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

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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!

The Womyn United Will Never Be Defeated

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It was an incredible, en-heartening, and vibrant day. Also exhausting.

That first photo is the group of women from my carpool. All of us in hats are teachers at my school, and the young woman in her headband is one of the students.

Random Thoughts:
1. The celebrity folks were wonderful, and many of them were really experienced in keeping the energy going, but I wish there had been more time for some of the quieter voices. I got a teensy bit huffy that the rally had some men (albeit very articulate and inspiring men like Michael Moore and Van Jones) front-loaded into the early part of the rally, and then by the time the Indigenous woman got up to speak about water, everyone was already tired of listening.

2. I wish there had been more indigenous voices, more word from Standing Rock.

3. I have nothing against strong language at strong moments, but Madonna actually had some really good things to say about tyranny and freedom, but she dropped the F-bomb, and suddenly no one in the press could remember anything else she said.  Sigh.

4. It was a real pleasure to hear Climbing Poetree live. And Angela Davis. And Gloria Steinem. And Maxine Waters. And Ashley Judd. And Alicia Keys. And Madonna. Janelle Monae was also really great. “Say her name!”

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5. People were all friends yesterday. The invisible veils between strangers are broken down when you’re marching together. People start up conversations with each other as though they’ve known each other all their lives.

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6. The crowd was big. Really big. I had very few moments of claustrophobic anxiety, and no sense of panic. This was the tightest crowd I have ever been in. We shuffled ourselves into the streets for the rally, and then when it was time to move, we simply couldn’t go anywhere, we were so tightly packed. Amazing!
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7. The hats. Early in the day, before we got to the metro, a woman in another group that met at our rendezvous point asked one of us about the hats. My friend explained that they’re a response to the tape of Mr. Trump bragging about sexual assault, and that many people call them pussy hats. The woman began to weep. My friend made sure that the woman’s friends were taking care of her, and we went on to the march, but my hat suddenly took on a much more pointed meaning. It was no longer simply a symbol of defiance of a misogynist sexual predator in high office, but a statement of support for women who have survived sexual assault. It’s a message to predators that women’s silence will no longer protect them.

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8. I am tired (happy tired). Wiped out. Standing in one place for four hours may be as hard on the muscles as walking for four hours. It was helpful to keep stretching. Even that was difficult with all those people packed around us. (All those people!)

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9. Last Friday, a group of mostly young women led our chapel remembrance of Martin Luther King at school. Yesterday, I marched for the young women I teach, keeping in mind that group of young women of color in particular, women who are feeling the power of their voices rising within them, women with a passion for racial justice, women who will lead this movement into the future.

The future is in good hands. I’m with her and her and her and her. . .

Love and its Opposite

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Today’s Prompt is to write a Love/Anti-Love Poem. I realize that I am pooping out on these. Much work to do, and little time for poeming. I’ll leave it at this for tonight.

Love and its Opposite
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The opposite of fire is not more fire,
we know that–just like Frost’s desire–
his opposite was ice, which like him I suppose
would dim the fire until it froze.

Gratitude List:
1. I have great gratitude for Sam Ovalle of Sam’s Auto in Akron. Finally, we have the Prius back with us in working order. We’ve been driving my dad’s car for six weeks, the last one with the Service Engine Soon light on. Tonight I had to learn the Prius all over again. I tried to honk the horn when an approaching car passed in a no-passing zone, and accidentally turned on the radio (“You really showed him!” said Jon).
2. Mist on the River
3. Mist in the fields
4. Mist caught in the trees
5. Mists in the little River Towns

May we walk in Beauty!

Blessing for Election Day and Beyond

JClabyrinth
I find myself doodling and drawing labyrinths again–it always seems to happen when I am thrown off-balance. Here is one of my favorite labyrinths, up at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville.

Today’s Poetry Prompt is to write an Activity Poem.

Blessing for Election Day and Beyond
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

May we be spinners of webs,
catching each other,
wrapping each other
in silken threads
to keep us all from falling.

May we be builders of bridges,
creating firm pathways
so all may walk safely
over the chasm
or meet in the middle.

May we be wanderers,
willing to walk in the wild places,
seeking each other
when distance has
broken our circles.

May we be dreamers
and planners, wishers
and makers, devising a future
where everyone
may find a home in love.

Gratitude List:
1. A pileated woodpecker sailing through the treetops and sunshine on the way down Ducktown this morning. It has been a long time since I have seen one.
2. Getting the grades in. What’s the old saying? “The wonderful thing about hanging by your fingernails is it feels so good when you’re done.” Yeah, that.
3. The promise of a warm and comfortable bed very soon. I admit it, small as that hour is, the time change is challenging for me. I always feel like I need extra sleep to handle it. I am off to bed VERY soon.
4. Jon Carlson’s thoughtful reminder in chapel this morning: The really important thing is Love. I will carry that with me like a shiny pebble into the day tomorrow, and the days that follow.
5. You, my friends. You keep bringing me back to center when I start to fray around the edges. What bright and brilliant community.

Hold on tightly. Breathe deeply. Smile at each other often. Get some sleep.

The Makers and the Artists

mailbox
We met this earnest fellow in Columbia yesterday.

Gratitude List:
1. The artists and makers. People who create things because they have an internal need to do so. They often get labeled folk artists, and I like that as long as it isn’t a dismissal of their talent and their drive.  In Columbia, there’s the mailbox man, and south of town, by the River, a man built a boat in his yard–a huge boat with masts and rigging.
2. Sermons that call me to be my better self. Yesterday’s was a reminder to love those who hate. How easily I dismiss the hateful. What will be the next steps that you and I can take to lovingly engage those who put forth hateful rhetoric in these days?
3. A new week, a fresh page.
4. The way leaves dance down the wind.
5. The Water Protectors. People are putting themselves on the line to protect their lands and waters and burial grounds. I am easily discouraged when I watch the harsh and violent response to their protests, but I am heartened by their continued work.

May we walk in Beauty!

Desire

luna

As you read, you can use your own name for the Great Mystery, the Force of Life, Beauty, Love:

Psalm of Desire
(14 August 2016, revised)

O God of Beauty,
God of Marvel,
God of Wonder,
the whole universe that you have made
is built upon desire:

the force that holds electrons in atomic orbit,
that keeps the planets in their dance around the sun,
and wheels the spiraled walk of galaxies
is that same force which holds us to the earth,
which pulls the tides up the beach and back,
and calls us from complacency
to yearn for something more.

Not only do we hunger for you,
but you are the very force of our longing,
the Magnet which draws us ever outward
from the limiting walls of our own egos
to seek your face in all that surrounds us,
to seek your heart in the hearts of our neighbors,
to follow the pathway that leads us homeward.
You are the Magnet which draws us, finally,
into the home of our deepest selves,
where we are most truly
what you have made us to be.

Our yearning for you is an echo
of your own yearning for your children.

May we carry the knowledge within us,
deep in our cellular constellations,
pulled with the tides of our blood,
that our own deepest longings
are the echoes of your voice
calling us to you.

Draw us ever closer to your Center,
as the sun holds the planets in constant orbit,
as a mother draws her child to her heart,
that our longing may lead us always to you,
our Truest Home.

Gratitude List:
1. Preparing the heart space. So much work remains to be done, but the work on the heart moves on apace. (I copied this from last year’s August 15 list.)
2. Memories of luna moth. I haven’t seen any this year (yet), but I love looking at photos from other years.
3. How Love will always trump dogma. Generous spirits.
4. The wise and loving community.
5. Feathers. Wings. Wind. Flight.

May we walk in Beauty!

Almost Paradise

almost paradise

What a gift it is to have lifetime friends, people you can sit with and say, “Remember when you said. . .?  Remember what she did. . .?  Remember how he used to always. . .?”

People you can look in the eye and see not only a reflection of who you are in this moment, but also a reflection of who you have been–a year ago, five, ten, twenty.

People who know too much about you, who remember you before you settled adulthood’s masks into place, and they still love you, love you more for who you’ve been and who you’ve become.

People you can look at and see the butterfly of the now, but in whom can you identify the caterpillar of the past–and you love the butterfly, and the caterpillar, too.

People who know just which questions to ask.

People who help you live in this moment–with their laughter, their thoughtful eyes, their conversation.  People who draw you into the realm of memory.  People who help you envision the future.  People who help you to live in all those layers at once.

Gratitude List:
1. Living in those layers of time (past, present, future) with people I love and trust
2. People who know my warts and rough edges and love me anyway
3. The way the next generation at reunions also gathers with ease and comfort, enjoying each other
4. Peaches and ice cream
5. Crisp, cool mornings

May we walk in Beauty!