Day of the Monarchs

Monarchs mating. May your tribe grow and thrive, Brightwings!

“There is so much in eternity that is trying to reach us, if only we can suspend our wranglings long enough to be touched.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
*
“I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea.”
—D. H. Lawrence
*
“Water, the Hub of Life. Water is its mater and matrix, mother and medium. Water is the most extraordinary substance! Practically all its properties are anomalous, which enabled life to use it as building material for its machinery. Life is water dancing to the tune of solids.”
—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 – 1986) Hungarian-American physiologist; Nobel laureate
*
“There is really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
—Arundhati Roy
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“God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice.”
—Naomi Wolf
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“Follow the waters,
lean in with the trees,
breathe the cool morning air,
walk through the swirling mists.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude/Examen:
1. (How did you meet the Mystery?) Monarchs dancing in the field. A small person’s excitement to tell me that he and his dad had watched monarchs mating. May there always be monarchs.
2. (What brought you awake?) Hard work in the heat and humidity. I do want to be cautious about pushing myself out there when it’s so hot, but it does feel good. Strengthening. Working the body gives the mind and heart time and space for a different pacing.
3. (What is the message from your heart?) Listen. When there is clamor, when there is silence, when there doesn’t seem to be anything to listen to or for.
4. (What takes you into the Center?) Hints of magic and mystery all around. There is so much I do not understand at an intellectual level about the world around me, but sometimes my heart gets glimpses.
5. (What do you take forward?) The inner stillness. This is getting redundant, perhaps, but it is the lesson I am learning in these days of heat and humidity, of getting work accomplished and finding energy even in the lethargy induced by the weather. There is an inner stillness that can find its way from the moments of solitude into the clamor of the day. (Most of the clamor is pretty delightful, even when it’s bickering children.)

May we walk in Beauty!

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A Woman Must Be Willing to Burn



“A woman must be willing to burn hot, burn with passion, burn with words, with ideas, with desire for whatever it is that she truly loves.”  —Clarissa Pinkola Estes
*
“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
*
“I can’t offer justice so I offer just trees.” —Kilian Schoenberger (who photographs trees and woods)
*
Make it All a Prayer
Beth Weaver-Kreider

make it all a prayer
each motion, each thought, each step
feel the connection
that silver strand that pulls you
to the heart of another
*
Dalai Lama: “There are only two days of the year in which nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. That means today is the ideal day to love, to believe, to create and to live.”
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“We cannot assume the sacredness nor spiritual livingness of the earth or accept it as a new ideology or as a sentimentally pleasing idea. We must experience that life and sacredness, if it is there, in relationship to our own and to that ultimate mystery we call God. We must experience it in our lives, in our practice, in the flesh of our cultural creativity. We must allow it to shape us, as great spiritual ideas have always shaped those who entertain them, and not expect that we can simply use the image of Gaia to meet emotional, religious, political, or even commercial needs without allowing it to transform us in unexpected and radical ways. The spirituality of the earth is more than a slogan. It is an invitation to initiation, to the death of what we have been and the birth of something new.”
—David Spangler


Gratitude List:
1. Rain
2. Bluebirds
3. Fresh berry smoothies
4. Hear/reading people reminisce
5. My friend, the sycamore tree

May we walk in Beauty!

It’s Not So Much

Not So Much
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

It’s not so much about whether you can control the horses,
but whether you want to take the chariot for a spin at all.
Are you ready for the change it will bring you?
Do you really have the will to leave that golden city
to shrink on the horizon of your memory?

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
This is the time of the poetry-writing month when I begin to question whether I have the stamina to make it through. So the Chariot was a good one for me, though it is pretty slim because I am so tired.  Let’s give the Fool a bit of a rest, too. Before she moves on in her journey, let’s give her a few days to learn the Elements. Tomorrow, she’ll explore Water. Write her a water poem–journeys, dreamings, intuition, emotion, psychic insight, love, and internal wisdom. What will she learn about water?

Gratitude List:
1. Words and singing.
2. Making hot dogs at the fire pit.
3. Sleep
4. Memorizing poems
5. Intuition

May we walk in Beauty!

A Pleasant Day


It’s a pleasant day for an old man cat, when the sun shines and the catnip is rising through the myrtle.  (Photo by Farmer Jon.)

UNESCO has named March 21 World Poetry Day.  Someone on my Facebook page suggested we mark the day by quoting Mary Oliver: “Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.” I read that part of that one to my classes today.

See if you can catch
a wriggling poem from air
to mark the new day.

Gratitude List:
1. Happy cat
2. Clear fresh water
3. Poetry and Poets
4. Wise women
5. A good book

May we walk in Beauty!

Bottle of Water, Bottle of Wind

reading

Gratitude List:
1. Feeling better. All day, I have been feeling a general malaise, achy and dull. By the time school was over, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, and I was sure I would call for a substitute for tomorrow. But I had no fever, and I didn’t want to call off if I could help it. Now, after rest and coffee and supper, I feel like a new person. It feels so good to feel good.
2. Light. Christmas lights, lamps, room lights. This is the season when the encroaching darkness makes me panicky. I could hardly bear it today, but there are plenty of lights about. I will bathe in the lights that I can get. Perhaps I’ll have to take my lunch breaks outside these days in order to gather a little more sunlight.
3. Boy and his dad playing chess here at the end of the table.
4. Boy reading with his cat under the Christmas tree.
5. Shining lights–you and you and you.

May we walk in Beauty!

A longish story today. I have been mulling it for several days now, writing a little here, a little there. I think it’s time to bring it into the light:

Bottle of Water, Bottle of Wind

Have you ever been to the Bottle Lady’s stand at Market? Oh, I can never remember exactly where she’s located. I always have to search a bit to find her. She wears a dress and a cardigan sweater like every Mennonite woman at every little vegetable stand in the building. Unlike them, her hair escapes her bun to fly in curls and wisps about her face like a halo.

The first time I saw her, she was nibbling a bit of baklava–that’s why I think her stand might be somewhere near the Greek Delights stand, and I definitely recall the delightfully eye-watering horseradish of the neighboring stand. She winked at me: “You should go over there and get some of this before it’s gone. It’s delicious!”

I paused in my meanderings to peruse her wares: row upon row of empty bottles, in stepped shelves cascading over a purple velvet cloth with golden trim. Each bottle wore a tag held in place with a colored ribbon. The labels looked to be mostly in languages I didn’t understand, some in strange scripts and pictograms. On the lowest shelf was a small dark-blue bottle with water inside. I could read its label clearly: Waters of the World.

The Bottle Lady watched me pick it up and hold it to the light. “That one’s three hundred dollars,” she told me, licking the sticky baklava filling from her fingers. I quickly replaced the bottle on the shelf, lest I break it. “The one you want is right next to it–see there? No, the one on the left, with the green ribbon. See the label? Dreams Come True. That one is only a dollar today.”

Before I’d even had a chance to register what was happening, she had wrapped the bottle in tissue paper, and placed it in a little paper bag gift bag with glitter all over it. I simply pulled out my wallet and handed her a dollar. I couldn’t help but smile. I rarely remember my dreams, but I still had flashes of the dream from the night before, in which I stumbled through a strange city, finding money in odd places.

As I stopped at the Greek Delights stand to buy some baklava, I spotted a five dollar bill on the ground at my feet. I asked all around, but no one seemed to have dropped it, and the owner of Greek Delights refused to hold it for someone who might or might not return. “You just keep it, Sweetie. You just keep it and spend it on a little something for yourself.”

Sure, I connected it to the little bottle. It was hard not to, especially when I found a quarter, two dimes, and a dollar bill on the sidewalk–all just on the walk to my car! It lasted for another week or so. Every time I walked down the street, I found at least a coin or two. I found bills tucked into my jeans, caught between the couch cushions, in the dryer hopper at the laundromat. I kept it all in a jar–over one hundred dollars by the time the luck dried up.

It was a couple weeks before I found myself at market again, and I just couldn’t find her stand. I could have sworn it was between the Greek Delights and the horseradish man–but when I went there, there was no stall between them: they’re direct neighbors. I couldn’t imagine what I had been thinking. I had almost given up, and I was standing in the really long line at the Sacred Grounds Coffee stand–my friend Zia works there, and I wanted a mocha to warm me up on a cold day–when I turned around, and there was the Bottle Lady’s stand. It must have been the baklava that made me think it was on the other side of Market. I wandered over, not paying attention to the fact that I was losing my place in line. There were fewer bottles on the stand this time. “I’ve had really good business today,” she told me, as she sipped her coffee. “How’d the Dream thing work for you?” she asked.

I told her it had been lots of fun, sort of a thrill really. I wondered if she might have a bottle with a love potion in it or something. She gave a musical laugh, then got really serious, studying me as if I were an object under a microscope. “No. No love potions for you right now,” she said. She started to sort through the bottles on the shelves, humming tunelessly to herself. At intervals, she would look up at me with a keen and studying glance, then start clinking and shifting the bottles again. Her hand brushed against the little cobalt bottle of Waters of the World, sending it tipping dangerously toward me. I had instinctively reached out to steady it, and caught it as it fell.

“Whew. That’s fortunate,” she breathed. “I have been saving that for someone. Ah, here’s the one for you.” And she reached out and scooped the tiny bottle of water from my hand, and replaced it with a larger bottle, ornately etched with a tiny dragon. It appeared as empty as most of the others, but as I looked closer, I could see that it was filled with a cloudiness, like smoke. I could make nothing of the letters on the tag. “What is this?” I asked.

“You can see it right there on the label,” she said. “Gumption. That will be two dollars.” And as I looked again, the letters resolved themselves in my brain, and I could read the word in its elaborate script.

Yes, I certainly had more energy, more get-up-and-go, in the coming days. She told me to keep my door closed that night in my room, and to take the cork out of the bottle just before I drifted off to sleep. The next morning, I felt more rested and ready for the day than I had in years.

And that’s how it went. Every few weeks, I’d find my way to Market, search around for the Bottle Lady’s stand, and only find her when I had given up and decided to do something else. I don’t have a good sense of direction, and Market can be confusing. I can never remember whether that bakery with the German-style bread is in the third or fourth row down from the entrance, and there are always a few little stands that are empty, and then there’s just something about the way all the women who work there look sort of the same. Still, I always seemed to find her just when I had decided to give up the search.

She always seemed to choose for me. Oh, I asked for something specific each time I went, but she always had some suggestion or idea that seemed right for me, so I just went along, paying one or two dollars each time. Once I bought a plain little Mason jelly jar with a screw-top lid labeled Common Sense. Paid five dollars for that one. Oy, did that one ever get me through a week of weirdness.

The bottles and jars began to accumulate on my bedside stand. Sometimes I would try to re-use them, and there were often some minor effects, but nothing like the pure moment when I first opened the bottles themselves.

Each time I saw her, I asked about the lovely blue bottle of Waters of the World. Had the buyer come for it already? Why was it still there? What were Waters of the World? I could never quite get an answer out of her about it, but she always gave me a good tip for what treats to buy myself:

“The samosas over at the Middle Eastern stand are really spicy today! You should get two for your supper.”

“You have to try one of these fresh fruit smoothies from the smoothie stand–it’ll be good for what ails you.” She was right, of course.

“Mrs. Stoltzfus over at the bakery has some really nice whoopie pies today. Just the regular traditional kind without any funky flavors in the fillings. They’re so much better that way, don’t you think?” And I agreed, and bought one for my dessert. It was so big, I had some left over for the next day’s breakfast.

One Saturday last month, I met Zia when she got off work at the Sacred Grounds. Zia had been feeling sort of depressed, like she was spinning her wheels, stuck like molasses in her job at the Grounds, and not sure how to take the next step to anywhere. “Let’s go see this Bottle Lady you’re always talking about,” she said.

It was sort of embarrassing–I couldn’t really say where the stand was exactly, but we wandered around, bought some German chocolate from the German stand, and I bought Zia a little potted narcissus from the Plant Man. We had given up searching for the Bottle Lady, and were making our way toward the exit next to the fishmonger, when I spotted her purple cloth, tucked between the celery folks and the woman who sells gourmet dog biscuits.

She was nibbling on a cookie shaped like a dog bone. “Oh yes,” she said when she saw my wide eyes. “I can see that it would be confusing. No, the cookie stand on the other side of the aisle is celebrating Adopt-a-Dog week at the Humane League by selling these incredible dog-bone cookies. They have chocolate centers. You should try some.”

Zia was poring over the labels on the bottles, trying to read the cryptic writing. “Can my friend buy one of your bottles of Dreams Come True?” I asked.

The Bottle Lady gave Zia her studying look, over the tops of her glasses. “No-o-o-o,” she said slowly. “I think this one has not been having such good dreams lately.” Zia crinkled her forehead and nodded.

“How about. . .this one!” Her hand paused above a little green bottle with swirls and spirals embossing its surface. “Yes, I think you could use a Bottle of Wind.” Of course she was right, as right as she’d been about samosas and smoothies and whoopie pies and every bottle she’d ever sold me.

We paid and were putting the little package carefully into Zia’s bag, when the Bottle Lady turned to me: “It’s high time you took your Waters of the World, don’t you think? I’ve got that one on Special today for three dollars.” I barely had time to gasp before she had it wrapped in tissue paper and was plopping it into my hand.

She told me how I needed to keep replenishing the waters: a tear here, a raindrop there, a drop of water from the River I crossed each day on my way into town. How I was to give it a gentle shake when I had added a new water. How I needed to keep releasing the waters, too: water a plant with one drop, put a drop behind my ears or on my forehead, offer a drop to the palm of a weeping friend, give a drop to the River. How it all balanced out when I was careful and thoughtful and full of gratitude. “I know you are ready for this,” she said with a wink. “I don’t think I will be seeing much of either of you again here for a little while. Don’t forget to buy yourselves some cookies on the way out.”

The Bottle of Wind blew through Zia’s life with a beautiful chaos, and now she’s off to New Hampshire for a three-month writing residency at some kind of artists’ camp. I’ve never seen her so happy. And my Waters of the World? I am tending the waters carefully, replenishing them regularly, releasing them with gratitude. And tomorrow I am catching a flight to Iceland–I want to see glaciers. And then to wherever the waters seem to take me. I’ve packed up all my empty bottles in a padded box. Who knows what I may find to put in them?

Market opens at six o’clock tomorrow. You should go see if you can find the Bottle Lady. I can’t honestly tell you where her stand is, but if you look around a while, I am sure she’ll appear somewhere.

Leave a Trail

my-heart-edited
Heart of Stone. It doesn’t always mean what the song-writers say it means.

“I want to be a mermaid. I’m half-mermaid already. The human half.”  ~~my friend Liza

“I am always aware, when I am trailing an idea–it may be a god in disguise.”  ~~Dr. Martin Shaw, Westcountry School of Myth

I have been thinking of shape-shifting lately, and of myth, and of magic. I have been pondering art and poetry and activism. Pondering hysteria and alarm, contemplation and calm. I have been considering how we can leave a trail for our children and grandchildren, so that when the people of the future look back upon us, they will be able to see the webs of resistance that we created against the tides of hate and insult and discrimination and injustice.

heartstone

She appeared at dawn, her skin shining in the water, the color of the sun rising over the ridge, a tangerine carp-fish large as my thigh, her head breaking the surface for a hush of a moment. Bubbles broke the surface. Fish and womanfish, she spoke: “Leave a trail for them to follow.” And she was gone in a whisk of orange fin, water roiling behind her, the tiny sunfish and polliwogs scattering to the shallows.

A glinting of sunlight shafted through maples, and the air around the pond’s edge filled with sudden electricity. The pond waters boiled forth and a golden bird erupted from the surface. Sunlight lanced and ricocheted through the glade, and I lost the trail of shining feathers in the glare.

The surface of the pond became a still and silent mirror once again, a capricious breeze skuthered a cloud across the sun’s face, and a single golden feather floated lazily out of the hole of sky between treetops.

Later, I climbed the hill to the high fields, pausing to search the pathway for shining quartzite, or the gaze into the blue sky for signs of the bird. Reaching for a shining stone in the path, my fingers found a silky feather, one side golden, one side blue. My ears pricked at a whistle and a calling over the crest of the hill. I topped the ridge, and the golden bird fluttered out of the trees to earth before me. “Leave a trail,” she called. “Something for them to follow.”

Again, she was gone, this time a whisk of a tail into grasses and brambles, ginger-furred fox, fleetfoot. A phantom. Eyes could not avail, but for slight shimmering movements ahead in the meadow, yet scent drew me onward to follow her trail. Down the steep hill of the orchard she led me, up over the hill to the field of the winds.

Two trees stand at the field edge, one tall and graceful, losing its last leaves in the autumn wind, the other broken and twisted, dead for long years. The trees of life and death. Again the sun was shining, a shaft glowed between the trees, and for one brief moment I saw the pointed nose of the fox, and heard one last time, “Leave a trail for others to follow.”

stonehear

Gratitude List:
1. The annual tree-hunt at McPherson’s Tree Farm. Setting up and decorating for the holidays.
2. Exploring the cycle of the coming year with a dear friend, an old soul with a young heart.
3. These webs–sometimes I read or hear a thing that resonates with what has been happening in my head, and suddenly, I see the webs of the idea everywhere. Mindweb synchronicity.
4. I really like our new neighbors.
5. Saturday evening games of Sorry and Farkle.

May we walk in Beauty!

O Beautiful

flutterby
Gathering the last of the summer’s pollen.

The sun rises over the purple mountains
and the amber grains are waving in the autumn morning mist.
Herds of buffalo roam across the grasslands
and a line of tanks and armored trucks
tops the rise like a robot snake,
vanguard of the black snake
that slithers beneath those spacious skies
toward the waters where the People pray and watch.

(This is a quick sketch, a draft. I have been wanting to work on a longer piece that weaves together bits and pieces of our songs and statements on liberty and freedom with the story of what is happening on the plains today in North Dakota. Perhaps that will come, too.)

Gratitude List:
1. The delightful performance of “Peter and the Starcatcher” last night. The wordplay is hilarious. The students were incredible, and really rose to the challenge of making the verbal jousting understandable.
2. Waking up to read with the kids this morning.
3. Fall sun and breezes.
4. The Water Protectors.
5. Truth tellers.

May we walk in Beauty!

Sea Glass

marie
Sea glass: the transformative power of water

Here is to wakeful, cooler days, to that crisp feeling in the air, to a watery slant of sunlight through the atmosphere, to sweaters, to the shushing of leaves, to the preparation for the dreamtime of winter.

Gratitude List:
1. Back to the regular rhythm, even if I am not quite prepared
2. Water
3. Turnings
4. Autumn
5. All the shades of blue

May we walk in Beauty!

Re-Integrating

tattoo

Quiet, thoughtful, tired today. So much to absorb from my three days of learning to keep circles. Now the work is to learn to apply and integrate the practice into my work, into my Work. And after three days of circling with twenty-five others, that specific circle itself must settle in like a seed and germinate within. And now, somehow, I must now reintegrate into the world outside the circle.

I think it would be good for me, sometime in the next two months, to sit in circle with people who are planning to vote for Trump, people who are planning to vote for Clinton, and people who are voting for Stein or Johnson. Perhaps some non-voters should be in there, too. I could not be the Circle Keeper, but I think I would come out of such an experience a much healthier person, hopefully less anxious, less furious.

Gratitude List:
1. Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit
2. Autumn is in the air
3. The circles expand out and outward
4. Poetry, how it says things that cannot articulated in didactic words
5. We are more alike than we are different

May we walk in Beauty!