Catching Moonlight


Catching Moonlight © 2013 Bo Mackison

At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come as press its face against mine. Breathe into me. ~ Rumi


At night.
When my part of the world is mostly asleep or rumbling in their night games,
warm milk, pacing the floor, listening to sirens in the street far below,
I seek the brightness of the moon.

Its beams slip through my fingers, dusty cool light,
deep breath and I swallow pure light, cleanse those old words,
reverberating, angry. The echoes linger.

I push away their swirling energy before their voracious appetite eats me alive,
nibbles at my heart, carves a cavernous hole
in my chest where the pain and rejection lives.

Wild animal claws.

Moon, dress me with your blue light,
your calm, your wisdom, guide me as I walk away, past the
words flung from darkness, curses to corral my spirit,
you who do not believe in hope, do not steal mine.

I move on, the past drifts into faraway fog
again I breathe in the cool light, step from the shadow
of whispering doubts flung my way,
break from the shackles of your claustrophobic grip.

Breathing freedom.
Cast in the soft glow, awash in light.
I am whole. I am.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Rumi inspires poetry, late night in a far-away-from-home airport.

Quiet Time in a Courtyard

Down Spout of Paint

Down Spout of Paint © 2013 Bo Mackison

I have a practice of searching for sacred spaces. While these spaces are often churches or missions, I have no limits on what I include in defining a space as sacred.

The spaces I seek are varied —  a deserted picnic area on a mountain road;  a bare space on the desert floor, a circle of desert where visible desert plants have not yet taken root; a solitary bench under a sycamore tree in a city park, a labyrinth tucked in a quiet corner of a bustling desert museum. I frequently find sacred spaces —  place to ground, connect, let my thoughts wander.

It doesn’t require solitude, although often the spaces I choose are quiet,  out of the way. Frequently, there are a few people scattered in the space, usually quiet, reflective, thinking their own quiet thoughts, making their own discoveries.

Courtyard, San Xavier del Bac Mission Church

Courtyard, San Xavier © 2013 Bo Mackison

After a busy weekend, it was time for a sacred place visit. I headed to my go-to place, a spot in the Sonoran Desert that has a tiny picnic area — two tables — and several trail heads. It is usually unoccupied, so I often bring my camera and journal and a few art supplies, and spend some quality time with myself.

Angel, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Baptismal Font, East of Sanctuary, in the San Xavier del Bac Mission

Interior of Mission © 2013 Bo Mackison

But his time I got sidetracked. Driving by the Mission at San Xavier del Bac, also called the White Dove, I suddenly took the exit for the church. I usually visit the mission several times each winter, but it is a favorite place of pilgrims and tourists, and so it is seldom my choice for quiet inspiration. People are very respectful in the church itself, but it tends to be busy with many people admiring the lovely folk art in the church’s interior. I’ve done this myself – it is a fascinating place, and deserves respectful curiosity and contemplation of the simply rendered sacred art.

But, for me,  it is not a good place for quiet meditation, writing in a journal, or making a few sketches.

Nevertheless, I found myself pulling into the parking lot late on a midweek afternoon. A steady stream of cars and visitors were leaving and there were only a few folks in the church. I found a space in a dark corner in the east transept and sat awhile, quietly focusing on the amazing art. There is much to take in, but I found that focusing on just one of the many statues worked for me, moved me into a place of calm and reflection.

Courtyard, San Xavier del Bac Mission Church

Garden Shrine, San Xavier © 2013 Bo Mackison

I found my favorite space, though, upon leaving the church interior, and discovering a small courtyard. There were tile murals, simple and beautifully executed, on three of the walls. There was a small garden shrine, with a touching display of garden flowers, cacti and succulents in pots, and a few simple rocks.

The adobe walls shone with a white patina, a glow from the sun low on the horizon. The shadows on the walls  were repetitive arches from a nearby decorative fence. The water-spout was carved from the adobe and painted a red ochre, giving it the appearance of a clay drain. There is much illusion in the church art — adobe fountains painted to resemble marble, doors and cabinets painted on the church walls.

I found a bench, and just watched, felt, listened, thought.

My unexpected stop turned out to be a perfect space for what I needed.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She continues on her search for sacred spaces.

Shadow Play on the Patio

Favorite Stop for Coffee - Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Shadows on the Patio ©2013 Bo Mackison

Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25, unless we haven’t had our coffee, in which case we feel 107. ~ Martha Beck

Now that I’ve completed the initial phase of my photo project on my Barriers series, I’ve returned to walking the desert trails. One of my favorite stops is the coffee shop at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. This desert discovery place in the midst of the Tucson Mountains, one of my favorite destinations for hiking, wandering, or just setting up my day office at a picnic site for hours of art, journal writing and photography. It’s also a grand way to either start or end my day – complimentary coffee or iced tea for members!

I can never sit on the patio overlooking the desert exhibits without getting at least temporarily distracted by the light and shadow contrasts from the slatted beams of the ramada offering protection from the elements.

And I always appreciate a good cup of coffee or a prickly pear iced tea as I consider the play of light and shadow. Oh, yes I do!


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. And she always enjoys a good shadow photo opportunity!

5th Annual Photo Alphabet – Part V

R is for Ritual and Routine.

Early Morning Coffee in the Desert

Early Morning Coffee in the Desert © 2011 Bo Mackison

I have an unusual ritual in the Sonoran Desert. Some might think of it more as a routine – brewing the early morning coffee – but when I brew my first cup of coffee after a night of desert camping, it truly is elevated to the level of ritual.

The assembly of the tiny backpacker stove. The measuring of water from my water supply. The finding of the matches — which usually provides a modicum of panic. The boiling of the water. The measuring of the coffee grounds, safely stored in the bottom of my coffee cup/coffee press. The boiling water poured into the coffee press, the cup tightly closed, plunging the press, waiting the ten minutes for the coffee to brew. And finally sipping that first early morning coffee.

If any one is wondering why I might need coffee while camping in the desert, keep in mind early morning in the winter desert is usually 30˚ to 40˚F, often even colder. That first cup of coffee is like a bit of heaven. Routine, yes. And ritual.

S is for Shadows and Self-portrait.

Shadow Photographer

Shadow Photographer © 2012 Bo Mackison

I have a fascination with taking photos of shadows. They might be photos of leaf shadows on a wall, a repetitive fence shadow on a sidewalk, an intricate wrought iron table and chairs casting an abstract shadow on a patio. I constantly look for shadows to photograph.

And sometimes I photograph self-portrait shadows.

I like these self portraits in shadow. Sometimes I am long and stretched out, as in the above photo taken late in the day. Sometimes there is just a head shot, my hat on my head, protection from the desert sun, hiking stick leaning against me, as I balance and set up the shot.

I always have my camera up to my face. I may be alone or with a companion. I like to study these portrait shadows.

They tell me a bit about the photographer I was at that moment in time. By the clues in the photos I can decipher where I was, who I was with, the time of the year or the time of the day. I may even be able to tell my mood by the way I carry my body. I may remember a conversation I had with a person in passing or a particular event that happened that day.

Another way I capture bits of my life as reminders. Like words on a page of a diary or journal, a photo holds that space for me.

T is for Thresholds and Transitions.

Window, Bench and Door in White

Window, Bench and Door in White © 2010 Bo Mackison

Transitions. I think that very word, and a lump forms in my throat, an ache develops in my chest. No matter what type of transition I face, it takes me awhile to focus and gather my equilibrium before I carry on. The transition can be one I dread or one I look forward to — no matter. The very act of crossing a new threshold, or a threshold I am re-crossing, causes me to stop in my tracks.

I’ve discovered that I can approach transitions in different ways. And that is okay!

I may choose to move towards a threshold, decide I am not quite prepared.. OK. I can sit down — that bench is handy — and pause while I consider my next step.

Maybe I approach the threshold and find I need more time to study the new, do a bit more research or soul-searching. Maybe a look through a window, visualizing the next step is helpful. OK.

Or maybe I am ready. I have considered my options, I know that the next step needs to be taken, or I am simply ready. OK. I open the door and walk through, across the threshold.

This photo is a pretty good summary of me working my way through life, whatever it takes at that moment. Approaching transitions in different ways.

U is for the Universe.

Three Self Portraits

Exploring the Universe © 2011 Bo Mackison

The Universe — worlds upon world upon worlds. Bright and shiny — new places to explore.

In each shiny ball representing part of the universe, there is a tiny self-portrait of me, both looking in and looking out.

V is for Vision.

Double Vision

Double Vision © 2011 Bo Mackison

I like this photo – the one I call Double Vision – because the branch in the foreground still has berries and a leaf hanging on it, the branch slightly behind it is bare. It’s a double branch. But there is more. Look into the background, extend my vision deeper into the landscape and I notice the snow-covered river – the river a conduit for travel.

Will it be an easy trip, perhaps on a flowing river in the early summer on a small skiff with a companion? Or will the trip take place during a drought, the water is low, my boat keep getting snagged. I must keep getting into the water to dislodge it, push it along, even portage it? Perhaps the journey is a cold, lonely trek in the winter, traveling alone on skates or ice cleats, or along the side of the frozen river, pushing through the deep snow?

I look at this photograph and I see the past captured — dried fruits and leaves. And it foretells possible vignettes of the future in metaphor — travel on the river. But all the while, it capturing a moment in the present.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. The 5th Annual Photo Alphabet ends with  Wonder thru Zen!

Dancing Leaves

Layers of Leaves

Layers of Leaves © 2012 Bo Mackison

“And see the peaceful trees extend
their myriad leaves in leisured dance—
they bear the weight of sky and cloud
upon the fountain of their veins.”
–   Kathleen Raine, Envoi


August Break 2012


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is taking an August break from writing long blog posts, but the garden walks and the photos continue. Bo photographed these gorgeous leaves at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin.