Winged Heart

Fragment:
To build the bridge from where I am to where I want to be:
I will gather cobweb, shadow, feathers, rainbow.
I will weave a net of dreamings:
spider, lion, wolf, a blazing number seven,
labyrinthine city, and a tower with a thousand rooms.

Every day, I step a little closer to the chasm,
another key, a shining pebble on the pathway,
birdsong in the mist, a shifting shadow in the forest.


Rungs on Wednesday’s Ladder:
“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
~ Khalil Gibran
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Richard Rohr: “The wild beasts and the angels reside in the same wilderness. . .”
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“There is another world, but it is in this one.” ~William Butler Yeats
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“It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor” ~ Nelson Mandela
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“There is always this tension between the lengths we wish to travel in life and the depths we long to penetrate in dreaming. By dreaming, I mean not only the sacred transmissions we receive in the night, but the dreaming we also do in the day: Listening to the wiseness of a moment, an encounter, a humble patch of land. Engaging with magic in an ongoing conversation.” ~ Toko-pa Turner (@ Dreamwork with Toko-Pa)
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“God is as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly—breathe. Isn’t it wonderful that breath, wind, spirit, and air are precisely nothing—and yet everything?” —Richard Rohr
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Advent At Midlife

I am no longer waiting for a special occasion; I burn the best candles on ordinary days.
I am no longer waiting for the house to be clean; I fill it with people who understand that even dust is sacred.
I am no longer waiting for everyone to understand me; It’s just not their task
I am no longer waiting for the perfect children; my children have their own names that burn as brightly as any star.
I am no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop; It already did, and I survived.
I am no longer waiting for the time to be right; the time is always now.
I am no longer waiting for the mate who will complete me; I am grateful to be so warmly, tenderly held.
I am no longer waiting for a quiet moment; my heart can be stilled whenever it is called.
I am no longer waiting for the world to be at peace; I unclench my grasp and breathe peace in and out.
I am no longer waiting to do something great; being awake to carry my grain of sand is enough.
I am no longer waiting to be recognized; I know that I dance in a holy circle.
I am no longer waiting for Forgiveness. I believe, I believe.
~ Mary Anne Perrone
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“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. …Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.”
~Aldous Huxley – Island


Gratitude List:
1. Bridges
2. Cobweb
3. Sunrise
4. Beauty
5. Desire

May we walk in Beauty!

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Facing the Shameshadow

  

      

   

      

I am home again, after four days of silence at the Jesuit Center at Wernersville. I feel refreshed, reprogrammed, reset, re-energized, rejuvenated, renovated. I needed this one more than I realized. I wasn’t admitting to myself quite the extent of the bubble I had placed between me and the world. When you live with your heart on your sleeve, it can begin to feel like you’re immune to the numbing effects of addictions and sadnesses and avoidance of the inward pathways. I think I knew that I had been veering off, not walking deeply to center, not really wanting to see myself.

It’s a long and messy story, full of my own self-absorbed wanderings. It’s about the sudden weight gain, about Facebook as pacifier, about the news cycle. It’s name is Shame. I hate it when I have to go back and work through something I have already been through, but there it is. It took me two days of walking and making art and standing in doorways to finally step through and look that Shadowself in the face and name it: Shame. I have been living by shame, and refusing to call it by its name.

The Shameshadow had been lurking at my heels, a menacing old dog. I called it Anxiety. I called it Exhaustion. I called it by the name of our new president. But when I turned and called it by its true name–Shame–it bounded up to me and began to teach me. Those other names were simply things it fed on and symptoms. It was one of those Illuminating Moments, an Epiphany. I am under no illusions. I am sure it will probably begin to lurk and growl again someday, but then I must remember that it will have more to teach me.

I don’t like that that my Shadowself so often goes by the name of Shame. I want to exorcise it once and for all, not live with it crowding my heels. But this seems to be the way of it. It returns again and again to teach me. I am grateful for the messages.

After my moment of Epiphany, I walked out to the labyrinth. At every turning, I dropped a shamebundle. You don’t want to know these, do you? It’s things like the constantly messy/dirty house, sudden weight gain, use of FB to numb anxiety, not paying enough attention to the boys, being too hard on the boys, not being the perfect teacher, not getting my grading done in a timely fashion–that gives you the picture. Some of them, I picked up again on the way out of the labyrinth, not as shame, but as ideas for satisfying my heart.

And yes, I have spoken to the Shameshadow time and again in my life. It can feel like I’ve slid back down the longest slide in the game of Chutes and Ladders, but I find the spiral a much more helpful metaphor. I have been here before, on a previous cycle, but I am spiraling onward. I am not  where I once was, just at a further loop on the spiral.

May we all find the courage to turn and call our Shadowdogs by name, and wait quietly to learn what they have to teach us.


One more thing about the monastery. My friend Ruth Ann and I decided to take our silent retreat at the same time this year. We spoke together about our intentions and hopes before we sank into silence, and then we surfaced into a quiet reflective conversation at the end. In between, we left books in the hallway outside each other’s doors. Having a silent witness and being a silent witness was a powerful experience. It was a deep and powerful level of Companionship that mirrored and enhanced the work with the inner Companionself.


Jan Richardson:
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
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“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” —William Stafford
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“There are years that ask the question and years that answer.” —Zora Neale Hurston
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“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.” —Hafiz
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Sign on a stone at the monastery: “I am now.”
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“One puts down the first line. . .in trust that life and language are abundant enough to complete it.” —Wendell Berry
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“Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.” —Job 12:8
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“Sometimes the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” —Wallace Stevens
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“Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.” —Emily Dickinson
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“The contemplative stance is the third way. We stand in the middle, neither taking the world on from another power position nor denying it for fear of the pain it will bring. We hold the dark side of reality and the pain of the world until it transforms us, knowing that we are both complicit in the evil and can participate in wholeness and holiness.” —Richard Rohr
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“Always we begin again.” —St. Benedict
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Thomas Merton: “There are only three stages to this work: to be a beginner, to be more of a beginner, and to be only a beginner.”
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“If the Angel deigns to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears, but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner.” —Rainer Maria Rilke
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“When you have stood at the edge of the pool
and concentrated your will upon it,
a moment will arrive to ask you the question,
“What do you see?” and you will not know
whether you are gazing at the surface
or into the depths, or into the very woods itself.
All will be one, and it will be into your own soul
that you are gazing.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” Rumi
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“Ask much,” the voice suggested, and I startled.
Feeling my body like the trembling body of a horse
tied to its tree while the strange noise
passes over its ears.
I who in extremity had always wanted less,
even of eating, of sleeping.
Agile, the voice did not speak again, but waited.
“Want more” –
a cure for longing I had not thought of.
But that is how it is with wells.
Whatever is taken refills to the steady level.
The voice agreed, though softly, to quiet the feet of the horse:
“A cup taken out, a cup reappears; a bucketful taken, a bucket.”
Jane Hirshfield


Gratitude List:
1. What the Shameshadow will teach me if I will listen
2. Clearing
3. Doorways
4. Beech Cathedral and Labyrinth
5. The Art Room at the Jesuit Center
6. Cloister walks–there is something deeply TRUE about archways. Something in my spirit recognizes the deep significance of archways, even if I cannot find the words to explain.
7. Being home again. Establishing the summer rhythms.

May we walk in Beauty! With sunshine sparkling all around.

Falling Apart

shadow

Today’s poetry Prompt is to write a Falling Apart poem.

Falling Apart
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

First: Everything begins to work in sync. From within the random chaos,
a pattern emerges, a rhythm, a mutual response between working parts.
Cooperation and tunefulness abound. Order prevails.

Second: Before long, the sameness of the patterns and the rhythms
begins to grate on the inner ear. A background whine hovers
just within earshot. Orderliness begins to thump and thud.

Third: Some of the ordered bits begin to stumble, miss a step,
misfire. Still, the march plods on, and the bumbling is only a hiccup
in the ordered scheme of things. Weariness sets in.

Fourth: A counter-rhythm develops. Syncopation sets in. Suddenly,
a wild dance whirls through the march. Chaos returns with a will.
The order has been subverted, the structure shredded.

Fifth: All sense of order has fallen apart. Randomness reigns.
The beauty of the wild begins to appear–itself–as a sameness.
Colors and sounds and sensations begin to sort themselves.

Sixth: Everything begins to work in sync.

Gratitude List:
1. More wonderful family time together. Nate riffing on the piano. What a musician!  Jon’s delicious lasagna. Uno has to be one of the best family games.
2. Shadows. Secret scenes and messages in the shadows.
3. Watching the boys take on creative projects and take pride in their work.
4. Thanksgiving Break. It wasn’t long enough, but it was wonderful while it lasted.
5. Dark Chocolate: Lemon Pepper Ginger.

May we walk in Beauty!

Exploring the Shadows

2014 January 018
Sun and shadow.

It’s Brigid’s Day.  It’s Candlemas.  Day of the Groundhog.  Day of the Shadow.

The thing about shadows?  They appear most clearly on the brightest days.  Those cloudy and overcast days, when everything is one singular tone–the shadows are hints and mirages only.  But on days when the sun is shining brightly, then the shadows flow and scatter about your feet and down the hill, pooling and puddling like water in the hollows and crevices.  On sparkling days, you can look into the shadows and discern the deep indigo and violet.  The shadow becomes a mirror, another layer of reality overlaid upon the everyday.

Today, I will light my candle in the dark places and watch for the way the light shifts the darkness around me, how it helps to define and shape the darkness, how it gives meaning to the shapes of things as their shadows find them, mirror them, define them.  Today, I will be the groundhog, searching for the shadow that defines and mirrors me, that offers me a new vision of who I am when I am outside the safe burrow of myself and standing in the sunlight.

May your shadow be a reflection of the Truest You.

Gratitude List:
1. Sleep.  I seem to need more of it these days.  And I am sleeping more deeply.
2. Shadows.  Mirrors. Reflections.
3. Indigo. I’ve been meditating on indigo.  I want to do more research on human perception of blues, indigo in particular.  When people began talking about no longer including it in the rainbow line-up, I was really bothered, and was consequently delighted when my 6yo came home from school and told me about Roy G Biv (the I is still in there).
4. Dinner with the dormies last night.
5. Circling the wagons. Joining hands to hold the net.  Casting the lines from person to person to form the web.

May we walk in Beauty!

Look into the Shadow

P1020132
Today is Brigid’s Eve, one of those halfway days in the year.  Partway between Solstice and Equinox, it’s one of those moments in the year’s turning that gives us a breathing space to pause and take stock.  The light has been growing again for six weeks, and my winter-dulled consciousness is now catching up, now finally noticing the way day begins to spread out wider before me.

Tomorrow morning, amid all the goofiness that surrounds the moment here in Pennsylvania, we will take note of whether a largish rodent will or will not notice her shadow, and we will use that to predict the ending of the winter season.  Six weeks from now is the beginning of May, and no matter which way the shadows fall today, spring will be here by then.

If I take my seat in my comfortable burrow with the groundhogs for the moment and consider what light may arrive at my doorstep by tomorrow morning, I find myself considering what there is within me that may need to be drawn into the light, and what must remain protected in the inky space behind me.  Can I find the courage to look into the aching indigo of my own shadows?

It’s a fine enough question to ask: Will the groundhog see its shadow?  But try to turn it around, and ask yourself: Will I see my own?

Gratitude List:
1.  All that music yesterday.  In the morning–singing, singing.  The String Band in the evening.  Watching the children watch the band.  They loved the song about sandwiches.  So glad Santa finally brought them a banjo or two, but I’m sad that the trade-off was the double bass.
2. Vulnerability.  People who model vulnerability and open-heartedness.
3. Courage.  Couer (old French for heart).  Couer-age.  En-couer-age-ment: Enheartening.
4. Making new friends who seem like old friends.
5. Looking into the teeth of the questions.

Take Courage.  Take Heart.

Wings

I dreamed I had wings,
black feathers rising behind me like shadow.
When I opened my eyes,
the lonely earth spread out beneath me;
the old moon was at my back.

Gratitude List:
1. Crows crossing the moon in the morning
2. Mist rising from the Millstream in the afternoon
3. Options
4. Shadows
5. Three Good Things.  I have been carrying some heaviness lately–by my own choice, and with gratitude and great love.  So it was nice in the space of this day to have Three Good Things come my way: a student stopped by to tell me that her father, who had been injured fighting a fire a year ago, is back on the job; another student, adopted as a baby from Russia, stopped by to tell me that he finally received his official citizenship; this evening at the library, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a long time.

May we walk in Beauty!

Green Shadows

Sometimes you start to write a poem, and an interesting structure emerges, and so so go on and formalize it and make your own structure.  What emerged here was a 2/8/8/3 syllable-count poem.  These really busy summer days when the farm is ramping up, but the feeling of the world is slow and lazy and dreamy, something about the structure of this appealed to my sense of being caught behind a veil, stuck in a conflict where something in me wants to live in a quiet instinctual place while the world is bustling about me.

The song
of the house finch is green, and the
way the sunlight dapples the wall
in shadow.

Green is
the soul of the field mouse, and the
way that the brook meanders through
the meadow.

The heart
of this morning is green, and the
morning breezes that eddy in
the hollow.

 

I realize that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are crunchy for many people, for many reasons.  If this is the case for you, I wish you comfort and solace, a chance to look quietly at the attendant pain, and good strong breath to carry you through.    Much love.

Gratitude List:
1. For my father, for the way he so gracefully blends reason and wisdom and compassion.
2. For Jon Weaver-Kreider, and his gentle spirit.
3. For books and stories, myths and fables
4. For work, preparations, and planning (opening day on the farm is this week!)
5. For that green sun peaking over the hill.

May we walk in Beauty!

Winter Balances

A quick little poem.
I am of two minds about winter.

One moment:
Enough, I say!  Enough
of the suffocating darkness,
of the cold that drives me
into my bed, a-quiver.
Enough of the river
frozen halfway to stone.
Enough of the bone-chilling
mind-numbing ache of it.

Then, sun on the snow,
a-sparkle, a-dazzle,
glinting ferociously:
Here is your light!
Bathe in it, draw it in,
into your marrow,
carry it deep in your heart,
in the depths, in the shadows.

Gratitude List:
1.  The way the winter sun sparkles through the bathroom window at Radiance and hits the Mary Oliver poem about summer.
2.  Talking it over
3.  The gift of vulnerability.  I want to be always strong, strong like you.  And then you open your heart and show me: “Here is the way.  Here are the places that are fearful to look upon.”  I have so much to learn.
4.  Healing energy like that bright winter sun, shimmering all around.
5.  Assessing and tweaking

May we walk in Beauty.

Noticing

I just noticed that there is a face in the shadow of the tree on the barn at the top of my blog page.  Just a little to the left of center.  Hmm.  Don’t forget–tomorrow’s poem is a list poem–perhaps a gratitude?

Gratitude List:
1.  Opportunities to practice the work I have committed to, even when it’s hard.
2.  Good music.
3.  Abundance.   Lavish love, overflowing hope.  Yes, even when I sit near or in the shadows.
4.  Children’s literature
5.  Process.  Step by Step.  Just because I/we want to be There at sometime in the future doesn’t mean we have to jump there today.
May we walk in beauty.