Icarus and the Smell of Rain


It’s such a relief to not have to write a poem today, and at one quiet moment in the day, I sat down and started writing something that I was thinking, and suddenly I had written another poem. Sigh. I just can’t NOT. But I forgot it at school, so I’ll have to post it another day.

Gratitude List:
1. Crows: This morning, we passed a crow sitting on a bit of corn stubble. You know how they pump their bodies up and down when they caw? This one seemed to be chuckling to itself, its body shaking as it cawed.
2. Although I am disappointed and a little anxious that I have not yet seen or heard my friend Icarus the Oriole yet this spring, I did hear one of this cousins in the sycamores at school this afternoon. I love sycamores.
3. A good, deep nap.
4. My wish bundle. I put it out into the elements on spring equinox, and brought it in this afternoon, unwrapping the cloth and trying to pull apart the papers. It’s going to take me a little time to figure out how to create a project from it, but I am looking forward to the process. I wonder how I can shape my intentions more clearly?
5. Rain. The smell of rain.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Cat and a Hat

catandhat cats
Cat and a Hat. My hat is ready for Saturday. Between my abysmal selfie skills and my poor smartphone camera, the original is a little blurry and grainy and wonky, but the filtered version, as much as I like the pattern that it makes on Fred, doesn’t quite make it clear that I am wearing a hat, perhaps. (Now I have a little vanity issue: My good warm parka is red. Can I wear a fluffy pink hat with a cool red parka?)

I know I have said this before, but it bears frequent repetition: The future is in good hands. I can walk really close to those cliffs of despair sometimes, but I have only to look into my students’ wise and curious and compassionate faces to see the way the future is headed. And it is not toward doom. We’re leaving them quite a mess to tidy up, but they have the inner resources and the drive to do the work.  They’ve got the perfect mix of humor and earnestness, the perfect combination of innocence and seasoning.

Let’s commit ourselves to mentor, support, challenge, and encourage the young folks in our lives. Let’s listen to their ideas and thoughts, offer them signposts, and believe in them. Let them know what we see in them, tap their shoulders, offer them as many opportunities to use their gifts as we can arrange.

Bring in the Age of Wisdom and Compassion. The vanguard is ready and stepping onto the stage.

Gratitude List:
1. New semester! I love starting new classes, learning to know new students, the mix of familiar and new faces in a classroom. I have two Creative Writing classes this semester, which makes me totally not miss having a Study Hall.
2. Quinoa salad for lunch. That was delicious.
3. FFA gave the Faculty coffee and doughnuts this morning. What an enheartening treat to start the semester.
4. Crows flying out of the mist.
5. Blue. Again, I keep repeating this, but again this evening, the bellies of the clouds were a grab-your-heart blue, glowing like ice, and rimed with indigo.  Do aging eyes see blue better than young, 20/20 eyes? I don’t remember seeing such blues before, blues that make me want to kneel. Or weep. Do you know the blue I am talking about?

May we walk in Beauty!

Crows and Sunset

window
Winter tree reflected in the basement window.

Gratitude List:
1. Class discussion today. It was one of those days when the whole period got hijacked by a conversation. Students were curious about each other, asking questions about how they see their governments, how they celebrate holidays. We’ll get Julius Caesar read–just not today.
2. Student musicians. The band and orchestra concert tonight. We have some world class conductors and some fantastic musicians.  What a pleasure to listen.
3. Settling into the darkness.
4. A thousand thousand crows flying in front of an orange sunset.
5. Yummy snacks. Today was JW’s annual Faculty Christmas snack. And a low-key, but delicious Faculty Party after school. There’s something about the special treats on these last days before break.

May we walk in Beauty!

Poem: A Minute

beach
A few years ago I was working on a project about my younger self, and I wanted to take a photograph of this framed photo that my father took of me when I was six, standing on the shore of Rusinga Island. I just couldn’t seem to get the photo without the glare and the reflection in the glass of myself taking the photo. Suddenly I realized that I needed to put my current self into the photo, too, and set it up to intentionally gt my shadow on the glass.

Here is a poem from October 16, 2013. The form is called a minute, using three 20-syllable stanzas (60 syllables, like 60 seconds, equals one minute):

Out in the dawn, a misty sea
in walnut tree
a silent crow
will dream of snow

will ruffle feathers in the chill
will wait until
the first bright ray
begins the day

then with a final shake will rise
from branch to skies
and this will be
a memory

Gratitude List:
1. My School. Today Lancaster Mennonite School launches its 75th year celebrations.
2. I can’t get over the wreaths and draperies of mist on the fields on the way to school. Even yesterday afternoon on the way home, there was a snake of mist winding down the River along the western shore by Accomac.
3. I made it through the week. I have been having terrible sinus headaches in the last few days, and I kept thinking it might turn into something worse, but it hasn’t. If I am going to have allergy issues in the fall, I would rather have silent sinus headaches than the wild sneezing and sniffling and burning eyes that I sometimes get.
4. The color purple. (You know what Sug says in the book of that name.) Rich, inviting, heart-opening.
5. The poetry of Langston Hughes. One of my students asked me last week if I knew anything about Langston Hughes, so this week has been Langston Hughes week in my class.  This morning will be “I, to, Sing America.”

May we walk in Beauty!

Pigeon and Dawn

pigeon
Shirati, Tanzania: a long-ago dawn with African green pigeon. (1969?)

From a photo of a distant place of my childhood to a poem of my River, just down the ridge from where I am typing in the newborn morning. I wrote this one of April of 2014:

Susquehanna Dawning
by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider

Stand just there on the sandy bank of the river.
There, where the water laps over the roots
of the ancient sycamore. There, where the bridge
and the memory of a bridge run over the water.

Listen for the rustle and murmur of dawning,
the whisper of wavelets, the groan of the trees,
the sudden wild call of robin: thrush of the morning,
leading the dawn chorus, unwrapping the day.

What will you discover this daybreak, this borning?
What stories will otter bring you? And heron?
What are the words that the river will utter,
there, where the sun spreads the golden road before you?

Gratitude List:
1. Phoebe, sitting out in the misty, dripping trees, calling his name into the dawn.
2. The mist, the rainy season
3. The trees: sycamore, poplar, oak, walnut, dogwood, maple, willow
4. Those two crows, winging purposefully across the hollow
5. All the ways in which we hold each other, carry each other, listen for the sound of each other’s tears and laughter, even from great distances.

May we walk in Beauty!

Say a Blessing for Seeds

imag1997
And now is the time for seed to burst forth.

We have arrived at Autumn Equinox, one of those exquisite balance points of the year cycle, the moment of shift in the whirl around our star. The light has been shifting, coming in at a slant that sets everything atwinkle. Every dusk, hundreds of robins sail into hollow and set up a clatter and cacophony in the bamboo grove. The geese are going, cormorants winging their way, thousands of feet above us, or angling down to the River for a rest. Seeds burst forth.

Say a blessing for the seeds, those packets of potential that burst from the ripened fruits of the flower buds and fall to earth, some to be trampled by passing feet, some to be eaten–fuel for the journeys of the little birds or stocked up by small animals as fat for the coming cold.  And some to fall into the rich soil to wait through the winter until it is time to Become.

How has your own ripening been? What is the seed within you at this moment? What is the hopeful little bundle of potential that is waiting to fall, to be carried by the winds and the waves and the creatures that pass, to tumble into the soil of your future self? What has ripened within you, and what will you release, knowing it may grow and bear its own fruit, or may become food for others? What of yourself to you give to this season?  Say a blessing for the seeds.

Gratitude List:
1. Little things. A little help at just the right moment. Little things are sometimes big things.
2. Commiseration. I cannot walk these coming days alone. I do not want to give in to despair or complaining, but having others who share my worry, who hold the bowl of these days with such tenderness, helps me not to feel alone in my angst. Let’s help each other to hold this one. Sigh together. Be the people for the moment–together.
3. Blue. I keep noticing the cobalt reflection beneath the clouds these mornings, not the Maryblue that shines through from sky, but a shining cobalt underneath, mingled with the Prussian Blue and Indigo of the shadows. I think it must be light reflecting in an autumnal slant onto the water of the cloud.  Whatever creates it, it’s a new way to experience blue, and I am grateful to see it.
4. Crows. I want to be a crow, diving fearlessly into wind, wings akimbo and a shout of joy in my throat.
5. New things to learn. Today I am beginning a three-day workshop/class with the Center for Community Peacemaking on Restorative Circles, a way of working with conflict in communities. I love that I work in a school that is putting forth the resources to train its teachers in this work, and I am honored to be doing this.

May we walk in Beauty!

Glorious List

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Gratitude List:
(Sometimes I accidentally type Gratitude Lost.  This morning, before I had engaged my brain, I started typing Glorious List.  Perhaps I should have let that stand.)
1. Beginning the process of blessing and launching these young people into the world in their evenings of Senior Presentations.  It’s a high expectation we place upon them, to call them World-Changers.  They are each, in their own ways, prepared to make the world a better place with the gifts and skills and compassion that they have been nurturing in their time at our school.  I am so proud of them.  Monday will be my last evening of blessing the last half of my crew.
2. A single crow rowing her way across an overcast sky.
3. The ducks are wandering all over the school these days, searching for nesting sites.  They quack outside my window.  I actually like when the natural world distracts us from the scholarly task at hand.  It’s a reminder that this work is only part of what they are to learn.  I should run out to the shop before I go to school and see if I can find that old plywood nesting box from the chicken coop to put outside my window.
4. Kyla has been approved for a heart transplant.  Now begins a new kind of waiting, but meanwhile, knowing that there is a team ready to work with her, a great weight is lifted. The cycles of life and death are so intimately woven together.
5. Rooms and fields where we all can find a home.  I don’t know how to say it less cryptically at this moment, but it is a profoundly important part of my gratitude list today.

May we walk in Beauty!

Snow Crocus

snowcrocus
Not a particularly clear photo of the white crocus in the snow.  Among the masses of deep purple and bright violet crocus is one golden crocus who was completely covered by the snow, and this lovely white one, camouflaged in the snow.

Gratitude List:
1. Crocus in the snow
2. Crow in the snow.  There is some inward thrill I can’t quite name about those black wings flying through a field of dancing white flakes.  Also, I love seeing black wings against a field of golden corn stubble.  Black wings against a blue sky.  Black wings through misty air.
3. Yesterday’s conversations, Part A:  For my opening moments in class yesterday, I followed the lead of another teacher friend and showed a video about a high school student who was disturbed by the unkindness of tweets between students in his school.  He began a Twitter account in which he began tweeting sincere and heartfelt compliments about his friends.  People began talking about it, and it began to snowball.  I was afraid my students might be cynical, and the one class that I was most concerned about began talking about it in a slightly cynical vein, and then suddenly they were sharing about the things that hurt them, the ways they respond to unkindness, the ways they try to include each other.  We didn’t really get to my actual lesson for the day, but I am pretty certain that learned more in that spontaneous, student-generated conversation than anything I could have offered them.  I need to keep remembering that once in a while the best thing a teacher can to is just get out of the way.  Language Arts is about expanding the communication skills of students–so I consider that class a success on the academic as well as the psycho-social level.
4. Yesterday’s conversations, Part B:  I ended up getting home much later than I had planned to because a Chinese student stopped by after school to talk about how to improve his English grammar.  We went through his most recent paper in detail, and talked about how to make his sentences flow.  While we were working on the paper, we also talked about imperialism: Japanese imperialism in China at the time of World War II, and Roman imperialism at the time of the Caesars.  I love being back in the world of academia and watching my students beginning to piece together their ideas and learning.
5.  As I typed that last, I had a sudden vision in my head of my grad school professor, Dr. Zancu, who would set up a discussion, then sit back and smile and nod serenely at us as we went at it.  I feel myself in the stream of the many good teachers I have had in my life: my mother who was my Kindergarten teacher; Miss Guntz, my fifth grade teacher at Locust Grove Elementary, and my other teachers there; my teachers at LMH; professors at EMU and Millersville and Sunbridge College; Sarah Preston, who has taught me so much about putting my roots into earth and my branches among the stars.  I am incredibly grateful for my teachers.  I feel a convergence, as though all those streams of learning are meeting now.
6.  Since those last few were several parts of one theme, I am going to give myself a bonus gratitude this morning:  Rising to the occasion.  I have gotten used to saying, “That’s not in my skill set.”  And that’s great protection–it has served me well and kept me from getting too caught up in too many things that I can’t quite manage.  But there also comes a time when it seems right to say, “I am ready to grow in that area and develop those skills.”  Scary stuff, that.  I am going to take on the symbol of the mountain lion for a while, to help me focus on the inner growth that I want to develop.

May we walk in Beauty!

Wings

I dreamed I had wings,
black feathers rising behind me like shadow.
When I opened my eyes,
the lonely earth spread out beneath me;
the old moon was at my back.

Gratitude List:
1. Crows crossing the moon in the morning
2. Mist rising from the Millstream in the afternoon
3. Options
4. Shadows
5. Three Good Things.  I have been carrying some heaviness lately–by my own choice, and with gratitude and great love.  So it was nice in the space of this day to have Three Good Things come my way: a student stopped by to tell me that her father, who had been injured fighting a fire a year ago, is back on the job; another student, adopted as a baby from Russia, stopped by to tell me that he finally received his official citizenship; this evening at the library, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a long time.

May we walk in Beauty!

Language Event

A friend of mine gave me a book of poetry a few months ago. Titled Shaking the Pumpkin, it is a rich and careful compendium of traditional poems from Native North Americans, edited by Jerome Rothenberg.

Several of the poems are simply rituals recorded verbatim and translated into English. They appear almost more as linguistic research than actual poems, and magically, it is in this almost lab-like recording of the words that they begin to take on some of their poetic power for me.  Here, for instance, are selected lines from my favorite poem in the book:

Language Event 1
Eskimo

Use the language of shamans.

Say 	the leash				& mean	the father
“ 	a road 					“ 	the wind
“ 	soup 					“	a seal
“ 	Big Louse 				“	a caribou
“ 	what makes me dive in headfirst 	“	a dream
“ 	what cracks your ears 			“	a gun
“	a jumping thing 			“	a trout
“	what keeps me standing 			“	your clothes
“	the person with a belly 		“	the weather
“	the person with a belly getting up 	“	the morning
“	the person with a belly goes to bed	“	it's nightfall
“	the little walker 			“	a fox
“	walker with his head down 		“	a dog
“	a person smoke surrounds		”	a live one
“	a floating one 				“	an island
“	a flat one 				“	a wolf
“	a shadow 				“	a white man
“	another kind of shadow 			“	a person
“	the shadow-maker 			“	the shaman
“	he turned my mind around 		“	he told me something

I had planned to write my own this morning before the children woke up, but it’s too late for that now, because I took so much time trying to figure out how to format the poem. Meanwhile, I learned a tiny little thing or two about HTML formatting, so there’s that, and I’ll work on my Language Event poem another day.

Gratitude List:
1. I just found out that the monarchs are on the move in Mexico.  Spring is on its way, and the cycles of life continue for this year again at least.  We’ll set the table with all the local milkweed we can manage.
2. Labyrinths
3. Messengers, guides, crows
4. Markers, maps, cairns
5. Lent, the contemplative season

May we walk in Sunshine.