“To Keep the Spark of Life Inside Me Ablaze”

Today’s Prompt is to write a poem to the world:

Beauty Was There
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In the beginning, she hovered there,
above the waters, molding the land,
holding the world in her hands,
crafting a world of fire, earth, water, air.

In the beginning, she brooded,
her face obscured by shadows,
her thoughts filling the hollows,
her watchful eyes hooded.

She sent her dreaming forth,
streaming through the cosmos,
building like song to a crescendo,
filling newborn skies with morning.

In the beginning, she listened
for colors that flew in the wind,
singing that blew through her mind,
waves of color and sound risen

from deep within her breast.
Her thoughts became matter, feeling
mattered, materialized into being,
unbeing fled as her moon rose in the west.

And today we un-matter her being,
un-materialize the thoughts she formed,
de-stabilize the dances she performed
to set it all in motion. We’ve set it reeling,

ripping the fabric she wove.
It cannot be too late to change our ways,
to seek again the rhythm of her days,
to turn to her again and call her Love.


“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
–Frida Kahlo
***
A little story by Amrita Nadi:
At the end of a talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?”
The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”
Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he added, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back. . .but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”
***
“There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in, but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze.”
–Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life
***
“Always there is something worth saying
about glory, about gratitude.”
–Mary Oliver, What Do We Know
***
*Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together,
that overwhelm the world.
–Desmond Tutu
****
“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” –Jeannette Rankin


Gratitude List:
1. Strings of geese like beads across the sky. Fly well, Bright Ones!
2. This microwaveable bag of lavender and beans. It makes me warm and it eases the residual aches.
3. Wise friends
4. Tenderness. Basic kindness.
5. Stories of miracles and wonder.

May we walk in Beauty!

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The Practice of Peace

“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
–Walt Whitman
*
“To live a life of peace, we must practice peace with all we meet, indeed, with the whole world. To practice this publicly, we consciously reject the chaos around us and steadfastly choose peace. Once we make that choice, a whole new journey begins.” –John Dear
*
“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.” –many author attributions
*
“Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?” –Walt Whitman
*
“The universe may be a mystery, but it’s not a secret.” –Michael Schneider
*
“Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things that you fight for and then you protect.” –Wangari Maathai
*
“I like stories where women save themselves.” — Neil Gaiman
*
“Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood?
Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and always drop fruit as I pass;)”
–Walt Whitman


Gratitude List:
1. Last night’s indigo clouds on a twilight background: A dragon flying to meet a witch, who held the crescent moon glowing in the palm of her hand.
2. Step by step the longest march can be won.
3. Red–an enlivening, heart-opening color
4. Knitting. I like to knit during conversations and public events, and I feel as though I am knitting the stories of the moments into the thing I am making. This winter, I will wear a warm hat that will contain yesterday’s stories from wise and resilient women, and the blessing of the babies, and the hard work of this season of my life, and an orange tree, and Dorothy Day, and two students who I am praying for in particular in these days. That’s going to be one heavy hat.
5. Laughter

May we walk in Beauty!

Going Golden

A couple years ago, I wrote a gratitude note about “Honest anger and its connection to compassion.” This is a continual dance.
*
“If we don’t allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotion — deep joy and deep pain — then I think we are less than who we can be.”
―Terry Tempest Williams
*
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
―Henri Nouwen
*
“Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” ―Rumi
*
“Equality keeps us honest. Inequality creates liars and delusion. “―Rebecca Solnit
*
“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai
*
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
―C. G. Jung
*
“You have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ―Harriet Tubman
*
“The forests are the flags of nature. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten.”
―Enos A. Mills
*
“Come, come hither! Leave you and yourself;
Leave us and ourselves! Come swiftly
Come as quickly as possible. Put you and us aside;
Come!
Come until you and we would become extinct!
Come so that Neither you nor we
would exist!” ―Rumi
*
“Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi, The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
*
“Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.
– – – –
In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.
– – –
All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.” ―Mary Oliver


Gratitude List:
1. Libraries. Public libraries.
2. Markets. Town markets.
3. Parks. Community parks.
4. Planning our Halloween costumes.
5. Salted caramel.

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!

Put Hands and Feet on Your Prayer

Today is International Day of Peace.
Last year on this day, I wrote about being the Medicine for the Moment. This year’s stories are hauntingly the same, although the names and places have changed. The response of the powerful and disconnected to the tragedies around us remains as simplistic and crass as ever.

“Where is the medicine for this moment?

These are crass and ironic times, when the tragedies of millions of lives, of people fleeing their homes in terror, are reduced to a simplistic candy analogy. Where is the medicine?

When day after day after horrific day, another black man lies dead in the streets, the evidence of his murder caught on camera, and no one is brought to justice.  Where is the medicine?

When the nations of people who first lived upon this land call for a halt to the destruction of the land and water, and the response is to bulldoze the graves of their ancestors. Where is the medicine?

The tides of hate and selfishness and division have risen, and those who See must come together in these times to pray, to hold council, to stand against all that tears at the fabric of our common humanity. When history looks back at us, let it not be said that we sat quietly by while our sisters and brothers were subjected to hate and horror and terror.

Today is the International Day of Peace.  What will be your prayer for peace today? How will you put hands and feet on your prayer? What medicine will you be for this moment?”
*
“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails.” –Merlin (T. H. White)
*
“Attention is the beginning of devotion.” –Mary Oliver
*
“Be silent, or say something better than silence.”
–Pythagoras
*
“Don’t you see? Violence doesn’t end violence. It extends it.” –The Doctor (Eleven)


Gratitude List:
1. Savannah’s Peace Day Chapel presentation this morning–a student leading us to consider how we can learn to listen to each other even when we don’t agree, encouraging us to keep doing the small everyday things that make a difference in people’s lives.
2. That was coyotes I heard howling up on the hill! Coyotes! We’ve seen them several times over the years, but we’ve never heard them sing in the hollow before. What a haunting and evocative music. (I’m also glad that the cats are indoor people.)
3. Tomorrow is Friday. I am eager to find my way into the weekend. Also, Friday means Hymn Sing.
4. Salmon patties, green beans, and a chichen itza pepper.
5. All the people, everywhere, who work for peace in the world, who expand the boundaries of loving, who open their hearts.

May we walk in Beauty!

Seeking Blue


One of my ponderings, as I travel from place to place each day, is to meditate on the colors of blue, to try to identify various blues in the sky and the shadows. Even in my dreams, I am seeking blue, collecting moments of blue. In last night’s dream:

I am sitting on a grassy patch at the edge of a large parking lot, waiting for my friend who has gone to go collect some things from the car. There is a large smoky white cat purring on my lap. I am wearing a long blue dress, almost the color of Mary’s robes. My friend comes running up, her arms laden with packages, but she has one hand sort of free to hold a pair of binoculars.

“There!” she says, dropping her packages, and pointing down the hill behind me, where crowds of people are walking about. She focuses her binoculars. “You have to see it! She’s wearing the perfect blue!”

I look where she is pointing, and everyone is wearing blue, and some of them are exquisite. She tells me to look for a woman with a brown jacket on. And then I see it. Her dress is the perfect blue. It’s a little lighter than I have been imagining it, not quite as saturated as I have thought it would be. I wonder for a moment if the woman in the dress is Mary.


“Between us are vast distances, perhaps,
as vast as star to star and galaxy to galaxy,
or as blade of grass to blade of grass,
atom to atom–each space bridged
by gossamer web, threads of light and wind,
of prayer and dream, holding us together
with such beauty, with such insatiable desire
for the point of connection.”  ―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“No, this year I want to call
myself to task for what
I have done and not done
for peace. How much have
I dared in opposition?
How much have I put
on the line for freedom?
For mine and others?
As these freedoms are pared,
sliced and diced, where
have I spoken out? Who
have I tried to move?” ―Marge Piercy
*
“Before I am your daughter, your sister, your aunt, niece, or cousin, I am my own person, and I will not set fire to myself to keep you warm.” ―Hannah-Joy Robinson
*
“God is everywhere, but I have been in a lot of churches where God wasn’t really welcome.” ―found on FB
*
“People say you only live once. That’s incorrect. You only die once. You live every day.”  ―John Feal
*
“If we are to have a culture as resilient and competent in the face of necessity as it needs to be, then it must somehow involve within itself a ceremonious generosity toward the wilderness of natural force and instinct. The farm must yield a place to the forest, not as a wood lot, or even as a necessary agricultural principle but as a sacred grove – a place where the Creation is let alone, to serve as instruction, example, refuge; a place for people to go, free of work and presumption, to let themselves alone.” ―Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
*
In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.


Gratitude List:
1. Whispers of fog caught like dreams in the trees of Flinchbaugh’s orchard.
2. The golden shift into autumn has begun to happen. There’s a diffuse golden quality to the light again, a way that the sun slants in, that I don’t experience as fully at any other moment in the year.
3. Sleep. This is big. Lately, my hips and shoulders always ache when I wake up, but it has been a long time since I have had a bout of insomnia. I hope I didn’t jinx this run by saying it. It’s really a big deal that, despite the aches, I keep managing to find my way back to sleep when I wake up.
4. The colors of blue
5. It’s pawpaw season. I need to find some. I can taste them already.

May we walk in Beauty!

Silence, My Soul

“If we are to teach peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle; we won’t have to pass fruitless ideal resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering.”
―Gandhi
*
“We must call evil by its name–call white supremacy a sin from the pulpit, and call white America to repentance.” ―Jim Wallis
*
“I think ultimately people become extremists not necessarily because of the ideology. I think that the ideology is simply a vehicle to be violent. I believe that people become radicalized, or extremist, because they’re searching for three very fundamental human needs: identity, community and a sense of purpose.

“If, underneath that fundamental search is something that’s broken — I call them potholes — is there abuse or trauma or mental illness or addiction? … [T]here are so many marginalized young people, so many disenfranchised young people today with not a lot to believe in, with not a lot of hope, they tend to search for very simple black and white answers.” ―Christian Picciolini, former skinhead
*
“Nazis are a lot like cats: If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.” ―John Oliver
*
“Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons…
We who believe in freedom cannot rest,
we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”
―Sweet Honey in the Rock
*
In Starhawk’s novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, Maya tells her beloved community to approach the invading soldiers with these words: “There’s a place set for you at our table, if you will choose to join us.”
*
“The future, good or ill, was not forgotten,
but ceased to have any power over the present.
Health and hope grew strong in them,
and they were content with each good day as it came,
taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.”
—J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)
*
“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”
― Linda Hogan
*
“Silence my soul, these trees are prayers.” ―Rabindranath Tagore
*
“Whoever you are,
now I place my hand upon you,
that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear.
I have loved many women and men,
but I love none better than you.”
—Walt Whitman, “To You”
*
Let it flow.
Let what may come, come.
Let what must go, go.
But we,
we will put our feet
in the icy waters of now
and know
how all will pass
around us–
through us,
between us–
how everything changes
and everything stays the same. —Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
―Eleanor Roosevelt
*
“Shaped language is strangely immortal, living in a meadowy freshness outside of time.

But it also lives in the moment, in us. Emotion, intellect, and physiology are inseparably connected in the links of a poem’s sound. It is difficult to feel intimacy while shouting, to rage in a low whisper, to skip and weep at the same time.” ―Jane Hirshfield


Gratitude List:
1. The way this boy turns everything into a song. When I told them I didn’t know if the party was going to include swimming, he started singing from the back seat, in a lovely melody, “Call and check. Call and check. Call and check.” When he found a Lego he’d been searching for: “Here it is. Here it is, Here it is!” Often, throughout the day, I’ll hear him singing to himself in the other room. He takes after his dad.
2. One of my deeply compassionate colleagues, in the wake of the weekend’s violence, offered this solution: To love all our students more–to show it more. All of them. That’s our work. That’s the work of healing. That’s a solution I can implement.
3. Instars. I love that word. Instars are the developmental metamorphic stages of insects in which they shed a skin and a new body emerges with new powers and abilities. That’s a bit of a whimsical way to say it, perhaps, but I think my children are both approaching new instar phases of their development.
4. Voices calling for change. Coming out of this weekend’s terrorist attack, I see people looking inward, trying to understand at deeper levels what white privilege means, what it means to live in a white supremacist society. Perhaps good will rise out of evil.
5. Bruschetta and toast.

May we walk in Beauty!

Medicine for the Moment

cairns

Where is the medicine for this moment?

These are crass and ironic times, when the tragedies of millions of lives, of people fleeing their homes in terror, are reduced to a simplistic candy analogy. Where is the medicine?

When day after day after horrific day, another black man lies dead in the streets, the evidence of his murder caught on camera, and no one is brought to justice.  Where is the medicine?

When the nations of people who first lived upon this land call for a halt to the destruction of the land and water, and the response is to bulldoze the graves of their ancestors. Where is the medicine?

The tides of hate and selfishness and division have risen, and those who See must come together in these times to pray, to hold council, to stand against all that tears at the fabric of our common humanity. When history looks back at us, let it not be said that we sat quietly by while our sisters and brothers were subjected to hate and horror and terror.

Today is the International Day of Peace.  What will be your prayer for peace today? How will you put hands and feet on your prayer? What medicine will you be for this moment?

Gratitude List:
1. The praying mantis who hung upside down with her hands held way out before her, like she was waiting for high fives.
2. Those golden clouds at dusk last night.
3. Young possum with a pink nose and white mask and black twinkly eyes, out searching for late night snacks.
4. Daily practice.
5. The peacebuilders. You. All of us together, working it out, watching, working. We are not alone.

May we walk in Beauty!

Camel Coaxing

Stones
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.

Remembering How to Fly

Sometimes when the night
is practicing indigo and silence,
I remember what it was like
to fly, to quietly slip
my tenuous grip on gravity
and float
free,
to slide
upward through air.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Nancy’s magical haven of a mimosa tree.  At one moment, I saw in its misty pink-clad boughs half a dozen swallowtails, dozens of nameless little pollinator bugs, a kingbird, a goldfinch, some sort of sparrow, and a hummingbird!
2. My family is safely home from their wonderful African adventure.  Traveling vicariously is so much better than not traveling at all.
3. The peace-builders.  Some of my friends have made careers of peace-building and the work of creating peace.  I feel so inspired, to remember that all of us can shape our own work in the world to be about creating and building sustainable peace, no matter what particular job we take on.  Peace-building is the vocation.
4. Good music, good singing, good composers, good harmony.
5. Dreams of flying

May our stories heal each other.