Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

Families – Living Altars


Together for Friday Night, Family Night

Together for Friday Night, Family Night-Wyatt, me, Wynn, Dad, Mom, Luke, Noe

We create altars through how we live in this world. We are a living, breathing, loving altar, including all of our scars, broken pieces and missing parts. An altar is composed as much by what is not there, as what is.

All create the whole.

Last week, I wrote of my love of altars and invited readers to share photos of your altars and what they mean to you. Since then, life has been a swirl of Spring Break for kids, Noé and me, the arrival of Mom and Dad from South Dakota and Wyatt from university in Colorado.



Throughout all, I thought of history. I thought of each of our humanity. I thought of all of the years this experience felt impossible to me, for the mosaic of life. The Japanese art form of kintsukuroi mends together pottery that has been broken with gold. This art of repairing pottery understands that pieces become more beautiful for having been broken. I cannot think of a person or family that has not been through a time where the pottery of their life was shattered. In our family, we have certainly experienced this in our own lives. This idea of repairing the pot with seams of gold, of seeing the breakages of life as enhancing the beauty of the whole deepens my understandings of life—my own and others. 

Birthday Boy Luke - 17 years old

Birthday Boy Luke – 17 years old

Our own Birthday March Madness has begun, with four birthdays (Luke, Mom, Wyatt, and me) falling within two weeks. This past week, time has unfolded not in the structured rhythms of school, work, and sporting events that normally defines our days, but in a jumbled mass of people, love, comings-and-goings, and load of cooking and baking.

Luke kicked off our Birthday March Madness on the 10th with a request for homemade peach pie. A dear friend responded to the photo of Luke and I with, “You sure make good babies and good pies!” If I were to be remembered for anything, these are two at the top. 

Mom came from the ranch, stopping to see Wyatt on campus in Colorado first.

Wyatt and Grammie

Wyatt and Grammie

Mom arrived and off we went to yet another sporting event, this one for Luke playing basketball. We all donned our St. Michael’s High School spirit t-shirts. Wynn made a special one for Grammie. 

Off to the game! Me, Noé, Grammie, Wynn

Off to the game! Me, Noé, Grammie, Wynn

Dad rolled in a few days later. Our house filled with story, laughter, early mornings of talking over coffee and candlelight, and horsebites on the legs that kept the kids ever- vigilant! The past number of years have overflowed with work for me. I haven’t been able to spend nearly the time on the ranch that I would love. I’ve so missed time with my dad. Treasured each moment. 

Dawn, Bop Bop, Wynn, Luke

Dawn, Bop Bop, Wynn, Luke

Mom/Grammie celebrated her birthday amidst all. The world became an infinitely more beautiful place on the day Mom was born, March 20th. 

Mom and me.

Mom and me.

“Wynn sure does love her mommy,” Mom said to me a number of times throughout the week. For anybody who knows Wynn, a woman of few words and a reserved presence, this meant the world to me. “I learned how to be a mom from the best,” I said to Mom. And, I did. We took the first photo ever (I think) of Wynn, Mom, and me – three generations of Wink Women. 

Three generations of Wink Women.

Three generations of Wink Women.

We were all home together for Friday Night, Family Night for the first time ever. We sat around the table, eating apple pie, talking, laughing, telling stories, and I realized that altars are not just objects on shelves—we create altars through the way we walk through this world.

Families in all of our compositions are living, breathing, loving altars, including all of our scars, broken pieces and missing parts. An altar is composed as much by the open space of what is not there, as much as by what is present. All create the whole. No altar is perfect, just as no family is perfect. The altars on my windowsills and shelves are jumbled, imperfect, and need tending—just like the people within the living altar of my life. It is in all of their beautiful, messy, exquisite, unique essence—and all of our jumbled imperfection—that I treasure each beyond reason. 

Just as the seams of gold highlight where pots have been broken and survived, so we create beauty in the journeys of our life.


Dawn, maker of good babies and good pies

Altar of hands.

Altar of hands on Friday Night, Family Night.

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Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

18 thoughts on “Families – Living Altars

  1. Dawn, you are blessed to have a wonderful family and blessed to know family is wonderful. That gives you a double portion of blessings!

  2. Dawn–Here’s an altar from the Route 66 Hostel I took this weekend….See you on Canvas!


    Patricia A. Kingsley 971.202.8717 choshe@gmail.com

    *”Listen and hear the winds and see the dreams and visions by walking the Red Road to the day of quiet”….Akkeeia **Comanche *

    *”Be truthful, gentle, and fearless”…..Gandhi*

    “‘Life is like a snowball — all you need is wet snow and a really long hill.’” ~ Warren Buffett

    *”Cuando se es joven de verdad, se es joven para toda la vida.” Pablo Picasso *

    *”…the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahil Gibran*

    *”It is love alone that gives worth to all things.”* *~ St. Teresa of Avila*

    *“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like bananas.” ~ Groucho Marx “True wealth is not measured in money or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and inspire.” ~ Cesar Chavez*

    *”La vida es una viaje–Disfruta!”*

    *”The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~ Albert Einstein*

    “We are a part of nature–not apart from it.” Jim Wavada, WA Sustainable Building Advisor

    “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

    • Patricia—Beautiful! What an altar of wisdom and beauty created through words. Thank you and thank you for sharing this with us! Gorgeous – and I love that the quote from Picasso remains in Spanish. Mil gracias!

  3. My “altar” in front of where I spend 10-15 minutes each morning sitting and doing Vipassana meditation before I head into school to teach.

    Katie Jebb Norton Santa Fe, NM

  4. Oh my how this touched my heart today and brought tears. Amen to the making of beautiful babies! I have not seen a more beautiful family!
    Your spirit and love continues to flow and thanks for including me! Love you, Cathy

    • Dear Cathy, so very good to hear from you. What a journey we’ve shared across the years and miles. Here’s to your own beautiful babies and our shared roots and family. Love you, Dawn

  5. The beauty and truth of your love shines through the lovely faces of your family. No one deserves this level of happiness more than you do, dear Dawn. XOXO

  6. Yes, so true. “Just as the seams of gold highlight where pots have been broken and survived, so we create beauty in the journeys of our life.” And sometimes they break over and over again, and we just ride it out.

    • Mamawolfe, yes, and sometimes they break over and over again and we ride it out. More seams of gold. Isn’t this so very true. So grateful to ride out with you.

  7. Hi Dawn. You gave me such the perfect idea in this post. Once I found the perfect Mexican pottery vase at an Antique Faire in Auburn. It was probably 80 years old and elaborately painted. I could not believe I was lucky enough to find it. When I got home I set it down on the table and it promptly rolled off the table and broke. My heart sank. For years I kept the shards. In fact I just looked at them sadly even yesterday. Now I have complete clarity as to why I kept them. They were meant to represent my own life struggles and now I am going to get that vase repaired with gold. I found a pottery company that performs that process! I am so excited. It’s going to be better than the perfect vase. So thank you! I love how happy you are, Dawn and yet how you allude to a different time in your life that was tough. My vase is going to represent healing and happy ultimate outcomes. I will send you a picture when I get the vase back.

    • Renee, oh, what a wonderful idea! The pottery vase will be all the more beautiful for its own long journey journey (80 years! Wow… what a treasure) and the symbolism to your own life—so poignant that you kept the shards all these years. Meant to be. Yes, please, please do send a photo. I cannot wait to see!

  8. A beautiful ode to family!

    • Rachael, this inspired me to look up ‘ode’—”An English ode is a lyrical stanza in praise of, or dedicated to someone or something that captures the poet’s interest or serves as an inspiration for the ode.”
      How beautiful. Love this and brought new light to all. Thank you!

  9. So, keep it up…not babies, but pies!!! Love U Micki

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