Be Softer With You

“Be softer with you.
You are a breathing thing.
A memory to someone.
A home to a life.”  ―Nayyirah Waheed
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Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.  ―Raymond Carver
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Powerful words from Rob Brezsny:
“The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words,” said Terence McKenna in “Alien Dreamtime,” “and that if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish.”

Here’s my version of that hypothesis: What world you end up living in depends at least in part on your use of language.

Do you want to move and breathe amidst infertile chaos where nothing makes sense and no one really loves anyone? Then speak with unconscious carelessness, expressing yourself lazily. Constantly materialize and entertain angry thoughts in the privacy of your own imagination, beaming silent curses out into eternity.

Or would you prefer to live in a realm that’s rich with fluid epiphanies and intriguing coincidences and mysterious harmonies? Then be discerning and inventive in how you speak, primed to name the unexpected codes that are always being born right in front of your eyes. Turn your imagination into an ebullient laboratory where the somethings you create out of nothings are tinctured with the secret light you see in your dreams of invisible fire.
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“The power of love is stronger than the power to destroy.”  ―Vandana Shiva
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“And then–
and then your eyes will open
as if waking from a dream
or waking into a dream
and the dew-drenched grasses
will sparkle before you
like gold in the morning
and you will know.

You will know what it is
you have come for.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“Writing is one of the most ancient forms of prayer. To write is to believe communication is possible, that other people are good, that you can awaken their generosity and their desire to do better.”  ―Fatema Mernissi
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“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” ―Robin Williams as Mr. John Keating in Dead Poets Society
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“Well, I don’t only think that the biosphere is in trouble, I know it is. I just have to look around in the environment, in which I live.
In my own part of the part of the world, I keep telling people, let us not cut trees irresponsibly. Let us not destroy especially the forested mountains. Because if you destroy the forests on these mountains, the rivers will stop flowing and the rains will become irregular and the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation. Now the problem is, people don’t make those linkages.”
—Wangari Maathai
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“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
—Robin Williams


Gratitude List:
1. Holy Ground: The Earth we walk on, our callings, our destinies
2. Sacred Flame: The burning bush, the kindling of compassion, energy, the spark of life
3. Hallowed Water: Cleansing, purifying, nurturing life (May the waters all run free!)
4. Sublime Air: The breath of life, inspiration, drawing us out, pushing us onward
5. The Indwelling spirit: Vivifying, transforming

May we walk in Beauty!

Day of the Monarchs

Monarchs mating. May your tribe grow and thrive, Brightwings!

“There is so much in eternity that is trying to reach us, if only we can suspend our wranglings long enough to be touched.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea.”
—D. H. Lawrence
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“Water, the Hub of Life. Water is its mater and matrix, mother and medium. Water is the most extraordinary substance! Practically all its properties are anomalous, which enabled life to use it as building material for its machinery. Life is water dancing to the tune of solids.”
—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 – 1986) Hungarian-American physiologist; Nobel laureate
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“There is really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
—Arundhati Roy
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“God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice.”
—Naomi Wolf
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“Follow the waters,
lean in with the trees,
breathe the cool morning air,
walk through the swirling mists.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude/Examen:
1. (How did you meet the Mystery?) Monarchs dancing in the field. A small person’s excitement to tell me that he and his dad had watched monarchs mating. May there always be monarchs.
2. (What brought you awake?) Hard work in the heat and humidity. I do want to be cautious about pushing myself out there when it’s so hot, but it does feel good. Strengthening. Working the body gives the mind and heart time and space for a different pacing.
3. (What is the message from your heart?) Listen. When there is clamor, when there is silence, when there doesn’t seem to be anything to listen to or for.
4. (What takes you into the Center?) Hints of magic and mystery all around. There is so much I do not understand at an intellectual level about the world around me, but sometimes my heart gets glimpses.
5. (What do you take forward?) The inner stillness. This is getting redundant, perhaps, but it is the lesson I am learning in these days of heat and humidity, of getting work accomplished and finding energy even in the lethargy induced by the weather. There is an inner stillness that can find its way from the moments of solitude into the clamor of the day. (Most of the clamor is pretty delightful, even when it’s bickering children.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Feet on Earth

I was going to try to get a sonnet written today, but I just couldn’t seem to make it past the first quatrain, and that was thuddy and bumpkish. It kept wanting to be six feet instead of pentameter. I’m okay with that, if only I can get it to sing a little more. So a little free-verse for my tired brain tonight, and form will happen later when I can keep my eyes open.

Arrange yourself upon the earth,
feet in the soil. Feel the magnetism
of mineral and metal, the cool pull
of mud and moss and peat.

Do not worry. Already you have learned
the ways to walk upon the air,
to bridge the chasm on a rainbow.
Now it is time again to learn
to walk with gravity.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
The Fool takes to the Air. She’s met Water and Earth, so tomorrow takes us around to the realm of in-spir-ation, spirit, the butterfly-wing flash of thought and idea, AHA! Sanguine and playful, air may seem to be the Fool’s primary element, but there is always more to learn.

Gratitude List:
1. Hanging out with Keri and Bobby. Bobby is a good sport!
2. Student musicians
3. Student Credo statements
4. Putting bare feet on earth
5. Ice cream and apple fritters.

May we walk in Beauty!

May All Beings Find Their Waters

May all beings find their Waters:
those who grind and punch,
those who crack and strike,
those who shout and crunch,
who scrape and gnash and chomp.
May Waters smooth and soothe them.

May all beings find their Waters:
those who fritter and dither,
those who flitter and twinkle,
those who flutter and pitter,
who skitter and wheedle and wheeze.
May Waters calm and caress them.

May all beings find their Waters:
those who boil and bubble,
those who smolder and steam,
those who stew and simmer
who pop and sizzle and seethe.
May Waters restore and refresh them.

May all beings find their Waters.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
Today the Fool wandered through the realm of Water. Tomorrow, let’s take her into the realm of Earth. What will ground her? What will support and hold her? What will nourish and sustain? Earth is the realm of that which is manifest, which is made physical. Tomorrow the Fool learns about Earth.

Gratitude List:
1. This question from Chapel this morning: What is the narrative that shapes your life? So many stories to live by, to center on.
2. Water, how it refreshes and calms and soothes
3. How the words sometimes find their way, even through a brain full of fog
4. The angle of shine in the dawn
5. Universals

May we walk in Beauty!

Re-Integrating

tattoo

Quiet, thoughtful, tired today. So much to absorb from my three days of learning to keep circles. Now the work is to learn to apply and integrate the practice into my work, into my Work. And after three days of circling with twenty-five others, that specific circle itself must settle in like a seed and germinate within. And now, somehow, I must now reintegrate into the world outside the circle.

I think it would be good for me, sometime in the next two months, to sit in circle with people who are planning to vote for Trump, people who are planning to vote for Clinton, and people who are voting for Stein or Johnson. Perhaps some non-voters should be in there, too. I could not be the Circle Keeper, but I think I would come out of such an experience a much healthier person, hopefully less anxious, less furious.

Gratitude List:
1. Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit
2. Autumn is in the air
3. The circles expand out and outward
4. Poetry, how it says things that cannot articulated in didactic words
5. We are more alike than we are different

May we walk in Beauty!

Medicine and Mockingbird

Gratitude List:

1. Using gratitude lists as a prompt in school today.  Why haven’t I done this before?  It felt like a gift I gave myself–such bright and deep and thoughtful responses.  I am going to miss these people.
2. That poem that a student handed me today to fulfill a class project.  May you thrive.  May you live deeply.
3. How the Earth provides the medicine.  The tulip tree is blooming, which is beautiful, but suddenly the allergies are going haywire.  So, more plantain and wild chamomile and catnip and mint and nettle and lemon balm tea with honey.  I will try one more night without the allopathic remedy.
4. New haircut!  I always feel like a work of art when I have been to see Kristen.
5. Mockingbird, as I was walking out to gather herbs this evening, sang to me in Ovenbird, “Teacher-teacher-teacher!”

May we walk in Beauty!

Taking a Walk

Random thoughts from a walk around the farm this afternoon:

–This Step-Counting contest at school is doing what it is supposed to, getting me out and walking.  I am afraid I am letting my team down with my low, low numbers.  I am more sedentary than I admitted to myself–grading and FB and granny squares and playing Legos keeps me sitting in one place.  A lot.
–On one hand the pedometer feels like a ball and chain.  I check it every half hour or so throughout the day, and I am feeling incredible pressure to get up and walking.  On the other hand, it pushes me to get outside and walk, which I don’t usually take the time for, so it’s freeing me, too.
–I like being on a walk.  I live having been walking.  I like having walked.  I just don’t like going walking.  It’s the anticipation and the getting myself in gear part that I don’t like.
–There were tracks everywhere in the last bits of snow and slush: deer, squirrel, bird, bird, bird, and canid.  Maybe that last is fox, maybe dog, maybe coyote.
–I haven’t seen a coyote in years, though Jon saw a pair of them only a couple weeks ago.  I was pretty desperate to find evidence of them in the tracks today.  One set of tracks had a really largish print, and the claws pushed deep into the snow.
–I found a grey-ish owl pellet and broke it apart to look for the mouse bones. But then I realized it was probably a misshapen piece of raccoon poo.
–The bees are sleeping.  I wonder how they’re surviving the winter in their hive.
–I found two unopened pods in one of the milkweed patches.  We brought them down to the house.  Jon has been collecting milkweed seeds with the hope that he can get some to grow in the spring to give away.
–One Small Boy came up to me and said, “Best snack ever!” as he crunched a chunk of ice in his left hand and then chewed off a bite of the kale in his right hand.
–That yellow frost-nipped kale looks about as winter-bitten as I feel right now.

 

Gratitude List:
1. Wind that scours
2. Fire that transforms
3. Water that purifies
4. Earth that supports
5. Spirit that inspires

May we walk in Beauty!

Letter

I have been thinking about you
more than you know, you know?

Here in the mornings when birdsong
enwraps me in a blanket
of messages in whistle and trill,
while the early morning chill
is dissipating as the sun
rises over the ridge,

or when I am out in the field,
or walking up our winding hill,
or pulling out the pans
to make tuna noodle casserole,

my heart will suddenly veer,
shift into a different focus,
and be where you are.

That little sparrow that hopped
along your windowsill
and peered inside
as if searching for someone.
That was my heart,
seeking you out.

The little white puff of cloud
alone in the blue sky
that seemed to follow you home.

The flash of sunlight
as you turned a corner.

I have wanted to give you words
to help you feel less alone.
Something that rhymes with hope,
or sounds like the whisper of the arms
of sturdy friends encircling you
through this slow and vicious storm.

Today, watch for sunlight on a bird’s wing,
look for the golden face of a dandelion in the grass,
the shadow on your kitchen table
as the day leans into afternoon.
Listen for the trill of sparrow
and the knock of a woodpecker
in the distance, from the park.

That vibrant net of color and sound
is woven by watchful hearts,
holding you.

 

My gratitude lists sometimes get a little birdy.  That’s okay, really.  Sometimes a bird is more than a bird.  Sometimes it’s just a bird.

Gratitude List:
1.  Yesterday, in the low afternoon sun, in a long, low, curving arm of the walnut tree, I saw a bluebird and an oriole sitting within two feet of each other.  Beauty, she just gives us so much color.  And then there was the crimson cap of that red-bellied woodpecker, set off by his black and white stripes.  So dapper and handsome, he.  That long, elegant bill, and piercing, knowing eyes.  I know I am just cheating here, putting at least three gratitudes into one so I’ll have more room, but let’s just pile on the fun: swallows in the gloaming yesterday, swooping low over the grass and up into the last rays of sun, their wings shimmering green-blue-green.
2.  Picnic at Sam Lewis State Park.  The view, the view, the view.  I think I saw all the way to China.  To Virginia, to Vermont, to California, at least.  Panorama, distance, layering of mountains and valleys.  And, of course, the River winding through.
3.  Last night I woke up only once before five o’clock.  No restless twisting, no aches waking me up.  It’s been a couple of weeks, and I was beginning to think that this was going to be my new reality.  Sleep is really a wonderful thing.
4.  Have I said how much I love my new job?  And I haven’t even started yet.  The planning, the dreaming, the idea-making, has filled me with such an incredible surge of fresh energy.  Jon has caught fire, too, and he’ll come down off the tractor with some suggestion or idea, or memory about a helpful teacher.
5.  The way the Earth gives us what we need.  I have been drinking fresh nettle and plantain tea lately to help with the allergies.  It has taken a while, but after several years of almost no allopathic allergy medication, my body has begun to respond to the subtle and gentle relief of herbal treatments.  Some days when I go out to pick the herbs for tea (nettle, plantain and mint), a patch of ground ivy will seem to shine a little more brightly, or a breeze will sift through some violet leaves, like they’re begging me to pick them, too.  Dock and dandelion, catnip, yarrow, chamomile, sweet clover.  Makes a mighty fine tea.  Now, if only I can get my kids to drink it.

May we walk in Beauty!

Walking the High Wire

Today’s double prompt is to write a pessimistic/optimistic poem.

this one is for the ancestors,
the mothers (especially mine),
and all my many sisters

We walk the high wire
between hopelessness and hope,
between rage and joy.
Perhaps it’s only stories
that will save us.

We pray to be empty.
We pray to let go.
We pray to give away
attachment to outcomes.

In one hand, we hold a golden cymbal.
Its name is Despair.
The one in the other hand is Hope.
We wander the Earth
like Cassandra of Troy,
clashing them together.
They make a mighty noise
but no one seems to listen.

We sit in the space
between the cup half full
and the cup half empty,
knowing that neither will save us.
We pour out that water
upon the Earth,
upon the seeds
which will grow,
or not grow.
We tend them
all the same.

The work
the work
the work
is what matters.

Hearts open,
souls on fire,
we heed Pema,
we heed Vaclav:
we work because
it must be done,
not because we know
that it will save the world.

Listen to Wangari
we plant trees
we free the prisoners
we honor women

Listen to Jane
we notice
we listen
we honor the animals

Listen to Vandana
we save seeds
we scatter seeds
we honor seed and soil

Listen to Natasha
we grieve and mourn
we witness
we honor the wild

Listen to Leymah
we speak our truth
we honor the scars
we heal

Listen to your mother
we feed and nurture
we protect
we honor Wisdom

Walk that thin silver line
between the flame and the fire.
Be amazed,
be feral,
be wakeful.

Walk between the heartbeats.

Listen to the Earth
Listen to the Earth
Listen to the Earth

 

Gratitude List:
1. The work
2. Wisdom
3. Carnelian
4. The ancestors
5. The mothers and sisters

May we walk in Beauty!