Rivers of Story

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.” ―Maya Angelou
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“I have come to bring out the beauty you never knew you had, and lift you up like a prayer to the sky.” ―Rumi
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“The world has been abnormal for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.” —Madeleine L’Engle
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“Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature,
but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature.” —St. Augustine
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“If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you’re good enough. Just do it. Be generous. Offer a gift to the world that no one else can offer: yourself.” —Glennon Doyle Melton
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“See there! In your palm
are the rivers of story,
of constellations,
dragonfly wings, the pathways
of the heart: love, grief, desire.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
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Lunar Eclipse
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.
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New Moon Haiku
“The now-naked arms
of the walnut tree cradle
the newly-born moon.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” —attributed to Leonardo da Vinci


Gratitude List:
1. Manna: there will be enough
2. Silence but for the night singers
3. Seeking the bridges to span the chasms
4. Rain and coolness
5. Potluck

May we walk in Beauty!

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Bubble Dragon

I wrote this last year, and it’s even more true today, if that’s possible:
“You know that exercise you do, where you list 12 famous people, dead or alive, that you would invite to dinner? I always loved that, seating Joan of Arc next to Harriet Tubman and Hildegarde of Bingen next to Starhawk. I love to ponder such conversations.

“Still, lately the table I fantasize about setting includes many more than 12, and all of you are living souls whom I know here in this space. Many of you I have never met in person, in this lifetime at least, and some of you I see rarely or never anymore, but I treasure who we have been together, and I am grateful for re-connection here in this place. Oh, how we would laugh and talk and sing and weep and eat until the wee hours if we were to set such a table. We’d need a many-day feast, I think.

“Thank you for being my friends.”
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“One tree is like another tree, but not too much. One tulip is like the next tulip, but not altogether. More or less like people – a general outline, then the stunning individual strokes. Hello Tom, hello Andy. Hello Archibald Violet, and Clarissa Bluebell. Hello Lilian Willow, and Noah, the oak tree I have hugged and kissed every first day of spring for the last thirty years. And in reply its thousand of leaves tremble! What a life is ours! Doesn’t anybody in the world anymore want to get up in the middle of the night and sing?” —Mary Oliver
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“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
—John Keats
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“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”
—Rumi
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“My friends, it is solidarity of labor we want. We do not want to find fault with each other, but to solidify our forces and say to each other: ‘We must be together; our masters are joined together and we must do the same thing.’” —Mother Jones
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“Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” —Franklin Roosevelt


Gratitude List:
1. Wise friends
2. Thoughtful teenagers
3. Real, actual compassionate souls
4. Eggs on toast–comfort food
5. Sweater weather

May we walk in Beauty!

Truth is a Mirror


Time is Telling.

“The heart is the house of empathy whose door opens when we receive the pain of others. This is where bravery lives, where we’ll find our mettle to give and receive, to love and be loved, to stand in the center of uncertainty with strength, not fear, understanding this is all there is. The heart is the path to wisdom because it dares to be vulnerable in the presence of power.”
—Terry Tempest Williams
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“To understand the world knowledge is not enough. You must see it, touch it, live in its presence.”
–Teilhard de Chardin
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“When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” — Maya Angelou
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“Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.” –Pablo Neruda
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“Not to spoil the ending for you, but everything is going to be okay.” –Anonymous
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“may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old …” –e.e. cummings
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“Truth was a mirror in the hands of God
It fell, and broke into pieces.
Everybody took a piece of it,
and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.” –Rumi


Gratitude List:
1. Collegiality. I really enjoy the people I work with. Laughing together is powerful social glue.
2. Cool mornings and rain.
3. Supper at Mexitaly last night. Big burrito with mango habanero sauce!
4. These cats. I know it’s an obsession these days. Thorby is so funny, flopping on the floor for belly rubs and petting his own face. Sachs still likes quiet, secluded spaces, but I no longer have to snort dust bunnies under the bed in order to get to know him. He comes out for regular petting sessions and purring.
5. Three deer in the horse field near Highpoint last evening when the sun was slanting in.

May we walk in Beauty!

Words

 

“The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.”  ― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
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“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
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“I hold the most archaic values on earth … the fertility of the soul, the magic of the animals, the power-vision in solitude…. the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.” ― Gary Snyder
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“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh
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“The study of silence has long engrossed me. The matrix of a poet’s work consists not only of what is there to be absorbed and worked on, but also of what is missing, desaparecido, rendered unspeakable, thus unthinkable.” ―Adrienne Rich
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“Be ready to be surprised by the crazy, wonderful events that will come dancing out of your past when you stir the pot of memory. Embrace those long-lost visitors.” ―William Zinsser
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Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds. ―Bob Marley


Gratitude List:
1. Fridays
2. Owl calling in the pre-dawn
3. Artists
4. Dreams
5. Words

May we walk in Beauty!

Walk in Beauty

“And when she wanted to see the face of God, she didn’t look up or away; she looked into the eyes of the person sitting next to her. Which is harder, and better.” –Glennon Doyle Melton
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“As long as your curiosity is greater than your fear,
you will move forward.”
–Mehmet Murat Ildan
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“What is this precious love and laughter
Budding in our hearts?
It is the glorious sound
Of a soul waking up!” –Hafiz
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“We write poems in order to engage in the perilous yet necessary struggle to inhabit ourselves—our real selves, the ones we barely recognize—more completely.” –Tracy K. Smith
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“Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.” –Nelson Mandela
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“It is time for the next generations to continue our struggle against social injustice and for the rights of humanity. It is in your hands.” –Nelson Mandela
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WALKING IN BEAUTY
A Navajo Prayer

In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again

Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo
T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’


Gratitude List/Examen:
1. (What do you hear?) The fog here in the holler creates an interesting aural field. I feel like I am sitting in an isolated country space, with the sound of Cabin Creek gurbling down there, Susan’s wind chimes, a wren, a robin, a cardinal, some little chittery thing in the leaves of the sycamore. And then there are distant echoes that come from outside this inverted bowl of fog: an airplane, highway traffic, and a rooster, up the hill.
2. (What is satisfying?) Taking the wallpaper off the wall in the little room upstairs. Why is that so supremely satisfying, the feel of the paper coming off in strips?
3. (What do you see?) The umbrella arms of my sycamore friend, enclosing and sheltering this part of the hollow. I call her Wangari.
4. (Where does hope reside?) In knowing I am not alone, in knowing that small things become big things, that many of us together—doing our work—can make change.
5. (What are the words for the day?) Work, deliberation, play, stories, thunder, fog, watchfulness.

May we walk in Beauty!

Temple of Beauty

sine

Today’s Prompt is to write a poem about a specific, everyday sort of location.

Temple of Beauty
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

I feel like an intruder in these halls of Beauty,
where the mirrors reflect each other to infinity,
and priestesses murmur dreams and blessings
into the hair of the seekers, where the smell
of exotic fruits and rare blooms mingle
with the (al)chemical tang of the unguents
and oils with which they anoint their acolytes.

I make my pilgrimage several times each year,
and perhaps it is my erratic attendance
that fills me with discomfort, the sense of not belonging
to this church of possibility, of transformation.
Yet, when I walk out the temple doors
I too am transmuted, changed,
the blessings dripping from my head
as I shake my hair in the autumn breeze.

Gratitude List:
1. Balmy weather
2. Our new neighbors are kindred spirits
3. The red Japanese maple out back
4. Sometimes actually knowing where the Yes goes, where the No goes, and how to hold the space between the two. I am grateful for all those who are helping me to practice.
5. The leathery red leaves of the little oak out back

May we walk in Beauty!

Ode to History in the Hospital

grandmas-hands1
My grandmother’s hands.

The prompt today is to write an ode or a poem dedicated to someone or something. I’ll do another in my series of History poems. I can hardly bear to remember the last one I wrote, on the eve of the Election. Poor History. She was looking so hopeful that night.

For History in the Hospital
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

She doesn’t look happy to see me.
I place the flowers on her windowsill
between a Get Well Soon balloon
and a giant teddy bear holding a red heart.

“I thought you said I didn’t have to
repeat myself–” she says. (“Repeat myself.”)
Her face is black and blue and she’s missing her front teeth.
She’s been beaten up before, I know.
Left for dead in alleyways,
trampled by the paparazzi,
mugged by dictators and tyrants.
She’ll recover. She will go on to watch it happen
again and again and again.

But this one was so sudden,
such a quick attack, and she didn’t see it coming,
despite her long association with herself.
I feel like I am partly to blame, somehow.

“I should be just a bystander,” she whispers.
“A bystander. But this kind always knocks me down.
Knocks me down.” She looks at me over the top of her spectacles.

What can I tell her? “I don’t know what to do,”
I say, the helplessness catching in my throat.

And there she is, doing what she’s done all along,
since the beginning of History herself:
she comforts me from within her own misery.
“You’ll think of something. I’ve got to get off this
whirling merry-go-round. It’s just not so merry anymore.”

I nod. “Not so merry anymore,” she repeats.

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Some suggestions for myself (and you, if you want to join me):
1. Listen to music. Music heals, as Andrea Gibson says.
2. Commit to careful, reasoned thinking before posting and re-posting.
3. Commit to careful, reasoned thinking before responding to those who disagree. Remember that we’re here to open doors for the Great Mystery in each other.
4. Check out some Joe Biden memes.
5. Hug someone you love.
6. Look into people’s eyes.
7. Stretch. Actually physically stretch. Often.
8. Breathe.
9. Listen to the pain and rage around you, but don’t take it on your shoulders.
10. Find your anchors, the people who keep you from floating away in the rage and the grief.
11. Re-read Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ “You Were Made for This.”

Gratitude List:
1. Soft tacos for supper: kale and broccoli, onions, cheese, beans.
2. The regular chiming of Grandma’s clock. When I cleaned the house, I decided to wind it up and get it ticking again.
3. Sleep. I always seem to need more of it during the dark season.
4. Forging pathways
5. Bridges. All the bridges we build, the bridges we cross.

May we walk in Beauty!

Stand Still

garden peach
Garden Peach tomatoes. Sweet, juicy, almost fruity. These two happen to be heart-shaped.

Reading Parker Palmer this morning, I again came across this poem by David Wagoner. I had such a strong reaction to this when I first read it a couple years ago that I can still recall how my skin felt as the words took hold.

Lost
by David Wagoner, from Collected Poems 1956-1976

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. you must let it find you.

Gratitude List:
1. She might not be gone. I was certain that the hummingbird had left her nest, either abandoning her eggs as unviable, or getting too skittish about all the activity below her. This is the sort of thing I worry about. Yesterday, I watched her zip up to the nest, and instead of sitting on it like she usually does, she perched on the rim, and stuck her beak down into the nest. I can’t be positive, but this appeared to be the behavior of someone feeding young ones. Holding out hope.
2. Jumping spiders. They’re sort of like teeny tiny puppies, only you don’t have to worry about who is going to take care of them. Yesterday, I encountered a tiny brown jumping spider who kept leaping from finger to finger. It was like she understood where I wanted her to jump to next. She would race toward me across the vast distance of my hand, and then look up at me, and then when the people at the picnic table laughed, she would suddenly stop and twist her body so she could look at them, and then we would resume our little game.
3. The village that raises the children. My kids hadn’t seen Sandra for several weeks, and yesterday when she came, they raced to her and couldn’t stop bending her ear. She listens to them, she converses at their level, but never talks down to them.
4. Also, the schools. Last night was Back to School night at Wrightsville Elementary. I love the teachers and administration and staff at this local elementary school. I love the friendly, earnest culture of the place.
5. Encountering Beauty–in words, in the visual realm, in the aural realm. Sort of like encountering that little spider–there are moments when Beauty seems to say, “I get you. I am here to play with you for this one bright shining moment.”

May we walk in Beauty!

Desire

luna

As you read, you can use your own name for the Great Mystery, the Force of Life, Beauty, Love:

Psalm of Desire
(14 August 2016, revised)

O God of Beauty,
God of Marvel,
God of Wonder,
the whole universe that you have made
is built upon desire:

the force that holds electrons in atomic orbit,
that keeps the planets in their dance around the sun,
and wheels the spiraled walk of galaxies
is that same force which holds us to the earth,
which pulls the tides up the beach and back,
and calls us from complacency
to yearn for something more.

Not only do we hunger for you,
but you are the very force of our longing,
the Magnet which draws us ever outward
from the limiting walls of our own egos
to seek your face in all that surrounds us,
to seek your heart in the hearts of our neighbors,
to follow the pathway that leads us homeward.
You are the Magnet which draws us, finally,
into the home of our deepest selves,
where we are most truly
what you have made us to be.

Our yearning for you is an echo
of your own yearning for your children.

May we carry the knowledge within us,
deep in our cellular constellations,
pulled with the tides of our blood,
that our own deepest longings
are the echoes of your voice
calling us to you.

Draw us ever closer to your Center,
as the sun holds the planets in constant orbit,
as a mother draws her child to her heart,
that our longing may lead us always to you,
our Truest Home.

Gratitude List:
1. Preparing the heart space. So much work remains to be done, but the work on the heart moves on apace. (I copied this from last year’s August 15 list.)
2. Memories of luna moth. I haven’t seen any this year (yet), but I love looking at photos from other years.
3. How Love will always trump dogma. Generous spirits.
4. The wise and loving community.
5. Feathers. Wings. Wind. Flight.

May we walk in Beauty!