Enter (I hope) the long sentence: the collection of clauses that is so many-chambered and lavish and abundant in tones and suggestions, that has so much room for near-contradiction and ambiguity and those places in memory or imagination that can’t be simplified, or put into easy words, that it allows the reader to keep many things in her head and heart at the same time, and to descend, as by a spiral staircase, deeper into herself and those things that won’t be squeezed into an either/or. With each clause, we’re taken further and further from trite conclusions — or that at least is the hope — and away from reductionism, as if the writer were a dentist, saying “Open wider” so that he can probe the tender, neglected spaces in the reader (though in this case it’s not the mouth that he’s attending to but the mind). ~ Pico Iyer

the amazing thing about committing to (at least) a year’s worth of altars – committing to stay – is that i see altars everywhere, even in long sentences.


Was there a spot in your day when you paused and paid attention to a tender, often-neglected place in your life physical or otherwise)? What led you there? Who or what held the space for you?

That’s what altars do for me: They slow me down, open the way to a deeper, more meaningful engagement with life.

How ’bout you?

More about 365 Altars


  1. Mrsmediocrity

    yes, isn’t that always the way, as soon as you turn your attention to something, you see it everywhere, in all kinds of new places.
    i love this quote, and that photo. and you.

    • whollyjeanne

      Isn’t that a delicious quote? It’s a delicious article, especially for one who has always adored long sentences (as both reader and writer) but who has always been smacked on the hand and cautioned to go shorter. The photo is of a stained glass window in the chapel that my paternal grandfather helped design and get built. I loved the one with the beehive. it seemed appropriate to seeing altars everywhere. xoxo

  2. Meredith

    Around 1:30PM yesterday, I was overcome with exhaustion, and I couldn’t figure out why. By 2PM, I decided to listen to my body instead of fighting it. I took a sort-of nap for about an hour. I figured the items on my to-do list weren’t as important as the message my body was sending me, so I forgave myself those two baskets of laundry in need of folding.

    And my goodness, stained glass! So pretty! Your photographic prowess amazes me.

    • whollyjeanne

      you’re exactly right: nothing on your to do list is as important as your body saying “i need rest NOW.” always listen to your body, sugar. good job! xoxo

  3. jo miller

    I was walking this am, in a splendid state of being  – the air was crisp, the snowflakes falling were dainty, lovely, gentle wonders.
    My mind began to wander to money concerns  – there was that familiar spiral  —  I stopped – I caught it.  and I looked around – right in front of me were snow covered pines  –  you got it, ahhh!  I looked, there was a brightness around – the sun was peeking through the mattress cover of clouds – I do not believe I have ever seen a more definitive colour of pine green, so vivid under its’s white snow cover.  I looked furthur in and felt the connection to that living tree.  I recognized and took the time to treasure this.
    thank you for pointing me in the direction of altars in everyday life.
    My walk continued on and I was lighter, I had left some baskets, I did not need, at the altar.
    xo jo

  4. Merry ME

    I took the dog out for a quick walk/sniff before church. As soon as we headed down the street I could hear birds singing. When I got to the stand of trees where they congregated, I could pick out a few red breasts and knew the robins are here for their annual visit. WHile the dog smelled the ground I stood, looking up and taking in the beauty of it all.

    • whollyjeanne

      this is just beautiful, sugar. thank you.

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