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Another dancing fire picture from last week.  This one is a little dragony. 

Gratitude List:
1. Homemade pizza.  With onions and fresh basil on top.
2. Inner exploration.  I am finishing this semester with my Creative Writers with an autobiographical piece, using lots and lots of writing prompts to explore their identity, to really look at what makes them who they are.  I think that self-reflection can help us to develop into more mature and healthy people.
3. Good Ethiopian Coffee to start my morning
4. Waking up, and then waking up, and then waking up.  There are always new rooms to awaken within.
5. How the stories that we read and listen to intertwine themselves with our own.  Sometimes this process is more intense than others.  I can remember the beautiful language and imagery of certain books with pleasure, but it’s when I am working a book–not just reading it–that I really thoroughly absorb it and take it in.  It happened to me at a young age with the Narnia books, and much later with the Lord of the Rings.  The Odyssey.  Perhaps it’s epics and journey stories that do it mostly.  We ourselves become part of the meta-myth.

May we walk in Beauty!

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I want to figure out how to get some good, crisp, detailed photos of my collages.

I’m sorry, I just had to use that title.  There are certain days that simply must be given their due.  March Fourth is one of them, and today.

My Gratitude List today is a reprise of the one I wrote on this day three years ago:
1. Noticing. Today I have been thinking about the spiritual practice of noticing, and of all the ways
2. My parents have taught me to notice. How noticing keeps me conscious of
3. The present moment. How the present moment is
4. The Exquisite Doorway between past and future. How that transition from past to future is always taking place, as naturally as
5. Breathing out and breathing in.

May we walk in Beauty. Namaste.

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You can take the girl out of the Waldorf, but you can’t take the Waldorf out of the girl: Here is a dragon I drew on my chalkboard.  After I erased the tree that I had started drawing, I received requests from students for a red dragon.  I was a good challenge, and fun to watch them discover it as it developed over several days.

Facebook tells me that for the past two years on this very day, I heard and saw Oriole for the first time that spring.  I have been worried that I haven’t been aware of him yet, wondering if my busy schedule has kept me from noticing, or whether he has chosen not to return to the hollow.  Sometimes several of them come at once and fight for the prime territories.  Now I can be patient a little while longer.  I miss my bright friend.

Gratitude List:
1. The gold has returned to the goldfinches.  The bluebird, as Thoreau says, may carry the sky on his back, but the goldfinch carries the sun on his.
2. A cozy warm dress on a chilly May morning.
3. Summer vacation is coming.  I love teaching dearly, but at this time of year, I begin to anticipate June with the intensity of a senior.
4. Our ancient traditions: Yesterday, I volunteered to be one of the measurers for the track meet at school, holding the end of the measuring tape for the shot put, discus, and javelin.  Two of the guys on the team are in my English class, where we happen to be studying Ancient Greece, where the earliest Olympians competing in those same contests.
5. The little places in the day where I get a chance to breathe.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Bird in a tree.

April is finished.  I need a break from the daily poem for a while, time to let the words deepen before I spew them out onto the screen.

Gratitude List:
1. The car did start on Saturday night.  In the parking lot after the play, I saw that Pippi the Prius’s lights were doing a weird blinky thing, and she was making a parping sound, like she was on some sort of alarm–I don’t know whether she has any such features.  I pushed the unlock button several times and she settled down, but when I tried to start her, she was on the lowest battery bar, and she just turned herself off.  I called AAA, but after the call, I tried turning her on again, and she purred to life.  Her battery bars were really low, but she slowly recharged herself, so I cancelled the AAA call and went home.  Because she’s so different from anything I have ever driven, I didn’t feel like I even had the ability to assess what’s wrong.
2. One boy is writing a report on Dave Brubeck for music class.  Yesterday afternoon, I realized that the thing he’d been humming all day was “Take Five,” and that the odd clicky thing he does with his tongue was marking some of the stressed beats.  I’ve got a kid who genuinely likes Brubeck–we’ve done at least one parenting thing right.
3. Yesterday’s sermon: The Disruption of Healing.  There’s a lot to think about in there.  Do I really want to be healed?  I have gotten pretty comfortable with the status quo–healing/growing/becoming requires change and change can be itchy and painful.  But my healing is bound up with the healing of others, with the planet.  So we forge ahead.  We push for new growth.  We shed the old dragon skins.
4. The ways stories hatch.  Maybe I will grab the momentum of this one and get it onto paper before it fades.  I need to listen to my own advice.  I am really good about telling students to write down their ideas, to play and tinker with the elements of a story, to fearlessly jump into it.  I guess I had better put my money where my mouth is. . .
5. You.  You who read my blog, you who notice a flash of color or a beautiful set of words and point it out, you who cast your nets of compassion out into the world, you who make that almost alchemical connection between idea and word–putting thought into hearable form, you who twinkle when you smile, you who think deeply before you speak, you who chatter and chuckle and keep everyone happy, you who feed others, you who hold babies, you who strive and strive.

Much love!  May we walk in Beauty!

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Today is May Day, celebrated around the world as the day of the workers.  Today we honor the people who fought–and still fight–for workers’ rights, the people who contribute their sweat for the good of a (hopefully) well-run society, the ones who get the job done.

It is also the day of Beltane, one of the ancient celebrations of spring and fertility.  Look around you, at all that is growing so wildly, so full of life force.  What forces within you are pushing their way toward the sunlight?  What will not be contained?  What is exploding into bloom?  What vines curl outward from your center?

Gratitude List:
1. The way life sometimes brings you exactly what you need. Two years ago on this day, I received a message from a friend saying that he had heard there was an opening on the English Faculty at Lancaster Mennonite High School.
2. The workers.  All the unsung people who make things run, and often without much thanks.   And all who work to make a more just society, not simply because it will benefit them, but because it will benefit all.  Happy May Day!
3. Daniel Berrigan, who died yesterday at 94.  A good man who lived his faith.
4. The certainty that the wheel will turn and a new thing will always come around again.  May comes again.  Happy May Day!
5. The richness of the pink on those dogwood trees in the rain.

May we walk in Beauty!

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A red-shouldered hawk skims the branches
and settles onto the long arm of a walnut.
She ruffles her feathers and settles herself
to watch the grasses below for disturbances.
The slightest deviation will grab her attention,
an errant breeze that tweaks the foxtail,
a caterpillar wriggling across a leaf of plantain.

Gratitude List:
1. Poem in your Pocket Day.  Yesterday was Wrightsville’s version of Poem in Your Pocket Day.  Children of our town are encouraged to take their poems to several businesses around town and read poems to the people who work there.  In response, the businesses offer them little gifties and discounts and coupons from the business.  There were groups of families and children walking all around town yesterday afternoon.  We kept arriving at certain places at about the same time as another family–they became our cohort.  The people at the different businesses were incredibly kind and thoughtful and affirming of the children as they read their poems.  At Marcello’s Pizza, the man came out from behind the counter and crouched down so he could be sure he heard my 7yo son’s poem.  While we were there, we found a poem on the floor–one that someone had lost.  It was apparently written for the occasion because it praised one of the teachers from the school.  Community-building.  Literacy-building.  Child-affirming.  Small Business affirming.  Poetry-affirming.  Perfect.
2. Rain.  I love spring rain.
3. Does spring always take this long to unfold?  The pinks this year seem to go on forever, and the baby greens are so prevalent.  I love this slow unfolding.
4. A cat who loves me.  I am struggling a bit with this at the moment, because he HAS to be on my lap, and he has to try to pet me–to try to get me to pet him–but his paws are so arthritic that he cannot retract his claws, and so I feel like a pincushion. He’s such a snuggler.
5. Stories.

May we walk in Beauty!

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A little poem after reflecting on Mary Oliver (“You do not have to be good.”) and Caitlyn Siehl (“[Being pretty] is not your job.”).  This is an interesting draft to begin, but I definitely want to craft this one and perfect it.

When you crossed the threshold
into the indigo shadows of the Old One’s hut,
she took hold of you with her bony claw
and gave you three impossible tasks.

But none of them were beauty.
None of them were goodness.
She does not demand of you
what your stepfamily expects,
out there beyond the forest’s reach,
in their comfortable cottage
covered with vines and flowers.

The crone can see that your path leads
away from pleasantries and loveliness.
She knows the world will demand your strength,
the full force of your determination.
She knows that sometimes the most arduous task
is to turn your face away from the mirror
the others have given you,
the one in which you see
what they want you to see.

Seek the needle in the haystack,
catch the wind in a bag,
find the golden flower that grows
on the farthest mountains
beyond the lands of comfort.

When you return,
the mirror will be truly yours,
to see yourself as only you can see.
Then you will sit in the quiet shadows
waiting for a young one to coming humming
along the forest path to ask you for fire.

Gratitude List:
1. Students performing Shakespeare.  I knew they could manage the comedies with flair and finesse, but I had no idea they could do Julius Caesar with such incredible power.  A gender-fluid cast.  Brutus stayed male, but Caesar and Antony were female.  As always, they made it utterly accessible.  This could definitely be an award-winning performance.
2. One of the little jobs I get to volunteer for at school is Apple Pie Judge (I came back to this to capitalize it).  And the teacher in charge actually thanked ME for participating.  Heh.  No, that was all my pleasure, thank you.  These kids can bake a mean apple pie.  And it’s just one more way for students to get recognition for their abilities that go beyond the traditional boundaries of sports or music or academics.  Those were some fine pies.
3. Remembering this: You don’t do it all at once–you go step by step by step.
4. The baby green on the sycamore and poplar trees.
5. Today is Wrightsville’s Poem in Your Pocket Day.  I am going to rush home from school so I can go with the family around the town so the boys can read their chosen poems at participating businesses.

May we walk in Beauty!

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It’s a packing tape dispenser, but it is also a bear.

On some of these days
the only poem I can
muster is haiku

Lame, I know, but it’s what I’ve got today.

Gratitude List:
1. Sleep: I love that moment when I lie down and I can feel the tiredness receding, can feel my body relaxing, can let my mind follow its own trails
2. The ones who don’t give up
3. Moments of solitude and quiet in the midst of a busy time
4. Timeless stories–we’re getting into The Odyssey in Freshman English, and they’re hooked by the stories
5. Changing it up

May we walk in Beauty!

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Listen for the whisper of the moon, daughters.
Listen for the distant calling of a bird in the night.
Listen for the sound of your name in the trickling streams,
and breathe the calling deep into your soul.

Watch for your own colors in the sunrise, children.
Look for your own symbol in the curling vines.
Search the skies for clouds shaped like your own dreams,
and feel your soul take the shape of You.

The world is sending you signals at every moment:
You belong here.  You are a necessary part of this process.
Step into this moment of the River of your life
and feel the cooling waters reinvigorate your soul.

Gratitude List:
1. Spring warmth
2. The morning chatter of the tree people
3. Synchronicity–As when someone comes up and starts talking to you about the exact thing that you’re pondering in a moment
4. All the whispers, the colors, the patterns that seem to say, “You belong here.”
5. Quiet

May we walk in Beauty!

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The dragon I drew on the driveway.  

“I do not see a delegation of the four-footed.
I see no seat for the eagles.” –Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga

The wren is not waiting his turn to speak, nor should he.
He calls out into the clamorous room–his name, his name, his name.
The whales have been offering their words for some time now,
but no one at my table seems to be listening,
not to the whales, nor to the insistent chitter of the bats
who, though they have no place on the agenda,
are doing their best to make their voices heard.

Who will call the meeting to order?
Who will make sure that every voice is heard?

Gratitude List:
1. Add more caring adults to the circle of people who mentor my children: I had my first chance to watch the Wrightsville Little League coaches in action yesterday at their first game.  Our guys lost, but the coaches were excellent in their encouragement and their building of team spirit.  They were praising the kids for encouraging each other.  One hears horror stories, but there are wonder stories also.
2. The dawn is catching up to me.  The sun rises shortly after I do, and I have daylight to help me wake up more quickly.
3. Getting back to class today.  I love the break, but I get really antsy to head back into the classroom.
4. The right to vote.  I am going to believe that my vote counts, despite the voices inside me that bray and mock that hope.  But change does not stop with a vote.  We have to work for the justice we seek.
5. Blue jays.  They saunter through the sky like ruffians, like dudes, and they have absolutely no questions about their entitlement.  I like their bombast.  And their clear, loud whistles.

May we walk in Beauty!

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