White Rose and Blue Clouds

Gratitude List:
1. There is a Murmuration in the hollow, though it sounds perhaps more like a thousand screen doors screeking.  It can be positively deafening out there when the starlings are settling into the treetops.  In the videos of them flying above open land, they look like a single creature, made of light and motion.  We get a little of that show here in the hollow, though it’s much more contained within the bowl of the trees and so a little less fantastical.  For these few weeks while we have this crowd of treetop guests, I must be extremely careful where I park the car.  Apparently, they enjoy the purple poke berries, and they decorate the world with joyful abandon.  Still, I love them, and the way they fly like a veil twisting and twirling in the breezes.

2. Some days, teaching is really hard.  I have days when it feels like every lesson I diligently (or perhaps not-always-so-diligently) plan falls with a thud on the classroom floor.  Or I get snappy and grouchy with all the chatter and distraction.  On those days, I need to remember days like today.  Every class was somehow more focused, more thoughtful.  My favorite part was my two Academic Writing classes, where instead of having to cajole and badger to get people to read their essays, there were suddenly too many hands raised to get to them all, and every time someone would read their essay, everyone else had thoughtful feedback and supportive comments.  They called each other “courageous” and “gutsy” today. I think their writing is definitely improving, and their grammar is getting stronger, but the things that matter–their ability to make connections between ideas, to build bridges between themselves and others, to articulate their vision–these things are definitely growing and expanding.  I love sophomores.  They are so aptly named.  So wise.  So playful.

3. Holy synchronicities like this one.  One of the things that was shiny about class today had to do with the day’s poem, Jose Marti’s “The White Rose” (see below).  I put the Spanish original up on the board, and in every single class, they were immediately drawn to the puzzle of trying to pronounce it and trying to interpret it.  The kids with Spanish as a first language chuckled–politely–at those of us who learned in school as we tried to speak it carefully and tried to figure out the flow of the words.  Then I read them the English version.  One girl, who is perhaps only just now learning to believe in herself as a scholar, blurted out, “I get it!  It’s about turning the other cheek!”  Brilliant.
But the moment of holy coincidence came in the last period of the day, when one girl’s eyes started to sparkle when I read the poem.  She raised her hand to say that her grandmother is a niece or cousin of Jose Marti.

4. The blue bellies of the clouds on the way home today.  Once, during an art class I was taking, the teacher tried to teach us to recognize indigo by showing us the shadow part of the the underside of clouds.  That has become my baseline for recognizing indigo ever since.  The neurologist Oliver Sacks refers to the seeing of indigo as a numinous experience, and the plant and the dye process have been held in such honor through the centuries that I have begun to think of the experience of truly seeing indigo as a mystery.
The bellies of the clouds on the way home today may have actually been more of a cobalt, that shining blue that you see behind the clouds on a bright day.  But this was a shadow blue, right on the clouds, and so rich and shining a cobalt.  That, and the blue-ish ribbons of sun rays streaming down around Mount Pisgah as I drove home from work this evening, filled my soul.

5. Reading Madeline L’Engle with the kids.  We’re on to A Wind in the Door by now, and they’re not bored silly with all the talkiness.  They seem to get the idea of the Namers.

Be a Namer!  Walk in Beauty!


I have a white rose to tend
In July as in January;
I give it to the true friend
Who offers his frank hand to me.
And for the cruel one whose blows
Break the heart by which I live,
Thistle nor thorn do I give:
For him, too, I have a white rose.


Cultivo una rosa blanca,
En julio como en enero,
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca.
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazón con que vivo,
Cardo ni oruga cultivo:
Cultivo la rosa blanca.



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