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!

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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!

Blue and a Moon

Quote for the day:
“The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
― Arundhati Roy

This was the pain of Cassandra. Seeing the destruction that approached her beloved city, she took the accountability upon herself–to shout it in the streets that the city would fall in blood and flame. But no one believed her. No one listened.

This time last year, I remember a Cassandran murmur beginning to spread: “But he couldn’t really be elected, could he?” And the firm and reasoned answer was always, “Certainly not. Never. Don’t worry about it.”

Today, I thought that perhaps the people of the city might begin to listen. Perhaps there is yet time for Cassandra’s message to be heard, before this “city” falls.


Gratitude List:
1. Color of the day: BLUUUUUE. A Blue Grosbeak alit for a moment on the bird feeder pole.
2. Breathtaking moment of the day: Down over the ridge from Yorkana on the way to the library as the afternoon sun was lowering and the whole valley sparkled with the sun.
3. Sign of the day: Someone in Yorkana has a Welcome Neighbors sign.
4. Flavor of the day: Mulberries with milk on Cottage Pudding.
5. Another breathtaking moment: The moon. On the way home from the library–the sun had set out of the hollow but not yet out of the rest of the world, and the full moon stood pale and watery on the ridge.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Lunatic Moon


This is from 2013. There are no physically manifest poems on the PoeTree this year.

The Lunatic Moon
by Beth Weaver-Kreider
for Mara

The thing is, I am a Twisted Hair.
The thing is, I believe that bridges build their own burn.
I am weaving that into the braid at this exact moment.
Some days I walk on burn
to return to the path that calls me.
Perhaps this is where the poem begins.

The thing is, when I read that line
about what I believe, I felt seen and known.

Burn your bridges, burn your easement, burn your draft card, burn your bra.

The thing is, I am simply a character.
I am devouring. I am pretending.
The thing is, I am a simple character,
made of burn, of bridge, of web.

Weave yourself a bridge of sunlight and flame. Weave an easement to the moon.

The thing is, the more I twist these strands into the story,
the less I am a solitary spider, and the more I am the moon.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
We’ve learned the twinkling light of the star that refreshes, the wild light of the moon that pulls, and tomorrow, the Fool steps into the light of the sun, feeling her full power. She finds herself able to experience joy in a new way, not in denial of the hardship and pain of the journey, but because of it. Now she knows her strength. Now she knows her wildness. Now she knows her fierce and tender heart. She absorbs the power of the Sun.

Gratitude List:
1. Poetic conversation
2. Odysseys, journeys, adventures
3. This writing life, fragmented and small as it is
4. Chocolate bunnies
5. Every day a new sensation, a new color, a new birdsong

May we walk in Beauty!

Beloveds and Starlight

When I wrote the Star prompt, I had just walked through a Facebook thread with three friends, creating an online sort of ritual/story together. This was a powerful Starlight experience.

And hours later, I could not know how deeply I would again be experiencing the Starlight in the presence of my Beloveds. Thirty years of deepening friendship.

Sit with your sisters in a circle,
and feel the truth of how your hearts
are woven together
every bit as real as that basket
under the hall table
where a fine cat is purring.

You will hear the echoes
of the towers that have fallen,
see the memory of rubble in the eyes.
Say out loud, “I see you.”
Say, “I witness.”
Weave the new strands together.
See how your stories
are one singular tale.

Feel the starlight
making a net around you,
a silver basket reflecting your own.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
After she experiences the Star, the Fool finds the Moon. Oh, the Moon! Luna, lunacy. Tidal pull and woman’s guide. Well of creative expression. The Fool may find a tension between her feral and domesticated selves. Moonlight is a reflected light. It holds mystery and dreaming, fear and enchantment.

Gratitude List:
1. Seeing and being seen. Witnessing. Speaking and Listening.
2. Rituals of friendship and belonging
3. Lifelong friends. Keeping an empty chair for the one who could not be there with us.
4. Weaving stories together.
5. Time out of time.

May we walk in Beauty. In Friendship.