Bedevilment

Today in Creative Writing, we did a fun bit of wordplay from the website Writing ForwardYou make lists of a dozen or so nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. Then you make a list of prefixes/suffixes. Using your lists, you add prefixes and suffixes to some of your nouns in order to create words of your own. Then you make up new compound words, use nouns as verbs and adjectives as adverbs–all to experiment with using language in different ways.  Today’s poem, using the prompt of bedevilment, comes out of that writing experience.

I have dungeoned my wonder,
enshaded my joy,
chaining myself in the ragecage
I made for my shadowling.

Addicted to fury,
I fought fear with burning,
teethful in reaction,
and wasting my flame.

When you make a rope of curses,
you catch your own head in the loop.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
The tower. It may have begun as the Tower of Rapunzel, where her witch-mother kept her waiting. It may have been a fortress, strong and impenetrable, or a solitary place of retreat. But this tower is falling, burning, lightning-struck, and the Fool is falling, falling. To understand the lightning-struck tower, it may be necessary to remember the journey the Fool has taken from learning temperance to the experience of bedevilment and addiction. We find our balance, and then we fail, and so we are thrown off-balance again, and need to find a new grounding. The experience of falling from the Tower is about losing your attachment to your ego. The Fool has to learn that she cannot be completely in control.

Gratitude List:
1. The misty fogginess in the hollow as dusk fell. It felt like a fairy tale world.
2. The way rain brings out the deepness of the colors.
3. Kreutz Creek Library Book Sale
4. Mandalas
5. Kindnesses. Today, standing in the hallway, I watched one of my students who sometimes seems a little isolated by his extreme shyness. He was walking quietly through the crowd in the hall, head down, and another kid saw him and just reached out and bumped him on the shoulder and grinned at him, noticing him. The shy boy smiled back. It might seem like a small, almost unremarkable kindness, but I think it was really actually pretty huge for the shy one. That’s the kind of people these young folk are. I know that my school is not perfect, and that unkind words and bullying occur, but more than that I am aware of kindnesses, of thoughtfulness.

May we walk in Beauty!

Long Gratitude


Last year at a wedding shower, I received a sweet little aloe in a little round pot. Today, I re-planted it and its four babies. “Where there is love, there is life. –Mahatma Gandhi,” said that little tag attached to it. My how love has grown! May it always be so. May love find a way. Blessings to Hugo and Philip. May their love be a blessing to others.

Gratitude List:
(I didn’t do one yesterday, so I am taking liberties today.)
1. A whole flock of turkeys in the field across from Flinchbaugh’s this morning.
2. Bees in the windflowers and crocus.
3. The blue eye of speedwells all across the lawn.
4. Bluebirds murmuring around the hollow.
5. Phoebe looking for a place to nest.
6. Hot tea with milk and honey.
7. Warm sunshine
8. The scent of spring rain: petrichor is the word I’ve heard for it.
9. Green ink
10. The magic of writing: fonts, typeface, the alphabet, calligraphy
11. The Book Fairy has struck again! The children have half a new bookshelf of new things to read.

May we walk in Beauty!

Walk in Beauty

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Every December, as we begin to seek our way down the steps into the last darkness before the light returns, I carry within me the story of the Conestogas, the last tiny village of Susquehannock people who lived in Lancaster, who were brutally massacred by the Paxtang Boys, a band of white men who wanted to wipe out the Native people.

I suppose it’s because last week I was going through some of my poetry that mentioned them that their names were in my head, but this morning during my insomniac looping, the names began to appear in my brain-loop, like messages: Sheehays, Wa-a-shen, Ess-Canesh, Tea-wonsha-i-ong, Kannenquas, Tee-kau-ley. These were the six who were murdered in their village in Conestoga on the morning of December 14, 1763. I tried several years ago to memorize their names, but I didn’t realize that I had managed it until the wee hours of this morning. They appeared like a message. Two weeks later, the marauders broke into the Lancaster jail, where the remaining six adults and eight children of the Conestoga band were being kept for their protection, and killed them all.

May we do better in these days. May we be more effective at standing between the vulnerable ones and the marauders. How can we keep the Paxtang Boys from riding again?

* * * * * * * *

Today’s Prompt is to write a poem that begins: I Want __(Blank)__. I am tired and I still have work to do, so this will be a little riff.

I Want the Moon
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

I want the moon on a platter.
I want my cake and a side of pie.
I want a day when no one needs me.
I want a Michelangelo sky.

I want to wander in an oak grove.
I want to sing incantations in the rain.
I want to run away to islands.
I want to come back home again.

I want to sleep in a seaside hammock.
I want to memorize every color of blue.
I want to write a thousand poems.
I want to spend more time with you.

Gratitude List:
1. Sometimes things just work out better than you expect them to. Big sighs of relief.
2. These two little (not-so-little) rosy-cheeked folks at my table.
3. How Jon takes care of us when I can hardly remember to take care of myself.
4. Leaves
5. The comfort of knowing that you are there, holding all this, too. So many of us are doing the Work, day by day and minute by minute.  So much love.

May we walk in Beauty!

Strain Train Rain

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“The courageous don’t lose their fear. They simply transform it.” –Climbing Poetry

Here’s a poetic form I found on Robert Lee Brewer’s “Poetic Asides” blog. It’s called diminishing verse. The poem is in three-line stanzas with no rules about syllables or metric feet. You choose an ending word that is able to be diminished from the front, one letter or sound at a time. I am going to try strain-train-rain and see what happens:

For ten long weeks, we have felt the strain,
each thirsty day arriving like a dry and dusty train,
but finally–this dawning brings us rain.

There are some interesting possibilities here. I would like to try some with line endings where the thought continues on to the next line.  Strip-trip-rip might be an interesting one to play with. (The str- word-opening is a good one to use because of the series of three initial consonants.)  Cram-ram-am. It’s a fun little game just to make up the word series. I might enlist my children to help me with that part.

Gratitude List:
1. Kate Dicamillo, writer of short-chapter easy-read children’s books. My boys and I have been reading them this week. We have always liked her Mercy Watson books, but she has taken three characters from Mercy Watson’s stories and given them stories of their own. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon,  and my favorite, Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? They are lovely parables for adults as well as for children.
2. Someone once suggested politely that I should not put coffee on my gratitude lists because it is a drug, an artificial stimulant. But of course, I will put on my list whatever I please, and while I recognize its addictive effects on my body and brain, I am really grateful this morning for coffee because of a tossandturn night. For three mornings running, I woke up at 4:44 on the dot. I took my body in hand last night and told it that it had to wait until after 5 to wake up. It could even have a four if it wanted to and wake up at 5:24. Perhaps it panicked–I woke up repeatedly throughout the night, and I am supremely grateful for coffee this morning to set me on the path to wakefulness.
3. Deep breaths. Another good waker-upper.
4. Rain. Rain. Rain. Rain. Rain. It could rain for days now, and I would be happy. My classroom is a pleasant temperature. The air feels clear and fresh. The gentle sounds of rain are soothing. The land is sighing in relief.
5. The open-heartedness of young people.

May we walk in Beauty!

Here Comes the Rain Again

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Today’s gratitude list brought to you by song titles, in honor of that water coming down from the sky. It has been nearly two months without appreciable rain in the holler. The began at 3:30. May it continue.

Gratitude List:
1. Here comes the rain again
2. Early morning rain
3. Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
4. Buckets of rain
5. Rain down

May we walk in Beauty, in Rain!

Here We Go!

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I can’t remember which of my father’s books this came from. I felt like such a smarty-pants, realizing that I could take a photo of it, rather than interrupting the conversation to write it down, but then I forgot to keep track of which book it was in. I think it was one by John Philip Newell.
“. . .in every human I love something of You.” Such a sense of the Mystery immanent within everyone. Seek and you will find.

Here I sit, in the roller coaster at the very top of that first hill, the very moment of pause before release, and the first thrilling whoosh down the first slope. So much excitement and anticipation. A little anxiety. But I’ve ridden roller coasters before, and this is my third round on this one. This time, I might even be ready to throw my hands up and scream for sheer delight on some of the wild corners I know are coming.

Today is Faculty Day at school, and tomorrow we welcome the Bright and Shining Ones back into the halls. I’m looking forward to this ride. I know myself a little better this year. I’m calmer. Still excited. Carrying Etty Hillesum’s quotation with me into this year, to seek the Source, the Mystery, the Divine, in each of my colleagues and my students and their parents. Hillesum also wrote in her journals that she was seeking to open doors for God in each connection she made with other people. Let’s do that too, shall we?

Gratitude List:
1. Water that comes out of the sky. Soothing rain. Sitting with my parents on their front porch in the rain. Rain on the lisianthus.
2. That dragonfly who zipped back and forth through the heaviest part of the downpour, heedless of the raindrops. I think she was flying between them, actually. And then as we drove slowly away after the rain was gone, she hovered along beside us all the way to the stop sign.
3. The songs. The singing. “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea.”
4. Everyone is welcome at the table. Everyone.
5. All those shades of pink and violet on the altar yesterday.

May we walk in Beauty!

Praise

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Psalm of Praise
(10 August 2015)

Yours is the music that enters our hearts.
Delight of you enlivens our voices to join in the song.
We are born to worship our Maker.

The world is awash in color and music;
your works are enkindled in sparkle and dazzle.
Every bright bird, each flashing star,
the chirp of the cricket and drone of cicada,
roaring waterfall, quivering leaf–
all of creation sings your glory.

We have only to look up and outward,
and wonder will fill our mouths with praise.

Yet daily our hands reach out
for wealth and power and fame,
instead of rising to praise you.

Our eyes are set on the glitter and shine
of all the distractions that we have made,
and not on your grace and your beauty.

Our voices turn to bitter complaint,
to quarrels and bluster and grumbling,
instead of joining creation’s constant hymn
of praise to the Creator.

O God of wonder and beauty and grace,
open the eyes of our hearts,
awaken our senses to all you have made,
that our spirits may rise in wonder,
that our voices may open in song,
that our days may be filled with praise.

Gratitude List:
1. Symbols. The way images act like bowls to hold ideas.
2. Words. The way they act like bowls to hold ideas.
3. Blue. Is there are greater range of blues in the sky these days?
4. Rain.
5. Crape Myrtle. I saw so many on Chincoteague, but then since we have been home, I have been noticing them all over here as well. Sometimes you need to leave home to notice something you appreciate about it.

May we walk in Beauty!

Stargazer

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Nancy’s stargazer lily will not let you enter the house without Noticing.  She shines in the sun, and her scent grabs you and holds you. I think she likes the backdrop of Nancy’s purple step rail.

Bean Patch Yoga

We will call this asana the suspended downward dog.
Bend at the hips.  Keep your back as straight as you can.
Sweep the bush to the left.
Pick. Breathe. Toss.
To the right.  Pick-breathe-toss.
Shuffle forward, keeping your core muscles tight.
Sweep left-pick-breathe-toss.  Right-pick-breathe-toss.
Shuffle-pick-breathe, shuffle-pick-breathe.
Stop. Drop your arms,
and roll upward slowly,
vertebra by vertebra,
breathing in on a count of eight.
Breathe out and in, slowly, carefully.
Breathe into your back muscles.
Repeat this asana one hundred times.

Gratitude List:
1. Pounding rain
2. Last night, my dreams took me back to Africa and childhood
3. Stargazer lily
4. Synchronicity: In a conversation with a stranger, she spoke of her friendly and caring neighborhood.  Suddenly we were talking about people we know in common.
5. Feathers.  One Small Boy has begun to join me on the daily Noticing of feathers.  “Mom!  Here’s your feather for today!”  Every day.

May we walk in Beauty!

St. John’s Eve

Tea
And here is the tea I made using the three roots I harvested, along with a few others I had in my cupboard, and some slices of ginger root as well.  Roots teas are simmered rather than steeped, and my kitchen smelled earthy and wholesome during the process.

I am going to slip out of poetry-writing mode for a little while now, as I begin the summer process of compiling and editing, sorting and weeding the writings that I have now.  Today is St. John’s Eve, the day before the feast day of St. John the Baptist.  Throughout time and cultural spaces, this celebration has changed and shifted, collected some of the meanings of the Solstice which has passed only days ago.

Midsummer marks the moment in the northern hemisphere when the sun begins to lose its power (though we don’t feel it for many months yet).  St. John’s Day carries with it the transformative weight of the symbolic gift of baptism that St. John created, so the dying light is also representative of our own dying lights and our own transformative resurrections throughout our lives.  The cycles continue.  Change is not only possible, not only inevitable, but welcome.

Paradoxically, while the Sun-king is overthrown as the days begin to shorten, his power continues strong, and flares up for the next season.  I think this is the time for me to take the words that I have written and subject them to a baptism, watch them transform.  I have read that in some celebrations of St. John’s Day, a snake is one of the primary symbols, the creature who sheds its skin, leaving its dead self behind, while the living part continues on, sleek and shining, transformed.  That is what I seek for my words in this season.  I will continue to write gratitude lists for daily practice, and occasional poems and ramblings as the Muse speaks.

I found this traditional St. John’s Day poem:
Green is gold
Fire is wet
Future’s told
Dragon’s met.

May you meet your dragon with courage and aplomb in this season as you step into your future.

Gratitude List:
1. Date night was wonderful last night.  Friends gave us a gift certificate to the Accomac.  I don’t know that I have ever sat down in a restaurant and said to myself that I could order whatever I wanted, with no limits, but this is precisely what we did last night.  Jon had a Wild Boar Bibimbap with kimchi for appetizer, and a Petit Mignon with herbed potatoes and scorched asparagus with preserved lemon.  I had Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with lotus pods (like Odysseus’s crew members I might have chosen to stay in that land of the lotus forever) and Blackened Swordfish with summer squash and herb sauce, along with the asparagus.  For dessert, he had an Accomac version of a hot fudge sundae and I had Bananas Foster (though they don’t flambee it tableside on the wooden porch).  We shared a cosmopolitan made with cranberry juice and jalapeno-infused vodka.  I think I will be infusing some jalapenos this summer–it seems like such a medicinal thing to use for a fancy drink, but I love that heat.
2. All the adults who care for and offer attention to my children.  I grew up in such a nest as well, with wise and friendly and funny adults who took time for me, and I am incredibly grateful for the adults who create the same protected space for my own children.  I am thinking right now of Sandra, in particular, who has been their summertime companion for years now.  Now when they are probably old enough to be required to entertain themselves on farm days, they cannot do without her, and this is as it should be.
3. Cool winds announcing rain.  The plink of raindrops on leaves.
4. Cycles and changes. Transformation.  Leaving the old skin behind to live in the new and tender and shining skin.
5. Layers of sound in the distance and nearby in the morning.  Birdsong mingled with the human sounds of the day’s beginning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Rainy Saturday Morning

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Rainy morning in Skunk Hollow.  The birds and I are loving it.  The farmer, not so much.

Gratitude List:
1. Bored Shorts: Kid History and Kidsnippets.  I know, it’s weird to have a media thing for a gratitude, but I love this group of brothers and their friends who decided to not stop playing together even when they grew up, and so they get their kids to tell them stories, and then they act them out, using the kids’ voices and lip-syncing to the words.  It’s one of those things that makes me want to be a more attentive and engaged parent, to make sure that I am offering my children plenty of safe and comfortable spaces to play and have fun with each other.
2. The lightheartedness and humor that my children’s teachers bring to them, the way they build classroom community.  Laughter and joy are community-building.  This is one of those things that makes me want to be a better teacher, to make sure that I am offering my students plenty of safe and comfortable moments to laugh and have fun with each other.
3. The activity of the Goldfinch Farm birds in the rain this morning: phoebe and oriole and wren, chickadee and titmouse, flitting through the raindrops.
4. Nettle tea and elderberry syrup.  So far, I am mostly coping with allergy season again.  Omitting dairy from my diet seems to help, too.  (I know this helps because when I cheat and eat cheese, then I feel miserable.)
5. There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.  I glimpsed it briefly yesterday.

May we walk in Beauty!