A Very Simple Secret


Today’s prompt is to write a self-destruct poem:

When you are finished reading this poem,
it will self-destruct. The words
will fly outward, shards of ideas
exploding, lacerating skin,
feelings and notions piercing the soul,
shredding elevated egos
and mangling worn-out theories.
You will not be able to escape
into the house of another poem,
for all poetry is designed to explode,
to burst, to shatter into a thousand colors,
like the fracturing of light.


“The word is the making of the world.” —Wallace Stevens
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“Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke
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“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” —Albert Einstein
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“I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Suppressing a culture is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.” —Coretta Scott King
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“When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness.”
—Bhagavad Gita
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“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
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“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
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“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
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“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
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“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
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“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.”
―Naomi Shihab Nye


Gratitude List:
1. How dreams keep revealing themselves
2. How the leaves fly down from the sky
3. How children see things that adults miss
4. How the work gets done
5. How starlings move as a single bird

May we walk in Beauty!

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Practice the Pause

“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret. ”
—Lori Deschene
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“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.” ―Parker J. Palmer
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“In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?”
―Rabia al-Adawiyya, Sufi poet, 717-801
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“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
―Albert Einstein


Gratitude List:
1. Today I am grateful that I no longer experience weeks of 4-hour sleep. When I experience insomnia these days, it’s a couple hours for a couple nights in a row. It has become a teacher instead of a raging enemy.
2. The UNICEF kids. They put on a great party today, set up without prompting and supervision, ran the show, and cleaned up so quickly, I hardly knew what hit me. They’re going to change the world.
3. This ratty old black long-sleeved T-shirt. I’ve bought shirts to replace it, and they’re okay in their way, but none are so soft, so mine. I will wear it until it’s rags.
4. The Ducktown Road bridge is functional! I drove the whole way up Ducktown on my way home tonight.
5. How things come together, and fall apart, only to come together again, in a new way.

May we walk in Beauty!

Revolution of the Heart

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” ―Dorothy Day
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“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.” ―Dorothy Day
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“Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.”
―Dorothy Day
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“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
―Dorothy Day
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“The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.”
―Dorothy Day
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I’m not very good at praying, but what I experience when I’m writing a poem is close to prayer. I feel it in different degrees and not with every poem. But in certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” ―Denise Levertov
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“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”
―Gandalf
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“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” ―attributed to Albert Einstein
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Look into me, for I am the light in your eyes. ―Rumi
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“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”
―Dorothy Day
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“When it comes down to it, even on the natural plane, it is much happier and more enlivening to love than to be loved.”
―Dorothy Day
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“Paperwork, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens–these things, too, are the works of peace.”
―Dorothy Day
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“An act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all.” ―Dorothy Day


Gratitude List:
1. I hear: My family members singing and humming and whispering to themselves as they go about the work and play of the evening.
2. I see: Incredible photos that my friends post online. Such beauty there is in the world, and such tender eyes my friends have to notice and mark it.
3. I feel: The perfect temperatures of this week. A little cool, a little warm. Thermal delight.
4. I smelled: Coffee brewing.
5. I tasted: Broccoli on toast with melted cheese. And applesauce. Delicious supper.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gnosis

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These days when I am in the car by myself, I switch over the audio book CD from The Mark of Athena, which we listen to as a carpool on the way to and from school, to Tucker Malarkey’s Resurrection, an audio mystery book I got from the library book sale last summer. It’s an interesting slow-unraveling story about a young woman (post-WWII) who goes to settle the affairs of her archaeologist father in Egypt after his suspicious death. She discovers that he was working on finding and translating fragments of text from papyri found at Oxyrhynchus, and that someone is trying to stop the texts from becoming public. It’s entirely fiction, of course, except that it’s loosely based on some of the hype surrounding the mid-1940s discoveries of papyri fragments at Oxyrhynchus.

It makes me want to start looking again at some of the Gnostic texts and other gospels that were not included in the canon by the councils and church leaders by the time of the Synod of Hippo Regius in 393.  The novel I am reading contends that the non-canonical gospels were actively suppressed, often violently, by church leaders who were threatened by the gnosticism of many of the texts. We have Elaine Pagels’ book on Thomas: Beyond Belief, and perhaps I will start there, as well as searching through the fascinating online Nag Hammadi Library.

Gnosis has always been one of my favorite words. It rings something inside me when I hear it. I remember that even before I really knew what it meant, I was drawn to its mystery. What are the layers beneath the stories I’ve heard all my life? What are the patterns and secrets that were kept so fiercely out of the text that we read today? Who were these early followers of Jesus? I think of gnosis as gut knowledge, bones knowledge, the kind of thing you know within yourself to be right and true.

Early gnostics believed that the physical world was to be transcended in favor of spiritual realities, a primary sticking point for me. Perhaps this is how some people reach their gnosis. I think the physical world is to be entered fully, experienced profoundly, relished deeply. For me, it’s about settling into the gut, the bones, the blood, seeking the way Spirit imbues matter, not the way it transcends it.

Gratitude List:
1. William Carlos Williams Moment: so much depends on a tangerine sun rising through blue into a violet magenta cloud. Suddenly all is cerulean and indigo and golden.
2. Heart Moment: Receiving an email from one of our graduates, asking several of us to pray for him as he prepares to deploy as a medic to the Syrian border. We have a bridge between us, despite my pacifism, and I am honored to be among those praying for his safety, praying that he may be a blessing to those he serves.
3. Comfort Moment: Sitting under a feather bed, reading a fantasy novel to my boy.
4. Moment of Depth: This quotation, by Alice Walker–“Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.”
5. Pleasure Moment: Shells with spinach and peas in a creamy cheesy sauce.

May we walk in Beauty!

Open Heart

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Last week, we met this teeny tiny turtle–a snapper the size of a half dollar–on the sidewalk into the school. We set him in the grass where he would be safer from the many feet that would be thundering through during the coming day.

“It can hurt to go through life with your heart open, but not as much as it does to go through life with your heart closed.” –Jim Doty

The bud always opens toward decay,
toward falling, the fragile bits within
slipping off their tiny moorings,
sifting downward, petals drooping,
dropping to the ground below,
offering beauty and a lingering aroma
in the briefest span.

The bud which never opens
also lives toward decay and rot
but never senses sun-warm petals,
never knows the draw of butterfly,
the tickle of the bee, never feels
the moment of release, of
settling to earth.

Gratitude List:
1. Teeny tiny turtles
2. Having enough: enough sleep, enough love, enough time, enough of what we need to get by.
3. Spoken word poetry–always inspiring
4. Crickets, heartbeats
5. Believing in the good

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!

Desire

luna

As you read, you can use your own name for the Great Mystery, the Force of Life, Beauty, Love:

Psalm of Desire
(14 August 2016, revised)

O God of Beauty,
God of Marvel,
God of Wonder,
the whole universe that you have made
is built upon desire:

the force that holds electrons in atomic orbit,
that keeps the planets in their dance around the sun,
and wheels the spiraled walk of galaxies
is that same force which holds us to the earth,
which pulls the tides up the beach and back,
and calls us from complacency
to yearn for something more.

Not only do we hunger for you,
but you are the very force of our longing,
the Magnet which draws us ever outward
from the limiting walls of our own egos
to seek your face in all that surrounds us,
to seek your heart in the hearts of our neighbors,
to follow the pathway that leads us homeward.
You are the Magnet which draws us, finally,
into the home of our deepest selves,
where we are most truly
what you have made us to be.

Our yearning for you is an echo
of your own yearning for your children.

May we carry the knowledge within us,
deep in our cellular constellations,
pulled with the tides of our blood,
that our own deepest longings
are the echoes of your voice
calling us to you.

Draw us ever closer to your Center,
as the sun holds the planets in constant orbit,
as a mother draws her child to her heart,
that our longing may lead us always to you,
our Truest Home.

Gratitude List:
1. Preparing the heart space. So much work remains to be done, but the work on the heart moves on apace. (I copied this from last year’s August 15 list.)
2. Memories of luna moth. I haven’t seen any this year (yet), but I love looking at photos from other years.
3. How Love will always trump dogma. Generous spirits.
4. The wise and loving community.
5. Feathers. Wings. Wind. Flight.

May we walk in Beauty!

Oranges

DSCN9232
I have oranges in the dogwood tree for Oriole, but he seems uninterested.  He prefers the sycamore fluffs at the tops of the trees.  The dogwoods have lost their pink in the three days since I took the photo.

Gratitude List:
1. Cool May–whenever I start to kvetch about being too cold, I remember the beastly heat at the end of the year last year, and I am grateful.  I have not started up my classroom air conditioner at all this spring.
2. Deep, flowing conversations.
3. Your heart.  My heart.  The strands of love and compassion that connect those dots.
4. White fluffy clouds in blue sky.
5. Passing on the Flame.

May we walk in Beauty!

Hearts in the Trees

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(I have a friend who takes pictures of hearts that she finds in the world, and another friend who takes pictures of trees that she loves.  Here is a heart.  And I love this tree.)

Gratitude List:
1. Hearts.  Trees.  Hearts in trees.   The friends who draw them to my attention.
2. All this blooming.  Everywhere.  You’re blooming too, I think.
3. A day off and hanging out with my muchachos.
4. Arts.  I have been thinking a lot lately about how the arts make us more fully human, more compassionate with ourselves and others, more able to deal with and comprehend our secret inner worlds.  I want to do more to incorporate more art into my teaching, to encourage my students to incorporate more art into their projects.
5. Stories of Holy Week.  I have always thought of Jesus as a revolutionary, but somehow this year I have been struck in a more powerful way with the way the stories of Holy Week portray him: the street theater of the donkey ride into the city, the anarchism of the temple cleansing, the subversive answers to the establishment, the way he turned everybody’s expectations upside-down. (How sad that this story is so often used instead to enforce the status quo.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Glorious List

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Gratitude List:
(Sometimes I accidentally type Gratitude Lost.  This morning, before I had engaged my brain, I started typing Glorious List.  Perhaps I should have let that stand.)
1. Beginning the process of blessing and launching these young people into the world in their evenings of Senior Presentations.  It’s a high expectation we place upon them, to call them World-Changers.  They are each, in their own ways, prepared to make the world a better place with the gifts and skills and compassion that they have been nurturing in their time at our school.  I am so proud of them.  Monday will be my last evening of blessing the last half of my crew.
2. A single crow rowing her way across an overcast sky.
3. The ducks are wandering all over the school these days, searching for nesting sites.  They quack outside my window.  I actually like when the natural world distracts us from the scholarly task at hand.  It’s a reminder that this work is only part of what they are to learn.  I should run out to the shop before I go to school and see if I can find that old plywood nesting box from the chicken coop to put outside my window.
4. Kyla has been approved for a heart transplant.  Now begins a new kind of waiting, but meanwhile, knowing that there is a team ready to work with her, a great weight is lifted. The cycles of life and death are so intimately woven together.
5. Rooms and fields where we all can find a home.  I don’t know how to say it less cryptically at this moment, but it is a profoundly important part of my gratitude list today.

May we walk in Beauty!