Any Road

I think it is only a couple months that I have been putting these quotations on this blog, but I have noticed that I began the practice on FB about a year ago. When they reappear now, I re-use some of them, and I choose a few new ones from the day’s searches.
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“Hold on to what is good, Even if it’s a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, Even if it’s a long way from here. Hold on to your life, Even if it’s easier to let go. Hold on to my hand, Even if I’ve gone away from you.”
–A Pueblo Indian Prayer
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“All roads lead to my house,
Even ones I’ve never known.
And when I’m backing out my driveway,
I’m just taking the scenic route home.”
–Trout Fishing in America
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‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.’ –Lewis Carroll
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yellow walnut leaves
twist and twirl silently earthward
lavishly giving themselves to breeze, to breath
prodigal as love –Beth Weaver-Kreider
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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. –Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.”
— Maya Angelou
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“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
— James Baldwin


Gratitude List:
1. Going back to school. Yesterday, when we were buying school supplies, the young man at the check-out told us he is a high school senior. Talking to him, I realized that I’d flipped the switch on summer–I want to be back in the presence of teenagers.
2. The boys are excited to go back to school, too.
3. Entering new rhythms
4. The sheer joy of playing fetch and mouse hockey with a madcap cat
5. The glorious weekend that stretches before us

May we walk in Beauty!

Tear Them Down

It’s an image that we armchair philosophers have been discussing for several days now, this picture of a crowd of anti-racism protesters in Durham NC pulling down a statue. Yes, many of us agree, it is time and past time for these statues to come down. They were so often placed in public places specifically as a show of white supremacy. Yes, they must come down. But, we tell ourselves and each other, there’s order and decorum to be considered. We don’t want to become vandals. And so on.

I think it’s crucial that we who are standing against racism in these days maintain the high ground, that we don’t let ourselves become mindless mobs, that we avoid violence.

But the more I think about this image, the more it fills my soul. Here is the metaphor we need for dismantling racism. We are pulling down the monuments to our slave-holding past. Not erasing our history, by any means, by giving ourselves a visual image for destroying its continuing power within our social structures.

I am speaking to my white Friends: May we take this image inside us, find the edifices to white supremacy that linger in the streets and plazas of our souls, and pull them down, in acts of defiant and revolutionary love.

Walking Around Shining


Handsome.

I have an uneasy relationship with the first part of the Bible. I am not a friend of the deity who calls on a nation to enter a land and slaughter everyone, except for the virgins that the marauders want to take for themselves. The height of hypocrisy, in my opinion, is the Christians who pull violent quotes out of the Quran to prove that Islam is a religion of violence, when I could show you many verses in the Judeo-Christian book that show a Divine Force calling for genocide. Thank goodness, we have a little space for interpretation in our holy texts. Jewish people find the God of Love in their text, a God who cares for the people and the land. Christians find a God who sends God’s child in human form to teach the people to Love, Muslims find a prophet who tells them that doing good works is pleasing to Allah.

So here, in my list today, is a quotation from Deuteronomy, one of the books I tend to avoid, because it’s in some of those early books where we find an Accounting God, who keeps close record of every little infraction in order to prove you’re not worthy. And this is a total proof-text, I suppose, because it’s prophet speaking, and I am using it as a self-blessing.  The sentiment is beautiful, and a blessing to teachers who want their work to be about nurture and development and growth. We use texts for our own purposes, and find in them what we need. There’s danger in that, that we twist and manipulate words and ideas. Still, it’s often how we meet texts: we find that which applies to our own story, and say, “Yes! This!”


“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” —Deuteronomy 32:2
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“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” —Thomas Merton (Oh, but I am going to try, Thomas Merton. I am going to try.)
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Deep breath.
Straighten the spine.
Scan the wide vista before you.
Feel the morning breeze
as the sun rises
over the far horizon.
Another deep breath.
Spread your wings.
Leap.
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.”
—Alvin Toffler
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“What comes, will go. What is found, will be lost again.
But what you are is beyond coming and going and beyond description.
You are It.”
—Rumi
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“Though my soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
—Attributed to Galileo
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“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” —from The Talmud
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“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.”
—George Santayana


Gratitude List:
1. The day ahead
2. The day behind
3. This moment where I sit
4. Work that is Work
5. Dreams

May we walk in Beauty!

Beauty Everywhere We Turn


Potato Plow

“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear. That means watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” —Krishnamurti
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“…We are called to not run from the discomfort, not run from grief or the feelings of outrage, or even fear. And if we can be fearless to be with our pain, it turns; it doesn’t stay static. It only doesn’t change if we refuse to look at it… The other face of our pain for the world is our love for the world. Our absolutely inseparable connectedness with all life.” —Joanna Macy
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“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding a deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only love can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
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“If words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart.”
—Rumi
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“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” —Hal Borland
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“Love what God loves, which is everything. . .no exceptions.” —Richard Rohr
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“Native Americans say: It is not you who sees the wolf. Not the small you: the fearful ego-bound self which makes fixed concepts out of separation, and only gazes on the beauty of this world to label and possess it. No: when you are ready, wolf may show itself, if it chooses. It may reveal some aspect of its deeper being that dissolves what you think you know, and brings you back to wonder and the unity in which all mind-made fears and oppositions are dissolved. And then you can return to the ever-present flow of freedom, like the horses, rewild your tamed and shuttered senses and learn again from life directly, in the one eternal Mystery that is made new in every moment.” —Eleanor O’Hanlon
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“We have so far to go to realize our potential for compassion, altruism, and love.” —Dr. Jane Goodall
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“Find yourself a cup of tea: the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things.” —Saki


Gratitude List:
1. The way social changes move gently outward, like breath. How social consciousness IS raised. You can hear me trying to work with my anxiety about Nazis in the streets, eh? I think about how, before Bree Newsome climbed her flag pole, much of white America didn’t have a strong opinion on the emblems of slavery. I was uncomfortable with the Confederate flag, grouchy about statues honoring Confederate heroes, but I hadn’t yet internalized how deeply wounding they were, hadn’t seen them through the eyes of those they were intended to intimidate. There was a time I was vaguely aware that my skin color was something of a protection, but I hadn’t really explored the incredible degree to which my white skin privileges me. Now our consciousness is raised. In the words Maya Angelou, one of the greatest voices of our time, “When you know better, do better.” Yes, we will.
2. My photographer friends. Such moments of beauty and wonder and marvel they bring me. Teeny tiny toadstools, fat baby porcupines, rabbits grazing in morning dew, flowers in their gardens, laughing children, spider webs ornately adorning the bushes. These things don’t cancel out the rage and worry of the recent days, but they help me to hold it. I can accept the worry and fury in my heart without having to ignore or repress them when I have Beauty to hold as well.
3. So often, the right quotation appears at the exact moment. I have been pondering how to hold and face the anxieties I am experiencing for the world in which my children are growing up, and suddenly, I am coming across quote after quote on looking into fear.
4. And truly, I think that these children are meant for these days. Our children, our students–they will walk boldly into the future with a deep understanding of issues and ideas that we are only barely able to grasp, and with open hearts full of compassion. I am so grateful for their wisdom, tenderness, and courage.
5. I’m on my way out to sort tomatoes. The biodiversity in tomatoes and potatoes is such a delight and a wonder. Pink Beauties, Mr. Slabaughs, Green Zebras, Garden Peaches, Cosmonaut Volkovs, Goldies, Lemon Boys, Virginia Streaks, Speckled Romans. Their names are a poem, like their skins. Beauty, Beauty, Beauty!

May we walk in Beauty!

No Two Sides to Racism

Here are some things I have been writing, to try to pull out some threads of sense from the past day and from the sheer willful ignorance of the president of the United States in a time of crisis:

When I think of what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, I keep getting images of the old photos I have studied of the morning after Kristallnacht. I remember some of my first impressions after reading that bit of history, of the sense of violation, of a government goading the worst of its citizenry to acts of violence which cowed and frightened the rest. I remember walking through modern-day Landau with an elder friend who remembered the broken windows first-hand.

Am I being too alarmist and shrill to say that I think Charlottesville was our Kristallnacht? The step over the line that should wake us up and spur us into action lest we allow fear to numb us and paralyze us into letting the evil wash over our consciousness and put us to sleep.

Stay woke. Stay unsettled and angry, if it helps to keep the energy going. Stay aware of every little thing. Speak truth. Don’t allow yourself to be silenced by the fear and confusion and misguided rage of others.

Here’s the web. I cast my line to you, and you, and you. I feel your presence. I sense your intention and your determination. I will help to hold the lines with you. We have our work to do.

Thanks for listening.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
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Let’s get this straight. Let’s make it clear:
There are no two sides to racism.
There are no two sides to racism.
There are no two sides to racism.

Repeat after me, Mr. President:
There are no two sides to racism.

Condemn all the violence, if you must,
but those who fight Nazis
are not the same as Nazis,
no matter what your Stephens say.

There are angry protesters,
and then there are terrorists
who bring their twisted ideology
to the streets, and if you must insist
that they are just the same,
then I say your bigotry is showing.

There are no two sides to racism.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider


“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
―Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
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We must always take sides.
—Elie Wiesel
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“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.”
―Maggie Kuhn
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First they came for Transpeople and I spoke up–
Because God does NOT make mistakes!
They came for the African Americans and I spoke up—
Because I am my sisters’ and my brothers’ keeper.
And then they came for the women and I spoke up—
Because women hold up half the sky.
And then they came for the immigrants and I spoke up—
Because I remember the ideals of our democracy.
And then they came for the Muslims and I spoke up—
Because they are my cousins and we are one human family.
And then they came for the Native Americans and Mother Earth and I spoke up—
Because the blood-soaked land cries and the mountains weep.
They keep coming.
We keep rising up.
Because we Jews know the cost of silence.
We remember where we come from.
And we will link arms, because when you come for our neighbors, you come for us—
and THAT just won’t stand.
―Rabbi Michael Latz, MN 8.13.2017
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Toko-pa Turner:
“What is wild in us are the ways in which we meet something freshly and not by rote. Wild is to be full-body alive in response to the conversation life is having with us; the caress of the wind which cools your skin after the sun has penetrated it with warmth. The shadow cast by a soaring bird above. The unmediated glance, surprised by beauty.

“When this conversation goes quiet from inattention, as it does for us all, know that it takes little to encourage it again. It is simply to remember that life isn’t only happening to us, but we are happening to life!”
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“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” ―Fred Rogers
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“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ―Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
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Parker Palmer said this:
“Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human, I urge you to remember this: Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”
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“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” ―Mother Teresa


Gratitude List:
1. Bree Newsome. My heart has turned to her so often in the past days. Her act of loving defiance―climbing a flag pole to remove the Confederate flag from the SC statehouse remains an inspiration for me. She was joyful, determined, prayerful. She woke up the nation, I think. Suddenly people were shaking off their sleep, blinking their eyes, and noticing how emblems of slavery in our public tax-funded spaces might be a bad idea.
2. Mitch Landrieu. If you haven’t yet, give yourself the gift of listening to his powerful speech about why New Orleans is removing its Confederate statues. He is articulate, wise, compassionate. Brilliant speechmaking.
3. All of us, together. We will stand against the powers of hatred.
4. Anchors. When I am getting myself into high dudgeon, I sometimes stop and breathe and think about the wise and calm and loving people I know, and I cast my webs their way, and hold onto their anchors so I don’t float away on my tides of emotion or burn myself up in my rages. I am blessed in family and friends who help me not to lose sight of the Center. You are probably one of these people.
5. Cats. Yes, another of my obsessions lately, but it’s just such a delight to have furry people in the house. I can forgive the nightly 2 AM Thunder Rumpus through the house because they bring us so much joy.

May we walk in Beauty!

Silence, My Soul

“If we are to teach peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle; we won’t have to pass fruitless ideal resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering.”
―Gandhi
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“We must call evil by its name–call white supremacy a sin from the pulpit, and call white America to repentance.” ―Jim Wallis
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“I think ultimately people become extremists not necessarily because of the ideology. I think that the ideology is simply a vehicle to be violent. I believe that people become radicalized, or extremist, because they’re searching for three very fundamental human needs: identity, community and a sense of purpose.

“If, underneath that fundamental search is something that’s broken — I call them potholes — is there abuse or trauma or mental illness or addiction? … [T]here are so many marginalized young people, so many disenfranchised young people today with not a lot to believe in, with not a lot of hope, they tend to search for very simple black and white answers.” ―Christian Picciolini, former skinhead
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“Nazis are a lot like cats: If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.” ―John Oliver
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“Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons…
We who believe in freedom cannot rest,
we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”
―Sweet Honey in the Rock
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In Starhawk’s novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, Maya tells her beloved community to approach the invading soldiers with these words: “There’s a place set for you at our table, if you will choose to join us.”
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“The future, good or ill, was not forgotten,
but ceased to have any power over the present.
Health and hope grew strong in them,
and they were content with each good day as it came,
taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.”
—J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)
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“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”
― Linda Hogan
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“Silence my soul, these trees are prayers.” ―Rabindranath Tagore
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“Whoever you are,
now I place my hand upon you,
that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear.
I have loved many women and men,
but I love none better than you.”
—Walt Whitman, “To You”
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Let it flow.
Let what may come, come.
Let what must go, go.
But we,
we will put our feet
in the icy waters of now
and know
how all will pass
around us–
through us,
between us–
how everything changes
and everything stays the same. —Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
―Eleanor Roosevelt
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“Shaped language is strangely immortal, living in a meadowy freshness outside of time.

But it also lives in the moment, in us. Emotion, intellect, and physiology are inseparably connected in the links of a poem’s sound. It is difficult to feel intimacy while shouting, to rage in a low whisper, to skip and weep at the same time.” ―Jane Hirshfield


Gratitude List:
1. The way this boy turns everything into a song. When I told them I didn’t know if the party was going to include swimming, he started singing from the back seat, in a lovely melody, “Call and check. Call and check. Call and check.” When he found a Lego he’d been searching for: “Here it is. Here it is, Here it is!” Often, throughout the day, I’ll hear him singing to himself in the other room. He takes after his dad.
2. One of my deeply compassionate colleagues, in the wake of the weekend’s violence, offered this solution: To love all our students more–to show it more. All of them. That’s our work. That’s the work of healing. That’s a solution I can implement.
3. Instars. I love that word. Instars are the developmental metamorphic stages of insects in which they shed a skin and a new body emerges with new powers and abilities. That’s a bit of a whimsical way to say it, perhaps, but I think my children are both approaching new instar phases of their development.
4. Voices calling for change. Coming out of this weekend’s terrorist attack, I see people looking inward, trying to understand at deeper levels what white privilege means, what it means to live in a white supremacist society. Perhaps good will rise out of evil.
5. Bruschetta and toast.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Journey Downward and Inward


Leaving the old shell behind. Grasshopper transformation.

“Let us not make America Great again.That greatness they yearn for was rooted in death and oppression. Let us make America Good. For all, for the very first time.

Do not let it go without saying. If you and your family denounce white supremacy: say it. Let it be known. You are not how you feel or think. You are what you say and do.” –Glennon Doyle
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“Hate evil and love what is good. We have to be able to say that evil is evil. It’s not something that exists on many sides.” –Rabbi Jack Paskoff of Lancaster, PA
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“I repose in myself. And that part of myself, that deepest and richest part in which I repose, is what I call ‘God.'” –Etty Hillesum
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“THE JOURNEY DOWNWARD
Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. In the process of discovering bodhichitta [the awakened heart], the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.”
–Pema Chödrön
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“I invite you to think about your relationship to human beings who haven’t been born yet. What might you create for them to use? How can you make your life a gift to the future? Can you not only help preserve the wonders we live amidst, but actually enhance them?” –Rob Brezsny
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Lewis Carroll: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward.”
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“Some days,
you feel as though
you have been walking that knife edge
forever,
too afraid
to look to right or left.
And then one day,
you raise your gaze
and there before you
is the green valley
with a blue glass lake
and a silent island
that you have been seeking
in every dream
since you were born.” –Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.”  –Tomaž Šalamun
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“You want weapons? We’re in a library! BOOKS! The best weapons in the world.” –Doctor Who
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“A banjo will get you through times of no money, but money won’t get you through times of no banjo.”  –John Hartford


Gratitude List:
1. The voices of Amanda Kemp, Kevin Ressler, Rev. Forbes, Andrea Brown, Jim Amstutz, and others at the Lancaster vigil last night. I am so proud of Lancaster and York for turning out like they did.
2. The stately and friendly architecture of downtown Lancaster.
3. The little screech owl trilling in the hollow. And then the great horned owl all in the early morning.
4. Sachs came out from under the bed! (See how I changed the spelling there? He is a person of such grave dignity that Socks seems insufficient. Sachs, on the other hand, has a grandeur, and even a hipness, which is in keeping with the cat himself.)
5. One more week of summer schedule. I am going to make the most of it!

May we walk in Beauty!

The Difference Between Rage and Hatred


In the midst of the rage and anxiety, despair and turmoil, let’s keep our eyes open to Beauty.

I am really struggling this morning, not sure how I can go about the process of reflecting on gratitude after the events of yesterday in Charlottesville, and how that drives home the awareness that we are indeed watching forces of fascism rise in the United States today. We have a president whose mean-spirited and careless rhetoric has incited and encouraged the alt-right and their friends to feel like this is their time to rise. One headline I read this morning made a point of clarifying that yesterday’s event was not a protest, but a race riot. The people who came out for that rally were bringing hate out into the streets, eagerly anticipating the violence that ensued.

I am hesitant to call these folks white supremacists, though they are indeed so, because I don’t want to take the pressure off the rest of us, who live in and benefit from a white supremacist system that has gone too long unquestioned. Much as I repudiate the ideology, I experience the benefits of living in a white supremacist society. Yesterday’s race riot in Charlottesville was not just a response to our president’s bigotry, but an outgrowth of a white supremacist system gone unchallenged. This movement has been allowed and encouraged to fester and grow.

What do we do, now, in the face of this hatred?
I will express my shock and rage without letting them paralyze me.
I will repudiate the hate while I recognize that I, too, experience hatred in my heart.
I will commit intentional acts of love and solidarity with those who are marginalized and directly threatened by these people.
I will keep naming the truths and realities that the president and his followers are trying to twist into lies.
I will listen to music and look at art and read poetry (maybe make some of my own) and remind myself of what is good and beautiful, and how the arts challenge the impulse to destruction.
I will love. I will keep trying to love.

And that is hard. How can I love the torch-wielding rage-filled mob that tries to intimidate and cow people who stand up for peace? How can I love the Nazi-slogan-chanting gun-slinging marchers eager for blood to feed their rage? Holy Mystery, help me to walk in the pathway of love, to speak truth to the lies, to set the boundaries firmly and keep the doors wide open.

I titled this post “The Difference Between Rage and Hatred” because someone on FB this morning said that my words about the president and his supporters were full of hate. I challenge that perception. We MUST speak out. We MUST name the bigotry. This is not about hatred, but about truth.

Today, let each of us commit to one act of defiant love and kindness, one word of revolutionary truth, one prayer for peace grounded in hands-and-feet action.


“Good luck with figuring it out. It unfolds, and you experience it, and it is so horrible and endless that you could almost give up a dozen times. But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on. Through the most ordinary things, books, for instance, or a postcard, or eyes or hands, life is transformed. Hands that for decades reached out to hurt us, to drag us down, to control us, or to wave us away in dismissal now reach for us differently. They become instruments of tenderness, buoyancy, exploration, hope.”
― Anne Lamott, from: “Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers”
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“We do not have to live as though we are alone.” ―Wendell Berry
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“We are made and set here to give voice to our astonishments.” ―Annie Dillard
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“Writing is one of the most ancient forms of prayer. To write is to believe communication is possible, that other people are good, that you can awaken their generosity and their desire to do better.”  ―Fatema Mernissi
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Harrowing
by Parker J. Palmer
The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.
I have plowed my life this way
Turned over a whole history
Looking for the roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed, scarred.
Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come.
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons—
The farmer plows to plant a greening season.
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“Through trial and fire, against the odds, you have grown to trust that the world can be a safe place and you have every right to walk here. You have made parents of your instincts, intuition and dreaming; you have allowed love into where it had never before been received; you have grown life where once it was barren. With just a few found and trustworthy seeds, you have nurtured the greatest harvest there is in this, your humble life of belonging.” ―Toko-pa Turner
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Gratitude for:
“The gentle and fierce ones, the compassionate and powerful ones, the wise ones–so many people I know who work directly with people and communities who have experienced trauma, to explore and understand it, to help people seek for their inner resilience and to heal. These people I know, they work in education–both in the US and internationally, they develop social services to break cycles of trauma across generations, they make songs and music, they write poems, they tell their stories and the stories of others, they listen. How they listen! And they ask questions. They hold a big, big bowl. You probably know some of these people, too. Let’s stand around them and help them hold the bowl of stories that they carry.”  ―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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Gertrude Stein defined love as “the skillful audacity required to share an inner life.”


Gratitude List:
1. The forces of love that stand against the hatred. May we be strong enough to prevail.
2. Hard as it is, reminders to look into my own soul and see how my own rage and pettiness can harden into something twisted and wrong.
3. Thinking more about my sister-in-law’s ordination: The time for women leading the church has arrived. Not only was she a woman being ordained, but she was ordained by a woman, the conference pastor, leading a whole branch of the Mennonite Church. This is the time of reparations and new balance.
4. This morning, when my heart was doing its little panic in response to the news of Charlottesville, I opened my FB page to a message from a former student of mine, a fine young man who is crafting incredible music, finding ways to share his artistic vision. He shared a file of a string quartet piece that he composed. It was healing music, and the steel bands that were tightening around my heart began to release their hold. And I am proud, so proud of him.
5. Cats in the house. I know I am a little obsessed right now, but it’s such a joy to have a furperson walk through the house. I sort of think they got a little mixed up at the Humane League and gave us a cat and a dog instead of two cats. This morning as I was quietly typing, Thor came up and laid one of those little plastic armbands in my lap. I tossed it, and he went tearing after it, bringing it back to lay it at my feet. I have been almost unable to do any work this morning because of the ongoing game of fetch. I had to go wake Joss up so he could take over the game, and I could get some writing done.

May we walk in Beauty!

Be Softer With You

“Be softer with you.
You are a breathing thing.
A memory to someone.
A home to a life.”  ―Nayyirah Waheed
*
Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.  ―Raymond Carver
*
Powerful words from Rob Brezsny:
“The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words,” said Terence McKenna in “Alien Dreamtime,” “and that if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish.”

Here’s my version of that hypothesis: What world you end up living in depends at least in part on your use of language.

Do you want to move and breathe amidst infertile chaos where nothing makes sense and no one really loves anyone? Then speak with unconscious carelessness, expressing yourself lazily. Constantly materialize and entertain angry thoughts in the privacy of your own imagination, beaming silent curses out into eternity.

Or would you prefer to live in a realm that’s rich with fluid epiphanies and intriguing coincidences and mysterious harmonies? Then be discerning and inventive in how you speak, primed to name the unexpected codes that are always being born right in front of your eyes. Turn your imagination into an ebullient laboratory where the somethings you create out of nothings are tinctured with the secret light you see in your dreams of invisible fire.
*
“The power of love is stronger than the power to destroy.”  ―Vandana Shiva
*
“And then–
and then your eyes will open
as if waking from a dream
or waking into a dream
and the dew-drenched grasses
will sparkle before you
like gold in the morning
and you will know.

You will know what it is
you have come for.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Writing is one of the most ancient forms of prayer. To write is to believe communication is possible, that other people are good, that you can awaken their generosity and their desire to do better.”  ―Fatema Mernissi
*
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” ―Robin Williams as Mr. John Keating in Dead Poets Society
*
“Well, I don’t only think that the biosphere is in trouble, I know it is. I just have to look around in the environment, in which I live.
In my own part of the part of the world, I keep telling people, let us not cut trees irresponsibly. Let us not destroy especially the forested mountains. Because if you destroy the forests on these mountains, the rivers will stop flowing and the rains will become irregular and the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation. Now the problem is, people don’t make those linkages.”
—Wangari Maathai
*
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
—Robin Williams


Gratitude List:
1. Holy Ground: The Earth we walk on, our callings, our destinies
2. Sacred Flame: The burning bush, the kindling of compassion, energy, the spark of life
3. Hallowed Water: Cleansing, purifying, nurturing life (May the waters all run free!)
4. Sublime Air: The breath of life, inspiration, drawing us out, pushing us onward
5. The Indwelling spirit: Vivifying, transforming

May we walk in Beauty!

The Sweet Spot Between Striving and Perfectionism


God of Thundering Paws, Thor

The final quotation on this list, from Toko-pa Turner on perfectionism, is powerful for me. I don’t think I present to the world as a perfectionist. My house is messy, I can’t seem to follow a calendar for more than a few weeks at a time, I leave projects unfinished and work incomplete, I make my deadlines at the eleventh hour. Some of us are closet perfectionists, but our perfectionism is perhaps all the more insidious for that. Perfectionism is one of my shadows, the conjoined twin with shame. The never-good-enough twins. Where does that come from?

I’m working on it, steadily and surely, naming it, recognizing how perfectionism is actually at the root of so much of my messiness and time-management trouble and deadline avoidance. Every few weeks or so, I have to remind myself that it’s okay not to be perfect, that my way of being in the world is okay. Like Toko-pa suggests, I need to seek out my eccentricities, acknowledge them, and learn their gifts.

Like so many things in life, it’s a balance. In this case, between relaxing into who I am and striving to be a better person. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but I do need to find out how they inform each other, or they get pretty crunchy inside me.


“Where will you wander today?
What doorways, what thresholds,
what boundaries will you traverse?
Where will your heart find the opening
into the next open meadow?”
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” ~Leonard Cohen
*
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” –Robin Williams
*
“One gives one’s life to be and to know, rather than to possess.” –Teilhard de Chardin
*
“A smile starts on the lips, A grin spreads to the eyes, A chuckle comes from the belly; But a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows and bubbles all around.” ~Carolyn Birmingham
*
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” –Rumi
*
The Love of Morning
by Denise Levertov

It is hard sometimes to drag ourselves
back to the love of morning
after we’ve lain in the dark crying out
O God, save us from the horror . . . .
God has saved the world one more day
even with its leaden burden of human evil;
we wake to birdsong.
And if sunlight’s gossamer lifts in its net
the weight of all that is solid,
our hearts, too, are lifted,
swung like laughing infants;
but on gray mornings,
all incident – our own hunger,
the dear tasks of continuance,
the footsteps before us in the earth’s
beloved dust, leading the way – all,
is hard to love again
for we resent a summons
that disregards our sloth, and this
calls us, calls us.
*
Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

“You owe me.”

Look
what happens
with a love like that —

It lights the whole
world.

–Hafiz
*
Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
*
“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.”
–William Stafford
*
“Perfectionism is a virus which keeps us running on the treadmill of never-enoughness. It is inherently deadening for how it strives and never arrives. Failure is embedded in its very pursuit, for our humanity can never be homogenised. The only antidote is to turn away from every whiff of plastic and gloss and follow our grief, pursue our imperfections, exaggerate our eccentricities until they, the things we once sought to hide, reveal themselves as our true majesty.” –Toko-pa Turner


Gratitude List:
1. Reminiscing with the leader of the college jazz trio I sang with. I may not be able to sing like that anymore, but that experience pushed me to trust my voice in a way that will never leave me. And maybe now in mid-life, when I am again trying to understand the role of my writer’s voice in the world, I can weave some of that sense of confidence into my forward movement.
2. These two kids–boy and cat–playing toss the mouse. They’re hilarious and very entertaining.
3. This is a momentous day. My dear sister-in-law is being ordained to the ministry this evening. She is one of the most pastoral people I know and has been since I met her thirty years ago in college: she’s a good listener, she’s good at drawing people out, she asks questions that get you thinking more deeply. She has a caring heart, a powerful intuition, and a deep, deep understanding of people and communities. This has been a long journey, and I am excited about celebrating her work in the world. An ordination like this is not so much the beginning of a ministry, but the recognition that she has been doing this work all along.
4. Seeking the sweet spot between striving and perfectionism.
5. All the lovely birthday blessings! I begin my second century buoyed upon the well-wishes of a marvelous community of beloveds.

May we walk in Beauty!