Tomorrow is the first day of National Poetry Month.  Despite the shift in my circumstances this year, I am going to try to participate in the poem-a-day process again.  After all, I really believe that part of teaching writing well is letting the students see their teachers working at the writing craft themselves.  As usual, I will be following Robert Lee Brewer’s prompts for the month.

Gratitude List:
1. The delight of a small person having a birthday
2. All those crocus: one golden flower among a field of violet
3. Striving, how we learn by striving
4. Generations: being in the middle at the moment
5. Rising to the occasion (perhaps this is a repeat of #3, but it’s actually a hope as well as a gratitude at the moment, so it bears repeating)

May we walk in Beauty!

2014 April 020
Last April, lichen

Sitting here in my grandmother’s chair
where she took yarn and hook,
made yards and yards of fabric
loop by precious loop
to cover her family

and reading Pinsky’s “Shirt”
about cloth, about the ones who leapt
to their death from the Triangle fire
and about Irma and her approval
of his own crisp cottons,

was it vertigo
or something else
that gave me the sudden urge
to check whether my seatbelt
is fastened securely?

Gratitude List:
1. Hike and Apple Picnic in the fields with the wee folk
2. The golden-green of the fields in sun across the bowl of the hollow
3. The delight of two happy children upgrading to the next level of bicycle
4. The Beautiful Words board and the way the students have taken to adding their own favorite beautiful words: serenity, wanderlust, wallflower, Nelson, and LOVE (“This is really the only one you need up there, Ms. Weaver-Kreider.”)
5. That sweet little hamster and how she watches for her man to come pick her up, how she gets absolutely still while he pets her

May we walk in Beauty!

Spring Spell



Gratitude List:
1.  Music: Yesterday’s Beyond Ourselves concert (Good job, LMH Campus Chorale!)
2. More swans
3. Grapefruit
4. The Story continues (Yesterday’s sermon: Telling stories.  Remembering that there is always more to come.)
5. Bees!

May we walk in Beauty!


There is much I would write this morning, so much I need to learn about myself today, if only I could write it out.  There is a prayer of sorts, waiting to find its way into the world, to cast its golden threads through the air.

There is a poem waiting too, about a mother and a daughter, about the house of the heart, about how I want to join with a village of women to encircle that house, to sing, to gather river water, to cook beans and rice, to comb their hair, to sit in silence, to hold their feet in our hands, to anoint them with precious oils.  Perhaps this is that poem.

Meanwhile, two boys are on the edge of battle in the background, and I must go and open the door on my day.  Here was this moment, and now it is passing, and another is coming to meet me.  All of it is holy, perhaps, even the name-calling over there on the fringes. If only I can listen closely enough, perhaps I will begin to understand a little of the song that surrounds us.


Gratitude List:
1.  Swans!  Yesterday I saw a small flock flying westward, toward the River, as we were driving east.  There may have been twelve of them.
2. The twist of that sycamore on the corner of Walnut and Lime, spiraling upward through the forest of city buildings toward the light.
3. Tabea’s kombucha.  She has a magic touch.  I am loving this little bubbly jarful of chai-flavored deliciousness.
4. Teachers, again: Yesterday we went to the Science Festival at the Lancaster Science Factory.  There was an exhibit there which was running two 3D printers.  We were there when they started printing out a ratchet, using the exact program which NASA sent to the International Space Station a couple weeks ago.  This caught Ellis’s attention and he stood there at the table–asking questions and watching, and telling other kids about it–for most of the hour and 39 minutes that it took to print it.  The people at the table were kind and gentle teachers, understanding his quirky obsession and blessing it, delighting in his questions, and never talking down to him.  If he grows up to be a scientist or engineer, I will credit this moment as important in that.  In the end, they gave him the ratchet.
5. Kestrel on a cornstalk, wind in her feathers.

May we walk in Beauty!


Not a particularly clear photo of the white crocus in the snow.  Among the masses of deep purple and bright violet crocus is one golden crocus who was completely covered by the snow, and this lovely white one, camouflaged in the snow.

Gratitude List:
1. Crocus in the snow
2. Crow in the snow.  There is some inward thrill I can’t quite name about those black wings flying through a field of dancing white flakes.  Also, I love seeing black wings against a field of golden corn stubble.  Black wings against a blue sky.  Black wings through misty air.
3. Yesterday’s conversations, Part A:  For my opening moments in class yesterday, I followed the lead of another teacher friend and showed a video about a high school student who was disturbed by the unkindness of tweets between students in his school.  He began a Twitter account in which he began tweeting sincere and heartfelt compliments about his friends.  People began talking about it, and it began to snowball.  I was afraid my students might be cynical, and the one class that I was most concerned about began talking about it in a slightly cynical vein, and then suddenly they were sharing about the things that hurt them, the ways they respond to unkindness, the ways they try to include each other.  We didn’t really get to my actual lesson for the day, but I am pretty certain that learned more in that spontaneous, student-generated conversation than anything I could have offered them.  I need to keep remembering that once in a while the best thing a teacher can to is just get out of the way.  Language Arts is about expanding the communication skills of students–so I consider that class a success on the academic as well as the psycho-social level.
4. Yesterday’s conversations, Part B:  I ended up getting home much later than I had planned to because a Chinese student stopped by after school to talk about how to improve his English grammar.  We went through his most recent paper in detail, and talked about how to make his sentences flow.  While we were working on the paper, we also talked about imperialism: Japanese imperialism in China at the time of World War II, and Roman imperialism at the time of the Caesars.  I love being back in the world of academia and watching my students beginning to piece together their ideas and learning.
5.  As I typed that last, I had a sudden vision in my head of my grad school professor, Dr. Zancu, who would set up a discussion, then sit back and smile and nod serenely at us as we went at it.  I feel myself in the stream of the many good teachers I have had in my life: my mother who was my Kindergarten teacher; Miss Guntz, my fifth grade teacher at Locust Grove Elementary, and my other teachers there; my teachers at LMH; professors at EMU and Millersville and Sunbridge College; Sarah Preston, who has taught me so much about putting my roots into earth and my branches among the stars.  I am incredibly grateful for my teachers.  I feel a convergence, as though all those streams of learning are meeting now.
6.  Since those last few were several parts of one theme, I am going to give myself a bonus gratitude this morning:  Rising to the occasion.  I have gotten used to saying, “That’s not in my skill set.”  And that’s great protection–it has served me well and kept me from getting too caught up in too many things that I can’t quite manage.  But there also comes a time when it seems right to say, “I am ready to grow in that area and develop those skills.”  Scary stuff, that.  I am going to take on the symbol of the mountain lion for a while, to help me focus on the inner growth that I want to develop.

May we walk in Beauty!

“If you take two steps toward God,” the Sufi mystic Satish Kumar tells Pi Patel in Life of Pi, “God runs to you!”

My friend, do you see
how everything runs to you
when you draw nearer?

Gratitude List:
1.  The daffodils at school are preparing to burst open some morning soon.
2.  That red-tailed hawk that wheeled low above the farm this afternoon.
3.  Still room to ripen.  How to say this one?  I’ve been thinking lately about how middle age doesn’t not have to mean peak ripeness.  I’m still allowed to grow, still allowed to mature.  Whew.
4.  Wiggle room.  Some days, it’s okay to be simply sufficient.  Striving counts.
5.  Teamwork.  I love my colleagues.

May we walk in Beauty!

Soon, soon, soon…

1.  Another amazing music chapel/assembly this morning: from a 16th century Korean opera to a men’s quartet to a jazzy piece arranged by students.
2. Yesterday’s sunrise.  Enough to make the grumpiest time-change-denier sit up and take notice.
3. Milestones.  We took off the training wheels and that kid just took off on his bike like he’d always known how.
4. Being open to what comes.
5. Helping to hold the web.

May we walk in Beauty!

Slides 097
A Shirati morning, circa 1970.  Todd is holding
an African Green Pigeon. 

Gratitude List:

1. That fog last night, how it swirled around the lamps on the bridge, how it turned the lamplight into a living, swirling thing.
2. Yellow aconite.  Violet crocus.  The boys say they have seen the bees.
3. Friends of Shirati banquet last night.  Old friends.  Lifelong connections.
4. Daryl Snider’s concert at the banquet, how every song seemed to be perfectly designed for the moment.  Here is one of the songs he sang last night, “Nou se Wozo,” about resilience.  This performance was from last fall when Sopa Sol (the singing duo of Daryl Snider and Frances Crowhill Miller) sang it with LMH’s Campus Chorale.
5. Dawn chorus

I dreamed I had wings,
black feathers rising behind me like shadow.
When I opened my eyes,
the lonely earth spread out beneath me;
the old moon was at my back.

Gratitude List:
1. Crows crossing the moon in the morning
2. Mist rising from the Millstream in the afternoon
3. Options
4. Shadows
5. Three Good Things.  I have been carrying some heaviness lately–by my own choice, and with gratitude and great love.  So it was nice in the space of this day to have Three Good Things come my way: a student stopped by to tell me that her father, who had been injured fighting a fire a year ago, is back on the job; another student, adopted as a baby from Russia, stopped by to tell me that he finally received his official citizenship; this evening at the library, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a long time.

May we walk in Beauty!

Tonight, a new set of Shaman Words.  A Magic Spell.  A Prayer.  An Incantation for Healing.

I will say that I breathe and mean that I am praying.
I will say the drums are throbbing in the night
and mean that your heart beats
to the rhythm of the earth’s heart,
strong and measured,
strong and measured,
strong and measured.

I will say sparks rise from fire
and mean my thoughts fly to you.
I will say the River flows to sea
and mean your blood flows
through its royal chambers
in the manner it is meant to.

I will say the hunting lionesses
gather on the plains
and mean that the women
are fierce in their prayers for you,
that the mothers
are wild in their magics
to see you whole again.
Gratitude List:
1. The good words of Conrad Moore.  Sometimes the best words are the ones that unsettle, that cause a little discomfort, that admit to anger, that shake us from our complacency, to wake us up, and break our status quo.  Jesus called the spirit the Comforter.  Sometimes the people need a Discomforting Spirit to bring renewal.
2. Watching live theater with the boys.  I am the House Manager for the plays–in charge of the ushering.  I took the boys with me to different shows of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat this weekend and they helped usher and then watched the show.  Nothing cuter than watching a five-year-old absorbed in a musical, eyes wide, clapping at the end of each song.
3. Thaw.  Warmth.
4. It’s International Women’s Day–I am grateful for Jane Goodall and Wangari Maathai and Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and Mary Oliver and Joy Harjo and Malala Yousufzai and Leymah Gbowee and the suffragettes and the herbalists and witches and midwives and mothers and sisters and daughters and word-weavers and artists and farmers and teachers who have gone before.
5. The heart.

May we walk in Beauty!


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