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Simple Solstice

In our house, pizza is a good symbol for the fire of Solstice, how basic ingredients laid together on bread are transformed by heat. Also, pizza makes joy.

Today is Summer Solstice, the beginning of the season of learning our passions, tending our fires, meditating on our energies.

What fires you up?
The ancient Greeks called the Fire nature within us our choler, so people who have a lot of fire are often called choleric. We’ve simplified that complicated idea in modern days to mean quick to anger, but it’s also about passion and energy.

When it comes to emotional responses, I can be choleric–quick to get angry, quick to get excited, quick to respond. And I often sustain those passionate emotions over time, burning coals. Physically, I tend to be more phlegmatic, less able to sustain energy over the long haul, preferring to sit quietly and read or make things than to be up and doing.

What makes you angry? What is your trigger for the rage-fires? How can you use that energy to help you bring about change and transformation? Fire transforms landscapes, not only destroying with fierce and random abandon, but creating spaces for new life to grow, new structures to be built. Will you pledge to learn about your anger, how to control and direct it so that it burns down old and tired and unjust systems in order to make way for new and love-filled ways of being that have space for all to breathe?

Do you tend, like me, to the sedentary life: quiet, still, and restful? How can we use this season of fire to feed us the energy to move our bodies, to revel in the fire of muscles moving, of our bodies in motion? Use this season of fire as a time to revel in the way your body moves. Careful now–it’s not a time to hate and despise the bodies we’re in because they’re bigger or slower or flabbier than we want them to be. Let’s live this season of fire to exist in the joy of being in these bodies we’ve chosen, to marvel in the senses, to move, to stretch, to learn speed and strength and limberness.

Summer Solstice is a time, too, to think about what sparks joy. Justice and joy are not things we need to choose between. They feed each other, if we let them, if we keep our hearts focused on their flames. Where do you see Beauty? (I usually capitalize Beauty because I believe it is the Holy One’s middle name.) What fills you? How does your love of Beauty feed your flames of desire for justice?

What ideas and images catch passionate fire in your brain? Flash of birdwing, the shade of red in that quilt, the way those words sound together, the crinkle at the corners of your beloved’s eyes. How can you feed the coals of those fires that fill you with passion? Fire season is the source of the energy of creation, of making, of designing, of appreciating Beauty. Give yourself to those fires. Feel the way they make you sizzle and roar to life.

A Blessed Solstice to you!


Gratitude:
The fires of justice, of love, of making, of delight, of transformation.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty! Blessed Solstice!


“We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” ―Bayard Rustin


“Bless the poets, the workers for justice, the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache, the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh meaning—We will all make it through, despite politics and wars, despite failures and misunderstandings. There is only love.” ―Joy Harjo, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems


“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.” —Howard Zinn


“It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing. What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.” —Laura McBride


“Love lit a fire in my chest, and everything that wasn’t love left.” –Rumi


“Developing your feeling takes time, especially if it has been systematically discouraged in you. There may be an initial layer of numbness or anger you have to move through and, beyond that, a backlog of grief. But as you make the seemingly bottomless descent, it helps to remember that grief is the downpour your soul has been thirsting for. Like rain, the more excellently and prodigiously you grieve, the more growth and fertility you can expect. There is a future beyond the spiritual aridity and meaninglessness of our time, teeming with life. If each of us has the tenacity to retrieve the elixirs of our discomforts, our combined medicine will heal the collective wound.” —Toko-pa Turner

On Monuments and History

(Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

When you see the flags come down and watch the monuments getting removed, and you say things like, “But we can’t just erase our history,” please listen to how incredibly racist that is.

These are monuments to honor people who fought to keep people enslaved, placed there decades after the Civil War in order to try to control the narrative about who won and who lost, about who emerged dominant. These are monuments to racism.

They say history is written by the victors, and that is so often true, but the proponents of the confederacy could not allow a story that saw the people they had formerly enslaved taking an equal place at the American table. So they took hold of the story, placed statues of their slave-owning heroes in the public square, and swayed the narrative to place themselves again at the center.

Please don’t worry that we’re erasing history. We’ll keep teaching Civil War history, but we’ll also teach about the massacres and the lynching and the systematized racism that was put into place in order to terrorize and intimidate and demoralize Black people in its aftermath, to try to keep them unfree. We will teach the full history, of all of us. We’ll keep finding primary sources and researched, academic analysis of the post-Civil War era. And certainly, we’ll teach about those statues, which were raised by people who refused to lose a war, in order to offer a visual symbol of white supremacy. We’re not erasing history, and we’re not changing history. We’re completing the narrative.

As my friend Chantelle says, “Some of white history NEEDS to take a backseat.” It’s time, and past time, to tell the entire narrative.

And–Happy Juneteenth!
I know white people have a tendency to take over everything, and I don’t want to do that here. This is an important day in United States history, and I celebrate this day with all whose ancestors were enslaved in this country, when the word finally came two years later to Texas that “All Slaves Are Free.”

None of us are truly free until all of us are free. If ever we can celebrate true freedom and the hope of freedom in America, it is today. I pledge to continue that work of freedom in any way I can.


Gratitude List:
1. I saw a hairy woodpecker! I often wonder if some of what I am calling downies might actually be hairies, but those weren’t. When you know a downy, then when you see a hairy, you know it’s a hairy. I love how perception works like that.
2. Learning ALL the history, terrible as much of it is. Half a narrative is a false narrative.
3. Seeing my parents! We were allowed to visit at a distance with my parents last evening, and it was incredibly pleasant to sit and chat and see their eyes again.
4. I am almost finished with the prayer shawl. It will be complete in just a couple hours. I am grateful with the anticipation of passing it on to the young man it is meant to bless.
5. Indigo bunting–one drop of holy shining blue in all that writhing mass of green.

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


“Won’t it be wonderful when Black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.” —Maya Angelou


“I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ―Anne Lamott


“[E]ducation is not just about utilizing a particular curriculum, or ensuring that critical reflection in a community follows a particular formula. It is full of intangible and random events. It is not just taught in the classroom, but lived in the midst of the community in ways that are not even fully quantifiable.” ―M.S. Bickford on the educational theories of John Westerhoff


“The trouble with trouble is, it starts out as fun.” ―Anonymous


“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. . .give it, give it all, give it now.”
—Annie Dillard


“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


“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.” —Wangari Maathai


“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.” —Wangari Maathai


“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” —Joseph Campbell


“I’m a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself. I don’t think about what I do. I do it. That’s Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.”
—Ray Bradbury

Don’t Normalize Hate Speech

This morning, as I was looking through the list of quotations that I have gathered over the years for this day, I consciously removed two, both of them lovely and thoughtful sentiments, both of them by writers who have also said and done some things I find inappropriate. One was by Garrison Keillor, the other by J. K. Rowling.

I don’t know what I think about Keillor. The stories make me cringe; they make me angry. As much as I loved the humor of his voice, I have also usually rolled my eyes a bit at his curmudgeonly persona. With the stain on his reputation, I don’t feel like I need his words as part of my holy morning reflections.

I don’t always throw out the writings when I find out that the writer is objectionable. Humans are fallible, and even brilliant thinkers have their blind sides. Some blindnesses are too difficult to ignore, however. When I read Neruda’s piece about the woman he raped, how he didn’t even seem to understand that what he had done was to commit rape, how he described her with the same tender pen he used for the love poetry that made me swoon, I knew I would never return to his words. I no longer read or share his poetry. There’s rot at the heart of that. The same is true for others, for Marion Zimmer Bradley, for Orson Scott Card. On the other hand, I still love, and teach, Shakespeare despite some of his truly objectionable elements.

The one that is bothering me–a lot– right now, is J. K. Rowling. I think it is important to look with a clear eye at her recent tweets about trans people and name the speech what it is: hate speech. It’s couched in lots of attempts to sound open and conciliatory, but she cannot hide her transphobia. Even without any other red flags, this sentence in one of her tweets to try to explain herself is a real kicker: “I know and love trans people, but. . .” Yeah, nothing good ever comes after the “but” in such a sentence. She goes on to defend transphobic restroom laws. She has liked tweets that refer to trans women as “men in dresses.” It feels like I am building a case against her, doesn’t it? It’s just that I don’t want to excuse bigotry or normalize hate speech, and that is a sentence I have stolen from Rowling herself.

Yesterday, I listened to some of the recording of Daniel Radcliffe reading the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was caught up again in the way she develops the Dursleys in the first few pages of her tale as people who are terrified of difference. She sets up a scenario in which the reader, from the very first moment, feels like this tale is going to be about celebrating the weird people in the cloaks who stand out because they live who they are instead of who a constricting and unimaginative muggle society tells them they should be. That’s the liberating beauty I have found in the Harry Potter books, the deep truth that anyone who has ever felt marginalized for living their truth can hold onto.

As I try to be part of the movement to create a society in which my trans beloveds are not marginalized but are safe and welcome and embraced, I have sought out stories like this. And now it turns out that the author herself is doubling and tripling down on her anti-trans language. Not just flinchy and cringey, but hateful.

Here is the Rowling quote I took out of today’s quote line-up: “We stand together. We stick up for the vulnerable. We challenge bigots. We don’t let hate speech become normalized. We hold the line.” So. I’m holding the line, Ms. Rowling. I will not tolerate your hate speech toward the beloved children of the Universe who are trans and gender fluid. I don’t know what I will do with your books or your movies. Meanwhile, I’m going to seek out other constructed worlds that offer their readers hope and vision for just and loving societies where everyone is safe and welcome and encouraged to live their truth, worlds created by authors who won’t exclude anyone for who they are.

I’m not asking you to give up the HP world. But, if you’re looking for some alternatives to Rowling, try Nnedi Okorafor, N. K. Jemisin, Octavia Butler, Charlie Jane Anders, Ursula K. LeGuin, Starhawk, Madeleine L’Engle, Tamora Pierce. Listen to LeVar Burton reads–he has an absolute treasure trove of authors who question the boxes a dull-witted and authoritarian society wants to place people in. Who else do you suggest?


Gratitude List:
1. Friends who bear with me and help me stumble along as I figure things out.
2. The way good literature offers visions of what we can be.
3. Finishing a project! I’m going to wrap up the prayer shawl today.
4. Oriole still sings in the sycamore every morning, but his call has changed. I think he must be feeding young ones now.
5. I’ve been seeing this sign in images of the BLM protests: “Sorry I’m late. I had some learning to do.” We can change and grow. I can change. You can change. Keep listening. Keep learning!

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


“You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable and transform even the biggest nation.” ―Marian Wright Edelman


“Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.” ―Marian Wright Edelman


“It’s still a world with plums in it, my loves, & chamomile & lipstick & cellos. It’s still a world with us in it. Find a hand & hold on.” —Elena Rose


“The real work of planet-saving will be small, humble, and humbling, and (insofar as it involves love) pleasing and rewarding. Its jobs will be too many to count, too many to report, too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded, too small to make anyone rich or famous.” ―Wendell Berry


”So many of us feel an agonizing longing to contribute something meaningful to the deficits of our time. But years can disappear in the doing of duties, in the never-reaching of rising expectations, in the always-falling-short of proving of one’s enoughness.

“The truth is that if we really want to make an eloquent offering of our lives, we have to step out of that ‘call and response’ relationship with the external world and locate our source of guidance within.

“To hear the rhythm of your indigenous song, to fall in step with the poetry of your unfolding, first there must be a clearing away: a ‘temenos’ of simplicity in which to dwell.

“Strike a holy grove of silence where you can listen as you long to be heard, see as you long to be seen, acknowledge where you long to be relevant, needed and necessary in the ‘family of things’.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.”
―Henry David Thoreau


Rumi: “Ours is no caravan of despair.”


“I profess the religion of love wherever its caravan turns along the way; that is the belief, the faith I keep.” ―Asma Kaftaro, UN Women Advisory Board


“Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect.”
―Wangari Maathai

Change of Plans

One of the things I love about summer is the time to work on this project, and that project, and then a little bit on that project. I don’t sit and knit or crochet for really long periods because I feel like I “should” be doing something else, something “productive.” I’ve been taking a break from scraping the balcony porch ceiling because I got so mad at it the other day, and wore myself out. I’ve been focusing on some camp materials the last few days instead. Yesterday, I found out that the prayer shawl I have been knitting needs to be delivered this week. So, hurray! The thing I MUST do, all day, is knit. I guess it’s me and the cats and LeVar Burton’s voice reading me stories all day.


Gratitude List:
1. Knitting
2. All the incredible forms of Life. I watched these three awe-inspiring videos this morning: https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/ecosphere-jar-atomic-shrimp-video?fbclid=IwAR1ZMyQnRBbaRsiLqnI1KDfKFJro9LH9Q_tn6cYO6e8mtWy6hl5SXJZ5AC4
3. Stories. How narratives shape us.
4. Getting limber, healthy, and strong
5. How the pair of house finches seem to like to come to the feeder to eat together. It’s like a little date.

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


“Only to the degree that people are unsettled is there any hope for them.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
—Wendell Berry, The Real Work, Standing by Words (1983)


Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.”


“We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit.”
—Audre Lorde


“Acknowledging our love for the living world does something that a library full of papers on sustainable development and ecosystem services cannot: it engages the imagination as well as the intellect. It inspires belief; and this is essential to the lasting success of any movement.” —George Monbiot

We Wear the Mask

Gratitude List:
1. The little goldfinch who likes to sit on rim of the window and peek inside the house.
2. I’m walking more. I am feeling stronger, more able to go the distance without getting winded. My mantra for walking and yoga this summer is limber-healthy-strong.
3. Estoy progresando en mis estudios de español. Okay, so I had to use Google Translate for a couple pieces of that, but had I seen that sentence, I would have been able to translate it into English! Yo aprendo un poco todos los dias! I wrote that one myself, so perhaps there’s an error somewhere, but I AM learning.
4. The fierce pink of those wild peas out on the bluff.
5. The daylilies are blooming in orange glory.

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


This feels defensive. I am open to instruction and learning.

I have had some pushback from friends on social media who say that I am shaming non-mask-wearers. I think that shame is rarely useful for long-term positive benefits, and I want to keep interrogating my actions and intentions. So yes, this Freddy Mercury thing I posted is pretty snarky. It’s also kind of funny. I guess I want to push back a little myself, at the people who are complaining about this being a restriction of their freedoms. But perhaps this isn’t the way to change hearts and minds.

Image may contain: text that says 'NO MASK ON YOUR FACE YOU BIG DISGRACE SPREADING YOUR GERMS ALL OVER THE PLACE'
Still, here I go, sharing it once again.

I have a friend who says that wearing a mask could cause her severe health problems and even death. I have not heard of that before, but I want to listen to her anxiety. She tells me that I am speaking from a position of privilege, and I want to listen to that, and challenge that within myself. She said that the conversation engendered by that post was stressing her out, and I didn’t want to add to her stress, so I am bringing it here instead.

Perhaps the perception issue here belongs to her, but perhaps I am blind to something here, and I need to keep wrangling my responses.

I feel like my relative health is a privilege, and that staying home as much as possible, and social distancing, and wearing the mask actually protects others whose health is more precarious than mine. Yes, not everyone is privileged to be able to stay home and social distance when businesses are re-opening and calling employees back to work. But wearing a mask when I am able–when I have to go out and be in the presence of those people who have to be back in the public arena–seems to be a way to lessen the burden for those folks as well.

One day, on my social media feeds, I began to see the word “hypercapnia” everywhere. People were suddenly talking about how dangerous and unhealthy it is to breathe inside a mask where you’re recycling your own CO2. And I want to be aware that this might be an issue for some people. I haven’t seen scientific and medical writing that supports this, especially for people wearing the cloth and disposable masks. Air passes through. It’s the droplets we’re concerned about, and the masks do, according to the scientists, help to mitigate the droplets. But suddenly everyone was concerned that they might be experiencing hypercapnia. Our beloveds who work in health care work for long hours in masks, and I haven’t heard about this issue before.

I’m conflicted, but not about mask-wearing. I know people who are organ transplant survivors. I know people with respiratory ailments and issues. I know people with asthma. Many of my beloveds are over the age of 65. I wear a mask in public because I want the world to be safer for them. I continue to be willing to interrogate my privilege in conversations about health and accessibility, but from every angle I look at this, I think the right thing to do (if your health allows it), for the health of ALL of us, is to WEAR THE MASK.

Here are the current CDC Guidelines for mask-wearing: CDC Guidelines.
Here is a Vox article on the World Health Organization Guidelines: WHO.
Here is an article discussing the reality of hypercapnia: Health.com.
Here is an article from NPR about how mask-wearing mitigates the effects of the virus: NPR.
Finally, an article on one more study about mask-wearing as mitigation: Pennlive.


“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” —Eckhart Tolle


“We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process.” —Wangari Maathai


“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” ―Eleanor Roosevelt


“Do you not see how everything that happens keeps on being a beginning?” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe. Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness but repletion A filling up.” —Anne D. LeClaire


“To me, every hour of the day and night
is an unspeakably perfect miracle. ” —Walt Whitman


“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.” —Etty Hillesum


“Am I killing time, or is it killing me?” —The Middle Brother Band

A Small Bird in My Heart

Erebus loves to play Mousetrap. One of the blocks in the game says, “Big fat cat! Go back 3 spaces!” He loves that he has a specific role in the game. Also, he loves to knock the diver off the table.

Toko-pa Turner: In the Quechua tradition, when you feel grateful, you say, “There is a small bird in my heart.”

Gratitude List:
1. Looking forward to Good Work
2. Having time do focus inward and do inner work
3. A restful pace
4. I got a lovely view of a female Baltimore oriole yesterday–such a beautiful gentle orange, and that means that the lighter greenish-yellow oriole I have been seeing must have been a female orchard oriole.
5. Playing games with the family yesterday, even if it was Monopoly (which I really don’t like).

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


“Whenever there is a strong lock used there is something extremely precious hidden. The thicker the veil, the more valuable the jewel. A hoard of treasure is guarded by a large snake; do not dwell on the hideousness of the snake, contemplate the dazzling and the priceless things you’ll discover in the treasure.” —Rumi


“If your religion requires you to hate someone, you need a new religion.” ―Glennon Doyle


“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
―W. B. Yeats


“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
―Patrick Rothfuss


“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”
―Sue Monk Kidd

Elemental

The other day when I got the mail, I pulled a nest-like spider web off one of the letters (that was a fast-working spider!), and without really thinking I spun it like wool. I know that spider web is strong, but I was pretty startled at how incredibly strong this little twist of web is. Think how powerful we become as a movement when we spin firm webs of our deep connections to each other as beloved humans.

Last week, a friend of mine asked me to write a poem for her and her friends who are having a bonfire circle, a healing time and a safe space to express their fears and anxieties and anger and hope in a time when their lives and identities are in danger–it’s a racially diverse group with many gay and trans folks. I love how she has taken on this healing work, and I am so proud to be her friend, and so honored to write a poem to bless them.

You Are Elemental
by Beth Weaver-Kreider
for Faith and her Friends
and in memory of Rem’mie Fells and Riah Milton

Someone once told me we are made of starstuff.
Enough of the dust of the cosmos breathes through us
that we can believe we belong, made as we are
of the essence of that which forms all that is.
Whatever you believe about yourself, know this:
you belong in the web of it all. You are an elemental
miracle of a living, breathing being, and you are the
very expression of Desire Itself, manifested.

Whatever you experience of masculinity or femininity,
what you experience as androgyny, all of that
is emblematic of your Divinity, your connection
to the Source from which we all are born.
Don’t let them tell you, no matter how unsettled
you may feel in the body you were born in,
that you are not made in sacred grace,
each atom, each particle, each space within you,
formed as you are of earth and water,
wind and flame–every name you choose
that means your soul and spirit,
that means your own transforming body,
is sacred, holy, breath and birth.

You, whose journey is all about
transforming who you are into who
you feel yourself to be, are built into the likeness
of the One who made the world, created
in the shape of the Universe Itself,
whose very name is Change, which set
the rules in motion, to cause the caterpillar
to feel her unsettled urge to break away
from caterpillar life, to take his time
in his quiet cocoon, to emerge as their own
beautiful butterfly. You make yourself,
you match yourself to yourself,
you rhyme, you move to the subtle rhythms
driven by the itch for mutability
placed within you by the Holy One Themself.

May you breathe deeply in the skin you’re in.
May you feel your holy fires awaken.
May the blood that pulses in the rivers of your veins
remind you of the waters of the Earth
which bring you, again and again, to birth,
as you shape and form and create yourself
to be the you you know yourself to be.
May the very Earth you walk on hold you up
and remind you every day that you Belong.
Blessed Be.

Kind of a creepy-looking thumbnail, but it was the best of the three that YT offered me.

Gratitude List:
1. Webs
2. Spinning strands together
3. The tender human connections the Fab 5 model
4. FINALLY starting a project that has been hanging over my head, literally. Yesterday, I spent several hours scraping the ceiling of the balcony porch to get it ready to re-paint. It is going to take days, and I don’t have the stamina for more than two or three hours of it at a time. But it is started!
5. Yesterday, we caught glimpses of one of the young raccoons searching the hillside for grubs and bugs. Jon got a good photo of it from the treehouse where he was nailing up walls. Last week, we discovered the body of one of the others, and it’s been hurting my heart so that I can hardly even type the truth of it. It was good to see life continuing on with such focus and curiosity in its sibling.

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


“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. . .

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.” —Tom Robbins


“To love another person is to see the face of God.” ―Victor Hugo


“Everybody’s In, Baby.” ―The Love Warriors


“And when she wanted to see the face of God, she didn’t look up and away; she looked into the eyes of the person next to her. Which is Harder. Better.” ―Glennon Doyle


“When we ask for help, we are building community. We are doing away with this notion that we should be practicing at detachment. We are rapturously attaching! We become responsible for tending to one another’s pieces. Not only is the giver allowed to express their bestowing heart, the receiver is taken into a greater tenderness of their own giving nature. As we grow our capacity for gratitude, which is another way of saying completeness or belonging, we are healing our tinygiant part of the world’s devastating wound of scarcity.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“Forever is composed of nows.” ―Emily Dickinson


Rob Brezsny: ‘So it turns out that the “blemish” is actually essential to the beauty. The “deviation” is at the core of the strength. The “wrong turn” was crucial to you getting you back on the path with heart.’


“If not for reverence, if not for wonder, if not for love, why have we come here?” ―Raffi


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ―Anne Frank

Reminder

Remember:
Lift your shoulders.
Straighten your spine.
Breathe.
Look yourself in the eye.
Drink water.
Stretch your body.
Make things.
Know yourself a beloved child of God/the Universe.

Gratitude List:
1. I heard towhee yesterday, several times throughout the afternoon. Then, when I went out to help Jon move some walls up to the treehouse he is building, I saw him, on one of the dead branches at the top of the chestnut tree, silhouetted against the sun, telling me over and over again to drink my tea.
2. This marvelous treehouse my man is making. It’s really looking amazing.
3. The Lovings. Change is made when people keep demanding it, when people see something that is wrong and decide to change it. May we all be Loving like the Lovings, brave to make change. Happy Loving Day! Love who you love!
4. Unconditional love that believes in the ability of each person to become their best self.
5. This boy, sitting here on the couch, a cat on each side of him.

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


“There is action to be taken in the outer world,but it must be action that comes from a reconnection with the sacred—otherwise we will just be reconstellating the patterns that have created this imbalance.” —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee


“In the time since I was arrested in January 2018, no fewer than 88 bodies were recovered from the Arizona desert. The government’s plan in the midst of this humanitarian crisis? Policies to target undocumented people, refugees and their families. Prosecutions to criminalize humanitarian aid, kindness and solidarity.” —Scott Warren, who was tried for offering humanitarian assistance to people dying in the desert


“When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.”
― Vickie Karp


And I Was Alive
by Osip Mandelstam

And I was alive in the blizzard of the blossoming pear,
Myself I stood in the storm of the bird-cherry tree.
It was all leaflife and starshower, unerring, self-shattering power,
And it was all aimed at me.
What is this dire delight flowering fleeing always earth?
What is being? What is truth?
Blossoms rupture and rapture the air,
All hover and hammer,
Time intensified and time intolerable, sweetness raveling rot.
It is now. It is not.


“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft


“Which world are we trying to sustain: a resource to fulfill our desires of material prosperity, or an Earth of wonder, beauty, and sacred meaning?” —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Repairing America

Anything we do, no matter how routine or mundane, can be a ritual, a prayer, a magical spinning of webs of healing. This week, as I have been repairing a quilt, I have been pondering/praying/spinning webs for the mending of the raggedness of the world.

When we got engaged over thirty years ago, Jon and I bought ourselves a glorious Sunshine and Shadow wedding quilt. For a few years, in one of the places we lived, we hung it on a wall, where it was fabulously set off by the natural woodwork of the doorways and window sashes of the house. But for much of our marriage we kept it in storage, waiting until we had a perfect wall again to display it. About ten years ago, I brought it out and said that a marriage quilt belongs on a bed. If it gets damaged by everyday use, so be it. We’re looking a little bit more ragged and worn ourselves than we did back in 1990, and it just felt wrong to keep something so symbolic tucked out of sight out of fear that it might become damaged.

And it has indeed become worn and ragged, but only in one of its colors. The heathery olive green was apparently a less sturdy fabric than the rest, and over time, it became completely shredded. It was my intention to go to a fabric store and try to match the color exactly, but I just don’t ever seem to find the time to make excursions like that, and so I put off fixing it for a couple years. Finally, during lockdown, I began to wonder why I was so attached to the replacement color matching the original exactly. I had some green with the same intensity of vibrancy as the other colors in the quilt. So I cut some patches and started to cut away the old and tattered fabric. (I didn’t think to start photographing the process until I had already repaired eight of the patches.)

And while I have been appliqueing the new patches into the design, I have been thinking about the raggedness of brokenness in our world, and especially in this country, where things have actually never NOT been ragged and torn. Unlike our wedding quilt, which began in beauty, and which represents a marriage and family that respects and values the true humanity of all its members, this country may have had some beautiful aspects when seen from a distance and through certain lenses, but the colors in the American quilt were created from the blood and bones and sweat of enslaved people and from the genocide of those who lived here before the Europeans came along with their ideas of Empire. This quilt we call the United States may need to be completely remade in order to create a thing of true and lasting beauty.

What are the elements and colors of beauty and grace that we think we want to keep when the quilt has been repaired? Democracy? What a lovely and marvelous ideal! But it’s never actually been a true and shining democracy for all of us. Can we find a fabric to replace that one? This time, let’s choose a strong fabric, one that weaves us ALL into the warp and weft, that offers everyone a voice. It’s going to take a great deal of energy and time and personal labor to cut away the ragged and corrupted edges of that one, and stitch the new and stronger pieces in its place.

We’re going to need to examine our communal ideals, one by one, and carefully trim away the ones which have become torn and tattered so we can stitch new, more vibrant colors made of stronger, more inclusive fabrics into their places. Perhap then we can save this quilt of a country. ‘Til all is said and done, we’ll probably be replacing the batting and backing, tearing out rows of quilting, finding new threads and better materials. The next version of this American quilt may not look much like the original, and that is a good thing. The original was never so vibrant and meaningful as so many people thought it was. It’s always been corrupted, moth-eaten, and tattered. Now is the time to create a true America, the one we thought we had, but real and solid and vibrant.


Gratitude List:
1. Fixing, repairing, mending
2. Contemplating, praying, spinning webs
3. Creating, making, designing
4. Listening, absorbing, holding space
5. Stretching, breathing, unbending

Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly–in Beauty!


“That’s the way things come clear. All of a sudden. And then you realize how obvious they’ve been all along.” —Madeleine L’Engle


“In all religious systems the danger is that the logical structure and rational doctrine will obscure the mystical vision.” —Bede Griffiths


“Note to self today:
Do not feed the monsters.
Monsters are those thought threads that denigrate and disrespect self and others.
Some are wandering thought forms, looking for a place to land and live.
Some are sent to you deliberately or inadvertently. They can come from arrows or gossip, jealousy or envy. Or from just…thoughtlessness.
Instead, have a party.
Invite your helpers to the table. Give them something to do. They want to be helpful. And just celebrate.
Feed the birds.
Second note: A positive mind makes a light slippery surface and anything not of it, slides off.” —Joy Harjo


Omid Safi: “In many languages, the words for “love” have a connection to words for “seed.” In Arabic and Persian, a word for love (hubb) comes from the seed that is planted in the ground. Sometimes a seed of love is planted in the heart’s ground through a glance, a touch, a word. The seed of love falls on the heart’s soil. Is it a hardened earth, a rock-covered surface, one that will have the seed washed away with the first water? Or is it a soil that has been prepared, tilled, softened up, opened up again and again and again, ready to embrace the seed of love that would surely come?”


“We need better government, no doubt about it. But we also need better minds, better friendships, better marriages, better communities.” —Wendell Berry


“A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism.”
―Andrew Harvey, The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism


“If you’re really listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders.”
―Andrew Harvey


“I pray for the gift of silence, Of emptiness and solitude, Where everything I touch is turned into prayer:”
―Andrew Harvey, Light the Flame: 365 Days of Prayer


“Now, it’s not like Jesus was against name-calling or anything. He slung around Hypocrite, Fool and Brood of Vipers with the best of them. But I find it fascinating that Jesus reserved his name-calling for the religious community and never for the broken down or broken hearted. Never for the excluded. Never for the lonely. Never for the outcasts.

“Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t tell us to love the sinner; Jesus tells us to love our neighbor. And then Jesus goes on to define our neighbors as those who are despised, rejected, excluded, ignored, and bullied.” –Beth Woolsey

What is the Name of the Song?

What is
the name of the song
you will sing
into the house
of this day?

Gratitude List:
1. A FUN and inspiring project. I am doing a Camp-in-a-Box project on zine-making for my school, and I am obsessed. I need to do more things like this.
2. I signed up for a Recycled Poetry class with PCA&D. I’ve been wanting to do something with PCA&D for a long time, and this is just perfect because it’s for me as a poet, but also as a teacher.
3. The different ways that light flows through different leaves. The edges and frills on the leaves of that little oak dance differently with the light than do the rounded and billowing leaves of the maple and the poplar.
4. How the lockdown has pushed me to grow. I had a conversation with someone online this morning about how I see the basic objectives for Speech class differently today than I did six months ago. So much of our modern speech-making happens in video format. I am going to add the video element as a basic part of Speech class in the future. I used to be scared to try adding more about making videos, but I have been forced into exploring that during this lockdown, and I am grateful for the new knowledge that I can share with students.
5. Those energy bars I made yesterday. I need to be careful not to eat too many! They’re so delicious.

Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly–in Beauty!


“A man who does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good. And a man that does not know how to be shaken to his heart’s core with indignation over things evil is either a fungus or a wicked man.” —Henry Ward Beecher, social reformer and abolitionist (1813-1887)


Here’s the best way to see a thing: catch
the edge of light
that burns
around its opposite, that
which it would otherwise
obscure.
—Mark Bibbins


I saw you once, Medusa; we were alone.
I looked you straight in the cold eye, cold.
I was not punished, was not turned to stone.
How to believe the legends I am told? …

I turned your face around! It is my face.
That frozen rage is what I must explore—
Oh secret, self-enclosed, and ravaged place!
That is the gift I thank Medusa for.
—May Sarton, “The Muse as Medusa”


“How you get there is where you’ll arrive.” —The Mad Hatter


“When you look at what is happening to our world—and it is hard to look at what’s happening to our water, our air, our trees, our fellow species—it becomes clear that unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible.” —Joanna Macy


“We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time.” —Joanna Macy


“And I consider myself a skeptic, but Lord, I’m an optimistic soul.” —Rising Appalachia