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I am finding the simple three-circuit labyrinth to be really satisfying.  Like a spiral, each circuit brings you one step closer toward the center, yet there’s that unsettling turning at the end of the circuit.  Wait a minute!  I’m now going the other way!  Still, despite the change in direction, I continue to move ever closer to the center.  This hit me yesterday.  Life has sent me reversals.  I have had moments when I have suddenly changed directions.  The whiplash can feel overwhelming, the sense of lost time or futility in what came before–but the turnings also bring me closer to the center.  The apparent about-faces and the changes of plan do not mean that I am going backwards, undoing the past.  I am still moving closer to the center. It all leads toward the center.

Gratitude List:
1. (What feeds you?) The red of the poppies.  I think I could probably live on the food of that red.  Such an impossible color.  That and the orange of Oriole.  And the thousands greens of the last week of May.
2. (What finds resolution?) I now have fewer balls to juggle, fewer plates to keep spinning in the air.  I can look to caring for my children more intentionally, to tidying and cleaning and systematizing.
3. (What images draw you?) The labyrinth.  We used the labyrinth as the structure for the service in church yesterday, and this Wednesday, I will be focusing on the labyrinth for my mini-course with my students.
4. (Who has been helpful?) Walt Whitman, Rachel Carson, Sojourner Truth–I will meditate on the words and lives of these wise ones this week.
5. (What helps you cope?) This little air conditioner.  If I choose to live beneath the branches of a grand tulip poplar, I must have respite during its blooming season.  This magnificent tree draws our orioles to us.  Its leafy embrace cools us here in the hollow during hot summer days.  It stands across from the sycamore like a sentinel.  It is a city teeming with life, vibrant with the flashing colors, the buzzing and twittering conversations, the busy living of its residents. Its buttery blooms are elegant. . .and toxic to me.  We make allowances.  We adjust ourselves sometimes to live with those we love.  For the week or two that it sends pollen to bless the world around, I spend my time at home in these rooms with the air conditioner on, venturing out for short periods to listen to birdsong, to watch the sun shift across the sky.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Red.

Gratitude List:
1. (What made you laugh?) Listening to Sir Patrick Stewart read pop song lyrics in the voices of British Shakespearean actors on Ask Me Another last night.
2. (What startled you?) The way the scarlet of the poppies seems to reach through from another world into this one.  The way the deeper, more real red of the cardinal keeps catching my eye in the branches of trees.
3. (What awakened you?) The wisdom of friends, the dogged persistence of people
4. (What do you take for granted?) Light at the flick of a switch, water in the pipes, the trust and support of people close to me
5. (What brings you serenity?) The way light sifts through green, the play of breeze through leaves, the shifting colors of the day

May we walk in Beauty!

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Gratitude List:
1. (What inspires you?)  A child I know.  This morning, I was watching video of President Obama placing a wreath at Hiroshima, and Joss asked what it was about.  I told him a little about the end of WWII, and how this is the first time a US president has visited that site.  “I’m kind of glad he went there,” he said.  I think children often understand these things better than adults do.
2. (Where do you find relief?) Change of schedule, end of year.  There’s sadness in saying goodbye to the seniors–but we know and they know they they’re ready, that they’ve been working toward this coming moment for years.  And I need this summer that I am heading into.  I am looking forward with great relish to sleeping in until past 6, to playing with my children every day, to preparing for next year’s work.  There are a few loose ends to wrap up in the next two weeks, but without the constant pull of classes, I can manage the loose ends.
3. (What fills you with wonder?) The view from Mt. Pisgah near Sam Lewis Park, with mist in the folds of the valleys and mist caught in the trees on the other side of the River.
4. (What will you do for yourself?) I am going to get a haircut today.  Some people have a regular appointment to keep their hair looking a certain way.  This has never been my way.  It usually feels like “an event” when I get my hair cut, like I am treating myself to something special.  I like to do it that way.
5. (What gives you hope?) I need to keep answering this question for myself these days.  I look at the ways of the world and I get rageful or cynical or filled with despair.  And there are good reasons for all of those responses.  But there are also good reasons to be hopeful.  Right now, one of the places I turn for hope is the work of international women’s groups.  These women look into the teeth of the beasts of war and displacement and terror, and they raise their voices and their arms and their hearts.  UN Women, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Isis-WICCE, Women in Black, TreeSisters, Carry the Future, Code Pink, and many others.  (Which women’s groups inspire you?)

May we walk in Beauty!

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Gratitude List:
1. (What was helpful?) Jon, bringing the air conditioner down from the attic so my allergies would settle down, nettle tea, elderberry syrup, ginger tincture, and finally–Dayquil
2. (What did you hear?) The otherworldly sound of that girls’ trio yesterday–like angels, perhaps, but with grit in their voices; and the jazz combo that accompanied them; and the tenor voice that I often hear behind me in chapel; and the rootsy/blue-grassy band that played at the end; oriole, who sends off each morning, and welcomes me home in the afternoon
3. (What draws you forward?) The weekend coming, the summer coming, the sense of a job mostly well done
4. (What inspires you?) Students who have stories of hardship, but who persevere anyway; the rebels and revolutionaries who seek to make a world in which all may be welcome everywhere
5. (What do you see?)  Green, blue, golden sun, orange flame of a bird in the leaves, the eyes of young people learning to love themselves and to love the world

May we walk in Beauty!

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Planting spring flowers

Gratitude Tanka:
1. Ideas catch fire,
2. fueling the work of the day,
3. lending a focus,
4. bringing order from chaos,
5. shaping the coming story.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Yesterday’s pictures was last year’s poppies in the rain.  This year’s picture was taken in the same week, but this is what they look like.

Gratitude List:
1. The profound effect of stories.
2. Stepping out of the doors, opening the windows, living in the big and vast and immeasurable realms
3. Teamwork and collaboration
4. All that is about to burst into bloom
5. Getting ready to turn the page

May we walk in Beauty!

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Last year’s poppies in the rain.  The poppies and peonies are just a little late this year.

Gratitude List:
1.  (What has been satisfying?) The sounds of the birds–always, good chocolate and a colleague who shares handmade chocolates to get us through the week, finding a voice
2. (What have you been seeing?) The mist rising over the layers of valley in the mornings when I look out from the top of the ridge
3. (What challenge has helped you?) Being unsure whether I would get everything done caused me to create new and more effective systems
4. (Who has been helpful?) I admire the people who work with MSF/Doctors Without Borders–risking their lives for the good of others, several students who have gotten behind in their work this semester have suddenly kicked into working gear and gotten their homework to me
5. (Where do you turn for serenity?) A good book on tape, one more cup of coffee, moments of quiet contemplation, planning for my mini-course

May we walk in Beauty!

I can’t really add this to my gratitude list because some people did suffer damage.  Several windows were broken or cracked at my children’s school.  I am relieved, at least, that yesterday’s hail storm did not hit this side of the ridge and our tender plants.

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Gratitude List:
1. (What do you notice?) That wren calling, tiredness in my bones, a sense of being past the most overwhelming parts of the end-of-semester skid
2. (What do you hunger for?) Solitude, quiet, sustenance, sustainedness, time to write and edit, time to ponder, decluttering
3. (Who has been helpful?) Those 12-year-olds in church yesterday–how they are growing!, the ones who create rites of passage and rituals to mark changes, the many names of God
4. (What are the themes?) The table: Alain’s sermon, Neruda’s poem (“For now, I ask no more than the justice of eating”), Joy Harjo’s “Perhaps the World Ends Here”)
5. (What draws you forward?) The rest that is coming, the rising sun–the way light filters in to the hollow, the calling of birds, the good Work to be done

May we walk in Beauty!

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There is no other answer.
Not purity.
Not righteousness.
Not power.
Not rules.

No book or map.
No speaker.
No leader.
No thing you can buy.
No magic elixir.

Only love will guide you in the end.

Gratitude List:
1. (What do you hear?) Wren calling, coffee bubbling, cat purring, child playing with gnomes
2. (What do you see?) Green, rain, orange fur, deep shadow, reflections
3. (What do you smell?) Clean clear air, earth after rain, coffee
4. (What do you feel?) Chill on my skin, dampness of air, morning aches, tickle in my nose
5. (What do you remember?) Birds in the rain, nap with a warm cat, laughing children, chocolate bar

For all these I am grateful.  May we walk in Beauty!

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Rainy morning in Skunk Hollow.  The birds and I are loving it.  The farmer, not so much.

Gratitude List:
1. Bored Shorts: Kid History and Kidsnippets.  I know, it’s weird to have a media thing for a gratitude, but I love this group of brothers and their friends who decided to not stop playing together even when they grew up, and so they get their kids to tell them stories, and then they act them out, using the kids’ voices and lip-syncing to the words.  It’s one of those things that makes me want to be a more attentive and engaged parent, to make sure that I am offering my children plenty of safe and comfortable spaces to play and have fun with each other.
2. The lightheartedness and humor that my children’s teachers bring to them, the way they build classroom community.  Laughter and joy are community-building.  This is one of those things that makes me want to be a better teacher, to make sure that I am offering my students plenty of safe and comfortable moments to laugh and have fun with each other.
3. The activity of the Goldfinch Farm birds in the rain this morning: phoebe and oriole and wren, chickadee and titmouse, flitting through the raindrops.
4. Nettle tea and elderberry syrup.  So far, I am mostly coping with allergy season again.  Omitting dairy from my diet seems to help, too.  (I know this helps because when I cheat and eat cheese, then I feel miserable.)
5. There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.  I glimpsed it briefly yesterday.

May we walk in Beauty!

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