The Journey Downward and Inward

Leaving the old shell behind. Grasshopper transformation.

“Let us not make America Great again.That greatness they yearn for was rooted in death and oppression. Let us make America Good. For all, for the very first time.

Do not let it go without saying. If you and your family denounce white supremacy: say it. Let it be known. You are not how you feel or think. You are what you say and do.” –Glennon Doyle
“Hate evil and love what is good. We have to be able to say that evil is evil. It’s not something that exists on many sides.” –Rabbi Jack Paskoff of Lancaster, PA
“I repose in myself. And that part of myself, that deepest and richest part in which I repose, is what I call ‘God.'” –Etty Hillesum
Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. In the process of discovering bodhichitta [the awakened heart], the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.”
–Pema Chödrön
“I invite you to think about your relationship to human beings who haven’t been born yet. What might you create for them to use? How can you make your life a gift to the future? Can you not only help preserve the wonders we live amidst, but actually enhance them?” –Rob Brezsny
Lewis Carroll: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward.”
“Some days,
you feel as though
you have been walking that knife edge
too afraid
to look to right or left.
And then one day,
you raise your gaze
and there before you
is the green valley
with a blue glass lake
and a silent island
that you have been seeking
in every dream
since you were born.” –Beth Weaver-Kreider
“I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.”  –Tomaž Šalamun
“You want weapons? We’re in a library! BOOKS! The best weapons in the world.” –Doctor Who
“A banjo will get you through times of no money, but money won’t get you through times of no banjo.”  –John Hartford

Gratitude List:
1. The voices of Amanda Kemp, Kevin Ressler, Rev. Forbes, Andrea Brown, Jim Amstutz, and others at the Lancaster vigil last night. I am so proud of Lancaster and York for turning out like they did.
2. The stately and friendly architecture of downtown Lancaster.
3. The little screech owl trilling in the hollow. And then the great horned owl all in the early morning.
4. Sachs came out from under the bed! (See how I changed the spelling there? He is a person of such grave dignity that Socks seems insufficient. Sachs, on the other hand, has a grandeur, and even a hipness, which is in keeping with the cat himself.)
5. One more week of summer schedule. I am going to make the most of it!

May we walk in Beauty!



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!

A Little Satisfaction


One of the words that came flying through the air to me while I was at the monastery was satisfaction.  One morning, I went out into the western cloister to write and watch the day.  I began brainstorming for a project that has been waiting within me like a seed, like an egg, like a cocoon.  The words and ideas started to come in a rush, then a flood.  I rode the wave for a while, and then I sat back and took a breath, and said, “This is so satisfying!”  Later that afternoon, it happened again as I was working on a series of collages.  I got so deeply involved in piecing images and words together that I stopped paying attention to what was in my head.  When I came back to myself, I again felt the word satisfaction bumping about inside my spirit.

What makes you satisfied? It’s not the same as happiness, I think–though being satisfied makes me happy.  For me, it’s the feeling of being in tune with my purpose, of being so involved in the moment that the voices are stilled, the voices that beg me to be this or that, to do more and better, to appear to be something I am not.

May some moment in your day bring you real satisfaction.  Let’s nurture those moments.

Gratitude List:
1. Memory
2. Dream
3, Vision
4. Aspiration
5. This Moment

May we walk in Beauty!

Little Sisters at Work

IMAG0392 IMAG0394

The Garden at Herbs from the Labyrinth.  The Little Sisters are happy in their work, and a baby elephant (Ganesha?) helps to keep the order of the labyrinth.

Odd dreams last night after I finally got back to dozing post-insomnia.  My cell phone appeared for the first time in my dreams.  I needed it to take pictures on the beach.  And I dreamed that my younger sister Valerie was actually older than I am and that we had another younger sister with a very different temperament than any of the rest of us.

The Poetry Prompt for today is to write a memory poem.
Here is a picture of me and Suzy and Jennifer before Jennifer went to America for repairs:

On the Lakeshore I could look out and see
distant America where my grandparents
sat over breakfast every day thinking of me
in their light-filled Victorian house
with the wooden banisters and sliding doors.

Jennifer, my doll with the golden hair
who had gone to America to be repaired
sat on their table and dined with them
longing for the day she would be home with me
and Ed Bear and Suzy in her red dress
who I carried under my arm.

Gratitude List:
1. Wise women.  Yesterday’s encounters with Phyllis, with Sarah and Julia.  If I had a daughter, I would send her to Sense of Wonder Camp.
2. Watching and listening to the bees, the Little Sisters, hard at work in the garden, zzzing through sunbeams like liquid light itself.
3. This rain, this moon, this strawberry rhubarb pie.
4. The will to begin.  And there’s an odd gratitude hidden under the rug of those words.  I am grateful for last night’s insomnia. During these bouts my brain functions in a circular fashion.  I am neither wholly asleep nor wholly awake.  I have a project hoard that has been feeling weighty, and last night my brain brought me back again and again to the question of whether the creative thought of someday getting to this work is a good thing, or whether it’s just another stress.  Last night when my mind circled back around to it, I started to imagine my life without this project in it, and I felt such a great relief.  I am going to have some big bags for Re-Uzit this week.  Ah, relief.
5. Burdock, curly dock, dandelion (sounds like a new version of duck, duck, goose)–I have roots of all three plants on my counter.  Today I will grate them and then dry them in the food processor, and use them in teas.  Researching them brought me again to some researches on wild greens, particularly two varieties of wild lettuce that grow on the farm.  I might start experimenting with them a little.

May we walk in Beauty!

Stones for Memory


Today’s prompt is to write a poem about memory.

I have always envied others their power of memory.  My own is so fickle, so capricious, unreliable.  My ability to concentrate and memorize poetry or lines for a play in the present moment are, I think, above average.  I’m nowhere close to having a photographic memory, but I feel like I understand the brains of people who do.  This has served me well in the short-term.  I can quickly learn a story, hold a lesson plan, memorize a poem, prepare for a play.  But my powers of remembering in the long-term are, I think, way below the average.  I can remember very few of the teachers in my growing up years.  Even college, even grad school, even my first years of teaching–all are receding, dragged backward out of my memory.  This has always been kind of painful for me.

What I tell myself is that I live in the present so completely, that the butterfly of my personality sits so completely in the now, that I do not take my mind back enough to pull out the pieces of past and examine them, and so they flow out and away.  Perhaps this is not exactly a defect in my personality, but it remains a deep and abiding pain.  I lose the past too utterly, and I do often feel it as a personal deficiency: if only I would get my flightly brain to concentrate more often on what has gone before, perhaps I could keep it, hold on to it.  Still, I cannot make myself hold memory.  My brain is wired for this moment.

I place in the hands of Time these stones:
the story of this day,
the people I have been near to,
the songs the Fates have whispered in my ears,
the colors that haunt me.

See how they turn to mist,
how they glow for a moment–
red, then golden, then blue–
then dissipate like ash blown by a wind
before I can register
that they have lost their substance.

Where does memory go
when it flows out with the tide,
when it slips down the drain,
when it is blown out with the morning fog?

I am still the child in the forest,
walking blind through the swirling mists,
under the shadows of the great trees.
With each forward step on the trail,
a little bird flutters from the pathway behind,
a bread crumb in its beak.

Gratitude List:
1. Memory
2. Longing
3. This moment
4. The shades of dawn
5. Small moments in which to breathe.

May we walk in Beauty!



I realized yesterday that if I sort of scrunch the meanings of a couple of my early November poems into the themes that Robert Lee Brewer suggests on his blog, I only have to write to extra poems to catch up to the Poem-A-Day thing.  I just can’t resist. I will get those two extras written.  Mockingbird reminds me that they don’t have to be super-poems.

Today’s prompt is to write a submerged poem.  I have been wanting to try the triversen form.

Beneath the surface of the dream
where tiny rodents skitter and run
I could feel the story rising.

There, where the memories yield their harvest,
where travelers wander deep in shadow,
I caught its scented breezes.

Inside the dreaming of the house
where rooms went on forever,
lay a village of self to explore.

Below the one about the baby
and the orphaned white kitten
flowed rivers of recognition.

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!”

Gratitude List:
1. That pecan pie
2. Bridges.  Hope. Bridge of Hope
. Breathing
4. Dream-work
5. Writing poems

May we walk in Hope!


Wear today loosely,
like your grandmother’s shawl
or a hat that keeps blowing away in the breezes.

Wear it gently,
and hold it like you hold a kite
the moment before you release it to wind.

Walk through these hours
the way you waded through the creek
or up and down the beach that day,
picking up smooth and shiny pebbles,
pocketing them for later.

Tiny stones of moments
to sift through your fingers,
testing their weight
and feeling their coolness,
to place in a tray on the table.

This one, you’ll say.
This.  And this.


Gratitude List:
1. Naps
2. A Fabulous farm crew
3. Memories of winter
4. Echoes of laughter
5. Remembering and looking forward

May we walk in Beauty!

Rain and Snow and Sleet

2014 February 085

Gratitude List:
1. For making it safely home tonight in that–Holy Snowsquall, Batman!  What in the world WAS that?  Okay, so this is supposed to be a gratitude, and I am grateful to be home safely, and the words that I want to use for that stuff out there I don’t want my mother to read on my blog.
2. For my five-years-old-today boy who steals my heart every single day, whose journey here was no less perilous than the evening’s icy drive.
3. For the midwife and doulas and friends and sister and Jon and nurses and finally the surgeon who helped get him here safely on that day so long ago, not so long ago.
4. For the rain on my river this morning as we crossed the bridge.  My river, remember, like you are my friends: it’s not about domination and ownership, but about a statement of relationship.  Then what am I to her?  I am her daughter?  Her admirer?  Her acolyte, her friend, her dreamer, her observer, her watcher.
5. Simply for this day.  I will never see it again.  It’s gone now and we have all grown up that much more, and my memory that swears to remember every sweet moment–the tiny voice of a boy counting to thirty in hide-and-seek, the bright eyes, the rich conversations, the singing (oh, the singing)–that memory cannot encompass it all and hold it forever.  So I will swear to hold the Beauty even when my feeble memory lets it trickle into the haze.

May we walk in Beauty!  May you find something, each day, to love and treasure, amid whatever pain and challenge your life hands you.  May a bright yellow flower call your name, may a stranger offer you an open smile, may the breeze kiss your cheek.  Walk in Beauty.

Through the Cobweb Curtain of Memory

Some days I’ll find several things that I want to put on my gratitude list, and I’ll keep bringing them back to me throughout the day, but the moment I sit down to write them, they disappear from my brain.  There was one in particular today that I was excited to place on the list, and I can’t seem to pull it out no matter how I dredge the depths.  No Matter.  There are plenty of things to be grateful for.

Gratitude List:
1.  Sleeping in.
2.  The way threads of dreams shimmer through the waking hours and inform the day.
3.  Striving.  Where would I be without striving?  Each next time, I will strive to do better than each last time.
4.  Good news.  In times when news is often challenging, it is so nice to hear that someone you know is making a name for himself as a musician in New York City, that someone you know has discovered that her brain tumor was benign, that a school district somewhere is expanding its art and music programs, that people are noticing the important things.  (I think that’s the one I was trying to dig out of my memory.)
5.  Lilacs are blooming.

Namaste.  May we walk in beauty.