What is Fang Sheng?

It is a Buddhist practice dating over a thousand years. Known in English as “release life” Buddhists free caged animals – often birds – into the environment as a way of generating positive karma through acts of kindness.

Yet another reason to love birds.

I didn’t want to remember the hours I sat at this table during our transition from our old home to our new home. It was here I constructed my love letter to my Dad – his eulogy. My mother has a saying that you are never given more than you are capable of handling although those 3 months put her words to the test.

As I was about to close the door on my time here, I looked out and thought ahead to when the bruises wouldn’t be so fresh and each memory a poke at a space already sore and I reached for my camera. The result is a photo that looks like a bird in the space – a bird that was a present from my friend SW who simultaneously experienced the loss of his mother. It has softened my thoughts of the days and nights spent here and shrouded them in good karma and kindness. I will forever be able to look at this photo and not be sad but remember that when a window is closed, another one – a more hopeful one – opens.

Peter Review-7

There has been incredible inspiration through my journey and as I sit, blanketed in the comfort of my new home, I share with you a poem by Mary Oliver. She is a fascinating and accomplished woman with whom I share much in common – both born in September, with lives lived across the landscapes of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and New England. I relish these words for their inspiration and the valiant choice to come out from the sadness.

Mary Oliver
The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.


  1. Stunning photo – beautiful bird. I share your love for Mary Oliver’s masterful poetry and pros

  2. Jennifer, this is such a beautiful piece of prose. You are not only a gifted photographer but also a gifted writer. The photo shares such a beautiful story. Thanks.

    I would love to read the eulogy, if you feel you could share it.



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