The Fire Has Always Been Burning

golden1
On the original collage of this, there was a little strip of text that reads, “The fire has always been burning.” It was lost in the filtering process, but the feeling has been preserved.

Gratitude List:
1. Moment of Surprise: An enormous raccoon scrambled across the road to the creek and up into the bosque just before twilight this evening.
2. William Carlos Williams Moment: So much depends on the way the sun backlights a cloud against an aquamarine sky laced with crows.
3. Dream Moment: I carried with me all day the dream of my little cat. It was so real, I could feel her soft fur again, like angel feathers.
4. Satisfaction Moment: Jon’s delicious everything stew. With habanero sauce and smoked sea salt.
5. Anticipation Moment: I just have a sense that I am going to break the insomnia cycle tonight.

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

boulder
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!

(Un)Natural

treeeee

Today’s prompt is a two-fer: write a natural/unnatural poem.

(Un)Natural
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

He would seem to be the most (un)-
natural choice to advise the lead-
er of the free world. He has ex-
perience leading the campaign and un-
paralleled gall and pretense.

How many steps does it take to es-
calate the normalizing test of o-
bedience? To groom the public, to in-
culcate the people with the anes-
thetizing waves of constant down-
ward steps, until all resistance is fu-
tile?

Gratitude List:
1. Heidi was right. Sometimes carbs are what you need. That sourdough bread she gave me was out of this world, and just the medicine for the moment.
2. Safety and symbols of safety.
3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Sophie Scholl
4. Sunset on the way home this evening. Such clouds.
5. Those fire bushes in the woods and how they sparkle in the morning light.

May we walk in Beauty!

Honing Perception

vulture1
I love these computer apps that turn a photo into a painting. The photo of the moment the vulture sat on the telephone pole and spread her wings does not do justice to the awe and wonder of the moment, but the painting version starts to add that layer.

<Post-publish edit: After I posted this, I went to my Facebook page and saw that on this same day last year I posted a gratitude reflection on the color indigo. I love that synchronicity. I wonder if mid-October is a particularly apt time to notice indigo.>

Gratitude List:
1. Parent-Teacher Conferences yesterday. It takes extra energy, and it’s a really long day, but I love the chance to tell parents how I see their student in classes. Yesterday one of my colleagues talked about the moments before a parent enters the room for a conference–he said, “You have to ‘put on the child.'” It may sound strange, but that’s exactly right. It feels almost like a prayer moment, that moment of breathing, of calling the image of the student into my head and heart, before we begin to talk. I often find myself glancing at the seat where the student sits when I am talking to the parents, as though the student is there in the room.  This kind of awareness is particularly important, I think, when we are discussing difficulties, because conversations about challenges can veer into talking as though the student is the problem, but of course that isn’t it at all. The student may have a problem, and we are there to strategize solutions. Parent-teacher conferences are a kind of professional development–both for the parenting and the teaching. We both come away with ideas for supporting these marvelous young people.
2. The colors of sunset. I am still intrigued by the new research that says that scholars who have studied ancient languages can’t find a word for blue. If we don’t have a word for a thing, it usually means we do not conceptualize it. I am baffled by the lack of blue in ancient eyes. On the other hand, indigo seems to be a color that modern eyes struggle to see. We keep dropping it from the rainbow, or we substitute Prussian Blue. I keep going back to the interview I heard with Oliver Sacks on Radiolab where he discussed his search to truly see indigo, how he could only see it during a drug-induced hallucination.  I feel like sunset is the time to settle the eyes and brain into a meditative state that might possibly be able to conceptualize and interpret the colors without the help of mind-altering substances. Sunset and sunrise are the moments when I think I am closest to understanding blue and indigo, to experiencing the shades and shifts of color throughout the spectrum.
3. The Moon, the First Star, and the Dragon-Shaped Cloud–these three accompanied me on the ride home as I drove into the sunset yesterday evening.
4. Literature and Story. When I got home last night, my kids were totally engrossed in their books. One of the reasons that I am an English teacher is that I want to give my students the gift of story. I don’t need them to all become voracious readers, but I want them all to learn to find satisfaction in story. The same goes for my boys–I love when they become involved in story. I suppose that the ability to get lost in a story is sort of like the ability to see certain colors. As we enter a story, we refine our internal perceptions of human experience, increasing our ability to conceptualize the shades and colors that fill the spectrum of what it means to be human. Let’s keep searching for each other’s indigo.
5. Michelle Obama. She is one of the most inspiring speech-makers I have listened to. I will miss her as First Lady.

May we walk in Beauty!

Bridge Week

DSCN8665 bridge2bridge Bridge3
Bridges. One across the Susquehanna (EWK photo); below it, a bridge in the Scottish highlands, a photo found on the internet, which some friends and I have used for a meeting of hearts; and on the right, two bridges across the Mill Stream at my school: on top, a photo from the school website of the footbridge, and below it the road bridge on Mennonite School Road, taken from historicbridges.org

This is the beginning of my final week of summer. It’s a bridge week, from the open rhythms of the summer to the formal rhythms of the school year, from a slow and contemplative pace to a quick and formulated pace. These are not value-judgement statements–I need the macro-rhythm of shift from one to the other, and I am looking forward to daily structure which someone else has created–I only have to fill in the outlines. While I will miss the freedom of the summer schedule, I long for the more formal rhythms and rituals of the school day.

I love that my school uses the bridge as its symbol. It offers a rich metaphor for reflction. As I contemplate the coming season during this last week before school, I wonder how I can make my work at school into a bridge, safe and sturdy, that helps to lead young people from their childhood into their adulthood, toward independent critical thinking, toward compassionate responses to the pain of those they meet, toward trust in their own instincts and ideas.

Gratitude List:
1. I am taking a Reiki class today. I’m very excited.
2. Bridges
3. Family time
4. Harvesting up in the fields just before sunset, when the clouds are big and towering. In the fields, we’re up out the hollow and can see the full sky, how the light from the nearly setting sun in the west hits the clouds to the south, shining golden and white, glowing magenta and tangerine.
5. Morning yoga–waking up the spine, feeling the stretch.

May we walk in Beauty!

Sublime and Cute

Tomorrow, we are going to Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg.   I was reluctant to sign up because the abstract idea of the crowds and the planning and the getting there and all of it made me a little anxious for some reason.  But my parents are giving us a day on their passes.  Feeling lucky to get a chance to go.

Gratitude List:
1. I think Somebody handed Michelangelo the brush this evening and said, “Go to town!”  Those clouds.  That sunset. Tonight I had a brief moment of really understanding magenta.
2. Magenta wants its own number.  It looks so nice snuggling between tangerine and violet.
3. Hearing about the opening of the Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg.  The ones who told me had tears in their eyes as they described the procession of Conestoga people who came forward and told Story: the history of European and Native interactions, the loss of land, the Paxtang Boys.  I wish I could have been there.
4. Getting my hair done.  I am upping my appointments lately–four or five a year instead of two.  I like to be pampered once in a while.
5. Watching a tiny hamster savor her first blueberry. Cuteness is sort of sublime sometimes.  I think there’s a spiritual muscle that responds to cuteness, but we trivialize it because it so often gets a schmaltzy, saccharine over-sentimentalization.  But cute draws us out of ourselves in a way similar to awe, I think.

May we walk in Beauty!

Reminders

Gratitude List:
1.  All my Facebook friends who write gratitude lists, which reminds me to do my own.
2.  The bolt of magenta that flowed upward from the morning’s tangerine sunrise onto an indigo belly of cloud.  Sounds a little over-done to read it like that, but that’s kind of how it is with these morning sunrises.  Show-offy.  I’m not complaining.
3.  The same tangerine and magenta in the sunset today.  My life feels a little closed in these days, driving into sunrise on my morning commute and into sunset on my evening commute, and indoors for the hours between.  But hail and welcome, Winter, anyway.  And thank you for the colors.
4.  There’s this thing about the crows.  I can’t quite figure out how to work it into a poem.  I want to say that I am a row of bare white sycamore trees with crows in my hair, crows like thoughts above me.  Perhaps it’s crows and sunset.  Crows and sunset and bare trees.  What is the riddle that keeps asking to be noticed when the crows fly?  I love them so.
5.  And sundogs.  Also in the crows and sunset train.  Still, their own thing.  They way they settle gently on top of a cloud.  How they brighten the sky directly outside their arc.  How they suggest a full circle spectrum around the sun.

May we walk in Beauty!

Delta of Geese

Gratitude List:
1.  A delta of snow geese flying above the River last night.
2. The sunset: first a tangerine glow that seemed to shimmer around us, then magenta, and finally crimson.
3. Dandelion tips growing in my brother’s flower beds.  Persephone rises.
4. Teaching myself to go back to sleep.  (Knock on wood)  Not only have I not had midnight insomnia for ages, I have been sleeping until 6:30 lately.
5. Dreams that remind me I’m okay.

May we walk in Beauty.