The Questions You Came For

Today’s Prompt is to write either a traditional sonnet or other structured poem, or an anti-form poem. I was going to try a sonnet, but I don’t think I have it in me tonight. Instead, an inelegant little haiku:

This doctor checks my
heartbeat, then prescribes purring:
It’s cat medicine.


“I touch God in my song
as the hill touches the far-away sea
with its waterfall.
The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.”
—Rabindranath Tagore
***
Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
“We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds beacons, causes proper matters to catch fire.To display the lantern of of soul in shadowy times like these -to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.”
***
“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” —Brooke Hampton
***
“Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things.
Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God.
Every creature is a word of God.
If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature—even a caterpillar—
I would never have to prepare a sermon.
So full of God is every creature.”
—Meister Eckhart
***
“We live in a world of theophanies. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can only happen if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure.”
—Macrina Wiederkehr
***
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” ―J.R.R. Tolkien
***
You have been walking through desert for centuries,
walking for hundreds of miles toward mountains.
Suddenly there in your path stands the guardian.

Every quest, every dream, every task has its challenger–
She who will stand at the gate of your destiny,
waiting to ask you the questions you came for:

What is the thing that you fear? Can you face it?
What is the name of the monster that haunts you?
Can you look death in the eye and say, “Feed Me”?

If She reveals Herself at your parting,
you must be ready to hold what She offers you:
a small golden aster and three white-hot stones.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
Yes

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could you know. That’s why we wake
and look out–no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.
―William Stafford


Gratitude List:
(I am achy and chilled tonight–hoping to get a substitute for classes tomorrow so I can kick this cold.)
1. The bright souls who populate my classes.
2. A warm bathrobe
3. This warm cat. Sachs seems to sense that I am under the weather, and he’s been clinging to me like velcro tonight. Cats are the original Reiki practitioners.
4. Warm socks
5. Sleep

May we walk in Beauty!

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Grace Beyond Chance

A little Wendell Berry, an excerpt from The Wheel:

In a mist of light
falling with the rain
I walk this ground
of which dead men
and women I have loved
are part, as they
are part of me. In earth,
in blood, in mind,
the dead and the living
into each other pass,
as the living pass
in and out of loves
as stepping to a song.
The way I go is
marriage to this place,
grace beyond chance,
love’s braided dance
covering the world.
*
“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who you are and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” –Maya Angelou
*
“Sometimes it seems as though the Wildest One (you might call her God, or the Universe, or Love) is actively meddling in the affairs of mortals, like I am given a thing to learn, and then immediately after am handed the situations necessary for practice and integration.” –Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“You don’t need to attend every argument you are invited to.” –anonymous (possibly Zig Ziglar)


Gratitude List:
1. We are definitely at lap cat stage in our relationship. Thor is often so hyperactive that he’ll jump up on a lap only to jump down twenty seconds later. But now he settles in for the long haul.
2. Watching friendships form among the first years. This afternoon, during a quiz game we were playing, three students found their way to the front of the room so they could see the board better. It wasn’t long until they were giggling together, deciding to play as a team. I felt like I was getting a premonition of a long-term belongingness group taking shape. Three kids with very different backgrounds, different genders, different races, same smiles. May their friendship grow and flourish.
3. Got my glasses fixed. I am tired of carrying around a pair of readers and whipping them on and off my face for different distances.
4. The messy, idealistic dream we have of a democracy. It doesn’t always work well, and we sometimes yell and grumble instead of debating and discussing, but we’re working at it. I read Langston Hughes’s “Let America Be America Again” to my classes today for my daily poem. He makes it clear that the American Dream has failed him, but that he still believes in the promise of equality and sustenance for all. It reminded me that we DO have this ideal to fight for, flawed as we are.
5. The lessons in dreams. Last night’s dream is unsettling and full of anxiety. I think I know what my Deepest self is trying to tell me, and I am grateful for the urgent message. Perhaps if I listen, the images can be a little gentler next time.

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
*
“There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat.” —Tay Hohoff
*
“I love cats because I love my home and after a while they become its visible soul.”
—Jean Cocteau
*
“A little drowsing cat is an image of perfect beatitude.”
—Jules Champfleury
*
“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”
—James Herriot
*
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.” —Albert Schweitzer
*
“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!

Living in the Layers

This morning, I am sitting outside with cool breezes, delicious morning sunlight, the calling of the wingfolk all around, a not-so-small boy playing in the sandbox, and an old man cat resting in his bed beside me. It is a perfect moment, one I want to hold forever, inner and outer worlds aligned. Grief is here, too, in the perfect moment: the old man cat has gone nearly blind in the past week, the marvelous boy with the giant-sized heart is growing so fast I cannot keep track of the changes, some of my beloveds are hurting and anxious. It is all part of the wheel of changes, and grief and uncertainty have their place. It is part of the package of being human.

And it’s not only the boys and the cat who are aging and changing. I am about to complete my fiftieth year. It feels right and good to be here on the cusp of my half-century, still learning to be who I am: mother, spouse, teacher, friend, writer. I feel a new story rising, wanting to burst forth. I have spent this past decade learning to trust my voice, honing my craft, taking baby steps. Now it is time to find a way to take my words out, further out. I’m not entirely sure what that will look like, but it is the promise that I am making to myself in this moment. I am ready to leave the safety of the chrysalis.

(And now there is an older boy here, golden as the sunlight, and he is telling me words that are beyond my understanding, this child who came from my body–he is so much smarter than I am, already–his mind making connections at lightning speed, learning every new thing. What a marvel it is to watch these beings absorb information and grow and develop, extending ideas of their own, creating new things. The wheel turns. . .)


“I saw you once, Medusa; we were alone.
I looked you straight in the cold eye, cold.
I was not punished, was not turned to stone.
How to believe the legends I am told? …
I turned your face around! It is my face.
That frozen rage is what I must explore —
Oh secret, self-enclosed, and ravaged place!
That is the gift I thank Medusa for.”
―May Sarton, “The Muse as Medusa”
*
Pablo Picasso:
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
“Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”
*
“Our religion is relationship. Our relationships are our religion.” ―Bruxy Cavey
*
“The work of the eyes is done.
Go now and do the heart-work
on the images imprisoned within you.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


Gratitude List:
1. (How did you encounter the Divine Wow?) Synchronicity. In this case, it had to do with armadillos. “Protect yourself,” says the wise woman, and the Mystery adds, “What she said.”
2. (What awakens you?) All the butterflies swinging down the breezes: monarch, swallowtail, fritillary, buckeye. “Isn’t that chrysalis becoming a little claustrophobic?” they ask. Isn’t it time to emerge and fly?
3. (What quickened within you?) It is time to fly, time to learn a new kind of noticing, time to address the claustrophobia, time to break out of the chrysalis.
4. (What do you take deeper?) The layers of my living–photos of very young children who are both gone and here in this moment, time with friends which is both this moment now and last year and the years before, this morning sun slanting into the hollow and the blue jay and doves calling which is the essence of this very moment and also a hearkening to my own ancient story.
5. (How will you carry the past and the present into the next moment?) Allowing the little bird of grief for what is past and gone to sit on my shoulder and sing her songs. Anticipating the joy that comes with the next ray of sunlight, the next bird call, the next “Mom, look!”

May we walk in Beauty!

All That You Change Changes You


“In one of the stars, I shall be living.
In one of them, I shall be laughing.
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing
When you look at the sky at night.”
―The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
*
“Now go hug your kids.”
―Bret Sidler (my heart is with you and Sue in these late June days)
*
“All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you.” ―Octavia Butler
*
“The world is not to be put in order. The world is order. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.”
― Henry Miller
*
“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”
―Jane Goodall
*
Prayer for the World
by Rabbi Harold Kushner

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Amen.

 


Gratitude List:
1. Mullein. I know I said it a couple days ago, but yesterday I drove toward York, and there was a huge patch all along the roadside, all the bright yellow candles lit for midsummer. I did not have a fire last night for St. John’s Eve, but the Hag’s Tapers were lit up everywhere.
2. Titmice calling in the trees to wake me up.
3. Preparing for my time at the monastery, gathering books and art materials, ideas for meditation.
4. Today is Cycle the Solstice, and one small person in my house is really excited.
5. The way rain refreshes the soil, the plants, and my heart.

May we walk in Beauty!

Getting It Done


“What? Love.

Who? Everyone.
When? Now.”
―Glennon Doyle Melton
*
“No, Charles Wallace said. “I have to go on. We have to make decisions and we can’t make them if they’re based on fear.”
―Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
*
“Live not for Battles Won.
Live not for The-End-of-the-Song.
Live in the along.”
― Gwendolyn Brooks, Report from Part One
*
“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole…. ” ― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
*
“Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.”
― Abraham H. Maslow
*
“I don’t try to understand everything in nature. I just look at it. And enjoy it.” –Bob Ross

Gratitude List:
1. Snugglesome cat
2. Lots of tea
3. Stretching sore muscles
4. Reading, reading, reading
5. Planning ahead

May we walk in Beauty!

The Fire Has Always Been Burning

golden1
On the original collage of this, there was a little strip of text that reads, “The fire has always been burning.” It was lost in the filtering process, but the feeling has been preserved.

Gratitude List:
1. Moment of Surprise: An enormous raccoon scrambled across the road to the creek and up into the bosque just before twilight this evening.
2. William Carlos Williams Moment: So much depends on the way the sun backlights a cloud against an aquamarine sky laced with crows.
3. Dream Moment: I carried with me all day the dream of my little cat. It was so real, I could feel her soft fur again, like angel feathers.
4. Satisfaction Moment: Jon’s delicious everything stew. With habanero sauce and smoked sea salt.
5. Anticipation Moment: I just have a sense that I am going to break the insomnia cycle tonight.

May we walk in Beauty!

Snugglesome

snugglesome

Gratitude List:
1. Bald Eagles. Twice in the last two days, I have seen a bald eagle (perhaps the same one) near the Wrightsville exit off 30. Once in the air, and once in a tree. Every time I see one, I bless the memory of Rachel Carson, and remember that one person can make a difference in the world. Were it not for Rachel Carson, we very well might not have bald eagles to be grateful for.
2. This snugglesome cat. I knew him when he was a kitten, and now he is an old man, and I have only slipped from young adult into middle age. I feel as though I have gone from being his Mama to being his granddaughter. And so time is fleeting, and I am grateful for the time he has with us.
3. Poetry–putting it out into the world in a more intentional way.
4. I think that the sick-folk are getting better. I haven’t heard anyone cough for a good half-hour now.
5. En-visioning. I began a little Vision Booklet today. It came together very easily because I used collage bits that I have been saving. Probably just for this. I think that I have sorted out my heart’s desire a little more explicitly this year than I have before. That is satisfying.

May we walk in Beauty!

Alien Bales

aliens
This is a photo of those round hay bales run through a Dreamscope filter. I’ve always thought they looked like something from and alien culture and this seems to prove it.
Gratitude List:
1. Rest
2. Time to focus on some poetry projects. I have another chapbook in the works for a contest. I hope to send it out before January.
3. The social comfort of card games
4. Dreams
5. A warm cat. We going to try letting him stay upstairs tonight instead of going into the basement. I am guessing I will be getting up at three during his angst-concert to put him downstairs, but maybe he’ll be able to keep it to himself.

May we walk in Beauty!