The Art of Enough


Today is the feast day of St. Hildegard of Bingen. If I have a patron saint, it would be her. She loved music and art, herbalism and stones. She was mystic, poet, doctor, composer, artist, and theologian. I’ll include some of her quotations in the mix below.

Here, to begin the curated quotations of the day, is something I wrote last year about writing poems, and then a poem I wrote about Sadness.

“I feel like I want a disclaimer before I write a poem about sadness. I realize that my life has been free of the iron grip of sadness that many people experience through depression or trauma or deep, recurring grief. I wrote this poem because I am trying to be Rumi’s Guest House and welcome in any and all who come my way, to learn from them what they would teach me. Sometimes I am a poet sitting at a pool, fishing out a single word at a time. Other days, I sit beside the stream, and the poem jumps right out into my lap and only needs to be tidied up a bit before it’s ready for the page. This is one of the latter.”

She’s a strange guest, is Sadness.
She knocks on the door
and when I open it
she turns her face away, says,
“You probably shouldn’t invite me in.”

But when I close the door,
she comes in anyway,
seeping in around the edges
and standing with her back to the wall.
And then she grows.

When I look directly at her, she dissipates
into the indigo shadows,
and all I can see are her eyes,
full of grief, full of resignation.

Sadness. It’s hard to know her, really,
to understand what she wants of me.

Sometimes she comes in as a cold wind
and I feel my senses tingle with the approach of her
before the world goes numb in her silence.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ―Ram Dass
*
“If you spell HA backwards, you get AH! Put them together and you get AHA!” ―Jeff Raught (I think I got the quotation right)
*
“Like billowing clouds,
Like the incessant gurgle of the brook,
The longing of the spirit can never be stilled.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
The Red Wheel Barrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.
*
“She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans…. But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.”
―Hildegard of Bingen


Gratitude List:
1. I keep learning new things: There is so much to give away, to let go, before I know I have enough.
2. Patience. I have enough Patience, if I can find it behind that stack of Busy-ness that keeps getting in the way.
3. Wisdom. I know I have enough Wisdom here, but it keeps getting lost behind the boxes full of Knowledge and Know-it-allness.
4. Sleep. I can get enough of that, if I just work at it. Sleep is such hard work lately, but it’s better than insomnia.
5. Feathers. What does a feather mean?

May we walk in Beauty!

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A Circle of Beloveds


Interesting coincidence. I am in a hurry this morning, and I quickly found this photo to represent the feeling of being held in a circle of beloveds. Then I saw that I had used the exact photo on my blog on this day two years ago.

“God is not a celestial prison warden jangling the keys on a bunch of lifers–he’s a shepherd seeking for sheep, a woman searching for coins, a father waiting for his son.” ― Clarence Jordan
*
“You think you are alive because you breathe air?
Shame on you, that you are alive in such a limited way.
Don’t be without Love, so you won’t feel dead.
Die in Love and stay alive forever.” —Rumi
*
“Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself.” ―John Dewey
*
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” ― William Faulkner
*
“O Earth, that hast no voice, confide to me a voice!
O harvest of my lands! O boundless summer growths!
O lavish, brown, parturient earth! O infinite, teeming womb!
A verse to seek, to see, to narrate thee.”
―Walt Whitman
*
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ―Nelson Mandela
*
“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” ―Stephen Jay Gould


Gratitude List:
1. A circle of Beloveds
2. The certainty of rain
3. Being ready to let go, but being given a little more time
4. Wisdom from the ages
5. A circle of Beloveds

May we walk in Beauty!

Wisdom of the Body


“He’d grown convinced that play–more than piety, more than charity or vigilance–was what allowed human beings to transcend evil.” ―from Tom Robbins, “Jitterbug Perfume”
*
“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.”
―Wangari Maathai
*
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ―Meister Eckhart
*
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.” ―Rumi


Gratitude List:
1. The lessons in the challenges
2. The light in the leaves
3. The persistence of life in small things
4. The span of a day
5. The wisdom of the body

May we walk in Beauty!

Trying to Be Found


Here are three tiny poems from my Creative Writing journal. (I usually wrote along with the students on the writing prompts).

Each day
a new story
of finding my way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Once there was a little girl
who was trying to be found.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bluebird on a wire
muttering a gentle question.
No one answers but the hawk.


“I like sitting at the piano. I like the idea that there are things coming in through the window and through you and then down to the piano and out the window on the other side. If you want to catch songs you gotta start thinking like one, and making yourself an interesting place for them to land like birds or insects. Once you get two or three tunes together, wherever three or more are gathered, then others come.” -Tom Waits
*
“The poem, I’ve always felt, is an opportunity for me to create an integrated whole from so many broken shards.” –Rafael Campo
*
“Which came first, the fear or the gun? The broken heart or the bleeding one? The impulse toward death or the desperate reach for love?” –Mark Morford
*
“A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.”
–John O’Donohue


Gratitude List:
1. I think I am homing in on the nest of Our Lady of the Flowers. I sat on the porch for a while last evening and watched. She seems to return to the same general area of the tree. It’s located at a less convenient spot for gazing this year, hidden higher up and further from the house.
2. Weaving stories together. Listening to people tell their stories and talk about who they want to be in the world.
3. How a good stretch that wakes up the spine wakes up the body
4. The people who do good. I get so tied up in knots about the stupid, greedy, and cruel things that the powerful people are doing. It really helps to balance my heart to keep remembering all the good and wise and compassionate things that you and the others are doing. Thank you.
5. Pesto

May we walk in Beauty!

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!