Take Care of Your Own


“Good People, 
most royal greening verdancy,
rooted in the sun,
you shine with radiant light.” ―Hildegard of Bingen
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“Just living is not enough said the butterfly, one needs sunshine, freedom and and a little flower.” ―Hans Christian Anderson
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“I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquillity comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.”
―Dalai Lama
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“You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you.”
― Vandana Shiva
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“How do you endeavour words at the marvel of dawn – slow but suddenly arising in your heart?
How do you speak to the dispersing cold and fog from the treetops, the gradual bathing of your outlook in gentle pinks and gold?
What can you say towards the stillness of things, even as they move, like a sleepy barge drifting through the channel,
reflecting the presence of that forgiving first light from all its bright sides?
How can you say I am sorry for all the dawnings you’ve not gambled in poetry?
Perhaps today, you think, you’ll make up for it – steadily pulsing in your reverence, keeping these embers of attention aglow.
But morning never remains.
Instead it grows into a glory of chaos, dropping its gifts – too numerous to carry – in an afternoon heap at our feet.
Generous as it is, the day collapses us into a womb of darkness, where we can finally rest our magnificent failures at being all the way alive.” ―Toko-pa
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“On this day
the blessings of heaven.
On this day
the blessings of earth.
On this day
the blessings of sea and of sky.
To open us to life
to ground us in life
to fill us with life
and with wonder.
On those we love this day
and on every human family
the blessings of heaven
the blessings of earth
the blessings of sea and of sky.”
―John Philip Newell
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“Every person is a living treasure box. Listening holds the key.”
―Mollie Marti
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“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
―Leymah Gbowee
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“I remember Hushpuppy at the end of Beasts of the Southern Wild, just trying to take some food home to her daddy Wink, finally turning to face the hideous beast on the bridge, facing it down and saying, “I take care care of my own.”

“I take care of my own. You are my own, and I am yours–I think this is what God is saying, or trying to, over the din. We are each other’s. There are many forms of thirst, many kinds of water.”
―Anne Lamott


Gratitude List:
1. Getting the primer coat on Ellis’ room. I feel like we’re making progress, like we’ll finally have this project finished before school starts.
2. The magic of that book we just finished reading together: One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin. Joss picked it out of the used book shelf as his reading prize at the library. It connected to so much that I have been pondering lately: how time works in layers, the tenderness and fragility of memory,  the infrangibility of friendship (that’s a word you learn in the book), the deep desire to protect what we love.
3. Each peach, pear, plum. . . Actually, no pears yet, so maybe it’s cherries instead, but I didn’t want to break up the line from the children’s book. (I spy Tom Thumb!)
4. Screech owl calling in the hollow last night when we were sitting outside before bed.
5. Supper on the porch.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Break Every Chain

aconite
Sun on aconite.

A good reminder in church today: Let’s listen more than we talk.  Or listen before we talk, perhaps. What is the pain behind the lashing out? What is the story behind the closed doors and windows? Where does that rant come from? What truth can be excavated from a bagful of raging fury?

And then: Let’s speak up more than we are silent. Although it sounds like the opposite of the first part, it’s really a good next step, isn’t it? Listen first. Find the source of pain, of confusion, of anger, of despair. Then speak up. When you see an injustice, speak out. The front of the bulletin at church today was the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote:

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

We have a new generation in the current walk toward justice. Will we need to repent again for our silence, or will we meet the challenges ahead with courage and joy, speaking up for those who are harmed by hatred of their race or country, their sexuality or gender, their religion or their class?

Courage and joy. I wish you Courage and Joy.

Gratitude List:
1. William Carlos Williams moment: So much depends on a green field dotted with white gulls in the winter rain.
2. My church congregation, who welcome students from my school to lead the service today on anti-racism, with much applause and appreciation.
3. Those young people. I learn so much from them. Constantly. They will lead us. We just need to give them the safe spaces to learn the power of their voices. And then we need to be their back-up, their safety net, their boosters. I am incredibly proud of them. Break every chain.
4. That shade of brown/salmon/ochre that is the color of the leafy forest floor seen through trees on a rainy day. You know the color I’m talking about? It’s so satisfying.
5. Listening. Speaking Up.

May we walk in Beauty!

Tactics for the Resistance

vulture
I choose the vulture today because vultures are watchers. And vultures are composters, taking what is dead and decaying and turning it into the energy that gives them flight. May we, too, take the old and decayed and rotten, and use it to create flight and vision. [This particular piece is an altered photo (I took the original from the internet that was labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification).  I love those long primaries.]

In the weeks leading up to the election, a local pastor wrote a regular blog on the theme, “Love is Our Resistance.” That phrase keeps coming back to me these days. I have a sense deep in my gut that these next years are going to demand serious resistance, like the prayerful peaceful protests at Standing Rock, like the life-on-the-line peaceful demonstrations led by Martin Luther King and John Lewis and so many others. Perhaps these are the days for the new revolution. I imagine the call to the movement:

And what shall be your resistance?
Love is our resistance!
And what shall be your revolution?
Our revolution will be Peace!
What will be your tactics?
Open hearts. Prayer. Standing in the gap. Believing in each other. Speaking truth against the barrage of lies.

Peaceful, heart-led revolution is not a new thing. On this weekend when we commemorate the life and ideas of Martin Luther King, it seems perfectly fitting that people around the country are considering what their methods of resistance will be for the coming years. Let us take Martin Luther King as one of our pillars as we walk into the uncertain future.

Yesterday, a thought that has been forming within me since November 9 finally broke through the veil into words. It is this: These times will demand something new of us, and will shape our characters in ways we could have not imagined. As we rise to this work, we will become our best selves in ways we might not have, had we not had to meet the challenges that are coming our way.

I had read Clarrissa Pinkola Estes’ essay “We Were Made for These Times” to my students on Friday, and her words helped me to think this through. It’s not that I am grateful for the way things have gone. I am deeply troubled. Still, we can meet this as an opportunity to grow into our best selves, to let our souls shine. In the end, we will have become stronger, more loving and thoughtful people than we might have if we did not have these difficult days to face.

Keep reaching out. Look for the others who are doing the work of Loving Resistance. When you feel despair creeping upon you, find some small act of resistance you can do to further the revolution. If you know me well, you will hear me talking to myself.
* Tell radical truth. Confront the lies with truth and beauty and art and loving action.
* Encourage someone who is doing the Work.
* Write a postcard, make a call, stand on a street corner with a sign.
* Smile at people. Assume the best of people. Be someone who makes people want to be their Best Selves.
* Pray, in whatever way you pray. Pray in church, in synagogue, at the mosque, in the woods, in your kitchen, on the banks of the rivers. Hold stones. Make magic spells. Cast webs of prayer between you and those who are most vulnerable: the poor, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQI people, women, the Earth.
* Listen more than speaking.
*Live your prayers into being.
* Don’t feel like you always have to take a side. Just do the work. Be present to the situation in the moment, and do the work that needs to be done, whether it be speaking against the lie, or taking hands, or praying, or standing between vulnerable people and hatred.

What are your tactics for resistance?

Gratitude List:
1. Resistance and revolution
2. All those who have gone before. We have such a multitude of people who have gone before us who have practiced this form of resistance, who show us the way. Today I think in particular about the words and actions of Martin Luther King.
3. Awakenings
4. The Best Selves we are all becoming
5. You. We’re in this together, and I know that everything will be fine in the end, because you are there, doing your work, too–loving, praying, helping, holding.

May we walk in Beauty!

Play

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Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled “Play _Blank_”

Play Me for a Fool
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Play me for a fool and I may seek for wisdom
Play my secret songs and I will hear your voice
Play the wind against my hair and I might sigh with pleasure
Play the tired longings of a thousand hearts

Play the ancient rhythms of the forest
Play the wild music of the stars
Play the quiet dreamings of a toad in summer rain
Play the simple melody of childhood’s happy hours

Feels like it needs another stanza with a shift in rhythm and a last word, but I am falling asleep.

Gratitude List:
1. Anchors
2. Rhythm
3. Dreams
4. Wisdom
5. Listening

May we walk in Beauty!

Living Into the Questions

stone
Circle of Stones

You there
in the center of the circle
and all of us gathered around

Silence
within the weight of the moment
and stillness in the bowl of time

We breathe
waiting, holding you inside us
and watching for what yet may be

Gratitude List:
1. Blessing each other in our transitions
2. Living into the questions
3. Holding the paradoxes
4. Preparing for winter
5. Listening for the messages

May we walk in Beauty!

Prayer and Rage

imag2090

What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.

Listen.
Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.

Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.

Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.

Gratitude List:
1. Rage and prayer
2. Memory and Wisdom
3. Reason
4. Listening deeply. Being listened to deeply.
5. Graphic novels. I know this one is rather out of the context of the others, but the boys and I are really into graphic novels these days: the Amulet series, Zita the Spacegirl, Knights of the Lunch Table, and Mouse Guard. We really love Zita and her poor friend Randy who has a case of the squeaks.

May we walk in Beauty!

Left Foot, Right Foot, Breathe

2014 March 016

Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday, there was sunshine.  So much sunshine.
2. I left 20 minutes late for work yesterday (which, in my world, still gets me to school 40 minutes early), and caught the sunrise.  So much color!  I am hungry for color.  Ravenous.  The season is shifting out of greyscapes into pastels now and I can start to breathe.
3. Left foot, right foot, breathe.
4. Collaboration
5. Listening

May we walk in Beauty!

Golden

DSCN8677

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!

Day of the Luna Moth

Some of my favorite moments of poetic creation have been when I take seemingly unrelated images and ideas and pack them together into the same poem to create a new thing.  It’s like the satisfaction of making a really good collage or a quilt–when you put together things that don’t seem to have any relationship to each other, and suddenly when they come together, a kind of alchemy occurs.  A shiny new layer of meaning is created.

Yesterday was a collage of a day, a quilt of a day, a poem of a day for me.  In the morning, as I was cleaning out the market room and setting up bins of vegetables and bustling about in the morning work of the day, I kept getting that feeling you get when you know someone is looking over your shoulder, or watching you from a distance.  I actually turned around–several times–to see who was there, but everyone was still up in the fields harvesting.  At one point when I turned around, I thought I saw someone slip behind the sycamore tree, but when I looked in the reflection of the shop window behind the tree, no one was there.

A few hours later, when the harvest rush was over, my children came running to tell me that they had discovered a “milkweed moth” on the swing set.  (Last year, we had seen a Luna Moth resting on a milkweed plant–it made quite an impression on the boys.)  They showed me, and there she was, fresh as the beginning of the world, wings still unfurling.  We watched her over the course of the next couple of hours as her wings filled out to their full glory and she opened them up.  She was still there, in the rain, when we went to bed last night, but this morning she is gone.

Luna1 Luna2 Luna3 Luna4Luna

Gratitude List:
1.  Luna
2.  Magic and wonder
3.  Presence
4.  Listening deeply
5.  Meaning

May we walk in Beauty!

Deep Listening

Sometimes you need to circle back and remember the moment you looked out the window and saw the wolf standing there.  It’s so nice to have people who can take you by the hand and gently lead you there, before you get too far away from it, you know?  If I don’t process the fearful places, then I am in danger of living as though the wolf is still out there, even in the midst of the party and the celebration.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law did this for me.  She is a gifted listener and questioner.  In the midst of all the lovely ways my family has helped to celebrate of how sweetly hopes and prayers have been answered for my family in the past month, she invited me to sit down in a quiet place, and asked gently about the process that led to all this newness and transformation.  “I would like to hear more. . ”

This was also a chance for me to absorb some good modelling, to learn more about listening and asking deep and compassionate heart-opening questions.  So today, this week, I want to practice living from that centered and thoughtful listening place.

Gratitude List:
1.  Listening.
2. Being deeply listened to
3. Cousins, mine, my children’s
4. Baby bunny
5. Books, books, books

May we walk in Beauty!