Mist, Moon, Mist


As November 6 approaches, and amid all the squeamishness I am feeling about the privileged way we do politics in this country, I am thinking about the “right” to vote.

June 4, 1919: The 19th Amendment finally offered women the right to vote in this country.

Except. Only White Women. Women put their bodies on the line for this right. They went to jail. They were beaten. They were brutally force-fed during hunger strikes. They were called terrible names, and experienced social shaming that destroyed their reputations. And they were white women, and they fought for white women. Some of my heras from that fight were notably silent on the subject of race. Others actively campaigned against women of color being included in the mix.

On this hand over here, I honor them for their selfless and courageous fight. They saw their moment and they took it, and the world was at least a marginally better place for it.

On this hand over here, though: Is it a victory, really, if it actively marginalizes such a large number of us?

My heras have feet of clay. Fatal flaws. Lack of real vision and insight and completely human compassion. Still, their work paved the way. But not for all of us. Did it at least open the door for all of us?

The Snyder Act, in 1924, finally gave the country’s original inhabitants the right to vote, five years after white women could vote. And looking at the kinds of voter suppression that took place for African American people after white people finally passed the 15th Amendment, it’s likely that many Native American women didn’t vote until much later.

While the 15th Amendment in 1870 ostensibly gave African American men the right to vote, we don’t have to look so far back into the mists of history to see how recently the Voting Rights Act was passed, to REALLY give black people the right to vote. It was on 1965, two years before I was born, and I’m not that old. So, while my grandmothers could have voted if they’d wanted to (it was against their religious principles, so they didn’t), my grandmothers’ African American sisters couldn’t vote until they were in their forties or fifties.

So this year I won’t be posting any images of the white suffragettes marching for women’s right to vote, as door-opening as that period was, as sacrificial as they were. And I am having trouble celebrating any movement to bring about ACTUAL Democratic voting in this country while the Supreme Court can take away the voting rights of First Nations people in North Dakota, while unscrupulous people are suppressing the black vote in Georgia, while elderly black voters are removed from a bus taking them to a polling place. There are more stories. Look them up.

I will honor the intent of the suffragettes who fought for the right to vote, for the doors they opened, and I will truly celebrate the life and work of the tireless Congressman John Lewis, who nearly died in the fight to bring about the Voting Rights Act.

There will always be undemocratic forces in this country that try to garner power for their own ends, to control the people. Voting, and fighting for the voice of all people to vote, is part of the bedrock of the democratic process.  And I will speak out–and I beg you to speak out, too–for the rights of ALL Americans to vote for those who are chosen to speak for us in the halls of power.


Gratitude List:
1. Good fiction. I am listening to The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. I don’t know why post-apocalyptic literature is so charmingly comforting in these difficult times. Perhaps it has to do with reminding me that things aren’t as bad as all that. Yet. Feel free to psychoanalyze me.
2. Speaking Truth to Power–all the people who do so
3. Cool fall days
4. The river, the river, the river
5. Magical, prayerful, contemplative acts

May we walk in Beauty!


Rhapsody Part 7 – Mary Oliver

If you are in the garden, I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea I will slide into that
smooth blue nest, I will talk fish, I will adore salt.
But if you are sad, I will not dress myself in desolation.
I will present myself with all the laughters I can muster.
And if you are angry I will come, calm and steady, with
some small and easy story.
Promises, promises, promises! The tongue jabbers, the heart
strives, fails, strives again. The world is perfect.
Love, however,
is an opera, a history, a long walk, that
includes falling and rising, falling and rising, while
the heart stays as sweet as a peach, as radiant and
grateful as the deep leaved hills.
*
“You either walk inside your story & own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” ~BRENÉ BROWN
*
Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
October.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Live the question now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some day into the answer.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“and if i hear one more time
about a fool’s rights
to his tools of rage
I’m gonna take all my friends
and I’m gonna move to Canada
and we’re gonna die of old age” –Ani Difranco

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Luna on the Hill

I wrote this poem on 8 October 2014, after seeing part of a lunar eclipse one early morning on my way to work. This morning, again, as we crested Pisgah ridge, the ball of the moon was rolling off over the far hills, a smudge of Earth-shadow beginning to veil her face.

What Moth? What Butterfly?
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The raucous owls were silent in their bamboo haunts
this morning as I rushed up the hill to meet the moon
emerging from her umbral shadow,
from her ombre ochre cocoon.

What moth will she become?
What butterfly will I?

I sat a moment at the junction where my road
meets the ridge, Mt. Pisgah Road before me,
then the tidy fence,
the dusky hill meadow,
a lacy line of trees across the hilltop,
and the changing moon above in chestnut orange glory
nestled into the indigo dawning.

I caught glimpses of her on my way down the ridge
and then in my mirror as I crossed the bridge
over the water and under the last dusk of night
and I saw then that she was only now just fading into the shadow,
only entering her transformation.

I had to leave her there behind me to do her work
behind the veils of dusky morning
while I drove into the shining pink of sunrise,
Venus riding high before me
and two crows above,
lifting their wings in alleluia.

The Dragon of Solstice


Not the clearest picture, perhaps. One of the riders in my car took it, and my camera doesn’t handle near-darkness very well. This was in the early stages of her metamorphosis. About five minutes later, she was looking more dragonish than ever.

Now we are several hours into Longest Night. Tomorrow, we begin the inward turn again. Now is the time to settle into the darkness. To breathe. To dream. To melt.

In my own sacred calendar, the night of Solstice begins the deepest dreamtime of the year, almost time out of time. From now until the first of the year, or until Epiphany, I will monitor and mine my dreams for the images that will guide me in the coming year. Already, my dreams have been tossing up some powerful images to begin the percolation.

May your dreams in this, the Longest Night, bring you peace and hope. May they invigorate and inspire and challenge you for the work ahead. For there is much work ahead. There will be need of wakefulness and wisdom.

Much Love and Beauty to you.

Gratitude List:
1. This evening on the way home from school, just as the sun was setting, and the day was opening the curtains into the Longest Night, a great dragon swept across the sky, casting its body from east, and around the bowl of sky, into the west. Its head lay directly in front of us, toward the setting sun. It had swallowed the sliver of a horned moon. If you weren’t looking closely, as we were, you might have taken it for a cloud. We decided that The Dragon of the Solstice was offering us a portent or a message for the dying year: Be fierce. Take up all the space you are given. Believe in miracles. Hold the Moon inside you.

2. The geese and little birds are crossing the sky these early mornings and late evening, like mysterious scripts that someone, certainly, will be able to read, but my eyes are not trained to interpret this alphabet. Still, like Korean or Chinese or Hindi or Arabic, it catches my eye and draws me in with the sense of the meaning that is there behind the lines, but to me is only Beauty.

3. I have many friends and beloveds who are perfectly yourselves. Divinely, wondrously, solidly, and delightfully yourselves. Where would I be without you, without your inspiration, without your challenges? You keep me honest. You help me to be my better self. So much of my own shine is reflection from you. You’re the moon I carry inside me.

4. Rage has lessons to teach me. I’ll try to be grateful now simply to know that, although it burns to carry those coals inside. Sometimes, I think I have learned the lessons–the vocabulary, the angles and calculations, the social history, the science–of rage, but then I find myself back in the primary class. It takes some of us a little longer to learn. I will be patient with myself.

5. I have a class of quite energetic, distractible students who have experienced a high degree of frustration with the subject at hand. Often, the most carefully-planned lessons fall flat, but they can’t handle too much spontaneity, either. I really need to work hard with them on writing, and I have been nervous about that for several reasons. One boy often freezes when I ask them to write. Another can’t handle silent, quiet work and creates so many distractions the others can’t work.

Still, I decided that yesterday I would give them five prompts and have them write about one or more for the whole period. With only one exception, they got to work with a will, several of them asking if they could write whatever they wanted instead of the prompts. I had them share their documents with me, and I would check in on them, offering comments and responses on their documents. At the end of the period, they begged for another day of writing.

Today, we wrote again, for the whole period. Some incredible stories are emerging. We’re doing absolutely no editing at this point, and things are pretty raw, but it will give us something to work on in the next step. The only student who couldn’t handle it yesterday came in today with a page and a half that he’d written between yesterday’s class and today. Everyone buckled down and wrote today. They begged for a third day of writing.

I am going to tempt the magic for one more day. Then we may have to move to other things: some more direct work on the basic grammar and sentence structure points, and other sorts of literacy and fluency work.

I am grateful for moments of magic in the classroom.

May we walk in Beauty!

A Poem is an Egg

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

–Rumi
*
“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
*
“The moon rose over an open field.” –Paul Simon
*
“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
*
“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!

Moonflower


Full Moon filtered through flowery Dreamscope app.

“This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.” –Ben Okri
*
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” –Albert Einstein
*
Out of my life I fashioned a fistful of words.
When I opened my hand, they flew away.
—Hyam Plutzik
“On Hearing that My Poems
Were Being Studied in a Distant Place”
*
Richard Rohr quotes Thomas Keating on the way of peace: “It means to show love tirelessly, no matter what happens. That’s the meaning of turning the other cheek. Once in a while you have to defend somebody, but it means you’re always willing to suffer first for the cause—that is to say, for communion with your enemies. If you overcome your enemies, you’ve failed. If you make your enemies your partners, God has succeeded.”
*
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” –Rumi


Gratitude List:
1. Singing “Swing Low,” “Oh When the Saints,” and “I’m Gonna Sing” in chapel today
2. Beautiful morning rain
3. Looking back through old blog posts this afternoon, watching how the ideas and dreams that I began to sift and plant last winter have begun to gestate within me.
4. Somehow, I know that I will be able to build that bridge from where I am to where I need to go
5. Cannoli dip

May we walk in Beauty!

Drawing Forth the Impossible Sprout


The doorway to Room 206: Magic happens here

“I am not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.” –Louisa May Alcott
*
“The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.” –Margaret Storm Jameson
*
“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior.
You are beneath the thinker.
You are the stillness beneath the mental noise.
You are the love and joy beneath the pain.”
–Eckhart Tolle
*
One of my own, beginning with an Aldo Leopold quote. I read the Leopold essay again yesterday with my Academic Writing students in preparation for our Cause and Effect essay:

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain.” –Aldo Leopold

Only the mountain knows perhaps
where the green fire is kindled
how the viridian flame leaps
down the slopes and into the hollows
how it broods in the deep crevasse
enkindles in every womb
caterpillar and field mouse
wolf and deer and human
how it shines behind the eye.

Perhaps the desert too
has pondered with the mountain
the quiet licking emerald ember that
touched by the merest drop of moisture
tenders into flame
drawing forth
the impossible sprout from the seed
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
With That Moon Language
by Hafiz

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud; Otherwise,
someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us
to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a full moon
in each eye that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?
–Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky


Gratitude List:
1. Cheesy bread and eggs for supper
2. Life Force, green fire
3. Collages and strippy poetry
4. When he isn’t yelling or whining, this kid is always singing or making jokes
5. Good Work

May we walk in Beauty!

Gold Gives Way


“As long as your heart pumps and your lungs expand, you can rise to this occasion.” – Sara Kellar
*
“The power of stories is that they are telling us that life adds up somehow, that life itself is like a story.” ~Frederick Buechner
*
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
*
Goldenrod
by Mary Oliver

On roadsides,
in fall fields,
in rumpy branches,
saffron and orange and pale gold,

in little towers,
soft as mash,
sneeze-bringers and seed-bearers,
full of bees and yellow beads and perfect flowerets

and orange butterflies.
I don’t suppose
much notice comes of it, except for honey,
and how it heartens the heart with its

blank blaze.
I don’t suppose anything loves it except, perhaps,
the rocky voids
filled by its dumb dazzle.

For myself,
I was just passing by, when the wind flared
and the blossoms rustled,
and the glittering pandemonium

leaned on me.
I was just minding my own business
when I found myself on their straw hillsides,
citron and butter-colored,

and was happy, and why not?
Are not the difficult labors of our lives
full of dark hours?
And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far,

that is better than these light-filled bodies?
All day
on their airy backbones
they toss in the wind,

they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,
they rise in a stiff sweetness,
in the pure peace of giving
one’s gold away.
~ Mary Oliver
*
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to realize that this, too, was a gift.”
~Mary Oliver


Gratitude List:
1. The moon in the morning. A young person I know looked up that the moon and said, “Hello, my Queen.” Yes.
2. Milkweed pods bursting, unfolding their treasure, releasing it to the winds. Fly well, small seeds, on your filmy parachutes.
3. First, the cats came and hung out with us on the couch, and then when we went up to bed to read Dealing with Dragons, they came and joined us on the bed. Things are getting really companionable. Even Sachs of Underbed has been out more than under in the past day.
4.  Pancake breakfast. We’re going to have pancakes this morning.
5. The restfulness of Saturday morning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Heart at Rest


In the dream, I too looked directly at the sun. Gold-orange sparkles flashed out from the surface, crackling and twinkling in the air in front of the enormous orb. Was it my looking that caused the sparks, I wonder? And then I turned my face to the other side of the sky, and the moon hung over the horizon, bigger than a hundred moons, filling the sky with its silver face.


“Anyone who feeds on majesty becomes eloquent. The bee, From mystic inspiration, fills its rooms with honey.” ―Rumi
*
“A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.” ― John Ciardi
*
“The heart must be at rest before the mind, like a quiet lake under an unclouded summer evening, can reflect the solemn starlight and the splendid mysteries of heaven.”
―McDonald Clarke (1798–1842) New York poet
*
“How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing—
each stone, blossom, child—
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God


Gratitude List:
1. Those owls. Every night now, my sleep is measured by the rhythm of the owls.
2. The new week is a blank slate
3. Even when the night is a tangle of sneezing kid and twisting dreams, there has been sleep, enough to refresh and renew
4. Interlocking rings of community
5. The ones who speak truth to power. How much we need them today.

May we walk in Beauty!

Hugs


My little old man cat has got me thinking about hugs. He doesn’t like to just sit quietly on my lap. He has to have his paws on my shoulder, like a cat hug. I think he finds comfort and ease in the heart-to-heart contact. And it strikes me that that’s part of the healing power of a hug: For just a moment, your heart and my heart are together, right next to each other. Offering a hug is offering your heart. We help each other to regulate our breathing and our heart-rhythms when we hug each other.


Gratitude List:
1. Watching that moon rise. Last night, we went down to Hellam to watch the moon rise. A bubble of flame breaking free. No matter how many times I watch, I am always sort of stunned by how quickly it rises, how we can see it moving. It sets my heart a flutter. We also saw the space station.
2. Planting herbs. I am expanding my mint bed to include other herbs. The wild St. John’s Wort that I planted last year is flourishing. Today I planted thyme and oregano and rosemary. I need some white sage yet.
3. Cycles of work and rest
4. The lure of words. I am restless, picking up my journals and printed poems, shuffling and browsing. I am ready to edit and reconfigure, ready to settle into a writing rhythm for the summer.
5. This boy bought himself a pair of water shoes today with pink insets. “That’s okay with you, the pink?” I asked, casually, just to be sure that I wasn’t investing my money in something he wouldn’t actually wear. He shrugged: “They’re water shoes.” Righto.

May we walk in Beauty!