Meeting the Mage

Into the Woods

Sometimes you can’t see the trees for the forest.
You miss the sweep of oak, the broad arms of maple,
the proud rise of locust and poplar and pine,
because the understory closes in around you.
The briars catch and grab, the poison twists
and wanders everywhere into your pathway.

Sometimes you miss the healing tang of rose hips
there in the green tangle before you
because you’re fretting about the thorns,
licking the blood from torn and tattered fingers.
You miss the berries swelling in the brambles
as you reach to free yourself from their grasp.

But some days, when the path is muddy
and you’ve slipped for the thousandth time
back down the slippery hill trail,
your eyes will catch the bright blue
of a feather in wet leaves,
or the sparkle of a shining stone
there where your hand has reached
to push you back to your feet.

Little Red had her Wolf, Snow White had her Dwarfs, and Goldilocks had her family of Bears. When the Fool enters the Wood, the first person she encounters is the Magician (the Mage, the Shaman, the Adept, the Witch). This is someone with a great deal of skill in the manipulation of the elements, someone who can make you see what you think you want to see, a creator of illusion. The Fool encounters Magic in tomorrow’s poem. My poem will be about Magic or the Magician, or the Elements, or changing consciousness at will. Will you join me?

Gratitude List:
1. Getting it done. Plugging. Deciding what I can do and can’t do, and making it work.
2. The haven of my parents’ house for grading in silence, distraction-free.
3. Music and words. Reflection and contemplation.
4. Black-out poetry–my sixth-grader is doing some for homework, and it’s lovely.
5. All the elements.

May we walk in Beauty!

Simply Gratitude


Gratitude List:
1. The musical directors at my school. This evening’s Middle School Band, Orchestra, and Choir concert was really delightful.
2. Diverse music
3. I know the moon is there, even though it’s cloudy
4. I know you’re there, even when you’re quiet
5. I slept until the alarm this morning. It’s always sort of notable, and it feels so good to wake up, knowing I have been really sleeping.

May we walk in Beauty!

More story another night. Tonight I will do my work and then sleep.


Today’s poetry prompt is to write a poem about something that happens again and again.

This is a poem in hope that the cycle will continue for many years to come:

The Monarchs Return to Mexico
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Every year they find their way back.
Through the veils of mist that hover
over the mountain passes they flutter.

Their flaming wings set the woods afire
as morning sun sparkles through the canopy.
The forest breathes with orange light.

Gratitude List:
1. The music in church today. “Kyrie, eleison.” Supporting each other in song. Sitting next to Nancy and harmonizing with her, blending our voices.
2. A wonderful set of interviews at LMS this afternoon: Phyllis Pellman Good interviewed nine alumni about their work, how LMS prepared them for their lives, and what touchpoints they use for making ethical/moral decisions. Profound.
3. Seeing people’s safety pins.
4. The poet Andrea Gibson tweeted something about remembering how music heals. Yes.
5. Making salt dough with the kid.

May we walk in Beauty!

National Poetry Month!


Happy National Poetry Month!

all day I listened
for the small, wild thread
of your song,
like the first notes
of a sparrow
tuning up for morning

Gratitude List:
1. The music in yesterday’s chapel.  I could listen to Mindy Nolt sing for hours.  Sending the students out into their day with the message that everything will work itself out.
2. How things come together even when they seem like they won’t.
3. That impossibly golden forsythia.
4. Morning clouds–layers of colors and shadows.
5. Mercy and grace.  Mercy and grace.  Mercy and grace.

May we walk in Mercy.

Marking the Seasons

2013 May 051

orange moon hangs low
caught in the oak tree’s branches
morning comes slowly

Gratitude List:
1. Campus Chorale concert last evening, and the way the boys let themselves get totally absorbed in the music.
2. More senior presentations tonight. I love my role in this rite of passage.
3. Marking the seasons.  This is the first week of spring, and also Holy Week in the Christian calendar.  Lots of pieces to contemplate.
4. Morning snuggles.
5. Owls.

May we walk in Beauty!

Music and Story


Gratitude List:
1. More wonderful student music last night at my school–everything from fiery Vivaldi violins to Christmas pieces to a gentle jazzy rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.”  I went with my boy, who plays cello and trombone.  He, of course, had to sit right behind the sound booth, so he could watch that action.
2. Mercy.  From the Old Etruscan for “exchange.”  Cynthia Bourgeault speaks of “inter-abiding” with the Divine.  Mercy.
3. Poetry Unit with the 9th Graders.  When I announced that we are starting poetry in my three English 9 classes, I only heard one groan (and that from the obligatory groaner–there’s one in every crowd–I could say, “Hey Gang, time for candy!” and this one would groan).  They left class chatting about the poems they were going to write.  Aaaaah.
4.  The intersection of this world and the real world.  Yesterday when I was dropping off some Scholastic forms at the library, I ran into a friend from online, someone I have only met in person three or four times, but whose heart is dear to me.
5. Story.  Narrative. Literature. The way people’s hearts gather ’round, as at a campfire, when someone says, “Let me tell you a story.”

May we walk in Beauty!

Walking Through the Veil of Ego


Gratitude List:
1. Last night’s choral concert at LMH.  Incredible music.  My children were singing the opening lines of “Here We Come A-Caroling” all evening: Ba-ba-da-dum!
2. The pottery mural in the chapel foyer. Tiles that reference cultures around the world.  Clay pots.  Vessels.  Diverse colors, textures, designs.
3. Lights at ends of tunnels.
4. Choices.  I can respond in anger and disgust, or I can choose to give the anger and disgust a nod of acknowledgement, and then say, “What does this situation need of me?  What is my work here?”  So often, an available choice becomes clear when I can walk through the veil of my own ego-based response–I don’t manage this nearly as as often or as gracefully as I would like, but I can be grateful that the opportunities to practice keep appearing.
5. Micron and Prismacolor pens: .005 is my favorite right now for spidery little lines

May we walk in Beauty!  <Ba-ba-da-dum!>

Camel Coaxing

Establishing balance.

Gratitude List:

  1. There are people in Mongolia who have a cultural tradition of camel coaxing, a ceremony of singing and tender handling of a mother camel and an orphan, to get the mother to take on the orphan as her own.  That there are people who ritualize and pass on this sort of cultural knowledge from generation to generation–this fills me with great joy.
  2. The music concert at Wrightsville Elementary last night.  Those shiny, shiny kids.
  3. The giant pine tree that someone on the darkest stretch of Cool Creek Road has decorated with lights.
  4. Breathing prayers.  Breathe in gratitude.  Breathe out love.  Breathe in gratitude.  Breathe out peace.
  5. Voices that call for reconciliation and dialogue and peace amidst the clamor.  This morning I am grateful for the voice and vision and courageous leadership of Loren Swartzentruber, the president of Eastern Mennonite University (another southern Christian College), calling for dialogue and sensitivity and action that leads toward greater understanding between people.

As salamu alaykum.  Shalom.  May we walk in Peace.

Pushing Back the Shadow

Another day to wait until the prompt comes.  Here is a photo that one of my boys took last summer.

Gratitude List:
1. The hymn sing at Freiman Stoltzfus’s Gallery last night.  We sat on wooden benches like in a Mennonite meetinghouse.  The music was palpable; I think I could taste it, smell it, see the colors of it washing against the walls catching the rich brilliance of Freiman’s paintings.  It is still clinging to me this morning.  All those voices, harmonies. Strangers and friends giving our voices to each other.  I don’t know how to explain why this is so, but it seemed like a healing act, like sound therapy for a hurting world, pushing back the vicious shadow.
2. All the humming that happens in my house.  Yesterday, Jon was changing laundry in the basement, and I could hear him humming through the floorboards.  At the same time, a boy was humming to himself while he read back issues of This Old House.  The other boy was making a fanciful helicopter of Legos, and humming a third thing to himself.
3. The twin red maples near that one industrial plant on Route 30.  Every day I pass them twice.  All the other trees have either dropped their leaves completely, or left the season of brilliance behind.  Not these folks.  Their shades of scarlet and orange pulse and shimmer, especially in these grey days. The dryads seem to have something to tell us.
4. Yesterday I read about a woman–an American–who gathered baby carriers and took them to Macedonia, where she waits for the ferry from Lesbos and fits them on families with babies and toddlers.  She spoke of the relief in the eyes of parents who now had free hands to care for their older children, of the father who could not stop kissing the tiny head now tucked safely beneath his chin.  Bless the helpers.
5. The peacemakers are rising.

Join hands.  Rise up.  Walk in Love.

Prophets in the Street

Gratitude List:
1.The Poetry Spoken Here Tent at York Arts Fest:

The prophets are out in the streets
picking up the threads of the story.
The shamans, the healers,
the truth-tellers all,
singing and howling,
whispering at the top of their lungs.

This is how the wind changes, my people.
This is how the paradigm shifts.

Give my poets a megaphone.

2. Last night, we discovered a little online program-thing called Noteflight, which I can use to separate the tenor or bass line from a hymn so Ellis can see it by itself to make for easier reading.  Also, yesterday, he got his trombone at school.  After an hour or more of playing our instruments along with the tenor line of Ode to Joy, an exhausted and light-headed boy rhapsodized, “I love this!  I love this program!  I love music!”  May it be ever so.
3. Sandra.  Thank you for folding the laundry.  My goodness.  Thank you for inspiring my boys.  Thank you for being part of our village.
4. Heather Shining Stone Woman.  So good to see you.  Thankyou for the treasures.  My heart is over-flowing.  You gave me so much more than stones. . .
5. Creativity and the Muses.  That Radiolab moment today when they interviewed Elizabeth Gilbert.  I almost needed to park the car by the side of the road so I could get out and jump up and down.

May we all find our voices.