I have been ranting for the last couple of days. Here’s the gist:
Quote by Nancy Shulman:
“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”
Dallas Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress said: “Apart from the vocabulary attributed to him, President Trump is right on target in his sentiment.”

To the contrary: The word “shithole” is nothing compared to the vulgarity of the sentiment he expressed.

I have been quietly not openly calling myself a Christian for years now, because I do not like the look of Christianity in this country. I now openly walk away from the name. I continue to be a Follower of Jesus, in an Anabaptist and Universalist sort of way, with an emphasis on the feminine nature of the Great Mystery, and a belief that the Great Mystery is within everything and everyone. But I can no longer categorize myself as a Christian. I do not belong in any way, shape, or form to the same group as this man. No, we clearly are not following the same Jesus. Yes, this is judgemental. Yes, it is not being accepting of differences. There are differences I will not accept. Racism and xenophobia have absolutely no role in the realm of Jesus. If that is Christian, I am not that. I will have no part of that. Rather than trying to claim the term as something that embraces me as well, I walk away from it.

I will not check myself in as a Christian on polls and forms. If you ask my religion, I will no longer tell you that I am “a Christian, just not one of those.” Public Christianity in the United States is nothing I recognize as having anything to do with Jesus.

There are many people I know who continue to claim and reclaim the word, and I do not judge them. I, however, feel that at this point in time, I need to make a clear distinction between what I believe and what seems to be the path of U.S. Christianity.
This is no shock. We knew he was racist. Still, putting it into the public discourse so baldly demands that public figures, especially ones who follow Jesus, repudiate the language. One can say that this is not surprising, that he’s been doing this all along. That is true. But this is a level of unstatesmanlike public discourse that needs to be addressed right now. Robert Jeffries certainly did. His counterparts need to speak up. Now.
I believe in the path of Love, but this is one of the biggest challenges to that, even more than Dick Cheney. It was easier when it was abstract, but having an actual person to work it out with is really hard. I should probably take a FB break and read more Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron and Richard Rohr. Still, I feel a need to be part of the conversation. Somehow, I think these things need to happen in tandem: the inner work and the outer work.

Let’s keep talking about how to manage this. If not to Love, if not even to stop hating, at least to manage it all, to not be drowned, ourselves, in the hatred.

This I can say: I love You. I love my family, my students, my colleagues, my Beloved Friends, the sun and the earth and the animals. The moon. Those who are downtrodden and beaten and excluded. And because of that Love, I must fight the Wrong that these men are unleashing.

I have a sense that my hatred will not be an effective tool in that, though I have not managed to quell it. My anger can go either way, to push me to toward effective Work, or to enmire me in the bogs.

I cast a line from me to you, a line of Love for all that we love in common.
“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.” –Elie Wiesel
I have been neglecting the grounding work of my gratitude lists during a couple of days when I desperately needed the grounding.

Gratitude List:
1. The fine musicians and singers at my school. They are really given the opportunity to learn and to shine.
2. A long weekend
3. Bright souls, all around
4. A warm hat and slippers
5. Being surrounded by stories

May we walk in Beauty!


Which One to Grow

Today’s Prompt is to write a love and/or anti-love poem.

To Love the Monsters
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

I have been going on the assumption
that it is the calling of my soul
to love the ones I want to hate,
to find a way to live with heart so open
that I cannot help but part the veils
of rage and fury that encompass me
to see the tender shoots of something
human that lives within the monsters.

I have begun to doubt the truth of the call,
uncertain whether I possess the character
to turn calling to possibility.

Yet something deep within me knows
that this is the deeper truth:
that hate breeds hate and love breeds love,
and I get to choose which one to grow.

Gratitude List:
1. Putting together a chapbook
2. Making little booklets with the staff of Silhouette today
3. The monsters do not define us
4. Compassion
5. Reading The Phantom Tollbooth with Joss

May we walk in Beauty!

“To Keep the Spark of Life Inside Me Ablaze”

Today’s Prompt is to write a poem to the world:

Beauty Was There
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In the beginning, she hovered there,
above the waters, molding the land,
holding the world in her hands,
crafting a world of fire, earth, water, air.

In the beginning, she brooded,
her face obscured by shadows,
her thoughts filling the hollows,
her watchful eyes hooded.

She sent her dreaming forth,
streaming through the cosmos,
building like song to a crescendo,
filling newborn skies with morning.

In the beginning, she listened
for colors that flew in the wind,
singing that blew through her mind,
waves of color and sound risen

from deep within her breast.
Her thoughts became matter, feeling
mattered, materialized into being,
unbeing fled as her moon rose in the west.

And today we un-matter her being,
un-materialize the thoughts she formed,
de-stabilize the dances she performed
to set it all in motion. We’ve set it reeling,

ripping the fabric she wove.
It cannot be too late to change our ways,
to seek again the rhythm of her days,
to turn to her again and call her Love.

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
–Frida Kahlo
A little story by Amrita Nadi:
At the end of a talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?”
The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”
Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he added, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back. . .but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”
“There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in, but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze.”
–Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life
“Always there is something worth saying
about glory, about gratitude.”
–Mary Oliver, What Do We Know
*Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together,
that overwhelm the world.
–Desmond Tutu
“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” –Jeannette Rankin

Gratitude List:
1. Strings of geese like beads across the sky. Fly well, Bright Ones!
2. This microwaveable bag of lavender and beans. It makes me warm and it eases the residual aches.
3. Wise friends
4. Tenderness. Basic kindness.
5. Stories of miracles and wonder.

May we walk in Beauty!

This Is Your Birth

I was reading the other day about the Scottish term caim, the circle of magic protection that you draw about yourself. I got to thinking about how I could use the idea as a drawing meditation, incorporating the protection prayer/spell into a mandala drawing. In a mandala, I always begin in the center, and then work outward, often referencing the energy points that I make note of in meditation. Here are a couple mandalas I drew today with the purpose of drawing a circle of protection about myself. The first was very enclosed, safe. Perhaps because the first established such secure boundaries, I was freer to whirl outward in the second.

Today’s Poetry prompt is to write a transformation poem. I am over-tired myself today, and am putting this tiny tanka here as something of a place-holder.

Begin in silence.
Draw your attention inward.
Feel the power grow
within your bones, your spirit.
Hold the image in your mind.

“If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures.”
—Thomas Berry
“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” —Kurt Vonnegut
“For a Star to be born,
there is one thing that must happen;
a nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
This is not your Destruction.
This is your birth.” —attributed to Noor Tagouri
“After the owl booms in the sycamore at dawn,
after your eyes adjust to the darkness,
after you stumble through the washing and dressing,
after the flicker of lights,
after the coffee,
after the tree pose,
after the quiet reading of O’Donohue’s poem,
you arrive with your heart at the blank page.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider

Gratitude List:
1. Sunday Evening Hymn Sing at Freiman Stoltzfus’s gallery. Words and music and poetry and art all intermingle. Sound reverberates through the room, and you can almost feel the intensity with which people are concentrating on the sound. You’re held in a web of sacred sounds.
2. The stories of the morning. Welcoming new members of the tribe.
3. Autumn is stripping down to the essentials. Bare branches frame the sky. Clouds bustle across the blue. Leave skitter through the hollow.
4. Red beet eggs
5. Circles of protection

May we walk in Beauty!

Dial Up the Magic

Today’s prompt is to write a ______ if ______ poem. His examples all filled the blanks with longish phrases, but this came to me:

If I sleep I will speak
Speak if I sing
Sing if I breathe
Breathe if I wait
Wait if I weep
Weep if I dream
Dream if I sleep.


(For some reason, the quotations from last year on this day all seem to be intended to comfort myself from some great sorrow)

” ‘They kept going, because they were holding onto something.’
‘What are we holding onto, Sam?’
‘There’s still good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.’ ”
—J. R. R. Tolkien
“Somewhere deep in the forest of grief
there is a waterfall where all your tears may flow
over mossy rocks, under watchful pines.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
“But this moment, you’re alive. So you can just dial up the magic of that at any time.” —Joanna Macy
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” —E. B. White
“Love imperfectly. Be a love idiot. Let yourself forget any love ideal.” —Sark
“Everything I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything exists, only because I love.” —Leo Tolstoy
“Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.” —Erica Jong
“Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, and yourself. And don’t stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones, even galaxies.” —Frederic and Mary Ann Brussa
“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”
—Carl Sagan
“There are certain things, often very little things, like the little peanut, the little piece of clay, the little flower that cause you to look WITHIN – and then it is that you see the soul of things.”
—George Washington Carver

Gratitude List:
1. The way the large flocks of little birds line the electric lines when the pause to take a rest in their migrations, making the lines look furry
2. The way the color just keeps coming, keeps deepening, keeps astounding
3. The way the year has turned, from despair and rage to a kind of hope
4. The way the Open Secrets of Hollywood and Political Power are being blasted open so that powerful men can no longer hide their predations
5. Kale with dried tomatoes for supper

May we walk in Beauty!

Love is the Bridge

I am obsessed lately with what happens to the little tree when I photograph it with a kaleidoscope camera app and then run it through my usual filters. I want to spend more time thinking about threes and sixes. I suppose this is two and six: the reflection of the original view, and then that combination shifting into a triple reflection. It’s so satisfying.

Today’s prompt is to write a thing poem. Write a poem about an object.

All the poems are about bridges,
all the words, all the books, the letters.
Sometimes the bridge is so fragile,
and we walk across a word on air:
“Gentle,” we breathe,
and step across that chasm
between the solid dj
onto the swaying eh,
before we find our feet
on the rolling nn in the center,
and onward we skip to t, to l,
each word a bridge, a web
we cast between us
across the airy distance.

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
―Brian Jacques
“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” ―Winston Churchill (Did he really say that? I like the point, so I am still putting it here.)
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” ―Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
“Love is the bridge between you and everything.” ―Rumi
What do you do
when the gods of the dreamings
offer you maps for the journey?

How will you answer
when the night-folk cry out:
“Give us the hope of our meanings!”
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.”
―Bob Dylan

Gratitude List:
1. Sachs’ subtly striped tail. He’s a basic elegant charcoal and white cat, with no other markings except for the hint of striping at the end of his tail. A little bit of wildness underneath his staid and stoical veneer.
2. Turning back the tides of helplessness and hopelessness
3. Studying geography. I love geography. I am obsessed with learning the countries of the world. And my youngest has to know his continents and oceans for a quiz this week, so we’re having lots of fun doing geography games right now.
4. A warm shower on a chilly evening.
5. Soup. Before he went to work this morning, Jon Weaver-Kreider put some veggies and sausage in a crock pot, and when we got home we had a fine and tasty stew.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Same Precious Love

Today’s Prompt is to write a “Whosoever __________” poem. I’ve been having a little fun today with friends doing some predictive text play, so I think this poem will be a sort of controlled predictive text poem:

Whosoever shall shake the valley
Whosoever shall meet at the crossroads
Whosoever shall I inform of the trees that bloom in the fall

Whosoever shall ramble in the meadow
Whosoever shall receive the message
Whosoever shall walk with Beauty

Whosoever shall linger in the forest
Whosoever shall dance with time
Whosoever shall speak the names of the Mystery

To her shall the valley be haven
To her shall the crossroads tell their story
To her shall the trees let down a crown of leaves

To her shall the meadow sing with golden pollen
To her shall the message be a word of grace
To her shall Beauty open its doors

To her shall the forest be golden and green
To her shall time whisper with longing
To her shall the Mystery open its secrets

Each of these quotes has a partner. The pairs sort of dance with each other:

“Both when we fall and when we get up again, we are kept in the same precious love.” ―Julian of Norwich
“What if I should discover that the poorest of the beggars and the most impudent of offenders are all within me; and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved–what then?” ―Carl Jung
“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.”
―Eleanor Roosevelt
“If I had influence with the good fairy, I would ask that her gift to each child be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”
―Rachel Carson
“Your problem is you’re too busy holding onto your unworthiness.” ―Ram Dass
“In giving of yourself, you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love.” ―Cesar Chavez
“While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
―Eugene V. Debs
“I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too. Ma Joad: I don’t understand it, Tom. Tom Joad: Me, neither, Ma, but – just somethin’ I been thinkin’ about.”
―Tom Joad, from the movie Grapes of Wrath

Gratitude  List:
1. The Little PrinceBoth the book and the movie. I tried not to freak out the children with my weeping tonight when we watched the movie. I guess I knew what the whole snake part was about, but tonight it was so real, and I could hardly watch. Still, it was beautifully done.
2. The autumn sun slanting through autumn leaves of old oaks at the Masonic Home. Stone buildings with slate roofs. The smell of chocolate in the air. (Thinking of you and your family tonight, Miss Jan.)
3. It was warm enough for me to grade at the picnic table for a couple hours this afternoon.
4. A warm hat
5. An extra hour.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Path of Joy

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
―John Muir
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.” ―Rumi
“The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.”
―Jack Kornfield
“Learning to live in the present moment is part of the path of joy.”
―Sarah Ban Breathnach
“Any feminist who has ever taken the high road will tell you the high road gets backed up.” ―Andrea Gibson
“Almost every woman I have ever met has a secret belief that she is just on the edge of madness, that there is some deep, crazy part within her, that she must be on guard constantly against ‘losing control’ — of her temper, of her appetite, of her sexuality, of her feelings, of her ambition, of her secret fantasies, of her mind.” ―Elana Dykewomon
“Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.”
―Wendell Berry
“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of one who gives and kindles joy in the heart of one who receives.”
―St. Seraphim of Sarov
It’s 3:23 in the morning, and I’m awake
because my great, great, grandchildren won’t let me sleep.
My great, great, grandchildren ask me in dreams
what did you do, while the planet was plundered?
what did you do, when the earth was unravelling?
surely you did something when the seasons started failing
as the mammals, reptiles, and birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?
what did you do once you knew?
―Drew Dellinger, Ph.D.
“At any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” ―Abraham Maslow
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
— Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)
“Never forget: Justice is what love looks like in public.”
―Cornel West

Gratitude List:
1. More powerful storytelling this morning
2. A nap
3. Rain. I love rain.
4. Gaining clarity through the fog
5. I love this little purring person who has to always sit on my lap.

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
“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
“Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.”
―Dorothy Day
“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
―Dorothy Day
“The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.”
―Dorothy Day
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
“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.”
“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” ―attributed to Albert Einstein
Look into me, for I am the light in your eyes. ―Rumi
“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
“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
“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
“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!

The Practice of Peace

“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
–Walt Whitman
“To live a life of peace, we must practice peace with all we meet, indeed, with the whole world. To practice this publicly, we consciously reject the chaos around us and steadfastly choose peace. Once we make that choice, a whole new journey begins.” –John Dear
“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.” –many author attributions
“Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?” –Walt Whitman
“The universe may be a mystery, but it’s not a secret.” –Michael Schneider
“Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things that you fight for and then you protect.” –Wangari Maathai
“I like stories where women save themselves.” — Neil Gaiman
“Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood?
Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and always drop fruit as I pass;)”
–Walt Whitman

Gratitude List:
1. Last night’s indigo clouds on a twilight background: A dragon flying to meet a witch, who held the crescent moon glowing in the palm of her hand.
2. Step by step the longest march can be won.
3. Red–an enlivening, heart-opening color
4. Knitting. I like to knit during conversations and public events, and I feel as though I am knitting the stories of the moments into the thing I am making. This winter, I will wear a warm hat that will contain yesterday’s stories from wise and resilient women, and the blessing of the babies, and the hard work of this season of my life, and an orange tree, and Dorothy Day, and two students who I am praying for in particular in these days. That’s going to be one heavy hat.
5. Laughter

May we walk in Beauty!