Revolution of the Heart

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” ―Dorothy Day
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“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.” ―Dorothy Day
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“Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.”
―Dorothy Day
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“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
―Dorothy Day
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“The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.”
―Dorothy Day
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I’m not very good at praying, but what I experience when I’m writing a poem is close to prayer. I feel it in different degrees and not with every poem. But in certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” ―Denise Levertov
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“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”
―Gandalf
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“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” ―attributed to Albert Einstein
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Look into me, for I am the light in your eyes. ―Rumi
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“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”
―Dorothy Day
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“When it comes down to it, even on the natural plane, it is much happier and more enlivening to love than to be loved.”
―Dorothy Day
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“Paperwork, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens–these things, too, are the works of peace.”
―Dorothy Day
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“An act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all.” ―Dorothy Day


Gratitude List:
1. I hear: My family members singing and humming and whispering to themselves as they go about the work and play of the evening.
2. I see: Incredible photos that my friends post online. Such beauty there is in the world, and such tender eyes my friends have to notice and mark it.
3. I feel: The perfect temperatures of this week. A little cool, a little warm. Thermal delight.
4. I smelled: Coffee brewing.
5. I tasted: Broccoli on toast with melted cheese. And applesauce. Delicious supper.

May we walk in Beauty!

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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?”
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“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails.” –Merlin (T. H. White)
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“Attention is the beginning of devotion.” –Mary Oliver
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“Be silent, or say something better than silence.”
–Pythagoras
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“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!

It Lights the Whole World

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
– e. e. cummings
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“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” –Frederick Douglass
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Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”

Look
what happens
with a love like that —
It lights the whole
world.

–Hafiz
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Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
~ Mother Teresa


Gratitude List:
1. Re-arranging. We have a storage and clutter problem, but this weekend, we’ve been sorting and shifting, finding places for things, getting the right pieces of furniture for the right jobs.
2. The red berries on the dogwood trees
3. Hints of yellow and red in the leaves
4. Bridges
5. Warm socks

May we walk in Beauty!

Cast Aside the Jug


“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” ―Thomas Merton
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“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen” ―Robert Bresson
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“We have to learn to love people even if they are not giving you what you want… and then not take it personally. If you feel hurt, you have to recognize that they are not hurting you because you are you, but because they are them. You have to try not to be so hard on yourself.”
―Krishna Das
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“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ―Meister Eckhart
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“You will stand at the center of your story
and decide in this moment who you will be.
You get to decide how you will play your part,
and that will help to decide the outcome.”
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in two windows of a house, bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.” ―Celtic Blessing
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“If you are doing the right thing for the earth, she’s giving you great company.” ― Vandana Shiva
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“The outward form of things passes away, but the essence remains forever. How long will you be besotted with the shape of the jug? Cast aside the jug, and seek the water. If you look too closely at the form, you miss the essence.” ―Rumi
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Or she:
“If the believer understood the meaning of the saying
“The color of the water is the color of the receptacle,”
He would admit the validity of all beliefs and
He would recognize God in every form and every object of faith.”
If the believer understood the meaning of the saying
“The color of the water is the color of the receptacle,”
He would admit the validity of all beliefs and
He would recognize God in every form and every object of faith.
~Ibn ‘Arabi
Ibn ‘Arabi
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Last Year’s Gratitude:
“How everything connects. Your heart and mine. The hummingbird and the vulture. Poems and stories and art. The thin spidersilk of prayer, spun out across impossible chasms.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. Lying on a bed with a cat snuggled up on either side of me.
2. My surprise 50th birthday dinner. My sisters and my mother took me out to John Wright Restaurant. I am so fortunate to have these incredible women in my life.
3. Crawfish Etouffee
4. Saturday afternoon naps (and waking up and realizing that the poison ivy covering every inch of my body was only a dream)
5. Walnut trees. The walnut by the barn is the last to get dressed every spring, and the first to disrobe in the fall, but the way she plays with the light in her leaves is the finest art.

May we walk in Beauty!

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!