Dear Friends


Lime-kiln on the bike path, and bikes in the truck (no more little kid bikes)
I posted this poem on this day last year, after a magical evening with a community of people who have held each other and listened to each other and played together for thirty years:

“Try this:
Sit in a circle at dusk with people you love.
Let it be when the swifts are flying.
Let there be a catbird with a whiskery voice in a spruce tree.
Speak your stories into the bowl of the space between you:
stories like a rich meal, the bitter, the savory, the sweet.
Let it get dark. The darkness will listen, too.
You can hear people listening when you speak in the dark.
You may light a candle if you have a candle.
Laugh together. Cry.
Let there be occasional questions,
occasional grunts, occasional exclamations of oh-I-hear-that!
Make a meal of the stories before you,
and eat your fill. Be nourished.
Be together in your stories.
Know that all these stories are your story, too.
Let there be a benediction,
words sung or spoken into the full dark,
accompanied by the chittering of bats,
good words to keep you always
in this circle where you belong.”
Beth Weaver-Kreider


“Each of us faces a time when the holy well within needs tending. When we’re no longer able to bestow blessings on others because we’ve overgiven, or when something precious has been taken from us, or life’s demands are too great on our fragile system. But when the moisture goes out of our lives, and we’re no longer able to see beauty or converse with magic, we must ask ourselves how we can replenish our well-ness.” – Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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“We never belonged to you. / You never found us. / It was always the other way round.” –Margaret Atwood
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“Would you like to have an adventure now, or would you like your tea first?” –JM Barrie
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“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” ~Zora Neale Hurston
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“…The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth…” -Carl Jung
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“Listen. . .with the ear of your heart.” –The Rule of St. Benedict
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“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” –Malala Yousufzai


Gratitude List:
1. Biking in the woods with my boys–yes, again. Cool under the trees, cooler crossing the creeks.
2. That new vacuum cleaner! We can see how much dust is picked up when we vacuum a room. Thank you, Linda!
3. Sharing quiet moments in the morning with a smallish boy
4. Peaches! And ice cream.
5. The trees in the holler that help to keep the coolness in

May we walk in Beauty!

Green Tara


Two years ago, I spent some time meditating in an alcove at the Jesuit Center where Green Tara rested beneath a painting of the Madonna. Last year, she wasn’t there. This year, I am going to search for her again.

Today’s Quotes:
Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.”
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“We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit.”
—Audre Lorde
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“Acknowledging our love for the living world does something that a library full of papers on sustainable development and ecosystem services cannot: it engages the imagination as well as the intellect. It inspires belief; and this is essential to the lasting success of any movement.” —George Monbiot


Gratitude List:
1. (What wakes you up?) Stiff, aching muscles from a 2.5-mile walk with my youngster yesterday. While the increasing aches of aging are challenging for me, this stiff-and-soreness is because of a delightful walk in the evening, where we just kept going. “Shall we see where the road construction began? Why don’t we just walk up Poff Road now?”
2. (What inspires you?) The friend who keeps running, keeps walking, keepings signing up for those half-marathons. Reading last year’s reflections on an educational seminar I took.
3. (What catches your eye?) Daylily, Chicory, and Queen Anne’s Lace are a-bloom again. Contrasting colors of orange and blue, and that lacy white among them.
4. (What keeps you in the moment?) The oriole calling from the honey locust trees by the parking lot.
5. (What draws you into the future?) Yesterday’s conversation with a teacher friend about the past year, about what sort of teachers we want to be. The gangly growth spurts of my children. The anticipation of next weekend’s solitude retreat.

May we walk in Beauty!

Wise Folk

barntreeGratitude List
1.
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.

2.
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.

3.
Jon made the most amazing re-fried beans tonight. Re-fried beans can sometimes be a tasteless mush, but these are really delicious.

4.
This is the beginning of a three-day weekend.

5.
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

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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

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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

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

Amishparadise
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

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Red.

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!