Through the Veil

Tonight is the Hallowed Eve, the Holy Night, the opening of the veil into the Holy Days of All Saints and All Souls, a time to reflect on our mortality as we remember those who’ve gone before: the wise and compassionate ones, the givers and doers and makers, and the beloved ones who are no longer with us.

We all reach that doorway, in the end. The tunnel with the bright light, the voices calling, the shedding of the body. And so we remember to enjoy it while we have it, to wear these mortal clothes with as much delight and passion and wisdom and kindness as we can muster. To be like our saints and our beloveds. To carry their legacy within our own mortal bones.

We look the leering skull in the face and say, “Someday, yes. But not today.” Instead of running from the skeletons of memory and loss, we dance with them a while, drink a toast, and bow to respectfully, knowing we too will someday be the memories our beloveds dance with.


“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses,
And all the king’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.” –Mother Goose
*
Marge Piercy:
Forgive the dead year. Forgive
yourself. What will be wants
to push through your fingers.
The light you seek hides
in your belly. The light you
crave longs to stream from
your eyes. You are the moon
that will wax in new goodness.
*
“Surrender is not passively resigning yourself to something. . .it is a conscious embracing of what is.” –Cynthia Bourgeault
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The wheel turns.
The harvest is in.
The veil parts.
We walk into the dark time.
Dream well.
Bright Blessings.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“We meet no ordinary people in our lives.” –C. S. Lewis
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“When you think everything else is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot.” –Dalai Lama


Gratitude List:
(Some of these are a little goofy, perhaps, but they were all part of the sweet simple delights of the day)
1. When you’re singing a song to the cats, and when you pause, one of them comes in at exactly the right moment and pitch.
2. When you’re walking down the street in Wrightsville, and a tiny little Elsa-person looks up and says with gleaming eyes and gusto, “Hello, Witch!”
3. This night of the year when whole communities create fun for children.
4. That bush on our walk through Wrightsville, with the yellow flowers, like a bit of the tropics on a cold October night.
5. Tuesdays.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Blessed Be Your Longing

“Why are you so determined to keep your wild silently inside you? Let it breathe. Give it a voice. Let it roll out of you on the wide open waves. Set it free”
―Jeanette LeBlanc
*
“Lots of people talk to animals…Not very many listen though…that’s the problem.” ―Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
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“When war is our only industry, the only crop is blood.” ―Will Giles
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Plant
So that your own heart
Will grow.

Love
So God will think,
“Ahhhhh,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Rolls.”

Sing
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Needs.

Laugh
Because that is the purest
Sound.
—Hafiz
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“My journey has taught me that I must learn religion as the mystics learned it, through the inward quest that Jungian psychology has helped me with so much. Banding together in institutions, whether religious, academic or professional, helps some feel secure and able to look down on the unenlightened. But I’ve clearly learned that the inward quest must become one’s own before it’s any good at all.”
—Bud Harris, Ph.D.
*
“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?” —Gabrielle Roth
*
“Blessed be your longing. Your endless ache. Your sharp crystal shatter. Your sea glass heart.” ―Jeannette LeBlanc


Gratitude List:
1. Monarchs drifting down the wind.
2. Murmurations. On the way home today, I saw, suddenly, in the windy sky ahead of me, two great black shapes like lungs in the air. It was a flock of starlings on a group maneuver. A second later, they banked and separated, and flickered out of apparent existence. When I drew underneath them, I could see a long and ragged flock flying north to south across the road. Only in their communal aerial acrobatics were they visible from a distance.
3. Driving beneath golden walnut leaves twirling earthward.
4. Singing together, and speaking poetry, and telling stories.
5. All the thousand names for God.

May we walk in Beauty!

May There Always Be Sunshine

“I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.”  -Anne Lamott
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“Morning is the best of all times in the garden. The sun is not yet hot. Sweet vapors rise from the earth. Night dew clings to the soil and makes plants glisten. Birds call to one another. Bees are already at work.” – William Longgood
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“Elsewhere the world may be blustering or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, while others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn — and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, while the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames, tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb. So, let us drink a cup of tea.”
– Muriel Barbery, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”
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“There is ecstasy in paying attention.”
– Anne Lamott
*
Though I may speak with bravest fire,
And have the gift to all inspire,
And have not love, my words are vain,
As sounding brass, and hopeless gain.

Though I may give all I possess,
And striving so my love profess,
But not be given by love within,
The profit soon turns strangely thin.

Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control,
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed;
By this we worship, and are freed.
–Hal Hopson


Gratitude List:
1. Little Baby Anya examining her Uncle Dick’s face with such intensity.
2. Preparing songs for Anne’s ordination. Making music with Val and Todd.
3. Kids having fun together in the pool. I still watch closely, but today was the most relaxed I have ever been with my children in the pool.
4. Summer morning rain
5. A straight seven hours of sleep, not waking up even once

May we walk in Beauty!

Dance


Message in the Zen Garden: “Dance like everyone is watching, and they are all your fans.” I love my students.

Gratitude List:
1. Mountain Laurel blooming on Ducktown Road.
2. A rousing rendition of Happy Birthday in chapel this morning, the footage to be sent to our Little Guy on his birthday in the hospital.
3. Music in chapel this morning: Peniel singing in Amharic, Shadrack singing in French, and Maya and Conner singing a Blessing (was it partly in Italian?) What a gift to have that half hour in the school day that is so often filled with incredible music.
4. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It feels as though there’s a deep chasm between me and the light, but I’ll get there one way or another.
5. Breeze.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Murmuration in the Woods

Gratitude List:
1. Listening to this Winnie the Pooh of a kid humming and singing to himself while he plays: “Umpity Dumpity Dumpity Dum,” and riffs on sounds that pop into his head.
2. Vultures on a billboard by the bridge this afternoon, wings out to the sun.
3. The murmuration flew through the woods behind the house this afternoon, whooshing through the trees.
4. Revising and editing
5. Onion Bagels

May we walk in Beauty!

Helpful Friends

imag2122
Poor little Pippi encountered a deer in the morning gloaming on Ducktown Road yesterday. She’ll be out of commission for a little while.

Gratitude List:
1. Neither Ellis nor I were hurt in the collision. I am not so sure about the other guy, a large (8-point, perhaps?) buck. I thought he was dead. He just lay there where he had fallen, under the guard rail, but just as I had collected myself enough to think about getting out to check on him, he leaped up and dashed into the woods. Poor guy. I hope he survived.
2. Friends who help in a time of crisis. Julie Flinchbaugh, for comforting us and giving Ellis some apple cider. Erin Darby, who drove the carpool to Lancaster on a moment’s notice. Jon, who was my telephone anchor–I kept calling him because I didn’t know what to do. My parents, who gave us their second car while Pippi Prius is at the Dentist. (This is one of our favorite puns. Not only is she having her dents repaired, but the owner/operator of the garage that takes care of our vehicles is our neighbor, Den.  Den-dent-dentist: get it?)
3. Restorative conversations. This morning I get to help with a restorative conference at school. I went into the Restorative Circle training a couple weeks ago with a little trepidation, worried that my anxieties about conflict would keep me from really being able to do this kind of work. This morning, I feel really ready to participate, to ask questions, to help facilitate this conversation. I am eager to be part of this kind of work.
4. Flaming trees. They say that the color will be sort of “meh” this season, after the summer’s dry weather, but the maples didn’t get the memo. They’re pulling out the stops.
5. Yesterday’s singing in chapel. We sang “Tu Eres Todopoderoso,” a song from Mennonite World Conference. I love that song.

May we walk in Beauty!

Time to Re-Envision and Revise

bridemusic
Another picture of my brother and me, singing yesterday at a celebration for Bridge of Hope National. 

I really like to work with extremely short poetry. There’s an imagist within me, I suppose, wanting to capture an image like a photograph, to hold it in words, to take the thing that I see and recreate it in such as way that you will see it, too. But I can never seem to leave it only at the image, because everything means something to me. It’s all messages.  Here is one from 2014:

yellow walnut leaves
twist and twirl silently earthward
lavishly giving themselves to breeze, to breath
prodigal as love

I wonder how it would affect the poem were I to change “breath” to “death”?  I’d lose the “r” sound that follows “earth” so nicely, for one thing.  And I like that repeated initial “br.” Maybe I will keep it. I am in revisions mode now, so every word is on the table for possible change and transformation. (Like that “twist.” I like the alliteration “twist and twirl,” but that seems a little bit of an obvious one.  Hmm.)

Gratitude List:
1. The people who do good work in the world, not because of some sense of wanting to feel better about themselves because they do charity, but because they know their future is bound up in the future of all, that we’re all one people, and we must survive together.
2. Organizations like Bridge of Hope and Samara, that work to support families in crisis, to give children a safer and healthier childhood.
3. I didn’t get it all done, but I got a lot of it done, and that feels at least a little satisfying.
4. In the midst of all the daily work, I managed to get my next poetry manuscript onto a single document in the betweeny moments. This week I will print it out, and I’ll start the revising and editing in the next raft of betweeny moments. A friend once told me the story of a wizard who never got wet in the rain because he just walked between the raindrops.  That’s going to be me and this manuscript, working between the raindrops of the daily.
5. Waking up the spine. Stretching. Breathing. The long, slow uncurling into the day’s work.

May we walk in Beauty!

Singing and Stories

Sign outside of a building and remodeling business in York:  “Do more of what makes you holy.”

Gratitude List:
1.  The singing.  Oh, the singing!  The listening, the paying attention, the blending of voices, the breathing.
2.  This story: about the Christian man and the Muslim man who traveled together for a time, and every morning read together from the Bible and the Quran.
3.  The morning glories raising their violet and magenta throats toward the dawning.
4.  Yesterday, one boy shared his dessert with the other, oh so kindly, oh so gently.  Little moments that make me remember that all the work is paying off.
5.  The changing of weather and of season–always a new thing in the air to anticipate.

May we walk in Beauty!

Belly Laughs and Chocolate

Gratitude List:

1. Belly laughs and chocolate
2. Reminiscence
3. Singing Together.  Finding the notes.
4. Africa House (the art, the fans, the cool floor, the growly mockingbird, the rainmaker, the gathering places, the fireplace, the games, the way laughter echoes down the hallways, oh–even the skunk)
5. Telling Our Stories: All these wonderful and terrible stories, these wise and hopeful and despairing stories.  How they fill the bowl.  How we make a net together, to receive them, to sift them, to examine them.  To hold them maybe, or to let them go.

May you make your path by walking.
May you find someone who will hold your stories with you.
May you walk on holy ground.
May you walk in Beauty.