Pathways to the Sun


Today’s Prompt is to write a “Shine” Poem.  I have been thinking about writing this short story about the tree shadows that grab my attention.

Once was a girl fell in love with the Sun.
Loved his shine, she did. Loved his flash and glory.
Once was a girl tried to reach her lover in his sky.
Tried to find the twisting pathway that led to her love.
Tried to find a way to get his attention.
She learned how to shine herownself, she did.
She shined all day long and all night
’til her own light was fading, she shone so.

And the people. The people, they loved her.
They loved her with fierceness for all her shining.
They loved her with tenderness for her fading.
‘Cause she passed that shine around,
’cause she was not afraid to show her longing,
’cause she wept and laughed at her own fading.

Came a day when she was old and worn and faded.
She walked in her garden under her Sun,
and she smiled for her love and she smiled for her longing.
She smiled for her long days of wisdom.
She smiled for her long nights of folly.
Saw a tree, tall and reaching its arms upward,
right into sunlight, basking in the tender arms of the Sun.

Her heart, like a shadow, almost stopped its beating.
She leaned into light, like the tree, arms raised upward.
She leaned into sunlight, she rested on sunbeams,
felt his hands on her face, his arms ’round her shoulders.
And in that moment she saw them, the pathways of shadow
that lead to her lover. Never looked backward.
No, she never looked backward, but followed the shadows
outward and upward, into the arms of the Sun.


Gratitude List:
1. Doors opening. Opening Doors. Reframing the question: Instead of “How do we seek progress? Asking “How do we open doors for change?”
2. The wise people who help to reframe the questions.
3. Family times.
4. My father’s bluebirds
5. Hard conversations, especially when they bring clarity.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Honesty Matters

Today’s Prompt is to write an Abundance poem:

How can we speak of abundance
amid such an abundance of wrongs,
when the throngs of people seeking safety
are turned from our borders,
when we long for justice within,
but the strong still crush the weak,
when we seek simple peace,
but we’ve begun to doubt that the meek
will inherit much of anything,
much less the earth?

Still, much remains, abundantly,
beyond the walls and the hostility.
The abundance of tender friends,
of quiet moments of reflection,
of laughter bubbling between us,
and tears that bring release, and heal us.
Kindness sometimes overflows
and gentle eyes and warm hands,
and stories woven together,
the cloth for a table lavishly spread,
with a welcome for all.


“Walk fearlessly into the house of mourning, for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy.” —Kate Braestrup
***
“Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.” —Neil Gaiman
***
“Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors, but today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.” —Kahlil Gibran
***
“To write is to ask questions. It doesn’t matter if the answers are true or puro cuento. After all and everything only the story is remembered, and the truth fades away like the pale blue ink on a cheap embroidery pattern.” —Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo
***
“With guns, you can kill terrorists.
With education, you can kill terrorism.” —Malala Yousufsai
***
“The wo/man who moves a mountain
begins by carrying away small stones.”
—Confucius, The Analects
***
“That day,
the morning came golden,
sudden,
like wind over the mountains
pushing the dark away like a curtain.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” —Wendell Berry


Gratitude List:
1. Oatmeal toast for supper. Simple, delicious comfort food, made by my dad. Also, apples and cheese. And chocolate cake for dessert. But the oatmeal toast was the medicine for the moment.
2. More people weaving their stories into the tapestry of our lives.
3. This congregation I belong to: People to laugh and cry with, to discuss and discern with, to deepen and grow with. And that’s just one Sunday morning.
4. Lights at ends of tunnels. Walking through those doorways with people I love.
5. A couple years ago, I wore through the heels of a couple pairs of striped socks that I loved. Rather than throw them away, I cut off the feet, and now I wear them as undersleeves. That little extra layer on my arms really helps to keep me from getting chilled.

May we walk in Beauty!

Live the Questions

Rhapsody Part 7 – Mary Oliver

If you are in the garden, I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea I will slide into that
smooth blue nest, I will talk fish, I will adore salt.
But if you are sad, I will not dress myself in desolation.
I will present myself with all the laughters I can muster.
And if you are angry I will come, calm and steady, with
some small and easy story.
Promises, promises, promises! The tongue jabbers, the heart
strives, fails, strives again. The world is perfect.
Love, however,
is an opera, a history, a long walk, that
includes falling and rising, falling and rising, while
the heart stays as sweet as a peach, as radiant and
grateful as the deep leaved hills.
*
“You either walk inside your story & own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” ~BRENÉ BROWN
*
Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
October.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Live the question now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some day into the answer.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“and if i hear one more time
about a fool’s rights
to his tools of rage
I’m gonna take all my friends
and I’m gonna move to Canada
and we’re gonna die of old age” –Ani Difranco


Gratitude List:
1. Biking by the River, north of Marietta
2. Science Saturday: We made three kinds of slime/gak, and also oobleck
3. Getting enough sleep
4. Inspiring ideas (this time from a TED talk)
5. How cats are like dragons. I feel like we live with little fluffy house-dragons. Inscrutable. Demanding. Condescending. But tender by turns.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Questions of Others to Hold


“Each moment from all sides rushes to us the call to love.” -―Rumi
*
“The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves
into the rhythms of the human heart.
The earth is not outside us; it is within:
the clay from where the tree of the body grows.”
―John O’Donohue
*
“There were far worse strategies in life than to try to make each aspect of one’s existence a minor work of art.”
―Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline
*
“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Just go ahead and live positively; go to the side and do it differently. Don’t waste time with oppositional energy.” ―Richard Rohr, writing about the thinking of Dom Helder Camara
*
“The heart of faith is the call to love one another. . .” ―Avis Crowe
*
A Gift
by Denise Levertov

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.


Gratitude List:
1. A tiny cow and a little mouse who were entranced by the big kitty in my trunk during Trunk or Treat. Ellis was a wild panther we had caught, and he pushed candy through his cage bars to the children. Mouse and Cow kept coming back just to stare, open-mouthed, at him. Finally, after fifteen minutes of gazing, Little Mouse opened his mouth and belly laughed. Cow joined him, giggling.
2. Fun, friendly community events that get people out and talking to each other, and blessing each others’ children.
3. The tender hearts of certain teenage boys. They may present as goofy and crusty, but they’re as sensitive as anyone.
4. Getting it done
5. Playing dress-up–Happy Halloween!

May we walk in Beauty!

Finding a Common Language

littlesister
Little Sister harvesting sunshine from the aconite.

This is a lightly edited version of something I wrote the other day (though it’s still a little raw and choppy), modified with the thoughtful ideas of friends who offered me wise feedback:

I want to keep open the doors to healthy communication with people who have vastly different opinions about things than I do. But how can we keep the doors open when we can’t even agree on what a door is, exactly? It’s like we speak the same language, but we use utterly opposite vocabularies. Truth and fact have become shifty, like sand, like smoke. When someone says “wall” and someone else says “door,” where do we find the space in which to begin our conversation?
Sometimes it’s easier just to say we don’t belong together, the ones who say “door” and the ones who say “wall.” But we do seem to have some of the same words for love, for hope, for puppies, for belonging. Can we at least begin to open some of those windows?

I will continue to be alarmed at the actions of the current president. You will continue to wonder if the previous president was a communist. I cannot understand how you could support him and still be a good person. I want to ask you: Can’t you see the hatred and greed at the core of everything this administration is putting out? If you care about Life, if you care about children, if you care about people, if you care about the Earth–how can you support this man and his cronies? My hardest questions are for Christians: How can a follower of Jesus support the separation of families, the turning away of people fleeing for their lives? How can a follower of Jesus accept an administration that is gutting all protections for the Earth, opening pathways to destroy God’s creation? How can you support the brutality against the First Nations people in Standing Rock who are simply trying to keep their land and water safe and clean? How can a follower of Jesus support the bigotry and racism and misogyny that are unapologetically spoken from this man and his representatives?  I need to hear how you reconcile this.

Still, you love your children, and I love mine. We both love fudge and knitting and really strong coffee. You tell great jokes that make me laugh. We can probably both recite the first three lines of “Hiawatha” together, if we think really hard (okay, maybe only two, but I bet you’re going to look it up now, eh?). Neither of us can resist a cute kitten video or the awe-inspiring sight of starlings flying as one creature. Neither one of us is a monster.

(The “you” in that paragraph is an aggregate person, my imagination of someone who is unlike me and yet like me, someone with whom I might probably share a specialized vocabulary for our particular interests although our political vocabularies do not intersect.)

Can we find language that we both can understand? I hope so.

Gratitude List:
1. The Little Sisters are out and about today, buzzing among the aconite, gathering pollen in their golden saddle bags. Welcome, Bright Ones! May you thrive and flourish! (You can see one on the attached image, if you search.)
2. Warm sun
3. I received my first issue of Rattle poetry journal in the mail today! This is the best submissions fee ever! I submitted a chapbook to a contest a few months ago, and the submission fee includes a subscription to the journal!
4. Nuthatches. How can you not just love people who seem to prefer to live their lives upside-down?
5. Playing Tabu with the kids this morning. I would give the clues and they would guess them, with Jon chiming in every once in a while when the answer words got too obscure for the kids.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gestating Ideas

lichen

What is gestating within you in these days? What ideas and dreams are you brooding on? What seeds are waiting deep within you to break open their casings and begin seeking upward for sunshine and air?

Now is the time to give them secret and tender names, to hold them gently and to imagine what how they will appear when they are full grown. Sing to them, those ideas and dreams. Breathe on them. Look lovingly upon them, with eyes full of wonder. It may even be time to begin to whisper them to the dawn: “I wonder how my life would be if I would. . .”

Gratitude List:
1. Gestating intentions and ideas
2. Time with family, chances to chat and catch up. These fine, fine young folks.
3. The Janus pose–looking forward, looking back. But being in this moment.
4. Figgy pudding
5. The marriage of wisdom and compassion.

May we walk in Beauty!

To Those Who Wander

imag2389

Today’s prompt is to write a Visitor Poem.

Blessing for the Visitor
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

May you who wander, who sojourn, who travel,
may you who make your way to our door
find rest for your tired feet and weary heart,
food to fill your bellies and to nourish your minds,
and company to bring you cheer and inspiration.

May you find comfort for your sorrows,
belonging to ease your loneliness,
and laughter to bring you alive.

And when your feet find themselves again upon the road,
may they remember the way back to our door.

Gratitude List:
1. Coming through a conversation feeling more like myself. I wish everyone could have someone like that, who can ask questions and build upon ideas with you, help you sort things out. I am grateful for the people of my family, who do this for me.
2. Nieces and Nephews, good cousins to my children. The in-laws–my siblings chose their partners so perfectly. My parents.
3. My mother’s question: “How shall we pray for each other?” Reminds me of the sacred question to ask the Fisher King–the one that leads to the finding of the Holy Grail.
4. The art on the walls of the houses I visited today. Such beauty, such rich depth of meaning.
5. Gathering around a table with people I love. As Joy Harjo says, “Perhaps the world ends here.”

May we walk in Beauty!

Living Into the Questions

stone
Circle of Stones

You there
in the center of the circle
and all of us gathered around

Silence
within the weight of the moment
and stillness in the bowl of time

We breathe
waiting, holding you inside us
and watching for what yet may be

Gratitude List:
1. Blessing each other in our transitions
2. Living into the questions
3. Holding the paradoxes
4. Preparing for winter
5. Listening for the messages

May we walk in Beauty!

Finding the Questions

imag1876
I spent last week quietly anticipating another walk of the Camp Hebron Labyrinth. On my Saturday morning walk own to the woods, I kept thinking how different the paths and the distances seemed in just a week. The thought appeared in my head: “It’s a different journey now.” Even though I am walking a similar path and toward a different destination, the journey keeps shifting and changing. Just moments after I had begun to ponder what I meant by thinking that, I arrived at the labyrinth to find that a tree had fallen across it.

I recently found this piece of paper on which I wrote, in the summer of 2015, a series of examen-type questions. I think I probably have already written these in the blog, but I am going to put them here again so that I can ponder them this week. I wouldn’t use more than five of them a day, probably, and for similar ones, like the first four, I would spread them out over days, to see how the different ways of asking almost the same question evokes different internal responses.

How did Mystery encounter you today?
How did you encounter Mystery today?
How were found by Mystery?
How did God/dess seek you?

What awakened you?
What vision brought your spirit awake?
What nudged you? (Or nudged you forward?)
Where does your heart sit?
What gave you wings?
What do you take on your journey?
What do you tuck into the corners?

What quickened within you?
What brought your senses (or your heart, your spirit, your brain) alive?
What do you take deeper?
What do you take into prayer?

What is the weight that you carry?

And not that I am thinking about it again, I’ll add some more from today’s heart:
What itches? What makes you uncomfortable?
What feels unsettled?
What skin are you shedding?
What muscles are you stretching?

Gratitude List:
1. Bridges, and bridge-building language and actions
2. Gathered Community
3. Getting the work organized, making a plan
4. Treasuring each other
5. Waking up–I am struggling with the actual physical process this morning. How much more intense it can be to wake up in other ways. May we always be open to the pull to wake further, to bring our dreams into the wakeful spaces.

May we walk in Beauty!

Lay Down Your Heart

fins
By Monday, the gills have expanded and developed, the underside of the universe.

Working up a poem that I wrote a year ago:

Lay down your heart, sister
for one mist-laden moment
on the bank of the river
where 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
or end the stench of battles.

Still, the waters may offer you
questions instead, questions
that will create the riddles
to draw you onto the path again
despite the darkness
that surrounds you.

Gratitude List:
1. I have been given this day in which to do my work.
2. How emotion settles in the body. I know this can be unsettling, too. I read something yesterday by Darshana Avila, about sensing the way that happiness and sadness settle in the body, noticing where they are, what they do in the body, not judging them or their presence as “good” or “bad.” She noted that when we reflect on the way emotions are sensed in the body, happiness and sadness don’t always feel that different.  They just are.  It reminds me of Rumi welcoming all comers to the guesthouse.
3. New questions. I have to ask Anne Marie sometime to remind me of the entire list she offered in church on Sunday, a series of questions that comes from the peacebuilding work of the Great Lakes Initiative in eastern Africa.  The ones that stick with me are, “What do you lament?” and “What does joy look like?” I like the way the questions are phrased, instead of simply asking what makes you sad or happy–which are equally valid questions.
4. This one feels a little petty because it’s so material, but it has wider implications for me: Yesterday I found some dresses at Columbia Re-Uzit, and then I drove past my friend’s farm stand, and she was also having a yard sale, and I bought some of her clothes. So now I feel like I have the outfitting necessary for the coming school season. It’s one more thing off my plate, accomplished with minimal effort and thought–that’s the piece I am grateful for. That, and the lovely colors and textures, and the thought that I will be wearing some things that my beautiful and gracious friend has worn. In that context, clothes are more than just clothes, you know?
5. What shall I pull out for this last one? I do not yet have a Thing of Beauty on the list, other than my lovely new dresses. Oh, here it is: the bouquet of lisianthus blossoms my mother brought to me yesterday to have on the table today as I am working on my class preparations. Deep purple-violet and vibrant red-violet. (My parents brought me flowers, AND they are caring for my children for a couple days so that I can focus solely on the preparations for school.)

May we walk in Beauty.