Beloved Community

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A couple years ago, I had a girl in my freshman class who entered every classroom on high alert, ready to attack at the slightest provocation. She didn’t wait to be bullied or insulted–she was ready to lash out at the least hint of a slight, the least whiff of aggression. Within days, most of her classmates were steering a wide path around her, terrified that they might accidentally look at her the wrong way and find themselves on the receiving end of her wrath.

One of the things I love about my school is the restorative way that teachers and administrators work with students. Teachers kept reminding her to keep her language school-appropriate, to speak more gently with her classmates. Students who felt harmed by her sharpness were cared for and comforted, and she was held accountable for the harm she caused. Still, she was treated like a person herself, not like a perpetrator, not like a problem. The adults understood that she was experiencing an extreme sense of vulnerability, that her social anxiety and the pain she was dealing with in her personal life made her push people away before she could be hurt.

Gradually, she began letting other students and adults near her. She discovered that people liked her for who she was, that we appreciated her quick wit, that she could make us laugh and smile. She began to talk and write about deeper things, too. When she lost someone she loved, instead of retreating to her cave and biting anyone who came near, she wrote it out. She talked about it. She let her friends hold her and care for her.

Now she’s a junior.  She’s finding her voice, catching her stride. She can still make you cringe when she gets into a temper. She’ll always be good at speaking her mind. But the aggressiveness is tempered with gentleness. Instead of masking her vulnerability, she uses her tender heart to find connections with others who hurt. She’s beginning to speak out about issues and causes that matter to her, using both reason and passion. She’s becoming a leader. I am proud of her, and grateful for this community that helped her find her way to her best self. She’s going to be one of the ones who changes the world.

Gratitude List:
1. Beloved community that provides a place for us to fail and try and fail and try and learn and become.
2. The way the sunlight spilled across the fields as dawn arrived.
3. Magenta, Indigo, Aquamarine, which is to say: The clouds at sunrise.
4. The way those five crows flying in a perfect line laced up the clouds they flew between.
5. The members of the Silhouette Magazine staff. They’re witty, earnest, playful, and thoughtful. I’m proud of the assembly they presented this morning.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Today’s poetry prompt is to write a poem about something that happens again and again.

This is a poem in hope that the cycle will continue for many years to come:

The Monarchs Return to Mexico
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Every year they find their way back.
Through the veils of mist that hover
over the mountain passes they flutter.

Their flaming wings set the woods afire
as morning sun sparkles through the canopy.
The forest breathes with orange light.

Gratitude List:
1. The music in church today. “Kyrie, eleison.” Supporting each other in song. Sitting next to Nancy and harmonizing with her, blending our voices.
2. A wonderful set of interviews at LMS this afternoon: Phyllis Pellman Good interviewed nine alumni about their work, how LMS prepared them for their lives, and what touchpoints they use for making ethical/moral decisions. Profound.
3. Seeing people’s safety pins.
4. The poet Andrea Gibson tweeted something about remembering how music heals. Yes.
5. Making salt dough with the kid.

May we walk in Beauty!

Somewhere in the World

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Shere Khan of Skunk Hollow (we watched  The Jungle Book last night)

Somewhere in the world
there must be a house
where you will find safety,
a place where maybe
you will find the grace of wholeness.

Somewhere in the world
there must be a word
that holds your truest name,
a word that is a haven,
a shelter for your aching.

Somewhere in the world
there must be a table
set for soothing, set for aiding,
a table that will make
a new way for your healing.

Gratitude List:
1. Dreams
2. Metaphors
3. Symbols
4. Poems
5. Laughter

May we walk in Beauty!

Golden

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Reach out your hand
like the quivering leaf.
Someone is there to grasp it:
wind, rain, a tiny green spider
wandering, crab-like, across its surface.

Lay your arms upon the air
like the oak branches that are held
in the grasp of the autumn sun.

Somewhere the invisible ones
are listening for the moment
when you offer your story to the breezes.

 

Gratitude List:
1. The fact that I have a lot more sense about how I dress in the daytime than I do in those crazy dreams.
2. Having wild and crazy dreams means I was sleeping last night.  I can feel the restfulness seeping into me.
3. Watching healing take place.  Friendship and kindnesses can begin to draw a person back toward wholeness.  May the healing continue.
4. Students beginning class by asking if we can pray for an injured classmate.
5. Golden.  I came out of school yesterday afternoon, and everything was Golden.

May we walk in Beauty!

Grace and Wind

Today’s gratitude list is mostly gleaned from our church service yesterday morning.  After a startlingly harsh and jangling sermon from a visiting preacher the previous week, yesterday’s service was one of healing and hope.  I felt much more called to the care and tending of souls during yesterday’s gentle and loving setting than I did during the previous week’s harangue.

Gratitude List:
1. The healing power of words, how they hold and restore.  How healing words fill a space after words have been harsh.  I am grateful for Darvin and Michelle’s words yesterday.
2. St. Hannah/Francis preaching to the birds.  “You should try this at home.”  Ellis did: he came home and stood near the feeder with bird seed in his hand.
3. Breath, air, wind: spirit.  Ruach, one of the Bible’s feminine terms for God, is also the spirit, the breath.  Whistle.  Preach to the birds.
4. Counting time in Chesters.  The oldest member of our congregation is almost 100.  About three Chesters ago, the US became a country.  Eight Chesters ago, St. Francis preached to the birds.  Chester whistles, too.
5. These two hanging ferns that my family gave me for Mother’s Day.  The house finch has been whistling in their fronds, begging his lady love to consider them as the setting for raising their family.

May we walk in Beauty!  Breathe.  Whistle.

Tonight, a new set of Shaman Words.  A Magic Spell.  A Prayer.  An Incantation for Healing.

I will say that I breathe and mean that I am praying.
I will say the drums are throbbing in the night
and mean that your heart beats
to the rhythm of the earth’s heart,
strong and measured,
strong and measured,
strong and measured.

I will say sparks rise from fire
and mean my thoughts fly to you.
I will say the River flows to sea
and mean your blood flows
through its royal chambers
in the manner it is meant to.

I will say the hunting lionesses
gather on the plains
and mean that the women
are fierce in their prayers for you,
that the mothers
are wild in their magics
to see you whole again.
Gratitude List:
1. The good words of Conrad Moore.  Sometimes the best words are the ones that unsettle, that cause a little discomfort, that admit to anger, that shake us from our complacency, to wake us up, and break our status quo.  Jesus called the spirit the Comforter.  Sometimes the people need a Discomforting Spirit to bring renewal.
2. Watching live theater with the boys.  I am the House Manager for the plays–in charge of the ushering.  I took the boys with me to different shows of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat this weekend and they helped usher and then watched the show.  Nothing cuter than watching a five-year-old absorbed in a musical, eyes wide, clapping at the end of each song.
3. Thaw.  Warmth.
4. It’s International Women’s Day–I am grateful for Jane Goodall and Wangari Maathai and Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and Mary Oliver and Joy Harjo and Malala Yousufzai and Leymah Gbowee and the suffragettes and the herbalists and witches and midwives and mothers and sisters and daughters and word-weavers and artists and farmers and teachers who have gone before.
5. The heart.

May we walk in Beauty!

A Forest

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For Friends Who Are Experiencing Anxiety:

Here in the hollow
the sun sparks white flame
from the snow-boughed limbs
of walnut and sycamore.

And you, can you feel the rays
that sparkle to your valley
from my own heart-limbs?

From our many different dells
we trees make a forest
which hums with the light
we are sending your way.

 

Gratitude List:
1. Big words.  Panopticon, in a student paper.  Hippopotomonstrasesquipedaliophobia, from Ellis’s student dictionary.  It’s the fear of big words.  Change the ending from phobia to philia (love of) and you’ve got me.
2. During this last big snow, the color for contemplation (other than white, of course) was ginger/rufous/chestnut.  Fred the ginger tomcat on my lap, set off by the rich colors of an olive and russet blanket.  The chestnut flank of the titmouse who sat in the twiggy branches high up in the sycamore outside my bathroom window and seemed to watch me brush my teeth.  The deep rufous/russet flanks of the towhee who visited the feeder during the storm and scratched, chicken-like, to get the seed below the snow, setting the table for the less industrious birds.
3. Creativity.  Music, art, drama, craft, word, play.
4. I have to say it: March snowstorms.  This reminds me of a March blizzard years ago that kept a party of giddy friends snowbound for two days longer than a weekend.
5. Healing.  Hope for healing.  The body’s ability to work wonders to fix itself.

May we walk in Beauty!

Healing Song and Story

Gratitude List:
1.  The way that sharing stories opens the heart to healing.
2.  Songs that hold stories.
3.  Vulnerability and strength together.
4.  Clearing the yard of dead branches in the cool evening as the sun set below the rim of the hollow.
5.  Eggs.  For all the potential they hold, all the mystery, the warmth, the way they settle into your palm.  I once had a postcard of an icon of Mary Magdalene holding an egg.

May we walk in Beauty!

Winter Balances

A quick little poem.
I am of two minds about winter.

One moment:
Enough, I say!  Enough
of the suffocating darkness,
of the cold that drives me
into my bed, a-quiver.
Enough of the river
frozen halfway to stone.
Enough of the bone-chilling
mind-numbing ache of it.

Then, sun on the snow,
a-sparkle, a-dazzle,
glinting ferociously:
Here is your light!
Bathe in it, draw it in,
into your marrow,
carry it deep in your heart,
in the depths, in the shadows.

Gratitude List:
1.  The way the winter sun sparkles through the bathroom window at Radiance and hits the Mary Oliver poem about summer.
2.  Talking it over
3.  The gift of vulnerability.  I want to be always strong, strong like you.  And then you open your heart and show me: “Here is the way.  Here are the places that are fearful to look upon.”  I have so much to learn.
4.  Healing energy like that bright winter sun, shimmering all around.
5.  Assessing and tweaking

May we walk in Beauty.