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Lughnassad Eve

The last day of July is Lughnasadh Eve, one of the four cross-quarter points between the Solstices and Equinoxes, along with Halloween (Samhain), Groundhog’s Day (Imbolc), and May Day (Beltane)–their traditional Celtic names are in parentheses. Unlike the others, which have found their way through webs of lore and story to more modern and playful traditions, Lughnasadh (sometimes also called Lammas) no longer lingers in the modern psyche.

Lughnasadh is the celebration of the time of the sun’s heat, the mid-harvest, when the summer crops are plentiful and abundant, when berries and corn, tomatoes and zucchini, fill our bellies and our dreams, offering us coolness and nourishment. What we longed for in the stinging winds of February now surrounds us, almost numbing us into a cloying sense of enoughness.

I haven’t preserved much food for several years now, because the beginning of August is always the race to prepare for the beginning of school. But on social media, I am enjoying photos of friends canning applesauce, freezing corn, making pickle relishes, living into the traditions of their ancestors and creating a hopeful future from the abundance of the present. If you use your imagination, you can feel that sense of deep anticipation in the frigid dark of December when you go to the freezer and pull out a bag of golden kernels of corn, how you will bring the sunshine of this moment into the cold of the future.

My house is ancient, and we have a single air conditioner in the living room that keeps us cool on the hottest days. This summer, we put a second free-standing air conditioner on the second floor to make sleeping more bearable. Still, this pre-menopausal body is struggling against the heat, not letting me sleep. I sneak downstairs, open the door to the balcony, and try to sleep in the recliner with the cool night breezes that seem to pass by the upstairs windows. Funny how my February dreams of summer never seem to include the sense of overwhelming heat, the burden of humidity. Conversely, my summer self seems to forget the beauty of shadow, the silence of snowfall, the twinkling of winter starlight, in my memories of the unbearable cold. I’m so human.

Perhaps that is the main lesson of living by seasons, of making internal notes to carry us from point to point on the compass rose of the year: Remembering that we’re humans in a big, big world. These shifts may be semi-arbitrary in the ways that we mark them, but they remind us that we’re here in these human bodies to experience what matters. We are en-mattered, living by sensation, of cold and heat, of bellies full and empty, of muscle and sinew, breath and bone. Of sight and hearing, touch and taste and smell. Of pleasure and pain, ache and longing, desire and love.

Lughnasadh in particular was once a celebration of the bread. The first wheat had been harvested. People made elaborate designs with wheat to bring good luck and mark the year–the original corn dollies. Bread was made to celebrate, loaves fashioned, butter churned, and berries made into jam. The seeds were planted, the harvest was ready, and the work of saving the harvest began.

What will you make of the harvest in this coming season? How will you shape the loaves of your year? This year, we’ve hunkered down, masked up, read and learned about antiracist work. We’ve called Congresspeople, expressed our desires for justice, stood up, marched, learned some more. How do we make this real, save this harvest for the future, that it may feed those who come after us? We must not leave it in the fields to rot and die. The truth this season tells us is that there is abundance, enough for everyone. We must participate in its harvest and preservation, and make sure that everyone gets their share.

Yesterday, I caught bits and pieces of the funeral of John Lewis, and I plan to go back in the coming days and listen again, to plant the seeds of his words and deeds into my own psyche as deeply as I can, to take the yeast he has offered, and to work to shape loaves that are just and hopeful. Let us work to preserve the harvest of his work and legacy, so that his golden light may shine far into the future.

As he said in his final words: “Walk with the wind.”
Walk with the wind, soulkin, sun on your shoulders.


Gratitude:
The life and work and legacy of John Lewis. Perhaps we have been called to these times, to follow his legacy, to take his work into the future, to make the United States what we dream it can be, a nation where all people–no matter their race or creed, their sexuality or physical or mental ability, their gender or national origin, their class or status or education–can be free and equal.


“Morning prayer: “Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice.” —John Lewis


Instead of trying to practice nonviolence,
let us try to practice the connections
that make violence both inappropriate
and impossible.
—Sharif M. Abdullah


“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
—Marcel Proust


Naomi Shihab Nye: “You are living in a poem.”


“Every woman must own her story; otherwise we are all part of the silence.” —Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International


“Don’t just be yourself. Be all of your selves.”
—Joss Whedon


“Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.”
—Abraham H. Maslow


“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.

But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
—Margery Williams -The Velveteen Rabbit


I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact I just said “shit” than you are that 30,000 kids died last night. —Tony Campolo


“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.” —John Lewis


“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.” —John Lewis


“So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” —John Lewis

Good Trouble

John Lewis, who is a sterling example of thoughtful and compassionate and fierce and determined political leadership in this country, called repeatedly for the people to stir up Good Trouble. What Good Trouble will you make in his honor today?


Gratitude List:
1. All the people who are making Good Trouble. Keep it up, soulkin! You are making a difference.
2. Exercise. This has never been a priority of mine, but as I notice the current effects of aging on my body, and think about where I want to be in ten, twenty years, I have chosen this mantra: limber, healthy, strong. I’m trying to get a long walk or a long bike ride in every day, sometimes both. I definitely feel stronger.
3. Wise friends.
4. Smoothies with lots of fresh fruit.
5. My tiny tribe of succulents. I repotted everyone a couple days ago, and they’re looking so much happier now. I am trying to start a few new ones with leaves that I culled as I was repotting.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“Some say you’re lucky
If nothing shatters it.

But then you wouldn’t
Understand poems or songs.
You’d never know
Beauty comes from loss.

It’s deep inside every person:
A tear tinier
Than a pearl or thorn.

It’s one of the places
Where the beloved is born.”
―Gregory Orr


“And the wood is tired, and the wood is old, and we’ll make it fine, if the weather holds. But if the weather holds, then we’ll have missed the point. And that’s where I need to go.” ―The Indigo Girls


“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” ―Joseph Campbell


“Friendship … is born at the moment when one says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
― C.S. Lewis


“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
―Thomas Merton


“To say ‘I don’t know’ is an unparalleled source of power, a declaration of independence from the pressure to have an opinion about every single subject.
It’s fun to say. Try it: ‘I don’t know.’
Let go of the drive to have it all figured out: ‘I don’t know.’
Proclaim the only truth you can be totally sure of: ‘I don’t know.’
Empty your mind and lift your heart: ‘I don’t know.’
Use it as a battle cry, a joyous affirmation of your oneness with the Great Mystery: ‘I don’t know.’
(To revel in this reverie can be a respite, a vacation. Any time you feel ready, you can return to the more familiar state of ‘I know! I know! I know!’)” ―Rob Brezsny


“Declare amnesty for the part of you that you don’t love very well. Forgive that poor sucker. Hold its hand and take it out to dinner and a movie. Tactfully offer it a chance to make amends for the dumb things it has done.

And then do a dramatic reading of this proclamation by the playwright Theodore Rubin: ‘I must learn to love the fool in me—the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool.'” ―Rob Brezsny


“We all receive water from her, we receive food from her, we receive air from her, anything that is received as a gift from the Earth and from nature has to be a commons, it cannot be privatised, that is why privatisation of life forms through patents or water through privatisation schemes driven by the World Bank, or the privatisation of the atmosphere and the air through carbon trading and emissions trading are all illegal and illegitimate in a legal framework based on the Earth’s rights.” ―Vandana Shiva


“The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don’t turn against him; they crush those beneath them.” ―Emily Bronte


“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” ―Susan B. Anthony


“To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.” ―Rudolf Steiner

White Fragility Dream

I think that was a white fragility dream. Weird. I occasionally dream dreams where I am more of an observer than a character, like watching a movie. This was one of those.

The character in this dream was a man driving a car. In my dream-mind, I called him The White Man. He was trying to get to a place where he could get rid of the body in the back of his car. It was important to note, in the dream, that he was “innocent.” He believed he was not responsible for the death of the body, but there it was in the trunk of his car, and he had to deal with it. He knew that if anyone saw the body, or if he was stopped by police, he would be culpable, even though he had nothing to do with the body being in his car.

That was important in the dream–The White Man was totally innocent, himself. He just needed to get rid of this body in his trunk before he was caught with it, because he would not be held guiltless if caught. (sounds familiar, right? “But my ancestors didn’t own slaves!” “But I believe that everyone is equal!” “But. . .”)

I am working on doing my inner work, trying to be open and transparent with myself and others about my biases and unaddressed prejudices. My psyche had to throw up a movie-style story to get me to notice that I must be trying to hide my own biases, my own vulnerabilities, while I am trying to fix myself and my problem. I’m insisting on my own innocence, even while I am driving around with a body in the trunk of my car.

There was one significant clue in the dream, a clue that insisted that The White Man is me: He wore a little bag around his neck with his wallet and keys in it, just like I wear when my clothes don’t have pockets.

Time to work more seriously on vulnerability, on not hiding my ugly truths, on accepting that there really is no such thing as the innocence I insist upon as long as I am hiding a body in the trunk.


Gratitudes:
1. Rest
2. Work
3. Exercise
4. Cool water and nourishing food
5. Dreams that keep me unsettled enough to keep moving

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“To be brave is to behave bravely
when your heart is faint.
So you can be really brave
only when you really ain’t.”
—Piet Hein


“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” —Upton Sinclair


“You can never go down the drain.” —Mr. Rogers


“Good People,
most royal greening verdancy,
rooted in the sun,
you shine with radiant light.” ―Hildegard of Bingen


“Just living is not enough said the butterfly, one needs sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” ―Hans Christian Anderson


“I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquillity comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.”
―Dalai Lama


“You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you.”
― Vandana Shiva


“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
―Leymah Gbowee


“I remember Hushpuppy at the end of Beasts of the Southern Wild, just trying to take some food home to her daddy Wink, finally turning to face the hideous beast on the bridge, facing it down and saying, “I take care of my own.”

“I take care of my own. You are my own, and I am yours—I think this is what God is saying, or trying to, over the din. We are each other’s. There are many forms of thirst, many kinds of water.”
―Anne Lamott


“When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to. Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” —Virginia Woolf

Anxious Days and Gratitude

Gull on a bad hair day.

I am suffering from some serious internal whiplash these days.

Within the past week, I have experienced some incredibly healing times safely social distanced with some of my best beloveds, looking into twinkling eyes, hearing laughter and wisdom and articulate questions. I have had some deeply reviving time in nature despite the heat.

And at the same time, one thought can set my nerves jangling, twanging the wires of anxiety, clashing and clanging waves of worry. School.

While teaching students to read and write–to communicate, to learn to express emotion and articulate new ideas–is clearly my vocational mission, I have an underlying agenda which is just as important as English Language Arts: To create a safe space for young people to explore who they are and learn how to be comfortable and confident in the world. In the spring, when we were sent home to do our learning, we lost that safe space together. I lost the opportunity to make eye contact in the halls with someone who worried that nobody would ever notice them, lost the chance to listen to a student come into my room ranting about some injustice they wanted to remove from the world, lost the chance to watch laughter displace worry or sadness or fear, lost the chance to tell someone that they are stronger than they think.

And now, we’re planning to meet again in the fall, and I will get some of that back on a limited basis, but I don’t feel safe, for me or for them, for our families and beloveds. This virus has stripped us of our safety. I want so desperately to return to classes, but something in me feels like it isn’t yet time, like my Safe Place is still unsafe. I find myself hoping that the governor calls off school again, so we won’t have to navigate these waters, so I won’t have to add to my duties the policing of students’ spacing and masking in the halls, so I won’t have to worry that every sneeze or cough could result in someone’s grandmother fighting for her life, so every day won’t feel like a risk.

I know that we need to open schools again when it is safe to do so. I know that many students’ mental health depends upon it. But it feels like a dangerous experiment with our physical health, and the health of our families to do it now, when my state can’t seem to get its numbers under control, when adults who should know better are refusing to do the simple things to keep us all safe.

I breathe a lot to ground myself, during these days when I struggle through allergies to catch the deepest breaths and yawns. I go to my beloveds, online and in safe circles. I anchor myself in the green and the blue, in earth and air and water. I search for Beauty, and find my grateful center. It helps me a little, a least to ride the top of the anxiety waves. It’s harder than usual to hold onto a calm center, when grief and rage and worry knot themselves into a little ball inside my spirit.

Some Things to Be Grateful For:
1. The twinkling eyes of my beloveds
2. Blue and green, and golden sun
3. Birdfolk
4. Water
5. Laughter.

May we walk in Beauty!


“May hope rise within you. May peace wash over you.” —Charlene Costanzo


“You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.”
—Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony


“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” —Lilla Watson


“A poem is not a puzzle, even if it’s puzzling at first. Instead, it’s a highly selected parcel or capsule of language meant to burst into your psyche and change you in some way. Poetry is the life blood of our language, and it’s meant for everyone, not just academics or young people in school. Poetry is in a word: consciousness.” —Cathryn Hankla


Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen


Tom Joad, from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath:
I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin’ fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin’. And I been wonderin’ if all our folks got together and yelled…

As long as I’m an outlaw anyways… maybe I can do somethin’… maybe I can just find out somethin’, just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong and see if they ain’t somethin’ that can be done about it. I ain’t thought it out all clear, Ma. I can’t. I don’t know enough.

Two Fields

On the corner of the block where my parents live, the retirement community has placed this sign (one of many around the campus). Love, Peace, Protection. May it be so.

It’s exhausting to be always repudiating.
And it’s distracting to need to.

Whenever the president comes out with another of his racist rants, like he did yesterday, derailing a conversation about police brutality against Black people by ranting that more white people are killed by police than Black people, and then repeating it over and over again, it feels like he’s pulling out the smoke and mirrors. There’s a fire somewhere, and he wants to focus your attention on this one instead, because he knows this will dog whistle his base, and he can gaslight the rest of us later. Now, you’ve got to get out the fact sheet, explain that yes, more white people are killed by police each year, but that per capita, the number of Black people is higher, and percentage-wise, a vastly greater number of those white people were armed, compared to the Black people killed by police. But he does not feel obligated to listen to the entirety of such a sentence. Perhaps he is unable to make sense of more than a simple clause at a time.

You can respond to him in several ways:
You can agree with him and defend his position, in which case you declare your own racism.
You can agree with him and remain silent and hope no one asks you for you opinion, so no one knows your racist tendencies.
You can disagree, and repudiate his racist speech, and offer the deeper explanation, and risk giving him the negative attention which to him is better than no attention, and probably distracts from something else he doesn’t want you to focus on.
You can disagree and keep quiet because you don’t want to offer him any kind of attention or risk drawing the focus away from other issues, but that risks leaving the racism hanging in the air, unchallenged.

I can’t let these things hang in the air. When people say in conversations, as they actually do, “He’s really not racist,” I want these things to be there in the conversation, too. The thing is, a lot of white people WANT to absolve the president of his white supremacy and racism because the things he says are not so different from what white people living in a white supremacist system have thought and said for centuries here. This president and his handlers (read: Stephen Miller) have been on a campaign (beneath his constant cult-of-personality campaign which lies beneath his never-ending presidential campaign) to normalize racist speech, this sort which makes you sort of double-take, makes you have to explain it. It’s not subtle enough to be under the radar, but it begs you to explain and educate about why it is racist. And by then they’re off on a new thing.

So perhaps it’s important that we don’t all pile on the social media outrage pile at every racist statement he makes, as long as we’re keeping our eyes open for the real issues his handlers are trying to distract us from, but the pieces do need to be stitched together. Sometimes we need to stand up in the crowd and shout that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. This Emperor is so very, very naked. He thinks his lies and bluster will clothe him, or at least convince enough people in the crowd to get him crowned.

I know that some of the people in the crowd will not see, no matter how you shout or startle them, but there are others, here and there in the milling crowd, who are beginning to question, to wonder, to ask themselves if what he’s telling him to see is really there.

Keep standing up, Friends, in whatever way you are called to stand up.
Speak out. You’ll know your moment.
Look at the institutions and groups and clubs to which you belong. How are they using their funds and their power and their social capital in ways which either include or exclude others?
Tear down the broken structures.
Build new and just systems.
Keep your eyes and ears open and aware of the whole field, not just the outrage of the moment. Focus on the thing that is yours to do, and use your outrage, but don’t let outrage distract you from the whole picture.
Remember that overlaying this field of wrongness and brokenness on which the president and his minions play, there is also a field of goodness, and bravery. It’s a field of rightness, of possibility and justice and hopeful living. Play on both fields–Stand up to the evil on the one field wherever you have it in your power to do so, and walk in the sunshine with your beloveds on the other. Talk with others about what you want the world to be. Envision. Create. Give yourself to Goodness.


Grateful:
For time with beloveds (with safety precautions), to laugh and look into each other’s eyes, to hear the weaving of beloved voices, to feel the threads of connected hearts.
For those who step up and call out the truth on the field of lies.
For the sweet playfulness of kittens that melts my heart.
For the lulling rhythms of insect-song and frog-song, and bird-song.
For shade and breezes.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“The measure of your greatness is the measure of your magnanimity, your willingness to carry people in your heart. If we are encapsulated in our self-image, we are puny. A great being has stature, something cosmic comes through. Think of people who have really dedicated themselves to service. If we’re great enough, then we have room in our heart even for a person who has hurt us. So we can counter resentment, which can degenerate into hate, then to cruelty and even to war. As a dervish would say: “Shake yourself awake! You have been invited to the divine banquet! Don’t you realize that the divine being is present in you?” In fact, the whole of creation is an act of magnanimity. Rumi certainly put it right when he said, “Would the gardener have planted the seed if it were not for the love of the flower?” —Vilayat Inayat Khan


“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
—Mary Oliver


“Arm yourself with love and knowledge, and let’s work together for justice.” —Regina Shands Stoltzfus


“To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one’s own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one’s own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estes


“Prayer takes the mind out of the narrowness of self-interest, and enables us to see the world in the mirror of the holy. For when we betake ourselves to the extreme opposite of the ego, we can behold a situation from the aspect of God.” —Abraham Joshua Heschel


“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” ―James Baldwin


“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible—and achieve it, generation after generation.” —Pearl S Buck

Emptying Myself

I am emptying myself, a little at a time,
settling in to the laze and the loaf,
stretching my spine like an elastic band
and letting it ease back into a loose curl.

Oh, I have Lots of Things to Do.
But here I am, and that goldfinch
out there is shining
like a liquid drop of pure sunlight,
and a cat needs a human hand
in just that spot between his ears
and I am happy to oblige.

I’ll practice breathing.
How does it go?
In. And out.
In. And out.
In.
And out.


Grateful:
For the summer stretch before school begins, in whatever form it will begin.
For that golden finch, and the fierce pink of the wild peas on the hillside behind him.
For making things. Right now my obsession is the sewing machine.
For my bike, which I have sorely neglected for years, but which I ride 2-3 times/week now.
For anticipation of time with beloveds, masked and distanced, of course.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“Choose to be in touch with what is wonderful, refreshing, and healing within yourself and around you.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh


“Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.” ―Meister Eckhart


“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh


“No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.”
―Mary Harris Jones

Dreamy Days

Gratitudes:
* Birdsounds: Thursday, bob white, whom I haven’t heard call in years, called out three times as I was starting my evening walk. This morning, I have been hearing the peewee sliding the blue notes up and down his little scale.
* Yesterday, I took my walk in the morning in a gentle sprinkle of rain, instead of in the evening. All the blue-eyed chicory were open and sparkling, and the stars of St. John’s Wort were shining out between the chicory and the lacy asters. And a flock of shining golden finches kept twittering and bouncing through the chicory ahead of me.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty.


“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.” —Frida Kahlo


Rob Brezsny ft. Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
“Devote yourself to your heart’s desire with unflagging shrewdness. Make it your top priority. Let no lesser wishes distract you. But consider this, too. You may sabotage even your worthiest yearning if you’re maniacal in your pursuit of it.

Bear in mind the attitude described by Clarissa Pinkola Estés in her book “Women Who Run with the Wolves”: “All that you are seeking is also seeking you. If you sit still, it will find you. It has been waiting for you a long time.”

Speculate on what exactly that would look like in your own life. Describe how your heart’s desire has been waiting for you, seeking you.”


“Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
casually.”
―Robert Hass, Field Guide


“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ―Albert Einstein


“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ―Terry Pratchett


“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large—I contain multitudes.”
―Walt Whitman


“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” ―Friedrich Nietzsche

Hollyhocks and Gratitude

Gratitudes:
1. Grateful for wonderful neighbors, who invited me to sit (at a safe distance) and chat as I was returning from yesterday’s walk. Lovely folks, with fascinating life experiences.
2. The black snake who slithered across the trail in front of my bike yesterday.
3. The doe and fawn who bounded off the path in front of my bike yesterday.
4. Every day, I feel more healthy, limber, and strong. It is requiring a certain level of obsession with my fitness and good health, but I hope that it will become habit and regular rhythm.
5. Always more to learn. This can be painful because I sometimes just want to BE woke, to BE knowledgeable, to BE enlightened. Getting to a new stage of awareness always feels so good, but it’s dangerous to stop and call it done. And really, it’s always good to learn a new thing, to evolve, to transform. (Which brings me around to the first point again, because this is part of the conversation I had with my amazing neighbors yesterday.)

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“Without understanding yourself, what is the use of trying to understand the world?” —Ramana Maharshi


“There is peaceful. There is wild. I am both of them.” —Nayyirah Waheed


“This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known.” —Marion Woodman


“It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and to fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated….” —JK Rowling


“Help one another. It is the only way to survive.” —Elie Wiesel


“Therefore, dark past,
I’m about to do it.
I’m about to forgive you

for everything.”
—Mary Oliver


“I believe that without some inner experience of powerlessness, and the wisdom that potentially comes with it, most individuals will misunderstand and abuse power.” —Richard Rohr


“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anais Nin


“Let us not become the evil that we deplore.” —Rep. Barbara Lee, 9/14/01


From Terry Tempest Williams:
“We are creatures of paradox, women and bears, two animals that are enormously unpredictable, hence our mystery. Perhaps the fear of bears and the fear of women lies in our refusal to be tamed, the impulses we arouse and the forces we represent….As women connected to the earth, we are nurturing and we are fierce, we are wicked and we are sublime. The full range is ours. We hold the moon in our bellies and fire in our hearts. We bleed. We give milk. We are the mothers of first words. These words grow. They are our children. They are our stories and our poems.”

Roadside Profusion

This is the season when chicory and day lilies bloom together, and the lace of Queen Anne, and the stars of St. John, and the tall hag’s tapers of the mullein, and the profusion of dogbane, and the tidy self-contained heads of red and sweet clover, and the yellow sparkles of sweet melilot, and the nodding pink balls of milkweed that catch you with their wisps of scent when you’ve already walked on five paces. Our roadside is rife with the buzzing and humming of pollinators.

Yesterday, I worked in the herb room at Radiance, the little shop where I work one day a week in the summertime. It’s one of my favorite places. In the evening, Jon and I walked down the road. As we walked, I began to see the same beings I had been smelling and measuring during the day: St. John’s wort, plantain, mullein, red clover, chicory, raspberry leaves, thistle. Wendell Berry’s words flash into my heart: “What we need is here.” And a fragment of Mary Oliver: “The world offers itself. . .”
*****
I often dream that I am wandering down the hallways of a large and rambly and labyrinthine hotel. Sometimes it’s a school, sometimes city streets, but mostly a hotel. I go down hallways and through doors that sometimes lock behind me, into dark passages, up stairways, back into well-lit hallways with a thousand doors. Sometimes I am completely alone, and sometimes there’s a bustle of people.

The anxiety dreams are usually set here, and I have a deadline, somewhere I have to be, and I can’t find my way. Usually, for me, I’m trying to find a class I am supposed to have been teaching, and I’m probably late, and I may have actually missed teaching the class for a couple of days, and my students are completely unsupervised, and I should have had the schedule and directions with me, but I don’t, and I can’t seem to pull it up on my phone. Sometimes, like last night, I ask a helpful receptionist. Last night, I was told brightly to please take a seat and I would be helped in fifteen minutes or so. But I was already five minutes late for a forty minute class. So I set off again to try to find my way on my own.

At one point last night, I did manage to meet up with friends and colleagues for lunch in an incredibly busy dining hall (no Covid in this dream), which was nice, except I was terribly afraid they would discover that I had not taught a single class yet that day and that I had even forgotten how to get from class to class. I was so ashamed. But Ellis was in the dining hall, too, even though he was with his friends, and it was nice to see him there, and happy, and the cooks had made a huge pot of ugali, so he and I kept going back for more of that.

I had kicked off my pointy red high-heeled shoes in my own classroom, but I was supposed to go to a different classroom for every class, and I was supposed to be teaching Math and Foods as well as English, and I suddenly realized as I was rushing down the hall that I was barefoot (thank heavens I wasn’t naked this time), and I was further ashamed that people would see me barefoot because it’s against dress code not to wear shoes.

So it was a long and tiring night, and I kept waking up, and every time I went back to sleep I was back in the dream. At one point, I did manage to find a schedule, but I was already so far behind in the day that it was sort of pointless, and I couldn’t find my way anyway, so I went back and got my painful shoes and sat in on someone else’s French class.

Glad to be awake now.


Gratitudes:
For plant medicine all around, for wise women, for catfolk, for time to make and create, for the mirror of dreams, for giving up shame–anxious bit by anxious bit, for the ones who are committed to transforming themselves and society.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“To be a poet in a destitute time means: to attend, singing, to the trace of the fugitive gods. This is why the poet in the time of the world’s night utters the holy.” ―Martin Heidegger


“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


“You have to learn to get up from the table when LOVE is no longer being served.” —Nina Simone


“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


“There is no such thing as being non-political. Everything we say or do either affirms or critiques the status quo. To say nothing is to say something: The status quo—even if it is massively unjust and deceitful—is apparently okay. The silence of many Christians is used to legitimize the United States’ obsession with weapons, its war against the poor, Israel’s clear abuse of Palestine, politicians who are “pro-life” on the issue of abortion but almost nothing else, the de facto slavery of mass incarceration, and on and on.” —Richard Rohr

Daily Feather and Gratitude

Your Daily Feather

I didn’t have time to write this morning before I left for work.
Gratitudes:
1. Last night, we saw a bat flying between the barn and the sycamore tree. Bats are some of my favorite people.
2. Tonight on our walk, we saw a frog on the road. When I reached to try to move it from the road, it suddenly zig-zagged between my legs and off toward the creek.
3. Working in the Herb Room today. I might be an airy-fairy sanguine personality and a fiery Leo birth sign, and have a special affinity for Mama Ocean, but when it comes to herbs, the things that gets me most excited is the roots. Earth seems to be my medicine: roots and stones.
4. Kittens! Have I mentioned the kittens? I love little kittens. And their mama.
5. Cucumbers. They’re refreshing.

May we walk in Beauty!


“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” ―Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“You say you care about the poor? Then tell me, what are their names?” —Gustavo Gutierrez


Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” —Roald Dahl


History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
—Maya Angelou


“Doors closing, doors opening. Doors closing, doors I’m opening. I am safe. It’s only change. I am safe. It’s only change.” —chant (I don’t know the author)


Vine and branch we’re connected in this world
of sound and echo, figure and shadow, the leaves
contingent, roots pushing against earth. An apple
belongs to itself, to stem and tree, to air
that claims it, then ground. Connections
balance, each motion changes another. Precarious,
hanging together, we don’t know what our lives
support, and we touch in the least shift of breathing.
Each holy thing is borrowed. Everything depends.
—Jeanne Lohmann, ‘Shaking the Tree’


Parker Palmer: “The only way to become whole is to put our arms lovingly around everything we’ve shown ourselves to be: self-serving and generous, spiteful and compassionate, cowardly and courageous, treacherous and trustworthy. We must be able to say to ourselves and to the world at large, “I am all of the above.” If we can’t embrace the whole of who we are—embrace it with transformative love—we’ll imprison the creative energies hidden in our own shadows and flee from the world’s complex mix of shadow and light.”


“It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” —Mae Jemison