We Do Not Have to Be Slaves to the Machine

Second post of Two Today:

There’s so much to be angry about–despairing about, frustrated about–in these days. Why not stage your own protest? Begin with Black Friday and the Christmas/Yule holidays that approach.

Protest the Big Corporations and the 1% by buying your gifts from small stores, from Makers and Creators, people who lovingly craft items of beauty and usefulness.

Protest the racists and white nationalists who have been crawling out of the woodwork by buying your gifts from businesses owned and operated by people of color.

Protest the sexism and predation of the patriarchs by buying your gifts from women-run businesses.

Protest the consumerism of the season by taking your loved ones out to eat at local restaurants run by women, or people of color, or immigrants.

Donate to an organization that causes good things to happen in the world by donating to a cause that stands in the face of that which causes you pain. Donate in the names of your loved ones and make that a gift. Sit together at the Thanksgiving tables and talk about what organizations you as a community/family/tribe can contribute to together.

Volunteer, donate your time, take the little ones on a nature walk, or color together. Play games together. Make art. Write stories and poems together.

Share your dreams and your hopes with each other. Read each other your favorite poems. Tell stories. Listen. Make this coming holiday season about connection, about working together to create the future we envision.

In our family, the children have certain expectations of particular gifts, and we will probably fulfill certain of their desires, but I want to do it in the context of open awareness of who and what we support.

We do not have to be slaves to the machine.

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A Thousand Shades of Blue


The Hans Herr House, from a couple years ago. Blue sky.

This is the first of two posts today.

Today’s prompt is to write a preface poem.

To write a poem is to shapeshift,
to become spider, who anchors her line
upon a slender twig high in the sycamore,
then casts herself forth upon air
to float earthward, supported only
by the capricious air and the line
of her own making, trusting to its strength,
trusting that her web will travel from Point A
to Point B in the most efficient line possible.


I wrote this last year on this day, on my Facebook page. Let’s keep looking for those doors. And I think about that line I wrote in the poem yesterday about God being a Mother who opens our doors. She helps us find the new ones, too.

“This morning, I feel as though a door has opened wide within me. It’s like those dreams, where I am wandering through Grandma’s old Victorian house, and opening doors I never noticed before, and finding rooms I have never seen. Suddenly, in a dark inner corner that I thought led to a dead end, I have found a new door, cobweb-covered and enshadowed, with deep green paint beneath the dust. And behind the door, a thousand shades of blue.

“Walk through the shadows to find the next Yes.

“Of course, this doesn’t change the world. But it does en-courage me to step forward. Let’s all take hands as we find our new doors, our new steps forward into darkness and light.”


Gratitude List:
1. La Luna
2. Los gatos
3. Pumpkin pie and pumpkin roll
4. My sweet snuggly kiddos
5. Teaching Nate to knit–he’s a fast learner

May we walk in Beauty!

Day of Reckoning


Such beautiful eyes, boy and cat. The purring was loud.

Today’s Prompt is to write a “________ Day” Poem. I am fighting-angry these days, so this poem will speak to that .

Day of Reckoning
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

This is the day we reckon with the lies of the old men.
This is the day we see how the truth is uncovered.
This is the day we pick up the rock,
and watch what crawls out from beneath.
This is the day we watch patriarchy crumble
beneath the load of its own falsehoods.

This is the day we open the golden doors of the cages
where blind old men lock their little dolls
safe from the ravages of others, safe for themselves.
This is the day we stand up and say,
Our bodies are not your political tools.

This is the day we welcome the Mother
from the mists where She has been hidden.

Sisters, God is not a withered old man
who will lock you in a box until he is ready to use you.
God is an Aunty who will teach you how
to unlock the cage of your throat.
She is a Grandmother who will dress you
in your fierce and glorious clothing.
She is a Mother who will open your doors,
and throw wide your windows.
She is a Sister who will listen to your questions,
and teach you how to fight.

This is the day we reckon with women.


Gratitude List:
1. Clean floors!
2. Time to work on grading, and still time to clean and be with boys
3. The truth will out
4. The mothers, the aunties, the grandmothers, the sisters
5. Chicken curry and rice for supper, and Jon says he is bringing home some injera!

May we walk in Beauty!

A Daily Day


Today’s Prompt is to write a Construction and/or a Deconstruction Poem.
I am wiped right out tonight, so I am going to do my favorite form of deconstruction. I am going to take a little poem and run it through Google Translate several times:

Every day, I am remade,
reborn from the husk
of yesterday’s creature.

(To Malayalam and back again)
Every day, I’m reconstructing,
Resurrected from throat
Today’s work.

(To Bangla and back)
Every day, I’m rebuilding,
Resurrection from throat
Today’s job.

(To Gujarati and Amharic and back)
I will rebuild every day,
From the Crucifixion
They work today

(Chinese)
I will rebuild it everyday
Crucified
They work today

(Hausa)
I’ll rebuild it everyday
Cross
They work today

(Sindhi)
I’ll give you a daily day
Cross
They work today


“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
—Nelson Mandela
***
For a day, just for one day,
Talk about that which disturbs no one
And bring some peace into your beautiful eyes.
—Hafiz
***
“Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence.” —proverb
***
“All religions, all this singing, one song. The differences are just illusion and vanity. The sun’s light looks a little different on this wall than it does on that wall, and a lot different on this other one, but it’s still one light.” —Rumi
***
The magic of autumn has seized the countryside;
now that the sun isn’t ripening anything
it shines for the sake of the golden age;
for the sake of Eden;
to please the moon for all I know.
—Elizabeth Coatsworth
***
“. . .fairies’ gold, they say, is like love or knowledge–or a good story. It’s most valuable when it’s shared.” —Heather Forest, The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies


Gratitude List:
1. A Tuesday that was a Friday. Big sigh of relief.
2. Time to catch up on my work.
3. That moon
4. The musical students of LMH
5. Resolve

May we walk in Beauty!

The Wayfinder


Today’s prompt is a What I Learned poem.

What I Learned
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

How much a heart can hold, of fire and of earth,
how wild a soul can feel, how feral, how untamed,
how deep attention causes the spirit to rise,
to break free of its earth-bound chains,
how solid the earth upon which we walk,
and how free it feels to rest upon air,
how fire consumes but does not burn,
how water is its own pathway for journeying.


“Oh to meet, however briefly, the greatness that lives under our surface. To summon enough bravery to be without armour and strategy, for the chance at meeting that irreducible power. Oh to make of our terrified hearts a prayer of surrender to the God of Love; that we remain safe in our quivering ache to be near that Otherness, even for a moment. To touch that ancient life who will never relinquish its wilderness, who lets instinct make its choices, whose knowing lives in bones and whose song is a wayfinder.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.”
―Parker J. Palmer
***
“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
―Emily Dickinson
***
“One of my favourite teachings by Martín Prechtel is that ‘violence is an inability with grief.’ In other words, it takes skillfulness to grieve well, to grieve wholeheartedly. It requires us to bravely, nakedly come to face all that is lost, keeping our hearts open to loving just as fully again.

“When we make war, lashing out in rage and revenge, it is because we are unwilling to make this full encounter with grief. It is easy to enact the same violence which has taken so much from us―including towards ourselves―but the greater work is to let that which is missing enlarge your life; to make beauty from your brokenness.

“Whatever you hold in the cauldron of your intention is your offering to the divine. The quality of assistance you can generate and receive from the Holy is governed by the quality of your inner offering. When you indulge in fear and doubt, you are flooding the arena where love is attempting to work.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth
in the present moment.”
―Thich Nhat Hanh
***
“An Awake Heart
is like a Sky that Pours Light.” ―Hafiz
***
“Gather the dawn and wind.
Breathe in sun and frost and song.
Hold for a moment.
Breathe out birds and words and joy.
Breathe out moss and stones and hope.”
―Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. (What was beautiful?) Three geese winging low over golden fields with sky turning to sunset behind them.
2. (What sounds brought you awake?) Students hitting the chimes in my doorway. I have a little chime magnet that hangs from my doorway, and several students hit it on the way in and the way out each day.
3. (What smells enlivened the day?) I can’t smell much through this cold, but the essential oils I wear in the mornings–patchouli and sandalwood, sweet orange, palmarosa, and lavender–got through. Essential oils help to break through the sinusitis.
4. (What was good to the touch?) I brought out my large black and white scarf, so soft and warm. The cats like it, too. They knead it like little kittens.
5. (What is the flavor of the day?) Turkey Hill’s Homemade Vanilla ice cream. It tastes like my childhood.

May we walk in Beauty!

Honesty Matters

Today’s Prompt is to write an Abundance poem:

How can we speak of abundance
amid such an abundance of wrongs,
when the throngs of people seeking safety
are turned from our borders,
when we long for justice within,
but the strong still crush the weak,
when we seek simple peace,
but we’ve begun to doubt that the meek
will inherit much of anything,
much less the earth?

Still, much remains, abundantly,
beyond the walls and the hostility.
The abundance of tender friends,
of quiet moments of reflection,
of laughter bubbling between us,
and tears that bring release, and heal us.
Kindness sometimes overflows
and gentle eyes and warm hands,
and stories woven together,
the cloth for a table lavishly spread,
with a welcome for all.


“Walk fearlessly into the house of mourning, for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy.” —Kate Braestrup
***
“Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.” —Neil Gaiman
***
“Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors, but today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.” —Kahlil Gibran
***
“To write is to ask questions. It doesn’t matter if the answers are true or puro cuento. After all and everything only the story is remembered, and the truth fades away like the pale blue ink on a cheap embroidery pattern.” —Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo
***
“With guns, you can kill terrorists.
With education, you can kill terrorism.” —Malala Yousufsai
***
“The wo/man who moves a mountain
begins by carrying away small stones.”
—Confucius, The Analects
***
“That day,
the morning came golden,
sudden,
like wind over the mountains
pushing the dark away like a curtain.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” —Wendell Berry


Gratitude List:
1. Oatmeal toast for supper. Simple, delicious comfort food, made by my dad. Also, apples and cheese. And chocolate cake for dessert. But the oatmeal toast was the medicine for the moment.
2. More people weaving their stories into the tapestry of our lives.
3. This congregation I belong to: People to laugh and cry with, to discuss and discern with, to deepen and grow with. And that’s just one Sunday morning.
4. Lights at ends of tunnels. Walking through those doorways with people I love.
5. A couple years ago, I wore through the heels of a couple pairs of striped socks that I loved. Rather than throw them away, I cut off the feet, and now I wear them as undersleeves. That little extra layer on my arms really helps to keep me from getting chilled.

May we walk in Beauty!

Guarding Our Deepest Treasure


Today’s Prompt is to write a “good for nothing” poem:

Good for Nothing
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

This poem has not practiced its lines,
it hasn’t memorized the tricky bits,
it doesn’t know the plot shifts.

This poem might be good for something,
but more likely it’s a time-waster.
More likely, it’s just addlepated.

This poem knows it isn’t going anywhere.
It knows it’s got a short shelf life,
so it will just take this country minute

to saunter into the middle of the room
and bow, and tell the only story it knows:
about the poem that has not practiced its lines.


“When Tolkien needed someone to place in the face of the great rising evil in his story, he chose the small ones. You and I are the small ones, friends. Let’s join hands and stand together. Let’s work together, speak together, sing and whisper and shout together.” —EWK
***
“We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” —Terence McKenna
***
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” —Audre Lorde
***
“Don’t operate out of fear, operate out of hope. Because with hope, everything is possible.” —Winona LaDuke
***
Our deepest fears are like dragons
guarding our deepest treasure.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
***
Praise Song
by Barbara Crooker

Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there’s left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.
***
“Look at everything
as though you were seeing it
either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”
—Betty Smith


Gratitude List:
1. Synchronicity
2. Magic
3. The bravado of the Fool
4. The wildness of crows
5. Reminders to be true to myself

May we walk in Beauty!

What I Meant to Say

Today’s Prompt is to write a “What I Meant to Say” poem.

I said I was tired,
but what I meant to say was that I had intended to be bolder.
I said you were right,
but what I meant to say was that my own opinion counted, too.
I said it didn’t really matter,
but what I meant to say was that it was a matter of life and death.

I told you everything was fine,
but what I meant to say was that my soul had just caught fire.
I told you I could live with it,
but what I meant to say was that something in me was withering away.
I told you it could be fixed,
but what I meant to say was how furious I was that you broke it.

I said, “Excuse me,”
but what I meant to say was, “I need you to get out of my way.”
I said I was sorry,
but what I meant to say was, “That’s my business.”
I said, “Please,”
but what I meant to say was, “It’s my turn now.”


”When we see the Beloved in each person,
it’s like walking through a garden,
watching flowers bloom all around us.” ―Ram Dass
***
“The present moment is the intersection of eternity with time.” ―Beatrice Bruteau
***
“Only the present moment contains life.”
―Thích Nhất Hạnh
***
“It is the paradoxical nature of grief to lead us to love. There is a seed planted in loss, an evolution made in breaking, a genius found in separation that is rarely apparent in the heart of crisis. But often what looks like deviation is really proliferation, like satellite initiatives born from a group’s dissolution. Intimacy is forged in the hearts of those who know exclusion. To them is given the gift of tenderness which can mentor another through their own isolation.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful – an endless prospect of magic and wonder.”
―Ansel Adams
***
“You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.” ―Fannie Lou Hamer
***
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns.” ―George Eliot
***
“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.”
―Hermann Hesse, Demian
***
“I went inside my heart
to see how it was.
Something there makes me hear
the whole world weeping.”
― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi
***
“Did you ever hear a tree pushing out of the ground or the snow falling? Great things happen in silence.” ―Mother Angelica
***
“Everything belongs, even the “bad” and dark parts of yourself. Nothing need be rejected or denied. No one need be hated. No one need be excommunicated, shunned, or eliminated. You don’t have time for that anymore. You’ve entered into the soul of the serene disciple where, because the Holy One has become one in you, you are able to see that oneness everywhere else. Almost like magic!” ―Richard Rohr
***
“Our work is to show we have been breathed upon – to show it, give it out, sing it out, to live it out in the topside world what we have received through our sudden knowledge, from body, from dreams, and journeys of all sorts.” ―Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
***
“We found ourselves in a realm
where dreams are formed,
destiny is chosen
and magic is as real
as a handprint in the snow.”
―Libba Bray


Gratitude List:
1. The River of Cats. We have a new route to school these days to pick up L at her new house. We go on a dirt road past a farm where a dozen cats or so stream across the road as we approach. Needless to say, we drive very slowly. In the morning dusk, their eyes are a dozen sets of tiny headlights as in our car’s lights.
2. Handsome Duck. There’s a silver-feathered handsome duck on the same road.
3. Lancaster. Almost two hours to go in the day of the Extraordinary Give, and we’ve already broken the record we set last year–over $7.5 million dollars. We don’t have a lot to give right now, so we chose one to give to, and it seems so small. But being one little drop in this ocean of giving helps to keep the cynicism at bay.
4. Saying what I mean
5. Sleep

May we walk in Beauty!

“To Keep the Spark of Life Inside Me Ablaze”

Today’s Prompt is to write a poem to the world:

Beauty Was There
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In the beginning, she hovered there,
above the waters, molding the land,
holding the world in her hands,
crafting a world of fire, earth, water, air.

In the beginning, she brooded,
her face obscured by shadows,
her thoughts filling the hollows,
her watchful eyes hooded.

She sent her dreaming forth,
streaming through the cosmos,
building like song to a crescendo,
filling newborn skies with morning.

In the beginning, she listened
for colors that flew in the wind,
singing that blew through her mind,
waves of color and sound risen

from deep within her breast.
Her thoughts became matter, feeling
mattered, materialized into being,
unbeing fled as her moon rose in the west.

And today we un-matter her being,
un-materialize the thoughts she formed,
de-stabilize the dances she performed
to set it all in motion. We’ve set it reeling,

ripping the fabric she wove.
It cannot be too late to change our ways,
to seek again the rhythm of her days,
to turn to her again and call her Love.


“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
–Frida Kahlo
***
A little story by Amrita Nadi:
At the end of a talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?”
The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”
Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he added, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back. . .but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”
***
“There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in, but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze.”
–Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life
***
“Always there is something worth saying
about glory, about gratitude.”
–Mary Oliver, What Do We Know
***
*Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together,
that overwhelm the world.
–Desmond Tutu
****
“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” –Jeannette Rankin


Gratitude List:
1. Strings of geese like beads across the sky. Fly well, Bright Ones!
2. This microwaveable bag of lavender and beans. It makes me warm and it eases the residual aches.
3. Wise friends
4. Tenderness. Basic kindness.
5. Stories of miracles and wonder.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Tree Spirit of Goldfinch Bluff


Can you see the thoughtful face of my friend there up on the hill, keeping watch over the farm?

Today’s Prompt is to write a “Stranger ________” poem.

Stranger Dreams
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In that space between sleeping and waking,
aware of your day body breathing,
the sounds of the next-door world seep through,
the sounds of the dream-people speaking.

Past your body the dream-people wander,
and you are the watcher, observing
as they go about their dream-life day
while you listen to your own body breathing.

Sometimes you find yourself leaping
out of the breathing husk of your body,
grabbing the child from the predator’s pouncing
or answering questions dream-people are asking.

When you stumble back into your breathing body,
you find your eyes fluttering open,
echoes of dream-conversations ringing
into the quiet stillness of afternoon.


Well, I had a Dorothy Day Day a few weeks back. This seems to be my Bonhoeffer Day:
“We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing — for that is nothing but fear. ‘Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless’ — for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible’s demands in times such as these?” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear … Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.” —Nelson Mandela
***
“We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future. We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.” —Thomas Berry


Gratitude List:
1. Feeling good feels so good when one has felt bad.
2. Long naps full of crazy lucid dreams
3. Solitude (but for the dream-folk and the cats)
4. Kale and Jarlsberg quesadilla
5. The strong voices of women speaking out

May we walk in Beauty!