The Dragon in the Park



“What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours—that is what you must be able to attain.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke
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“Hope is a renewable option:
If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.” ―Barbara Kingsolver
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“There is a voice that doesn’t use words.
Listen.”
―Rumi
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“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
―Carl Jung
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“I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only the depth of my seeing.”
―Mary Oliver
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“We have come into this exquisite world to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom, and light.”
―Hafiz


Gratitude List:
1. On the way past Sam Lewis Park yesterday afternoon, we saw a dragon in the sky. And two dinosaurs. And two trilobites. People were flying kites. I think they’re known as Finnish kites. A high up leader kite is tethered to a balloon-style kite. The higher kite pulls the lower one up into the air. It’s amazing to watch.
2. Bubbles. Also at the park, a couple had brought along several buckets full of soap solution and long rope-style bubble wands. They created enormous bubbles.
3. Sharing stories. Stories, like bridges between us.
4. The Labor movement–people believing in their cause–in worker safety, in justice and fairness in pay, in reasonable hours, in respectable treatment of employees.
5. Playing games with the kids.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Live Like the Truth is True

“I want to live like the truth is true and go where love has not been found.” –Al Letson, host of podcast Reveal, quoting Father Greg Boyle, about his reasons for protecting a white supremacist from a beating
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“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
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“What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”
(excerpt from “Inversnaid”) –Gerard Manley Hopkins
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“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what to hope for.
And the most you can do is live inside that hope.”
–Barbara Kingsolver
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And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
~ Roald Dahl
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“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” ~C. S. Lewis
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“Between thought and expression lies a lifetime.” ~Lou Reed


Gratitude List:
1. I came home from work yesterday and went upstairs, and both cats were on top of the bed. Nobody scurried away in terror at the approaching sound of my feet. No one even flinched when I came into the room. We’re making progress.
2. First responders and rescuers in Texas. I worry about what mob spirit does in fractured times. Those who have put their time and lives on the line to rescue people and animals caught in the floodwaters are participating in a different sort of “mob” spirit, building off of each other’s energies to save lives.
3. Spiralized summer squash sauteed with tomatoes, topped with pesto.
4. Reading poetry to young people
5. The silence of early morning, when the thundering goblin cats have settled down, and only I and the crickets are awake.

May we walk in Beauty!

Beauty Everywhere We Turn


Potato Plow

“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear. That means watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” —Krishnamurti
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“…We are called to not run from the discomfort, not run from grief or the feelings of outrage, or even fear. And if we can be fearless to be with our pain, it turns; it doesn’t stay static. It only doesn’t change if we refuse to look at it… The other face of our pain for the world is our love for the world. Our absolutely inseparable connectedness with all life.” —Joanna Macy
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“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding a deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only love can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
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“If words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart.”
—Rumi
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“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” —Hal Borland
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“Love what God loves, which is everything. . .no exceptions.” —Richard Rohr
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“Native Americans say: It is not you who sees the wolf. Not the small you: the fearful ego-bound self which makes fixed concepts out of separation, and only gazes on the beauty of this world to label and possess it. No: when you are ready, wolf may show itself, if it chooses. It may reveal some aspect of its deeper being that dissolves what you think you know, and brings you back to wonder and the unity in which all mind-made fears and oppositions are dissolved. And then you can return to the ever-present flow of freedom, like the horses, rewild your tamed and shuttered senses and learn again from life directly, in the one eternal Mystery that is made new in every moment.” —Eleanor O’Hanlon
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“We have so far to go to realize our potential for compassion, altruism, and love.” —Dr. Jane Goodall
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“Find yourself a cup of tea: the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things.” —Saki


Gratitude List:
1. The way social changes move gently outward, like breath. How social consciousness IS raised. You can hear me trying to work with my anxiety about Nazis in the streets, eh? I think about how, before Bree Newsome climbed her flag pole, much of white America didn’t have a strong opinion on the emblems of slavery. I was uncomfortable with the Confederate flag, grouchy about statues honoring Confederate heroes, but I hadn’t yet internalized how deeply wounding they were, hadn’t seen them through the eyes of those they were intended to intimidate. There was a time I was vaguely aware that my skin color was something of a protection, but I hadn’t really explored the incredible degree to which my white skin privileges me. Now our consciousness is raised. In the words Maya Angelou, one of the greatest voices of our time, “When you know better, do better.” Yes, we will.
2. My photographer friends. Such moments of beauty and wonder and marvel they bring me. Teeny tiny toadstools, fat baby porcupines, rabbits grazing in morning dew, flowers in their gardens, laughing children, spider webs ornately adorning the bushes. These things don’t cancel out the rage and worry of the recent days, but they help me to hold it. I can accept the worry and fury in my heart without having to ignore or repress them when I have Beauty to hold as well.
3. So often, the right quotation appears at the exact moment. I have been pondering how to hold and face the anxieties I am experiencing for the world in which my children are growing up, and suddenly, I am coming across quote after quote on looking into fear.
4. And truly, I think that these children are meant for these days. Our children, our students–they will walk boldly into the future with a deep understanding of issues and ideas that we are only barely able to grasp, and with open hearts full of compassion. I am so grateful for their wisdom, tenderness, and courage.
5. I’m on my way out to sort tomatoes. The biodiversity in tomatoes and potatoes is such a delight and a wonder. Pink Beauties, Mr. Slabaughs, Green Zebras, Garden Peaches, Cosmonaut Volkovs, Goldies, Lemon Boys, Virginia Streaks, Speckled Romans. Their names are a poem, like their skins. Beauty, Beauty, Beauty!

May we walk in Beauty!

Walk in Beauty

“And when she wanted to see the face of God, she didn’t look up or away; she looked into the eyes of the person sitting next to her. Which is harder, and better.” –Glennon Doyle Melton
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“As long as your curiosity is greater than your fear,
you will move forward.”
–Mehmet Murat Ildan
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“What is this precious love and laughter
Budding in our hearts?
It is the glorious sound
Of a soul waking up!” –Hafiz
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“We write poems in order to engage in the perilous yet necessary struggle to inhabit ourselves—our real selves, the ones we barely recognize—more completely.” –Tracy K. Smith
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“Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.” –Nelson Mandela
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“It is time for the next generations to continue our struggle against social injustice and for the rights of humanity. It is in your hands.” –Nelson Mandela
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WALKING IN BEAUTY
A Navajo Prayer

In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again

Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo
T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’


Gratitude List/Examen:
1. (What do you hear?) The fog here in the holler creates an interesting aural field. I feel like I am sitting in an isolated country space, with the sound of Cabin Creek gurbling down there, Susan’s wind chimes, a wren, a robin, a cardinal, some little chittery thing in the leaves of the sycamore. And then there are distant echoes that come from outside this inverted bowl of fog: an airplane, highway traffic, and a rooster, up the hill.
2. (What is satisfying?) Taking the wallpaper off the wall in the little room upstairs. Why is that so supremely satisfying, the feel of the paper coming off in strips?
3. (What do you see?) The umbrella arms of my sycamore friend, enclosing and sheltering this part of the hollow. I call her Wangari.
4. (Where does hope reside?) In knowing I am not alone, in knowing that small things become big things, that many of us together—doing our work—can make change.
5. (What are the words for the day?) Work, deliberation, play, stories, thunder, fog, watchfulness.

May we walk in Beauty!

Where Do You Find Hope?

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Gratitude List:
1. (What inspires you?)  A child I know.  This morning, I was watching video of President Obama placing a wreath at Hiroshima, and Joss asked what it was about.  I told him a little about the end of WWII, and how this is the first time a US president has visited that site.  “I’m kind of glad he went there,” he said.  I think children often understand these things better than adults do.
2. (Where do you find relief?) Change of schedule, end of year.  There’s sadness in saying goodbye to the seniors–but we know and they know they they’re ready, that they’ve been working toward this coming moment for years.  And I need this summer that I am heading into.  I am looking forward with great relish to sleeping in until past 6, to playing with my children every day, to preparing for next year’s work.  There are a few loose ends to wrap up in the next two weeks, but without the constant pull of classes, I can manage the loose ends.
3. (What fills you with wonder?) The view from Mt. Pisgah near Sam Lewis Park, with mist in the folds of the valleys and mist caught in the trees on the other side of the River.
4. (What will you do for yourself?) I am going to get a haircut today.  Some people have a regular appointment to keep their hair looking a certain way.  This has never been my way.  It usually feels like “an event” when I get my hair cut, like I am treating myself to something special.  I like to do it that way.
5. (What gives you hope?) I need to keep answering this question for myself these days.  I look at the ways of the world and I get rageful or cynical or filled with despair.  And there are good reasons for all of those responses.  But there are also good reasons to be hopeful.  Right now, one of the places I turn for hope is the work of international women’s groups.  These women look into the teeth of the beasts of war and displacement and terror, and they raise their voices and their arms and their hearts.  UN Women, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Isis-WICCE, Women in Black, TreeSisters, Carry the Future, Code Pink, and many others.  (Which women’s groups inspire you?)

May we walk in Beauty!

Making Way for New

lily
Sad that so many of my ferns have been killed by the cold, I am hoping that the lilies of the valley fare better.

Each of my sons is preceded by a shadow child.
Something calls my children to a time before they were.
And yet they were reluctant–both–to leave the womb,
resisting the raging tides that expelled their siblings early.

Or perhaps my body just refused to give them up,
these two it had managed to hold onto for the count.
My body said, “I’ve got this one.  I’ve got this one!”
Forty-two weeks, and the child was knocking at the door
and still the body wasn’t ready to let go her charge.

Sometimes that which is lost makes way
for that which is to come, creates a space.
That first one would be ten now half a year,
but my eldest celebrates that mark one month away.
That year, I labored twice, in May and May.

How often do we plant a tenuous seed of hope
in fields laid bare by grief and loss?
When you look in the eyes of the past
can you see where sorrow ends
and something new begins?

Gratitude List:
1. Book Sale scores: Adrienne Rich’s The Dream of a Common Language, three Italo Calvino (gonna be surreal summer of reading), a Milan Kundera, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rushdie, Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea, and Reading Lolita in Tehran.  (I haven’t read Lolita myself–the premise creeps me out–but I have heard good things about Nafisi.)
2. Josiah got a book of 365 crafts a year, and has already made a cardboard gnome house in response.  He thinks there should be many more giant craft books like this.  I showed him my collection, which he says is boring.
3. Ellis got a book on science fair projects and spent the afternoon researching home-made solar cells, which is the topic of his science project this year.
4. Weekend breakfasts
5. Those geese calling out by the pond.

May we walk in Beauty!

What Does it Matter?

Just a few more days!  I love the challenge of these months, and I am so glad to get the break when they are done.  Today’s prompt is to write a matter/anti-matter poem.  I just let this one run its little free-association course.

Aunty Matter strides into Grandma’s kitchen
in her black stockings with holes in the heels
and a long black velvet dress
with fine lace insets.

She pirouettes.

“What does it matter, Mater,
if I should wander once in a while?
The fact of the matter is:
I’m green only for a day
before my dreams are heaped
in that pile of rubble in the orchard.”

It’s just a matter of time, perhaps
until she’s gone down the anticline,
until she’s reached the event horizon,
the point of no returning.

Still, the young ones are donning
black stockings of our own
to follow her in her dance
as though the dance is all that matters.

 

Gratitude List:
1. People working for Justice
2. People willing to engage the hard conversations
3. People with hope in their hearts
4. People who sing even when it’s dark
5. People whose M.O. is Love

May we walk in Beauty!

Poem: Advent 1

 

 

 

This morning, church was about despair and hope.
The altar table was covered with the shards of a broken pottery vase.
There was space for grief and rage and confusion,
and also for healing and hope, and good singing, as always.

This poem happened:

DSCN7654

On the table
the bowl is shattered,
the shards are scattered
across the torn cloth.

A city inside me is burning
and the sky is torn by fury
or by the hand of God
and who is to say
which of those names
we shall give it today?

Where shall we go now?
Where shall we find
the threads of the tale
when the wind has blown,
wild,
through the window?
Will the mystery matter
within the wreckage?

Still–

into the silence
a bird on the windowsill
sings a brief note
that sounds for the moment
like hope.

Back to the Basics

Today’s prompt is Back to Basics:

It’s the original kit:
everything included,
just add water.

And perhaps to make it right,
a little soil,
a little sunlight.

Nothing more basic,
more primal,
more holy in its simplicity
and its intricate complexity
than a seed.

Strew them wildly.
Blow dandelions,
break open milkweed pods
and send them wafting
wantonly over the fields.

Scatter the seeds of the plantain,
joe pye, and stinging nettle.
Broadcast your wild oats
like hope,
like joy,
like a revolution.

Gratitude List:
1. Seeds, especially the apple seeds that are sprouting, the ones the boys wanted to plant.  I started to tell them how it would be useless because apple trees do not grow up true to type, blah-di-blah, and then caught myself: It is never useless to plant a tree with a child.
2. The Affordable Health Care act keeps coming through for me.  I realize it will not necessarily be so for everyone, but we’re certainly in that majority of users predicted to benefit.
3. Magic.  We started reading Jennifer Murdley’s Toad tonight.  When Ellis realized that Mr. Elives and his Magic Shop, from Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, appeared in this book, too, he jumped over and hugged me.
4. The gift of sincere apology, and my children reaching the age of reason when they can begin to make sense of the social language of apology.
5. Open hearts.  So many open, compassionate, winsome hearts.

So much love.  May we walk in Beauty!

 

Abandon Hope

Today’s Prompt is to use a standard phrase for the title of your poem, and then to respond to that.  I have to start working on these earlier in the day, before my brain starts to shut down.

Abandon Hope all Ye Who Enter Here
with apologies and thanks to Pema Chodron and Margaret Wheatley

“Hope. . . is not the conviction that something will turn out well,
but the certainty that something makes sense regardless
of how it turns out.”  –Vaclav Havel

I have a fierce attachment to hope,
to that inward knowing
that this boat will stay afloat no matter what.

I have a deep-rooted, heavy-booted fear
that in this moment
we are in the very act of sinking.

Like they say, the hope keeps me living,
living in the middle of the fear,
and paralyzed to move,
lest my shift cause this bark to sink.

Perhaps the future demands not hope,
but willingness to sleep with uncertainty.
That we lay our heads on pillows of rock,
and though we know not whether the day will dawn,
sleep soundly through the storm.

Though we know the fight is likely useless,
onward we fight because it makes sense
to hold our ideals no matter what we face.

Oh, I’ll hold hope in my pocket–
uncoupled from its sticky twin–
like a shiny copper penny,
like a talisman.

 

 

Gratitude List:
1. Mockingbird is back on stage, in rare form, full of gossip and outlandish tales.  He got me this morning–I started to say, “Killdeer!” before he was off on a riff about cardinal, before I realized it was him.
2.  Chickweed pesto
3.  Windflower and speedwell
4.  Cloud constellations (a term coined by my younger child)
5.  Joss found my glasses in the field when I was sure that they were gone for good.  No scratches.  Whew.

May we walk in Beauty!