“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.” ~ Anne Lamott

Hope is always present, in the dark and in the light. It stands ready to be called upon, even when we feel hopeless.

Hope opens windows and doors, allowing light, fresh air, and entry into other places. 

Hope lifts us. Sometimes ever so slightly. Sometimes to great heights.

Hope energizes and empowers us.

Hope helps healing. It may even help us live longer, some studies show. “It will help all live better,” says Dr. Jerome Groopman. “It’s critical that we be absolutely intentional about nurturing hope in our lives, ” says Naomi Drew.

So, let’s feed hope.

Here are a few ways to do that:
Be kind to yourself.|
Take deep breathing breaks.
Curtail the intake of news reports.
Read, watch, and listen to uplifting stories.
Remember times when confusions became clear, troubles were resolved, and good things came in unforeseen ways.
Use positive affirmations.
In all circumstances, let’s be kind to ourselves and one another.

Remaining hopeful,

THE FIFTH GIFT IS HOPE: Through each passage and season may you trust the goodness of life. – from The Twelve Gifts of Birth.


Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The first time I heard this passage I was a child and my young heart seemed to jump up and down while my soul said: Yes! Yes! Yes!

All these years later, I still experience a strong resonance whenever I hear these words and act upon them.  

I have found myself applying them a lot lately. 

For example, like millions of people, I felt hurt and horror about the attack on the women and children traveling in Mexico near the U.S. border. But my heart was uplifted when I heard about the 13-year old boy who bravely hid his injured siblings, covered them with branches, and walked many miles through the Sonoran desert for help.   

I’m reminded that the beauty, strength, courage, wisdom, and love in that boy are present in all children. These gifts are in you and me and in every one of us. They are in people who don’t seem to have knowledge or appreciation of them or the inclination to use their noble qualities. 

Demonstrations of goodness and beauty don’t cancel out or change the reality of violence. But they can keep us from sinking into fear, depression, hate, and despair. They can move us toward constructive and loving actions.

Let’s look for the good in ourselves, one another, and the world. May seeing it feed our faith, heighten our hope, and deepen our desire to respond to life with courage, compassion, hope, and love…with all that is noble and beautiful in us. 

Yes? Yes? Yes?


You are invited!

A Healing, Well-Being & Peace Retreat at
The Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona,
also known as “the CASA.”
Friday, October 25 through Sunday, October, 27

Presented by cancer survivor and award-winning author, Charlene Costanzo, this experiential program will explore ways to tap into your inner strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom love, and faith in order to embrace life no matter what is happening in your personal world and in the whole world.

Recognizing the dignity and worth of all people is a significant part of The Twelve Gifts message and of this event. Each participate in this active, inspirational, and somewhat playful retreat will take home a personalized “tool kit,” used for daily inspiration and empowerment.

Fee: $135, commuter includes meals; with lodging, single, $250; double, $150 per person.
Pre-registration is required.

Franciscan Renewal Center 5802 East Lincoln Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona 85253

480.948.7460 phone
800.356.3247 toll free
All are welcome.
To register, visit thecasa.org or call 480.948.7460

Every CASA spiritual retreat includes options for single or double occupancy rooms with private bath; pool, spa, putting green; on-site dining; numerous outdoor amenities, including a desert walk and healing garden, and a variety of places to pause and reflect in a peaceful environment.


“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change.”~ Buddha

Imagine if we suddenly saw into the miracle of human beings as Thomas Merton did on a street corner in Louisville, Kentucky on March 18, 1958. We would be so awe-struck that we might laugh, cry out, fall down, or become numb. Surely, we would change the way we lived the rest of our days.

Our life would change if we saw clearly the miracle of a tree, a blade of grass, a bird, of light, of the air we breathe, of water.

Slowly, it is happening. Despite evidence to the contrary, we are waking up. We’re beginning to see less dimly. But why wait? Until we see clearly, let’s choose to live reverently and lovingly, as if we have seen.

With awe,


“To me, art is about arranging certain stuff, in a certain order, in a certain place, with a certain end in mind.” ~ Walter Hamady

Years ago, while walking along the beach on Sanibel Island, I came across this beach garden. While other families were making sand castles, one family had gathered beach debris and transformed it into their own unique expression of beach art.

We can all do that with the stuff of our lives – arrange it in a certain way to give it order and meaning and beauty – and make art. 

Let’s aim to look at things this way. How might I transform this? That? Make beauty? Make art? Make a difference? We are all meant to create.

With love and imagination,


“We can find common ground only by moving to higher ground.” ~ Jim Wallis

Recently, I’ve been posting the message “Let’s find COMMON GROUND. MIDDLE GROUND. HOLY GROUND. HIGHER GROUND” on various photos of feet: toddler feet, bare feet, booted feet. 

I had thought the natural progression from divisiveness to unity was from common ground, to middle ground, to a potent place where miracles can happen as we bring our minds and hearts to higher ground.

However, after coming upon this Jim Wallis quote and considering it, I realize that the very intention, the sincere aiming, to find common ground is done on higher ground. It starts there. 

Whether it’s a relationship renewal between two people or building unity among many…it begins when we have stepped up.

Once there, we move about seeking common ground and middle ground. It’s like a dance. We may at first step on each other’s toes. But if we stick it out, we’ll gain some grace and reach higher ground together. 

Higher ground is always near, nearer than we think. We can reach it anytime. We just have to choose to take the step up. That often takes putting ego aside. But it is so beautiful to dance, walk, talk, work, live – be – in peace and harmony with one another. It’s wise and healthy too. 

Higher ground. Let’s go there.

With love and hope,