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Unsettled

The pholiota limonella at the center of the Wheel of the Year have gotten expansive. I have given them names, but they’re the names of some elven folx who appeared to me in a dream, and in the fairy tales it’s kind of rude to use the truenames of the fae, unless you’re trying to keep them at bay, so we’ll call them Meadow and Chief for now.

In last night’s dream:
I am reading a poem, by Whitman or Sandburg or someone like that. I see the lines on the page as the images of the dream unfold.

A small girl is walking a path home to her cabin in the full moon light. (Why are small children always out at night in these stories?!?)

As she is passing a field which was a battlefield in the Civil War, she comes upon an old man, dressed in the tattered remnants of a soldier’s uniform, sitting on a stump in the moonlight. She listens politely while he tells her his story of woe and bitterness.

After his telling, she makes her way home, where her mother bolts the cabin door behind her. She tells her mother (the narrator of the poem) about the old man, and they look out the window to see him sitting there, way in the distance, in the moonlight. As she finishes telling her mother the story, suddenly the old man is in the cabin with them.

The poem (dream) ends with the mother reflecting on how sitting in the bitterness of old battles can turn a person into a vampire.

I think it’s a dream about the danger we’re in right now, with a bitter old soldier who lost his battles, stewing in his rage. He’s always been an energy vampire, and now he’s been mostly ignored for days. He’ll be hungry. Telling his story to each other only feeds him.
In the dream, the girl did not invite him in, but he came in anyway, perhaps taking her polite listening as a tacit invitation. Let’s draw our boundaries tightly now, and refuse to let ourselves be drawn in to the old battles again, refuse to listen to his story. We’re in a new place now, a safer place than we were, but we need to be vigilant and aware in order to truly make it safe.

I think that part of what startles me about this dream is that in the fairy tales, you’re supposed to be polite, supposed to listen to the elders, supposed to offer assistance to the poor. This was so clearly not that. Her politeness was all the invitation he needed to enter her space. The time for passive politeness is past. White people, especially, have allowed such evil to blossom through passive politeness, through our lack of confidence in confronting lies and abuse.

My friend Anna reminds me to stand within my truth, leaning neither forward nor backward, to feel myself surrounded by a golden light. One of the many helpers who has appeared to me in a dream is an angelic being made of golden light, with great glowing golden wings, so I feel myself surrounded by my dream-friend’s light, like the golden glow of an autumn morning, when the mists are just rising off the fields and everything is awash with light. This standing in one’s truth, Anna reminds me, is like the essential core of nonresistant philosophy, to know what you believe, and to hold to that, not getting caught up in all the rages and distractions of those who oppose a vision of justice.

I am unsettled today. I feel like it’s time to stop celebrating and start looking around, keeping our noses to the wind, not losing our commitment to standing in the center of our own golden light of truth, but all senses alert to the dangers around us. It began with my dream, the sense that some attention paid to the tattered soldier has given him the “right” of entry. On one hand, I want to let the old ghost fade quietly away into the moonlight without giving it any more attention. On the other hand, I have a sense of impending doom settling on my shoulders this afternoon, a feeling of havoc about to be wreaked, chaos to be unleashed.

I know that is his pattern, to promise destruction and wreckage, and then watch in delight as all the worried citizenry gathers to put out the fires. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction. I think it’s time to let it go, to believe that someone is watching and ready to give warning out in the dark night, that everyone is positioned to do their very own job.

In the meantime, in the waiting, in the transition,
we give our attention to our work:
we continue to call for justice,
we keep rooting out white supremacy wherever we see it, especially in ourselves,
we dismantle the patriarchy,
we protect the vulnerable,
we care for the children,
we teach critical thinking and analysis,
we starve the vampire.


Gratitudes:
1. The golden light of autumn
2. The golden leaves of autumn
3. The golden pillar of energy that helps us to stand within our truth
4. The golden shine of the mushrooms in the Wheel of the Year mandala
5. The golden heart of you

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

Time’s Layers

Original image by: Bria Goeller and good trubble (Black owned design shop out of California). The shadow is little Ruby Bridges from Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1963 painting “The Problem We All Live With.”

Some of the people I love are truly terrified of this moment, are feeling deep heaviness because of the apparent results of this election in the US. I don’t want to gloat, don’t want to add to their pain and worry. But I do want to celebrate. I do want to sigh with relief. And I wish I could assure you, if this is a frightening moment for you, that everything will be okay.

Can you watch Van Jones struggle to maintain composure, and then just give himself up to emotion, as he talked about the relief he feels, and not celebrate a little? Can you hear the relief of LGBTQ+ folx and not feel some relief yourself? Can you hear womxn who finally see themselves represented in the White House, BIPOC folx who see this strong womxn striding toward a seat at the table, and not be grateful for their joy?

And I look at this image of the shadow of Ruby Bridges cast by Kamala Harris, the gift and the burden of representation that Harris now carries, the fact that so many of my beloved young womxn--BIPOC especially, and white as well–will see their futures laid out before them with more possibility and clarity because of Ms. Harris. Today, I have been reading the words of some of these brilliant young womxn in my life as they express their great joy in this political moment, and celebrating with them.

I think of how Ms. Bridges has supported and continues to support young BIPOC people throughout her life, doing the thing that must be done, stepping into the moment as she did on that first day of first grade, no matter how lonely the prospects. And I also think of the layering of time, of Kamala Harris, this steady presence from the future, walking in that open space behind the young Ruby, and of all the BIPOC womxn who surround her.

And what shall the white womxn do? We middle-aged and elder ones? That crowd of rage-filled white supremacists still stands on the sidewalks, some jeering and insulting, and some quietly trying to make “peace” and look innocent. Our job, my white sisters, is–I think–to stand between the crowd and Ruby and the womxn who walk with her. To silence the crowd, to question the ones who want to make nice on the outside while holding the hatred inside. To question the haters within ourselves. To amplify and magnify the voices of Ruby and her sisters.

Tonight, I might get some Philly cheesesteaks and ice cream to celebrate the end of our “long national nightmare,” but then, I will roll up my sleeves and get to work.


Gratitudes and Prayers:
* Grateful that the person from whom I heard the first official word that this election was being called was my mother. That feels right and safe to me.
* Grateful for a womxn, a BIPOC womxn, is headed for the VP’s desk.
* Praying for the safety of the President Elect and Vice President Elect.
* Praying that we will see the work before us with clarity, and set to it with a will.
* Grateful for truth.

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

Breathe and Pray

This morning, I wrote this:

Beloveds, I don’t really have much in the way of words to offer this morning, to wade through the bog of my own anxiety to offer hope or resilience. I’m here in my bog, listening. I need to be a teacher today, especially for students who are equally as enmired as I am.

Here in the anxious bog of me today, I sit like an angry old spider. I cast a line from me to you. Catch. Send out webs of your own. While we wait for things to ravel or unravel, we weave and spin and hold our own webs as steady as we may. We are stronger when we are together.

Black lives STILL matter.
Love is STILL love is STILL love.
Your name and pronouns STILL belong to you.
Your body is STILL your own.
You STILL have agency.
The Planet STILL needs us.
The elderly and vulnerable STILL need protection from the coronavirus.
STILL, nobody is illegal.
Justice is STILL important.


This morning felt so dire, so much a repetition of 2016. Jon and I both woke up at 2:30, and made the perhaps unwise choice to check the returns. My heart was racing, and I figured I wouldn’t get to sleep until I saw something to confirm or allay the anxiety. Look the wolf in the eye, they say. I felt in a visceral way how the anxiety and sense of tragedy of the 2016 election had lodged in my body, and how it replayed itself in the night four years later.

This afternoon, there are a few more reasons to hope. The morning, said Vassilissa’s doll in the Baba Yaga stories, is wiser than the evening. Today, the afternoon is wiser than the morning. Get some distance. Get some rest. Get some perspective.

It’s not over, and won’t be for a long time, but it doesn’t feel like we’ve completely shattered the Democracy quite yet. And the popular vote seems to be pretty definitely against the tyrant.

Here’s the one thing that sticks with me, however, like a grief: It wasn’t a clear and obvious win. My neighbors, good people and salt of the earth in so many ways, have not–by and large–passed the test, choosing instead to vote for white supremacy and patriarchy, for homophobia and transphobia, against the poor and the ill and the immigrants. And I do not know what to do with that.


I don’t feel like I can muster appropriate Gratitudes today. Perhaps a couple Commitments might stand in:
1. I commit to not respond smugly if Biden wins. I will express relief and hope if it happens (because I am human and must live my emotions), but I will not be smug, and especially I will try to be open to the pain and confusion of people for whom that is frightening, even though I do not understand it.
2. No matter who wins this election, I commit to standing for justice and compassion, for Black and Indigenous People and other People of Color, for LGBTQ+ folx, for women, for immigrants, for poor and houseless people, for all who are harmed by our systems. I commit to pushing whoever is president for the next four years (and other elected officials) to do right by the people, especially whose who have not been truly free and equal.
3. I commit to harbor no illusions that the lesser of two evils is the savior.
4. I commit to walk this together with you, my Beloveds, and to ask for help when I am sinking.

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

American Jesus

This is pretty harsh and grim, I know. It needs to be said. American Christianity has been bastardized and mis-interpreted. Jesus has been thrown out of the church and a false god has been put in his place. This new (and ancient) god is a white supremacist and a misogynist, a liar and a fraud who begs for power and influence, treads upon the heads of the poor and the marginalized, scoffs at the ill and the incarcerated, turns away the foreigner, laughs at your pain.


American Jesus:
People were bringing the children to Jesus so he could bless them, but Jesus said, “Make the children suffer who want to come to me!”

And he told the disciples to separate the children and their parents, like the sheep from the goats, and lock them up far away from each other.

And the disciples said, “Lord, shouldn’t we keep track of which ones belong together?”

And he said unto them: “They should have known what would happen. They have it coming to them.”

*****
And he went up onto a mountainside, and he sat down and began to teach them, saying,
“You know all the stuff I told you before, about being peacemakers, and being kind, and loving your neighbor as yourself? Yeah, that. I didn’t really mean all that. As long as you call yourself ‘pro-life,’ the other stuff doesn’t matter. Also, don’t bake cakes for gay people, mm-kay?”
*****
And someone from the crowd asked him, “Lord, what is the greatest commandment?”
And he answered them saying, “You have heard it said that you should love God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself, but I say unto you that the greatest commandment is this: Follow the leader! Follow the money! Follow the power!”
*****
Outside the Temple gates, they came upon a blind man, who called out, “Son of God, have mercy on me!”
And he stooped and gathered dirt from the ground, and spit in it, and threw it at the blind man, saying, “Loser! Blindness and sickness are for losers!”

Prayer: Season of the Election

I wrote this prayer to say in my school’s chapel service the week of the election in 2016:

Election Day Prayer
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Oh God, Creator of the Universe,
Creator of stars and planets and people and nations:

Make us to be spinners of webs of prayer and webs of kindness,
catching each other,
wrapping each other in silken threads
to keep us from falling.

Make us to be builders of bridges of peace,
bridges of grace,
creating firm pathways so all may walk safely
over the chasms
or meet in the middle.

Make us to be wanderers
willing to walk in the wild places,
seeking each other when distance
has broken our circles.

Make us to be dreamers and planners,
wishers and makers,
singing songs of hope and possibility,
devising a future where everyone
may find a home in Love.

Amen.


Gratitudes:
For the amazing variety of wild things that I have never seen, but might someday.
For the afternoon sun shining through the quivering leaves of the little tree in the neighbors’ lawn.
For the quiet peace of a day working at my desk at home.
For the people who are working for justice.
For all the ways in which my beloveds keep me grounded.

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

Speaking Justice, Enacting Peace

Talking to myself. You may listen in:

Meet it All with Love
Have a care with your words.
Speak justice.
Speak truth.
Words ignite.
Words incite.
Words inspire.
Have a care.

Don’t be afraid.
To act is to risk.
To not act is to risk.
Weigh and measure.

Meet it all with love.
Find joy in every place you can.
Be a prophet.
Be a fool.
Step into the gap
and become a bridge.

Avoid vengeance.
Provoke for change.
Provoke to love.
Provoke for epiphany.
Be a gadfly
and a peace-maker.
Be a prophet and a lamb.
Wise as a serpent,
harmless as a dove.

Enact peace.
Overturn the tables.
Rage and heal.
Meet it all with love.


American Parable:
Once a shepherd brought his sheep back to the fold after a long day of grazing in the high fields. As they entered the fold, he carefully counted each one, until he reached 99.

Oh no! One short! He must have lost one somewhere on the mountain! What would the other shepherds think of him if he lost a sheep? How would he ever live it down?

He stood a while in thought, then said, “Meh. What’s one sheep when I have 99 others? It was probably old or sick or weak anyway. A loser sheep. It is what it is.”

He locked his gates and doors, ate a hamburger from a golden plate, and went to bed.

Rune for Our Times

The times are feeling fearful to me. After listening to a discussion on the radio on the way home, in which People Who Seem to Know Things suggested that there’s a possibility of uprisings and violence after this election, I offer a slight paraphrase of the Rune of St. Patrick:

At Pisgah in this fateful hour,
I place Earth and Heaven with their power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By divine help and grace
Between myself and the powers of destruction!


Gratitude:
For the golden leaves of autumn and the golden eyes of the cats.
For darkness, of rest, of birth, of preparation for the new thing coming.
For the inquisitive and curious minds of teenagers.
For the web of beloved hearts that yearn and work for justice and peace, for true equality and for functioning and healthy communities.
For you, beloveds. For you. For you.

May we walk humbly, loving mercy, doing justice, ever in Beauty.

Finding Poetry, Part II

This past week, I posted the first of two Found poems that I wrote using the help of friends on a Facebook post. You can find that first poem here: Finding Poetry, Part 1.

Here is the second one I did.

That Which is Indestructible
(A Facebook Crowd-Sourced Found Poem)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider and Friends

There is a time and place for a child to grow up,
playing between scrabbly hibiscus bushes,
but the best way to tell about a town,
any town,
is to listen deep into the night,
long after midnight,
after every screen door has been slammed shut
for the last time.

When he stood in his room in the tower,
looking out over the invisible city spread below,
he found that he could justify his inquisitiveness.

He came in about supper-time
with his sketchbook and his mud-bespattered boots.
In reflex, she stepped back against the safety of the wall,
began climbing, using both hands,
all white eyes,
a flickering lamp,
a bubble in a stream,
a flash of lightning in a summer cloud.

Yet she grew to like him,
for he was always kind and gentle to her.
A little flame of hope had been lit.
He saw that it was not
in the object of desire
that lasting satisfaction resided
but in the absence of that desire.

I think I know why porcupines
surround themselves with prickly spines:
White throat, dark chest-patches or nearly—
If you tear down the web, I said,
it will simply know.

There is no question in my mind
that these men have had a terrifying experience.
I was responsible for all of them
and would mourn every life lost in my name.
We cannot fear it, play games with it,
or manipulate it—the Path just is,
and the nights are full of nightingales,
even though they would like to die.
The prayer wheel ceaselessly cadences
the pilgrim’s path.
The sound of the new color console—Zenith—
rose and fell, sounding like the babble of running water.

Welcome To The World, Baby Girl.
Did you hear that?
(We are in a book!)
Oh, my. I read that years ago.
Sorry, I forgot:
Thanks for the memory.
PS—I love all of this!

Okay, later, with the book on my bedside table,
which has quite a history:
This is a third re-read.
These sacred rituals involve prescribed traditions.
So here are three short phrases:
I.
Lay all the items on your altar for about an hour,
just to let them “cure,”
soaking up and charging with sacred energy.

II.
To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure
is the most perfect refreshment.

III.
We must become friendlier with our dark emotions
in order to use their energies for healing and transformation.

The cares and preoccupations of life draw us away from ourselves.
Look, money’s an engine
and it’s out there running day and night,
whether you like it or not.
Destroying things is much easier than making them.
Fire is catching, and if we burn you burn with us!
Fire is catching, and if we burn you burn with us!
Fire is catching, and if we burn you burn with us!
Only to the extent that we expose ourselves
over and over
to annihilation
can that which is indestructible be found in us.

Finding Poetry, Part 1

I needed a mental health break. I wasn’t feeling the burn of an emerging poem, but I needed the fix of a poetic experience without having to go deeply into the trance state of poetic midwifing. So I posted a request: I asked my friends to open a nearby book to a random page, put a finger at a random spot, and type in a short sentence or phrase near to where their fingers landed. I took all their lines and crafted a poem. It was playful, whimsical, and deeply satisfying.

Here is the result of the first one I did (yeah, I have done more):

The Impermanence of This Floating World
(A Facebook Crowd-Sourced Found Poem)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider and Friends

Pray for us, O Mary.
Show us the face of your Son.

Then she spoke to me.
“There’s nothing to figure out.
I am who I am.
The way I see it,
all children are our children.
Mature souls are more comfortable being vulnerable—
all feeling is born in the heart.”

I looked up and saw the beauty,
looking upward into its mighty boughs.
Still, we know who’s swaying:
outside there is quiet in the dark.

Sleep is, I know now, impossible when skylarks are in song. . .
Did we fly swiftly toward the stars until our wings tired?
While the vault of heaven rings,
it appeareth about Easter, when Alleluia is sung again,
a drawing together of any kind:
that isn’t sacred?

Jean asked Maxwell not to utter
another word until he heard her side of the story.
So long a journey confirms that work,
his blue figure struggling. . .
Imagine how easy it is for me.
Monitor the type of risks you’re taking,
for this is the Lia Fáil, the stone of destiny—
must need both hands to pick them up.

Pentacles are work, money, and security,
a degree of understanding.
Looking back, she did not regret the making love,
a welcome relief from the daily drudgery of life,
having effected this disguise so completely.

The dermatologist was, in his own eyes, an artist beyond reproach
(g to return to. Excerp t the futhe r he goes, t he smaller t he hallway).
Knowing Hollywood, they probably would
have whitewashed it anyway.
Moral theories are wanted to explain
what makes an action right or a person good
Guilt is another common reaction,
particularly among parents.

The children of your servants shall continue
the duet, flush with possibilities
that produces a continuous pitch;
the most important and familiar among them
is the common Buttercup of the meadows.

Remove the air joints, then the grease line
from the left bearing cap:
fourteen hours of driving ahead.
Nourish faith—
there are many ways to reach the goal.
What we have to eat and drink together,
we usually mean traveling, waves,
ice-cold waves arched up into walls.
The impermanence of this floating world
I feel over and over.
Is sorrow the true wild ?

Again, you’ll have to trust your senses
and be very focused as you use this technique.
The visions are so terribly distinct
that I almost imagine them to be real.
“Most people don’t burn to death,” I said.

Please Vote

Please Vote!

Gratitudes:
1. The forthright golden gaze of a black cat.
2. Titmice and nuthatches at the feeder.
3. The way the sky glows blue through the clouds at this season. I think Chagall must have been a fan of autumn.
4. Health. We had an emergency this past weekend. The story is not mine to tell, but all now appears to be well. And I am very grateful for everyone’s health. Also for adrenaline.
5. I stood in the center of a faerie ring of mushrooms today. Felt my skin dissolve and my hair turn gray. Felt my senses being released into something greater–my hearing drawn outward like a bowl in a potter’s hands, my sight turn deep into the well of me. Felt wind rush through my branches, and sunlight raining like droplets all around me. Then I breathed and stepped out into the world again.

May we walk in Beauty!


Please vote, friends. Please consider your values, what you want for your country, what you expect of democracy, and Vote. Don’t let anyone convince you to be cynical or despairing about this basic tool of democracy. Yes, things are broken, and powerful people are taking advantage of the vulnerabilities in our system, and our history has been whitewashed and sugar-coated, but if we believe any of the better ideals our country was founded upon (no matter whether we were ever true to their deepest intents), then we must Vote. Let’s make this country not great–but Good, not again–but for the first time, let’s live into the ideals the founders expressed. But this time, let’s live them for everyone.