Animal Messengers

Sometimes when I am in a contemplative mood, perhaps doing yoga or cooking or sitting on the porch, I’ll get random images that flash into my mind’s eye. Yesterday morning as I was settling into Mountain Pose, I lifted my arms above my head as I was aligning my shoulders and spine, fingertips together. It flashed into my head that I was making the shape of an arched doorway, and I saw in my mind’s eye just such an archway in a green wood with golden light shining in through the opening, and two fawns looking at me. Deer represent unconditional love, particularly gentleness towards oneself, so I will take that as a message.

Perhaps my brain was remembering this portal archway that I painted a couple years ago. My younger son has been teaching me to use Pixlr to create digital art, so I superimposed an image of fawns I found (Creative Commons).


Sometimes we who grow up in a religious context accept the signs and symbols of religion as immutable and unchanging. Take Mary with her foot on the serpent, for instance. I have been noticing how often the snake appears in paintings and sculptures, open-mouthed, fangs bared, and writhing beneath the serene Mother’s foot.

Because I have grown up with a pretty well-rounded knowledge of scripture, I know that this is a reference to the verse in Genesis where God tells the serpent that the serpent’s descendants and Eve’s descendants would be enemies, that her offspring would crush his head, and he in turn would strike the heel of the humans. So when Mary steps on the head of the serpent, she is understood to be crushing evil (which the snake symbolizes in this story) by giving birth to the Christ.

And so, in my search for feminine images of the divine, I have begun exploring iconography and sculptures and paintings of Mary, looking for the ways in which Mary herself represents the Goddess. And also, I have been exploring the symbol of the serpent as woman-wisdom, woman-energy, kundalini. The snake represents the inherent power in the feminine.

So I can’t help but feel as though in those images where Mary is stepping on the head of the serpent that she is being forced by patriarchal religious structures to crush and destroy her own power. I think this is a truth, however unsavory, that comes through in the image–women have been forced to crush our own power because the prevailing religious structures perceive that power to be evil and dangerous. I’ve tried working with the re-interpretations of the image that some offer, that she has reached full understanding of her power and so she stands upon the source of her wisdom. She has integrated it. That’s a much more palatable overlay.

Still, because the original artworks were most certainly created with the idea that the snake is evil, and she is vanquishing it, it’s a challenge you get past the echoes of “Her children shall crush your head.”

Perhaps I need to try to create my own artwork, Our Lady of the Serpent, with a more truly Middle Eastern Mary and an integrated relationship with the power and wisdom of the serpent.


Gratitude List:
1. Relief from the aches and pains. I had let it get pretty bad. I don’t know if it’s a natural progression of arthritis, or residual effects of Covid, or results of being too sedentary. Since spring, my body has just begun to hurt more and more. I had begun to dread going walking with the family. I hurt so much. My co-pay at the doctor’s office is $80, so I kept putting off checking in with the doctor, and I didn’t really want to start a regimen of allopathic medicine for whatever has been causing my muscles and back and feet to hurt. I had considered elimination diets to see if that would work, but instead Sarah suggested adding anti-inflammatory foods to my diet. I’m eating fresh pineapple for the bromelain, and drinking tart cherry juice and eating berries for the anti-oxidants. When the pain flares, I take Aspirea Compound, from H&A (you can order some here). And I am being much more intentional about regular yoga practice. It’s taken a couple weeks to get to this place, and I’m not pain-free, but I feel like a normal 50-something now. Grateful, so grateful, for Sarah’s wisdom and knowledge.
2. Making progress, however slow, in the de-hoarding. I’m not where I wanted to be at this point in the summer, but the flow is better now. The energy is less clogged and brackish now that I have organized and released “stuff.”
3. Stimulating intellectual discussions. Some people make you feel like you’re back in a grad school classroom, with all the richness of shared ideas and the co-creation of ideas.
4. Caring communities. Empathy is still around, although it can sometimes seem in short supply. Never hesitate to show it. It builds and grows. That’s the magic of it. The more you give, the more it grows. It’s that magic penny, baby.
5. TOMATOES!

May we walk in wisdom, kindness, and 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

The Tattered Pelt

This dream reveals itself and ravels like a fairy tale or myth.

It’s been two weeks since I listened to Martin Shaw telling the story of Fox Woman Dreaming, but something in my Dreambrain has reached back to that for images to tell myself this story.

Part One:
I am sitting on a concrete ledge, like a loading dock, of the garage of my house, looking out over the meadow and the woods beyond.

I hear a cry of frustration and rage: “Aaarrrnnnngh!”

At the edge of the woods, where the neighbors have logs for splitting, a large wolf is dancing around in extreme agitation. It has thrown an ax across the snowy field. Its fur is striped and brindled, mottled. It flips back and forth in its frustration. I know at once that the wolf is a shapeshifter.

I can feel its frustration deep within myself, and I am frightened as it runs up the field toward me.

I search around for something to offer it to help it, to distract it from attacking me.

I find that I am holding an old and tattered pelt of some animal fur. As the wolf paces around the side of the garage and the base of the ledge where I am sitting, I tear a piece of the pelt I am holding and toss it into the snow. It distracts and calms the wolf for a moment. It sniffs the piece of pelt but does not eat it.

Part Two:
I am walking down a brick pathway in a park, trying to feel the different rhythmic vibrations of the various bricks. I can sort of sense the patterns of a couple of them. I am trying to remember the poems/incantations for a ceremony to awaken and celebrate the awakening of the powers of a girl child. I am trying to help her to notice the vibrations in the bricks, trying to tell her the bits of incantations that I remember.

I am aware that the child is coming into her power and I am feeling the dissipation of my own.

As I am working with the bricks and incantations, I notice that the girl has found a stump with a large and tangled root system. A woman and a child, their faces painted with stripes of brown and yellow in many different shades, look out at me from the stump. The girl knows they are there and has been listening to them.

Unpacking:
I have so many questions.
Am I both the Wolf and the One Who Watches?
If I am the Watcher, have I given away my own shapeshifting power, my own Wild, in order to protect myself and appease the frustration–ease the loss–of another?
What have I done?! I have thoughtlessly torn my pelt. Is it possible to repair?
I feel acutely both the loss of my own Wild (the Watcher) and the sense that it’s unbridled and out of control (the Wolf).

And am I both the Child and the Teacher?
Again, I feel acutely the loss of my own powers even as I am able to recover a little of my awareness of vibration, my memory of the words of ceremony.
I feel a need to prepare the Child, to mentor and teach, but the work has moved beyond me, and she has found her teachers in nature.
But I am also the Child. She has met the spirit beings who inhabit the stump and they are teaching her.

Both pieces of my dream seem to be about internal rifts/separations that help me to see the ways I am disconnected from my Wild, from my own personal sense of my power.

Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea to offer part of my pelt to the shapeshifter. Maybe that’s what I need to do, to offer my own inner Wolf the key to her transformation. But I need to tend to my “skin.”

And maybe I don’t need to focus so much on remembering the words and patterns of the ceremony for the Child, but just settle into a space where I can hear the living voices of the beings who surround me. I feel like this is a message to rely less on head knowledge, but to focus on simply perceiving what is around me.

Two nights ago, I dreamed again, as I often do at times of inner change and transformation, that I needed to push my way through a tight and claustrophobic portal in order to enter a new space. In these dreams, I sometimes refuse, or the dream ends as I am trying to find the courage to enter the constricting passage, but in my recent dream, I actually made it through the portal.

I think these dreams are connected. First, the portal, then the reckoning with the state of my own inner awareness.


Gratitude:
1. The way shifting and de-hoarding and organizing makes space for energy to flow more freely and serenely. Clogged energy is either stagnant or frenetic. Unclogged energy flows.
2. I’m getting really eager to dive into the planning process for the coming school year. I relish the shift of this energy from the overwhelm of last spring (of the past three semesters, really) to the excitement of setting the table for the coming academic feast.
3. Mending. Like de-hoarding, mending makes the energy flow. And physical mending causes the heart to turn toward the inner mending as well.
4. A different type of energy, but not unconnected: Feeling my own physical energy returning. It’s been a circuitous journey. But it feels so good when we go walking and I feel the surge of energy and strength in the stride rather than feeling like I am fighting against gravity.
5. Thresholds. Liminal spaces. Betweens.

May we walk in Beauty!


“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


“Every person is a living treasure box. Listening holds the key.” —Mollie Marti


“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“I take care of my own.” —Hushpuppy (Beasts of the Southern Wild)


“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


“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


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


“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 tranquility 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

Fatalism By Choice

How scars hold memory

Some things I noticed today with gratitude:
1. A young person with a burgundy mohawk walking down the streets of Lancaster with a chill ginger tabby hanging out in their backpack.
2. How conversations about life and books weave webs of experience and story, creating scaffolds for the next set of experiences.
3. When I walked through the city today, I felt the sense of power in my own body again, the joy in movement, in striding. It’s been really hard in the last few months to regain that. At first, I thought it was just the weight gain and sedentariness of having had Covid that was causing me trouble. Then I thought it must still be residual Covid problems in my body. Then I thought, “Maybe I just got old during the time of my illness and recuperation, and it will always be this way.” There’s likely some truth to all of those bits, but I can still have moments when a brisk stride brings pleasure.
4. I was pondering this thought this morning: I am not a serious fan of determinism and fatalism, but I began to wonder how life might be if we would begin to consider every moment of interaction with others to be a “fated” moment, that each conversation, each random meeting, is designed by the Fates or God or the Universe as an opportunity for some spark of tenderness or energy or truth or even boundary-setting to occur. On one hand, it’s exhausting to think about always being that “on,” but it’s also instructive to me to consider how to live more intentionally in the moment, to maintain those moments of human interaction as holy.
5. Hummingbird. Whenever we spend a little time on the front balcony (which is pretty often these days), we’re pretty sure to see the hummingbird at the hanging baskets, within about four feet. And I have been seeing more of oriole, too–he’s no longer calling in the treetops, but he’s very present. And blue heron has been stalking the creek. And the young hawk still fusses regularly in the treetops.

May we walk in Beauty!


It’s a Momaday sort of day:
(I looked up Momaday and got carried away by his words and ideas)
*
It Works
by Rabia of Batista (c. 717-801)
Would you come if someone called you
by the wrong name?
I wept, because for years God did not enter my arms:
then one night I was told a
secret:
Perhaps the name you call God is
not really God’s, maybe it
is just an
alias.
I thought about this, and came up with a pet name
for my Beloved I never mention
to others.
All I can say is—
it works.


“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” —Corrie Ten Boom


“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” —Brené Brown


“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” —Garth Nix


“We need to walk to know sacred places, those around us and those within. We need to walk to remember the songs.” —Joseph Bruchac


“A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things.” —N. Scott Momaday


“As far as I am concerned, poetry is a statement concerning the human condition, composed in verse.” —N. Scott Momaday


“I wonder if, in the dark night of the sea, the octopus dreams of me.” —N. Scott Momaday


“We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined.” —N. Scott Momaday

Cherish the Body You’re In

Start a revolution today: Decide to love your body just the way it is.

Instead of dieting or restricting, offer your body delicious and nourishing food.

Instead of exercising to change your weight or your shape, move your body because moving in a body is a wonderful and wholesome thing to do and your body loves to move.

Don’t get in shape. Be the shape you are. Love the shape you are.

Embody yourownself.
Eat and move and feel sensations.
Sniff the air. Learn to identify smells and aromas.
Name new colors. Differentiate hues and shades.
Listen for birdsong and crickets and the murmur of voices.
Taste your food. Really taste it. Experience crunch and flavor and texture.
Feel the wind in your skin, the pop of humidity, the softness of cat fur.

Stop obsessing about your weight and shape, please.
There is so much more to experience about being in a body than whether you fit some socially-constructed idea about an “ideal” body.

Be in your body. Love your body. Offer it care.


Gratitude List:

1. So many circles of care. Holy, holy, holy.

2. Book discussions. I joined a book group! I love my book group!

3. All the Big Birds catching today’s thermals. And I think that was an osprey fishing in the River this morning. At first I thought maybe peregrine, but I think that was a fish in its talons.

4. Being in a body. There’s so much to experience in these bodies we live in.

5. Will. Determination. I’m working on opening and focusing on the solar plexus right now. Much has been left undone. I’m going to do.

May we walk (in our bodies) in Beauty!

Living with Covid’s Aftershocks

Yesterday, my father helped me to articulate what it feels like to live with the after-effects of Covid for weeks after I have supposedly recovered. It feels like languishing. It’s like that word was made for people like me, who can’t quite get out from under the rug of this thing.

There’s that meme of Count Rugen from The Princess Bride, where he has just tortured Westley on his Machine, and he says, “I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. Tell me, how do you feel?” Covid has been my Count Rugen. I always assumed that the year of life was taken away from the far end, that when people say, “It took a year off my life!” they mean that year 99 is now gone. After Covid, I feel like I’ve lost a year or three from my life, but they’ve been taken from right here, like I’ve gone from 53 to 55 or 57 in six weeks.

Here’s the part where I sit with the folks in the Nursing Home and enumerate my aches and pains, so feel free to skip down to gratitude and inspiring quotes here. Since this blog is also my personal archive and chronicle, I feel like I need to set it all down here.
* I am definitely regaining my energy, but I still crash. I can’t push myself or overdo it, and expect to rest for an hour or two and bounce back. If I push myself too hard, I crash hard, and end up on the recliner for the rest of the day, my body exhausted and my brain foggy. This is definitely improving as time goes by–fewer crashes.
* I have always been forgetful. I prefer to think of it as engagingly flaky. It just feels like I’m more forgetful now, like my brain enters fogs and mists more regularly. I need to really slow down and breathe in order to focus. This is also less intense six weeks out.
* Before Covid, my body had been sort of toying with the idea of menopause for several years. I’d have periods of time when I would have a hot flash very morning at 3 am, or months of unbearable insomnia. I’d skip a period once in a while, or be late or early, or have really intense and heavy periods for a while and then really light ones. But my body would always re-regulate. In the time since I have had Covid, I’ve skipped two periods in a row.
* About two weeks ago, I developed pain in my shoulder and upper arm. I figured I had just slept on it wrong, but it persisted and worsened, and I realized it wasn’t actually all muscle pain, but mostly nerve pain in my brachial nerves. The pain became excruciating at night, and has been manageable during the day. I did some research, and discovered that brachial neuritis occurs after injury, virus, or vaccine. The primary treatment is painkillers, yoga, and breathing exercises until it subsides. Several nights in the past week and a half, I have gotten very little sleep because of the pain, but the last three night are getting much better, and last night, I only woke up twice, and was able to get back to sleep almost immediately after doing some yoga stretches on the arm.
* The other day when I was eating, I noticed that a piece of enamel had chipped off the back of one of my front teeth. Later in the day, as I was exploring the spot with my tongue, the top edge of the tooth just crumbled away. My brother is a dentist, and he didn’t think I should be too alarmed, that it’s not uncommon as people age. I have also heard that one side effect people are noticing after Covid is that their teeth crack or fall out. I’m getting it fixed this week.


Gratitude List:
1. The fiercely creative students at my school. This is school play weekend, and I am the head usher for plays, so I go to every show (which means I need to especially guard my energy this weekend), and this play offers them the perfect chance to collaborate in ensemble acting, and to sing and dance and do comedy and drama.
2. The little beans of Tanzanian Peaberry are such cute little peas, and it’s just the perfect coffee.
3. Every little noticeable bit of ground regained in my recovery. I slept most of last night, with very little nerve pain in my arm. This is huge.
4. Hugging people again. Carefully and with full consent, but hugging.
5. These cat-folx and their varied personalities. Interspecies communication.

May we walk in Beauty!


“The only time incorrectly is not spelled incorrectly is when it is spelled incorrectly.”


“There is no such thing as one-sided generosity. Like one ecosystem, we are each at different times receiving or purging, growing or pruning. In those moments when you believe you aren’t receiving enough, consider what you most want to receive might be the thing you need to give away.” —Toko-pa Turner


“Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.” —Henry David Thoreau


“Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.” —Joanna Macy


“What if the Creator is like the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s God: “like a webbing made of a hundred roots, that drink in silence”?
What if the Source of All Life inhabits both the dark and the light, heals with strange splendor as much as with sweet insight, is hermaphroditic and omnisexual?
What if the Source loves to give you riddles that push you past the boundaries of your understanding, forcing you to change the ways you think about everything?
What if, as Rusty Morrison speculates in “Poetry Flash,” “the sublime can only be glimpsed by pressing through fear’s boundary, beyond one’s previous conceptions of the beautiful”?
Close your eyes and imagine you can sense the presence of this tender, marvelous, difficult, entertaining intelligence.” —Rob Brezsny

NPM Day 30: Doors

Student poetry on my white board. Both poems are apt messages for standing in the doorway to May.

Today is the last day of Poetry Prompts for April. I might take a break from the blog for a few days when this is done.

Today, as we stand in the doorway to May, write a poem about doorways and doors. Doors can be portals from one world to another, the symbol of the step of faith we take from one stage to the next. Doors can also be symbolic of the space between ourselves and others. What doors keep us apart or invite us in? Or write about the doors of your town.

Doorways are about liminal spaces. Write about thresholds, about standing poised between one thing and the next. What holds you in the past? What pushes you into the future? What are the spiritual lessons you learn from standing in the in-between? Or write about the doorway to another world.

Who or what is on the other side of that door?


Today is May Day Eve, one of those special moments in the solar calendar, situated between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. We’ve watched the riot of spring creeping over the gardens and fields, delighted in the shining colors of flowers and the tender greening of leaves, paid attention to what is hatching within us.

May Day, or Beltane, is about celebrating the freedom from that egg, about jumping into the green of the season, feet first, taking risks, whooping with joy. Dust off your wild barbaric yawp. Wanton is the word of this season. We’re stripping off the constricting cloaks and coats and scarves of winter, and running through the fields, barefoot and maybe naked (some of us keep that purely in the realm of metaphor).

What do you need to release and let go of in this season? What are the names of the items of clothing you drop in your wake as you run to the fields? What is the name of the green field before you, the thing you give yourself to with every ounce of your passion?

As we enter the season of Beltane, consider all that has kept you from living fully and joyfully and passionately into your purpose. Name the habits and boxes and dogmas that keep you from living in the world with you Whole Heart. Drop them. And run for the fields.


Gratitude List:
1. That phoebe, calling his name into the dawn.
2. The oriole who called from the sycamore trees yesterday as we left school.
3. Although I was disappointed that opening night of the school play was cancelled because of the rain, our whole family needed the rest of being cozy together in our house last evening.
4. Living by the seasons means that every year has its reminders and rituals of letting go, paying attention, living fully, resting, growing. On the threshold of May, I commit to ditching the constricting habits that keep me from living joyfully.
5. The dawn keeps coming earlier and the twilight comes later, even when the day is cloudy and grey.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Things aren’t so tangible and sayable as people would have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are world of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living. We live ourselves into t anew way of thinking.” —Richard Rohr


“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” —Georgia O’Keeffe


“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” ―Rebecca Solnit


“The child’s hand
Folding these wings
Wins no wars and ends them all. “
―Thomas Merton

NPM Day 29: Tree

Write a poem about a tree, or a grove of trees, or a quiet wood, or a wild forest.


Gratitude List:
1. Morning Thor snuggles
2. Oriole is back!
3. How the green of early sycamore leaves filters the light into the holler
4. Sleep
5. Mint chocolate chip ice cream

May we walk in Beauty!


“The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.” —Barry H. Gillespie


“There is room for you at our table, if you choose to join us.” —Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing


“For beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen.” —from the musical “Ordinary Days”


“You will be found.” —from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen”


“How do you become the person you’ve forgotten you ever were?” —from the musical “Anastasia”


“The universe is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of tiny stories.” ―Joseph Gordon-Levitt


To all the children
by Thomas Berry

To the children who swim beneath
The waves of the sea, to those who live in
The soils of the Earth, to the children of the flowers
In the meadows and the trees of the forest,
To all those children who roam over the land
And the winged ones who fly with the winds,
To the human children too, that all the children
May go together into the future in the full
Diversity of their regional communities.


Carl Jung: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”


“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.” ―Rumi (Barks)


“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend, or not.” ―Isabel Allende


“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ―Bréne Brown, Wholehearted

NPM Day 28: Write a Cento

Today is National Great Poetry Reading Day! No, I’m serious! It’s a thing.
Go get you some Angelou, Dickinson or Whitman,
some Baraka, some Stein, some Oliver, and read it out loud.
Read to yourself, to your lover, to your students,
to your sister, to your cat. Read to the wind,
to the apple tree, to the dishwasher, to the dust bunnies.

Dive into those great poems and make yourself a cento, which means “patchwork garment” in Latin, which makes this poem form seem extra special. Really, it’s a glorified found poem. You pull lines from a bunch of different poems and you make a poem from them, sticking them together in ways that seem to connect and complete each other’s thoughts and ideas. Homer did it. So did Virgil. So you can, too. Put an asterisk at the bottom of your page and list the poets you borrowed from.


Gratitude List:
1. May apples
2. Maples
3. Moooon
4. Massage
5. Meditation

May we walk in Beauty!


“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” —Diane Ackerman


“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.” ―Wendell Berry


“A crone is a woman who has found her voice. She knows that silence is consent. This is a quality that makes older women feared. It is not the innocent voice of a child who says, “the emperor has no clothes,” but the fierce truthfulness of the crone that is the voice of reality. Both the innocent child and the crone are seeing through the illusions, denials, or “spin” to the truth. But the crone knows about the deception and its consequences, and it angers her. Her fierceness springs from the heart, gives her courage, makes her a force to be reckoned with.” —Jean Shinoda Bolen


“Go as far as you can see; when you get there you’ll be able to see farther.” —Thomas Carlyle


“At the end of the day, I’d rather be excluded for who I include than included for who I exclude.” —Eston Williams


“Free me. . .from words, that I may discover the signified, the word unspoken in the darkness.” —Byzantine Prayer


“Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most—Peace.”
—Maya Angelou


“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
—Leonard Bernstein


Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.”
—Mary Oliver


“If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” —Harper Lee

NPM Day 27: Restful

Write a poem that relaxes, a poem that settles, that brings rest. Maybe it’s a lullaby. Maybe it’s a poem for meditation or yoga practice.
And another thing to do today: Memorize a poem you’ve written–get a poem out into the air. Poetry began as an oral art, and it longs to be set free into the air again.


Gratitude List:
1. Gulf Shrimp with risotto for supper. That was delicious.
2. Full Moon
3. Fluttering blossoms
4. Patterns
5. Lights at ends of tunnels.

May we walk in Beauty!


“As truly as God is our father, so truly is God our mother.” —Julian of Norwich


“Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.” ―Anaïs Nin


“Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.” ―William Wordsworth


Forever Oneness,
who sings to us in silence,
who teaches us through each other.
Guide my steps with strength and wisdom.
May I see the lessons as I walk,
honor the Purpose of all things.
Help me touch with respect,
always speak from behind my eyes.
Let me observe, not judge.
May I cause no harm,
and leave music and beauty after my visit.
When I return to forever
may the circle be closed
and the spiral be broader.
―Bee Lake (Aboriginal poet)


“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.”
―Joseph Campbell


“I can’t tell you why your story is important, only that it is.” ―Mara Eve Robbins

NPM Day 26: Referential Poetry

National Poetry Month Prompt Day 26:

My friend Keith suggested this one:
A poem with an epigraph begins with a quotation from another literary work.
An “after” poem responds to another poem or work of literature (you include the phrase “after so-and-so after your title)
A bounce, usually at a poetry reading, reminds listeners of a poem they just heard–either because it is similar or in contrast to the previous poet’s work.

People like to do after poems related to William Carlos Williams’ “Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just to Say.” Try writing a poem that refers to another poem, either in style or structure, or in an epigraph. Be sure to quote your original source.


Gratitude List:
1. I slept most of the night last night. I have been struggling for about a week now with intense pain in my shoulder, both in the trapezius muscle and something that feels like nerve pain in the upper arm, and when I wake up at night, I haven’t been able to get back to sleep because of the pain. Last night, I finally figured out the combination of elements (yoga and acetaminophen, mostly) to allow me to get back to sleep when I woke up.
2. Titmouses (titmice?) calling in the dawn
3. Redbud trees in bloom.
4. Ferns unfurling
5. Watching the grass grow through the straw in the places where the diggers dug up the lawn last fall for the new septic system. New growth.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” —Simone Weil


“You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.” —Leymah Gbowee


“God speaks to each of us as [she] makes us, then walks with us silently out of the night. These are the words we dimly hear: You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing. Embody me.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“I do not see a delegation of the four-footed.
I see no seat for the eagles.” —Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga


“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” —Kurt Vonnegut


“I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.” ―Rachel Held Evans


Go deeper.
Past thoughts into silence.
Past silence into stillness.
Past stillness into the heart.
Let love consume all that is left of you.
—Kabir