Coyote in the Bosque

This morning we saw a coyote in the bosque.

Gratitude List:
1. Geese
Skeins of snow geese embroider
cloud to Mary’s blue robe.
Veins of geese like rivers
flow across the sky,
deltas of birds, calling,
filling the air with invitation.
2. Coyote
A golden shadow flashes,
golden as the forest floor,
across the creek and up the hill
through the bosque.
3. Solitude
Even the cat has stopped yelling,
and the only sound in my head
is the clock ticking
on my grandmother’s mantle.
4. Walking Barefoot Through Lent
Bare feet on the ground,
feeling the Earth,
connected, walking
in the footsteps of Moses,
Martin, and Malala.
5. Sun
You can’t get that angle in summer
the way the sun casts tree-shadows
all across Skunk hollow,
pathways to secret destinations.

May we walk in Beauty!

Dreams of Flying

During yesterday’s day alone, I took a little time to play with the Dreamscope app. This is younger me as a mermaid.

Gratitude List:
1. Featherbed. The very definition of coziness. (Check out John McCutcheon singing Featherbed.)
2. Yesterday’s solitude. I feel prepared to be back among people.
3. The great-horned owl calling from the bosque.
4. Dreams of flying. In last night’s dream, I wasn’t actually flying, but jumping and gliding. Still, it fulfilled the wild feeling of catching the wind.
5. Stones. Prayers.

May we walk in Beauty!

Secret River


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!

Time for Integration


“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:

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!

Grandmother’s Roots

the peonies have
finally awakened in
the doorway of June
transient blooms and roots that
come from grandmother’s garden

Examen and Gratitude:
1. (Who inspires you?) Harriet Tubman.  Today, I finish my mini-course with my students at the River.  We will talk of dreams and water, of the Underground Railroad that traveled up this River, the walk to freedom.  And I will tell them of the Dreamer, Harriet Tubman–legend says that sometimes she would suddenly fall asleep at really dangerous moments on the journey northward, but when she awoke, she would know the next way to go.
2. (What makes you glad?) Sun on the wing of the red-winged blackbird.
3. (What fills you with deep joy?) The inclusive laughter of teenagers, the way they perform for each other to make each other laugh, the way the laughter catches from one to another and on down the line like a wildfire.
4. (What is your hunger?) For solitude, for silence, for deep quiet.  Even in the midst of loving these last days with my young people, part of me is turning toward the quiet of summer and the deliberate pacing of the long days.
5. (What wakes you up and calls you forward?) Trying on new ways to use words, reading poets who break up language and use it like mosaic and collage artists use broken bits of glass and pieces of paper.

May we walk in Beauty!

Asking the Questions


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!

Poem Cop-Out

It’s a packing tape dispenser, but it is also a bear.

On some of these days
the only poem I can
muster is haiku

Lame, I know, but it’s what I’ve got today.

Gratitude List:
1. Sleep: I love that moment when I lie down and I can feel the tiredness receding, can feel my body relaxing, can let my mind follow its own trails
2. The ones who don’t give up
3. Moments of solitude and quiet in the midst of a busy time
4. Timeless stories–we’re getting into The Odyssey in Freshman English, and they’re hooked by the stories
5. Changing it up

May we walk in Beauty!



Prompt: Write a leftovers poem.

What you have is the residual,
the leftover, the new guiding principle:
When all is said and done the finest morsel
may be in the doggie bag
awaiting your next meal.

Don’t underestimate the power
of the second day’s feast,
the way memory seasons the taste
with her own sweet-savory-sweet,
how the sharp edges of solitude
define the shape of intimacy.

Gratitude List:
1. That streak of orange fox, lithe and muscular, that raced across our path yesterday morning while we were on the way to Thanksgiving dinner.
2. Laughing together
3. Singing together
4. Eating together
5. Moments of solitude, too.

May we walk in Beauty!

Following the Path of Grace

DSCN8664 (1)

There is no prompt up yet, and I have to head to school.  I’ll do a second post later today with the poem.

Gratitude List:
1. Awakenings: Yesterday in a short story, the girl’s boyfriend and his mother offered to help in a chaotic moment at the restaurant.  The dad went out to wait in the car.  This was an incidental sentence in the story, but two of my classes stopped the story and complained about the dad.  They expect more of men these days.
2. Companionship: This bright boy sitting beside me and reading as I write.
3. Redemption. Grace. Restoration:  We don’t always live up to the possibilities.  The people we care for sometimes break or trample the trust we put in them.  Still, we find room for grace.  Today’s grace may be fragile, may be temporary, but I will nurture the hope it offers with everything I can give it, like the tiny, impossible flame we tended at the fire pit a couple weeks ago, giving it our breath, feeding it, believing it would catch.
4. Solitude: Not yet, not yet.  But last night I began my first dreamings for my contemplative solitude retreat this summer.
5. Growth: Sometimes the daily minutiae of teacher-work can make it seem like there is no growth, or that the growth is too small, too slow.  When I step back and look at the progress of students’ work from last year to this, it suddenly becomes clear, like looking at that small oak tree out on the hill.  I cannot see its day-to-day growth, but when I look at it over time, I can see the miracle of its growth.

May we walk in Beauty!