The Healing Power of Story


I am overwhelmed by too much to do, but if I can find a spare twenty minutes today, I am going to write a letter to the president to ask him to intervene on behalf of the civil rights of the nonviolent protesters who are trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline. In early September, the Obama Administration did step in with a temporary injunction which seems to have been completely ignored. Will you join me?


You know how sometimes when you wake up in the morning, there’s a fragment of something from your dreamworld swimming around in your brain? A piece of a song, an image of a snake with wise eyes, a voice calling your name. . .  A couple days ago, I woke up with a voice that seemed to be calling me: “Sister!” That was all.  Still, it sits in my consciousness days later. Who is calling, and why?

Gratitude List:
1. The color orange. Spring time is about all the shades of greens and violets. Autumn is the whole range of gold through orange to red.
2. The words of Rumi. This one: “Let yourself become living poetry.”
3. Sleep. I don’t get enough of it, and I don’t want to jinx this long insomnia-free run, but I have been sleeping deeply and well in recent weeks. One of my great pleasures is the moment I can let myself fall into sleep each evening.
4. Circles of friendship and support. The way love flows across invisible lines, holding those who watch and hold the space.
5. The healing and integrating power of stories.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Makers and the Artists

We met this earnest fellow in Columbia yesterday.

Gratitude List:
1. The artists and makers. People who create things because they have an internal need to do so. They often get labeled folk artists, and I like that as long as it isn’t a dismissal of their talent and their drive.  In Columbia, there’s the mailbox man, and south of town, by the River, a man built a boat in his yard–a huge boat with masts and rigging.
2. Sermons that call me to be my better self. Yesterday’s was a reminder to love those who hate. How easily I dismiss the hateful. What will be the next steps that you and I can take to lovingly engage those who put forth hateful rhetoric in these days?
3. A new week, a fresh page.
4. The way leaves dance down the wind.
5. The Water Protectors. People are putting themselves on the line to protect their lands and waters and burial grounds. I am easily discouraged when I watch the harsh and violent response to their protests, but I am heartened by their continued work.

May we walk in Beauty!

Living Into the Questions

Circle of Stones

You there
in the center of the circle
and all of us gathered around

within the weight of the moment
and stillness in the bowl of time

We breathe
waiting, holding you inside us
and watching for what yet may be

Gratitude List:
1. Blessing each other in our transitions
2. Living into the questions
3. Holding the paradoxes
4. Preparing for winter
5. Listening for the messages

May we walk in Beauty!



Gratitude List:
1. The little zen sandgarden that my mother gave me years ago. I keep it on the desk in the front of my room and students often come up and rake it and talk to me. Some are incredibly careful and thoughtful, making order. Others come up and scrape and scratch with the little rake until I want to grind my teeth, but they’re working something out, too, as much as the order-makers.
2. Yesterday’s restorative circle work. It was painful and hopeful. There’s individual work to be done yet, but they’re moving toward healing. I now feel that this story is linked to my own, and I have a responsibility to keep my eye out for these particular students.
3. Being at a school where the work of restoration is taken so seriously. There was at least one other restorative conference yesterday, and I know that others occur regularly throughout the week. This is a community where I know that all students will be taken seriously and cared for, even when they mess up. Especially when they mess up.
4. I got home yesterday from school to see two pages of comic sketches that Joss had done after we left for school in the morning. I was really hoping that the graphic novels we have been eating up would inspire him, and they did.
5. Windy weather. Adventure weather. We’re going to my friend Marie’s sale today–that will be our adventure.

May we walk in Beauty!

Helpful Friends

Poor little Pippi encountered a deer in the morning gloaming on Ducktown Road yesterday. She’ll be out of commission for a little while.

Gratitude List:
1. Neither Ellis nor I were hurt in the collision. I am not so sure about the other guy, a large (8-point, perhaps?) buck. I thought he was dead. He just lay there where he had fallen, under the guard rail, but just as I had collected myself enough to think about getting out to check on him, he leaped up and dashed into the woods. Poor guy. I hope he survived.
2. Friends who help in a time of crisis. Julie Flinchbaugh, for comforting us and giving Ellis some apple cider. Erin Darby, who drove the carpool to Lancaster on a moment’s notice. Jon, who was my telephone anchor–I kept calling him because I didn’t know what to do. My parents, who gave us their second car while Pippi Prius is at the Dentist. (This is one of our favorite puns. Not only is she having her dents repaired, but the owner/operator of the garage that takes care of our vehicles is our neighbor, Den.  Den-dent-dentist: get it?)
3. Restorative conversations. This morning I get to help with a restorative conference at school. I went into the Restorative Circle training a couple weeks ago with a little trepidation, worried that my anxieties about conflict would keep me from really being able to do this kind of work. This morning, I feel really ready to participate, to ask questions, to help facilitate this conversation. I am eager to be part of this kind of work.
4. Flaming trees. They say that the color will be sort of “meh” this season, after the summer’s dry weather, but the maples didn’t get the memo. They’re pulling out the stops.
5. Yesterday’s singing in chapel. We sang “Tu Eres Todopoderoso,” a song from Mennonite World Conference. I love that song.

May we walk in Beauty!

Prayer and Rage


What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.

Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.

Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.

Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.

Gratitude List:
1. Rage and prayer
2. Memory and Wisdom
3. Reason
4. Listening deeply. Being listened to deeply.
5. Graphic novels. I know this one is rather out of the context of the others, but the boys and I are really into graphic novels these days: the Amulet series, Zita the Spacegirl, Knights of the Lunch Table, and Mouse Guard. We really love Zita and her poor friend Randy who has a case of the squeaks.

May we walk in Beauty!

Dreams of Flying

Here is another version of the Disibodenberg photo with a parchment paper look. I keep seeing faces in this this one. At first, I didn’t like it because the abbey ruins themselves sort of disappear into the sunlight, but as I consider it, that has become my favorite thing about it.

I am still working the dream from Sunday night. Sometimes dreams dissipate like smoke, and every attempt to grab and hold them down only scatters them further. Sometimes they recede until a random comment by someone in the day-life throws them in the pathway of the day. Sometimes they come back throughout the day, and grab you and grab you again, as this one has done.

In the dream I have been hiking on a trail with two other women. I don’t know them in waking life, but we are friends in the dream. We are resting in a little cafe, and the one woman will not stop talking, will not stop just hanging out. I want desperately to get back on the trail again, to get out in the wild, but they just keep telling me to wait. Finally I tell them that I am going out again, and they can catch up later. They’re as happy to see me leave as I am to get out of there.

I am heading down a precipitous rocky and dusty trail, so grateful to be out in the wilds again, so free. It must be noted that in the physical world, I tend to stumble and trip down mountainsides, but in this dream, I am elated and confident. I take a sort of leap down the mountainside. I don’t fly, exactly, but I catch air. I drift down. I feel air holding me as I glide down to the next dusty shelf. Again I leap and glide and land. Again. Again.

Then I am walking on flat land, in woods. I think this is another of those regular dreamscapes, one of those places that doesn’t look exactly like the previous woodsy dreamscape, but I know now, looking back at it, that it is the same one as in a previous dream.

Scene shift and I am in another cafe/store, gathering supplies to get back on the trail and try to meet up with my friends. I feel delayed again, but this time I want to get to them, not to get away. I walk out of the town, following small back roads through farmland. I cannot find the woods. I stop people and ask, but they say that the wild lands are really far away–how did I get all this way on foot? I stop at a farmhouse, and it happens to belong to friends. They offer me things to read, food to eat, and a lovely skirt and blouse that don’t actually match each other. But they can’t help me find the trail.

My dream is book-ended by impatience and dissatisfaction. But oh! The flight.

Gratitude List:
1. Dreams of flying
2. Wildlands
3. The Water Protectors
4. Deep sleep
5. The last hurrah of summer

May we walk in Beauty!

Dreams of Flying

During yesterday’s day alone, I took a little time to play with the Dreamscope app. This is younger me as a mermaid.

Gratitude List:
1. Featherbed. The very definition of coziness. (Check out John McCutcheon singing Featherbed.)
2. Yesterday’s solitude. I feel prepared to be back among people.
3. The great-horned owl calling from the bosque.
4. Dreams of flying. In last night’s dream, I wasn’t actually flying, but jumping and gliding. Still, it fulfilled the wild feeling of catching the wind.
5. Stones. Prayers.

May we walk in Beauty!

I Am Not Alone and Hearts Glowing Fire

This is one of my favorite views of the ruins of Disibodenberg, the abbey where Hildegard was brought as a girl. I ran it through a Mosaic filter on the Dreamscope app.

This is a poem I wrote several years ago. I am in the process of deciding whether there’s an essential wisdom to the poem that warrants revision and inclusion in my next book. Meanwhile, Google Translate and I are having a little fun with it. The stanzas in parentheses happened after I sent them through several languages in Google Translate.

Now I realize
that I must fling myself
into the center of my life
with a fierce intensity
and passionate joy
or risk dissipation.

(I was the center of my life,
and the joy and the pride
or the threat of violence,
I know the voice cast.)

And all while holding the center,
embodying the nature of the tree.
This, too, helps to hold it all together.

(Always occupied the center of the tree.
In addition, all to get together.)

That still small place
cannot exist for me
without the passion that feeds it.
Nor can I maintain the fire
without the quiet and glowing core.

(A small part of this feed
is not available to me without passion.
I am not alone and hearts glowing fire.)

Somehow, “nor can I maintain the fire” became “I am not alone.” I wonder how I can draw parallels between such thoughts. The tense shifts in the first stanza open up some interesting connections, too. Everything has layers of meaning. Does my friend Google Translate help me to elucidate or obfuscate my deeper meanings?

Gratitude List:
1. A day of solitude.  The boys have gone to Diggerland for the day.
2. Coffee, socks, and a hat on a chilly day
3. My new fountain pen. The ink came yesterday, and I just want to write and write and write. I will use it for today’s grading. I am thinking of giving it a name: Kalamu, or Chemchemi, perhaps. (Pen and Fountain, respectively, in Kiswahili.)
4. Crows and blue jays. Messengers.
5. Toast and peanut butter.

May we walk in Beauty!