The Light Beckons

“Every day, priests minutely examine the Law
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind
and rain, the snow and moon.”

Gratitude List:
1. Mitakuye oyasin: All my relations. That’s you, my Beloveds, and this curled-up ball of ginger fur beside me, and the sycamore tree that holds up the moon, and the moon, and the little mouse that makes a racket in the walls at night.
2. Parent Teacher Conferences: I always feel nervous. It’s a different sort of social situation than normal, and these are the real stakeholders in the work that I do. It’s not the same as a performance review, but I am responsible to these people for the care and nurture of their children, and I want to articulate well my perceptions of their children in my classroom. And it’s always a wonderful time, even when there are crunchy bits in the conversation. It’s an honor to do this work, and an honor to talk to the parents.
3. One daffodil has opened next to the school offices. I want to get a photo tomorrow–maybe it will have some friends by then.
4. The patience of robins.
5. The voices of the young people.

May we walk in Beauty!


Taking Stock

Mine is not a particularly stressful life. My basic needs are met. I know my kids will be fed. I have great support systems: family, friends, colleagues, students, church. My traumas have been few, and my griefs have occurred within the compassionate circles of people who know how to love. My greatest stresses are the ones I put on myself, usually: taking on more than I can accomplish, frittering away too much time that could be spent actually doing things I love.

In the face of stress, I tend to go all British: keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on. Often that serves me wellit keeps me from getting too deep into the circular ruts that I can gouge in my brain. Fall down. Get up. Keep walking. Fall down again. Get up again. Continue. It works. And my gratitude and mindfulness spiritual practices have helped to keep me away from the ruts.

Today, however, my mind began to enumerate all the stressors that have plagued me in the past few weeks. Instead of entering the ruts, as I began to list them all, I suddenly began to feel a weight lifting. The tiredness and crankiness and insomnia and heaviness that have begun to plague me seemed no longer unreasonable. In the past month, I have felt a little buffeted, a little at the mercy of fate. When I can recognize that, accept that it gets me down, maybe I can offer myself a little compassion, take a rest, and move forward.

1. It started several weeks ago, with the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. How to hold that? How to respond? How do we break an organization with such power and grasp as the NRA?
2. Shortly after that, my family started getting sick. Fortunately for us, none of us got the full-fledged flu, or at least our immune systems battled well. But all of us got sick. One child was out of school for almost a week. The parents were both just barely holding on. We probably should have all taken a sick day together and just laid around getting our rest and fluids.
3. Finally we made it through the worst of the sickies, and then we got hit by a wind storm that took out our power, water, and heat for the best part of three days.
4. Monday, the morning after the power finally came on, my eldest son fell up the stairs on his way to class and broke his arm. We finally managed to get him back to school and practicing for a performance this weekend.
5. Today at lunch, one of my students, who sits near my desk, said she heard my phone vibrating behind the desk over and over again all period. I woke it up, and it lit up with phone and text messages saying that my youngest son’s school (his entire district, actually) had been evacuated due to a bomb threat.
6. And through it all, I have continued to try to figure out what my role is in resisting the Death Eaters who seem to be taking over.

That’s a lot of stress. And at each point, I realized how fortunate we are:
1. Comforting community
2. My children are well and healthy for the most part
3. Three days is not very long to be without power, in the grand scheme of things, and we could go to my parents’ house for heat and water and light.
4. A broken arm is not a concussion, is not a chronic disease, is not a long-term problem. Little kid bones tend to heal fast and well.
5. My children have many adults, from family members to teachers and administrators, who are looking out for their safety and best interests. And I know that their classmates whose families have fewer support structures than we do also receive the same benefit of caring and tender teachers and administrators.
6. No one has to resist the Death Eaters alone. We’re all in this together. And it’s been done before.

May we walk in Beauty!

We Can Do It!

Who are the Womyn who inspire you?
Some of the ones on my list include the Nobel Peace Prize winners below, along with:
Harriet Tubman
Rachel Carson
Katherine Johnson
Dorothy Day
Berta Caceres
Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin
My mother: Ruth Weaver
My sisters: Valerie Weaver-Zercher and Anne Kaufman Weaver
Mary Oliver
Joy Harjo
My college friends: Kris, Nancy, Gloria, Anne Marie, and Juji
My nieces: Lara and Keri
The young women who teach me in my classroom each day
You, and You, and You: teachers and wise womyn, thinkers and activists, poets and preachers, raging and tender and hopeful and standing on the edge of despair, young ones and elders

Quotations by Peace Prize winners for International Women’s Day:
“If he [the Talib] comes, what would you do Malala? …If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there will be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others…with cruelty…you must fight others but through peace, through dialogue and through education…then I’ll tell him [the Talib] how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well… that’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.” Malala Yousufzai, In a Daily Show interview
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” Malala Yousufzai
“Don’t wait for a Gandhi, don’t wait for a King, don’t wait for a Mandela. You are your own Mandela, you are your own Gandhi, you are your own King.” Leymah Gbowee
“The world is upside down, it’s going to take a lot of hands to turn it right side up.” Leymah Gbowee
“You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself.” Wangari Maathai
“Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.” Wangari Maathai
“It’s not just about hope and ideas. It’s about action.” Shirin Ebadi
“I maintain that nothing useful and lasting can emerge from violence.” Shirin Ebadi
“Human rights is a universal standard. It is a component of every religion and every civilization.’ Shirin Ebadi
“If you can’t eliminate injustice, at least tell everyone about it.” Shirin Ebadi
“What I treasure most in life is being able to dream. During my most difficult moments and complex situations I have been able to dream of a more beautiful future.” Rigoberta Menchu
“We have learned that change cannot come through war. War is not a feasible tool to use in fighting against the oppression we face. War has caused more problems. We cannot embrace that path.” Rigoberta Menchu
“To be a light to others you will need a good dose of the spiritual life. Because as my mother used to say, if you are in a good place, then you can help others; but if you’re not well, then go look for somebody who is in a good place who can help you.” Rigoberta Menchu
“Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.” Rigoberta Menchu


Hope and Zen

The young folk have developed some lovely intricate stacks of wood and stone in the zen garden.

Gratitude List:
1. The Black History Month chapel today. The students lead and teach us.
2. Chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips.
3. The slow blink of cat’s eyes.
4. Sickness seems to be abating.
5. Hope and zen.

May we walk in Beauty!

Persephone Rises

Quotes for the Day:
“To survive, you must tell stories.” ―Umberto Eco
“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
―Henri J.M. Nouwen
“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” ―Wendell Berry
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ―Walt Whitman

Gratitude List:
1. The greening. Fields and lawns and grassy patches everywhere. Persephone rises.
2. The sap is rising. You can see the life force in the trees, pushing color and light into the limbs. Persephone rises.
3. Aconite and crocus. Persephone rises.
4. The young ones are rising, speaking their voices, leading the way.
5. We saw a great horned owl today. Harried by crows, it flew into the tops of the poplars on the hill above the pond. It waited where couldn’t see it for quite a while, until the crows got bored and flew off. Then it took wing back to the trees up the the hill.

May we walk in Beauty!

Voices of Young People

Gratitude List:
1. The strong, articulate voices of young people
2. Morning mists–such a sense of mystery
3. Driving to school in daylight
4. That colony of feral cats at the farm we pass every day. I am starting to pick out several individuals now. I love the person who keeps them well fed.
5. Lonesome Joe (or Handsome Joe) the duck, who paddles in his little pool, and stretches his neck to see up the bank when we pass by.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Room of this Moment

Reposting a Poem from some time ago:

The Room of the Moment
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

ll this running
between one moment
and the next

from the room of this minute
into the room of the one to come
we scuttle and race

trailing the detritus
of our days like the stuff
falling from a half-open suitcase

appointments and obligations
litter the ground behind us
and we are gasping
grasping for the next

take a breath
sit down
on the floor
of the room
of this moment
in time

watch how the minutes flow over you
when you release your grasp
on the one ahead

watch how the space of this room
takes shape around you

watch how your breath
blooms into the air

Quotations for a Snowy Sunday Morning, Audre Lorde’s Birthday:
“There is a pivotal juncture in every Heroine’s Journey when she stands alone. Instinctually she is led by the depth of her convictions to take a stand – to name the unaddressed – to call out of hiding the secret malaise in her community. To bring to the surface some yearned-for truth. She arrives at a standpoint not without doubts, but in spite of them. Worse than the criticism such disobedience can invite, may be her rejection from those who are at odds with her truth. But the silent prayer which keeps her company in the night is that it is not for her critics that she raises her voice, but for those who would otherwise be made voiceless.” —Toko-pa Turner, “Belonging”
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” —Voltaire
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” ―Mary Oliver
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor … Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” ―Rumi
“Persephone walks abroad. The crocus have opened their golden throats and the earnest melissas are gathering pollen as an offering to their queen.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider, a few Februaries ago
“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” ―Audre Lorde
“Wherever the bird with no feet flew, she found trees with no limbs.” ―Audre Lorde
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me, and eaten alive.” ―Audre Lorde
“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” ―Audre Lorde
“And we must ask ourselves: Who profits from all this?” ―Audre Lorde
“Your silence will not protect you.” ―Audre Lorde
“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” ―Meister Eckhart

The Quickening

Continuing to give away a thing a day during Lent. I’m beginning to feel what my friend Katrina Lefever calls “that space and lightness inside” that comes from jettisoning the stuff that clutters my life. I have a long way to go, but I’m energized. Each thing that goes brings me a new burst of energy.

Gratitude List:
1. Coffee with friends
2. Clearing the Clutter
3. The Quickening: Morning birdsong has been decidedly spring. Some of the neighborhood regulars are gearing up.
4. The Quickening: The sap is rising in the trees in Flinchbaugh’s orchards–If you look closely, you can almost see the life force rising.
5. The Quickening: The aconite are up and opening.

May we walk in Beauty!

The quickening is the time of seeing life and growth. When a woman is pregnant and first feels the movement of the child, we say she feels the quickening–she becomes aware in a new way of the life inside her. The Season of Brigid is a time of quickening. Rodents begin to awaken from hibernation, peeking out from their winter-bound burrows. Aconite and crocus poke shy tips above the soil. Bramble and tree show the red and yellow of rising sap.

The sky today is gray and shadowed, pregnant with the snow that will soon blanket the ground again. Still, the Earth is quickening, feeling the new life stirring inside her. Look around you, and you’ll see it. Listen for the change in the song of the birds. Smell the difference, even in the snow-bound air. Persephone is preparing to return yet again.

Some quotations for today:
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” —Etty Hillesum
“If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” —Richard Rohr
“The speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” —Audre Lorde
“We write because we believe the human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained.” —Nikki Giovanni
“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”
―Maya Angelou
“Rage—whether in reaction to social injustice, or to our leaders’ insanity, or to those who threaten or harm us—is a powerful energy that, with diligent practice, can be transformed into fierce compassion.”
―Bonnie Myotai Treace
“Anger is useful only to a certain point. After that, it becomes rage, and rage will make you careless.” ―Lauren Oliver
“Take that rage, put it on a page, take the page to the stage, blow the roof off the place.”
―The Script

Some Come In, More Go Out

My husband has gotten a job selling used books for a historical society. This is a wonderful and a dangerous thing. It feeds my addiction. I went to the society’s Winter Book Sale today and bought these:

The Amazon Queen book is apparently based on an actual ancient Egyptian papyrus. I’m eager to read it through. I already have a copy of Life Prayers, but this one will be for my classroom. The L’Engle is a daily reader, and the Billy Collins has a bargain books sticker for $1 on the cover. I bought it at book sale paperback prices for $1.50. It’s hard to read the title here: The Trouble with Poetry.

So now I had a conundrum: I am getting rid of something every day in Lent. Can I really be buying NEW stuff? So I went through my shelves and pulled these off to give away. I made sure I’m giving away more than I bought. Four in, Eight out: