Moving Through Time

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Gratitude List:
1. Ancestors
2. Moving through time.  I keep working with this idea that Michelle talked about a couple weeks ago, about scarcity and abundance.  I have always thought of those ideas in terms of things, but she explored how we tend to live with a sense of scarcity about time as well.  This hit me hard.  It’s how I have been living a good part of my adult life.  I  learned to protect my time, and then I began to guard it, fiercely.  And it just slips away anyway, doesn’t it?  I am practicing moving through time without feeling like I have to hoard it.
3. The sense of smell: right now it’s coffee perking.
4. How things can feel messy and disjointed and out of place and still be okay anyway.
5.  The web.  Again.  The web that holds us all together.  How we cast these lines between us.  How they shine.

May we walk in Beauty!

Threads

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A spider’s web across the path spans the space from here to there:
the bridge across the River, the yarn I knot with my needles,
the trail of crumbs leading out of the woods, the pathway between us.

(Trying my hand at a Korean Sijo this morning.  http://www.ahapoetry.com/sijo.htm)

Gratitude List:
1. Thursday’s chapel speaker: mindful meditation.  Powerful.
2. Soba noodles and fall veggies stirred up in the cast iron wok.  That man is a mighty fine cook.
3. Bridges.  Webs.   Labyrinth pathways.  Strands of yarn being knitted or knotted or crocheted or woven. Narrative threads.
4. Quiet spaces.
5.  Sleep and coffee.

May we walk in Beauty!

Bowlful of Prayers

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The stories converge.
The strands on this web meet,
connect, and twist outward again.

This is a bowl of stones, holding prayers:
a shining soul who just received a terrible diagnosis,
another bright spirit who is caring for a suffering loved one,
another, walking the confusing labyrinth of a broken relationship,
a quiet spirit grieving a loss that never seems to heal,
an eager heart aching with loneliness,
a disappointed one,
a tired one,
and you?

A stone for each of these I love,
and also, one for the bright cardinal
who comes with messages of hope,

one for the courage of the activist
climbing high and challenging oppression,

one for hope, one for love, one for tenderness,
one for patient remembering to give yourself time,
to cut yourself a break, to let yourself cry,
to remember your truest, greenest, most powerful self,

and one for the spider who brings all the stories
together in a web, binding us all into one.
One story.

Gratitude List:
1. Change
2. Stability
3. Prayers, stones, and feathers
4. Watchfulness
5. Root beer floats

May we walk in Beauty!

Rain and River

Today was bookended by two powerful stories about language, how it differentiates, how it connects.  This morning in chapel a colleague of mine spoke thoughtfully and reflectively about her own life story, about the Tower of Babel–how we build complicated structures of our lives, placing our hopes and expectations into them, and how we can be blindsided when they crumble.  Her stories were affirming of those who struggle, acknowledging the struggle, and offering the hope of transformation, not only of the pain, but of inner prejudices and stereotypes.

On the other end of the day, in Faculty Meeting, was a presentation on resilience, particularly for women (and others) who have been marginalized and excluded from leadership roles in the church and its institutions.  The framing story was Pentecost, another tale of people of many languages trying to communicate.

Language helps us to classify and analyze and differentiate.  It’s an intellectual tool.  It also helps us to connect and weave together and integrate.  It’s a psychological/heart tool.

Gratitude List:
1. The scent of the honey locust tree blossoms wafting through the window just as I am falling asleep.  Blessings on the bees.
2. Yesterday, Jon spotted a box turtle on the driveway, wandering off into the yard.  I was sort of afraid that thee’d become too rare to spot anymore, but there is at least one living on Goldfinch Farm.
3. Rain, rain, rain.  Slow and deliberate and steady.  Free of high wind and hail and flooding.
4. Chasing rainbows.  After supper we drove down to the Rt. 30 bridge to see the new girders that were just put in place last night above the highway by Wrightsville.  We have some engineers in the family who just couldn’t wait to see them.  As we reached the crest of the hill, we saw the rainbow, looking like one foot was in the hollow and another was at Sam Lewis Park, but the nearer foot kept shifting as we neared the park.
5. We parked by the River at the John Wright restaurant boat launch, and Ellis and I walked down to the water, standing between the two bridges in the rain.  I found a shining 2015 penny there on the threshold between the land and the water.
6. Language, the gossamer thread of words that we send between us like trees, our conversation the webs cast by a spider.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Ferns will Unfurl in the Sunshine

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Soon, soon, soon…

Gratitudes:
1.  Another amazing music chapel/assembly this morning: from a 16th century Korean opera to a men’s quartet to a jazzy piece arranged by students.
2. Yesterday’s sunrise.  Enough to make the grumpiest time-change-denier sit up and take notice.
3. Milestones.  We took off the training wheels and that kid just took off on his bike like he’d always known how.
4. Being open to what comes.
5. Helping to hold the web.

May we walk in Beauty!

Spiders

I cast a line from me to you,
to you, to you.
Catch and weave,
catch and weave.

And I receive
the lines you cast my way.
Catch and weave,
catch and weave.

Until we have a bowl,
until we have a net, a nest,
a net of hearts for one we love
to rest in, to be held.

Spiders in the corners,
we watch and listen,
we hold the lines
and tell the story
as it unfolds.

Gratitude List:
1.  Net, web, nest
2.  Dyeing–watching the new color emerge
3.  The blue eye of cornflower
4.  The way my children enter literature.  I thought The Hobbit was perhaps too much for them, but they listen and ask questions.  Now they want to venture in to The Lord of the Rings, and who am I to tell them not to.  Here we go: A Long-Expected Party.
5.  The way Jon WK keeps me laughing.  Sometime I’ll tell you the pumpernickel story.

May we walk in Beauty!

Step Away from the Gates

Yesterday was perhaps a bit of a let-down day after the high of Luna Moth Day, full of barely maskable crabbiness and low-grade anxiety.  Sigh.  I suppose we can’t always live in the realm of the sublime.  The mundane has lessons aplenty.

Worn out by the anxieties and slog of the day, I lay back in the recliner for an evening catnap, and the first part of this just sort of fluttered into my head.

Don’t sit so close to the gates of Despair, sister.
I don’t need to to tell you how the gates open inward,
suddenly drawing the shuffling masses inside the yawning arches.
I don’t need to tell you how easy it is to be carried along in the wave,
or worse, trampled by feet of those who are eager
to prove their dark visions and those who cannot
relinquish their lifelong addiction to fear.
You know them too well, these shadows.
You’ve been in that land.

Roll up your mat, gather your books,
pick up your bucketful of bright yellow flowers,
and walk twenty paces east of the gateway
to the place where a sapling grows patiently
out of the moss-covered pavements.

From this spot you will hear the faint whisper
of breezes, from faraway places
where courage is dawning.

From this breathable vantage point,
you will hear the distant shushing
of waves on the beaches
where hope will awaken.

I know why you choose your perch,
there, on the doorstep.
I know why you watch them so carefully,
tending the crowd like a garden,
why you believe yourself safe,
you, with your books and your flowers.

I know, too, how you belong there,
in that waiting crowd of restless people,
how some days your flowers turn lifeless and ashen,
how the words in your volumes, on grayest of days,
run down the pages like ink-bled tears.

Pick up your mat, I say, now before the gates open.
Turn your back on that archway.
Follow the pathway of bright white pebbles
that I laid there myself one gray day.

 

Gratitude List:
1. The way words come together to make meaning
2. The holiness of the everyday
3. Tomato sandwiches
4. Cool summer morning breezes (“. . .blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”
5. This web that we belong to.  And I don’t just mean the www, though that one has its contribution.  Can you feel how the strands connect us, how the energy runs between us?

May we walk in Beauty!

Let’s Get Down To Business

First, some mulling drawn from today’s Facebook conversations.  Then a poem.  Then a Gratitude List.

Sometimes I don’t know if I can bear the weight of the problems of the world. I get so furious, not just at the military-industrial complex, but at the way corporations have become the ruling classes, the way Monsanto has taken over the USDA, the way our consumer culture is balanced on the backs of slaves and oppressed people elsewhere in the world. I don’t know if we can turn things back. But I know that there are lots of like-minded people out there who want to turn things back. I’m not sure how we do that, but I want to start by putting as much love out there as possible in the meantime.

I don’t mean for that to sound childish or like I am ignoring the problem. I bring it back to the metaphor of the bowl for the heart. I used to think that I could only have one thing in there at a time, either the joyful things full of wonder, or the angry and despairing things. But recently I have pledged to just sit with the bowl open and let it all fall in together. And the whole crazy mix belongs there. The love I have for butterflies and songbirds is precisely why I hate Monsanto so. The delight I take in my children is precisely why the military-industrial complex terrifies me.

How can I maintain the balance in my head when I get so furious and despairing and tired and sad about so much that is happening in the world? Sometimes it feels so schizophrenic to speak of beauty and wonder and delight when something in my heart is cringing in fear of what the future holds for my children. I know that remembering what I love, remembering what holds my heart, reminding myself why I fight, all this helps me to keep doing my work.

If we who care deeply enough to walk the cliffs of despair, if we let ourselves get frozen or lost or broken on those cliffs, then whatever it is that we’re fighting against has begun to win. Maybe that’s it. Instead of just using my rage and despair to fight this thing, I want to find ways to use my love and wonder to overcome it.

Perhaps my work of late has been too passive, too much in the realm of prayer and contemplation. What is the next step, I wonder?

These Are the Words
These are the things that I tell myself, over and over again.
These are the words I use to remember.

Don’t forget to do your soul-work.
Don’t stop because it seems like no one is watching,
because it seems like no one else is doing their work.
They are working.
Ask around. Tell your own story.
Suddenly they pop up like mushrooms,
all over the yard,
like fairy rings that fairly sparkle in the moonlight.

I always say, Be the web. Throw the lines from one to one to one.
Today I say, Be mycelium.
All those underground signals racing through the soil,
through the roots, through the fine hairs so tiny,
so tiny they are more energy than matter.

But that’s what matters.
That’s the heart of the matter.

We’re all doing our work, sending messages to each other,
invisible like energy,
like the sermons of the fungi
traveling those invisible underground highways.

Something is going to pop up.
I say, Something is going to pop up!

One morning you will wake up
and they’ll be there,
not just hiding underneath the leaves
with the shy toads and salamanders,
but spiced throughout the lawn
throughout the lawns
all over the world,
saying

We are here!
We are doing our work!

In the meantime, keep hoping,
keep praying,
keep making magic spells,
like the one my son made today
from dandelions and Virginia Creeper
to bring peace among the chickens,
and from them to their eggs and to us
and then to the whole world.

In the meantime,
keeping speaking the names of the captives.
Your words will set them free.

Keep singing and dancing,
praying and hoping.

Be the Underground Laureate of The Poetry of Waiting.
Be the One who Sings to the Dark Moon.
Be the Dancer in the Sullen Crowd.
Be the Painter of Speckled Eggs.

Oh, I have to say it, though the activists have said it a thousand times,
like Gandhi said it:

Be the change you wish to see.

Until the twining vines of the sacred squash
grow from your heaving heart,
until the song of the whale echoes through your deserts,
until the world is born afresh.
Until the world is born afresh.

This is the song. This is the poem.
This is the story that will heal the world.

Now.
Let’s get down to business.

Gratitude List:
1.  A pair of indigo buntings feeding in the dandelions before the rain.  (Perhaps some day I will write a gratitude list without the wing-folk.  Or perhaps not.)
2.  Ferns.  The ones I transplanted today from the barn wall to the house and walkway were taller than my children.  I think I may just keep adding and adding until the lawn is gone and the children can walk beneath their waving fronds like hobbits.
3.  The feeling of something being released in my spirit as the air pressure changes before rain.
4.  The way people care for your spirit when you ask for help.  That’s what I mean by asking around.  All that good work is being done, all that hopeful energy, all that intentionality, all that tremendous love waiting to spring into action, springing into action even before it is called upon.  Oh, I believe in angels, and some of them take human form.
5.  Conversations about the grandmothers that bring them into the present moment.

May we walk in beauty.  May we walk in love.

Look for the Helpers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

Look for the helpers.
I cast a line from me to you.
You cast it outward to those you love.
Fill that web, that basket, that nest, that bowl
with our open wounded hearts,
our prayers, our stones,
our candles, our feathers,
the white hair of our grandmothers.
Something to hold the children,
the mothers, the fathers,
a bowl that will witness and hold the grief.
We will be the helpers.

Contradictions

Poem-A-Day Day 25 Prompt:  Write an Opposite Poem, a poem which is opposite to one which you have already written.  Really tough challenge today.

I’ll sit with Uncle Walt in the hall of contradictions,
contain my multitudes or let them fly outwards.
Did I say that the heart was a circle,
a singularity, a unit, contained?

No, the heart is a line,
straight and unswerving,
connecting any two points.

The geometer says,
Begin with a single point.
Notice, over there, a second point
and mark it carefully with your pencil.
Holding your pencil on that point,
line up your ruler between them,
and draw your line tenderly.

And if you are like Billy Collins, or me,
and falling in love is something you do
constantly and willfully,
those lines will ray outward from your center
like a glorious web, encompassing the universe,
like a circle.