervasive love of God–in a traffic jam, while sipping coffee, hugging a friend in crisis, longing for a lost love, gazing at the beauty of the season, feeling the hush of anticipation that your own rebirth is imminent. I invite you to welcome the nativity right here in your life.

I will start off with an icon I made of a person (me!) being consumed by the fire of God’s love. Take it in. Feel the warmth. Lean in. Calm down. Open your heart.


Consumed by God's Love

Consumed by God’s Love

Subscribe for Email Updates