Blessed Be Your Longing

“Why are you so determined to keep your wild silently inside you? Let it breathe. Give it a voice. Let it roll out of you on the wide open waves. Set it free”
―Jeanette LeBlanc
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“Lots of people talk to animals…Not very many listen though…that’s the problem.” ―Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
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“When war is our only industry, the only crop is blood.” ―Will Giles
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Plant
So that your own heart
Will grow.

Love
So God will think,
“Ahhhhh,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Rolls.”

Sing
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Needs.

Laugh
Because that is the purest
Sound.
—Hafiz
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“My journey has taught me that I must learn religion as the mystics learned it, through the inward quest that Jungian psychology has helped me with so much. Banding together in institutions, whether religious, academic or professional, helps some feel secure and able to look down on the unenlightened. But I’ve clearly learned that the inward quest must become one’s own before it’s any good at all.”
—Bud Harris, Ph.D.
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“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?” —Gabrielle Roth
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“Blessed be your longing. Your endless ache. Your sharp crystal shatter. Your sea glass heart.” ―Jeannette LeBlanc


Gratitude List:
1. Monarchs drifting down the wind.
2. Murmurations. On the way home today, I saw, suddenly, in the windy sky ahead of me, two great black shapes like lungs in the air. It was a flock of starlings on a group maneuver. A second later, they banked and separated, and flickered out of apparent existence. When I drew underneath them, I could see a long and ragged flock flying north to south across the road. Only in their communal aerial acrobatics were they visible from a distance.
3. Driving beneath golden walnut leaves twirling earthward.
4. Singing together, and speaking poetry, and telling stories.
5. All the thousand names for God.

May we walk in Beauty!

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To Have Enough

“The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.” –Frederick Buechner
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“Those who are willing to break a conspiracy of silence are guaranteed to meet with the disapproval of others. Having a dissenting voice naturally exiles you from the group, but this rejection is a validation of the bravery having such a standpoint requires. It’s also a marvelous training in originality and acts as an agent of attrition. It teaches you who and what is in alignment with your integrity, strengthening those affinities within and without. It’s important during such times of change to practice self-love, comforting the brave & terrified rebel within who doesn’t want to be alone and grieves those losses none the less.” –Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“To make a living is not to make a killing. It’s to have enough.” –Wendell Berry
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“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” –Nanea Hoffman
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“God is love, without asterisks.”  –Father Stratis
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“Poetry is a life-cherishing force, for poems are not words, after all, but fires for the coal, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread for the hungry.” –Mary Oliver
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Written on seeing a photo of that circle bridge in Germany: “Always she went through her days with a feeling of being a half, an arc. The bridge of her spirit went out from herself to the world, most certainly, yet somehow all seemed partial, unfinished. There came a bright golden October morning when she looked outward to see the way her own story was reflected everywhere. In the flight of wren from stalk of goldenrod to quivering branch of sycamore. In the calling back and forth of the owls in the bamboo wood. In the branching willow withes reaching to touch the surface of the pond. And suddenly the circle was complete.” –Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“Poetry begins as a lump in the throat . . . a homesickness, a lovesickness.” –Robert Frost
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“Poetry seduces you and entices you into being a searcher for the Mystery yourself. It creates the heart leap, the gasp of breath, inspiring you to go further and deeper; you want to fill in the blanks for yourself.” –Richard Rohr
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“To see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower.”
–William Blake


Gratitude List:
1. Golden mornings
2. How the light shines through
3. October
4. The table is Wide
5. Open hearts and arms

May we walk in Beauty!

Poetry is the Lifeblood of Rebellion

“The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world.” -Joanna Macy
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“All I’m saying is,
Refuse to act like nothing is happening.” —Natasha Alvarez
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“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” –Harriet Tubman
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“Honesty is grounded in humility and indeed in humiliation, and in admitting exactly where we are powerless. Honesty is not found in revealing the truth, but in understanding how deeply afraid of it we are.” –David Whyte
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“Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.” –Alice Walker
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“Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” –Albert Camus
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RESPONSIBILITY
by Grace Paley
It is the responsibility of society to let the poet be a poet
It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman
It is the responsibility of the poet to stand on street corners
giving out poems and beautifully written leaflets
also leaflets they can hardly bear to look at
because of the screaming rhetoric
It is the responsibility of the poet to be lazy
to hang out and
prophesy
It is the responsibility of the poet to not pay war taxes
It is the responsibility of the poet to go in and out of ivory
towers and two-room apartments on Avenue C
and buckwheat fields and army camps
It is the responsibility of the male poet to be a woman
It is the responsibility of the female poet to be a woman
It is the poet’s responsibility to speak truth to power as the
Quakers say
It is the poet’s responsibility to learn the truth from the
powerless
It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times: there is no
freedom without justice and this means economic
justice and love justice
It is the responsibility of the poet to sing this in all the original
and traditional tunes of singing and telling poems
It is the responsibility of the poet to listen to gossip and pass it
on in the way storytellers decant the story of life
There is no freedom without fear and bravery
there is no
freedom unless
earth and air and water continue and children
also continue
It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman
to keep an eye on
this world and cry out like Cassandra, but be
listened to this time


Gratitude List:
1. Dinner with the dormies
2. My colleagues
3. Being listened to, being heard
4. This little air conditioner in the window
5. The way mist gathers in the hollow

May we walk in Beauty!

Be Softer With You

“Be softer with you.
You are a breathing thing.
A memory to someone.
A home to a life.”  ―Nayyirah Waheed
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Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.  ―Raymond Carver
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Powerful words from Rob Brezsny:
“The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words,” said Terence McKenna in “Alien Dreamtime,” “and that if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish.”

Here’s my version of that hypothesis: What world you end up living in depends at least in part on your use of language.

Do you want to move and breathe amidst infertile chaos where nothing makes sense and no one really loves anyone? Then speak with unconscious carelessness, expressing yourself lazily. Constantly materialize and entertain angry thoughts in the privacy of your own imagination, beaming silent curses out into eternity.

Or would you prefer to live in a realm that’s rich with fluid epiphanies and intriguing coincidences and mysterious harmonies? Then be discerning and inventive in how you speak, primed to name the unexpected codes that are always being born right in front of your eyes. Turn your imagination into an ebullient laboratory where the somethings you create out of nothings are tinctured with the secret light you see in your dreams of invisible fire.
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“The power of love is stronger than the power to destroy.”  ―Vandana Shiva
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“And then–
and then your eyes will open
as if waking from a dream
or waking into a dream
and the dew-drenched grasses
will sparkle before you
like gold in the morning
and you will know.

You will know what it is
you have come for.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“Writing is one of the most ancient forms of prayer. To write is to believe communication is possible, that other people are good, that you can awaken their generosity and their desire to do better.”  ―Fatema Mernissi
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“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” ―Robin Williams as Mr. John Keating in Dead Poets Society
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“Well, I don’t only think that the biosphere is in trouble, I know it is. I just have to look around in the environment, in which I live.
In my own part of the part of the world, I keep telling people, let us not cut trees irresponsibly. Let us not destroy especially the forested mountains. Because if you destroy the forests on these mountains, the rivers will stop flowing and the rains will become irregular and the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation. Now the problem is, people don’t make those linkages.”
—Wangari Maathai
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“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
—Robin Williams


Gratitude List:
1. Holy Ground: The Earth we walk on, our callings, our destinies
2. Sacred Flame: The burning bush, the kindling of compassion, energy, the spark of life
3. Hallowed Water: Cleansing, purifying, nurturing life (May the waters all run free!)
4. Sublime Air: The breath of life, inspiration, drawing us out, pushing us onward
5. The Indwelling spirit: Vivifying, transforming

May we walk in Beauty!

Poetry as Breathing


“[Ginsburg] was right about the poem being a mind-breath. Each word depends on how your mind breathes.” —Juan Felipe Herrera
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“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” —Sue Monk Kidd
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“Lay down your heart, sister
for one mist-laden moment
on the bank of the river
your ancestors wandered.
It will not end the clamor
or stop the blood that spills
over rocks in the deserts.
It will not offer you answers
to the why of war.
Still, the waters may offer
questions, instead. Questions
will create the riddles
that will draw you on
despite the darkness.”

—Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“May your day be bright with sunlight shimmering through the trees. May magic grab your sleeves at every turn you take. May you feel the web that connects you to so many–to oh, so many–loving hearts.” —BW-K
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This one is long, but I think it really needs to be here:
Guidelines for Despair and Empowerment Work by Joanna Macy
“These are not steps in a prescribed order, but guidelines to our process wherever we may find ourselves entering it.
1. Acknowledge our pain for the world. If it is present, we cannot deny its reality. We cannot make it go away by arguing it out of existence, or burying it inside of ourselves. We can acknowledge our pain for the world to ourselves through journal writing or prayer, and if we choose, by communicating our awareness to those around us.
2. Validate our pain for the world. Let us honor it in ourselves and others, by listening carefully and accepting it as healthy and normal in the present situation. To hurry in with words of cheer can trivialize its meaning and foster repression.
3. Experience the pain. Let us not fear its impact on ourselves and others. We will not shatter, for we are not objects that can break. Nor will we get stuck in this pain, for it is dynamic, it flows through us. Drop our defenses, let us stay present to its flow, express it—in words, movement and sounds.
4. Move through the pain to its source. As we experience this pain, we learn that it is rooted in caring, not just for ourselves and our children, but for all of humanity. We rediscover our interconnectedness with all beings. Allow this sense of mutual belonging to surface in whatever words and images are meaningful and share them.
5. Experience the power of interconnectedness. Let us dare to translate our caring into a sense of belonging to all humanity and the web of life. Observe the trust level rise when we expose our vulnerability to pain for the world. Recognize how the realization of interconnectedness results in personal security and economy of effort.”
From Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age. (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1983.)


Gratitude List:
1. That big branch that fell last night seems to have avoided even scratching the car. We have been really conscientious about not parking our car under the poplar tree for just this reason, and the branches rarely fall. Last night, we left the car in the driveway overnight, and that’s the night the poplar chose to drop a limb. It woke me up. I thought someone was upending furniture downstairs.
2. I got a LOT of work done yesterday, and I plan to get a lot more done this morning. Here’s to long uninterrupted hours.
3. The way the mind attaches itself to pattern. There’s a perfect circle out in the bushes and greenery on the wild hillside out my window. No camera could capture it because it’s how my eye sees the arc of a bush, fills out the next bit of arc, attaches a curved shadow beneath the vines, fills in a little more and finds another bit of curve, until the circle is complete. It may be that only my eyes can see it, but it is there, as truly as grass or tree or vine. And our minds do this all the time, all day long. I see faces everywhere I turn, in the plaster on the ceiling, in the neighbors’ walnut tree, in a towel tossed on the floor. Our minds are made to seek patterns, calling us to an awareness of greater patterns.
4. There was a moment there when all the machines and appliances seemed to cease their electrical humming, and the house was filled with a profound silence. Nothing, until the wren again took up his incessant holler.
5. Lights at ends of tunnels.

May we walk in Beauty!

Morning Examen


Under the bridge.

“In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.” —Howard Thurman
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“Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary.” —Walter Scott
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“No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that caused it.” —attributed to Albert Einstein
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“I feel we have to begin standing our ground in the places we love. I think that we have to demand that concern for the land, concern for the Earth, and this extension of community that we’ve been speaking of, is not marginal – in the same way that women’s rights are not marginal, in the same way that rights for children are not marginal. There is no separation between the health of human beings and the health of the land. It is all part of a compassionate view of the world.”
—Terry Tempest Williams
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“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”
—Mary Oliver
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“All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb, and she in turn formed in the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythm of our mother’s blood before she herself is born, and this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother.”
—Layne Redmond


Gratitude List/Examen:
1. (How is the Mystery Present to You?) Sunlight sparkling on dew. A silent flock of crows winging over the hollow. The way people reach out to each other.
2. (What visions brought your spirit awake?) A doe and her fawn came to me in a dream last night. Dreams full of wanderings and portents, cautions and protection.
3. (What does your heart say?) I can keep laying down the need to be better, the desire for perfection, the wish to be other than I am at the moment.
4. (What goes deeper?) The silence. The solitude. The giving of myself to the quiet.
5. (Where do you take this?) Today, I will just do the next thing.

May we walk in Beauty!

Death and Temperance, and the Wall

 

I have hit the poetry wall tonight. I’ve been feeling it coming for a couple days now, the slowing, the resistance in my brain as I approach it. And here, tonight, with Death as the prompt, I don’t know where to go. I want to make it light and fluffy, toss it off without thinking. I don’t have the brain cells for much work tonight, and my will to work is shallow and listless. Then I remind myself that some of the shiniest poems happen at the moment of the wall. Of course, that’s when some of the worst ones happen, too. Sigh.

 

 

No, I think she’s a woman in a red cloak
with gentle brown eyes and midnight skin.
Unlike the ferryman, she asks no token,
no proof of passage or confession of sin.

She carries a sickle instead of a scythe,
appearing in fevered delusions and dreams,
and though you may dread to see her arrive,
you will cherish her presence on the journey.

###
There now. I’ve written something. I honestly can’t tell whether I like it or not. That’s part of the wall, too, the loss of a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Best to just get it down there, and come back to it with a clear head when April is over.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
So much of it is about Balance, isn’t it? Justice, a few days ago. Even Death–there’s always a balance between death and life, between the fear of it and the hope for it. The Lovers–they’re all about balance between the opposite parts of our inner nature. Tomorrow, again, is another sort of balance: Temperance. We’re not talking about periods of US history here, but about the concept. Passion and zeal are important drivers, and they can be great when you need to get the chariot moving, but fokeeping it going straight and steady, you’ve got to find the temperate balance. Can the Fool, in her naive and wandering heart, find the deep meaning of Temperance?

Gratitude List:
1. Pink trees
2. Cool breeze
3. Bees
4. (Ack! Now I need to keep going with this.) Poetries (Don’t judge me.)
5. Cheese (Hey now, I do love it, and we had some mighty fine Pepper Jack for supper.)

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!

A Pleasant Day


It’s a pleasant day for an old man cat, when the sun shines and the catnip is rising through the myrtle.  (Photo by Farmer Jon.)

UNESCO has named March 21 World Poetry Day.  Someone on my Facebook page suggested we mark the day by quoting Mary Oliver: “Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.” I read that part of that one to my classes today.

See if you can catch
a wriggling poem from air
to mark the new day.

Gratitude List:
1. Happy cat
2. Clear fresh water
3. Poetry and Poets
4. Wise women
5. A good book

May we walk in Beauty!

Snugglesome

snugglesome

Gratitude List:
1. Bald Eagles. Twice in the last two days, I have seen a bald eagle (perhaps the same one) near the Wrightsville exit off 30. Once in the air, and once in a tree. Every time I see one, I bless the memory of Rachel Carson, and remember that one person can make a difference in the world. Were it not for Rachel Carson, we very well might not have bald eagles to be grateful for.
2. This snugglesome cat. I knew him when he was a kitten, and now he is an old man, and I have only slipped from young adult into middle age. I feel as though I have gone from being his Mama to being his granddaughter. And so time is fleeting, and I am grateful for the time he has with us.
3. Poetry–putting it out into the world in a more intentional way.
4. I think that the sick-folk are getting better. I haven’t heard anyone cough for a good half-hour now.
5. En-visioning. I began a little Vision Booklet today. It came together very easily because I used collage bits that I have been saving. Probably just for this. I think that I have sorted out my heart’s desire a little more explicitly this year than I have before. That is satisfying.

May we walk in Beauty!