Cast Aside the Jug


“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” ―Thomas Merton
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“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen” ―Robert Bresson
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“We have to learn to love people even if they are not giving you what you want… and then not take it personally. If you feel hurt, you have to recognize that they are not hurting you because you are you, but because they are them. You have to try not to be so hard on yourself.”
―Krishna Das
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“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ―Meister Eckhart
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“You will stand at the center of your story
and decide in this moment who you will be.
You get to decide how you will play your part,
and that will help to decide the outcome.”
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in two windows of a house, bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.” ―Celtic Blessing
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“If you are doing the right thing for the earth, she’s giving you great company.” ― Vandana Shiva
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“The outward form of things passes away, but the essence remains forever. How long will you be besotted with the shape of the jug? Cast aside the jug, and seek the water. If you look too closely at the form, you miss the essence.” ―Rumi
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Or she:
“If the believer understood the meaning of the saying
“The color of the water is the color of the receptacle,”
He would admit the validity of all beliefs and
He would recognize God in every form and every object of faith.”
If the believer understood the meaning of the saying
“The color of the water is the color of the receptacle,”
He would admit the validity of all beliefs and
He would recognize God in every form and every object of faith.
~Ibn ‘Arabi
Ibn ‘Arabi
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Last Year’s Gratitude:
“How everything connects. Your heart and mine. The hummingbird and the vulture. Poems and stories and art. The thin spidersilk of prayer, spun out across impossible chasms.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. Lying on a bed with a cat snuggled up on either side of me.
2. My surprise 50th birthday dinner. My sisters and my mother took me out to John Wright Restaurant. I am so fortunate to have these incredible women in my life.
3. Crawfish Etouffee
4. Saturday afternoon naps (and waking up and realizing that the poison ivy covering every inch of my body was only a dream)
5. Walnut trees. The walnut by the barn is the last to get dressed every spring, and the first to disrobe in the fall, but the way she plays with the light in her leaves is the finest art.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Remembering How to Fly

“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”  ― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
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“Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'” –Kurt Vonnegut
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“I know there are people who don’t read fiction at all, and I find it hard to understand how they can bear to be inside the same head all the time.”  ― Diane Setterfield
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“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”  ― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
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“A good story is always more dazzling than a broken piece of truth.” ― Diane Setterfield
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(Yesterday, my friend Christi sent me this exquisite poem)
A Small, Soft Feather
by Joyce Rupp

a small, soft feather,
still warm
from bluebird’s wing,
falls onto the receptive
forest floor.

lightly it lands
under a thick-branched oak;
quietly it waits,
unnoticed, unattended,

until a sister of earth pauses,
beckoned by a flutter
of unseen energy.
she bows her kindled heart

stoops ever so slowly,
and the remnant of the blue bird
comes home
to her generous hand.

days later another earth sister
opens an envelope;
resting inside, waiting,
is the blue of sky
in shape of a feather.

from warm wing
to great oak,
to earth sister
to friend,

comes the soft blue signal,
and in a sparkle of recognition
a woman, weighed down
with too many wants,
remembers how to fly.


Gratitude List:
1. One of the four major projects that 3rd graders do at Wrightsville Elementary is a report on an African American historical figure. Josiah had already decided that he wanted to do his report on Ruby Bridges. But we watched “Hidden Figures” last night, and he thinks he might do his report on Katherine Johnson. Can’t go wrong either way.
2. Goldenrod
3. Saturday morning with a talkative boy and a playful cat
4. Walnut leaves dancing down the wind. Mabon approaches.
5. Words

May we walk in Beauty!

Words

 

“The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.”  ― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
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“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
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“I hold the most archaic values on earth … the fertility of the soul, the magic of the animals, the power-vision in solitude…. the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.” ― Gary Snyder
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“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh
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“The study of silence has long engrossed me. The matrix of a poet’s work consists not only of what is there to be absorbed and worked on, but also of what is missing, desaparecido, rendered unspeakable, thus unthinkable.” ―Adrienne Rich
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“Be ready to be surprised by the crazy, wonderful events that will come dancing out of your past when you stir the pot of memory. Embrace those long-lost visitors.” ―William Zinsser
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Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds. ―Bob Marley


Gratitude List:
1. Fridays
2. Owl calling in the pre-dawn
3. Artists
4. Dreams
5. Words

May we walk in Beauty!

Remembering a Visitor


Last year on this day, we were visited by this messenger. I’m still in awe.

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.” ~ Hafiz
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“When your world moves too fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset. Reacquaint yourself with the earth beneath your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.”
~ Christy Ann Martine
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Every word you utter to another human being has an effect, but you don’t know it. If people began to understand that change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then, they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.”
– Howard Zinn
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“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” –Leonard Bernstein


Gratitude List:
1. Coolness, blessed coolness
2. We have at least one working car again
3. How hard conversations help us learn and grow
4. Enough. I have enough of what I need.
5. Coolness–Have I said how grateful I am for a cool morning?

May we walk in Beauty!

Hugs


My little old man cat has got me thinking about hugs. He doesn’t like to just sit quietly on my lap. He has to have his paws on my shoulder, like a cat hug. I think he finds comfort and ease in the heart-to-heart contact. And it strikes me that that’s part of the healing power of a hug: For just a moment, your heart and my heart are together, right next to each other. Offering a hug is offering your heart. We help each other to regulate our breathing and our heart-rhythms when we hug each other.


Gratitude List:
1. Watching that moon rise. Last night, we went down to Hellam to watch the moon rise. A bubble of flame breaking free. No matter how many times I watch, I am always sort of stunned by how quickly it rises, how we can see it moving. It sets my heart a flutter. We also saw the space station.
2. Planting herbs. I am expanding my mint bed to include other herbs. The wild St. John’s Wort that I planted last year is flourishing. Today I planted thyme and oregano and rosemary. I need some white sage yet.
3. Cycles of work and rest
4. The lure of words. I am restless, picking up my journals and printed poems, shuffling and browsing. I am ready to edit and reconfigure, ready to settle into a writing rhythm for the summer.
5. This boy bought himself a pair of water shoes today with pink insets. “That’s okay with you, the pink?” I asked, casually, just to be sure that I wasn’t investing my money in something he wouldn’t actually wear. He shrugged: “They’re water shoes.” Righto.

May we walk in Beauty!

Islands

The distance between two bodies
may be a word and a word and a word.
The map of the distance between them–
that’s a story sent out like a boat on waves.

We may indeed be islands, separate
in our separate skins, and lonely
as rocky hills jutting from the sea.
It’s words that span and sail between us.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
We’re nearing the end now. Some people call it Judgement, that final reckoning before the end of the game, the life, the story. Some call it Karma, or Prudence. Perhaps it’s Accountability. It’s the moment of the Last Look Back, the Assessment, the final Final before graduation. How does the Fool stack up? Can she see what she has learned? Find value in the work she has been doing?

Gratitude List:
1. Lily of the Valley. I can’t get enough of the scent. When Skunk Hollow isn’t filled with the smell of skunk, it’s filled with Lily of the Valley.
2. A good story to follow. Right now it’s Poldark, and it’s breaking my heart almost as much as Downton Abbey did. I love Demelza.
3. Song Sparrow
4. These boys. Last night as I was reading to Joss before bed, at the part where Ma Gasket stands up to Polybites, he stopped me and said, “I like these books where the women are leading, too.” Well, there.
5. That tiny little light there at the way far end of the tunnel.

May we walk in Beauty!

Waiting on Words

DSCN7584

Waiting on the words
to do their usual tumble,
I will find instead
a pocketful of golden
leaves, and some scarlet berries.

Gratitude List:
1. Farm friends and farm crew.
2. Bringing the season to a close.  Moving on to a new Season.
3. Yellow carpet of leaves
4. The observations of a six-year-old.  This morning: “Fred’s legs aren’t made like ours are.  It seems like his knees come out of the backs of his legs.”
5. The light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s there, even when I can’t quite make it out in the distance.

May we walk in Beauty!

Many Words for Together

Gratitude List:

1. We do not walk alone.
2. These circles are wide and many and overlapping.
3. International community.  Singing with international community.
4. How I can sense you here when you are so far away.
5. Words from a friend about belonging together even if we do not agree on everything.

I think I may have just said the same thing five times.

May we walk in Beauty!  May we walk singing.

Grace and Wind

Today’s gratitude list is mostly gleaned from our church service yesterday morning.  After a startlingly harsh and jangling sermon from a visiting preacher the previous week, yesterday’s service was one of healing and hope.  I felt much more called to the care and tending of souls during yesterday’s gentle and loving setting than I did during the previous week’s harangue.

Gratitude List:
1. The healing power of words, how they hold and restore.  How healing words fill a space after words have been harsh.  I am grateful for Darvin and Michelle’s words yesterday.
2. St. Hannah/Francis preaching to the birds.  “You should try this at home.”  Ellis did: he came home and stood near the feeder with bird seed in his hand.
3. Breath, air, wind: spirit.  Ruach, one of the Bible’s feminine terms for God, is also the spirit, the breath.  Whistle.  Preach to the birds.
4. Counting time in Chesters.  The oldest member of our congregation is almost 100.  About three Chesters ago, the US became a country.  Eight Chesters ago, St. Francis preached to the birds.  Chester whistles, too.
5. These two hanging ferns that my family gave me for Mother’s Day.  The house finch has been whistling in their fronds, begging his lady love to consider them as the setting for raising their family.

May we walk in Beauty!  Breathe.  Whistle.

Word-Bridges

I need to take my moments of contemplation when I can get them these days.  Only three weeks into the semester, and I have already (at least once) left a piece of my lesson planning to the morning.  And that eats up not only time, but also confidence.  Yet I am feeling an internal sense that not only should I be maintaining my morning reflection time, but perhaps I need to expand my writing practices.  Now, because I am spending my days teaching writing, when I write for myownself, I am keenly conscious of how I am moving around inside these sentences, pulling the ideas of this sentence into being perhaps even while I typed the previous sentence.  Considering whether a fragment here might be well-used to effect.  Wondering whether I can hold onto the depth of the idea that I am working with if I shift for a moment into discussion of the what happens when I explore the room of a sentence while I am writing it.

You and I, we are individual universes, separate in our separate realms, joined by. . .what?  (Meta-mind wonders how I should have punctuated that one and hopes a grammarian friend will give suggestions.) What is the web that connects us in our isolated worlds?  Love and hope, certainly.  Gesture and expression.  Still, we need language to channel those deep rivers of self between us, to make the webs between us glow and shine.  As we build these word, bridges, construct whole rooms and tunnels of sentences, cities of paragraphed ideas, our worlds connect.  I can write to you and you can write to me, and we can say to each other that we know each other, even if we have not seen each others’ faces.  Just because of words.  May all our words bring deeper understanding, more powerful connections.

Gratitude List:
1.  Personal pep-talks, for that is what this has been.  It was a short night, and it promises to be a hot day in the classroom, me yelling my words out over the fans.  Still, I cannot be anything but grateful to for the gift of this opportunity to help this cohort of 90 young people develop and perfect their ability to work with language, this magical tool for human connection.  May it be so.
2.  The great horned owls.  I know I just wrote about them a couple days ago, but their deep and startling voices here in the fall are almost as trance-inducing as my friend the oriole was in spring.  When I am grumbling at the rude voice of the alarm clock, the sudden surprised whooping of the owls in the bamboo forest will make me smile and be glad to be awake in this darkness.
3.  Following my predecessor at the school.  She was well-loved by quite a number of students.  Random students keep wandering in and looking around, a little lost, and introducing themselves as former students of hers.  Some of them even return repeatedly, as though simply the memory of her in that room makes it a haven amidst the bustle of the school day.  Big shoes to fill.  I’ll be my own me, of course, but do my best to keep her light shining in the window.
4.  Word-bridges.  Sentence-halls.  Paragraph-houses.  All these artificial structures and codes that we have created in millennia of human development that enable us to close the space between us.
5.  Annoying as his constant demands for attention, food, attention, and food can be, I love the way Fred the cat meows, his whole face getting into the act.  I love the way he won’t take no for an answer when he wants snuggles and I am wearing a dark blue dress that cannot have orange cat hair upon it.  I had to go get a blanket to cover me because he would have his mama-cuddle this morning, no matter what I said.

May we walk in Beauty!