Sign outside of a building and remodeling business in York:  “Do more of what makes you holy.”

Gratitude List:
1.  The singing.  Oh, the singing!  The listening, the paying attention, the blending of voices, the breathing.
2.  This story: about the Christian man and the Muslim man who traveled together for a time, and every morning read together from the Bible and the Quran.
3.  The morning glories raising their violet and magenta throats toward the dawning.
4.  Yesterday, one boy shared his dessert with the other, oh so kindly, oh so gently.  Little moments that make me remember that all the work is paying off.
5.  The changing of weather and of season–always a new thing in the air to anticipate.

May we walk in Beauty!

Not so much time for poems these days.  Hardly time to catch my breath for the gratitude lists.  All is well.  All is growing and changing.  Moving.  I am tired, so weary.  I am energized, so excited.  I feel competent and capable, but I am also humbled by the fact that I have so very much to learn.

Gratitude List:
1.  More feathers.  Two days ago, as I was walking out of school, I was thinking to myself that I hadn’t found a feather yet that day, and I thought perhaps the daily feather find was at an end.  I had it in my head, the actual words “There will be no more feathers.”  But there, on the sidewalk in front of me was yet another feather.  I have been telling my students that they get to make the meaning of their stories, and I told some of them about the feathers.  I can be the scientific naturalist and say that I find a feather every single day because there are owls in the trees at night eating little birds and crows fighting as they fly above my house and school.  I can say that the Universe is offering me little gifts to remind me that I have wings, that I can fly.  I can say that I just have keen eyes for feathers.  Whatever it is, I am really glad that they keep finding me.
2.  This is a weird one for a gratitude because it’s a difficult story.  But I learned this story this week about how a group of Prussian Mennonites, during WWII, actually sent a letter of support to Hitler.  It was chilling to hear how they unquestioningly thanked the fuhrer for his dedication to the “Fatherland” and to Christian principles.  So sobering.  And a good reminder to myownself to pay more attention to my commitment to my spiritual work than to the work of politics, to keep the political in the perspective of the spiritual.  I am grateful for reminders to be true to the deeper realities.
3.  The laughter of my new friends, my new colleagues.  Belly laughter builds community.  And after the in-breath of focused work together, we need the out-breath of laughter together.
4.  How sleep brings answers.  I went to bed last night anxious about the chapel service I have to prepare for school on Tuesday, not sure what I would say or how I would present my own story.  I woke up this morning knowing exactly (sort of) what I am going to say.
5.  Small kindnesses.  At the end of the day Thursday, I put two bags of trash at my classroom door so I would trip on them and remember to take them out to the big bins.  A student I have never met stopped and peeked in the room and asked it he should throw them away for me.  Little thing, but it made my day.  Probably my week, too.  Or semester.  

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitude List:
1.  My helpful colleagues.  These are people who keep stopping by and asking how things are going even when they know by now that that my answer never stops at “Great!” but always moves on to “But I do have this one little question. . .”  I really enjoy being part of this team, where teachers consider and care about the social, emotional, and spirit lives of the students as well as the pursuit of academic excellence.
2.  So I am happily loving my job.  But I am also relieved and eager for the coming four-day weekend.  Teacher meetings on Friday are still a break for me, a chance to not be “on” all the time, and a lesson-plan-free evening tonight.  Short weeks to begin.  Ease us all in to the year.
3.  The blue faerie fire in those labradorite beads Mara gave me.  What looks like lovely greenish mossy stones, if you sit with them and turn them into the light, will suddenly flash blue fire.  I think that’s one of those things that means more than it means.  And the pendant represents Joy, which is where gratitude often takes me, even when I am tired, even when I am sad.
4.  Sleep.  So important for students and teachers.
5.  Cool breezes this morning.  I don’t know, but I think that my classroom must have hit 90 degrees yesterday.  It’s hard to teach in that.  Maybe it’ll break a bit

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitude List:

1.  Mara hugs.  Finally.  Mara has been my good friend for a couple of years now.  It was Mara who gave me the courage to actually call myself a poet, to publish, to take my work seriously.  She has helped me learn language for expressing deeper emotion.  I stole from her this gratitude practice, which has become such a key for me.  And yesterday, I got to see her eyes, feel her hugs, hear her voice, watch how she speaks.  So grateful for this friendship.  For the sharing of gifts, back and forth, for Kyla and Dylan.
2.  Gift of a Great Blue Heron feather.  With such a feather in my hair, I will stand tall and watchful, I will fly brightly, I will speak with an ancient voice.
3.  Pink dawn on the hills and the River valley as I drive to school in these early mornings.  Mist rising from the River, from the fields.  Magic.
4.  Moving more deeply into the role of teacher.  So much more than teaching prepositional phrases and independent clauses.  Watching, learning to watch, for the webs between them, tending the social web.  Reading of their dreams, precious as eggs.  I fall in love with them every day, exhausting as they can be.
5.  And then there’s Mara again.  How do you thank someone who, whether she knew she was doing  it or not, has handed you your own voice on a plate and said, “Here.  Try it.”

May we walk in Beauty!  Namaste.

Yesterday as I was sweeping up my classroom at the end of the day, I got to thinking about leaves and feathers and little paper frizzies.  When my world was centered mostly around the house and farm, I felt like I sort of learned to read the litter of leaf and bark and feather, of stone and seedpod.  Now my association have shifted from the glorious beings of tree and field to the glorious beings of teenagers, and I wonder: can I learn to read the weather of the day through the little bits of paper and pens and pencils, the candy wrappers and strands of hair that I sweep up before I go home?  Teenagers are like trees, I think, dropping little bits of this and that as they go about their day.  I’m listening and watching. . .


Gratitude List:
1.  Kingfisher chattering along the MillStream
2.  I’m meeting Mara today!  A dear and wonderful friend whom I have never met in person is coming to see me!
3.  The way the planning of one day gives naturally on to the planning of the next day.  I get stumped about how to proceed with the lesson plans, but then I step back and look at it from a bit of a distance, and suddenly the next thing falls into place.  And the great thing about it is that the planning muscle is one which is strengthened with use, so the more I do it, the less anxiety-producing it will become.
4.  Comfortable shoes (this is a reminder to myself: yesterday’s shoes were not comfortable)
5.  The moment when I get home in the afternoons and see those boys and Jon.  Shiningest moment of the day.

May we walk in Beauty!

There needs to be a poem here
something to fill the space
to inspire
to bless.

There needs to be a word
that fills the small green hollows
between the first shy greeting
and the questions
that draw out the hearts
like small burrowing animals
from their safe nests.

There needs to be a song here.
At least a whispered line
with a hint of a melody
and a rhythm
like the chirping of the tree frogs
high in the oak grove.

Let us stand in the moment
shoulder to shoulder
like the deer on the verge
we caught in our headlights,
and listen for the distant unrolling of words.


Gratitude List:
1.  That wonderful woman at OfficeMax yesterday who said that since the Lancaster store was selling notebooks for a penny a piece, she could give me the same price, and then only gulped a little when I said, “That’s so great!  I’d like a hundred for my English classes!”  I quickly realized that I was taking overenthusiastic advantage of a kindness and cut my number back just a little.
2.  Waters of Transformation.  Yes, indeed.
3.  I have a job where people sometimes start the day with a collegial hymn-sing.  Have I landed in a perfect place for me, or what?
4.  Inspiration struck when I needed it and before I was a complete wreck of exhaustion: I have been a little anxious this weekend about preparation for the coming week.  I came away from last week sort of feeling like I had drained my wells of inspiration for lesson plans.  Just like poetry writing, however: When you let go, sometimes the streams begin to trickle back in again, and sometimes they come in as a flood. I hope the students are a tenth as eager for the work I present tomorrow as I am to present it.
5.  Family time.  Meeting Kim’s dear children.  Basking in Craig’s delightful smile.  Listening to the harmonica trio play in harmony.  Discussing recipes for fish.

May we walk in Beauty!

Sometimes the most glorious experiences are also the hardest.  I haven’t been focusing on the difficulties of the week, partly because I don’t want to lose the momentum, and partly because they’re rather significantly overshadowed by the excitement and the delight of the new experience of beginning a new teaching position.

I am tired.  I cannot wait for the sleep that the weekend brings, the rest and the quiet, the chance to leap from the whirling carousel for a moment.  I have confronted my most regular anxiety dream head-on this week: wandering the halls of my old school, rushing to find a class that may or may not already be over, not sure if the stairs I am on actually lead anywhere.  While I did not get physically lost this week, and I was in all my classes on time, being there brought it all back.  I have taken to carrying a clipboard with all the important information on it: where I need to be and when, lists of phone numbers, seating charts, my lesson plans for the day.  It’s like a lifeline.

Mostly I think I have managed to look the self-doubts in the eye.  Deep down I know that I am qualified and competent to do this job, but repeatedly this week the grouchy little doubties have gotten their tiny feet in the door for a few moments.  Mostly I have been able to shoo them out like the wasp we shooed out the window of the classroom yesterday.  Getting started on a new thing will always entail a bit of a learning curve.  I keep reminding myself that if my students see me make a mistake or change my mind about a plan, perhaps that is helping them to learn flexibility and adaptability.

And my children have been fine!  I was more nervous for their first day of school than they were, and now after two days, they’re pros at the bus ride, confident about getting to their classrooms, chatting about their classes.  Begone, wild anxieties!


Gratitude List:
1.  Small child marching around the house, chanting: “Always keep your dear teacher happy!”  Apparently it’s a kindergarten classroom rule.  I may take that one into the high school classroom.
2.  The House Fairy Magic that set up another child’s stuffed cats on his bed reading a book.  The boy was so enchanted that he carried book and cats around all evening and could hardly eat dinner for chatting with the cats about “Each Peach, Pear, Plum.”
3.  Sleep.  It’s coming.  No alarm tomorrow morning.
4.  Affirmations.  It is amazing how big a perk a little affirmation can be in the middle of a muddle.
5.  First opus of the Dawn Chorus.  My wake-up is earlier and dawn is later, and now we have converged again and I hear the first mutters and murmurs of the Dawn Chorus, instead of just the later whoops and hollers.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitude List:

1.  This little, spotted-winged moth who keeps fluttering in front of my eyes.  Now she is resting on the desk.  Her tiny wings are so dainty, and she has striped legs.  What a marvel for the morning, even before the sun is awake.  Just the moth and I, and the sleepy-voiced birds who are at this moment beginning to twitter and chat.
2.  The Hive Mind.  I asked friends on Facebook to help me with some poetry ideas for my students.  I now have a shiny stack of poems here to offer for the next few weeks.
3.  My students.  They are so big-hearted, so earnest, so tricksy, so open, so ready for the world.  I love them.
4.  The view of the River and valley from the crest of Mt. Pisgah in the mornings when I am going to work and the mists are still whispering through the low places.
5.  Yesterday–first day of school for my children–went fine, and none of my anxieties materialized.  The kindergartener is happy and chatty about his teacher and his classmates.  The third grader is intent and eager to learn.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitude List:

1.  I think (knock on wood) that my poison ivy is clearing up.
2.  Feeling like I am in the right place.
3.  Reassurances.
4.  Finding my way.
5.  Dawn, lifting the veils of night.

May we walk in Beauty!

I wish for you,
when you lose your way,
a bright feather on your path.

I wish for you,
when your eyes are spangled with tears,
a shaft of shining light to prism you a rainbow.

I wish for you,
when the load is heavy,
a gentle wind to lift you up.

May your roads be green.
May your stars shine brightly in the night.
May the valley ahead be filled with small hearth fires
and the sound of singing.

Gratitude List:
1.  Thoughtful, helpful,kind colleagues.  A healthy community of teachers can develop a healthy community of students.
2.  First days.  New beginnings.  In the autumn when I have not returned to school, I have often been jealous of the people who do. Clean slate.  Sharp pencils.  Possibilities.
3.  Trusting the net to appear.
4.  Meeting my children’s teachers and new principal.  The boys will be well cared for, and in a rich learning environment.
5.  Letting go. I am ready for the first day of school, but the last minute brought up all the thousand things that suddenly need to happen.  Right now!  I will not get all the thousand things done in the next two hours.  Still, I can let them go, and know that the day will happen as it happens.  This is the first lesson.

May we walk in Beauty!


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