Rain

Gratitude List:
1. The Women’s Trio this morning at church. Blending of voices, colors, textures, rhythms.
2. Feeling the bass rumbling through the back of the pew.
3. Rain: Making it not-hot
4. Rain: I get to walk around with my cheery yellow duck-headed umbrella
5. Rain: Lying on my parents’ couch, wrapped in Uncle Henry’s red-violet blanket, watching the rain and listening to the murmuring and laughter between my parents and my children in the garage.

May we walk in Beauty! (And may all your basements stay dry!)

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On the Nest


It’s not the clearest photo or the best composition, but you get the idea. Mama is on a nest. Stay away, coyotes and foxes and raccoons. May she and her nest be safe.

Some quotations for your day:
“When you teach your daughter, explicitly or by passive rejection, that she must ignore her outrage, that she must be kind and accepting to the point of not defending herself or other people, that she must not rock the boat for any reason, you are not strengthening her prosocial sense; you are damaging it—and the first person she will stop protecting is herself.” —Martha Stout
***
“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
―Clarissa Pinkola Estés
***
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
―Isaac Asimov
***
“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.” ―Henri J.M. Nouwen
***
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
―Adrienne Rich
***
“Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.” ―Natalie Goldberg
***
“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke
***
“That story you writin’ just might save the world. That poem you throwin’ down, could end wars.” ―York Poet and Shining Woman Christine Lincoln
***
Love
saw me and said,
I showed up,
Wipe your tears
and be silent.

I said, O Love
I am frightened,
But it’s not you.

Love said to me,
there is nothing that is not me,
be silent.
―Rumi
***
“Be here. Let your wild self fly free.” ―The Crows

Bring Forth What is Within You

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” —Coretta Scott King
***
“If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” —Gospel of Thomas
***
“If a child is to keep alive [her] inborn sense of wonder, [she] needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with [her] the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
—Rachel Carson
***
“The ultimate measure of a person is not where [he/she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where [she/he] stands at times of challenge and controversy.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
***
“The weight of the world is love.
Under the burden of solitude,
under the burden of dissatisfaction
the weight, the weight we carry is love.”
—Allen Ginsberg
***
“What have you done for color?”
—Henri Matisse
***
“Beauty is whatever gives joy.”
—Edna St. Vincent Millay
***
“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” —Rachel Carson
***
“waging peace
with tender ferocity
and ingenious empathy
and wild compassion”
—Rob Brezsny
***
Have you caught the rustle of wings
as the train rushes through,
hardly slowly to stop at the station?
Have you felt the breath in your ear
as the quiet sun leaps from the ridge
and touches your face like a lover?
Have you noticed the shadow that darts
just at the edge of your vision
as the river flows with purpose
under your ancient bridge?
And suddenly, before you–
before you can take another breath,
the madness is upon you,
the craving has taken you,
the pen is in your hand,
the words glow and bleed
beneath your fingers.
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
“Dreams make the inner life substantial, giving it dimensionality, colour and form. Ritual is the further enfleshment of the unseen; a way of feeding that which is nourishing you so that your living conversation with the holy in nature grows in strength and vocabulary.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


Gratitude List:
1. Snow sure is pretty
2. By hook or by crook, I am ready for the new semester to start today. Now if only I can find a few hours to finish up last semester’s grading. . .
3. I’m getting a whiteboard in my room, which will be nice and easy. I will, however, miss the beauty of chalk work. I’m a secret chalk artist, and I do love to leave little drawings on my board. But the surface was really rapidly wearing away. The other sad thing is that one of my own high school memories of this room is of walking into the classroom and seeing the same green chalkboard filled with Mrs. Banks’s neat and beautiful cursive notes. There were some of us who sought to emulate her handwriting. The more notes, the better–we got more practice copying the beauty.
4. The way you can’t keep a group of English Teachers on a focused conversation because everything comes back to grammar and pedagogy.
5. Chocolate. You know how it helps Harry Potter recover from the dementor attacks? Yeah.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Path of Joy

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
―John Muir
*
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.” ―Rumi
*
“The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.”
―Jack Kornfield
*
“Learning to live in the present moment is part of the path of joy.”
―Sarah Ban Breathnach
*
“Any feminist who has ever taken the high road will tell you the high road gets backed up.” ―Andrea Gibson
*
“Almost every woman I have ever met has a secret belief that she is just on the edge of madness, that there is some deep, crazy part within her, that she must be on guard constantly against ‘losing control’ — of her temper, of her appetite, of her sexuality, of her feelings, of her ambition, of her secret fantasies, of her mind.” ―Elana Dykewomon
*
“Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.”
―Wendell Berry
*
“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of one who gives and kindles joy in the heart of one who receives.”
―St. Seraphim of Sarov
*
It’s 3:23 in the morning, and I’m awake
because my great, great, grandchildren won’t let me sleep.
My great, great, grandchildren ask me in dreams
what did you do, while the planet was plundered?
what did you do, when the earth was unravelling?
surely you did something when the seasons started failing
as the mammals, reptiles, and birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?
what did you do once you knew?
―Drew Dellinger, Ph.D.
*
“At any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” ―Abraham Maslow
*
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
— Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)
*
“Never forget: Justice is what love looks like in public.”
―Cornel West


Gratitude List:
1. More powerful storytelling this morning
2. A nap
3. Rain. I love rain.
4. Gaining clarity through the fog
5. I love this little purring person who has to always sit on my lap.

May we walk in Beauty!

Moonflower


Full Moon filtered through flowery Dreamscope app.

“This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.” –Ben Okri
*
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” –Albert Einstein
*
Out of my life I fashioned a fistful of words.
When I opened my hand, they flew away.
—Hyam Plutzik
“On Hearing that My Poems
Were Being Studied in a Distant Place”
*
Richard Rohr quotes Thomas Keating on the way of peace: “It means to show love tirelessly, no matter what happens. That’s the meaning of turning the other cheek. Once in a while you have to defend somebody, but it means you’re always willing to suffer first for the cause—that is to say, for communion with your enemies. If you overcome your enemies, you’ve failed. If you make your enemies your partners, God has succeeded.”
*
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” –Rumi


Gratitude List:
1. Singing “Swing Low,” “Oh When the Saints,” and “I’m Gonna Sing” in chapel today
2. Beautiful morning rain
3. Looking back through old blog posts this afternoon, watching how the ideas and dreams that I began to sift and plant last winter have begun to gestate within me.
4. Somehow, I know that I will be able to build that bridge from where I am to where I need to go
5. Cannoli dip

May we walk in Beauty!

Rivers of Story

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.” ―Maya Angelou
*
“I have come to bring out the beauty you never knew you had, and lift you up like a prayer to the sky.” ―Rumi
*
“The world has been abnormal for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.” —Madeleine L’Engle
*
“Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature,
but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature.” —St. Augustine
*
“If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you’re good enough. Just do it. Be generous. Offer a gift to the world that no one else can offer: yourself.” —Glennon Doyle Melton
*
“See there! In your palm
are the rivers of story,
of constellations,
dragonfly wings, the pathways
of the heart: love, grief, desire.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
Lunar Eclipse
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The raucous owls were silent in their bamboo haunts
this morning as I rushed up the hill to meet the moon
emerging from her umbral shadow,
from her ombre ochre cocoon.

What moth will she become?
What butterfly will I?
I sat a moment at the junction where my road
meets the ridge, Mt. Pisgah Road before me,
then the tidy fence,
the dusky hill meadow,
a lacy line of trees across the hilltop,
and the changing moon above in chestnut orange glory
nestled into the indigo dawning.

I caught glimpses of her on my way down the ridge
and then in my mirror as I crossed the bridge
over the water and under the last dusk of night
and I saw then that she was only now just fading into the shadow,
only entering her transformation.

I had to leave her there behind me to do her work
behind the veils of dusky morning
while I drove into the shining pink of sunrise,
Venus riding high before me
and two crows above
lifting their wings in alleluia.
*
New Moon Haiku
“The now-naked arms
of the walnut tree cradle
the newly-born moon.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” —attributed to Leonardo da Vinci


Gratitude List:
1. Manna: there will be enough
2. Silence but for the night singers
3. Seeking the bridges to span the chasms
4. Rain and coolness
5. Potluck

May we walk in Beauty!

Changing the Rhythm

This is the last morning of my summer rhythm. Tomorrow, a new thing begins, a new school year. I am ready, eager for the day tomorrow with my colleagues, then welcoming the students on Tuesday. I am not entirely sure what will happen in this space. The leisurely search for quotations and ideas that summer offers will thin and dissipate like morning mist or dawn birdsong. Something will happen here, most likely daily, but I am not sure what that will look like until I am living it. Here’s to the new adventure!

“We never really grow up; we just learn how to act in public.” ~Bryan White
*
“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter ’til they bloom, ’til you yourself burst into bloom.”
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
*
“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die… By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heavens knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” –Charlotte the spider
*
“Love your enemies, and pray for the ones who persecute you.” ~Jesus
*
*“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” ~Doris Lessing
*
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” ~Irish proverb
“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know from what we originate. The loss of purpose that so many of us feel is greater than the trajectory of our careers and personal lives, it is a cultural ailment which arises out of forgetting. Our lives are like the fruit of a heritage seed: Each of the generations that has preceded us has contributed to our life’s survival. There is an ancestral momentum to which we are beholden, and which carries us forward when we are in step with it. To hear this momentum, we must turn towards the soul. There, in our dreams, are the clues to what we love and what our lives long for.” – Dreamwork with Toko-pa
*
“To teach is to create a space in which obedience to truth is practiced.” –Parker Palmer, from Abba Felix tradition
*
“As technological civilization diminishes the biotic diversity of the earth, language itself is diminished. As there are fewer and fewer songbirds in the air, due to the destruction of their forests and wetlands, human speech loses more and more of its evocative power. For when we no longer hear the voices of warbler and wren, our own speaking can no longer be nourished by their cadences. As the splashing speech of the rivers is silenced by more and more dams, as we drive more and more of the land’s wild voices into the oblivion of extinction, our own languages become increasingly impoverished and weightless, progressively emptied of their earthly resonance.”
-David Abram


Gratitude List:
1. I met a woman named Paloma yesterday. She was very gracious when I gushed at her about how I loved her name.
2. Yesterday when I pulled in to a parking lot, I stayed in the car a while to listen to an interview with an incredibly thoughtful and articulate student leader from UVA. While I was sitting there, I began to notice the swallows. They must be migrating. There were dozens of them, making little flights between the trees, scooping up insects as they flew, the morning sun golden on their wings.
3. Today will be time with one of my beloved communities, celebrating a group of young people.
4. Playtime with cats. We have a box where we keep their toys, and Thor likes to go look in and choose which toy he wants to play with. They both love laser pointers.
5. That incredible spider. It creeped us all out when we found it in the Lego bin, but it was amazing. It didn’t seem to be as robust as a wolf spider, but it had a few inches of legs, and it was furry.

May we walk in Beauty!

Seeking Mystery

When you walk into the rooms
where Mystery waits with an indigo hum,
listen for the thrumming
of hummingbird, feel the brush
of moth wings across your cheek,
watch for the scoop and swish
of a small brown bat
through the rooms
of your heart.

Unless you seek her,
you will not find her,
and the rooms where you wander
will appear empty
and devoid of beauty.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Drop your maps and listen to your lostness like a sacred calling into presence. Here, where the old ways are crumbling and you may be tempted to burn down your own house. Ask instead for an introduction to that which endures. This place without a foothold is the province of grace. It is the questing field, most responsive to magic and fluent in myth. Here, where there is nothing left to lose, sing out of necessity that your ragged heart be heard. Send out your holy signal and listen for the echo back.” ―Toko-pa Turner
*
“A child needs the same things a tree needs: Earth. Water. Sun. Air.” ―unknown
*
“What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being. We should recognize that while we have extravagantly subsidized the means of war, we have almost totally neglected the ways of peaceableness. We have, for example, several national military academies, but not one peace academy. We have ignored the teachings and the examples of Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peaceable leaders. And here we have an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the means of peaceableness, being cheap or free, make no money.” ―Wendell Berry
*
“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”
―Barry Lopez
*
“There’s a flame of magic inside every stone & every flower, every bird that sings & every frog that croaks. There’s magic in the trees & the hills & the river & the rocks, in the sea & the stars & the wind, a deep, wild magic that’s as old as the world itself. It’s in you too, my darling girl, and in me, and in every living creature, be it ever so small. Even the dirt I’m sweeping up now is stardust. In fact, all of us are made from the stuff of stars.” ―Kate Forsyth


Gratitude List:
1. Waking up in the night to the sound of rain. Some of my best memories of childhood are of the sound of a morning rain on the tin roof of our house that overlooked Lake Victoria.
2. Time to organize and prepare. My parents have given me a couple child-free days in which to work.
3. Breath. How deepening my breathing shifts me into a calmer and less reactive space.
4. Weaving stories together. I know I offer this one rather often, but it appears in so many places in my life: in gatherings of friends and family, in the story-telling mornings at church, in the back-and-forth sharing on Facebook, sometimes in spontaneous moments with strangers.  One person begins to string the warp of a tale, then hands the thread to someone else, who maybe extends the story already begun, or adds a new texture and color of her own. Others join, adding contrasting strands of weft. Sometimes someone seems to cut the strands altogether, and we wait, and watch, and then a new pattern begins to emerge, and as startling as it is, it’s often just the right element at the moment. Real and vulnerable sharing allows us to weave our lives together in powerful ways. It’s one of the Mysteries, I think.
5. The blank space. The empty page. The moment of nothing. Note to self: You don’t have to fill up everything.

May we walk in Beauty!

Circle of Stories


The setting for a circle of stories.

“Some say you’re lucky
If nothing shatters it.

But then you wouldn’t
Understand poems or songs.
You’d never know
Beauty comes from loss.

It’s deep inside every person:
A tear tinier
Than a pearl or thorn.

It’s one of the places
Where the beloved is born.”
―Gregory Orr
*
“And the wood is tired, and the wood is old, and we’ll make it fine, if the weather holds. But if the weather holds, then we’ll have missed the point. And that’s where I need to go.” ―The Indigo Girls
*
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” ―Joseph Campbell
*
“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
― C.S. Lewis
*
“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
―Thomas Merton
*
“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it – but take care not to smile at any part of it.”
―Emily Brontë
*
“To say ‘I don’t know’ is an unparalleled source of power, a declaration of independence from the pressure to have an opinion about every single subject.
It’s fun to say. Try it: ‘I don’t know.’
Let go of the drive to have it all figured out: ‘I don’t know.’
Proclaim the only truth you can be totally sure of: ‘I don’t know.’
Empty your mind and lift your heart: ‘I don’t know.’
Use it as a battle cry, a joyous affirmation of your oneness with the Great Mystery: ‘I don’t know.’
(To revel in this reverie can be a respite, a vacation. Any time you feel ready, you can return to the more familiar state of ‘I know! I know! I know!’)” ―Rob Brezsny
*
“Declare amnesty for the part of you that you don’t love very well. Forgive that poor sucker. Hold its hand and take it out to dinner and a movie. Tactfully offer it a chance to make amends for the dumb things it has done.

“And then do a dramatic reading of this proclamation by the playwright Theodore Rubin: ‘I must learn to love the fool in me — the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool.'”  ―Rob Brezsny
*
“We all receive water from her, we receive food from her, we receive air from her, anything that is received as a gift from the Earth and from nature has to be a commons, it cannot be privatised, that is why privatisation of life forms through patents or water through privatisation schemes driven by the World Bank, or the privatisation of the atmosphere and the air through carbon trading and emissions trading are all illegal and illegitimate in a legal framework based on the Earth’s rights.” ―Vandana Shiva
*
“The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don’t turn against him; they crush those beneath them.” ―Emily Bronte
*
“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” ―Susan B. Anthony
*
“To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.” ―Rudolf Steiner


Gratitude List/Examen:
(Questions based on the Examen of St. Ignatius)
1. (How have I encountered Beauty?) The pale glowing green of a large caterpillar who persists in entering the garage.
2. (What makes me grateful?) The way our stories weave themselves together. when you speak of your challenges and your delights, and I share mine with you, something magical happens, in which our stories become one great story–a vibrant, many-colored tapestry. I cannot overstate the power of a deliberate and compassionate and loving story-sharing experience. I come away empowered and energized to be my own best self.
3. (What is the texture of my feeling life?) There is deep joy in the presence of my beloveds, an upwelling of sadness at the declining well-being of a feline friend, that regular and well-known tugging of anxiety about my children, and a wide and flowing river of contentment in the world.
4. (What is the defining moment of the day past?) The stories. The children playing together in the dark. The children reluctant to end the day: “But we need more time to bond!”
5. (How will I walk into today?) Wrapped in the threads of story, in the words and the love of my friends. Breathing deeply.

May we walk in Beauty!

Walking into the Story

I don’t know how you walked into this story:
The candles were lit, the doors were locked,
the windows closed, the pantry stocked.
The fire was stoked. No one had knocked.

I’d arranged a sealed circuit for this tale:
The plot was planned, the setting set,
characters drawn, expectations met.
The words were gathered. I had cast the net.

Yet somehow, when I turned around,
there you stood upon without a sound,
like you didn’t quite know what to do,
or you were waiting for my starting cue.

Your presence changes everything–
new characters will shift the telling
Now we must make a new decision,
and begin the tale with a revision.

***
Well–I was really excited about those first two stanzas. They raced themselves out the doorway of my brain and onto the paper. Then the whole train juddered to a halt, and I had to force the last two out with crowbars. I’ll let it stew a bit, and maybe I’ll come back to find them readier to be part of the conversation.

Gratitude List:
1. Goslings: Mama Goose had a hatching a couple days ago. Too hard to see through the long grass, but we think there were about four or five babies. Yesterday morning, Jon saw them all walking on the grass across the creek from the pond. By afternoon, they were gone. I hope they went down Cabin Creek toward the Susquehanna, and found a turtle-free place to grow strong and healthy.
2. Ducklings: This morning, we had to stop class and watch as Mama Duck paraded her eleven ducklings around on the roof outside my window. She had her nest outside the French Room window. We called the office and they called Herb, and Herb climbed a ladder to the roof. Mama flew away, and Herb gathered her babies into a bucket and climbed down the ladder. He’s got experience with this process–he says ducks are always building nests on the roofs, and then sometimes the little ones can’t get down. Presumably babies are all happily following Mama down the MillStream.
3. Community baseball. Ellis had a game tonight. Wrightsville was trounced, worse than we trounced Windsor last week. It’s fun to spend the evening outside with other folks, watching a game.
4. We got a little panicky when we got home and couldn’t find Fred. I hadn’t seen him since I left for school in the morning. Jon went out with a flashlight and checked every farm building. We can’t just call like we used to, because he can no longer hear us calling. Jon even walked along the road for a while, but couldn’t see any trace of him. When he came back, he did a loop up behind the house, and there was the old man, sitting quietly next to the basement window. So grateful that the cat came back.

May we walk in Beauty!