The Tree Spirit of Goldfinch Bluff


Can you see the thoughtful face of my friend there up on the hill, keeping watch over the farm?

Today’s Prompt is to write a “Stranger ________” poem.

Stranger Dreams
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In that space between sleeping and waking,
aware of your day body breathing,
the sounds of the next-door world seep through,
the sounds of the dream-people speaking.

Past your body the dream-people wander,
and you are the watcher, observing
as they go about their dream-life day
while you listen to your own body breathing.

Sometimes you find yourself leaping
out of the breathing husk of your body,
grabbing the child from the predator’s pouncing
or answering questions dream-people are asking.

When you stumble back into your breathing body,
you find your eyes fluttering open,
echoes of dream-conversations ringing
into the quiet stillness of afternoon.


Well, I had a Dorothy Day Day a few weeks back. This seems to be my Bonhoeffer Day:
“We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing — for that is nothing but fear. ‘Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless’ — for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible’s demands in times such as these?” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear … Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.” —Nelson Mandela
***
“We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future. We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.” —Thomas Berry


Gratitude List:
1. Feeling good feels so good when one has felt bad.
2. Long naps full of crazy lucid dreams
3. Solitude (but for the dream-folk and the cats)
4. Kale and Jarlsberg quesadilla
5. The strong voices of women speaking out

May we walk in Beauty!

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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!

Embodiment

“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?” –Audre Lorde
*
“This is the true meaning of embodiment: To show up with wholehearted presence for this moving encounter with life. Instead of clambering towards ever-furthering horizons or withdrawing into distractions and addictions, showing up for those absences in our lives. Welcoming our fears and discomforts as necessary conditions to creativity. Loving the gestation as much as the harvest, even while remembering the barren season that must follow. Aspiring, in all things, to be human.” –Toko-pa Turner
*
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
*
“Human beings lose their logic in their vindictiveness.”
–Elizabeth Cady Stanton
*
“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born,
and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere–on water and land.” –Walt Whitman
*
A Prayer for the World
Rabbi Harold Kushner

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Amen.


Gratitude List:
1. Crows in the mist
2. Robins making a deafening ruckus in the hollow at dawn
3. A murmuration of starlings
4. The tender, open, compassionate hearts of teenagers. Every day, there’s something that melts my crusty heart a little.
5. I love Jon’s new job

May we walk in Beauty!

Poetry as Breathing


“[Ginsburg] was right about the poem being a mind-breath. Each word depends on how your mind breathes.” —Juan Felipe Herrera
*
“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” —Sue Monk Kidd
*
“Lay down your heart, sister
for one mist-laden moment
on the bank of the river
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.
Still, the waters may offer
questions, instead. Questions
will create the riddles
that will draw you on
despite the darkness.”

—Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“May your day be bright with sunlight shimmering through the trees. May magic grab your sleeves at every turn you take. May you feel the web that connects you to so many–to oh, so many–loving hearts.” —BW-K
*
This one is long, but I think it really needs to be here:
Guidelines for Despair and Empowerment Work by Joanna Macy
“These are not steps in a prescribed order, but guidelines to our process wherever we may find ourselves entering it.
1. Acknowledge our pain for the world. If it is present, we cannot deny its reality. We cannot make it go away by arguing it out of existence, or burying it inside of ourselves. We can acknowledge our pain for the world to ourselves through journal writing or prayer, and if we choose, by communicating our awareness to those around us.
2. Validate our pain for the world. Let us honor it in ourselves and others, by listening carefully and accepting it as healthy and normal in the present situation. To hurry in with words of cheer can trivialize its meaning and foster repression.
3. Experience the pain. Let us not fear its impact on ourselves and others. We will not shatter, for we are not objects that can break. Nor will we get stuck in this pain, for it is dynamic, it flows through us. Drop our defenses, let us stay present to its flow, express it—in words, movement and sounds.
4. Move through the pain to its source. As we experience this pain, we learn that it is rooted in caring, not just for ourselves and our children, but for all of humanity. We rediscover our interconnectedness with all beings. Allow this sense of mutual belonging to surface in whatever words and images are meaningful and share them.
5. Experience the power of interconnectedness. Let us dare to translate our caring into a sense of belonging to all humanity and the web of life. Observe the trust level rise when we expose our vulnerability to pain for the world. Recognize how the realization of interconnectedness results in personal security and economy of effort.”
From Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age. (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1983.)


Gratitude List:
1. That big branch that fell last night seems to have avoided even scratching the car. We have been really conscientious about not parking our car under the poplar tree for just this reason, and the branches rarely fall. Last night, we left the car in the driveway overnight, and that’s the night the poplar chose to drop a limb. It woke me up. I thought someone was upending furniture downstairs.
2. I got a LOT of work done yesterday, and I plan to get a lot more done this morning. Here’s to long uninterrupted hours.
3. The way the mind attaches itself to pattern. There’s a perfect circle out in the bushes and greenery on the wild hillside out my window. No camera could capture it because it’s how my eye sees the arc of a bush, fills out the next bit of arc, attaches a curved shadow beneath the vines, fills in a little more and finds another bit of curve, until the circle is complete. It may be that only my eyes can see it, but it is there, as truly as grass or tree or vine. And our minds do this all the time, all day long. I see faces everywhere I turn, in the plaster on the ceiling, in the neighbors’ walnut tree, in a towel tossed on the floor. Our minds are made to seek patterns, calling us to an awareness of greater patterns.
4. There was a moment there when all the machines and appliances seemed to cease their electrical humming, and the house was filled with a profound silence. Nothing, until the wren again took up his incessant holler.
5. Lights at ends of tunnels.

May we walk in Beauty!

Cocooned


The hollow is cocooned in a bowl of fog and mist. The songbirds are striking up the second movement in the dawn chorus, and the gang of crows that were arguing in the bosque has moved on to other venues. The mourning dove is giving voice to her emotions. Perhaps three cars have passed in the hour I have been sitting here.

I have been thinking more about how we live in layers, how the past and the present come together in this moment, and sometimes we seem to be living in the layers of time simultaneously. In recent years, Facebook has become my diary, showing me what I have done on this day in years past. I have been fascinated by some of the uncanny coincidences. We went to the Shoe House for ice cream on the exact same day two years in a row–the only two times we have taken our children there. Yesterday before we took Fred to the vet to release him from his pain and confusion, Jon had a tender encounter with a hummingbird who hovered for a few seconds so close to him that he could hear her wings. This morning, I read that two years ago yesterday, I had a similar encounter with a hummingbird. These are lovely little whimsical connections, but they draw my mind to the deeper ones, to the circles and spirals and overlaps of my existence here. Nothing that happens has happened before. Everything has happened before. All moments are unique and separate, and all moments are one single moment.

Sometimes I would like to be one of those crows and sail above the landscape of my life, looking for patterns, gaining perspective. I suppose these moments of reflection are just that. But I can’t live my life with that sort of distance, that sort of intellectual fascination. I have to live down here, in the moments that come, holding within me the fragments of the map as I glimpse them, and experiencing everything as though it is both the freshest and newest thing and also a part of the ancient pattern.
*****

I have done very little writing of my own this summer, choosing instead to curate the words of others. In the past decade, I have been honing my craft, finding my voice, building up a body of poems. I have self-published two little books, and that has been immensely satisfying, but I am feeling unsettled again, like I need to find my voice in a wider space. I have been playing with submitting poems and short stories to various publications this summer, and garnering the requisite rejections. I am not discouraged, although I have come to the realization that I need to find a better focus for the work of submission. I have worked in publishing myself (25 years ago), yet I still don’t think I have the requisite savvy for the art of selling my work to the appropriate venues.  That’s my goal for the coming season–not just to submit my poems to random contests and magazines, but to target publications that might appreciate my particular perspectives. Advice is always welcome.


“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” ~James Baldwin
*
“Three things cannot be hidden: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.” ~ Gautama Buddha
*
“Those doing soul work, who want the searing truth more than solace or applause, know each other right away. Those who want something else turn and take a seat in another room. Soul-makers find each other’s company” ~ Rumi
*
“Going within is the only way out.” ~Toko-pa Turner
*
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”
~Thomas Merton
*
“Let me fall, if I must. The one I will become will catch me.” ~Baal Shem Tov
*
“The sky itself
Reels with love.”
—Rumi
*
“That’s a tough spirituality. That’s not any kind of sweet-by-and-by spirituality. That’s a spirituality that takes on the world as it is and says, ‘I’m gonna figure this out one way or another.’ The mystic and the Moses.” ~Vincent Harding (On Being interview)
*
“How do you survive through time and chance,
through the twisty songs of fate?
Plant your roots deep,
cling to rock and boulder.
Send your strong trunk up into sky.
Live in the stillness.
Breathe.” ~Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“May you know the fearlessness of an open heart. May you never meet anyone you consider a stranger, and know that no matter what, you are not alone. May you have compassion for others’ suffering and joy in their delights. May you be free to give and receive love.” –Sharon Salzberg
*
“In our culture, we use the word ‘dreamy’ derogatively to describe someone who is unrealistic or without ambition. But what thrills and amazes me about dreamwork is how truly grounding it is. One of the reasons this is true, is because dreams are expressions of that larger ecosystem in which we are embedded, and which has a design for our lives within that greater context! So rather than taking our cues from consensus culture, instead we are listening to the mystery which combines us. As Jungian analyst Ann Bedford Ulanov puts it, “the Self is that within us that knows about God.” So when we come together in dreamsharing community, our symbols can begin to heal one another as we work within our psychic commons.” – Dreamwork with Toko-pa


Gratitude List:
1. The tenderness of the folks at St. Francis Animal Hospital. They gave us space to grieve, and one woman walked us out to the car afterward. There’s a hole in our hearts, and we were at loose ends much of the day yesterday, but we are grateful that Fred is no longer suffering. It’s the contract we make when we take animals into our care, that we will be ready to make the hard decision to relieve them of their pain when life is about endurance rather than contentment.
2. These quiet moments on the porch, in the fog, in the bowl of birdsong and silence.
3. The work of the coming day. This is the season of clearing clutter and making spaces that work for us.
4. Yesterday’s storm.
5. The human urge to create and to make.

May we walk in Beauty!

Crickets and Silence

glass

This evening, a group of people from my church is going to the airport to welcome a family from Ethiopia and take them to their new home.  May this become a safe and welcoming place for them, a friendly place where the children may grow up in the knowledge that they are loved and treasured.

Gratitude List:
1. Crickets
2. Those moments when Silence is my companion
3. Finding energy
4. Cool mornings (I am trying so hard not to be whiny and fussy about the hot afternoons in my classroom. It helps if I focus on the coolness of the mornings and live into that.)
5. Good literature

May we walk in Beauty!

Time for Integration

HungryFountain

“The fulness of joy is to behold God in everything.” –Julian of Norwich

I am home from my time of solitude at the Jesuit Center.  How shall I carry the monastery within me as I integrate my experiences into my daily round? Of what profit is contemplative work if it cannot be integrated into the quotidian and the mundane?  This will be my focus for the next few days.
* How does my time of silence inform my interactions with an angry child?
* How is inner order affected by the unavoidable outer disorder of a busy house and farm?

I will find more questions in the coming days, I am certain.

Some of the words that I have been holding in my heartbowl this week:
Satisfaction
Beginning
Balance
Integration
Solitude
Silence

Gratitude List:
1. Chance Encounter #1: Just as I was walking into the center on Monday, I crossed paths with an old friend who just happened to be on solitary silent retreat at the Center for the exact same days that I was.  We greeted each other, entered silence, passed each other throughout the days there, and held a short written conversation with a plan to meet and converse about our retreat experiences on Wednesday morning.  What a gift!  What a holy coincidence. (Some people say there are no coincidences.  I think there are holy coincidences–chance experiences that we mold and turn into holy or sacred moments.)
2. Chance Encounter #2: In the evening of my second day, as I was deeply into a collage meditation in the Ignatian Room in the basement, a pair of women caught my attention to ask how to register.  Bonnie had gone home for the day, and these women were new and didn’t know what to do.  I helped them find their registration sheets, find their way to their room, and figure out when dinner was.  They were sweetly grateful.  I found them again yesterday morning, and broke my silence to talk with them.  They are Sisters of Mercy, both of them former teachers, still educators.  They were delighted to talk together about the vocation of education, and they told me that they will add me and my students to their centering prayer times in the evenings.  Another supremely holy moment, a brilliant moment.  They embraced me and kissed me and blessed me, and I will carry my encounter with Sister Mary Clare and Sister Bridget into my summer and into my teaching.
3. Vanilla ice cream and berries–strawberries and freshly-picked black raspberries.
4. Settling into home with my guys.  Re-integration is a noisy and sometimes conflicted affair, but pleasant and delightful nonetheless.
5. The new project is born.  This seed has been a long time germinating, but during retreat it sprang up fiercely and vividly.  It will take a lot of nurture to see it to completion, but I feel prepared for the task.

In Beauty may we walk!

Blue and Gold

AZ_BlueGoldMacaw02  macaw 1  macaw 2    

Gratitude List:
1. Macaw feather.  The feather appeared in my path one day as I was walking up the hill from the pond, and disappeared as magically as it appeared.  Parrots are symbols of communication, of knowing when to speak and when not to speak, of using language for healing, of ritual and ceremonial language.
2. Berry season.  Strawberries and vanilla ice cream.  Mulberries staining the fingers and mouths of small children.  Wineberries swelling on the briars.  The hard green nuggets of blackberries preparing their sweetness.  And the cherries from the ancient cherry tree by the old spring by Cabin Creek–a little wormy, but sweet, so sweet.
3. Reunions.  With friends on Friday night, we let the children stay up until 11 because they were having so much fun with each other, this second generation of the College Gang.  They made a whirlpool in Abby’s swimming pool, and played themselves dizzy and exhausted.  I think they might remember that evening for the rest of their lives.  I might, too.  One boy slept until two the following afternoon.
4. School.  I’ve written this and written this, how grateful I am about this work, these fine young people, these kind-hearted colleagues, Words and Language, and now the Completion of Year One.  I just don’t want to take any of it for granted.  I have so much mulling to do in the coming weeks about how this has changed my life, what it is calling me to become.
5. Silence.  Tomorrow I go on Retreat.  Three days of silence at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville.  It comes at the perfect time.

May we walk in Beauty!

My Mother’s Voice

Tanzanian Silence (1966)
by Ruth Weaver

White hot noonday sun;
The earth, still;
Cattle and birds, silent at midday.
Later a breeze would come sweeping up from the shores of Lake Victoria;
And children would laugh and call and run home from school;
But in this time and place
And at this hour,
Sometimes,
The sound of sheer silence.

In that stillness,
That absence of all sound and movement,
There would come an awareness of sound beyond sound
Stars incinerating themselves?
Cosmic expansion?
The ongoing music of creation?

“And God spoke. . .”

I experience a knowingness
That beyond all the sounds of life on earth
And beyond all the noise of my own inner world
God still speaks.

In the Cosmos and in the heart,
God can be heard.
In stillness.
In silence.

Gratitude List:
1.  Learning the poetry of my mother, Ruth Slabaugh Weaver, and my grandmother, Lura Lauver Slabaugh.   Experiencing the wisdom and beauty of the voices of the women who have come before me, my mother and grandmothers, my friends who have paved such incredible pathways.  (And for my father, for pulling out this poem for my birthday, for poetically suggesting that my mother may have been hearing my own music emerging as she wrote this poem in the year before I was born.)
2.  Cicadas
3.  Staying afloat
4.  So many words, so many stories
5.  The imagination of chidren

May we walk in Music, Silence, Stillness, Beauty.