The Difference Between Rage and Hatred


In the midst of the rage and anxiety, despair and turmoil, let’s keep our eyes open to Beauty.

I am really struggling this morning, not sure how I can go about the process of reflecting on gratitude after the events of yesterday in Charlottesville, and how that drives home the awareness that we are indeed watching forces of fascism rise in the United States today. We have a president whose mean-spirited and careless rhetoric has incited and encouraged the alt-right and their friends to feel like this is their time to rise. One headline I read this morning made a point of clarifying that yesterday’s event was not a protest, but a race riot. The people who came out for that rally were bringing hate out into the streets, eagerly anticipating the violence that ensued.

I am hesitant to call these folks white supremacists, though they are indeed so, because I don’t want to take the pressure off the rest of us, who live in and benefit from a white supremacist system that has gone too long unquestioned. Much as I repudiate the ideology, I experience the benefits of living in a white supremacist society. Yesterday’s race riot in Charlottesville was not just a response to our president’s bigotry, but an outgrowth of a white supremacist system gone unchallenged. This movement has been allowed and encouraged to fester and grow.

What do we do, now, in the face of this hatred?
I will express my shock and rage without letting them paralyze me.
I will repudiate the hate while I recognize that I, too, experience hatred in my heart.
I will commit intentional acts of love and solidarity with those who are marginalized and directly threatened by these people.
I will keep naming the truths and realities that the president and his followers are trying to twist into lies.
I will listen to music and look at art and read poetry (maybe make some of my own) and remind myself of what is good and beautiful, and how the arts challenge the impulse to destruction.
I will love. I will keep trying to love.

And that is hard. How can I love the torch-wielding rage-filled mob that tries to intimidate and cow people who stand up for peace? How can I love the Nazi-slogan-chanting gun-slinging marchers eager for blood to feed their rage? Holy Mystery, help me to walk in the pathway of love, to speak truth to the lies, to set the boundaries firmly and keep the doors wide open.

I titled this post “The Difference Between Rage and Hatred” because someone on FB this morning said that my words about the president and his supporters were full of hate. I challenge that perception. We MUST speak out. We MUST name the bigotry. This is not about hatred, but about truth.

Today, let each of us commit to one act of defiant love and kindness, one word of revolutionary truth, one prayer for peace grounded in hands-and-feet action.


“Good luck with figuring it out. It unfolds, and you experience it, and it is so horrible and endless that you could almost give up a dozen times. But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on. Through the most ordinary things, books, for instance, or a postcard, or eyes or hands, life is transformed. Hands that for decades reached out to hurt us, to drag us down, to control us, or to wave us away in dismissal now reach for us differently. They become instruments of tenderness, buoyancy, exploration, hope.”
― Anne Lamott, from: “Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers”
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“We do not have to live as though we are alone.” ―Wendell Berry
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“We are made and set here to give voice to our astonishments.” ―Annie Dillard
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“Writing is one of the most ancient forms of prayer. To write is to believe communication is possible, that other people are good, that you can awaken their generosity and their desire to do better.”  ―Fatema Mernissi
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Harrowing
by Parker J. Palmer
The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.
I have plowed my life this way
Turned over a whole history
Looking for the roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed, scarred.
Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come.
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons—
The farmer plows to plant a greening season.
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“Through trial and fire, against the odds, you have grown to trust that the world can be a safe place and you have every right to walk here. You have made parents of your instincts, intuition and dreaming; you have allowed love into where it had never before been received; you have grown life where once it was barren. With just a few found and trustworthy seeds, you have nurtured the greatest harvest there is in this, your humble life of belonging.” ―Toko-pa Turner
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Gratitude for:
“The gentle and fierce ones, the compassionate and powerful ones, the wise ones–so many people I know who work directly with people and communities who have experienced trauma, to explore and understand it, to help people seek for their inner resilience and to heal. These people I know, they work in education–both in the US and internationally, they develop social services to break cycles of trauma across generations, they make songs and music, they write poems, they tell their stories and the stories of others, they listen. How they listen! And they ask questions. They hold a big, big bowl. You probably know some of these people, too. Let’s stand around them and help them hold the bowl of stories that they carry.”  ―Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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Gertrude Stein defined love as “the skillful audacity required to share an inner life.”


Gratitude List:
1. The forces of love that stand against the hatred. May we be strong enough to prevail.
2. Hard as it is, reminders to look into my own soul and see how my own rage and pettiness can harden into something twisted and wrong.
3. Thinking more about my sister-in-law’s ordination: The time for women leading the church has arrived. Not only was she a woman being ordained, but she was ordained by a woman, the conference pastor, leading a whole branch of the Mennonite Church. This is the time of reparations and new balance.
4. This morning, when my heart was doing its little panic in response to the news of Charlottesville, I opened my FB page to a message from a former student of mine, a fine young man who is crafting incredible music, finding ways to share his artistic vision. He shared a file of a string quartet piece that he composed. It was healing music, and the steel bands that were tightening around my heart began to release their hold. And I am proud, so proud of him.
5. Cats in the house. I know I am a little obsessed right now, but it’s such a joy to have a furperson walk through the house. I sort of think they got a little mixed up at the Humane League and gave us a cat and a dog instead of two cats. This morning as I was quietly typing, Thor came up and laid one of those little plastic armbands in my lap. I tossed it, and he went tearing after it, bringing it back to lay it at my feet. I have been almost unable to do any work this morning because of the ongoing game of fetch. I had to go wake Joss up so he could take over the game, and I could get some writing done.

May we walk in Beauty!

There Was an Old Woman. . .


The Haines Shoe House, in Hellam Township, just a few miles from Goldfinch Farm. We finally took a tour yesterday. If you live near here, you should go there, get some ice cream, and take the tour.

“. . .my grandmother would get very annoyed when anyone would talk about “the power of love.” Love, she insisted, is not power, which she considered always coercive. To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.”
― Madeleine L’Engle
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“Stories beget understanding,
Understanding begets respect,
Respect begets justice,
Justice begets peace,
That is the power of story.”
―Antonio Rocha
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“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.” ―Vincent van Gogh
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“When we share our stories and dreams, we are accepting help in the shouldering of responsibility and despair. By extension, our windfalls and triumphs belong to us all. In witnessing each other, we are cross-pollinating our wisdoms and broadening our storylines, moving the locus of our attention from competition to collaboration. No longer governed by personal lack, we begin to make decisions as an ecosystem would, from the appreciation of our indivisibility.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“Sometimes in order to be happy in the present moment you have to be willing to give up all hope for a better past.” ―Robert Holden
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“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” ―Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Gratitude List:
1. June bugs making lazy drunken circles in the tall grass by the walnut tree. There must be hundreds of them this year. They seem so ancient, so impossible.
2. Yesterday’s lower humidity
3. The roller coaster flight of the goldfinch. It feels like joy.
4. Fun coincidences. FB tells me that we went to the Shoe House on July 16 last year, too. That must be our Shoe House Day. And what a historical gem it is. What a quirky and delightful story of Mr. Haines, the philanthropist who built it. And they have good ice cream.
5. How people gather ’round. How people hold each other, even strangers. It makes me believe that there is a will to goodness within us.

May we walk in Beauty!

Mandalas


A filter manipulation of a bouquet of lisianthus and mint. Not a mandala, but yes, a mandala.

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
—Mary Oliver
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“Arm yourself with love and knowledge, and let’s work together for justice.” —Regina Shands Stoltzfus
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“To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one’s own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one’s own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estes
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“Prayer takes the mind out of the narrowness of self-interest, and enables us to see the world in the mirror of the holy. For when we betake ourselves to the extreme opposite of the ego, we can behold a situation from the aspect of God.”
—Abraham Joshua Heschel
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“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin“
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The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.” —Pearl S Buck
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“May the sun bring you new energy by day;
May the moon softly restore you by night;
May the rain wash away your worries,
May the breeze blow new strength into your being.
May you walk through the world
and know its beauty all the days of your life.”
—Apache blessing


Gratitude List:
1. This kid, who is taking days and days to transfer our photo files from the old hard drive onto the cloud. I just kept saying I would do it some day, and now it’s just getting done!
2. Storms. Good solid, soaking rain.
3. Meeting another mostly-FB friend, and finding a real kindred spirit
4. Mandalas
5. Looking at old videos of the boys when they were babies. Reminiscing.

May we walk in Beauty!

A Woman Must Be Willing to Burn



“A woman must be willing to burn hot, burn with passion, burn with words, with ideas, with desire for whatever it is that she truly loves.”  —Clarissa Pinkola Estes
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“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
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“I can’t offer justice so I offer just trees.” —Kilian Schoenberger (who photographs trees and woods)
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Make it All a Prayer
Beth Weaver-Kreider

make it all a prayer
each motion, each thought, each step
feel the connection
that silver strand that pulls you
to the heart of another
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Dalai Lama: “There are only two days of the year in which nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. That means today is the ideal day to love, to believe, to create and to live.”
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“We cannot assume the sacredness nor spiritual livingness of the earth or accept it as a new ideology or as a sentimentally pleasing idea. We must experience that life and sacredness, if it is there, in relationship to our own and to that ultimate mystery we call God. We must experience it in our lives, in our practice, in the flesh of our cultural creativity. We must allow it to shape us, as great spiritual ideas have always shaped those who entertain them, and not expect that we can simply use the image of Gaia to meet emotional, religious, political, or even commercial needs without allowing it to transform us in unexpected and radical ways. The spirituality of the earth is more than a slogan. It is an invitation to initiation, to the death of what we have been and the birth of something new.”
—David Spangler


Gratitude List:
1. Rain
2. Bluebirds
3. Fresh berry smoothies
4. Hear/reading people reminisce
5. My friend, the sycamore tree

May we walk in Beauty!

Place Between Worlds

Quotes for the Day:

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”  ―Victor Hugo
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“Everybody’s In, Baby.”  ―The Love Warriors
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“And when she wanted to see the face of God, she didn’t look up and away; she looked into the eyes of the person next to her. Which is Harder. Better.”  ―Glennon Doyle
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“When we ask for help, we are building community. We are doing away with this notion that we should be practicing at detachment. We are rapturously attaching! We become responsible for tending to one another’s pieces. Not only is the giver allowed to express their bestowing heart, the receiver is taken into a greater tenderness of their own giving nature. As we grow our capacity for gratitude, which is another way of saying completeness or belonging, we are healing our tinygiant part of the world’s devastating wound of scarcity.”  ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“Forever is composed of nows.”  ―Emily Dickinson
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Rob Brezsny: ‘So it turns out that the “blemish” is actually essential to the beauty. The “deviation” is at the core of the strength. The “wrong turn” was crucial to you getting you back on the path with heart.’
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“If not for reverence, if not for wonder, if not for love, why have we come here?”  ―Raffi
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“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ―Anne Frank


Gratitude List:
1. Reading. I have gotten out of the habit of reading for fun, only catching a page or three here and there between projects. Yesterday, I had whole blocks of time to just read. I’m re-reading Patricia McKillip’s Alphabet of Thorn. I want to get her Kingfisher, which won this year’s Mythopoeic Society’s Award.
2. The place between worlds that is the beach: Earth, Water, Air. The Fire part is a little more esoteric, perhaps, but the sun provides.
3. Tiny beach pebbles. They’re so satisfying to hold in my hand
4. The sound of gulls in the wind
5. So many sane and articulate people in the world

May we walk in Beauty!

Love and Spring Tonic

 
First, a tender message I found in my classroom zen garden today.
Then, blue sky in the space between the red barn and the poplar and sycamore trees. Even the sleepy walnut in the background is beginning to put on her summer clothes.

 
I am taking some photos these days with the aim of capturing images of portals and entrances. The deer trail photo yesterday was one of those.


The Kreider family heirloom peonies are opening.

 
Mostly wild herbs for tea: two kinds of plantain (for respiration), willow (for the head pain), clover, chamomile and catnip (to slow my system down), violet leaf, nettle, several kinds of mint, lemon balm, henbit, dandelion, dock, wood sorrel, and a few locust blossoms. I added local honey as it was cooling, and a few dashes of elderberry tincture for sipping.

Gratitude List:
1. Orioles everywhere! I saw a pair at school this afternoon while I was doing border patrol at the lower parking lot during the social. My Icarus has been singing constantly in his poplar tree. And while I was gathering wild herbs for tea, I saw and heard a pair of orchard orioles working on their nest.
2. The scent of locust and poplar tulips which fills the hollow.
3. The herbal allies which appear at this time of year to help me cope with the poplar and locust blossoms, which make me sneeze, and make my eyes and throat itch, and fill my head with a cottony fog.
4. These ever-shiny young people with whom I spend my days. The twisty feeling in my gut is upon me again. I approach June with such an incredible feeling of relief, and such a wistfulness about seeing them go.
5. Good basil pesto

May we walk in Beauty!

Turning the Wheel

it can be that quick
the change from one state to another
there’s that moment of devastating awareness
the kick in the gut and the tumble into the terrible truth
then the cold crypt of devastation
the going numb

but there’s that moment when you turn your face
away from the shadows and into the glare
and you don’t know yet who is it you see
but there’s something in the stance
something about the voice
the why are you weeping
and you don’t dare to hope
but then you hear your own name
and it all falls away
and the wheel has turned
and Love is there

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
Justice. Tomorrow the Fool learns about Justice. We activist-types throw that word around as if it’s the answer to all that is wrong with the world. Simple, easy. Justice for the poor, the oppressed, the mistreated. Justice will roll down like waters, said MLK, quoting the ancient prophet. We Menno-types like to quote that verse about doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly. All that is good and great, but the Fool is going to need to deepen her understanding of Justice in order to penetrate more fully into the woods of her psyche. Justice can be hard and harsh, and sometimes leaves no room for the mercy we desire. The justice of the natural world can seem cruel and unforgiving. How will the Fool encounter Justice? What wisdom can you offer her?

Gratitude List:
1. Stories of Holy surprises
2. Ritual days that hold all the emotional terrain
3. It’s not just that the stone is rolled away, nor that the tomb is empty. It’s that you hear your own name spoken with love and joy.
4. Family time
5. Unfurling

May we walk in Beauty!

You Are Known and Loved

you-are-known
Message in a seashell.

Here is how a heart
holds the story of a love:
Spiraling around,
it carries the message inward
to the deepest inner chamber,
revealing it in echo,
like the mystery of ocean
reverberating
through hidden passages,
always there when you
hold it to your ear.

Gratitude List:
1. Messages
2. Love
3. Rest
4. Quiet
5. Warmth

May we walk in Beauty!

Tender Little Dragon

dragon1

Here is something I wrote four years ago today. I found it really helpful to the me of today:

“This morning when we were playing with our gnomes, Joss decided that the gnome house was on fire, and he raced to get a group of gnomes to put it out. “Red! We need all the red gnomes!” Exactly–to put out a fire, it takes lots of red gnomes. Ellis chimed in, “And Minus! We need the Minus Gnome! Because a house with fire Minus the fire is just a house!”

Sometimes I sure would like to use some of Minus Gnome’s magic on me. An anxious Beth Minus anxiety is just Beth. Angst-ridden, anger-struck Beth Minus angst and anger? Beth. So that’s a nice little thing to do with meditation. Of course as soon as I began to work with the idea, it hit me again that the angers and angsts are so often born of compassion and caring, and for those I have been seeking the services of Multiplication Gnome. I need to untangle the compassion from its attendant anger at injustice, its partner anxiety at losses to those I love.

Wow. Look at those words that I wanted to get rid of: Angst, Anxiety, Anger. . .I looked them up, along with their sister Anguish. There at their root is angh-, which comes from the Indo-European language tree, and generally refers to distress of some sort. That lovely vowel–ah–cut short in the back of the throat, closed up along with all hope of breath: Angh!

Fear, shame, anger, distress: what sound emerges when you truly feel them? Angh! Choke.

But still, that lovely vowel–ah–the first we say in so many languages: Mama, Abba, Baba, Dada, Nana, Papa. The opposite of the choke, our family names, our names for the Ineffable Mystery: they release the breath in a tender sigh. Ah. There we go.

When I get really stuck in the Angh, I can dislodge that choke with a little Hahaha, a great belly laugh to force the air back through, a little spiritual CPR, so to speak. Or skip down the street with a Tra-la-la, a little song to start up the rhythm of breathing again. Or a little eureka, a bright discovery with a great Aha!

So the next time I wake up at three in the morning, suddenly filled with the dread of what is happening to this world that I have brought these light-filled children into, or choked with shame for some harshness I have spoken to their tender hearts, I think I will apply the Ah!, the Mama, the Ha! and see if that breath can be a lullaby to take my spirit back to sleep.”

Gratitude List:
1. Love Songs for chapel this morning, and serenaders wandering the halls all day.
2. Tender little dragons
3. The kinds of questions this kid comes up with: “Mom, what if we were to be reincarnated as a planet or other celestial body?”
4. The ones who are leading us into the next levels of consciousness–a lot of them are teenagers.
5. The people rise up, ask questions, hold the powerful accountable, and tiny little changes begin to happen.

May we walk in Beauty!

Protectors

creative-writing

Do you feel it? How this growing resistance is drawing energy from a heart-source as it gains momentum? Oh, the anger and the rage are there, the ranting and the complaining (and I don’t deny my own participate in that), but there’s also the call to love and prayer. People are following the call of our recent First Lady to go high when they go low.

The doors of this movement were opened by the Standing Rock Water Protectors, who stood their ground with prayerfulness and love–who still hold that space today despite continued brutality. As we move into these next weeks and months, with the constant news of some new slap in the face of justice and equality for all people, perhaps we, too, can take the name Protectors. Perhaps the protest of the day is Protection.

With the Standing Rock folks, we protect the waters, protect the earth. We protect the vulnerable displace people who are seeking asylum and new life here. We protect our neighbors of all races when they feel threatened. We protect our Muslim neighbors, our Jewish neighbors, our atheist neighbors, no matter their stance on religion. We protect our LGBTQI neighbors. We protect the children and their hope for education.

I keep getting mired in this not-knowingness–not knowing how to respond, how to protest, how to stand in the gap. Still, it helps to choose a name, an identity for the journey: Protector. Protection will not always mean quiet waiting. Sometimes it will require active resistance. Other times, it will require deep inner work to hold the safe spaces. May we be Protectors.

Gratitude List:
1. Protectors
2. Advocates
3. Contemplatives
4. Activists
5. Artists and Poets and Dreamers

May we walk in Beauty!