Word, Wisdom, and Way

“Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.” –David White (via Toko-pa Turner)

In the dream, I am visiting a doctor. She is surprised that I still have my uterus and recommends a hysterectomy. I am relieved in the dream to be rid of the burden of it.

What change is on the horizon? Perhaps something of the first part of my adult life needs to be relinquished in order for me to find ease and relief for the next stages of the journey. My womb was the soil in which my four children were grown. Even the two it was unable to keep for the full term, it struggled to hold onto even when it was clear that they were unviable. The two that grew to full term, it refused to relinquish. The story of my womb has been one of not letting go, of holding on even when hope is lost.  Perhaps the next stage of my life will be one of learning to let go of hope, to release hold of my identity as fertile soil and life-giver.

That seems to be the way of it: At the turnings of our lives, we are asked to give up something that has served us, that has given us great gifts, in order to find the wisdom that approaches when we have met the challenges and tasks of the next stage. Like the child in the woods in every fairy tale, we leave behind an innocence, an old identity that has served us, and pick up a new name, a new skin to travel in.

Gratitude List:
1. Auntie and Uncle Goose paddling on the postage-stamp of a pond.
2. That grove of trees in the field on the detour. I complain about Ducktown being closed for bridge repairs, but the new road offers delights of its own: the way the sun shines through the grove, the view of the ridge where I make my home, the horses, the field of giant round hay bales.
3. That song this morning–the Prokeimenon (I love that word), with the high A, and the brave voices who sang it.
4. The way clouds create the perspective of distance, diminishing toward the horizon.
5. The Word, the Wisdom, and the Way

May we walk in Beauty!

A Portal and a Blessing

portal
I am a little obsessed at the moment with this portal, an opening in the old lime kiln on the Susquehanna River Trail. I think it will have to be the setting for a story.

Best Beloveds:
May you have the courage of the small ones who rise against giants.
May you have someone to sing you back to yourself when you lose your way.
May your wisdom find its threads, its tension, and its color–
may yours be woven with the wisdom of others into a shining bridge.
May your heart be supple and open, and safe.
May your breathing cleanse and invigorate you.
May you find your fire.

Gratitude List:
1. NURSES! My mother-in-law is getting excellent care in the hospital this evening (she’ll be fine) from a wonderful team of nurses. It’s nice to know in the moment of crisis that qualified people who know what to do are caring for your loved one. I am grateful for nurses.
2. As she was being admitted for the night, she mentioned that the last time she was admitted to a hospital was exactly 49 years ago (within a day), when she gave birth to Jon. What a gift he has been to the world.
3. Having a good book handy to read to the boys in the long waiting times in the waiting room. We finished the fourth Percy Jackson book today, and it held our worries at bay.
4. The We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor signs–we spotted one in Hershey today on the way to the Medical Center.
5. Signs of the coming spring are everywhere. I feel it inside me, too.

May we walk in Beauty!

Play

cropped-dscn8677.jpg

Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled “Play _Blank_”

Play Me for a Fool
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Play me for a fool and I may seek for wisdom
Play my secret songs and I will hear your voice
Play the wind against my hair and I might sigh with pleasure
Play the tired longings of a thousand hearts

Play the ancient rhythms of the forest
Play the wild music of the stars
Play the quiet dreamings of a toad in summer rain
Play the simple melody of childhood’s happy hours

Feels like it needs another stanza with a shift in rhythm and a last word, but I am falling asleep.

Gratitude List:
1. Anchors
2. Rhythm
3. Dreams
4. Wisdom
5. Listening

May we walk in Beauty!

Wild

corn-dollie
It has been a long time since I have made a corn dollie. I think it’s because the preparation process is a lot of work–saving the best of the husks and drying them without letting them mold, then soaking them. Yesterday while Josiah and I were out walking, I started picking up corn husks and flowers, and I made myself a wild little dollie. It was a lot harder to work with the brittle husks that I picked up in the field, but it was extremely satisfying, and I like the wild look of her–my “proper” dollies look really tame and domesticated in comparison. We got back from our walk at dusk, so the photo is a little dark.

Gratitude List:
1. Wildness
2. Wind
3. Warmth
4. Wisdom
5. Watchfulness

May we walk in Beauty!

Prayer and Rage

imag2090

What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.

Listen.
Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.

Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.

Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.

Gratitude List:
1. Rage and prayer
2. Memory and Wisdom
3. Reason
4. Listening deeply. Being listened to deeply.
5. Graphic novels. I know this one is rather out of the context of the others, but the boys and I are really into graphic novels these days: the Amulet series, Zita the Spacegirl, Knights of the Lunch Table, and Mouse Guard. We really love Zita and her poor friend Randy who has a case of the squeaks.

May we walk in Beauty!

Roses and Honey

Poetry First Song

Here is a revision of a poem I wrote last year. I don’t think it’s quite finished. It was pretty loose and free when I first wrote it, which doesn’t bother me, but I wanted to take it into a more mythic rhythm, if I could. I shaped it into something like a triversen, trying to keep the four-beat rhythm on each line–working with the four beats felt like the Kalevalla, and I want to try working more with that old Scandinavian feel.  I’m not sure yet whether it’s better than the original. I’ll post the original at the end of this post, and you can tell me what you think, if you want to. I’m open to critique–feel free to spill some blood upon the page.

Once upon a time, Child, when you were caught in the swirling fog–
remember how it held you, how it caught your arms and legs like brambles,
until you saw the wild rose bush beside the pathway in the woods–

remember how the roses dropped their scarlet petals on the ground,
how the tender centers swelled into ripe red berries,
a little sharp, a little sweet, and how they fed you, how they healed you–

remember how the golden bees swarmed around you as you wandered,
how you cried out in fear, how suddenly the wakeful sun
broke through the buzzing cloud: all was golden, all was sweetness–

remember how you heard the howling in the distance, closing in,
how the beast emerged from the wood, all teeth and claw, all hiss and fury,
how you quelled the urge to run, how you looked it in the eye,

how you spoke into its raging, “What is your name?”
I remember now, how you walked that day out of the mists,
a rose in your hair and honey dripping from your fingers.

Gratitude List:
1. Sorting sea glass, stones and shells with Josiah
2. Getting to bed early and only waking up twice before 5
3. Revising: poetry, plans, ideas
4. Wise people
5. Everything is going to be okay

May we walk in Beauty!

***
First Version of the poem:

Once upon a time, Child,
when you were caught in the fog–
remember how it held you, how it
caught at your arms and legs like brambles,
until you saw the rose bush
beside the path in the woods–

remember how the roses
dropped their tender petals on the ground,
how the center swelled
into those ripe red berries,
a little sharp, a little sweet,
and fed you, healed you–

remember how the bees
swarmed around you,
how you cried out in fear,
how the sun broke through the buzzing cloud
and all was golden,
all was sweetness–

remember how you heard the howling
off in the distance and closing in,
how the beast emerged from the wood,
all teeth and claw,
how you quelled the urge to run,
how you looked it in the eye
and said, “What is your name?”

I remember now,
how you walked that day
out of the mists,
a rose in your hair
and honey dripping
from your fingers.

Love and Hope

milkweed1  Love and Hope  eggses

“Where there is love, there is life.”  –Mahatma Gandhi

Today is US Independence Day:
May your celebrations today be filled with joyful moments with people you truly See you.

May we as a people live up to the ideals we set for ourselves, the dreams we claim to offer, and
the maturity that independence demands.

Here is your assignment for this morning, class: Set a timer for ten minutes.  Write a poem or an essay about what this day means to you without using the words freedom, values, ideals, dream, democracy, independence, liberty.  (Yes, I broke those rules in the little blessing I wrote up there–that’s what gave me this idea.)

Perhaps it is a function of the lazy rabbit-trail-filled brain-meanderings of summer, but a warning: Today’s gratitude list is rife with parenthetical notations.  I could not help myself, but I am not apologizing, nor am I amending.

Gratitude List:
1. I still haven’t seen one this season, but Jon keeps seeing them, and it makes me happy to know that they live here, too: black snakes.  They’re earnest and secretive, mysterious.
2. Yesterday I wrote about prayer, and a new and dear friend wrote to me of the Sufi concept of prayer as “opening to the divine radiance.” I looked it up, and my preliminary searches have found references to the phrase “Divine Radiance” in Muslim, Christian, and Jewish discussions of prayer.  This brings me great joy.  (And it was a lovely synchronicity, because I read her note just after a conversation with my parents, in which we had discussed Sufi mysticism, in which my father had been reading Hafiz poems to me. Am I not fortunate to have such parents? There’s a bonus gratitude thrown in for the morning.)
3. I love the charge in the air on a morning that is waiting for rain.
4. All the flowers.  In my parents’ (yes, there they are again) garden: deep red gloriosa lily with yellow tips, fluffy white hydrangea, deep purple and dusky rose lisianthus (because my name is Elizabeth Ann, I have this feeling that the Lizzy-Ann flower is personal to me), deep magenta rose, yellow day lily, violet clematis.  Along the roadsides, thousands of blue-eyed chicory (we used to call them cornflowers–I like both names), the elegant dusty green and golden-tipped heads of hag’s taper (mullein, but I like the common name), shaggy pink balls of milkweed that haven’t yet been mowed down (please let them stay!), bright orange day lilies, the delicate lace of Queen Anne, violet carpets of vetch, bright golden patches of buttercup.
5. Community conversations

May we walk–like the snakes, like the flowers, like the birds–in Beauty, in Wisdom, in Prayer.

The Shifting Colors of the Day

IMG_2252
Red.

Gratitude List:
1. (What made you laugh?) Listening to Sir Patrick Stewart read pop song lyrics in the voices of British Shakespearean actors on Ask Me Another last night.
2. (What startled you?) The way the scarlet of the poppies seems to reach through from another world into this one.  The way the deeper, more real red of the cardinal keeps catching my eye in the branches of trees.
3. (What awakened you?) The wisdom of friends, the dogged persistence of people
4. (What do you take for granted?) Light at the flick of a switch, water in the pipes, the trust and support of people close to me
5. (What brings you serenity?) The way light sifts through green, the play of breeze through leaves, the shifting colors of the day

May we walk in Beauty!

Live in the Sunshine

Emerson

Not exactly a poem, perhaps, but I will write it like one:

Just for today,
let all the stories be happy ones,
full of surprise and laughter,
the gifts of the unexpected.

Tomorrow,
we’ll get back to the business
of saving the world,
of figuring out how
to love away the meanness,
how to create a shining space
in the dim and dingy rooms.

But today,
let all the stories be happy ones.

Gratitude List:
1. I really didn’t want to give up a day off for an IU13 conference, but I am incredibly glad I went, inspired to engage students in the written word, full of helpful ideas for sparking interest in the text, and eager to keep learning myself.
2. Back to school.  Back to rhythm.  I admit, it’s hard to get back to the work after a wonderful break, but I do miss it when I am away.  I love having a job I love.
3. Small graces.  A little extra time to do something.  A moment of sunshine on a gray day.  A smile from someone in a distracted moment.
4. Tiger eye–such a shiny stone.
5. The great wisdom of my friends.  I am fortunate to have many wise and compassionate and hopeful people in my life.

May we walk in Beauty.