Remembering How to Dream

“I would like to paint the way a bird sings.”
–Claude Monet
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“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” –Vincent van Gogh
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“Do unto those downstream as you would have those downstream do unto you.” –Wendell Berry
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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!

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The Art of Enough


Today is the feast day of St. Hildegard of Bingen. If I have a patron saint, it would be her. She loved music and art, herbalism and stones. She was mystic, poet, doctor, composer, artist, and theologian. I’ll include some of her quotations in the mix below.

Here, to begin the curated quotations of the day, is something I wrote last year about writing poems, and then a poem I wrote about Sadness.

“I feel like I want a disclaimer before I write a poem about sadness. I realize that my life has been free of the iron grip of sadness that many people experience through depression or trauma or deep, recurring grief. I wrote this poem because I am trying to be Rumi’s Guest House and welcome in any and all who come my way, to learn from them what they would teach me. Sometimes I am a poet sitting at a pool, fishing out a single word at a time. Other days, I sit beside the stream, and the poem jumps right out into my lap and only needs to be tidied up a bit before it’s ready for the page. This is one of the latter.”

She’s a strange guest, is Sadness.
She knocks on the door
and when I open it
she turns her face away, says,
“You probably shouldn’t invite me in.”

But when I close the door,
she comes in anyway,
seeping in around the edges
and standing with her back to the wall.
And then she grows.

When I look directly at her, she dissipates
into the indigo shadows,
and all I can see are her eyes,
full of grief, full of resignation.

Sadness. It’s hard to know her, really,
to understand what she wants of me.

Sometimes she comes in as a cold wind
and I feel my senses tingle with the approach of her
before the world goes numb in her silence.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
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“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
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“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ―Ram Dass
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“If you spell HA backwards, you get AH! Put them together and you get AHA!” ―Jeff Raught (I think I got the quotation right)
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“Like billowing clouds,
Like the incessant gurgle of the brook,
The longing of the spirit can never be stilled.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
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The Red Wheel Barrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.
*
“She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans…. But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.”
―Hildegard of Bingen


Gratitude List:
1. I keep learning new things: There is so much to give away, to let go, before I know I have enough.
2. Patience. I have enough Patience, if I can find it behind that stack of Busy-ness that keeps getting in the way.
3. Wisdom. I know I have enough Wisdom here, but it keeps getting lost behind the boxes full of Knowledge and Know-it-allness.
4. Sleep. I can get enough of that, if I just work at it. Sleep is such hard work lately, but it’s better than insomnia.
5. Feathers. What does a feather mean?

May we walk in Beauty!

Awaken Yourself


My parents put so much care into the growing of their bed of lisianthus flowers. This one is only slightly altered with the Dreamscope app. The photo was a little blurry, but I like the composition, so I sent it through the filter.

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.” ―Bill Bullard
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“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” ―Lao Tzu
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“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” ―Mae Jemison
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“You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.” ―Leymah Gbowee
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“I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.” ―Clara Barton
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“When we seek what is truest in our own tradition, we discover we are one with those who seek what is truest in their tradition.” ―James Finley
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“This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Our planet teeters on the brink of atomic annihilation; dangerous passions of pride, hatred and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; and men do reverence before false gods of nationalism and materialism. The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
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“We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.” ― David Suzuki
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“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ―W.B. Yeats
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“There are two ways to live:
you can live as if
nothing is a miracle;
you can live as if
everything is a miracle.”
―Albert Einstein


Gratitude List:
1. The Lehman fields of sunflowers, how they turn their golden faces to the rising sun.
2. I have a very light day today because of 9th-grade testing and orientation. I have a bad cold and a sleep deficit, so it’s perfect timing.
3. How we get to create the meaning of our own stories.
4. The way a cup of coffee transforms me from sleep to waking. I know it is a drug, but it sure was a helpful one this morning.
5. Resolve

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
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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!

Learning Chess

sunrise

Gratitude List:
1. Playing Chess. I am so bad at it. I think of myself as being fairly intelligent, but I am miserable at chess. I do dumb things. But I am loving playing, and loving being schooled by my ten-year-old.
2. Crawling out from under the rock.
3. Long sleeps.
4. The light will return. The light will return. The light will return. Wednesday at 5:44, to be precise.
5. The Great Horned Owl calling in the bosque.

May we walk in Beauty!

****

I’m not sure where I am going with this story. I may take more time off. I seem to have shifted out of the voice in which I began it, and it’s becoming tedious to write it without that initial fire. Perhaps its next steps will have to happen during summer vacation.

****
Deep in the lower ring of the city, where the bustle of the market lasted from early in the morning to late in the evenings, where the fruit and vegetable vendors set up their brightly-colored stalls along the main street out to the gates, where the shops of the bakers and the butchers lined the ancient walls in a rumble-tumble fashion–there where the press of humanity was greatest, in the back of the shop of Bilhah the Baker, there grew up a secret school for women and girls.

While educating females was expressly forbidden by law, many families saw fit to “teach” their daughters to read and write and do simple sums in order that they might help with the family businesses.  As long as no one pushed against the law and tried to send their daughters to school, the spirit of the law could be bent for the good of the family economy.

In recent years, however, the generals had begun to take a firmer hand. King Astra Djin, they whispered secretly amongst themselves, was soft. He wanted easy living, fine wine, gentle and docile women, and lots of gold. His hardest edges were reserved for the collection of taxes, which he raised in greater amounts with each succeeding year.  The generals believed, to a man, that the city-state of Zammarqand needed a heavy-fisted rule. The king could have his cushy life, and the generals would keep him content, fat and happy, while they set about the careful enforcement of law and order in the city.

Simply Gratitude

hosta

Gratitude List:
1. The musical directors at my school. This evening’s Middle School Band, Orchestra, and Choir concert was really delightful.
2. Diverse music
3. I know the moon is there, even though it’s cloudy
4. I know you’re there, even when you’re quiet
5. I slept until the alarm this morning. It’s always sort of notable, and it feels so good to wake up, knowing I have been really sleeping.

May we walk in Beauty!

More story another night. Tonight I will do my work and then sleep.

Invisible as Wind

sweetfred-edited

Today’s Tiny Tale:

There once was a boy who could become invisible as the wind. He would vanish without a word, without leaving a trail, and slip through the cracks in the walls, underneath doors, between lines of lazy type across a page.

Gratitude List:
1. Sundogs
2. The robust and muscular figure of a hawk in a skeletal winter tree
3. Stories
4. Snuggly cat
5. Sleeping and dreaming. This is the season.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Healing Power of Story

imag2077

I am overwhelmed by too much to do, but if I can find a spare twenty minutes today, I am going to write a letter to the president to ask him to intervene on behalf of the civil rights of the nonviolent protesters who are trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline. In early September, the Obama Administration did step in with a temporary injunction which seems to have been completely ignored. Will you join me?

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You know how sometimes when you wake up in the morning, there’s a fragment of something from your dreamworld swimming around in your brain? A piece of a song, an image of a snake with wise eyes, a voice calling your name. . .  A couple days ago, I woke up with a voice that seemed to be calling me: “Sister!” That was all.  Still, it sits in my consciousness days later. Who is calling, and why?

Gratitude List:
1. The color orange. Spring time is about all the shades of greens and violets. Autumn is the whole range of gold through orange to red.
2. The words of Rumi. This one: “Let yourself become living poetry.”
3. Sleep. I don’t get enough of it, and I don’t want to jinx this long insomnia-free run, but I have been sleeping deeply and well in recent weeks. One of my great pleasures is the moment I can let myself fall into sleep each evening.
4. Circles of friendship and support. The way love flows across invisible lines, holding those who watch and hold the space.
5. The healing and integrating power of stories.

May we walk in Beauty!

Secret River

secret

Not sure what this is–fragment of dream, perhaps:

I have wandered these hallways, these corridors,
these rooms filled with shadow, filled with light,
since before I knew myself a traveler.

Gratitude List:
1. Poets in the streets. I love reading with the poets under the Poetry Spoken Here tent at YorkArts Fest. Yesterday was wonderful again. Someday, I will be able to just take the whole day and go and plant myself in that tent and let the words bathe and scour me.
2. I know I have seen the book before, but I never sat down to read the whole thing until yesterday: The Secret River, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. It’s a powerful fable/myth/folk tale about listening to your heart, seeking guidance, trusting your intuition, taking the inward journey. I started reading it to the kids and I knew it was going to go long, and I didn’t want to miss the first poet in York, but I couldn’t stop reading. “Her name was Calpurnia because she was born to be a poet.” You must read it.
3. Yesterday the boys were fighting about how to divide the bottle caps because someone wanted to make a project. Finally I took them outside and showed them two siblings who share a room the size of one of their bottle caps, no deeper than two of them. We all saw both babies, their tiny needle beaks poking out over the rim of the nest. Hummingbird babies grow fast!
4. Sleep. Rest. Quiet. Solitude.
5. Vegetables. August and September are such wonderful seasons for just going outside and getting the food that you’re going to use for a meal. I forage on the extras table for squash and peppers, tomatoes and okra.

May we walk in Beauty!

Camels on the Brain

IMG_0461

My brain is all a-fuzz this morning.  It wants to keep attaching itself to that image from my dream last night, the one that kept me sleeping through the four o’clock hour (finally), of a camel lying in the bed of a truck, wearing sunglasses.  But I don’t have that manic inner edge on this sleepy morning that would enable me to make such a surreal poem.  Why don’t you try that one?  (Edit: Okay, so I did manage a little of that poem down below.)

Tomorrow is National Poem in Your Pocket Day, though your local town may have chosen a different day, so look it up.  Wrightsville is doing it on April 29.  But if you’re at my school, you need to have your poem ready to read to me tomorrow.  I will bring the chocolate.

I have five minutes for this poem:

The ghost of a dream
will inhabit the foggy
pathways of my brain
for ages.
I will spend today
driving to Kabul
behind a camel
or lurking in the hallways
of a grand hotel,
searching for lost memories.

Gratitude List:
1. Sleeping through four o’clock.  This is a big deal, and I am grateful, no matter how strange the dreams that accompanied that sleep.
2. Anticipating oriole.  Waiting for the orange flash and the whistle in the treetops.  Listen, listen and watch.
3. Inspiration.  Okay, it’s inspiration about how to introduce adjective clauses to the freshmen, but when that’s the soup you swim in, it’s pretty exciting to get a flash of inspiration.
4. Student poetry.  Yesterday the Creative Writers read their poetry out loud in class.  Actually, only a handful were brave enough to do it, but the ones that came out were wonderful, and at one point after one student had read her poem, I saw another student start to scribble furiously on his notebook.  Moments later, he raised his hand to read–he had just written a poem inspired by her poem.  And hers had been inspired by Robert Frost, so we left our own trails in those yellow woods.
5. Compassion.  How heart reaches to heart.  How a moment can suddenly turn to caring, to holding another.  I want to be more and more mindful of how a word or a gesture or a glance can turn a moment among people to an inner watchfulness, a heightened awareness of each others’ tender souls.

May we walk in Beauty!