A Woman Must Be Willing to Burn



“A woman must be willing to burn hot, burn with passion, burn with words, with ideas, with desire for whatever it is that she truly loves.”  —Clarissa Pinkola Estes
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“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
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“I can’t offer justice so I offer just trees.” —Kilian Schoenberger (who photographs trees and woods)
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Make it All a Prayer
Beth Weaver-Kreider

make it all a prayer
each motion, each thought, each step
feel the connection
that silver strand that pulls you
to the heart of another
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Dalai Lama: “There are only two days of the year in which nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. That means today is the ideal day to love, to believe, to create and to live.”
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“We cannot assume the sacredness nor spiritual livingness of the earth or accept it as a new ideology or as a sentimentally pleasing idea. We must experience that life and sacredness, if it is there, in relationship to our own and to that ultimate mystery we call God. We must experience it in our lives, in our practice, in the flesh of our cultural creativity. We must allow it to shape us, as great spiritual ideas have always shaped those who entertain them, and not expect that we can simply use the image of Gaia to meet emotional, religious, political, or even commercial needs without allowing it to transform us in unexpected and radical ways. The spirituality of the earth is more than a slogan. It is an invitation to initiation, to the death of what we have been and the birth of something new.”
—David Spangler


Gratitude List:
1. Rain
2. Bluebirds
3. Fresh berry smoothies
4. Hear/reading people reminisce
5. My friend, the sycamore tree

May we walk in Beauty!

Balancing

      
Doesn’t this just feed your soul? My mother’s windowsill. I passed it through a painting filter, which I like, but really, the beauty of the original colors is rather perfect.


This is not a joyful thing. Perhaps it is a gratitude of sorts. It’s more a simple relief. The man who caused the bus accident has turned himself in. It was an uncomfortable loose end that has been bothering me, not because I want revenge, but because it needed resolution.

In my advisory group today, one young man asked that we pray for the driver (before we knew he had turned himself in). This was the second or third time that this particular young man has asked for us to pray for someone who has done something wrong, or made a bad choice. I am moved by the layered depth of his compassion, and it leads me forward into hopeful spaces. May we all learn to love with such a sense of everyone’s humanity.


Today in an English 101 class, we were talking about the role of the Muses in the Greek pantheon, and one girl who had zoned out looked up and asked, “What about the moose?”

I think there needs to be a poem about the Moose of Poetic Inspiration.


Gratitude List:
1. Our Lady of the Flowers zipped past the window again today. I swear she paused in her humming for the briefest of moments and looked into the house at my boy in his red shirt.
2. Graces: I get teary when I talk about it, but it just needs to be said–All our children survived that accident. They likely have wounds that we cannot see, and some of them may experience flashbacks and anxiety. Others are still healing from physical injuries. But: They are alive. Every time I see pictures of that little bus on its side, I am astounded at the miracle of their survival.
3. The Administrative folks at my school. I think I have mentioned before how grateful I am for them, but today I had another chance to see the principals in action, responding to an issue with grace and firmness, holding the balances of accountability and tenderness. When there is harm, they name it, and then seek to care for those involved. They are true leaders.
4. Cobalt Blue
5. Following the pathway lit by the tender hearts of these young folks.

May we walk in Beauty!

Webs


Here’s a filtered photo of our little deer trail into the woods.


There are times in my life when I have thought I could almost tangibly feel myself on the web of prayer and well-wishes. In the past two days since the bus accident the sent over a dozen kids from my school into the hospital, I feel like I could reach out and touch that web. We’re so grateful for the fact that so many of them have been released from the hospital. If all went well today, all the high schoolers will be out by now.

We’re still worried about the “little guy,” as our principal refers to him in community prayers. The news reports are that he is stable, but still critical. And my heart is with the bus driver, who loves his kids.


Gratitude List:
1. Two of my students who were in the bus accident were back in classes today, subdued but all in one piece.  Several more performed in the band and orchestra concert tonight. I am so grateful for their safety.
2. The web. Thanks to so many people who prayed, who wrote notes, who held us all in the light.
3. That concert tonight! Orchestra, concert bands, jazz bands. These teachers draw such good music out of their students. Such incredibly talented folks.
4. Meadows filled with buttercups.
5. That hawk that sits in the top of a locust tree on Burgs Lane to catch the morning sun.

May we walk in Beauty!

Intentions

 
A couple photos from the goat-petting party at Sonya’s yesterday. I’m still pretty awkward with the whole selfie thing, but I do like that there’s a rainbow on my face.

Somehow, it feels more like spring because we’re having an actual thaw on this day before the Equinox. That last blast of winter stood right on the doorstep of spring, and this morning brought the sound of water dripping from the trees. When we peeked outside this morning, it looked like sun through a rain-shower, but the rain was falling from the trees and nowhere else. Thaw.

Oh, how I need a thaw! I need to get the juices flowing, get the good mojo moving, get the fierce and raw energies of the season swinging brilliantly into the sunlight. Can you feel the balance approaching?

What is being born in you now? What new thing arises, like the little flowers that are suddenly free of their snowy encumbrance to pop into the sun?

Was it only three years ago that I put a little prayer bundle out into the elements on Spring Equinox, setting my intentions to get a job within the next six weeks?  It was a reminder for me to keep my head and my heart in the process of the job search. And within a couple weeks, my friend Ryan suggested I contact a certain school. Now I work there, and my life is full–so full–and rich in ways I could not have imagined.

I have new intentions this year, new goals for where I want to go with the things that I am writing. And so tomorrow I will place another bundle out into the elements, with the prayerful intention to keep my head and my heart in the process of writing and submitting work for publication.

Gratitude List:
1. Balance
2. Thaw
3. Intention
4. Energy
5. Birth

May we walk in Beauty!

I Need a Dragon

dragon
This is known as the Ljubljana dragon. One legend says it was killed by Jason and Medea, while they were still on friendly terms. Other legends say it was the ancient Slavic god Veles.

I don’t intend this as a poem. My thoughts tonight are fragmented as I consider the shifts that are occurring in the world in the next twenty-four hours.

Tonight I need a dragon.
I need a fuzzy pink hat with cat ears.
I need a photo of Michelle Obama saying, “. . .we go high.”
I need a soulful labyrinth.
I need to hold selenite and labradorite in my palms.
Tonight I need to pray and breathe and center.
I need a friendly ghost to tap me on the shoulder and wink.
I need a warm cat on my lap, purring.
I need a cup of tea with milk and honey.
I need a wild wind to blow.
I need a spot beside the heating vent.

Let’s keep reaching out, holding onto love, holding on to what is right and good and full of beauty. May we remain grounded in our desire to protect and heal that which we love. May we keep wide awake and aware, bearing witness, staying vigilant and conscious, grounded in our centers, offering our strength and power to those who need it. May justice roll down like waters.

I know of some people who are choosing to walk labyrinths tomorrow morning. I will be dancing through labyrinths of language in my classroom. During our chapel tomorrow morning, we will be celebrating the life and words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gratitude List:
1. The way breath and heartbeat simply happen.
2. The way breath births language.
3. The way language gives shape to meaning.
4. The way language carries the rhythm of heartbeat and breath.
5. Dragons

May we walk in Beauty!

Tactics for the Resistance

vulture
I choose the vulture today because vultures are watchers. And vultures are composters, taking what is dead and decaying and turning it into the energy that gives them flight. May we, too, take the old and decayed and rotten, and use it to create flight and vision. [This particular piece is an altered photo (I took the original from the internet that was labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification).  I love those long primaries.]

In the weeks leading up to the election, a local pastor wrote a regular blog on the theme, “Love is Our Resistance.” That phrase keeps coming back to me these days. I have a sense deep in my gut that these next years are going to demand serious resistance, like the prayerful peaceful protests at Standing Rock, like the life-on-the-line peaceful demonstrations led by Martin Luther King and John Lewis and so many others. Perhaps these are the days for the new revolution. I imagine the call to the movement:

And what shall be your resistance?
Love is our resistance!
And what shall be your revolution?
Our revolution will be Peace!
What will be your tactics?
Open hearts. Prayer. Standing in the gap. Believing in each other. Speaking truth against the barrage of lies.

Peaceful, heart-led revolution is not a new thing. On this weekend when we commemorate the life and ideas of Martin Luther King, it seems perfectly fitting that people around the country are considering what their methods of resistance will be for the coming years. Let us take Martin Luther King as one of our pillars as we walk into the uncertain future.

Yesterday, a thought that has been forming within me since November 9 finally broke through the veil into words. It is this: These times will demand something new of us, and will shape our characters in ways we could have not imagined. As we rise to this work, we will become our best selves in ways we might not have, had we not had to meet the challenges that are coming our way.

I had read Clarrissa Pinkola Estes’ essay “We Were Made for These Times” to my students on Friday, and her words helped me to think this through. It’s not that I am grateful for the way things have gone. I am deeply troubled. Still, we can meet this as an opportunity to grow into our best selves, to let our souls shine. In the end, we will have become stronger, more loving and thoughtful people than we might have if we did not have these difficult days to face.

Keep reaching out. Look for the others who are doing the work of Loving Resistance. When you feel despair creeping upon you, find some small act of resistance you can do to further the revolution. If you know me well, you will hear me talking to myself.
* Tell radical truth. Confront the lies with truth and beauty and art and loving action.
* Encourage someone who is doing the Work.
* Write a postcard, make a call, stand on a street corner with a sign.
* Smile at people. Assume the best of people. Be someone who makes people want to be their Best Selves.
* Pray, in whatever way you pray. Pray in church, in synagogue, at the mosque, in the woods, in your kitchen, on the banks of the rivers. Hold stones. Make magic spells. Cast webs of prayer between you and those who are most vulnerable: the poor, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQI people, women, the Earth.
* Listen more than speaking.
*Live your prayers into being.
* Don’t feel like you always have to take a side. Just do the work. Be present to the situation in the moment, and do the work that needs to be done, whether it be speaking against the lie, or taking hands, or praying, or standing between vulnerable people and hatred.

What are your tactics for resistance?

Gratitude List:
1. Resistance and revolution
2. All those who have gone before. We have such a multitude of people who have gone before us who have practiced this form of resistance, who show us the way. Today I think in particular about the words and actions of Martin Luther King.
3. Awakenings
4. The Best Selves we are all becoming
5. You. We’re in this together, and I know that everything will be fine in the end, because you are there, doing your work, too–loving, praying, helping, holding.

May we walk in Beauty!

Wing and Prayer

cropped-vulture1.jpeg
Bringing my vulture back to symbolize the wing and the prayer.

Today’s Prompt is to take a common phrase and make it the title and the theme of the poem.

On a Wing and a Prayer
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

What does this day ask of us?
What do the spirits of the time require?

To find that inner sight that will not settle us to sleep
nor keep us in the constant throes of rage and riot.
To be creatures of the air, wing-powered momentum,
lifted by prayer, held aloft by the voices from within.
A life of contemplation, inner knowingness,
fueling outward action, emboldening our activism.

To throw ourselves, like crows, bellyfirst into the gale,
and beat our wings against the wind,
aloft upon both wing and prayer.

Gratitude List:
1. Winds of change
2. A crow sitting in the top of a windy tree. Crows in the sky buffeted by wind.
3. How the leaves came suddenly walking down the wind yesterday afternoon. The moment the wind came. And all is wind-scoured, wind-shriven, wind-blasted.
4. All those people on Facebook yesterday who spoke about the wind, how the shift to windy autumn was a sudden awakening, how the wind brought them alive. So many friends went outside and embraced the wind. I will, too.
5. That cloud on the way home from church this afternoon, full of blue. Not the Prussian Blue or Indigo of shadow, but an otherworldly, pregnant Maryblue. Like the corner of the Mother’s robe pushing through from beyond this world.

May we walk in Beauty!

Prayer and Rage

imag2090

What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.

Listen.
Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.

Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.

Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.

Gratitude List:
1. Rage and prayer
2. Memory and Wisdom
3. Reason
4. Listening deeply. Being listened to deeply.
5. Graphic novels. I know this one is rather out of the context of the others, but the boys and I are really into graphic novels these days: the Amulet series, Zita the Spacegirl, Knights of the Lunch Table, and Mouse Guard. We really love Zita and her poor friend Randy who has a case of the squeaks.

May we walk in Beauty!

Seeking the Stairway to the Second Story

golden

In the dream, I need to get to the second floor of the house. I know I have been there before, but the only way to get up there is through a little cupboard space high up off the floor. There are no steps or ladder. I need to climb up on the back of a bench or chair, balance myself, and scramble up and through. I have physical memories of having done it before, but every time I dream this, it seems that the distance has increased, or I have gotten smaller. There is just no way I can make the scramble. (Years ago, the dreams had me scrambling through claustrophobic spaces. Now I cannot even reach the portal.)

In last night’s version of the story, the cupboard/passage was slightly to the right above the chair back where I was standing, hoping to get the courage to leap up to the opening–my arms couldn’t even reach this time. I think that is how it is in every version of this dream, above my head and to the right.

Last night’s dream included an incredibly gorgeous cat named Angel (pronounced Ahn-Jel, emphasis on second syllable). Angel kept her claws sheathed, and her toes were long and agile, almost like fingers. She had dark, knowing eyes.  The woman she lived with was named Jessica, and Jessica was terribly conflicted because she was a Trump supporter and none of the rest of us in the circle were. We were trying to figure out a way to help Jessica to feel welcome and comfortable. I said a prayer, but everyone stopped paying attention and started talking after the first couple sentences.

I am struck by the challenge of trying to get to the second floor. As much as I am working on getting my inner spaces in order, something seems to be a little off-kilter, a little too hard to negotiate.  Or perhaps I am longing for the ease with which I could access my deepest self when I was younger, and the older I get, the smaller I am, and the less able to make the leap into that space.

I am glad to have the magnificent Angel in my head, and Jessica reminds me to love and welcome all people, not to simply spiritualize the conflicts of the current political story, but to make the human connection.

I think that there is a purpose to my nighttime wakefulness–there are ideas that the Dream-maker would have me explore right now. Perhaps I can meditate on the way to enter the second story. (Wow. Now I am caught by the double meaning of that: second story.  Here I am, poised in the liminal space of midlife, and I am seeking the stairway to the second story. What will that story be?)

Gratitude List:
1. Friday. Hymn sing and a weekend coming.
2. I know those hidden rooms within me do exist, and I know that I can find them.
3. Cats and angels
4. Crossing the River these mornings in the dawn
5. Nighttime wakefulness, when it brings messages

May we walk in Beauty!