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Musings, Gratitudes

Resilience and Resistance

Friends I met on my walk yesterday:
1. Crow. Crow reminds me to get the wide perspective, to take on the adventure that any wind offers, to speak my mind. Crows don’t take heed for nothing.
2. Dogbane. Dogbane reminds me to be resourceful, to take note of the helpers who are always present, and to spin: cord, stories, prayers. . .
3. Deer. She ran across Schmuck Road, causing an SUV to brake. She reminds me to pause. She reminds me to love myself unconditionally, to live from the heart, to listen.
4. Monarch. He reminds me of resilience, how fragility and strength are not mutually exclusive. He reminds me to always look for beauty in everything.
5. Scarlet Pimpernel. A tiny five-petaled scarlet flower found in the grasses. When I was in college, I watched the old black and white movie The Scarlet Pimpernel, about a French dandy who uses disguises to rescue aristocrats condemned to the guillotine. What I took away from the movie is the importance of resisting the machines vengeance and death-dealing. Be surprising. Pop up wherever you’re needed.

What messages is the world sending your way?

Poems

Holy Goose

The Advent of the Holy Goose
Pentecost 2019

I could have sworn there were teeth on that bird,
how She came roaring into the room,
wings wide, neck cast toward us like an arrow,
hissing, engulfing us with feathers and fire.

No gentle dove, She.
No quiet candle flame
setting the saintly halos aglow.

We were herded by holiness,
dented by Her divinity,
shaken, awakened–that beak
breaking us open.
We shattered, pieces
scattering the floor,
the fire pouring through us
as the wind spilled in the door.

Gratitudes, Poems

Things That Make Me Happy

Things That Made Me Happy Today
(Another way to say Gratitude):
1. The chenille bedspread. It’s so comforting to snuggle up under it.
2. My Best Bird, the Oriole, flitting in and out of the honeysuckle vines all morning.
3. The holler is filled with the scent of honeysuckle.
4. Reading Bud, Not Buddy with the kid before he headed off to school this morning.
5. Completing the grading for four of my six classes. Only two more to go!
6. Talking on the phone with Sarah this morning.
7. The way the sun dapples the pathway the deer have made in the bosque across the stream.
8. How Ellis hums to himself wherever he is, like his dad.

What brings you joy?

Musings

Forget Appearances: Focus on the Real Issues

I know. No posts for a week or more, and then two in one day. I’m out of school, and all the things I have not had time to think are now finding their way into my brain.

Here’s a plea: Can we please cut out the personal insults to the president’s appearance, please? It’s too easy, too below the bar, too off-point. We have too much at stake to muddy our message with meanness.

The tuxedo pictures with the Queen? Isn’t that just fat-shaming? Yes, Obama looked terrific in a tux, but I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama because of his body. I liked him because he did his best to try to level the playing field a little. I liked him because he read and understood liberation theology. I liked him because he was well-read and well-spoken, and a man of grace and character. I liked him because he had a plan to make health care accessible to all, and he tried his best to make it happen.

By the same lights, I don’t care what Mr. Trump looks like in a tuxedo. He could look classy and stylish and debonair, and he would still be someone who enacts fascist-style policies that tear children away from asylum-seekers without any intention of getting them back together again. He could be svelte and handsome and charming and still gut environmental protections while denying the climate crisis.

PThe fake tan? Can we just stop with the Cheeto references? Let’s not make fun of people’s skin color, okay? Even when it’s self-inflicted. Didn’t we learn that one a long time ago, from some wise man, that we should judge people on the basis of their character rather than the color of their skin? And there are more than a few aspects of Mr. Trump’s character that make me question his suitability to run a country: blatant misogyny, racism, religious bigotry, classism, narcissism. . . We really need to focus on those: they’re what make him a dangerous leader.

Basic Logic 101 teaches us about the ad hominem fallacy, attacking the person rather than the issue. We have plenty of strong arguments as to why this man is at best a poor leader and at worst a dangerous one, but we weaken our arguments with ad hominem attacks on his personal appearance. We lose our focus on the real dangers he poses to vulnerable people, and we trivialize the actual pain he and his policies cause, when we make fun of his appearance. Plus, it gives people an excuse not to take our very real concerns seriously. Also, would you make fun of your rotund cousin in his tuxedo? Would you make fun of your friend who has rosacea?

I am all for the work of the sacred clown in society, making fun of people who refuse to self-reflect. When a president has his press flunkies lie about the size of his inauguration crowd, then it seems fitting to point out the size of the crowd that turns out to protest his presence in the UK. When he uses Twitter as a platform to spew wild and conspiracy-laden ideas, as well as a forum for personal aggrandizement, then it seems right to point out the ridiculousness in his tweets. But the size of his belly and the color of his face have nothing to do with the size of his crowd or his Twitter status.

Meanwhile, children who have been torn from their parents (nursing babes, toddlers, all the way up to teens) are in camps and detention centers, receiving minimal care and no education, from what I am able to gather. They’re subject to sexual and physical abuse. Reporters are not allowed to film or photograph conditions, if they’re allowed in at all.

Meanwhile, transgender people are in danger of losing human rights protections for medical care. Meanwhile, women are losing reproductive rights. Meanwhile, the environment is being destroyed, and the warnings about impending ecological devastation are ignored or denied.

We need to actively work to remove this man AND his enablers from power, not sit around taking potshots at his appearance.

I hate to be a scold. I know it feels good in the moment to stoop to his level. I know that because I have done it. But it doesn’t feel good in retrospect, to get down in that mud. We don’t save this country by name-calling. We save it by truth-telling. By action on behalf of the vulnerable. By holding the greedy and power-hungry accountable for their speech and their actions. Let’s get to work.

Poems

Disgruntled: Found Poem in the News

The shooter was disgruntled. An employee.
The shooter died after a gunfight with police.
The gunman was a worker.

The day was most devastating.
The most devastating in history.

The people involved were our neighbors.
The shooter was confronted shortly after opening fire.
There was an exchange of gunfire.
The police officer’s vest stopped a bullet.
The police officer was injured.

People heard someone falling.
People went to investigate.
There was a woman.
There was blood all over.
Get out of the building!
The guy’s got a gun!

Unsure how to react.
In a way you want to stay.
In a way you don’t want to stay.

The shooting occurred when people were conducting business.
People were hiding under their desks.

Police found a pistol and a rifle.
The suspect is thought to have purchased the firearms legally.
People can take guns into public buildings.
The mass shooting took place.
The FBI is responding.
The president has been briefed.

Six people were hospitalized.
Deadliest mass shooting.
Since November.
Twelve people were killed.
Senator devastated by the news.
My heart is with everyone.
Praying for a swift recovery.
Praying for all involved as we learn more.
Praying for our city.
We are resilient.
We will get through this.
Stronger than before.
We always do.

Gratitudes

Back to Basics: Gratitude

Gratitude List:
1. Dreaming of crows. The way poet/priestesses unpack the images. Snuggling my shadows.
2. Today I had so many opportunities to do my WORK. Teaching is my vocation, and I love so much about it, but the best thing about it is that it lets me do my Work. It includes tears and hugs and hard conversations and so much self-reflection.
3. Curiosity. When people get curious about each other. Curiosity is a fine engineer, building bridges of gossamer web and light across chasms. But stronger bridges than you can imagine.
4. This fine boy of mine, who keeps being ahead of himself in so many ways. Perhaps what I mean to say is that he is ahead of my perceptions. Or that he grows into whatever space he enters. With grace and thoughtfulness. . .and curiosity (there it is again). He leaves a stage of childhood behind tonight at his eighth grade graduation.
5. Cool breezes. This means exactly what it says, because my room is hot as a sauna. But then it means more than that because your poems and your wisdom and your presence in the world are cool breezes to me, my friends.

May we walk in BEAUTY!

Musings, Poems

Voices Made of Fire

If you could trust your voice completely,
if you didn’t have to consider how how others would respond,
if you didn’t have to be safe, to be tame, to be docile and
humble, acceptable and charming and quiet,
if you had not been trained to make your words
into an easy chair, to turn your voice to honey:
What would you say?

Musings, Poems

Applying Compassion

In 2005, my first pregnancy ended in a traumatic miscarriage. I recognize that all miscarriages are traumatic; this one, however, did not take care of itself. After the initial days of a slow bleed, I experienced a day of what I learned later (during the labor for my first live birth) was essentially hard labor. At thirteen weeks, my body went into full contraction mode to expel this pregnancy. I began to recover. I grieved. I went back to work, only to experience massive bleeding which began while I was teaching a class. I rushed to the ER at Women’s and Babies Hospital, where I was given surgical help to complete the miscarriage.

This was one of the most difficult times of my life. In the hospital, I received immediate and compassionate care from everyone involved. There was no questioning, no second-guessing. Of course my records confirmed that I had had a sonogram the previous week that showed a nonviable fetus. Still, I experience horror when I think of the stories I have read of women in my same situation who were forced to wait and bleed for hours or days because a rigorously anti-abortion hospital would not give surgical assistance without establishing the lack of a heartbeat. In some cases, women have developed infections or lost grave amounts of blood or even died for lack of essential medical care during miscarriage.

Will these merciless anti-abortion laws increase the risks for miscarrying women? I have absolutely no doubt that they will. On top of that, women who are experiencing the tragedy of pregnancy loss, of the self-doubt and shame we carry about how our bodies have let us down, will be placed in the position of being interrogated about whether they did anything to cause their miscarriages, with the risk of being charged as felons if they are not believed.

If some of us are particularly twitchy and quick to rage and grieving these days, it might have something to do with this, with having to re-open the trauma of our pregnancy losses–for whatever their reason or cause–finding ourselves imagining what the world will be like for women of the future who may have to endure what we experienced, only without compassionate care or empathetic understanding.

It’s time to trust women to understand what is happening to our bodies.

Poems

Lost and Endangered Species

Yesterday was Endangered Species Day. Here is a poem I wrote for the occasion two or three years ago. Perhaps some of the endangered ones are not all with us anymore:

Ritual for the Greeting of the Lost and Endangered Ones
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Before you cross the threshold,
remember to greet the guardians of the place.
Step to the center of the circle.

Stand still and silent,
watchful and waiting.
Close your eyes and you will feel them all about you:
soft breath, whiskers and feathers,
cool sinuous scales and rough bristles,
hints of movement like the whispers in a dream.

Turn to the east, to the birds, to the wing-folk,
turn to the flying ones, feathered and beaked ones.
Feel the sky darken as Passenger Pigeons fly over.
Hear the maniacal bark of the Laughing Owl,
the whistles and chuckles of the Carolina Parakeet,
the caw and the clamor of the Hawaiian Crow,
the deep distant drumming of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.
All these, the People of the Wind, gone now. Gone.

Turn to the south, to the mammals, the fur-folk,
the ones who run with the fire of the sun in their blood.
Here is Celia, last of the sure-footed Pyrenean Ibex.
There, standing silently like shadow,
the West African Black Rhino.
And there, sliding down the riverbank,
the Japanese River Otter.
This one, the Eastern Cougar, stealthy as dream.
That one, the Formosan Clouded Leopard.
All these, the People of the Fire, gone now. Gone.

Turn to the west, to the fish, to the fin-folk,
turn to the gill people, swimmers and divers,
the people of moist places, the people of bogs.
That sleek gentle head over there in the water
is Baiji, the dolphin of the Yangtze River.
There is the fluke of the Atlantic Gray Whale.
Shimmering in the cool depths,
the Blackfin Cisco, the Galapagos Damsel,
the Blue Walleye, the Gravenche.
In the swamps and the wetlands,
Holdridge’s Toad, Golden Toad,
and the Cape Verde Giant Skink.
All these, the People of Water, gone now. Gone.

Turn to the north, to the reptiles and insects,
turn to the cool ones, the scaly, the earth people.
Larger than a boulder, there is Lonesome George,
the last of the Pinta Island Tortoises.
There, in coils, like a great rope,
the Round Island Burrowing Boa.
This lizard–the Jamaican Giant Galliwasp.
The Lake Pedder Earthworm,
the Polynesian Tree Snail,
the Rocky Mountain Locust.
All these, the People of the Earth, gone now. Gone.

And wandering in brilliant circles and meanders
in the sky about us, but not yet within the circle,
bright orange butterflies, the Monarchs,
and Honeybees, droplets of sunlight
zipping through trees. And others, too, not yet gone–
the Pangolin and Mountain Gorilla,
the Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Island Fox,
the California Condor and the Amur Leopard.
All these, the next in line, the ones on the brink.

As you step out of the circle,
look to the air above you,
see the Bald Eagle wheeling on the wind,
the Peregrine Falcon diving toward earth.
See the Wolf, the Bison, the Bobcat.
These are the ones who stood on the brink,
who wandered back to the woods and the wildlands,
who walked away from that veil and returned.

Now we must shift. Now we must change.
Now we must make a new way.

Poems

Who Gets Custody?

Who Gets Custody of Jesus?
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Yesterday, a complete stranger
accused me of the heresy
of the gospel of social justice,
and went on to intimate that
I was heading for flaming hell
if I didn’t say an unequivocal yes
to his question about whether I believed
in penal substitutionary atonement.

While I’m not really fussed about
the mythological eternal burning,
his questions clarify the blazing chasm
that expands between us as we approach
this great ecclesiastical divorce.

I am too accustomed, perhaps,
to seeing myself outside the group,
living instead in the wide open meadow,
not the confinement of the windowless box,
avoiding the bindings and locks of dogma,
and questions that require a yes or a no.

Do you base your faith on what he said,
or what was said about him?
Which will it be, justice or atonement?
Who gets custody of Jesus?
Those who don’t want to die
without being covered by his death?
Or those who seek to live
according to the story of his life?