Enter the Portal


Two crow feathers in one week. The world is full of messages, if we know how to look,
if we know how to read the text of the landscape.

Gratitude List:
1. Teaching the spectrum. I have begun teaching college-in-the-high-school courses this year, and I am loving the conversation, the determination, the bright-eyed desire to LEARN of these soon-to-fledge upperclassfolk. I also have much younger students just coming in as ninth graders, both the 101s, and the students coming into my Foundations class to get some more literacy skill-building to prepare them to succeed in high school. This latter group tends to be more shy, more uncertain about school, but they’re ready and shiny-eyed in their own way, and eager to learn. I saw stirrings of deep understanding in this group on Tuesday when I showed them Kendi Ibram’s speech about what it means to be an intellectual. My heart is full.
2. Monarchs. Every day on the drive to and from school, I can count 3-5, and sometimes more, flitting across the road or in the roadside wildflower buffet. Sun in their wings, dancing in the breezes, determined wings setting a course for the beach. My heart is full.
3. Joe the Duck and the Cat Clan. Now that school has started, we pick up ED every morning and drive down the road where Joe the Duck lives, and where a colony of half-feral cats lives. We pause at Joe’s personal paddle pool to say hello, and drive slowly through the territory of the cat colony. There are new kittens: black, ginger-and-white, and a greyish-tortoise-shell. My heart is full.
4. Learning New Messages. “I am an organized person.” Ellis and I are reminding each other of our Organized Person identities, and I’m at least beginning to override the old story I habitually told myself about being unable to remain organized. And I see him doing the same. My heart is full.
5. My children are excited about school. Ellis has been advocating for himself to take Spanish 2 when it looked like he wouldn’t be able to fit it into his schedule. In the end, he and three others got permission to take a computer course in the library during the time others are taking Spanish 1. He’s taking charge of his learning, and that makes me proud. Right now, he’s downstairs on a Friday night doing his Algebra homework. (I think he knows it’s Friday.) And Josiah had three extra days off this summer because of mold in the school district, and while that was exciting, he is chomping at the bit to get back to school. My heart is full.

May we walk in Beauty!


Friday’s Meditations:
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.” —Hafiz
*****
“When your world moves too fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset. Reacquaint yourself with the earth beneath your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.” —Christy Ann Martine
******
“Every word you utter to another human being has an effect, but you don’t know it. If people began to understand that change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then, they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.” —Howard Zinn
******
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” —Leonard Bernstein
*****
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ―Elie Wiesel
*****
“All forms of racism must be rejected directly and openly.” —bell hooks and Cornel West
*****
“Our mission was to make a beloved community in the world where everyone would be free to live well.” —bell hooks

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Fly Well, Bright Ones!

       

    

Gratitude List:
1. Dragonflies
2. Imagination. How you can say, “Hey, look! That cloud looks like the Loch Ness Monster diving deep!” And someone from outside your own strange mind will say, “Wow! Yeah!” And totally get it. That’s kind of how poetry is, too, come to think of it.
3. Beans cooking on the stove
4. Revelatory dreams
5. The Music of Layne Redmond

May we walk in Beauty!

Wear Gratitude Like a Cloak

Following your bliss, as Joseph Campbell put it, doesn’t mean knowing where it might lead. Bliss beckons us every single day. At first, it may come in a small voice, out from under a great heap of rubbish, but it definitely knows your name. It starts with a dream that you may not even remember, and it grows into a déjà -vu, a surge of emotion, an inexplicable familiarity in a stranger’s face. Rather than getting caught up in finding “your purpose,” take the risk to talk to that stranger, follow your feeling and trust your dreams, and before you know it, as Rumi says, “your living pieces will form a harmony.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
*
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” —Rumi
*
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
—Annie Dillard
*
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet. “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet. “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.” —AA Milne
*
“The aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
out of their leaves.”
—Mary Oliver
*
“Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?”
—Rumi
*
“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”
—Danny Kaye
*
“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”
—Maya Angelou
*
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
—John Muir
*
“I started going for long lone country walks among the spendthrift gold and glory of the year-end, giving myself up to the earth-scents and the sky-winds and all the magic of the countryside which is ordained for the healing of the soul.”
—L.M. Montgomery


Gratitude List:
1. The Holy Moment of telling story, of powerful vulnerability, of the hush of listening, of voices found and reclaimed, of grit and resilience. How our stories bless each other.
2. Blessing the babies. I love the way my church blesses the babies. I think that part of my pastors’ job must be the best job in the world.
3. Spicy Korean noodles for lunch
4. Now we go from golden to orange and red
5. The Water Protectors. Lancaster Against Pipelines. People who stand up, speak up, put themselves on the line.

May we walk in Beauty!

Remembering a Visitor


Last year on this day, we were visited by this messenger. I’m still in awe.

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.” ~ Hafiz
*
“When your world moves too fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset. Reacquaint yourself with the earth beneath your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.”
~ Christy Ann Martine
*
Every word you utter to another human being has an effect, but you don’t know it. If people began to understand that change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then, they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.”
– Howard Zinn
*
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” –Leonard Bernstein


Gratitude List:
1. Coolness, blessed coolness
2. We have at least one working car again
3. How hard conversations help us learn and grow
4. Enough. I have enough of what I need.
5. Coolness–Have I said how grateful I am for a cool morning?

May we walk in Beauty!

May There Always Be Sunshine

“I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.”  -Anne Lamott
*
“Morning is the best of all times in the garden. The sun is not yet hot. Sweet vapors rise from the earth. Night dew clings to the soil and makes plants glisten. Birds call to one another. Bees are already at work.” – William Longgood
*
“Elsewhere the world may be blustering or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, while others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn — and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, while the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames, tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb. So, let us drink a cup of tea.”
– Muriel Barbery, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”
*
“There is ecstasy in paying attention.”
– Anne Lamott
*
Though I may speak with bravest fire,
And have the gift to all inspire,
And have not love, my words are vain,
As sounding brass, and hopeless gain.

Though I may give all I possess,
And striving so my love profess,
But not be given by love within,
The profit soon turns strangely thin.

Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control,
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed;
By this we worship, and are freed.
–Hal Hopson


Gratitude List:
1. Little Baby Anya examining her Uncle Dick’s face with such intensity.
2. Preparing songs for Anne’s ordination. Making music with Val and Todd.
3. Kids having fun together in the pool. I still watch closely, but today was the most relaxed I have ever been with my children in the pool.
4. Summer morning rain
5. A straight seven hours of sleep, not waking up even once

May we walk in Beauty!

Dance


Message in the Zen Garden: “Dance like everyone is watching, and they are all your fans.” I love my students.

Gratitude List:
1. Mountain Laurel blooming on Ducktown Road.
2. A rousing rendition of Happy Birthday in chapel this morning, the footage to be sent to our Little Guy on his birthday in the hospital.
3. Music in chapel this morning: Peniel singing in Amharic, Shadrack singing in French, and Maya and Conner singing a Blessing (was it partly in Italian?) What a gift to have that half hour in the school day that is so often filled with incredible music.
4. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It feels as though there’s a deep chasm between me and the light, but I’ll get there one way or another.
5. Breeze.

May we walk in Beauty!

In the Doorway of My Cottage


Here I am, stepping out of my little dream-cottage, into the world again, a little at a time.

When the stress of the everyday gets too stressy, I begin to fantasize about what my little witch-poet’s cottage might look like: thatched roof and cob walls, a nice big window, sunflowers and poppies and blue-eyed chicory in the garden, and a bee skep on a bench. Inside, a fireplace and bookshelves, cabinets to hold stones and papers, birds’ nests on the mantel, a comfortable recliner and a writing desk. (Somehow, in the filtering process to modify this photo, my gnome-friend Solomon Shandy appeared in the photo. He’s in the lower left-hand side of the photo–can you spot him?)


“When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” –John F. Kennedy


I wear beads on one arm for Beauty,
beads on the other for Kindness.
I need a third arm for Rage.


Some say she was a mermaid or a selkie,
a creature of both land and sea
moving with ease in either element
and graciously bridging the space between.

That is true, of course, but they didn’t know
how on windy days, she rose with wings above the surf,
or how her sudden laugh would often draw her into flame.


Gratitude List:
1. Icarus Oriole–always calling in my treetops of May
2. A LONG afternoon nap, with a warm blanket and a cat on my lap
3. Friends had a fundraiser yard sale today for their nonprofit. We scored the game Mousetrap, and Connect Four, and a novel by Jane Yolen that I had never read.
4. May Day at Wrightsville Elementary. It had to be inside because of the rain. I ran the Color Spin game, and had a blast trying to increase the odds for the littlest kids. The community comes together to make a good time for the kids.
5. Watching ET with the family. Turn on your Heartlight. I’ll be right here.

May we walk in Beauty!

Music and Rage


Gratitude List:
1. The amazing choral concert at my school tonight. I can’t quite find the superlatives to describe our choir director without sounding like I am over-blowing the talent of our choir director. World-class would not be an exaggeration.
2. Cool mornings. Warm afternoons.
3. Sonneting with students.
4. This practice, which keeps me from wallowing in rage for at least a few minutes in the wake of today’s health care debacle. I admit that I am really struggling tonight to move out of the rage into a contemplative place. I don’t want to reflect. I want to throw things and say things I’ll probably regret. So. Breathe. Breathe again. Breathe again. Feel the rage, but don’t let it be the only answer.
5. Writing sonnets with the Creative Writing crew.

May we walk in Beauty!

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.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
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

hosta

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.