Wear Gratitude Like a Cloak

Following your bliss, as Joseph Campbell put it, doesn’t mean knowing where it might lead. Bliss beckons us every single day. At first, it may come in a small voice, out from under a great heap of rubbish, but it definitely knows your name. It starts with a dream that you may not even remember, and it grows into a déjà -vu, a surge of emotion, an inexplicable familiarity in a stranger’s face. Rather than getting caught up in finding “your purpose,” take the risk to talk to that stranger, follow your feeling and trust your dreams, and before you know it, as Rumi says, “your living pieces will form a harmony.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” —Rumi
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“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
—Annie Dillard
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“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet. “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet. “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.” —AA Milne
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“The aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
out of their leaves.”
—Mary Oliver
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“Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?”
—Rumi
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“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”
—Danny Kaye
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“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”
—Maya Angelou
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“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
—John Muir
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“I started going for long lone country walks among the spendthrift gold and glory of the year-end, giving myself up to the earth-scents and the sky-winds and all the magic of the countryside which is ordained for the healing of the soul.”
—L.M. Montgomery


Gratitude List:
1. The Holy Moment of telling story, of powerful vulnerability, of the hush of listening, of voices found and reclaimed, of grit and resilience. How our stories bless each other.
2. Blessing the babies. I love the way my church blesses the babies. I think that part of my pastors’ job must be the best job in the world.
3. Spicy Korean noodles for lunch
4. Now we go from golden to orange and red
5. The Water Protectors. Lancaster Against Pipelines. People who stand up, speak up, put themselves on the line.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Live the Questions

Rhapsody Part 7 – Mary Oliver

If you are in the garden, I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea I will slide into that
smooth blue nest, I will talk fish, I will adore salt.
But if you are sad, I will not dress myself in desolation.
I will present myself with all the laughters I can muster.
And if you are angry I will come, calm and steady, with
some small and easy story.
Promises, promises, promises! The tongue jabbers, the heart
strives, fails, strives again. The world is perfect.
Love, however,
is an opera, a history, a long walk, that
includes falling and rising, falling and rising, while
the heart stays as sweet as a peach, as radiant and
grateful as the deep leaved hills.
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“You either walk inside your story & own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” ~BRENÉ BROWN
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Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
October.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“Live the question now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some day into the answer.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
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“and if i hear one more time
about a fool’s rights
to his tools of rage
I’m gonna take all my friends
and I’m gonna move to Canada
and we’re gonna die of old age” –Ani Difranco


Gratitude List:
1. Biking by the River, north of Marietta
2. Science Saturday: We made three kinds of slime/gak, and also oobleck
3. Getting enough sleep
4. Inspiring ideas (this time from a TED talk)
5. How cats are like dragons. I feel like we live with little fluffy house-dragons. Inscrutable. Demanding. Condescending. But tender by turns.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Questions of Others to Hold


“Each moment from all sides rushes to us the call to love.” -―Rumi
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“The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves
into the rhythms of the human heart.
The earth is not outside us; it is within:
the clay from where the tree of the body grows.”
―John O’Donohue
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“There were far worse strategies in life than to try to make each aspect of one’s existence a minor work of art.”
―Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline
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“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Just go ahead and live positively; go to the side and do it differently. Don’t waste time with oppositional energy.” ―Richard Rohr, writing about the thinking of Dom Helder Camara
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“The heart of faith is the call to love one another. . .” ―Avis Crowe
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A Gift
by Denise Levertov

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.


Gratitude List:
1. A tiny cow and a little mouse who were entranced by the big kitty in my trunk during Trunk or Treat. Ellis was a wild panther we had caught, and he pushed candy through his cage bars to the children. Mouse and Cow kept coming back just to stare, open-mouthed, at him. Finally, after fifteen minutes of gazing, Little Mouse opened his mouth and belly laughed. Cow joined him, giggling.
2. Fun, friendly community events that get people out and talking to each other, and blessing each others’ children.
3. The tender hearts of certain teenage boys. They may present as goofy and crusty, but they’re as sensitive as anyone.
4. Getting it done
5. Playing dress-up–Happy Halloween!

May we walk in Beauty!

Offer What Is Yours

Image may contain: outdoor

Last night’s dreams were about hair and stones:
1) Walking down the halls of school, suddenly everyone has really long and wild and crazy hair, some down to the floor, some curly locks tumbling over shoulders and cascading down backs. I wonder if they get frustrated with it always in their eyes, always in the way. But I like it, and wish my hair were longer and more wild and curly.

2) Then, I am in a friend’s house and talking on the phone. While I am talking, I lie down on her thick plush carpet and begin pulling the jewelry and gemstones out of the carpet where she has lost them. Druzy green emeralds, bright pink rhodochrosites–actually, most of them were raw emeralds, not clear like high quality gems, but milky and full of powerful energy. The rhodochrosites were also pretty raw, two finger-long thin stones. Emeralds for love and hope and prophecy. Rhodochrosites for love, creativity, and intuition.

I love dreams of hair, because I feel like they’re always about the things in my head that want to grow and expand and come fully into being. And I love dreams of finding things because I think they’re about making inner discoveries. I am exhausted and overwhelmed in waking life right now, feeling like I have had to put my creative self into a coma in order to make it through the dailiness. It’s such a great relief that my dreams promise that the Sleeping self still exists, that she is working even as the workaday me is trying hard to keep all the balls in the air. It does not escape me that the hair dream took place at work.

(Note: This is not meant as a complaint about my life or my work. It is the current reality. I love my school and my students and my colleagues. My life is very satisfying in many ways. I do need to figure out the balance that will allow the Sleeper to do her work in daily life. I will manage that sometime, perhaps when the next stack of grading is done, and the next, and the next. . .)


“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” –Mary Oliver
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“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
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What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.
Listen.
Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.
Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.
Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“The world didn’t have to be beautiful to work, but it is!” –Mary Oliver
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“The words you speak become the house you live in.”
~Hafiz
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“A child looking at ruins grows younger but cold
and wants to wake to a new name
I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows
and the wren laughs in the early shade now
come again shining glance in your good time
naked air late morning
my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips in the sun.”
– W. S. Merwin, The Love of October
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“I lack the peace of simple things,” says Wendell Berry
and I concur, almost, because
of the frenzy of the daily commute, because
of the the houseful of stuff we don’t need,
that we trip over in the darkness, because
of the way I am so lost in doing all that must be done.
But Wendell, you know better than most how it’s all around us,
how you can settle your soul into the simple peace, because
of those flaming leaves falling all over my head, because
of the giggle of a five-year-old, because
of sleep, deep restful sleep, because
of the way the corn tastes yellow, but the beans taste green, because
of the way words weave and twist themselves
into something that means something akin to hope.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. This girl: She came into my room after our early dismissal today. She’s been trying to find a teacher to help her start an Aevidum Club, to support students who live with depression and anxiety. I already have more clubs than I know what to do with, and I cannot commit. She comes to talk to me anyway, as a sounding board. “I want to do big things,” she says. And she doesn’t mean that she wants fame and glory. She means that she wants to make a difference in the world. Oh yes, Bright One, you will do big things.
2. Parent Teacher Conferences. It’s a long and tiring day, but I love sitting down with parents and talking about their teenagers. We gush about these young people, we problem-solve, we sigh together, we hold these Shining Ones in our hearts.
3. UNICEF Club. There weren’t enough chairs in my room for all the kids who want to be be part of doing good in the world. If we can wait long enough for this batch of young people to start taking over the world, I think we’ll be okay.
4. Geese flying south. Part of me is flying south, too.
5. Dreams that are messages.

May we walk in Beauty!

A Poem is an Egg

“A poem is an egg with a horse in it.” –4th grader, FB post
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“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?”

–Rumi
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“There are people who advocate and practice compassionate listening, there are those who embrace voluntary simplicity, who remove the calluses from their hearts and keep them open to feel the pains of others. Seek them out, I urge you, and join them in their compassion.”
–Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalom
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“The moon rose over an open field.” –Paul Simon
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“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” –Fredrick Douglass
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“Love is the strongest force in the universe. We must keep walking in the direction of love, no matter what we hear and see around us. No matter our human failures. No matter what happens, or appears to happen.And if we are thankful for that love, the power magnifies. Forgiveness is a process of love. Love is not bound by religion, belief system, or man-made laws. Our human minds cannot comprehend the immensity of it. We are lit by it, or we would not be here. Some smother the light with fear and acts of fear. Others tend their light and they light the world. Breath feeds the light. Breathe deep today, and continue walking toward that which will enlighten, no matter what burdens you are carrying of shame, grief, or fear. No one can buy their way or push their way ahead of everyone else. We are all in this together.” –Joy Harjo


Gratitude List:
1. Sweater weather
2. What the eyes say
3. Baby steps
4. The deliciousness of sleep
5. That delicate little yellow moth on the outside of the window

May we walk in Beauty!

Remembering How to Dream

“I would like to paint the way a bird sings.”
–Claude Monet
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“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” –Vincent van Gogh
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“Do unto those downstream as you would have those downstream do unto you.” –Wendell Berry
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Every step you take is a doorway to somewhere new,
a choice between what was and what will be.
Do not fear the darkness behind you
nor the mists that rise in your path.
Pause on the threshold a moment.
Take a deep and aching breath,
and straighten your shoulders.
Release the past with gratitude
for all that it has taught you,
and step forward in strength and beauty.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
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Mary Oliver:
“Soon now, I’ll turn and start for home.
And who knows, maybe I’ll be singing.”


Gratitude List:
1. Rest
2. Dreaming
3. Work
4. Play
5. Silence

May we walk in Beauty!

The Song of the Dawning Day

Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.
–Reinhold Niebuhr
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“The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self–to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.” –Barbara Brown Taylor
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“As long as I live,
I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.
I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood,
storm, and the avalanche.
I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens,
and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”
–John Muir
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“The world is our Mother. If we destroy her, where will we live?”
–Kogi Mama
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“It helps to think of our swamps of despair as the necessary muddle before clarity. Actually, swamps are incredibly fertile places full of life. In mythology the heroine must cross such a place in her darkest hour, where she comes to face her unlived life – meeting each of the divine allies disguised as regret, doubt, and insufficiency which swell up from the mud of her despondency. If she is willing to consummate the full encounter, they will reveal themselves in service to the vitality of her true being.” –Toko-pa Turner
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“I know our forefathers said you could own a gun, but they also said you could own people.” –Michael Che


Gratitude List:
1. The Earthkeepers and Waterprotectors. More than twenty courageous and determined people were arrested today in Lancaster County, protesting a pipeline that is being built through the outdoor chapel of the Adorers of the Precious Blood. You can support their legal defense fund here: LAP.
2. The songs of dawn
3. How the cats always seem to be hanging out wherever we are.
4. Chicken corn soup for supper
5. Invigorating breezes

May we walk in Beauty!

Blessed Be Your Longing

“Why are you so determined to keep your wild silently inside you? Let it breathe. Give it a voice. Let it roll out of you on the wide open waves. Set it free”
―Jeanette LeBlanc
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“Lots of people talk to animals…Not very many listen though…that’s the problem.” ―Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
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“When war is our only industry, the only crop is blood.” ―Will Giles
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Plant
So that your own heart
Will grow.

Love
So God will think,
“Ahhhhh,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Rolls.”

Sing
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Needs.

Laugh
Because that is the purest
Sound.
—Hafiz
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“My journey has taught me that I must learn religion as the mystics learned it, through the inward quest that Jungian psychology has helped me with so much. Banding together in institutions, whether religious, academic or professional, helps some feel secure and able to look down on the unenlightened. But I’ve clearly learned that the inward quest must become one’s own before it’s any good at all.”
—Bud Harris, Ph.D.
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“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?” —Gabrielle Roth
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“Blessed be your longing. Your endless ache. Your sharp crystal shatter. Your sea glass heart.” ―Jeannette LeBlanc


Gratitude List:
1. Monarchs drifting down the wind.
2. Murmurations. On the way home today, I saw, suddenly, in the windy sky ahead of me, two great black shapes like lungs in the air. It was a flock of starlings on a group maneuver. A second later, they banked and separated, and flickered out of apparent existence. When I drew underneath them, I could see a long and ragged flock flying north to south across the road. Only in their communal aerial acrobatics were they visible from a distance.
3. Driving beneath golden walnut leaves twirling earthward.
4. Singing together, and speaking poetry, and telling stories.
5. All the thousand names for God.

May we walk in Beauty!

Going Golden

A couple years ago, I wrote a gratitude note about “Honest anger and its connection to compassion.” This is a continual dance.
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“If we don’t allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotion — deep joy and deep pain — then I think we are less than who we can be.”
―Terry Tempest Williams
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“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
―Henri Nouwen
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“Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” ―Rumi
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“Equality keeps us honest. Inequality creates liars and delusion. “―Rebecca Solnit
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“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai
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“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
―C. G. Jung
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“You have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ―Harriet Tubman
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“The forests are the flags of nature. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten.”
―Enos A. Mills
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“Come, come hither! Leave you and yourself;
Leave us and ourselves! Come swiftly
Come as quickly as possible. Put you and us aside;
Come!
Come until you and we would become extinct!
Come so that Neither you nor we
would exist!” ―Rumi
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“Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi, The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
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“Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.
– – – –
In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.
– – –
All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.” ―Mary Oliver


Gratitude List:
1. Libraries. Public libraries.
2. Markets. Town markets.
3. Parks. Community parks.
4. Planning our Halloween costumes.
5. Salted caramel.

May we walk in Beauty!

Nothing Belongs to Us

“Although the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.The warming of the planet is a symptom of a greater problem: the developed world’s indifference to the destruction of the planet as they pursue short-term economic gains. This has resulted in a “throwaway culture” in which unwanted items and unwanted people, such as the unborn, the elderly, and the poor, are discarded as waste.” –Pope Francis
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Praise, my dear one.
Let us disappear into praising.
Nothing belongs to us.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
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“Listen: Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” –Mary Oliver
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“This might be the most difficult task for us in postmodern life: not to look away from what is actually happening. To put down the iPod and the e-mail and the phone. To look long enough so that we can look through it—like a window.” –Marie Howe, poet


Gratitude List:
1. Friday night game night
2. The voice of David Tenant
3. Hot tea on a chilly night
4. Even after a couple months, the cats are finding new levels of comfort. Sachs has decided that Jon is his person.
5. Building a bridge

May we walk in Beauty!