Everything is Sacred

The Goblin Rumpus began at exactly 2:48 AM with a sweet falsetto yawp from Little Thor. I went out into the hall to see what was happening, and about a dozen cats were zooming through the halls, bouncing off the walls, skittering down the stairs. My daytime brain knows that there are only two cats in the house. My nighttime brain knows that there were at least a dozen cats performing the Goblin Rumpus–a couple of them were indigo gray with shining golden eyes, and the others were orange blurs.


Today I am turning fifty. Growing up. I’ve completed a half-century here.

If you follow the numerological significances of things, five is the number of the hierophant or teacher, and zero is the number of the fool.  Doing a little wizardry with the numbers of my birthday and birth year, my birth number reduces to 5, so it appears that I am coming into my own this year, and carrying the madcap, free-spirited nature of the fool with me. This is the year to focus on my work as teacher and fool. I’ll take it!


I feel like this is my birthday poem:
“The Seven of Pentacles”
by Marge Piercy

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.
*
“In these cataclysmic times, living in what Michael Meade calls the ‘slow apocalypse,’ despair can be dangerously seductive. Our lives may feel inadequate to the terrible momentum of our times, but it is in those moments that we must remember the difference between despair and grief.
While despair traps us in the bog of despondency, grief carries us into life. Grief calls us into a deeper engagement with those things that we love. And even as we are losing them, grief wants to exalt their beauty.

“If we let grief move us into expression, it will sing the blood into our songs, colour the vividness into our paintings, and slip the poetry between our words.

“Rumi says, “All medicine wants is pain to cure.” And so we must cry out in our weakness, our ineptitude, our beautiful inadequacy and make of it an invitation that medicine might reach through and towards us.” Toko-pa Turner
*
“I have always been spiritually promiscuous, lying down with any God who will have me. When I drop down into these ancient texts, I feel the breath of the God of Love on my face. It makes me crazy. In the very best way.” —Mirabai Starr
*
“By virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.” —Teilhard de Chardin
*
“A library is infinity under a roof.”  —Gail Carson Levine


Gratitude List:
1. Fifty mostly satisfying years on this Earth.
2. Okay, even if I am working on less sleep today, the delightful thrill of a springy little cat walking begging for attention in the night–walking all over me, bringing me his new favorite toy, purring and snuggling.
3. Goldfinches: how they fly, how they twitter. Their purpose is joy.
4. Everything is Sacred, indeed. Grateful for the words of Teilhard de Chardin
5. The promise of a massage sometime in the next few months when I really need it. My guys gave me a gift certificate for a friend who is starting up her own business. Win-win! I love it!

May we walk in Beauty!

We Be Many

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.
Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” –Helen Keller
*
“Be kind to yourself while blooming. I know sometimes it feels like your soul doesn’t always fit. It’s all a part of the process.” ~ Emery Allen
*
“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laughter broke into a thousand pieces,
and they all went skipping about and that was the beginning of fairies!”
– Peter Pan
*
“We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to be threatened by the presence and success of women.” ~Barack Obama
*
“Every drone strike and every natural disaster and every shooting death is a child. Whatever else defines one’s existence, a person’s first identity was as someone’s child. It is never okay to kill someone’s child.” –Melissa Ressler
*
“If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.” ~William Stafford
*
“Remember this: We be many and they be few.” ~Arundhati Roy
*
“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
~Wendell Berry
*
“If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire.” –Simone Weil
*
”When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles.”
~Naomi Shihab Nye
*
“Stranger! awaken
the guitar more! Delay our tomorrow so our road
may extend and space may widen for us, and we may get rescued
from our story together: you are so much yourself … and I am
so much other than myself right here before you!” ~Mahmoud Darwish
*
“I would love to live
like a river flows,
carried by the surprise
of its own unfolding.”
–John O’Donohue
*
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.
We must be hatched or go bad.” ~C.S. Lewis
*
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold
*
“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”
–Wendell Berry
*
“For [mystics,] contemplation and action are not opposites, but two interdependent forms of a life that is one–a life that rushes out to a passionate communion with the true and beautiful, only that it may draw from this direct experience of Reality a new intensity wherewith to handle the world of things; and remake it, or at least some little bit of it, ‘nearer to the heart’s desire.” –Evelyn Underhill


Gratitude List:
1. Naked Ladies in everybody’s garden. Such a spring-like beauty here at the height of summer. (Some people call them Resurrection Lilies, and that might be a nice name for a contemplative person to use, but I am attached to the racier version of their name.)
2. New fur friends in the house. (How long will it take until they start to come out from under the furniture?)
3. Sunshine caught in the branches of the trees. (It’s beginning to happen already: the tilt, the slant, the hint that autumn is coming.)
4. Chances to catch up without the boys at home, but mostly: Having them back! (Absence makes the heart grow fonder.)
5. Sitting in the doorway to a new year, a new half-century.

May we walk in Beauty!

Poetry as Breathing


“[Ginsburg] was right about the poem being a mind-breath. Each word depends on how your mind breathes.” —Juan Felipe Herrera
*
“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” —Sue Monk Kidd
*
“Lay down your heart, sister
for one mist-laden moment
on the bank of the river
your ancestors wandered.
It will not end the clamor
or stop the blood that spills
over rocks in the deserts.
It will not offer you answers
to the why of war.
Still, the waters may offer
questions, instead. Questions
will create the riddles
that will draw you on
despite the darkness.”

—Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“May your day be bright with sunlight shimmering through the trees. May magic grab your sleeves at every turn you take. May you feel the web that connects you to so many–to oh, so many–loving hearts.” —BW-K
*
This one is long, but I think it really needs to be here:
Guidelines for Despair and Empowerment Work by Joanna Macy
“These are not steps in a prescribed order, but guidelines to our process wherever we may find ourselves entering it.
1. Acknowledge our pain for the world. If it is present, we cannot deny its reality. We cannot make it go away by arguing it out of existence, or burying it inside of ourselves. We can acknowledge our pain for the world to ourselves through journal writing or prayer, and if we choose, by communicating our awareness to those around us.
2. Validate our pain for the world. Let us honor it in ourselves and others, by listening carefully and accepting it as healthy and normal in the present situation. To hurry in with words of cheer can trivialize its meaning and foster repression.
3. Experience the pain. Let us not fear its impact on ourselves and others. We will not shatter, for we are not objects that can break. Nor will we get stuck in this pain, for it is dynamic, it flows through us. Drop our defenses, let us stay present to its flow, express it—in words, movement and sounds.
4. Move through the pain to its source. As we experience this pain, we learn that it is rooted in caring, not just for ourselves and our children, but for all of humanity. We rediscover our interconnectedness with all beings. Allow this sense of mutual belonging to surface in whatever words and images are meaningful and share them.
5. Experience the power of interconnectedness. Let us dare to translate our caring into a sense of belonging to all humanity and the web of life. Observe the trust level rise when we expose our vulnerability to pain for the world. Recognize how the realization of interconnectedness results in personal security and economy of effort.”
From Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age. (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1983.)


Gratitude List:
1. That big branch that fell last night seems to have avoided even scratching the car. We have been really conscientious about not parking our car under the poplar tree for just this reason, and the branches rarely fall. Last night, we left the car in the driveway overnight, and that’s the night the poplar chose to drop a limb. It woke me up. I thought someone was upending furniture downstairs.
2. I got a LOT of work done yesterday, and I plan to get a lot more done this morning. Here’s to long uninterrupted hours.
3. The way the mind attaches itself to pattern. There’s a perfect circle out in the bushes and greenery on the wild hillside out my window. No camera could capture it because it’s how my eye sees the arc of a bush, fills out the next bit of arc, attaches a curved shadow beneath the vines, fills in a little more and finds another bit of curve, until the circle is complete. It may be that only my eyes can see it, but it is there, as truly as grass or tree or vine. And our minds do this all the time, all day long. I see faces everywhere I turn, in the plaster on the ceiling, in the neighbors’ walnut tree, in a towel tossed on the floor. Our minds are made to seek patterns, calling us to an awareness of greater patterns.
4. There was a moment there when all the machines and appliances seemed to cease their electrical humming, and the house was filled with a profound silence. Nothing, until the wren again took up his incessant holler.
5. Lights at ends of tunnels.

May we walk in Beauty!

Seeking Mystery

When you walk into the rooms
where Mystery waits with an indigo hum,
listen for the thrumming
of hummingbird, feel the brush
of moth wings across your cheek,
watch for the scoop and swish
of a small brown bat
through the rooms
of your heart.

Unless you seek her,
you will not find her,
and the rooms where you wander
will appear empty
and devoid of beauty.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Drop your maps and listen to your lostness like a sacred calling into presence. Here, where the old ways are crumbling and you may be tempted to burn down your own house. Ask instead for an introduction to that which endures. This place without a foothold is the province of grace. It is the questing field, most responsive to magic and fluent in myth. Here, where there is nothing left to lose, sing out of necessity that your ragged heart be heard. Send out your holy signal and listen for the echo back.” ―Toko-pa Turner
*
“A child needs the same things a tree needs: Earth. Water. Sun. Air.” ―unknown
*
“What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being. We should recognize that while we have extravagantly subsidized the means of war, we have almost totally neglected the ways of peaceableness. We have, for example, several national military academies, but not one peace academy. We have ignored the teachings and the examples of Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peaceable leaders. And here we have an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the means of peaceableness, being cheap or free, make no money.” ―Wendell Berry
*
“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”
―Barry Lopez
*
“There’s a flame of magic inside every stone & every flower, every bird that sings & every frog that croaks. There’s magic in the trees & the hills & the river & the rocks, in the sea & the stars & the wind, a deep, wild magic that’s as old as the world itself. It’s in you too, my darling girl, and in me, and in every living creature, be it ever so small. Even the dirt I’m sweeping up now is stardust. In fact, all of us are made from the stuff of stars.” ―Kate Forsyth


Gratitude List:
1. Waking up in the night to the sound of rain. Some of my best memories of childhood are of the sound of a morning rain on the tin roof of our house that overlooked Lake Victoria.
2. Time to organize and prepare. My parents have given me a couple child-free days in which to work.
3. Breath. How deepening my breathing shifts me into a calmer and less reactive space.
4. Weaving stories together. I know I offer this one rather often, but it appears in so many places in my life: in gatherings of friends and family, in the story-telling mornings at church, in the back-and-forth sharing on Facebook, sometimes in spontaneous moments with strangers.  One person begins to string the warp of a tale, then hands the thread to someone else, who maybe extends the story already begun, or adds a new texture and color of her own. Others join, adding contrasting strands of weft. Sometimes someone seems to cut the strands altogether, and we wait, and watch, and then a new pattern begins to emerge, and as startling as it is, it’s often just the right element at the moment. Real and vulnerable sharing allows us to weave our lives together in powerful ways. It’s one of the Mysteries, I think.
5. The blank space. The empty page. The moment of nothing. Note to self: You don’t have to fill up everything.

May we walk in Beauty!

Situated in Time and Place


If you look really closely, there’s a message hidden in there.

I am re-posting this piece I wrote last year on this day. Reminding myself how the gratitude practice keeps me centered:

Working with gratitude helps me to situate myself in time and place.

During these times of reflection, I am often hyper-aware of being here in this moment, right here, where I listen to the birdnews of the moment, the sounds of the day waking up, the thumps and bumbles of the smallfolk upstairs waking up.

This moment, where I look around to see the way the sun leans in or yawns behind grey haze.
This moment when I sit in expectation of the bright yellow falling leaf, the flash of birdwing across my window, the way sun sparkles on spiderweb.
This moment, in which yesterday’s movement is written in the aches and quirks of my muscles, the curve of my spine.

From the anchor of this moment, reflecting on the list takes me backward and elsewhere, to the color and shape of yesterday, to the shining white pebbles of moments past. I can pick them up and examine them, say, this one and I remember. I can watch how those pebbles are spun into golden strands sustained over time: The presence of a tiny impossible bird in this span of days. The season of the tang of tomato and the sweetness of basil. The long lazy days spent with the exploring feet and minds of my children.

The dailiness of the list also takes me forward into time. This has become my homework, the job I carry with me into each day. It is one of the anchoring ropes which I hold as I step into uncertain future, feeling my way in the grey mist as I go. Stepping forward with the search for gratitude on the agenda means I must go with an open heart, an open mind, searching not only for things, for items to check off my list, but for connections. It means walking into the future as into a puzzle, looking for five pieces of the coming day that will help me to shape the meaning of the picture that surrounds me.

I have been wondering lately at how this has become a habit, how I feel anxious and unmoored if I miss my daily list. For years, it was a thing I would do on occasion, as the mood hit, but in the past several months, it has become a deeper spiritual practice. I shift it from time to time, asking myself questions, or writing the list as a poem. Still, instead of becoming boring or tedious, it has become ever more a place where I can talk to myself, remind myself who I am, where I am, what I am doing here.


Nigerian writer Ben Okri: “Beware of the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.”
*
“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?” —Siddhartha Gautama
*
“The object and goal of all spirituality is finally the same: union, divine love, inner aliveness, soul abundance, generous service to neighbor and the world.” —Richard Rohr
*
“Only hour-by-hour gratitude is strong enough to overcome all temptations to resentment.” —Richard Rohr
*
From Garrison Keillor: “And it was on this day in 1945 that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. It was the first time that a nuclear weapon was ever used in warfare, and only the second time that a nuclear weapon had ever been exploded. It was dropped over Hiroshima at 8:15 in the morning. It exploded 1,900 feet above the ground. Capt Robert Lewis watched the explosion from his cockpit and wrote in his journal, ‘My God, what have we done?'”


Gratitude List:
1. The voice of Rhiannon Giddens
2. The words of Wendell Berry
3. The wide world of Georgia O’Keefe
4. The enriching thought of Clarissa Pinkola Estes
5. The activism of Jane Goodall

May we walk in Beauty!

The Breathing of Trees


Blues Brothers are too cool for the storm, at Jimmy Mack’s.

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” – Ray Bradbury
*
“How do you think you’ll ever see the fairy underneath the flowers, if you never stop to notice the flowers themselves?” –Marie Winger, storyteller
*
I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing Light of your Being. ~Hafiz
*
“We do not become healers. We came as healers. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not become storytellers. We came as carriers of the stories we and our ancestors actually lived. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not become artists. We came as artists. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not become writers, dancers, musicians, helpers, peacemakers. We came as such. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not learn to love in this sense. We came as Love. We are Love. Some of us are still catching up to who we truly are.”
~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
*
“The need comes on me now
to speak across the years
to those who finally will live here
after the present ruin, in the absence
of most of my kind who by now
are dead, or have given their minds
to machines and become strange,
“over-qualified” for the hard
handwork that must be done
to remake, so far as humans
can remake, all that humans
have unmade. To you, whoever
you may be, I say: Come,
meaning to stay. Come,
willing to learn what this place,
like no other, will ask of you
and your children, if you mean
to stay. “This land responds
to good treatment,” I heard
my father say time and again
in his passion to renew, to make
whole, what ill use had broken.
And so to you, whose lives
taken from the life of this place
I cannot foretell, I say:
Come, and treat it well.”

by Wendell Berry
*
“Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality. Language creates the reality it describes.”
— Desmond Tutu
*
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
— Dalai Lama
*
“Something is out there,
just behind that veil of mist.
And why, O Traveler,
should you assume
it to be troublesome?”
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“You were wild once. Don’t let them tame you.”
–Isadora Duncan
*
“If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.”
–Meister Eckhart
*
“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” –Mahatma Gandhi


Gratitude List:
1.The fun of painting my son’s room yesterday
2. Being done with the painting
3. Dreaming of finding beautiful stones
4. Bridges
5. The breathing of trees

May we walk in Beauty!

Same Waters, Different Waters


Last summer: Two friends in their fort.

“To love is to recognize yourself in another.” ~Eckhart Tolle
*
“You can never really go back to the same waters. Not only are you no longer the same, but neither are the waters you left. The current has changed. The elements of nature have affected the stream. When you return, although it appears the same, it really is a different river and you are a different person. Therefore, you cannot cross the same river twice.”
– Alice Walker
*
Silent Friend
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face

grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.
*
TreeSong
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The ancient ones know.
They will tell you the way.
Stand quietly before them.
Let their stillness enter you.
Listen for their songs of mystery.
*
“Who will tell us who we are
when the voices of the trees are silenced?
Who will give us direction
when the sentinels of the forest
can no longer tell us the way?”
Beth Weaver-Kreider

*
Gratitude WingTanka
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Impossible things
that actually exist,
like the hummingbird.
how she hovers, how she hums,
how she flies like a whisper.
*
The Real Work
by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
*
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” ~Rachel Carson


Gratitude List:
1. Here is a marvel: I made him inside me, but this boy knows so much more than I do. The Chromebook just kicked itself off the wi-fi (or something). He tinkered with something on his iPad for a few minutes, and suddenly everything worked again. It’s such a marvel to see them grow and develop like this. I knew that they would learn their way ahead of me, but I had no idea it would be happening this early, or this incomprehensibly.
2. Creating spaces
3. Bridges, pathways, doorways, webs
4. Defining my own terms
5. Homemade rice pudding

May we walk in Beauty!

Cocooned


The hollow is cocooned in a bowl of fog and mist. The songbirds are striking up the second movement in the dawn chorus, and the gang of crows that were arguing in the bosque has moved on to other venues. The mourning dove is giving voice to her emotions. Perhaps three cars have passed in the hour I have been sitting here.

I have been thinking more about how we live in layers, how the past and the present come together in this moment, and sometimes we seem to be living in the layers of time simultaneously. In recent years, Facebook has become my diary, showing me what I have done on this day in years past. I have been fascinated by some of the uncanny coincidences. We went to the Shoe House for ice cream on the exact same day two years in a row–the only two times we have taken our children there. Yesterday before we took Fred to the vet to release him from his pain and confusion, Jon had a tender encounter with a hummingbird who hovered for a few seconds so close to him that he could hear her wings. This morning, I read that two years ago yesterday, I had a similar encounter with a hummingbird. These are lovely little whimsical connections, but they draw my mind to the deeper ones, to the circles and spirals and overlaps of my existence here. Nothing that happens has happened before. Everything has happened before. All moments are unique and separate, and all moments are one single moment.

Sometimes I would like to be one of those crows and sail above the landscape of my life, looking for patterns, gaining perspective. I suppose these moments of reflection are just that. But I can’t live my life with that sort of distance, that sort of intellectual fascination. I have to live down here, in the moments that come, holding within me the fragments of the map as I glimpse them, and experiencing everything as though it is both the freshest and newest thing and also a part of the ancient pattern.
*****

I have done very little writing of my own this summer, choosing instead to curate the words of others. In the past decade, I have been honing my craft, finding my voice, building up a body of poems. I have self-published two little books, and that has been immensely satisfying, but I am feeling unsettled again, like I need to find my voice in a wider space. I have been playing with submitting poems and short stories to various publications this summer, and garnering the requisite rejections. I am not discouraged, although I have come to the realization that I need to find a better focus for the work of submission. I have worked in publishing myself (25 years ago), yet I still don’t think I have the requisite savvy for the art of selling my work to the appropriate venues.  That’s my goal for the coming season–not just to submit my poems to random contests and magazines, but to target publications that might appreciate my particular perspectives. Advice is always welcome.


“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” ~James Baldwin
*
“Three things cannot be hidden: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.” ~ Gautama Buddha
*
“Those doing soul work, who want the searing truth more than solace or applause, know each other right away. Those who want something else turn and take a seat in another room. Soul-makers find each other’s company” ~ Rumi
*
“Going within is the only way out.” ~Toko-pa Turner
*
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”
~Thomas Merton
*
“Let me fall, if I must. The one I will become will catch me.” ~Baal Shem Tov
*
“The sky itself
Reels with love.”
—Rumi
*
“That’s a tough spirituality. That’s not any kind of sweet-by-and-by spirituality. That’s a spirituality that takes on the world as it is and says, ‘I’m gonna figure this out one way or another.’ The mystic and the Moses.” ~Vincent Harding (On Being interview)
*
“How do you survive through time and chance,
through the twisty songs of fate?
Plant your roots deep,
cling to rock and boulder.
Send your strong trunk up into sky.
Live in the stillness.
Breathe.” ~Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“May you know the fearlessness of an open heart. May you never meet anyone you consider a stranger, and know that no matter what, you are not alone. May you have compassion for others’ suffering and joy in their delights. May you be free to give and receive love.” –Sharon Salzberg
*
“In our culture, we use the word ‘dreamy’ derogatively to describe someone who is unrealistic or without ambition. But what thrills and amazes me about dreamwork is how truly grounding it is. One of the reasons this is true, is because dreams are expressions of that larger ecosystem in which we are embedded, and which has a design for our lives within that greater context! So rather than taking our cues from consensus culture, instead we are listening to the mystery which combines us. As Jungian analyst Ann Bedford Ulanov puts it, “the Self is that within us that knows about God.” So when we come together in dreamsharing community, our symbols can begin to heal one another as we work within our psychic commons.” – Dreamwork with Toko-pa


Gratitude List:
1. The tenderness of the folks at St. Francis Animal Hospital. They gave us space to grieve, and one woman walked us out to the car afterward. There’s a hole in our hearts, and we were at loose ends much of the day yesterday, but we are grateful that Fred is no longer suffering. It’s the contract we make when we take animals into our care, that we will be ready to make the hard decision to relieve them of their pain when life is about endurance rather than contentment.
2. These quiet moments on the porch, in the fog, in the bowl of birdsong and silence.
3. The work of the coming day. This is the season of clearing clutter and making spaces that work for us.
4. Yesterday’s storm.
5. The human urge to create and to make.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Visible Soul of a Home


We are saying goodbye to Fred today. His confusion about his sudden blindness and the constant pain despite medication have made his life one of endurance rather than contentment. Fred is a mensch of a cat. He’s been quick to express his needs and wants, quick to respond to those of others. He took his work seriously, whether it was upping the harvest of mice and voles when we brought babies home from the hospital, or patrolling the perimeter of the farm for irregularities, or welcoming visitors to the farm, or monitoring the feasts at break time. He gave the best kitty hugs and head boops. We will miss him terribly, at the same time that we are feeling relieved that he will no longer suffer.


“First things first, but not necessarily in that order.” —Doctor Who
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“There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat.” —Tay Hohoff
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“I love cats because I love my home and after a while they become its visible soul.”
—Jean Cocteau
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“A little drowsing cat is an image of perfect beatitude.”
—Jules Champfleury
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“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”
—James Herriot
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“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.” —Albert Schweitzer
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“Be wary of any influence in your environment which dismisses or judges your enthusiasm. Without it, we would become anaesthetised to life itself. Anyone who demands this smallness of you is in danger themselves and may have contracted this insidious, deadening monotone. Enthusiasm is the vitality of spirit expressing itself through us and its grace in our voice should be welcomed and cherished. The word originates in the early 17th century, from the Greek enthousiasmos meaning ‘possessed by god.’ Now, more than ever, the world needs your enlargement, your weirdness, your fiery crescendos of rebellion from boring.”
—Dreamwork with Toko-pa


Gratitude List:
1. Spontaneous moments of joy: Little voice in the next aisle over in the grocery store: “HAAAAA-we-yu-ya! “HAAAAA-we-yu-ya!” A little bit of Handel, and pitch perfect.
2. Purring, the sound of contentment
3. The way cats teach us Presence
4. Our family in Campbelltown have been visited by a white hummingbird–magic is all around us, if we would care to look.
5. Clearing spaces. We gave away the piano yesterday, and we’re setting up a bedroom for Ellis in the “little room” upstairs. Now other things can shift, and other kids of clearing will follow.

May we walk in Beauty!

Giving Voice

Today is Lammas, or Lughnassad, the midpoint (give or take a couple days) between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox. Traditionally, it was celebrated as a day of joyful harvest. The wheat would have been harvested and ground into flour, and people would bake loaves of bread and bring them to the churches and community celebrations for blessing the harvest of the year.

Here at Goldfinch Farm, this is the Season of the Ripening Tomato, the Season of Butterflies, the Season of Basil, of Zinnias, of Hummingbirds, of Cicadas.

What will you make of your harvest this year?
What shape will you give to your loaves?
What do you notice happening in the world around you?
What images and messages will you carry with you into the coming season?


“You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.”  ―Annie Dillard
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“The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.” ―Rabindranath Tagore
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“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”  ―Thich Nhat Hanh
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“In the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration.”
—Thomas Berry
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“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” —Jerry Garcia
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“I would like you to show me, if you can, where the line can be drawn between the organism and its environment. The environment is in you. It’s passing through you. You’re breathing it in and out. You and every other creature.” —Wendell Berry
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“Engrave this upon your heart: there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you heard their story.”
—Mary Lou Kownacki
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“I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things.” —Mary Oliver
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“What is it in your life that calls you to be bigger than you think is possible for yourself and for the world?” —Julia Butterfly Hill


Gratitude List:
1. Letting go
2. Grabbing hold
3. Slipping through
4. Standing silently
5. The wheel turns

May we walk in Beauty!