Some Day. . .

    

     

Gratitude List:
1. The interesting visitors continue: On the way to school the other day, I saw a groundhog that had climbed into a pair of bent-over saplings. It was contentedly chewing on the leaves of one, about three feet above the ground.
2. Re-reading my January journals about my vulture dreams gives new depth for contemplating healing, transformation, and grounding.
3. Tomorrow is the last of the school commitments–then finish grading and sail into summer.
4. Senior dedication and Commencement ceremonies were beautiful and tender and inspiring. Now they fly on their own. This was a sweet class. Solid. Steady. Earnest.
5. Companionship. Hospitality. Warmth.

May we walk in Beauty!


Sunday’s Notes and Quotes:
“I feel like I’m binge-watching the fall of the Roman Empire set to the music of Benny Hill.” —Bill Maher
***
“We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.”
―Ursula K. LeGuin
***
“Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.” ―Maya Angelou
***
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” ―L.M. Montgomery
***
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” ―Jorge Luis Borges
***
TS Eliot:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
***
Resignation
by Nikki Giovanni

I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows North
Sometimes
because the Pope is Catholic
and most Rabbis Jewish
because winters flow into springs
and the air clears after a storm
because only my love for you
despite the charms of gravity
keeps me from falling off the Earth
into another dimension
I love you
because it is the natural order of things.
***
“The third near enemy of compassion is idiot compassion. This is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should definitely say ‘no.’

“Compassion doesn’t only imply trying to be good. When we find ourselves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries. The kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say ‘enough.’ Many people use Buddhist ideals to justify self-debasement. In the name of not shutting our heart we let people walk all over us.

“It is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. There are times when the only way to bring down barriers is to set boundaries.” —Pema Chodron

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Closing Time

The last poetry prompt of the month is to write a closing time poem.

The door stands ajar.
The curtain rises.
The window is open
and the screen is torn.

The moment has come
to escape the old ways
and enter into the new drama,
to dance down new pathways,
to fly toward a new horizon.

Escape!
Begin the Play!
Soar free!

That’s an exciting prompt for a Beltane Eve. May Day is about running through the door, barefoot and maybe naked, but completely unconcerned, willing to take the necessary risks to accomplish your dreams. What will you risk in the coming season? What “clothing” do you need to cast off in order to abandon yourself to your projects?

A Blessed Beltane season to you! May your dreams feed you.

Gratitude List:
1. Flicker on the ground at LMH this morning when we pulled in. We got to watch it for a full two minutes before it flew away into the morning sunlight.
2. On our walk this evening, swallows swooping low to get a look at us. I think there were both barn and tree swallows.
3. The smell of gill-over-the-grass after someone has walked on it. Smells like spring.
4. The smell of cow patties drying in a field. It transports me back in time, and suddenly I’m five-year-old Bethie walking home from Gwen’s house in the slanting sun of a late Shirati afternoon, the lake breeze playing in my hair.
5. Speaking of poop, I love the open-throated bark of a laugh that Joss gives when he hears a good scatological joke. Total delight, especially when his dad makes the joke.

May we walk in Beauty and Laughter.

Manifesting

Here’s a meme that’s been making its rounds on social media lately:
The way you are describing your life is the way it is manifesting.
The way you are describing your life is the way it is manifesting.
The way you are describing your life is the way it is manifesting.

Now tell me again:
How are things going?

It’s not a NEW thought, really. The way it catches me is more about how it’s worded. It gets behind my oh-I-know-that-stuff-already defenses. The gratitude work has been immensely helpful to me in breaking some of the old cycles of complaint and self pity that happen when I describe my life to myself as series of burdensome events. Yes, if I look back at my meanderings on this blog over the years, I can see that I have been struggling–successfully and unsuccessfully–with this process in its deeper psychic layers. It’s not that I haven’t read and absorbed Shakti Gawain (she’s a sweet version of the Norman Vincent Peale for the New Age set). What you visualize is what you become, she says. One of the sermons I remember from years ago was one in which my pastor spoke about what we tell ourselves about ourselves. Do I keep telling myself I am exhausted and overwhelmed? (Yes.) Then I feel/am exhausted and overwhelmed. I “know” this principle, but I need to keep deepening it.

I can’t just visualize myself NOT overwhelmed and exhausted because visualization and belief don’t make the stacks of work go away. Imagination and action have to go together. That, too, has been a principle I have long been working to realize within myself. The contemplative and the activist need to dance together.

When I began this blog six years ago, I decided to move beyond just thinking of myself as a poet, but to DO poetry, to let those strips of words across the page in every gratitude list be little poems where I would daily juxtapose images and ideas that formed little poems of my day. As I began to describe myself to myself as a poet, I found my way into the identity of poet in a more solid way than I had ever done before.

Throughout my life, I have had begun several novels, imagining plot and structure in my brain, thinking through characters, beginning first chapters. And then abandoning them as life took over. A couple days ago, my friend Fern talked about Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic, in which she talks about how the ideas come shopping for us, and if we don’t answer them, they go away and find someone else to bring them to reality. I have two ideas that have been knocking at my door for a couple years now. To use the words of that meme up there, I am afraid to describe my life in terms of writing books. That is partly because I have been such a squirrel with the ideas that come knocking. I don’t want to do that anymore. If I welcome one in for tea, then i want to invite it to stay for the weekend, instead of becoming enamored of the next one that comes along and letting the first one drift away in loneliness and rejection.

So I’m putting it out there. The book idea I began working on two summers ago is still hanging out in the corners. I am going to feed it, begin to shape it, help it find its place. And the novel that began knocking a year ago has again begun to catch my attention. I’m grateful that these two friends have stuck around, and I want to facilitate their existence.

Still, I need to tend to the overwhelm of the mundane, or my life will implode. For now, I will catch little spaces in each week to tend to these companions, and plan for a summertime process that might give me time to work more intentionally with them.

I am a little sheepish when I speak about this, because I know what a squirrel I have been, how I have wandered away from the urgent ideas in the past. Oooh. See what I did there? I described my life in terms of a tendency to failure. What if I turned that around? What if, instead, I described my life this way: I have been a seeker of new ideas, a kid in the candy shop of story, a dreamer of books. And now, I am going to see if I can draw some of those ideas out of the ether, begin to describe myself as a writer of books.

Gratitude List:
1. Bald eagle
2. Shooting star
3. The shining talents of our shining young people
4. The sound of Spring
5. Laughter

May we walk in Beauty!

Contemplating Dreams and Seeds


Photo from April 2007. May the seeds we plant today grow and flourish.

Random morning musings on the last morning of 2017:
The sun is rising on the last morning of 2017. I can’t say I am very sad to see it go, but it’s had its share of beautiful and shining moments. While 2018 stands golden on the horizon, just like that ball of the sun, we can know with absolute certainty that it will hold its own share of difficulties.

Here are some Re-Solutions I am carrying for the coming year:
–Less giving in to fits of unbridled fury. More using of rage to fuel transformative action.
–Less worrying what others think. More focus on what I think.
–Less frittering. More focusing.
–More and more and more noticing, and being in the moment, being present.
–Follow the images and stories that my dreams show me.

This is last night’s dream. It’s not deeply profound, perhaps, but it suggests a magical realism that I want to begin to incorporate more into my writing.

In the dream, I am reading something by Barry Lopez or Gary Snyder. It sounds something like this:
“Once there were bears, massive creatures of sinew and blood and bone, great beasts of tooth and fur and claw. A day came when they turned themselves into trees, and the trees turned into birds and flew away.”

Just a little fragment, a seed of possibility.

Speaking of seeds, have you seen the little cartoon of two little critters? One is looking anxious and belabored. The other is looking happy, and digging in the dirt. The anxious one says something like, “Why are you so optimistic about the coming year? Everything seems to messed up. What could the new year possibly bring?”

“I think,” says the other, “that it will bring flowers.”

“Why?” asks Anxious Critter.

“Because,” says Happy Critter, “I am planting flowers.”

Ah. There it is.

Guardian of Dreams

Today’s Prompt is similar to an earlier one, with a single letter change: ______ of _____

Guardian of Dreams
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

She rises from the shadows
when you wander in the dreamscape.
She stands above the doorway
and awaits your greeting.
She gives you the gift of her name
and stands aside that you may pass inward.


Gratitude List:
1. Enough leftovers for supper. What an odd, delightful mashup it was: Valerie’s lentil and collard soup as the base, with the leftover chicken curry and rice and some leftover noodles. Injera and oatmeal bread.
2. Dreams with messages.
3. Catching my breath. A little.
4. That pink cloud this morning. Breath-taking.
5. Rivers of crows in the sky.

May we walk in Beauty!


Last Night’s Gripping Dream:
We’ve moved to a new house, set on a hill above the barn. From the house, a small row of bushes obscures all but the top of the barn. As we explore the new barn, we’re a little overwhelmed by all the rusty junk and hay bales and mess. Cobwebs are everywhere, and it’s dark and dingy. We hear people walking around upstairs, but we’re too scared to go up there, so I yell, “Get out of our barn!” We go back up to the house.

A little while later, it has snowed, and we see that someone has shoveled all around the barn. We decide we have to confront the squatters. We get in the big red truck and race down the hill, right through the shoveled area and plow into a snowbank.

As we walk up to the barn door, we see a woman crouching in the bushes on the roof area above the barn door. She’s enormous. Heavy, sumo-style, and maybe eight or ten feet tall. She has a Renaissance-style hairdo with a pink rose, and she is completely naked. Her skin is a mocha color and she has enormous and compelling eyes.  I ask her her name. She says it’s Panella. (Or Panadella.) I do not feel threatened or anxious about her–I feel like she is sort of a guardian.

Inside, we are utterly astounded. Someone has, in an incredibly short period of time, completely cleaned the barn. The junk is gone. The hay bales and cobwebs are gone. There’s fresh plaster on the walls, neatly placed between barn beams. It’s gently lit, all over, upstairs and down. There must be fifty or sixty people in the barn. One woman is wearing silver body paint, head to foot. She and the others we first encounter seem a little startling, and not particularly friendly, but not threatening. The others we meet are friendlier, eager to show us around, to talk. It’s definitely my kind of party, no loud noises, sort of hushed conversations, but people everywhere, threading themselves through the space.

It is furnished like a house, and downstairs there is an enormous walk-in fireplace with a sort of ditch in front of the fire, and water running through the ditch. In front of that are lit candles. I am aware of how carefully people have placed the candles within the fireplace area, in order to be safe. They take us outside to show us the incredible compost pile they’ve created. They point up the hill to the other neighbors’ house. “Those are the hippie neighbors,” they say. The hippie neighbors’ house is a pavilion-style despite the frigid weather, and the hippie neighbors have their feet up on a low all, and they’re drinking and smoking.

Actually, the ones who’ve created this space aren’t here. They’ve gone out and left their friends there to have a party. There’s a young woman–I think her name is Elise–who used to go to the Waldorf School. A young man is a graduate of LMS. And there’s a third.

I feel incredibly drawn to this dream. There in my inner world, a space I tend to neglect in the rush of the daily, where I thought there would be clutter and ruin, are inviting rooms filled with energy and innovation. Jon pointed out that two of the Creators are from schools where I have taught, so I am wondering if the third might be a BCCC student. After a challenging morning conversation about some of the issues some of our students are experiencing, I spent a good part of yesterday worrying about my students, wondering if I have been doing enough to educate my students about racism and misogyny, about recognizing their entitlement and privilege.  I feel like this dream was a message from my deeper self that I need to trust that the daily work bears its fruit, that these people will have the creativity and resilience to create healthy lives.  And Panella? I think She is my Guardian.

Love is the Bridge


I am obsessed lately with what happens to the little tree when I photograph it with a kaleidoscope camera app and then run it through my usual filters. I want to spend more time thinking about threes and sixes. I suppose this is two and six: the reflection of the original view, and then that combination shifting into a triple reflection. It’s so satisfying.

Today’s prompt is to write a thing poem. Write a poem about an object.

All the poems are about bridges,
all the words, all the books, the letters.
Sometimes the bridge is so fragile,
and we walk across a word on air:
“Gentle,” we breathe,
and step across that chasm
between the solid dj
onto the swaying eh,
before we find our feet
on the rolling nn in the center,
and onward we skip to t, to l,
each word a bridge, a web
we cast between us
across the airy distance.


“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
―Brian Jacques
*
“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” ―Winston Churchill (Did he really say that? I like the point, so I am still putting it here.)
*
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” ―Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
*
“Love is the bridge between you and everything.” ―Rumi
*
What do you do
when the gods of the dreamings
offer you maps for the journey?

How will you answer
when the night-folk cry out:
“Give us the hope of our meanings!”
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.”
―Bob Dylan


Gratitude List:
1. Sachs’ subtly striped tail. He’s a basic elegant charcoal and white cat, with no other markings except for the hint of striping at the end of his tail. A little bit of wildness underneath his staid and stoical veneer.
2. Turning back the tides of helplessness and hopelessness
3. Studying geography. I love geography. I am obsessed with learning the countries of the world. And my youngest has to know his continents and oceans for a quiz this week, so we’re having lots of fun doing geography games right now.
4. A warm shower on a chilly evening.
5. Soup. Before he went to work this morning, Jon Weaver-Kreider put some veggies and sausage in a crock pot, and when we got home we had a fine and tasty stew.

May we walk in Beauty!

Let Me Drink the Day

“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”
―Les Brown
*
“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” ―Edith Wharton
*
“Love is a decision–not an emotion!”
―Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
*
“To live is to find out for yourself what is true, and you can do this only when there is freedom, when there is continuous revolution inwardly, within yourself.” ―Jiddu Krishnamurti
*
When the brokenness of the world makes you tired, run to the forest.
Remember how small you are.
Watch the leaves change.
Listen to acorns fall from the heights.
Let the wind and the water talk to you about what it means to heal.
Let The Creator show you the benevolent, secret places.
―Kaitlin Curtice
*
“Every seed we plant is a tiny loving prayer in action.” ―Rowen White
*
“In a time of destruction, create something.” ―Maxine Hong Kingston
*
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.
―T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages
*
“I guess if I’d had any sense I’d’ve been a little scared, but what was the point of being scared?

“The only thing they could do to me was kill me and it seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time ever since I could remember.” ―Fannie Lou Hamer
*
“Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” ―Albert Einstein


Gratitude List:
1. Sunrises. I love driving to school in the sunrise. Magenta on indigo clouds, then shooting rays of gold.
2. Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Shoofly Pie.” It’s been a joy to read it with my Academic Writers. They just wanted to keep reading stories together, it was such a pleasant experience.
3. Basic Kindness.
4. Habanero peppers–we sauteed one in butter tonight for the adults to sprinkle on our milk beans and rice.
5. The messages in dreams. I woke up with words ringing in my ears this morning. I need to listen, to find the key to make the message real in waking life. (Perhaps I need to engage the assistance of a life coach or a spiritual director.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Seeking a Homeland

Posing

Handsome Sachs in a sunbeam. He has recently acquired the nickname Gunther.

“We are all of us seeking a homeland, even though we have only seen and embraced it from afar. We are all of us strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” —Frederick Buechner
*
Love is not something you do; love is Someone you are. It is your True Self. Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can attain. It’s not something you can work up to, as much as something you allow yourself to fall into! It is the living presence of God within you, often called the Holy Spirit, or what some theologians name uncreated grace. You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now.” —Richard Rohr
*
Danielle LaPorte: “You might have to face your own sadness and empty places as you wish for an other’s sadness and emptiness to be lifted. You will have to acknowledge your interconnectedness, which is particularly difficult when you are moving on. You will have to face your disappointment head on — and what you see might burn your eyes.”
*
“Love is where you come from and love is where you’re going.” —Richard Rohr
*
“I have two daughters.
Their names are Memory and Loss.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (after Eavan Boland)
*
Rob Brezsny:
“You and I and everyone else in the world talk to ourselves constantly. The conversation is mostly silent and covert, however.
As a result, we get away with abusing ourselves; we assail ourselves with mean thoughts that we’d be far less likely to fling if we actually spoke them aloud.
Now might be a good time for you to break this bad habit. In fact, I’m going to officially declare that it’s Speak More Kindly to Yourself Season.
For best results, shun the usual telepathic communion with yourself. Instead, say every word aloud as you carry on your dialogues.”
*
Terry Tempest Williams. from Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert:
“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget….

I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness….

I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine….

I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love..”


Gratitude List:
1. Dreams full of cats. Tortoiseshells: fluffy ones, really short-haired ones, ones that are mostly white, with tortie spots, ones that have streaks of white here and there. Third night of animal dreams, each time remembering the dream because I am awakened by a small furry person licking my face or purring in my ear, or walking on my head. I think Thor is something of a Dream Companion for me. The first night he came to us, he awakened me from a nightmare.
2. A gloriously cool fall day
3. Going to the book sale and Steam-O-Rama with the family
4. Wise and compassionate friends who model thoughtful and respectful discussion
5. Layers. A glosa of a glosa. Harmonies with deeper harmonies. Fractalization.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Dragon in the Park



“What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours—that is what you must be able to attain.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“Hope is a renewable option:
If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.” ―Barbara Kingsolver
*
“There is a voice that doesn’t use words.
Listen.”
―Rumi
*
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
―Carl Jung
*
“I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only the depth of my seeing.”
―Mary Oliver
*
“We have come into this exquisite world to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom, and light.”
―Hafiz


Gratitude List:
1. On the way past Sam Lewis Park yesterday afternoon, we saw a dragon in the sky. And two dinosaurs. And two trilobites. People were flying kites. I think they’re known as Finnish kites. A high up leader kite is tethered to a balloon-style kite. The higher kite pulls the lower one up into the air. It’s amazing to watch.
2. Bubbles. Also at the park, a couple had brought along several buckets full of soap solution and long rope-style bubble wands. They created enormous bubbles.
3. Sharing stories. Stories, like bridges between us.
4. The Labor movement–people believing in their cause–in worker safety, in justice and fairness in pay, in reasonable hours, in respectable treatment of employees.
5. Playing games with the kids.

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
*
“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
*
“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
*
“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
*
“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
*
“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
*
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!