A Poem is an Egg

“A poem is an egg with a horse in it.” –4th grader, FB post
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“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?”

–Rumi
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“There are people who advocate and practice compassionate listening, there are those who embrace voluntary simplicity, who remove the calluses from their hearts and keep them open to feel the pains of others. Seek them out, I urge you, and join them in their compassion.”
–Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalom
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“The moon rose over an open field.” –Paul Simon
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“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” –Fredrick Douglass
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“Love is the strongest force in the universe. We must keep walking in the direction of love, no matter what we hear and see around us. No matter our human failures. No matter what happens, or appears to happen.And if we are thankful for that love, the power magnifies. Forgiveness is a process of love. Love is not bound by religion, belief system, or man-made laws. Our human minds cannot comprehend the immensity of it. We are lit by it, or we would not be here. Some smother the light with fear and acts of fear. Others tend their light and they light the world. Breath feeds the light. Breathe deep today, and continue walking toward that which will enlighten, no matter what burdens you are carrying of shame, grief, or fear. No one can buy their way or push their way ahead of everyone else. We are all in this together.” –Joy Harjo


Gratitude List:
1. Sweater weather
2. What the eyes say
3. Baby steps
4. The deliciousness of sleep
5. That delicate little yellow moth on the outside of the window

May we walk in Beauty!

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Pursuing Beauty to its Lair


“Inside the word ’emergency’ is ’emerge’; from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters.” ―Rebecca Solnit (Hope in the Dark)
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“Pain that is not transformed is transferred.” ―Richard Rohr
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“The world is always going to be dangerous, and people get badly banged up, but how can there be more meaning than helping one another stand up in a wind and stay warm?”
―Anne Lamott
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‘If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” ―Loren Eiseley, Anthropologist
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“In a time of destruction, create something.” ―Maxine Hong Kingston
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“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.”
―Arundhati Roy


Gratitude List:
1. I received an email back from a magazine asking me to resend my poems in Word form so the whole staff can see it in order to vote. This, of course, does not mean that I’ll get accepted, but I’m still all a-tingle that someone on the other end of a submission actually noticed my stuff.
2. Teaching at a school where justice is part of the curriculum, where a chapel service is given to a thoughtful speaker to teach us about the Doctrine of Discovery.
3. The really thoughtful questions students asked of the speaker at the end of chapel today.
4. Being chilly.
5. “The morning is wiser than the evening,” Vassilissa’s little doll tells her, and indeed it was so today.

May we walk in Beauty!

Seeking a Homeland

Posing

Handsome Sachs in a sunbeam. He has recently acquired the nickname Gunther.

“We are all of us seeking a homeland, even though we have only seen and embraced it from afar. We are all of us strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” —Frederick Buechner
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Love is not something you do; love is Someone you are. It is your True Self. Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can attain. It’s not something you can work up to, as much as something you allow yourself to fall into! It is the living presence of God within you, often called the Holy Spirit, or what some theologians name uncreated grace. You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now.” —Richard Rohr
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Danielle LaPorte: “You might have to face your own sadness and empty places as you wish for an other’s sadness and emptiness to be lifted. You will have to acknowledge your interconnectedness, which is particularly difficult when you are moving on. You will have to face your disappointment head on — and what you see might burn your eyes.”
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“Love is where you come from and love is where you’re going.” —Richard Rohr
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“I have two daughters.
Their names are Memory and Loss.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (after Eavan Boland)
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Rob Brezsny:
“You and I and everyone else in the world talk to ourselves constantly. The conversation is mostly silent and covert, however.
As a result, we get away with abusing ourselves; we assail ourselves with mean thoughts that we’d be far less likely to fling if we actually spoke them aloud.
Now might be a good time for you to break this bad habit. In fact, I’m going to officially declare that it’s Speak More Kindly to Yourself Season.
For best results, shun the usual telepathic communion with yourself. Instead, say every word aloud as you carry on your dialogues.”
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Terry Tempest Williams. from Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert:
“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget….

I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness….

I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine….

I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love..”


Gratitude List:
1. Dreams full of cats. Tortoiseshells: fluffy ones, really short-haired ones, ones that are mostly white, with tortie spots, ones that have streaks of white here and there. Third night of animal dreams, each time remembering the dream because I am awakened by a small furry person licking my face or purring in my ear, or walking on my head. I think Thor is something of a Dream Companion for me. The first night he came to us, he awakened me from a nightmare.
2. A gloriously cool fall day
3. Going to the book sale and Steam-O-Rama with the family
4. Wise and compassionate friends who model thoughtful and respectful discussion
5. Layers. A glosa of a glosa. Harmonies with deeper harmonies. Fractalization.

May we walk in Beauty!

So Many Fragile Things

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ―J.R.R. Tolkien
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“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire” ―Teilhard de Chardin
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“There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.”
―Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
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“Grace met us right there. It meets you right where it finds you, but it does not leave you where it found you. It moves you toward breath; moves you towards things being a little bit better: wow. Grace WD-40. Grace is water wings. Grace makes you shake your head with wonder, and laugh and cry.” ―Anne Lamott
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To Be Of Use
by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
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“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” ―Oscar Wilde
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“No single voice will be able to take control if everyone in the circle has a voice.” ―Kay Pranis
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” I look up at God every day, and I say, “You are SUCH a show-off.” I have to shake my head and laugh. Maybe God does, too. If He or She does not have a sense of humor, I am doomed.” ―Anne Lamott


Gratitude List:
1. The protesters, showing us how to make courageous choices
2. In the new day, the crisis of the previous night pales
3. Today’s songs, especially this line: “. . .unseen wings, protecting, hide you.”
4. Catching up
5. Living with cats

May we walk in Beauty!

The Bud Always Opens Toward Decay


“Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.” ―Wendell Berry, from “What Are People For?”
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“It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” ―Gertrude Stein
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“It is Story that heals us, that shapeshifts us, that saves us.” ―Sylvia V. Linseadt
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“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
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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.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. The gift of a new mantra. Today a young woman recounted a story of not getting what she needed in a certain situation. “Next time, I will speak my need,” she said. Me too.
2. That Ross Gay poem, “Sorrow is Not My Name
“I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring.”
3. Shelter. Food. Clothing.
4. Music
5. The last of the summer sweet corn. It seems appropriate to have an end-of-summer corn dinner.

May we walk in Beauty!

I Am a Verb


“Self care is not an individual act; it is a collective act.” —Yara Sallam
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“The enemy of a love is never outside, it’s not a man or a woman, it’s what we lack in ourselves.” —Anaïs Nin
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“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” —Frederick Buechner
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“To live by a large river is to be kept in the heart of things. ” —John Haines
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I haven’t yet read The Shack, but this passage makes me think I oughta:
“I,” she [the Holy Spirit] opened her hands to include Jesus and Papa, “I am a verb. I am that I am. I will be who I will be. I am a verb! I am alive, dynamic, ever active and moving. I am a being verb. And as my very essence is a verb, I am more attuned to verbs than nouns. Verbs such as confessing, repenting, living, loving, responding, growing, reaping, changing, sowing, running, dancing, singing, and on and on. Humans, on the other hand, have a knack for taking a verb that is alive and full of grace and turning it into a dead noun or principle that reeks of rules. Nouns exist because there is a created universe and physical reality, but the universe is only a mass of nouns, it is dead. Unless ‘I am’ there are no verbs and verbs are what makes the universe alive.” —Wm Paul Young, The Shack
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Thomas Merton:
“There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist. . .most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his (or her) work. . . . It destroys the fruitfulness of his (or her). . .work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
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“I can’t control the world, but I can control myself. And you are not going to coerce me into hating.” —Ruby Sales
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“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.” —Mark Strand
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“A characteristic of feminism is to think twice about what you know.” —Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi
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“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”  ―Iain Thomas (not Vonnegut, as everyone says)


Gratitude List:
1. Chances to breathe, to catch breath, to sigh, to yawn
2. Sunflowers, seeds, and pollinators
3. Little nap with a cat on the lap
4. Cheese
5. Reading with the kids. Right now it’s Patricia Wrede’s Chronicles of the Enchanted Forest.

May we walk in Beauty!

Maybe You Are Magic

“You take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.”
—Frida Kahlo
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“I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth? … And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
—Audre Lorde
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“The greatest influence you can have in any situation is to be the presence of love.” —Robert Holden
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“I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” —Stephen Jay Gould
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You Reading This, Be Ready —by William Stafford

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened 
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life––
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
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“We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us… . We must recover the sense of the majesty of the creation and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.” —Wendell Berry
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Tony Hoagland’s The Word:

“Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds
of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder
or a safe spare tire?”


Gratitude List:
1. Cloud-shadows: I think that gazing at the undersides of clouds has given me a deeper sense than anything of the true color of indigo. Mostly I see grey, but in recent years, I sometimes see that deep indigo.
2. This little ginger bundle of purr on my lap
3. Getting a little relief from the ragweed sniffles
4. My children’s teachers
5. Stones for grounding, which is also to say: There are many ways to pray.

May we walk in Beauty!

Fog and Owls

“Fear does not prevent death. It prevents life.” —Naguib Mahfouz
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“Humans are vulnerable and rely on the kindnesses of the earth and the sun; we exist together in a sacred field of meaning.”
—Joy Harjo
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“Everything I love most happens most every day.”
—Howard Norman
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“I was just thinking
one morning
during meditation
how much alike
hope
and baking powder are:
quietly
getting what is
best in me
to rise,
awakening
the hint of eternity
within.”  —Macrina Wiederkehr
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The Wild Geese
by Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
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“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” —William Wordsworth


Gratitude List:
1. Morning fog
2. Crows flying through trees in the fog
3. The way fog nestles in the hollows, among the hills
4. Driving through morning fog–how it makes the mundane journey feel like an adventure
5. Great horned owl calling from the south. Screech owl calling from the north.

May we walk in Beauty!

Joy in the Toolbox

“I (we) need to find ways to make Joyfullness part of the resistance tool box. . .To resist the evils of our day we must find the joy of shared humanity and let it pollinate the rage at what threatens that.” —Craig Sottolano
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“Emergence never happens all at once. It is a slow stepping into the expanded capacity of your next self. You may need practice at releasing in those places you’ve grown accustomed to bracing which, like a tight swaddle, was comforting in its limits. But when the time to remain hidden comes to its natural end, you must begin to inhabit your new dimensionality. Breathe into the fullness of your gaining altitude and consider that what presents itself as fear may actually be exhilaration. As your future approaches you, worry less how it may receive you and say a prayer instead for your becoming approachable.” —Toko-pa Turner
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“I was often in love with something or someone,” wrote Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. “I would fall in love with a monkey made of rags. With a plywood squirrel. With a botanical atlas. With an oriole. With a ferret. With a marten in a picture. With the forest one sees to the right when riding in a cart to Jaszuny. With a poem by a little-known poet. With human beings whose names still move me.”
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“Oh what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and equinox. This is what is the matter with us, we are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars, and love is a grinning mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the tree of life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table.”
—D.H. Lawrence
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Lord’s Prayer:
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi

O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.
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Song
by Syrian Poet Adonis
Translated By Khaled Mattawa
from “Elegy for the First Century”

Bells on our eyelashes
and the death throes of words,
and I among fields of speech,
a knight on a horse made of dirt.
My lungs are my poetry, my eyes a book,
and I, under the skin of words,
on the beaming banks of foam,
a poet who sang and died
leaving this singed elegy
before the faces of poets,
for birds at the edge of sky.


Gratitude List:
1. Remembering the music that was important in certain growing stages. Graceland. Closer to Fine.
2. The ways that modern social media brings back connections and conversations from twenty or thirty years ago. Re-connections.
3. The coming of autumn means cauliflower!
4. A brand-spankin’-fresh new week
5. Yesterday’s naps and organizing

May we walk in Beauty!

Cast Aside the Jug


“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” ―Thomas Merton
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“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen” ―Robert Bresson
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“We have to learn to love people even if they are not giving you what you want… and then not take it personally. If you feel hurt, you have to recognize that they are not hurting you because you are you, but because they are them. You have to try not to be so hard on yourself.”
―Krishna Das
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“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ―Meister Eckhart
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“You will stand at the center of your story
and decide in this moment who you will be.
You get to decide how you will play your part,
and that will help to decide the outcome.”
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in two windows of a house, bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.” ―Celtic Blessing
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“If you are doing the right thing for the earth, she’s giving you great company.” ― Vandana Shiva
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“The outward form of things passes away, but the essence remains forever. How long will you be besotted with the shape of the jug? Cast aside the jug, and seek the water. If you look too closely at the form, you miss the essence.” ―Rumi
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Or she:
“If the believer understood the meaning of the saying
“The color of the water is the color of the receptacle,”
He would admit the validity of all beliefs and
He would recognize God in every form and every object of faith.”
If the believer understood the meaning of the saying
“The color of the water is the color of the receptacle,”
He would admit the validity of all beliefs and
He would recognize God in every form and every object of faith.
~Ibn ‘Arabi
Ibn ‘Arabi
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Last Year’s Gratitude:
“How everything connects. Your heart and mine. The hummingbird and the vulture. Poems and stories and art. The thin spidersilk of prayer, spun out across impossible chasms.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. Lying on a bed with a cat snuggled up on either side of me.
2. My surprise 50th birthday dinner. My sisters and my mother took me out to John Wright Restaurant. I am so fortunate to have these incredible women in my life.
3. Crawfish Etouffee
4. Saturday afternoon naps (and waking up and realizing that the poison ivy covering every inch of my body was only a dream)
5. Walnut trees. The walnut by the barn is the last to get dressed every spring, and the first to disrobe in the fall, but the way she plays with the light in her leaves is the finest art.

May we walk in Beauty!