About

I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in
singing, especially when singing is not necessarily
prescribed.
” ~~Mary Oliver

Like Mr. Rogers, I believe in kindness. Like Mary Oliver, I also believe in mischief and in singing.

When I wrote the anchor poem for my book, Holding the Bowl of the Heart, I was working through an intense internal dialogue about how to be an activist in the world without losing my sense of hope, without giving in to despair. How can I hold onto the Beauty and kindness and goodness in my heart, and also hold the pain and cruelty and injustice that fill so much of the world? My professors at Eastern Mennonite College in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley encouraged us to see ourselves as both contemplatives and activists, letting prayer fuel action and action inform prayer. In order to be an active participant in creating just structures and opposing cruelty, I must stay informed about that cruelty and injustice. To keep from becoming a ragged shell of despair in the face of that I must hold the Beauty and kindness and joy with equal intensity. And so into the bowl they go, the terrible and the wonderful.


You will notice that I capitalize Beauty. This is because Beauty is one of my favorite names for the divine one, for the Holy Mystery, the Creative Force, the Source. When I capitalize Beauty in every reference to it, I am acknowledging to myself the immanence of the divine within the concept.


This page, and these thoughts, are in process. I will be re-working and refining this page periodically as part of my personal writing project.

17 thoughts on “About

    1. I just noticed that the poem you’re referring to is by Math Oliver, not me.

      If you might want more of the poem, here’s the whole poem. It’s by Mary Oliver, and it’s called “Evidence.”

      I.

      Where do I live? If I had no address, as many people
      do not, I could nevertheless say that I lived in the
      same town as the lilies of the field, and the still
      waters.

      Spring, and all through the neighborhood now there are
      strong men tending flowers.

      Beauty without purpose is beauty without virtue. But
      all beautiful things, inherently, have this function –
      to excite the viewers toward sublime thought. Glory
      to the world, that good teacher.

      Among the swans there is none called the least, or
      the greatest.

      I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in
      singing, especially when singing is not necessarily
      prescribed.

      As for the body, it is solid and strong and curious
      and full of detail; it wants to polish itself; it
      wants to love another body; it is the only vessel in
      the world that can hold, in a mix of power and
      sweetness: words, song, gesture, passion, ideas,
      ingenuity, devotion, merriment, vanity, and virtue.

      Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.

      2.

      There are many ways to perish, or to flourish.

      How old pain, for example, can stall us at the threshold of function….

      Still friends, consider stone, that is without the fret of gravity, and water that is without anxiety.

      And the pine trees that never forget their recipe for renewal.

      And the female wood duck who is looking this way and that way for her children. And the snapping turtle who is looking this way and that way also. This is the world.

      And consider, always, every day, the determination of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles.

      3.

      I ask you again: if you have not been enchanted by this adventure–your life–what would do for you?

      And, where are you, with your ears bagged down as if with packets of sand? Listen. We all have much more listening to do. Tear the sand away. And listen. The river is singing. …

      For myself, I have walked in these woods for
      More than forty years, and I am the only
      thing, it seems, that is about to be used up.
      Or, to be less extravagant, will, in the
      Foreseeable future, be used up.

      First, though, I want to step out into some
      fresh morning and look around and hear myself
      crying out: “The house of money is falling! The house of money is falling! The weeds are rising! The weeds are rising!”

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  1. Beth, your blog is beautiful. It is beauty and so are you. Thank you for sharing your world with me, for sharing your heart.

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    1. Thank you, Christine! I am so glad to be getting to know you online. I hope I will get a chance to meet you in person someday. We get so busy with the farm and the kids that I don’t often get into town, but I want to come to more readings and events this winter. Much love.

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  2. This poem, Letter, spoke very deeply to me. And from the comments left on FB, to many other people. I have been following Beth on FB for a long time, and thought it might be time to make it “official!”

    Please keep writing. I love both of your books.

    You will make a fabulous teacher. I wish I could occupy a seat in your class, but I think LMH might frown on that!

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  3. Beth – My name is Sandra Howell-Zack. I am Jan’s daughter, Katie’s mom. My mom shared one of your posts with me today and I have to say this is just so inspirational!! Thank you for sharing these posts!

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