Let Me Drink the Day

“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”
―Les Brown
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“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” ―Edith Wharton
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“Love is a decision–not an emotion!”
―Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
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“To live is to find out for yourself what is true, and you can do this only when there is freedom, when there is continuous revolution inwardly, within yourself.” ―Jiddu Krishnamurti
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When the brokenness of the world makes you tired, run to the forest.
Remember how small you are.
Watch the leaves change.
Listen to acorns fall from the heights.
Let the wind and the water talk to you about what it means to heal.
Let The Creator show you the benevolent, secret places.
―Kaitlin Curtice
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“Every seed we plant is a tiny loving prayer in action.” ―Rowen White
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“In a time of destruction, create something.” ―Maxine Hong Kingston
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For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.
―T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages
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“I guess if I’d had any sense I’d’ve been a little scared, but what was the point of being scared?

“The only thing they could do to me was kill me and it seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time ever since I could remember.” ―Fannie Lou Hamer
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“Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” ―Albert Einstein


Gratitude List:
1. Sunrises. I love driving to school in the sunrise. Magenta on indigo clouds, then shooting rays of gold.
2. Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Shoofly Pie.” It’s been a joy to read it with my Academic Writers. They just wanted to keep reading stories together, it was such a pleasant experience.
3. Basic Kindness.
4. Habanero peppers–we sauteed one in butter tonight for the adults to sprinkle on our milk beans and rice.
5. The messages in dreams. I woke up with words ringing in my ears this morning. I need to listen, to find the key to make the message real in waking life. (Perhaps I need to engage the assistance of a life coach or a spiritual director.)

May we walk in Beauty!

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Beloved Community

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A couple years ago, I had a girl in my freshman class who entered every classroom on high alert, ready to attack at the slightest provocation. She didn’t wait to be bullied or insulted–she was ready to lash out at the least hint of a slight, the least whiff of aggression. Within days, most of her classmates were steering a wide path around her, terrified that they might accidentally look at her the wrong way and find themselves on the receiving end of her wrath.

One of the things I love about my school is the restorative way that teachers and administrators work with students. Teachers kept reminding her to keep her language school-appropriate, to speak more gently with her classmates. Students who felt harmed by her sharpness were cared for and comforted, and she was held accountable for the harm she caused. Still, she was treated like a person herself, not like a perpetrator, not like a problem. The adults understood that she was experiencing an extreme sense of vulnerability, that her social anxiety and the pain she was dealing with in her personal life made her push people away before she could be hurt.

Gradually, she began letting other students and adults near her. She discovered that people liked her for who she was, that we appreciated her quick wit, that she could make us laugh and smile. She began to talk and write about deeper things, too. When she lost someone she loved, instead of retreating to her cave and biting anyone who came near, she wrote it out. She talked about it. She let her friends hold her and care for her.

Now she’s a junior.  She’s finding her voice, catching her stride. She can still make you cringe when she gets into a temper. She’ll always be good at speaking her mind. But the aggressiveness is tempered with gentleness. Instead of masking her vulnerability, she uses her tender heart to find connections with others who hurt. She’s beginning to speak out about issues and causes that matter to her, using both reason and passion. She’s becoming a leader. I am proud of her, and grateful for this community that helped her find her way to her best self. She’s going to be one of the ones who changes the world.

Gratitude List:
1. Beloved community that provides a place for us to fail and try and fail and try and learn and become.
2. The way the sunlight spilled across the fields as dawn arrived.
3. Magenta, Indigo, Aquamarine, which is to say: The clouds at sunrise.
4. The way those five crows flying in a perfect line laced up the clouds they flew between.
5. The members of the Silhouette Magazine staff. They’re witty, earnest, playful, and thoughtful. I’m proud of the assembly they presented this morning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Good Omens

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Skunk is a good symbol of nonviolent resistance.

Gratitude List:
1. The Imbolc sun rising this morning. Before the disk rose above the horizon, a single wide shaft of sun rose up into the higher cloud cover to east, a brighter magenta smudge on magenta and indigo clouds. Then, as we traveled eastward, the sunshaft shifted to tangerine, and then to golden. It felt like a good omen, that dawning.
2. The relief of a less grueling grading schedule this semester.
3. Harvest. Of word and image and story and idea. Picking the bits and weaving them together.
4. The loving resistance.
5. Venus. I am pretty sure that I have never yet seen a star or planet so brightly shining. This past month or so, Venus seems brighter and bigger, so big and shiny I could almost pack up my camel and go searching for a child of promise. And of course, it’s Venus, so that feels like a particularly good omen.

May we walk in Beauty!

En-Couraging

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Gratitude List:
1. Golden morning moonset, and a russet sunrise.
2. Introducing my students to Shakespearean insults.
3. People rising to the occasion.
4. Grace and civility and kindness are not dead. (I know that seems like the total antithesis of number 2, but it just all fits.)
5. Voice Class recital for Chapel this morning. I am en-couraged by the courage of those young folks taking the stage and taking risks. And the music was sublime.

May we walk in Beauty!

Finding the Map Home

bridge

When have you felt yourself to be your best self?
When have you been most comfortable being who you are?
What would it take to find your way back into that house of yourself?
Did you leave yourself a map?
Is there an old photograph in an dusty album somewhere in your heart
that you can use to guide yourself back to that place?
It might be as simple as taking three deep breaths,
clicking your sneaker-clad heels together three times,
and chanting, “I want to go home, I want to go home,
I want to go home.”
Shall we try it?

Gratitude List:
1. Jon Weaver-Kreider’s delicious dinner of spinach-stuffed shells.
2. Driving to school in that dawning.
3. Driving home from school in that sunset.
4. The gentle lengthening of the days.
5. Re-reading Julius Caesar. I never get tired of it, and it always brings new revelations. I love having a job where I can read Shakespeare with teenagers.

May we walk in Beauty!

Thinking Out Loud

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I suppose I ought to cut back on the Dreamscope doodles, but–like poetry–this is another way of viewing the world, a way of looking at things aslant, a way of telling a truth that goes deeper than surface reality.

Today’s Prompt is Thinking Out Loud. This is a tough one. But it’s also what this whole blog experience is for me.

Thinking Out Loud
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

You’re the kindness keepers, kiddos.
You’re the ones who see all.
You’re the bees knees, people,
the watchers of wisdom,
grasping for grace.

You’ve got style and vim.
You’re full of zest and zip.
You’ll find your place in the universe.
Then watch out, wondering world.
Just see what these fine folk can do.

Gratitude List:
1. Sunrise and Sunset clouds. The colors have me giddy these days.
2. Warm coat, warm scarf, warm hat, warm mittens.
3. We can still borrow my parents’ car while Pippi is back in the shop.
4. Driving through eddies of leaves here on the mountain.
5. We didn’t hit those deer on the way home from Parent-Teacher Conferences tonight. ‘Tis the season, folks–drive carefully.

May we walk in Beauty!

Stand Up to the Bully

Planting
It’s seeding time again!  Even though things are changing here, Jon is hard at work, planting seeds for the coming season.  We’ll have a short late-season CSA this fall, but he is planning to sell tomatoes and other goodies individually throughout the summer.  I keep wanting to call that a la carte,

I am becoming increasingly anxious and nervous about the continued popularity of a certain political candidate, despite his obvious and in-your-face xenophobia, racism, sexism, his narcissism and bullying.  I don’t want to live in a country with people who support meanness over substance, who prefer bombast to thoughtfulness, who would rather have a showperson than a statesperson.  I see so many potential terrible endings to this fiasco.  I am angry and frightened, and more than a little shrill.  I’m not sure that right now I can say with Anne Frank that I believe people are really good at heart.  Where is the goodness hidden inside people who stand around and watch with glee while the playground bully gets ready to beat up another victim?  Is this what we’ve come to?  This is not the America I thought I knew.

Gratitude List:
1. Wind–scouring me, scattering me, pulling me out of my safe places.
2. Orange–a waking up color
3. Watching several of our seniors give their senior presentations last night.  They tend to balk at the process, and wonder why we make them do this, but they rise so beautifully to the challenge.  It’s like they’re stepping out onto the launching pad.  See how ready you are to fly!
4. Sunrises
5. Thoughtful discussions with students.

May we walk in Beauty!

Blue Fire

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Gratitude List:
1. That spring-singer out in the trees.  Cardinal: “Pretty, pretty, pretty!”
2. Yesterday’s sunrise.  The sun came into the hollow not golden as usual, but magenta and rose.  I felt like I was inside a heart.
3. Teaching is such a balance of the giving of instruction and input, and getting out of the way of the process.  Yesterday’s Drama class was a powerful example of how the real magic often happens when the teacher slips off to the sidelines.  There’s no real formula for making that happen.  Each group is different and each day is different, but yesterday was a shining, shining Moment.  A gift.
4. The flashes of blue fire inside my labradorite beads.
5. The green eyes of that small boy over there.

May we walk in Beauty!

Science

EWK 4 001

The prompt for the day is science.  Today I encouraged my ninth grade poets to break out beyond the sense to simply create interesting connections with words.  That’s what I am doing here.  I decided to embed each line inside syllables that would sound roughly like the word science.  With more time, it could be fun to try to tweak something like this into a more elegant poem.

Silent as a mouse creeping along a fence,
Simple the patterns, but intricate the sense,
Since what’s in the center is often intense,
Sift carefully through all the evidence,
Silt washes away, leaving behind reverence.

Gratitude List:
1. This morning’s sunrise, so intense I almost had to stop the car.
2. Green!  Skunk cabbages in the little creek-hollow along Ducktown Road, the briars beginning to green in the understory of the woods, ferns unfurling, lilies of the valley, chickweed, catnip, myrtle.
3. Pink trees
4. My delightful colleagues
5. The sweet concern of my students for my health.  Yesterday, I put on my Smart Board: “Voice Lost.  If found, please return to Room 206.  Also, bring chocolate.”  One student brought me brownies this morning and a get-well card she had made, with hilarious sayings about chocolate.  Yet another student recommended I take honey and lemon, this time with apple cider vinegar.  And now, my voice is returning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Complicit

I have been brooding today about Bill Cosby. Does it really matter whether a farmer/schoolteacher/mother/poet forms an opinion about the Bill Cosby rape story? I can just ignore it all, say it’s none of my business, and move on. It’s a mark, perhaps, of our shallow culture that we get wrapped up in the lives of celebrities to the point that uncovering a celebrity’s history of sexual predation would throw me, would cause me such a sense of intermingled fury and grief. Perhaps. Still, I think when someone is lively or delightful or thoughtful or beautiful in the wider culture in which we participate, we do feel a connection that goes beyond the merely mundane. I wept when violinist Isaac Stern died, when the poetic voice of Maya Angelou passed on, when Robin Williams left us with only memories of his laughter. So I supposed this response isn’t preposterous.

But there’s another piece of it that’s really bothering me today, and that is that when this recent part of the story broke this past week, I had a moment of deja vu: “Oh yeah.  Wasn’t there something about this a few years ago?”  As I began to read the account of Scott Simon’s questions and the stories of more and more women coming forward, I remembered that I had read earlier–and damning–accusations a few years ago. Why did I forget?  Why did I put that out of mind and go on accepting Bill Cosby as America’s Mr. Funnyman?  America’s Everydad, as Mark Morford called him. And that’s the thing that bothers me, because that’s a hallmark of rape culture–that the predator can so often minimize his crimes in the face of his power or celebrity or general congeniality that people either don’t believe the stories of his victims or they participate in the minimization, ignore the true implications of the accusations, and go on living as though nothing has happened, and the victim gets violated again, this time by the world’s refusal to acknowledge her story. Again, why does it matter what I think? Why should I bother to form an opinion on the matter? It troubles me, though, that something in me would have minimized the earlier stories, would have lived in denial that someone who brought such delight and wonder into our homes could be cavalierly destroying people’s lives. I feel complicit in the culture of denial. Sullied.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Hiking at Sam Lewis State Park. Every time I go there and climb on the rocks with the kids, I am more and more aware of how old I am getting, how clambering over the big rocks is getting harder and harder. Still, it’s worth the scramble up to the top of the rocks pile, to look through the trees to the River, to imagine what it must have been like for the First People who walked here to stand perhaps on the very same rocks looking out to the River.
2.  Sharing the awe. Yesterday in my last class, I mentioned something about the morning’s sunrise, and suddenly three or four students were all talking at once, clamoring to tell their experiences of watching the sky that morning.
3.  I don’t have to figure it all out.  I don’t have to be perfect for every moment.  I just need to be Present.
4.  The last assignment in the course I am taking was to watch a video on renewing energy, on play and flow and working joyfully.  And then to go play for an hour.  I took that seriously, and we all spent most of the day with the Legos, sorting and building and playing.  It is very satisfying to be assigned to play.  My children loved that.
5.  Colcannon

May we walk in Beauty!