Holding Presence

Gratitude List:
1. Did you see that sunrise this morning? The magenta clouds shot through with a golden ray?
2. An extra nap for the bad cold. Complete with cats.
3. The humidifier–may it last the whole winter.
4. Warm blankets
5. All the colors that we painted these rooms. Colors feed me through winter.

May we walk in Beauty!


Quotations for Today:
“You loose your grip
and then you slip
into the Masterpiece…”
—Leonard Cohen
***
“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality-not as we expect it to be but as it is-is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.” ―Frederick Buechner
***
Toko-pa, quoting and reflecting on Marion Woodman:
“Marion Woodman—Jungian, author, teacher, crone—taught me that what is most missing from our culture is the Mature Feminine. Mature Feminine, she says, is the ability to ‘hold presence.’ It is not divided attention, like the sort you feel when someone is psychically composing their grocery instead of listening to you. “I don’t have time for that,” she says. Holding Presence “is to love the other exactly as they are, not as you want them to be.” It is love without judging, without getting the other tangled up in your own unconscious, unlived life. “Holding presence is to create room so the other can grow into their destiny. They can feel that.””
***
This one is not just for mothers. I know people, men and women, single and married, parent and nonparent, who see all children as their own. I know that parenting has heightened this for me personally:

“Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.” —Charlotte Gray

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Finding the Map Home

Repeating some questions I asked myself a year ago:

When have you felt yourself to be your best self?
When have you been most comfortable being who you are?
What would it take to find your way back into that house of yourself?
Did you leave yourself a map?
Is there an old photograph in a dusty album somewhere in your heart
that you can use to guide yourself back to that place?
It might be as simple as taking three deep breaths,
clicking your sneaker-clad heels together three times,
and chanting, “I want to go home, I want to go home,
I want to go home.”
Shall we try it?


A series of Random Musings for a Snowy Day:

“We use language to build the structures upon which we hang our ideas. Language is the scaffold upon which we develop whole structures of thought. Language anchors and shapes and breathes life into thought and idea. Conventional thinking, and conventional language, can end up being a pretty tight little box of a windowless building that doesn’t let in the light. The air in there gets pretty stale. When language—and its attendant ideas—become calcified and crippled into arthritic patterns, poetic image and word-use can find new ways to say things, can break windows into the walls of those airless rooms and build ornate new additions onto the old structures. Poetry jars the cart of language out of its constricting wheel ruts. This is why poets and writers can make good revolutionaries—if they know their work and do their jobs well.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014
***
“The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist-deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.” —Carl Sagan
***
Mary Oliver, on the Great Horned Owl: “I know this bird. If it could, it would eat the whole world.” And then: “The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I too live. There is only one world.”
***
Fierce Wild Joy
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2016

May this year bring you joy
like crows rising from the fields

fierce
wild joy

yelling full-voice
into the wind

rowing through the tempest
with nothing but feathers.
***
“Have patience with everything
that remains unsolved in your heart.
Try to love the questions themselves,
like locked rooms and like books
written in a foreign language.
Do not now look for the answers.
They cannot now be given to you
because you could not live them.
It is a question of experiencing everything.
At present you need to live the question.
Perhaps you will gradually,
without even noticing it,
find yourself experiencing the answer,
some distant day.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke
***
“With life as short as a half-taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi


Gratitude List:
1. Two-hour delays. They wreak havoc on the teachers’ end-of-semester schedules, but 10 o’clock is such a humane hour to begin the work day. Breathe. Sleep in.
2. Bhangra Dance. It’s so joyful, so full of life. I’ve been looking up How-to videos on bhangra dancing. It’s all very funny-looking on my part at this point, because I have both the Mennoniteness and the hobbity-ness to contend with, but at least I get a little exercise, and I entertain the family while I practice.
3. Home remedies. I still have an uncomfortable cold, but I have a hunch all the home remedies helped get me past the trampled-by-rhinos phase.
4. Cold weather. Odd thing for me to say, because I really hate being cold, but it feels right that January be cold. After the mildness of November and early December, this feels right. Still, I will be glad for Spring to begin showing her feathers.
5. Good literature.

May we walk in Beauty!

Walking Into the Dark

This week, weaning myself from the keyboard, I jumped back into my handwritten journal-book, with pens and colored pencils, and the slower, reflective pacing of handwriting.

I have been dreaming and writing dreams, feeling the shadows of dreams flitting around my head even when the images and plotlines escape me. Vultures and daughters, bees and small children–the dream-symbols have been feeding me as I walk into the darkness of winter.

During the years when we were both farming full-time, when winter was truly a resting time, I think I had my most satisfying winters. I was able then to hibernate, to draw myself inward, to slow way down. Now in these years, when the days are so busy, and the evenings hold lists of necessary tasks, I lose myself a bit in winter. I struggle to focus in the outer world, but I don’t have the inner space to really slow down. Not really.

And so I am taking a bit of an Advent Break, shifting up my morning and evening routines, letting myself drift out of the social media spheres. It has been a good thing to take this break, to shift my habits. In the coming weeks between now and Epiphany, I will continue to make occasional forays onto this page, occasional steps into the world of Facebook, but I am going to breathe and rest and meditate and dream as I need to in these days, and hold myself to as few schedules as possible..

Blessings on your own Advent, your Dark Time, your Inward Journey. May your dreams be fruitful, and your visions be keen.

Much love.


Gratitude List:
1. Shadows and darkness
2. Dreams and visions
3. Rest and Quiet
4. Joy and Peace
5. Waiting and Anticipation

May we walk in Beauty!

Remembering How to Dream

“I would like to paint the way a bird sings.”
–Claude Monet
*
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” –Vincent van Gogh
*
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those downstream do unto you.” –Wendell Berry
*
Every step you take is a doorway to somewhere new,
a choice between what was and what will be.
Do not fear the darkness behind you
nor the mists that rise in your path.
Pause on the threshold a moment.
Take a deep and aching breath,
and straighten your shoulders.
Release the past with gratitude
for all that it has taught you,
and step forward in strength and beauty.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
Mary Oliver:
“Soon now, I’ll turn and start for home.
And who knows, maybe I’ll be singing.”


Gratitude List:
1. Rest
2. Dreaming
3. Work
4. Play
5. Silence

May we walk in Beauty!

Shine

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” ―Vincent Van Gogh
*
“Change is continuous on the seamless web,
Yet moments come like this one, when you feel
Upon your heart a signal to attend
The definite announcement of an end
Where one thing ceases and another starts; 
When like the spider waiting on the web
You know the intricate dependencies
Spreading in secret through the fabric vast
Of heaven and earth, sending their messages
Ciphered in chemistry to all the kinds,
The whisper down the bloodstream: it is time.”
―Howard Nemerov

*
“One of the most exciting things for me about being in the freedom movement was discovering other people who were compelled by the Spirit at the heart of our organizing work, and who were also interested in the mysticism that can be nurtured in social justice activism. We experienced something extraordinary in the freedom movement, something that hinted at a tremendous potential for love and community and transformation that exists here in this scarred, spectacular country. For many of us, that “something” touched us in the deepest part of our selves and challenged us in ways both personal and political.”  ―Rosemarie Freeney Harding, in “Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering”
*
“I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.”
―Desmond Tutu
*
IT WORKS
“Would you come if someone called you
by the wrong name?
I wept, because for years He did not enter my arms:
then one night I was told a 
secret:
Perhaps the name you call God is
not really His, maybe it
is just an
alias.
I thought about this, and came up with a pet name
for my Beloved I never mention
to others.
All I can say is―
it works.”
―Rabia of Batista
*
“The aim of education is to reveal an attainable image of self that is lovelier than that manifested in his or her present acts.” ―Nel Noddings


Gratitude List:
1. Rain
2. The medicine that is under our feet and all around us: plantain, jewelweed, nettle, chamomile
3. Cool breeze
4. Rest
5. The way the wren’s voice fills the hollow. There’s the message: Find the space where your voice is clearest. Practice your words, over and over again.

May we walk in Beauty!

Seymour Dabs

    
 This friend on the left appears to be a Sweetbay Silkmoth. We’ve had cecropias visit, and lunas (who always take my breath away). On the right is Seymour. On Saturday after friends visited, we found Seymour dabbing on the piano, looking mighty pleased with himself.


In the classroom zen garden: “Bury me at the bottom of the river, that my soul may flow into the sea and I may travel the world with whales.” Have I said how much I love my students?

Gratitude List:
1. What seemed unimaginable and impossible now seems possible.
2. When both cars break down at once, we have the possibility of a loaner from my parents.
3. The singers, the poets, the artists, the dancers, the dreamers. They’re rising. They’re making. They’re working. They’re resisting.
4. Pleasant weather. May it hold out for the rest of this week, so that the classroom isn’t beastly hot.
5. Turkey Hill Homemade Vanilla ice cream. It’s got five ingredients, and it’s the best ice cream this side of an ice cream freezer that I have ever tasted.

May we walk in Beauty!

Frost and Flame

Gratitude List:
1. Wise and compassionate friends who help me to explore and understand my rage, to settle it, to channel it, to use it.
2. There are always so many new things to learn, so many steps to learn.
3. Sun and shadows on snow.
4. Rest
5. Flan–One of my students brought me a huge slice today. Heaven.

May we walk in Beauty!

Making Connections

memoir

You know that feeling when someone you love is probably dying?
And you feel like you should know exactly what to do, exactly what to say,
but you’re paralyzed by the shock, and really,
isn’t that what the doctors are for?
Shouldn’t they know what to do,
how to keep your loved one alive?

But still, you can’t quite sleep at night
for that nagging feeling in the pit of your gut
that tells you you should be doing something,
you should be making it stop,
should at least be saying something apt,
something to keep the demons at bay.

And so what do you do when you see it,
when you see your democracy dying?
You’ve been watching, all the signs,
every one, just like the predictions.
It’s a cancer, this.
And it’s progressing rapidly.
And what do you do?
Aren’t there lawyers, politicians,
noble powerful people somewhere
who know what to do to fix this mess?

And you can’t quite sleep at night
for that nagging feeling in the pit of your gut
that tells you you should be doing something,
you should be making it stop,
should at least be saying something apt,
something to keep the demons at bay.

Gratitude List:
1. The owls are really going at it tonight. I love living within hooting distance of so many of the wise ones.
2. It’s felt like a really long time when I could have a day when I didn’t absolutely have to be doing something school-related. What a relief. I did actually work on something for school today, a sample memoir project for my students to see what I am looking for in their projects.
3. Cheese
4. A good book to read on a cold night
5. Making connections: with people, with memories, with ideas, with synapses.

May we walk in Beauty!

Alien Bales

aliens
This is a photo of those round hay bales run through a Dreamscope filter. I’ve always thought they looked like something from and alien culture and this seems to prove it.
Gratitude List:
1. Rest
2. Time to focus on some poetry projects. I have another chapbook in the works for a contest. I hope to send it out before January.
3. The social comfort of card games
4. Dreams
5. A warm cat. We going to try letting him stay upstairs tonight instead of going into the basement. I am guessing I will be getting up at three during his angst-concert to put him downstairs, but maybe he’ll be able to keep it to himself.

May we walk in Beauty!

Asking the Questions

Emerson

Gratitude List:
1. (What do you notice?) That wren calling, tiredness in my bones, a sense of being past the most overwhelming parts of the end-of-semester skid
2. (What do you hunger for?) Solitude, quiet, sustenance, sustainedness, time to write and edit, time to ponder, decluttering
3. (Who has been helpful?) Those 12-year-olds in church yesterday–how they are growing!, the ones who create rites of passage and rituals to mark changes, the many names of God
4. (What are the themes?) The table: Alain’s sermon, Neruda’s poem (“For now, I ask no more than the justice of eating”), Joy Harjo’s “Perhaps the World Ends Here”)
5. (What draws you forward?) The rest that is coming, the rising sun–the way light filters in to the hollow, the calling of birds, the good Work to be done

May we walk in Beauty!