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Whales in the Village

Dreaming in the Exile:
There are whales in a large pool/ pond at little town where I am staying. I remember watching a video of a woman who could talk to whales, so I try making those sounds, and they come to where I am. One of them, a little orca with a toothy grin, keeps finding colored dice on the bottom of the pool and spitting them out of the water at me. When I throw them back, the little orca chases them–like a dog–and brings them back.

Later, I take a dawn walk from my bungalow through the village. I stop to check on friends, and hear beautiful piano music from the front of the house (my friends rent the back). I realize that the man who lives there knows I make this walk every day, and plays his piano every morning just for me. Later, someone in the village is hurting, and one of my students stands up and takes charge, without any panic, and calmly takes the person to the hospital. I am proud or her.

Thinking: I have dreamed of whales before, and it always seems to signal some big thing in my deeper layers of self, something wanting to make itself known. Usually I encounter dream-whales in pools and ponds. This one was in a village, and so I think it may be connected to something in my Deep Self connecting to the importance of my village right now, of the ways we check up on each other, the ways we play, the ways we make music and poetry and art to delight each other, the way we rise to the needs of the occasion. I am proud of us. Of you.

( My family does not like dice games as much as I do, but today, I think I am going to do the mama-beg, and get them to play some Tenzi with me.)


Gratitude List:
1. Phoebe and red-winged blackbird have added their voices to the chorus.
2. Redbuds and cherry trees are blooming. Forsythia is blooming. Welcome, Spring!
3. In the midst of chaos and anxiety, I love the strong voice and careful speech of PA’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine. She exudes competence.
4. The Village of All of You.
5. Jon Weaver-Kreider

Take care of each other!

Kite Strings

Greetings from Narnia! In these days, I remember that even in Narnia, things have often been unstable, have often felt dangerous and frightening. Remember the first time we went there, how we had to draw on all our ingenuity and courage to find our way through? How we needed help from others along the way, how we had to keep going even when we knew we were only children, and clearly not up to the task of saving the realm from an autocratic and capricious leader? That was a plague of winter rather than virus, but people were dying then, too, and people stayed in their houses, fearful of going out.

Here is this realm, we stay indoors in order to try to save more of us in the end, and we have these magical boxes that help us build communities even while we’re far apart. The fear is here, and sometimes I think I can smell it, as if I were one of our animal friends from Narnia. We have to figure out how to survive.

Right now, it’s really hard in Pennsylvania, as it might be where you live. We’ve been out of school for a week, learning through computers and figuring out the best ways to connect. Yesterday, Governor Wolf announced that all non-life-supporting businesses MUST close, which was sort of in effect already, but the clarifications mean that businesses that had closed to the public but still brought their employees in to work behind the scenes will need to keep their employees home. It makes sense, and I respect Governor Wolf’s decision. And yes, and yes, and yes. But it brings the hurt home to the hollow here because Jon won’t get any more hours at work until this is over. The shoe has dropped. We’ve got social and community safety nets, and all sorts of possible strategies to manage, so we’ll be okay. It just brings the harshness of it home, and makes the uncertainty more real, more looming. But we’ll be okay.

I hope you will be, too. It feels pretty dire at times, and every day brings something a little more dire. Searching for the little things that bring light and delight into the day becomes more important to me at times like this. Five things that make me grateful don’t cancel out the gnawing anxiety, and they don’t change the harsh reality. Still, they bring me balance. They help me to remember that my feet touch the ground, that I live in this body in this space. Despite the wild uncertainty of these days, some beautiful things are certain. Some wonders and delights go on. I choose to ground myself in those. I might catch the kite o my anxiety and go zooming off in tears and conjectures, but that string of connection to you, and to the Earth, and to all my Beloved Community–that’s real, and that’s strong, and that will bring me back to solid ground, safe.

Please, if you are finding yourself close to the edge of the panic or despair, reach out. Make a connection with someone out in the wide world. Find your kite strings–who and what holds you to the Earth?


Kite Strings of Gratitude:
1. You. Yesterday, a friend of mine asked to see her friends’ face on FB, and I cried, seeing all her lovely community, so I did the same, and all throughout the day, my friends posted their photos, sometimes with their children or their four-legged companions, and my day was so bright, despite the harsher news, despite the uncertainty.
2. Yesterday after lunch, I did the two-mile walk up and down the hill. The world was still misty, and it felt as though the the hollow itself was an empty bowl with a curtain of mist all around. The bowl was all that existed for a little while. Silence and birdsong. Distant traffic.
3. Yoga. It’s one of my coping strategies right now, both for grounding and for chasing the anxieties out of my lower back.
4. Yesterday during my Office Hour, a couple students from the dorm checked in and then walked the laptop around the dorm so I could say hello to everyone there. It made me sort of giddy. I really miss my students.
5. Yesterday morning, a great blue heron flew through the mist above the hollow. Even though my other blue friend is gone, others are still here.

Take care of each other.


“Although I am a woman of strong faith, I admit that my spirit sometimes struggled to overcome the heaviness of the tragedies around me. When heartbreak knocked on my door, I learned to let faith answer.” —Coretta Scott King


“On this day, the Vernal Equinox, we are in perfect balance between light and dark. Let us pray loving attention to the fragile sprouts of inner beauty which have survived the long dark of hibernation, despite all odds, to push up through the soil into the light. Let us honour the faith it has taken to believe in the invisible, upper world, where soon we will blossom into sprawling gardens overflowing with fruit. Let us hold our painful hearts with gentle hands today. Let us express our gratitude to the light that can only be found in the dark. Let us ask our vulnerability to shine radiantly with knowing that we are unfolding right on time.” —Toko-pa Turner


“The happiest people I’ve ever met, regardless of their profession, their social standing, or their economic status, are people that are fully engaged in the world around them. The most fulfilled people are the ones who get up every morning and stand for something larger than themselves. They are the people who care about others, who will extend a helping hand to someone in need or will speak up about an injustice when they see it.” ―Wilma Mankiller


“Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”
—J.R.R. Tolkien? Or was this from the movie?


“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” —Margaret Atwood


“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
—Fred Rogers, born on this day in 1928

Turning Toward Spring

A Random Catalog of Thoughts During Exile:
1. The rhythm of my days is much gentler and more self-paced, but it’s not really less busy. The work is still there, and perhaps there’s even more work. Instead of relying on a well-sketched idea and my own charisma to carry a class, I have to communicate my lesson plans extremely carefully and clearly for my students. I love this, too, but it’s a lot of determined work.
2. There are different kinds of tired. The tired feeling after one of those days of charismatic engagement with students is different from the tiredness of spending most of the day attached to my computer, communicating with people through a screen.
3. I miss my students. I didn’t think that would happen so soon, but I think the worry about everything has me thinking more about them, too, wondering how they are, missing the daily jokes in second period AP Comp, the earnestness of first period, the wild creativity, the sleepy good humor of others. Yesterday, I had Office Hours via Google Meet for my AP Comp classes, and I loved checking in with those who showed up. I don’t know how long this will go, but I am going to start having one or two periods of time every school day in which I have Office Hours, and anyone may stop in to talk.
4. I think I am doing pretty well at handling the anxiety, at being Rumi’s “Guest House,” and welcoming in all the challenging feelings. But I think I have let my anxiety lodge in my lower back. I rarely have back pain for more than a few hours. This week, it’s been a lot more prolonged. It may be partly the longer walks up hill and down, and the increased time sitting at a computer, but if I am honest, I think it’s also connected to the anxiety. Yoga has been incredibly helpful.
5. One of those goldfinches has a white forehead. I wonder if it’s a mutation, or just a bit of molting weirdness?
6. Here in the eastern US, where I live, Spring will arrive today, just before the turning of the day into tomorrow: 11:49. For the past six years, I have not had the chance to observe the shift into spring so closely. Happy Equinox, Friends!
7. That cardinal out in the grey wet morning is shining out like a glowing coal.
8. I need to work even harder to establish daily rhythms. I am a work-on-it-until-it’s-done person. I don’t take enough breaks. I need to work on chunking my activities a little more intentionally.
9. There needs to be more baking in this house during the Exile.
10. One son has a Flexible Instructional Day Plan. If I didn’t interrupt him occasionally, he would work from the moment he gets up (late morning) until midnight, with a few breaks to play Minecraft. This kid was built for cyber-schooling. I don’t think his teachers are assigning him too much work. I think he just likes to go down his own rabbit trails. Now I need to make sure he is keeping up with the reading and writing, too.
11. The other son has no FID plan. He re-arranges his room. He plays online games. He asks me to play games with him. He rejects all my suggestions for projects and activities. “I might do that later.” I haven’t been able to help him out much because I have been focused on my own school work. Tomorrow is a day off, so I will spend some time helping him to develop a plan.
12. I love that some people are calling these Jammy Days and living in their pajamas. On the other hand, I find that dressing in the morning gives me a certain energy and wakefulness. This is not true for everyone, of course, but I don’t feel fully ready for the day until I am dressed.


Gratitude List:
1. Cardinal shining through the rain. Birdlife at the feeder.
2. Establishing new rhythms. The first few days were hard. Keep your head down and slog through. Make it work. Now, I am seeing my way to establishing the home rhythm.
3. Baking. Yesterday it was scones. Today it might be scones again: I have to practice, don’t I?
4. Online connections. I give myself limits and parameters to social media use during the day, and I will be creating even more careful structure in the future. Still, outside connections are keeping me sane and grounded.
5. The way crises open up spaces for new paradigms. How Mutual Aid is rising as an important social construct. I love people.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.” —Martha Graham


“What in your life is calling you,
When all the noise is silenced,
The meetings adjourned. . .
The lists laid aside,
And the Wild Iris blooms
By itself
In the dark forest. . .
What still pulls on your soul?”
—Rumi


“For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love
And to both, bee and flower,
the giving and the receiving is a need and an ecstasy.” —Khalil Gibran


“Find the sweetness in your own heart,
then you may find the sweetness in every heart.”
—Rumi


“There is in Celtic mythology the notion of ‘thin places’ in the universe where the visible and the invisible world come into their closest proximity. To seek such places is the vocation of the wise and the good—and for those that find them, the clearest communication between the temporal and eternal. Mountains and rivers are particularly favored as thin places marking invariably as they do, the horizontal and perpendicular frontiers. But perhaps the ultimate of these thin places in the human condition are the experiences people are likely to have as they encounter suffering, joy, and mystery.” —Peter Gomes


“You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.” —Eliezer Yudkowsky


“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” —Dr. Seuss


March
by James Wright

A bear under the snow
Turns over to yawn.
It’s been a long, hard rest.
Once, as she lay asleep, her cubs fell
Out of her hair,
And she did not know them.
It’s hard to breathe
In a tight grave:
So she roars,
And the roof breaks.
Dark rivers and leaves
Pour down.
When the wind opens its doors
In its own good time,
The cubs follow that relaxed and beautiful woman
Outside to the unfamiliar cities
Of moss.


Spring Follows Winter Once More
by Tom Hennen

Lying here in the tall grass
Where it’s so soft
Is this what it is to go home?
Into the earth
Of worms and black smells
With a larch tree gathering sunlight
In the spring afternoon
And the gates of Paradise open just enough
To let out
A flock of geese.

Meeting Up

Waiting. The new emerges around the old.

One of my colleagues organized Faculty Devotions this morning on Google Meet, and it was satisfying to see people and hear them talk, and to see families and pets in the frames.

I opened up a Google Meet room this morning for one of my classes for students to stop in and ask questions. I think next week I will have several hour-long periods of Office Hours, where students can stop in and say hello and ask questions they may have. Only five or six students stopped in today, but it was really exciting to see them and to connect. It makes it more real.

I would not want to be a cyber-school educator. I am finding that despite my deep longing for solitude, I also have deep longing for human connection beyond simply being here at home with the family. I miss the extraverted part of me. (That was a little personally startling to write, true as it is.) But for now, I am something of a cyber-school educator, and it’s essential that I do what I can to keep a connection with my students as much as I am able. Our day are altered, so we alter our plans. We adapt and make do. When we get frustrated, we yell, and believe it or not, someone comes to our rescue! When something works, we share it so others who are struggling can find help.


Today’s poem is Theodore Roethke’s “In a Dark Time.”

Gratitude List:
1. My younger son is in public school, and his teachers are not allowed to assign required work. Yesterday we got an email to have them check their Google classroom anyway. His teachers had all created fun and chatty videos with their families and housepets. Just for fun. Just for the connection. What priceless people. A little extra reaching out means so much.
2. Also, his school is handing out free meals to kids, to try to ensure that no one falls through the cracks during these altered days. Staff from the high school came down the hill to help with the distribution. Good people keep doing good things.
3. The gold on those finches is really shining through the winter olive. Shine, birdies, shine!
4. My back is hurting again today. I am so glad I have Yasmin’s yoga video to help me.
5. Google Meet. The possibility of continuing connections.

May we walk in Beauty!


“We must always trust in the difficult, then what appears to us as the most frightening will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

“So don’t be frightened, dear friend, if sadness or anxiety casts a shadow over your life. Something is happening within you. Remember that life has not forgotten you. It holds you in its hand and will not let you go. And after all, why would you want to live without pain and unease? You don’t yet know what mysterious work these feelings are accomplishing inside you.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” —Anais Nin


“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” —Anais Nin


“If you take two steps toward God,” he used to tell me, “God runs to you!”
—Satish Kumar in Life of Pi by Yann Martel


“Russian scientists have discovered gold deposits in the dust of decayed tree stumps. The phenomenon occurs in forests growing in ground where there is gold ore. Over the course of centuries, the trees’ roots suck in minute quantities of the precious metal, eventually accumulating nuggets. Describe a metaphorically comparable process you could carry out in your own life over the course of the next 20 years. What invisible part of you is like a tree’s roots? What’s the gold you’d like to suck up?” —Rob Brezsny in PRONOIA is the Antidote to Paranoia.


May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
—John O’Donohue


“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something.” —Carl Sagan

Grieve and Adapt

Here is a picture of Erebus. He is the most beautiful person in the house. Everyone else is beautiful, too, of course, but Erebus is a rock-star of beautifulness. Even when he is being a goofball.

Self isolation.
Social distancing. No, physical distancing with social connection.
Exile for the Good of the Realm.
Altered days.
Strange times.

I’ve noticed my friends posting on social media all the things they can offer for the good of their communities during the time of Exile: help with educational questions, coffee conversations, spiritual direction, free online yoga sessions. . .

What a marvelous trend! I jumped on that one. I can sit here in my holler with my family feeling sorry that I can’t do anything, or I can offer what I am able by internet. Let’s do that!

Here are some of the things I can offer. If you need my help with any of these things, comment here, and we’ll figure out how to get in touch by email, or find me on Facebook, and we can connect there.
1. I am an English teacher, so if your kids are struggling with grammar or writing, or the deep meaning of an assigned piece of literature, I am delighted to help. In other disciplines, I can help you find resources. I have taught grades 3-8, so I have a fairly well-rounded knowledge base.

2. If you need a poem, let me know. I love to search for poems. If the one you need hasn’t been written yet, I will try to write one for you.

3. I am going to post my daily quotations here every day in case you need some grounding inspiration.

4. I am posting a poem a day (at least during weekdays) on my Youtube channel. I am not professional, and I can’t seem to get rid of the glare on my glasses, but if you need to listen to poetry, you can check that out. I’m doing it for my students, so I figured I might as well offer it here.

What can you offer for the good of the community? Can you afford to send some extra dollars to the local organizations that are caring for our most vulnerable neighbors in these times? If you have friends who are out of work, are there ways you can help them through this time?


“I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is.” —Greta Thunberg


“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” —Fred Rogers


“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” —Friedrich Nietzsche


“When you teach your daughter, explicitly or by passive rejection, that she must ignore her outrage, that she must be kind and accepting to the point of not defending herself or other people, that she must not rock the boat for any reason, you are NOT strengthening her prosocial sense, you are damaging it—and the first person she will stop protecting is herself.” —Martha Stout


“If you will, you can become all flame.” ―Abba Joseph


“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” ―Maya Angelou


“Rage—whether in reaction to social injustice, or to our leaders’ insanity, or to those who threaten or harm us—is a powerful energy that, with diligent practice, can be transformed into fierce compassion.” ―Bonnie Myotai Treace


“It looked as if a night of dark intent was coming, and not only a night, an age. Someone had better be prepared for rage.” ―Robert Frost


“There’s something in us that knows we came here to give. The notion is the opposite of a consumer society. The consumer society says we came here to get, and we’re going to consume everything there is. But the old idea is that we came into the world gifted, and culture is our way of giving. That’s our way of being natural and participating in the natural world.” ―Michael Meade


Gratitude List:
1. My back doesn’t hurt this morning. There were a few moments yesterday when I wondered whether this might be something that would be chronic. I have rarely had back pain, and it usually goes away in a few hours. This was two days of some pretty serious pain. I think I overdid the steps, and strained it on the fast uphill walks I have been taking.
2. Online yoga. So many thanks to my friend Yasmin for her FB yoga yesterday. I didn’t make it through the whole thing because my back hurt, but I think it’s what set me on the path to healing those muscles.
3. All the caring souls. All the care-mongers (apparently that’s a word now, and the Canadians made it so–look it up).
4. That particular shade of light brown (burnt beige?) of last year’s leaves on the purple Japanese maple. They have dried, over winter, to this lovely tender shade. Actually, many shades.
5. Adaptability. There’s nothing for it, but to adapt, day by day and sometimes minute by minute. Don’t forget to acknowledge the feelings of loss as they come. And then adapt as necessary to the new normal. And remember, this is not forever.

May we walk in Beauty!

Deliberate Exile

The large fat pod is Kentucky Coffee Tree. The round seeds came from that. The long twisty one came from a Catalpa, and the short one is a Black Locust pod.

I’m not good at unscheduled time. I fritter. I diddle. I poke. I dawdle. While these are great life skills when it comes to centering down and relaxing, they can lead to ennui and a sense of time wasted. I will make sure that I preserve some serious dawdle time in the coming weeks, but I do need a little structure for myself.

1. The school requirements will help. During school hours, I need to be checking my emails and learning management system every hour or so (probably more frequently), so this will keep me focused. During that time, I am going to try to get as much of my backlog of grading completed as I can during these early days.
2. I want to work on some creative project every day. I have a prayer shawl I am knitting. I will make some crocheted hearts. I have some sewing to do. I want to bake bread. I will start to paint again.
3. I will write regularly.
4. I am going to walk more every day, though I might take a bit of a break today to give my aching back a rest. More yoga, too.
5. I commit to not scarfing junk food. My response to anxiety (to basically anything, actually) is to eat more. I want to nourish my body, with healthy food.
6. I want to keep limits to social media time. I actually think I (and maybe you) need social media connections more than ever right now and I want to be deliberate about these connections, just not lazily scrolling.
7. I am going to make a point of reaching out more, making email connections I’ve let lapse, make little videos for my mother-in-law, who is in a personal care building that has people confined to their rooms.
8. Jon is still going to work for the foreseeable future, though that could change. I think he’s going to try to stop and get supplies to contribute to a brown bag lunch program that a Lancaster City church is setting up for children who are home from school. I’m trying to think about ways that we can help even while we’re in Exile for the Good of the Realm.

During the plague quarantines, Shakespeare wrote King Lear, and when Cambridge University closed because of the plague, Newton had his encounter with the apple tree. He called the quarantine hiatus his “year of wonders.” Shall we create and discover wonders of our own? What are your plans?


Gratitude List:
1. Nettle is coming up! I tasted some of the new baby leaves yesterday while Josiah and I were throwing a ball in the yard.
2. The bees are not in exile. They keep doing their work.
3. Red-tailed hawks flying above the holler.
4. In the past two days, I have found several beanpods from the Kentucky Coffee Tree up the hill. I love these beans. They’re satisfying to hold. I think I am going to plant a couple of them.
5. I recognize my fear and anxiety, and yours, too. I recognize that many people are in dire straits at the moment, and this is painful. We are also making the most of this time-out-of-time here in the holler. May you, too, find some rest and some time for reflection.

May we walk in Beauty!

An Abundance of Caution

There’s no shame in using an abundance of caution in times of pandemic. This is new to all of us. If you’ve been instructed to stay home, and if it is at all possible: Stay home. If you must go out, wash your hands, and wash your hands, and wash your hands again. Check on your neighbors and beloveds by phone or email or text. How can we help each other during these times?

Settle in. Get some exercise. Read. Paint. Play games and do puzzles. Write that book.

Read this poem by Lynn Ungar:
“Pandemic”


Gratitude List:
1. We saw both Golda and Gator in the pond today. She’s a golden koifish, the Queen of the Pondrealm. He is a Vietnamese Algae Eater, enormous and hard to spot. They often swim together. I didn’t see Gator last season. I figured he had died. But there he was today, looming in the depths.
2. Long walks. I am pushing my step-count up for the weeks that I am home, trying to use the time to get in shape.
3. Tree-shadows striping the fields and hills.
4. Good rest. I am sleeping better these days.
5. Poetry.

May we walk in Beauty!

During the Time of the Exile for the Good of the Realm

Yesterday’s walk: The green hill to the right of the photo is the end of the currently-unused landing strip for our former neighbors’ ultra-light. Just to the left of that, in the break between the trees, is the path onto Goldfinch Farm, down into the holler to home. The green path ahead of me (to the left) winds through the neighbor’s ridge-top fields to their farm. I like to walk partway down those fields and back.

I suppose that technically our self-isolation begins today. No church tomorrow. No school for two weeks. Someone whose handle is @Sarkor posted a lovely social media thing yesterday, encouraging people to think of it not as “self-isolation” but as “Exile for the Good of the Realm.” I am taking that on with gusto, while also keeping an awareness that for many people this is an extremely difficult time.

Now is the time to keep our eyes on our neighbors, to check in with working people whose children must stay home, to check in with elders who will be even more isolated. Such care we must take in these days, such deliberation. We wash our hands and we meditate on hope and on goodness. We check in with those for whom this exile is costly, and we wash our hands again.

My up-the-road neighbor works in healthcare. Maybe I will wash my hands and bake her some break this week and leave it at her door. What about our neighbors whose livelihoods depend on People Showing Up? I was glad to hear one of the speakers in the PA governor’s address yesterday talk about buying gift cards from local small businesses to use when we’re back out in society. Also, we need to eat. We will wash our hands and get as much of our needs from Flinchbaugh’s and Sue’s, the local farmer’s market and small grocery, in the coming days, and to Jillybeans Sweet Shop, a marvelous little bakery in Wrightsville. And then we will wash our hands. I might wash my hands and go get a coffee at The Cycle Works’ coffee shop. I’ll maintain exile and precautions as much as possible, while doing my best to support those around me who depend on People Showing Up.

Also, let’s use this time to make our social media spaces places where people can feel connected and involved, places where we can help each other through our isolation and distance. Let’s share photos and poetry and stories. Let’s manage our anxiety so that we can express our worries without Feeding the Fears. That’s easier for me to say this morning than last night, when I was comparing my feelings of direness to the way I felt on 9/11. That’s a little how it felt: out-of-body unsettled. Let’s keep connecting to the deeper rivers of joy and satisfaction and memory and gratitude that carry us through difficult times, and let’s help each other find those rivers.

And here, on the farm, I will relish the introverted time, the time with the boys, the burgeoning spring, the cat cuddles, the sunrise and the birds calling. As someone who gets wobbly and rudderless without a schedule, the promise of daily school tasks in this work-at-home environment is a welcome diversion. Last night, we saw a daily schedule someone had made for student-people during the Exile. My younger son immediately constructed his own. I am going to make my own, looser, schedule, to include several hours of focused academic work, time exercising and being outside, time for art and making things, tidying time, limits for myself on screen time (while also giving myself a bigger breathing space for blogging/writing).

If you, too, are in Exile for the Good of the Realm, I wish you peace, joyful contemplation, productive work, and moments of satisfying connection with others through computer or phone. Let’s look out for each other. If it gets to be too much, reach out to someone. (If we’re not friends on Facebook, you can look me up there, and check in–I’ll give you a virtual high five and we can help each other to breathe through this.)


Gratitude List:
1. GREEN! The chickweed is up and vibrantly glowing with green life force. The highway medians and fields are shining with verdancy.
2. Blue: The speedwell is up, and parts of the yard are carpeted in blue. And the sky is the shade of a robin’s egg.
3. Coming to Terms. I acknowledge my anxiety. It sits there in the room like a large bear waiting to be acknowledged. (Welcome, Friend. Let’s get to know each other while we are here together in Exile.) If I ignore it, my imagination makes it so much bigger and scarier, but if we sit and have coffee together, we can figure each other out a little bit. This is a time to practice living with that particular friend and learning how to recognize her.
4. While I recognize that this time is really challenging for many people, the truth of the matter is that two weeks of being at home on the farm with the kids and the cats while having structured work to do each day is close to ideal for me. I am grateful.
5. Puzzles. Last weekend after we had brunch at Cafe 301 to celebrate Jon’s birthday, we went down the street to the Re-Uzit shop, where Jon bought several little puzzles. We’ll enjoy putting them together over the next couple of weeks.

May we walk in Beauty! Be safe. Be well. Keep connected.

Catkins

Why, hello, willow catkins! Welcome!

The Greek word demos means population or people. Demographic, endemic, epidemic, pandemic. Epi- means “upon,” and pan means “all.” So there’s this thing right now that affects all the people. Of course, we won’t all get it, and most of the demos who do won’t die of it. But it’s going to hurt a lot of us, all around the world–it already is.

What can you and I do to help mitigate the effects? Do your neighbors need childcare for youngsters whose schools are closed? Are the children who get regular meals at school getting enough food at home? How can our communities of care be mobilizing now to make sure that the people in our local demos are going to survive this?

I do understand that we don’t want stock markets to crash and burn, but I am also agog at the amount of money the Fed could simply apply to the market, simply to see it dwindle away in a day, when we have no testing capabilities in our communities, when we have children and college students whose lives are disrupted to the point that they will become food insecure, when we have workers who are losing their paychecks because their businesses are closing down. This administration is always more focused on the needs of the investors and the wealthy class than on the needs of the people. It looks like the social service agencies and faith communities and neighborhoods are going to need to fill in the gaps.


Noticings and Gratitudes (Which Are the Same Thing):
1. Yesterday, we had a few unplanned minutes at the end of the class after student presentations. One student said, “I will give you my presentation on the Russian revolution!” And she did. She sent me her slides, and then proceeded to lecture those of us who wanted to listen on the history of the Russian Revolution. I love my students. This is one example of dozens of lovely moments with students in my day yesterday.
2. Willow is coming out in bud. Yellow, yellow, yellow.
3. On the way home from school, the clouds were filled with eyes.
4. The morning energy I get from a little fat and protein in my coffee. I know I have said this one recently, but it’s been amazing to gauge my energy in the mornings since I started doing this again, and I feel much less like I have to force myself into the day.
5. I began packing boxes in my classroom yesterday in preparation for the AC renovation this summer. So grateful for the hope of a liveable classroom in August.

May we walk in Beauty!