Rage and Rain and Rest

I copped out a little on the Lenten unloading today. I was tired and cranky, so I pulled out several pieces of jewelry. I know I have too much jewelry, and it’s not particularly painful or brave to give away jewelry.

I find rage to be exhausting. It’s a seemingly constant barrage of tragedies born of our lack of political will to stand up to the NRA and fight for the lives of our nation’s children. If you want to be pro-life in this day, #breaktheNRA. Don’t vote for any politician who gets political money from the NRA.

Gratitude List:
1. As always, the music chapels at school are a lift and a treasure. students show tremendous courage and vulnerability to go on stage and perform. And they’re incredibly gifted.
2. The helpers. Mr. Rogers says to look for the helpers.
3. Rain and rest. Sleep-inducing rain on the roof.
4. It’s almost Friday
5. Cats. Whenever a human is sick, the cats seem to feel it their bounden duty to sit upon the sick one until she feels better. Cats are natural Reiki masters. I am not sick, really, but I caught that cold, and cat therapy has helped.

May we walk in Beauty.



Last night, I made this (perhaps) rather rash statement about my intentions for the Season of Brigid, this Lent: “That’s it then: Every day during Lent, I will jettison one physical item that keeps me from living a full interior life. Clutter tends to imprison my spirit, and this Lent will be about freeing myself from some of the bondage of my stuff. One thing a day for the season that takes us to Easter and Ostara, filling the whole season of Brigid with clearing and Cleansing.”

During the Season of Brigid, the six weeks from Imbolc (February 2) to Ostara (Spring Equinox), I like to focus on cleansing and cleaning and clearing. Brigid asks for focus and commitment; lightening the burden of the physical clutter helps me to keep my focus on my inner work.

Similarly, the work of Lent (which falls in the same season) is to give up our attachment to the things and addictions that keep us from focusing on the inner work, on the path of Love.

I like the word “jettison” that I used there. I think it might become my theme-word for the season. It feels a little drastic, like perhaps the ship is sinking. Although I don’t feel that sort of desperation, I like the sense that it lightens the burden, lets the boat float higher in the water.

Today’s objects to let go are my four brass candlesticks. I have kept them on top of Grandma Weaver’s glass-fronted cabinet, where they have slowly been tarnishing and gathering dust in the years we have lived in this house. Since we have had children, we rarely burn candles, for fear of tipping and burning. They belong to an earlier stage of my life, one that I let go with joy as I continue to live into the next stages of being a mother. First Baby now has a startling peach-fuzz mustache. I suppose I’ve become a little dusty and tarnished, too, in the years of that transformation.

As I carried the candlesticks out to the giveaway box, they rang against each other, and made such sweet music, I almost returned them to their shelf for the joy it gave me. But no, someone else will polish them and love them and treasure them, music and shine and shimmer and all.

Breathing Through the Angh-

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” —L.R. Knost
“When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God.” —Leviticus, 19:33
“In times of uncertainty, the most difficult thing to do is to stop searching for detours. It can be tempting to act from the desperation one feels when an abyss opens around you, but all of the ego’s equipment is useless in these dark regions. Instead, consider this an invitation to deepen your trust – to renew your committed heart to its course. After all, every creation was first seeded in an absence.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” —Maya Angelou
“Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths,
love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock
molten, yet dense and permanent.
Go down to your deep old heart, and lose sight of yourself.
And lose sight of me, the me whom you turbulently loved.
Let us lose sight of ourselves, and break the mirrors.
For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths
out of sight, in the deep living heart.
But say, in the dark wild metal of your heart
is there a gem, which came into being between us?
is there a sapphire of mutual trust, a blue spark?
Is there a ruby of fused being, mine and yours, an inward glint?”
—D. H. Lawrence
“When we enter this world with waking consciousness we put on our earthly suit of clothes. We move slower, but the principles are the same. Sometimes I like to move through this conscious realm as if I were dreaming. In dreaming we are more in touch with how our thoughts create immediately and dynamically. If I think myself into the heart of the song, there I am, or a plant, or a knot of pain that is asking for forgiveness, there I am. So much knowing opens up then. We are all part of each other.” —Joy Harjo
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ―Rabindranath Tagore

Five years ago, I wrote this thing that keeps me breathing:

“This morning when we were playing with our gnomes, Joss decided that the gnome house was on fire, and he raced to get a group of gnomes to put it out. “Red! We need all the red gnomes!” Exactly–to put out a fire, it takes lots of red gnomes. Ellis chimed in, “And Minus! We need the Minus Gnome! Because a house with fire Minus the fire is just a house!”

Sometimes I sure would like to use some of Minus Gnome’s magic on me. An anxious Beth Minus anxiety is just Beth. Angst-ridden, anger-struck Beth Minus angst and anger? Beth. So that’s a nice little thing to do with meditation. Of course as soon as I began to work with the idea, it hit me again that the angers and angsts are so often born of compassion and caring, and for those I have been seeking the services of Multiplication Gnome. I need to untangle the compassion from its attendant anger at injustice, its partner anxiety at losses to those I love.

Wow. Look at those words that I wanted to get rid of: Angst, Anxiety, Anger. . .I looked them up, along with their sister Anguish. There at their root is angh-, which comes from the Indo-European language tree, and generally refers to distress of some sort. That lovely vowel–ah–cut short in the back of the throat, closed up along with all hope of breath: Angh!

Fear, shame, anger, distress: what sound emerges when you truly feel them? Angh! Choke.

But still, that lovely vowel–ah–the first we say in so many languages: Mama, Abba, Baba, Dada, Nana, Papa. The opposite of the choke, our family names, our names for the Ineffable Mystery: they release the breath in a tender sigh. Ah. There we go.

When I get really stuck in the Angh, I can dislodge that choke with a little Hahaha, a great belly laugh to force the air back through, a little spiritual CPR, so to speak. Or skip down the street with a Tra-la-la, a little song to start up the rhythm of breathing again. Or a little eureka, a bright discovery with a great Aha!

So the next time I wake up at three in the morning, suddenly filled with the dread of what is happening to this world that I have brought these light-filled children into, or choked with shame for some harshness I have spoken to their tender hearts, I think I will apply the Ah!, the Mama, the Ha! and see if that breath can be a lullaby to take my spirit back to sleep.”

Learning to Read the Language of the World

Gratitude List:
1. Keeping up with the work. I’m starting out better this semester. Better focus. Better organization.
2. The color orange. Saffron. Tangerine. Burnt Umber.
3. Student poetry. Really. I don’t know that I was trying particularly hard to impart the craft of the poem this semester, but some of these poems in the unit project are really quite amazing.
4. Reflection and reflection
5. Re-membering

May we walk in Beauty!

This is something I wrote in 2015, when Joss was 5 years old:

Today when we had walked to the top of the hill, we stopped to examine that big patch of ice that formed when water pooled just above the eastern corner of the fields beside the little grassy airstrip at the top of the ridge. It formed a nice ice-puddle which Joss immediately dubbed his very own skating rink. I got to increase the step-count on my pedometer by walking around and around and around the puddle, holding on to his hand as he skidded and slipped over the icy surface. It was a classic Christopher Robin moment, a small boy happily involved in the imaginative possibilities of the moment.

At one point, he lay down on the ice, and said, “Oh! It’s beautiful! There’s writing here!”

The ice had crystallized in a hieroglyphic pattern across the surface.

“Can you read it?” I asked him.

“No. It’s in cursive.”

But there’s not a shred of doubt in your mind, Small One, that the writing is there to be read, if only one can crack that cursive code. I know the feeling. I had experienced it myself only moments before, watching a flock of Canada geese honking their way toward the River in front of a Michelangelo sunset sky, the shifting patterns of Vs undulating across the clouds. I had the same feeling as we were watching the robins moving through the fields, the dark brown of their backs seeming to make the very earth bubble and boil like a live thing. I get that feeling when I see bird tracks in the snow like cuneiform writing on the most transitory of tablets. And it’s the same feeling I get when I see a branch or twig that has been burrowed by small insects who leave behind their trails in the wood, like a complex system of writing just waiting for me to figure it out.

Perhaps it’s just that age-old human trick of trying to make sense and meaning out of the seemingly random patterns of a chaotic natural world. Or perhaps it’s an intrinsic awareness that we all have, that even if the random patterns about us do not make alphabetical sense, there’s an underlying order or patterning to everything around us, a purposefulness.

Maybe the point is not so much the attempt to decipher the coded purpose in the pattern, but to notice it and wonder at it where and when we see it, to lie down right there on the ice and say, “Oh, it’s beautiful! There’s writing here!”

The Holy in the Mundane

“You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch. This [the Golden Globe Awards] is a definitional moment in the culture. It’ll never be the same going forward.” —Steve Bannon, according to Josh Green (Sounds about right. Let’s make it so.)
“Your job is to find the holy in the mundane, and, failing that, to create the holy in the mundane.” —Norman O.Brown (via Rob Brezsny)
“Real Presence is everywhere.” —Richard Rohr
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” —Henry David Thoreau
“There is an endless net of threads throughout
the universe. The horizontal threads are in space.
The vertical threads are in time.” —Rig Veda
“Beneath the snow and ice, the earth is waiting. In their beautiful little envelopes, the seeds are dreaming of you.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider

Gratitude List:
1. Masala Chai
2. Mysore Sandal Soap, how it makes the whole bathroom smell holy
3. The flour and rice aisle at the Everest Grocery–reminds me of the scent of little shops in Musoma
4. Kedi, the movie. I have fallen in love with the people of Istanbul. I think you should watch it, too. It’s a movie about cats, but it’s really a movie about people.
5. The mysteries that elude the religious people and the scientists, like the deep story of how a monarch finds its way to a place its grandparents left. Or whether there are planets out there somewhere that might harbor life.

May we walk in Beauty!

Words that Lead Me Through the Labyrinth

Gratitude List:
(Reprise from 2016)
1. Words that lead me through the labyrinth
2. Words that open doors and build bridges
3. Words that nudge and tickle and surprise
4. Words that scour and scrub and wake me up
5. Words that wonder and question and probe
6. Words that frame and structure and organize
7. Words that soothe and hold and bless
8. Words that weave people together

May our words be the right ones for each moment.

Speak Your Story

This is the poem I presented at the education conference I attended this weekend. I came away from the conference inspired and energized. The answer, behind all the pedagogical strategies and theories and techniques, is always Love.

And the Third Circle is the Heart
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

“The eye is the first circle, the horizon which it forms is the second: and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

The heart, too, is a circle,
the horizon expanding to infinity
or contracting into a small black hole.

The round bud of the heart
opens, the radius expanding.

The work, you say, is to keep opening,
casting that radius wider
at every turn of the wheel,
to hold everything within its protective arc,
the bright flowers and the white-hot stones.

When I begin to say
that I am you and you are I
then the pain that you wear
must wound me too.

This is the work,
to widen that horizon that lies within
to hold the world, if we must.

This is the burden
we choose
to carry:

To be watchers,
to inwardly transmute
these stones we are given to bear
into gems of great value.

To keep soft,
to let the ego
slip down
into a weightless place.

Speak your story.
Let it fall like a stone
into the quiet pool of my heart.
The circles expand out and outward,
not matter but pure energy,
more doors opening.

I see you.
I feel you.
I know you.
I recognize myself in you.

These are the doors we step into.
These are the circles we enter.


Gratitude List:
1. Collegiality
2. Stepping out of my comfort zone
3. Wise mentors
4. Listening
5. Being heard

May we walk in Beauty!

Shadows and Sunshine

Tonight we stand at another of those corners of the year, the moment in the space between solstice and equinox, the full womb of winter.

It’s Candlemass, the time to melt your gathered beeswax into candles to make light for the coming year. Take them to the church for the priest to bless. Make a place for your fire. Prepare the vessels of illumination. Get your house in order.

It’s the season of the pregnant ewe. What do you feel quickening within you? How will you protect and prepare for the new thing that is striving to be born within you? Can you feel it kicking?

It’s the season of Brigid, patroness (call her saint or goddess, she’ll answer to both) of metalwork, of healing, of poetry. What do you create in your forges? What is being tempered, tested, forged within you? What does your medicine bag look like? What is your healing role? How will you make your words artful?

It’s the season of the groundhog, popping up in the morning to search for his shadow. What is your own relationship to your shadow? What do you bring into the light? What do you hold in reserve? What secrets will you protect in your darkness? What will your shadow teach you?

Song for Brigid’s Day
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Do you feel how the world comes alive?
How even underneath its coat of snow,
inside the bright crystals of the ice,
something in the Earth is stirring?

Within your own eyes I see it rising–
in this breath,
and now this one–
the Dreamer is awakening.

The dawn has come,
spreading its golden road before you,
asking, “Will you step upon the pathway?”

As you move out onto the road,
Brigid’s sun upon your face
will trace your outline full behind you,
defining you in the Shadow
which will be your soul’s companion
into spring.

Luna on the Hill

I wrote this poem on 8 October 2014, after seeing part of a lunar eclipse one early morning on my way to work. This morning, again, as we crested Pisgah ridge, the ball of the moon was rolling off over the far hills, a smudge of Earth-shadow beginning to veil her face.

What Moth? What Butterfly?
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The raucous owls were silent in their bamboo haunts
this morning as I rushed up the hill to meet the moon
emerging from her umbral shadow,
from her ombre ochre cocoon.

What moth will she become?
What butterfly will I?

I sat a moment at the junction where my road
meets the ridge, Mt. Pisgah Road before me,
then the tidy fence,
the dusky hill meadow,
a lacy line of trees across the hilltop,
and the changing moon above in chestnut orange glory
nestled into the indigo dawning.

I caught glimpses of her on my way down the ridge
and then in my mirror as I crossed the bridge
over the water and under the last dusk of night
and I saw then that she was only now just fading into the shadow,
only entering her transformation.

I had to leave her there behind me to do her work
behind the veils of dusky morning
while I drove into the shining pink of sunrise,
Venus riding high before me
and two crows above,
lifting their wings in alleluia.