Wise Folk

barntreeGratitude List
Today when I got home from school, Joss and I spent some time outside. We played tag: I don’t really run–I just wait around until he can’t stand it and comes in close enough for me to pounce on him. Then he played in the sandbox while I lay down on the driveway and looked up into the trees. I tried some odd-angle panoramas to try to get a sense of the vast feeling of trees and sky above. I like the way this one turned out, with the barn below and that shine above.

Today we had an all-school assembly, a further discussion of race and racism, this one based on students’ (and some teachers’) experiences of racism, both personal and what they’ve observed. Some students and teachers told their own stories, and others read stories written by others. Some teachers reflected on the construct of race and the history of racism in the US. More than anything, I was struck by the deep love and tenderness and vulnerability of the speakers. I am proud of these folks, proud of these students who took the lead and worked together to craft this fine program, proud of my colleagues who created the space for student voices to shine, proud of the polite and thoughtful listeners in the space. May we continue to learn and grow together, to listen, to speak up and out.

Jon made the most amazing re-fried beans tonight. Re-fried beans can sometimes be a tasteless mush, but these are really delicious.

This is the beginning of a three-day weekend.

I have such incredibly wise and compassionate and thoughtful and activist friends. Last night I posted some thoughts on Facebook, wondering whether it’s possible to find common vocabularies across political lines. After school today, when I went to check my page, there were dozens of incredibly thoughtful and wise responses. I am blessed in friends. Many of my friends are people I have never met, but people who have enriched my life deeply through these discussions, who have helped me to keep my mind open and my thinking fluid.

So much Love. May we walk in Beauty!

My Christmas Wish


It’s been a while since I have seen a fox. At least a year, I think. My Christmas wish is that sometime in the next week while I am at home, I will see another fox.

Gratitude List:
1. Long, long friendships
2. Strangers working together to help a frightened dog–we stopped on busy Route 30 this afternoon to help a German Shepherd who was running back and forth between the lanes. She was terrified, and didn’t know what to do. Eastbound traffic stopped, but the westbound folks couldn’t seem to get it together. When she saw me coming toward her, her ears perked up and she ran to me, but even so, Jon and I had to sort of herd her off of the road, she was so scared. Two other cars stopped, and they called the vet number on the tags and one very level-headed woman who lived nearby took her home until she could get in touch with her owners.
3. Making Christmas. Making Yule.
4. All the goodness that is being born into the world
5. Highway hawks, the sun on their feathers

May we walk in Beauty!

Helpful Friends

Poor little Pippi encountered a deer in the morning gloaming on Ducktown Road yesterday. She’ll be out of commission for a little while.

Gratitude List:
1. Neither Ellis nor I were hurt in the collision. I am not so sure about the other guy, a large (8-point, perhaps?) buck. I thought he was dead. He just lay there where he had fallen, under the guard rail, but just as I had collected myself enough to think about getting out to check on him, he leaped up and dashed into the woods. Poor guy. I hope he survived.
2. Friends who help in a time of crisis. Julie Flinchbaugh, for comforting us and giving Ellis some apple cider. Erin Darby, who drove the carpool to Lancaster on a moment’s notice. Jon, who was my telephone anchor–I kept calling him because I didn’t know what to do. My parents, who gave us their second car while Pippi Prius is at the Dentist. (This is one of our favorite puns. Not only is she having her dents repaired, but the owner/operator of the garage that takes care of our vehicles is our neighbor, Den.  Den-dent-dentist: get it?)
3. Restorative conversations. This morning I get to help with a restorative conference at school. I went into the Restorative Circle training a couple weeks ago with a little trepidation, worried that my anxieties about conflict would keep me from really being able to do this kind of work. This morning, I feel really ready to participate, to ask questions, to help facilitate this conversation. I am eager to be part of this kind of work.
4. Flaming trees. They say that the color will be sort of “meh” this season, after the summer’s dry weather, but the maples didn’t get the memo. They’re pulling out the stops.
5. Yesterday’s singing in chapel. We sang “Tu Eres Todopoderoso,” a song from Mennonite World Conference. I love that song.

May we walk in Beauty!

Waiting for a Heart


My friend Kyla was to have heart surgery today to implant a ventricular assist device, but she’s developed an infection, and will have to put off the surgery. Meanwhile, she waits for a new heart for a heart transplant.  Today her friends are wearing purple to support her.

Gratitude List:
1. Laughing with friends gathered on a hillside. Children (and adults, too!) whizzing down a waterslide. Good food and conversation.
2. Singing together. Blended harmonies.
3. Community conversations. Bringing up the topics that we’re sometimes too uncomfortable to talk about.
4. Feathers. Every day a feather or two or three.
5. Waking up.  And waking up.

May we walk in Beauty!

Almost Paradise

almost paradise

What a gift it is to have lifetime friends, people you can sit with and say, “Remember when you said. . .?  Remember what she did. . .?  Remember how he used to always. . .?”

People you can look in the eye and see not only a reflection of who you are in this moment, but also a reflection of who you have been–a year ago, five, ten, twenty.

People who know too much about you, who remember you before you settled adulthood’s masks into place, and they still love you, love you more for who you’ve been and who you’ve become.

People you can look at and see the butterfly of the now, but in whom can you identify the caterpillar of the past–and you love the butterfly, and the caterpillar, too.

People who know just which questions to ask.

People who help you live in this moment–with their laughter, their thoughtful eyes, their conversation.  People who draw you into the realm of memory.  People who help you envision the future.  People who help you to live in all those layers at once.

Gratitude List:
1. Living in those layers of time (past, present, future) with people I love and trust
2. People who know my warts and rough edges and love me anyway
3. The way the next generation at reunions also gathers with ease and comfort, enjoying each other
4. Peaches and ice cream
5. Crisp, cool mornings

May we walk in Beauty!

Livin’ in an Amish Paradise

Spending the weekend with college friends at the Amish Paradise Vacation Home in Leacock, PA.  I feel like a tourist in my own territory.  It’s like we’re all one family gathered at Grandma’s house for the weekend, only there’s no common Grandma.

Gratitude List:
1. (What do you hear?) A rooster singing morning matins. Chickadee.  Cars out on 30.  Whoosh of an early morning biker.
2. (What is satisfying?) Sitting around the dining room table like we used to do, how the conversation just gets going, the serious ideas, the laughter, the kids.
3. (What do you see?) Coppery leaves of maple, shining green eyes of my early morning companion.
4. (Where does hope reside?) In re-framing the conversations.  In holding willfully and fiercely to hopes and ideals and dreams of what-may-be.
5. (What are the words for the day?) Memory, laughter, love, children, conversation, listening, friendship, family.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Shifting Colors of the Day


Gratitude List:
1. (What made you laugh?) Listening to Sir Patrick Stewart read pop song lyrics in the voices of British Shakespearean actors on Ask Me Another last night.
2. (What startled you?) The way the scarlet of the poppies seems to reach through from another world into this one.  The way the deeper, more real red of the cardinal keeps catching my eye in the branches of trees.
3. (What awakened you?) The wisdom of friends, the dogged persistence of people
4. (What do you take for granted?) Light at the flick of a switch, water in the pipes, the trust and support of people close to me
5. (What brings you serenity?) The way light sifts through green, the play of breeze through leaves, the shifting colors of the day

May we walk in Beauty!

Bats and Feathers

An extra bonus gratitude today.  Just because.

Gratitude List:
1.  My postcards have begun to arrive!  I joined a postcard poetry project for August, writing a poem a day on a postcard and sending it to some random person on a list.  And I get postcards, too.  Feel like I need to up my game a bit.  I wrote a few early so that people get theirs on or near the beginning of the month.  The ones I received yesterday were so brilliant!  I’ll probably share a few of mine in September.
2.  The feathers.  It happened last year, too–for at least a month, I would find one feather almost every single day.  This week I have begun finding them again, like they’re placed there for me to find.
3.  Summer suppers: corn and homemade bread and tomatoes and peach cobbler and watermelon.
4.  Visiting with friends I haven’t seen for a long time.  Shared memories, new stories, figuring out the world.
5.  Fidelity
6.  Bats flying overhead in the twilight, like a physical representation of the conversation happening on the ground.

May we walk in Beauty!

Molding the Conversation. . .

So many threads of conversation this weekend, so much to think about.

During a long and intense conversation with friends this morning, one friend’s 12-year-old daughter sat at the table with a pencil and paper, doodling.  Trees and squiggles and a stylized heart.  Eyes and rain and a tree with a hole.  Tangles and webs.  At one point, the conversation turned toward the drawing, and we started asking her to talk about bits and pieces.  “I am molding the conversation into the drawing,” she said, pointing to a tear that she drew when we had spoken of sadness, to a cradling arm with the word Protection within its bowl, to the way the tree had its flaws, just as we all do, to a web that she said represented complexity within each person.  I felt so heard, so understood, so carefully held by this silent and thoughtful witness to our conversation.  What a vulnerable and tender gift to share.

I often doodle, too, when I talk with people, when I listen to others talk, and I think I understand a little of what she meant about molding a conversation into the pictures, though I have never done it with quite the intentionality that she did.  Wouldn’t it be an interesting exercise, with willing friends, to take this thoughtful girl’s idea into conversation with intention?  To have paper and pencils on a table while conversation is occurring, perhaps to pass a sheet around, each adding a piece to the doodle as the conversation moves along, and then to quietly listen as people talk about the ways they were holding the ideas and each other by the symbols and ideas that they drew?

Gratitude List:
1.  Being listened to and heard.  Friends who are honest mirrors.
2.  Ideas flying and soaring.  Heart-expanding conversation.
3.  Taking responsibility for my energy.
4.  The expanded kitchen/dining room to host friends around the table.
5.  Milkweed.

May we walk in Beauty!

Clearing, Culture, and Civilization

A little sun, a slight shift up the thermometer, and I catch my stride again, find my way back into my life.  I’m glad we got all those boxes of Giveaway ready earlier in the week.  I know that packing boxes would not have helped to lift me out of the puddle of winter blues–it requires too much psychic attention.  But carrying them out of the house and putting them in the trunk, taking them to Reuzit–that was a definite pick-me-up.  Now the energy flows through the house with a little more grace.

Beth’s Personal Remedies for Winter Blues:
(not guaranteed to work for everyone, but it might be worth a shot)
1.  Make Gratitude Lists
2.  Notice the shadows and footprints on the snow
3.  Do yoga tree poses.  Lots of tree poses.  And king dancer poses.  And warrior poses.  Laugh when you fall.  Keep trying.
4.  Get rid of Stuff.  Being a Manager of Stuff is energy-sapping at the best of times, but in Winter, it’s numbing.
5.  Sometimes: Give in to it.  Wrap up in a blanket on the recliner, read a book, and drink lots of tea.

Speaking of getting rid of stuff, I found this great little list at the Pachamama Alliance:

Not Shopping List     I posted it on my Facebook site, and people began to add to it:

Dumpster dive
Joyfully do without
Re-vamp, re-fashion, create

So many good ideas.
What would you add?
How can we support each other in community
to do these things rather than settling for the easy path of buying more
plastic junk that won’t last and that we don’t really need, and probably don’t
really want, if we’re really honest with ourselves?

Gratitude List:
1.  A good tutor.  I feel much more confident about my computer savvy after just an hour of good help.
2.  Fish tacos
3.  Conversations about grief, sharing stories, opening hearts.  I have such wise, compassionate friends.
4.  Conversations about Culture and Civilization–more good semantic distinctions to be made.  Civilization has gotten us into a peck of trouble, has it not?  How does it differ from culture?  What do we pass on to our children–what culture do we share with them?  I have such wonderful, thoughtful friends.
5.  The light within us all.  I don’t know how to write this one, because it comes out of a really challenging conversation about why people harm other people, even when they know better, about why people engage in bullying behavior.  I recognize too, that I have shadows myself, some unhealthy shadows.  That’s crunchy.  But liberating.

May we walk in Beauty.