In the Hall of Mirrors

I keep seeing the faces of that couple standing in iconic pantomime on their lawn with their guns. He has the white-man deadpan I’m-in-control thing going on on his face. Don’t tread on me, or on my precious grass. Don’t let the Black people come too close to my massive white palazzo.

Her face is a lot harder to interpret. Is it anger? Is it fear? Her mouth has the petulant cast I have seen on children who are trying to convince you of their fierceness. She seems to be play-acting, her hand on the trigger of her little chrome-plated pistol, her eyes darting around. Is she dangerous? Or comical? Or pathetic? Or tragically sad? Why am I so obsessed with figuring her out?

I think it’s because she is a caricature of a caricature of something that is also me. Her angry/pathetic/frightened stance there on her lawn is the ultimate caricature of the Karen–the entitled white woman who uses her social power and connections to white patriarchal power to raise her own personal power. She’s the semi-comic (and terribly dangerous) end result of the remora of white female attachment to the shark of white male power, drawing a sense of strength and protection from her connection to the perceived most-powerful agent in room. She calls the police. She calls the manager. She notifies security. She feels unsafe. She feels ridiculed. She feels powerless. So she pulls the strings of white patriarchy to increase her own sense of empowerment.

In Ms. McCloskey’s case, that shark was pretty indiscriminate, pointing his machine gun at her on his way to aim at the protesters he claimed were about to burn down his home and happiness. That’s a whole other issue to unpack–the Karens are really only marginally more safe than the masses they are so desperate to separate themselves from, the black and brown people they would disempower in order to increase their own social standing. The shark has its own agenda at all times and no one is safe if his power is threatened (as it is in these times of change and transformation).

I like to deny that I have any Karen in me. I don’t remember a time when #smashtheatriarchy hasn’t been my rallying cry. I want to completely destroy the power of the patriarchy–in religion, in politics, in economic systems, in governance, in relationships. I think that is necessary in order to create a just future. Still, I cannot deny that my life has been privileged by the threads that connect me to white patriarchal systems. And those systems try to demand allegiance from those who benefit at any point up and down the power structure. I may not be explicitly accepting those connections or “calling the manager,” but I benefit in myriad implicit ways simply from my perceived connections to the shark.

My work is to keep finding those threads and disconnecting them, cutting them away so they hold no power over me and my sense of belongingness and wellbeing in the world, to find ways to connect whatever threads of power are bequeathed to me by my race and culture and education to those who were bequeathed fewer of those threads but who deserve them as vitally and as certainly as I.

It’s ugly. To call myself one of them. To see that petulant set of the lips, that situating herself in the context of the patriarch’s emblems of violent maintenance of power, and say that there’s something of me in there too, in the pathetic, comic, tragic, furious face of a white woman grasping for power. Knowing that in the system she fights for, she too is expendable, that the only way she survives in the patriarchal system is to play their pantomime along with them, to do their dance.

No, of course I am not her. But yes, I am her, in some strange and twisted distant reflection. She is a caricature of a caricature of a caricature. . .that somewhere weaves very close in the tapestry to me. If I am to participate in this movement for justice for all people, for true equality, for the destruction of the white patriarchy, I need to recognize that connection and learn to face her in the hall of mirrors.

My wise and thoughtful friend Chris of Soulence has written a really powerful piece on doing this work of untangling these threads through unconditional love and doing deep inner work. She offers a grounding chakra meditation. You can find that here.


Gratitude List:
1. Working at Radiance again. It’s wonderful to spend time with Sarah and Laura, to be out in the world, to shape the sweet river grass baskets from Ghana and feel a sense of connection to the women who made these spherical containers. When I got home, I walked into the room with Josiah, and he said, “Mmmmm. You smell like Radiance again.”
2. A day ahead to sew and poem and tidy and create and cook.
3. Cucumbers are in season. I think my lunches for the next couple weeks will be cucumbers and cheese.
4. Tomorrow, time with beloveds.
5. I’m feeling a little fired up to begin designing my courses for the fall. I’m glad to get that energy now instead of on August 15.

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


“Keep strenuously toiling along this path,
do not rest until the last breath;
for that last breath may yet bring the blessings
from the Knower of all things.”
—Rumi


“A church that does not provoke any crisis, preach a gospel that does not unsettle, proclaim a word of God that does not get under anyone’s skin or a word of God that does not touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed: what kind of gospel is that?” ―Oscar A. Romero


“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed.” ―Terence McKenna


“Nature is alive and talking to us. This is not a metaphor.” ―Terence McKenna


“And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.”
—Raymond Carver


“Her imagination was by habit ridiculously active; when the door was not open, it jumped out the window.” ―Henry James


Orientation
by Maya Stein

Just east of certainty. A little south of courage. A hair’s
width from ease. Clicks away from ready. A turn
or two from acceptance. A shuffle from faith. A set of stairs
from achievement. A riverbed from happiness. A handspan from
peace. A wink away from freedom. A few lines until the poem’s
done. A highway, a night’s sleep, a phone call, a touch, a rotation
of gears away from that certain yes that tells you where you are is
exactly where you need to be. I know, the signs can look as if they’re missing,
and the map so distant and unclear.
But I’m telling you, you aren’t lost. You’re never lost. You’re always here.

Rants and Gratitude

Cloudbird. It was too big to fit in the frame, so its wings leak off the edges.

Just saying: If you don’t read the newsletters and internal memos and emails for the place you work for, and you miss something critically important, you can’t go around telling people you weren’t briefed. I mean, it’s happened to me. I’ve occasionally missed something important because I skipped over the newsletter, thinking I would come back to it later. And it was my responsibility to keep myself informed, not the responsibility of someone else to pull it out and mark it with a highlighter, and remind me to read it. And I am not the president.

With that sort of grouchy rant to start my morning, I suppose I should say something nice.
1. I’m going to work today at Radiance! That makes me happy and satisfied.
2. We thought that the things Jon planted were sort of a bust after the deer and groundhogs and storms raged through, but last evening, I harvested some wonderful zukes and cukes and beans, and Jon got a nice binful of broccoli.
3. Yesterday I took an online conference on Online Teaching, which is kind of the LAST thing I ever want to do again, but now I feel like I really might be able to do it, if it comes down to that.
4. That sky bird in the clouds last evening.
5. The people who ground me, who hold the strings when I go kiting off on a rant, who remind me to be nice.

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


“The only thing worse than the thought it may all come tumbling down is the thought that we may go on like this forever.” ―M.T. Anderson, Feed


‪”I just watched a mosquito sip my blood, hover in the air like a ruby with wings, then leave the circle of my porch light for the dark trees. That’s me, that crimson speck rising like a campfire spark. My blood will feel at home in those perfect woods and my goodwill goes with it.‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, the Cryptonaturalist


“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” —Alvin Toffler


”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing—these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt—has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.” —Brené Brown


“Oh, what we could be if we stopped carrying the remains of who we were.” —Tyler Knott Gregson


“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.” —Wendell Berry

Finding Poetry

We met a fellow seeker on the paths at Sam Lewis last night.

I took an online class on Saturday morning on redacted and black-out poetry. While I have worked with this format in the past, this two-hour session really inspired me. I’ve broken through a bit of a wall in the Found Poetry realm in the past few days.

Gratitude List:
1. Finding poetry
2. Toads in the leaves
3. Going rambling with the fambly
4. Looking forward to an educational conference (online) today. I am becoming increasingly worried that Pennsylvanians’ refusal to just wear the mask will mean we have to teach online during at least part of the fall semester, and I don’t want to go into that kicking and screaming. This should provide me with strategies for teaching, no matter what happens. (And yes, that was a gratitude infected by a snarky dig.)
5.The little air conditioner. I don’t tolerate the heat/humidity nexus quite like I used to.

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


“We live by mystery, not by explanations.” —Cecil Collins


“For we have, built into all of us, old blueprints of expectation and response; old structures of oppression, and these must be altered at the same time as we alter the living conditions which are a result of those structures. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

As Paulo Freire shows so well in “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, the true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us, and which knows only the oppressors’ tactics, the oppressors’ relationships.” —Audre Lorde


“Live in the center of your life.” ―Sark


“Cluster together like stars.” ―Henry Miller


“Now that you’ve awakened. . .immediately take a nap! Naps are when the angels come out to take special care of you.” ―Sark


“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
―Arundhati Roy


“Every child of ours needs to learn the simple truth: She is the energy of the Sun. And we adults should organize things so her face shines with the same radiant joy.” ―Rob Brezsny


“In mythos and fairy tales, deities and other great spirits test the hearts of humans by showing up in various forms that disguise their divinity. They show up in robes, rags, silver sashes, or with muddy feet. They show up with skin dark as old wood, or in scales made of rose petal, as a frail child, as a lime-yellow old woman, as a man who cannot speak, or as an animal who can. The great powers are testing to see if humans have yet learned to recognize the greatness of soul in all its varying forms.” ―Clarissa Pinkola Estés


“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except to be able to grow in rows” ―Doug Larson

Good Work

White Friends, this is difficult and constant work that we’re doing, that we must do, and continue to do. How can we really know how deeply we’ve been indoctrinated into this culture of white supremacy until we know it? And then know it more deeply? And then again. It’s not like a Bandaid that you rip off, and deal with the sting, and then everything’s fine. It’s layer after layer after layer.

And yes, it’s exhausting. And yes, it’s painful. But we have to do this work. Now. And always. It’s exhausting and painful for BIPOC folks to have to deal with microaggressions and explicit racism and systemic racism and inadvertent racism every day. We have to do this work. And keep doing it.

There is so much to learn on the way: new ways to articulate powerful ideas, new ways of exploring our own difficult feelings, new ways to see people and the world, new ways to experience the history of all of us, new ways to become more fully human.

I don’t quote many Bible verses here, but there’s one that fits pretty perfectly in this rhetorical moment. It’s in Romans 12: “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world. Instead, be transformed by the continual renewing of your mind, that you may discern the will of the Holy One: what is the good and acceptable and perfect.” The patterns of white supremacy in this (US) part of the world are institutionalized and powerful. It’s going to take some intentional and constant work to break and transform those patterns.

If you hear a new thing that challenges and unsettles you–about white supremacy, or privilege or fragility, or about taking a new look at US history and ideals–I urge and challenge you (me, us) to not begin in defensiveness and argument, but to simply sit quietly a moment, and ask yourself (myself, ourselves) how it applies, how the integrating of this idea might be transformational and renewing. And then begin to rip off that bandaid.

There are doorways all around us, leading us to places where we can be more fully human and humane, and right now there are constant opportunities to see them, to walk through them, to learn and to grow. Let’s join the Good Work, beginning with ourselves.


Gratitude List:
1. So many good and challenging things to learn.
2. Watching a thunderstorm from the shelter of the pavilion by the River.
3. Good exercise. Moving my body. Healthy, limber, and strong: That’s my mantra for the summer. (It includes a lot of aches and pains on the way, but they’re the good ones.)
4. Toads. They’re such wise and ancient folk.
5. Finishing projects

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


“You are a pure Soul in darkened soil.” —Rumi


“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” ―Helen Keller


“What we need is here.” —Wendell Berry


“Million-to-one chances…crop up nine times out of ten.” ―Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites


“Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation.” —André Gide


“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” —Ms. Frizzle


“We stand guard over works of art, but species representing the work of aeons are stolen from under our noses.” —Aldo Leopold


“It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a half-brick in the path of the bicycle of history.” ―Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites


“Hilta laughed like someone who had thought hard about Life and had seen the joke.” ―Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Evening Encounters

My camera phone is pretty grainy, especially at distances, but if you look closely, you can see the spotty white breast of the wood thrush against the trunk on the lower left, and the curious deer in the trees on the upper right.

Last evening, we went for an evening walk up at Sam Lewis State Park. It’s easy sometimes to forget the glorious gems of we have in our own backyards. There is a series of walking trails through the woods around the crest of the ridge, over rock tumbles, through piney groves, along meadows, between mountain laurels and pawpaw trees. Massive oaks and maples stand sentinel at the edges of the woods.

I never really quite know where I am going when we set out on a trail at Sam Lewis. It’s probably no more than two or three miles of trails total, and they wind around and cross each other, and they’re all completely familiar. There’s no chance of getting lost, but I often think I am going to emerge from the woods at one point, and find myself at another point altogether. It’s not disconcerting or frustrating, partly because its so contained. It’s just a tiny bit mystical and dreamy. Probably it’s just me and my strange sense of direction, and maybe if I start walking up there several times a week instead of once every few months, I’ll develop an inner map of the place. I’m not sure I want to. I like the slight and utterly non-anxious disorientation, the sense of discovery.

It was a grateful and grounding walk.
It was St. John’s Eve, and I found a patch of St. John’s Wort at the edge of the meadow.
Down on the piney path near the big meadow, we encountered a wood thrush, who seemed completely unfussed at our presence, and sang a call and response with a friend further up the hill.
At one point, we were caught in currents that carried scent of pine, wild yarrow, and the freshly-opened buds of milkweed.
On a trail that wound around a group of giant boulders, we found some mountain laurel still blooming.
Around one bend in the trail, near one of the frisbee baskets, we met a deer. I’m not sure who was more interested in whom.
At the very top of the bald, where people like to go to fly kites, and where you can see the whole river valley laid out before you, evening breezes came tumbling up over the ridge.
The paths go from gentle ramble to strong and steady upward climb. My legs and lungs were glad of the exercise.

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


“Inside a moment, centuries of June.” ―Emily Dickinson


African proverb:, “When death comes, may it find you fully alive.”


“I think there ought to be a little music here: hum, hum.” ―Mary Oliver


“Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” ―Albert Einstein


“I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.” ―Sonia Sotomayor


“Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” ―Buddha


“I have something that I call my Golden Rule. It goes something like this: ‘Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.’ … The twenty-five percent is for error.” ―Linus Pauling

Holy Trees

The cathedral beech at the Jesuit Center.

Last year at this time, I was spending the better part of a week at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville with my favorite trees. The Jesuits are planning to close and sell the property in another year, so I will need to make one last pilgrimage in the coming year. The grounds require a great deal of upkeep and maintenance, as does the marvelous old building. The community of men who live there are aging, and there aren’t many of them anymore.

I long for someone to buy the place who could work with environmental groups to make it a nature preserve, to maintain the building as a spiritual retreat center, to keep caring for those holy trees.

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

“In one of the stars, I shall be living.
In one of them, I shall be laughing.
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing
When you look at the sky at night.”
―The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery


“All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you.” ―Octavia Butler


“The world is not to be put in order. The world is order. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.” ―Henry Miller


“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” ―Jane Goodall


Prayer for the World
by Rabbi Harold Kushner

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Amen.

Maker’s Monday

Look at that violet and indigo swirl of cloud above the barn.

Not much to say today. I’m going to make masks, make zines, create writing prompts for a project, crochet the arms of a doll I started over the weekend. Read. Make a cherry cobbler with the sour cherries my neighbor gave me. Watch for Beauty. Plot the Revolution. Pet cats. Stretch and walk and learn some more Spanish. I suppose that’s my Gratitude List for today–looking forward to a week of making and noticing and working on inner transformation in order to keep participating in world-changing events of the day.

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


“I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. The person engaged in active racist behavior has identified with the ideology of our White supremacist system and is moving with it. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made, but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same destination as those who are actively walking. But unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt—unless they are actively anti-racist—they will find themselves carried along with the others.” —Beverly Tatum


“The Holocaust was not the holocaust until it was too late.” —James Regier


“People are hard to hate close up. Move in. Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil. Hold hands. With strangers. Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart. ❤️” —Brené Brown


“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!” ―Wangari Maathai


“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” ―Joseph Campbell


“Every person who has ever achieved anything has been knocked down many times. But all of them picked themselves up and kept going, and that is what I have always tried to do.” ―Wangari Maathai


“It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make their leaders change. And we cannot be intimidated. So we must stand up for what we believe in.” ―Wangari Maathai


“How many kinds of beauty exist in nature? A sunset’s beauty is not the same as a river’s beauty is not the same as a newborn’s beauty is not the same as a kind act’s beauty is not the same as an old oak tree’s beauty. And yet, they are the same. Why do you think that is?” —Jarod K. Anderson


“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. . . . To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.” —Terry Tempest Williams


“The extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.” ―Malala Yousafzai


“There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.” ―Edgar Allen Poe


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ―Mark Twain


“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility. ” ―Rachel Carson


“…drink in the beauty and wonder at the meaning of what you see.” ―Rachel Carson

Feel the Shift

Like feeling your way along in the dark, or letting your nose lead you to the little shop in a town that is baking fresh bread, or looking just to the side of the Pleiades so you can get a clearer sense of the seven stars, or following the call of the indigo bunting along the edge of the woods until you finally spot that drop of impossible blue–that’s how we feel the shift into midsummer. Feel the directness of the light, and look sideways, between the sunrays. Feel how the sun hits your shoulders, sense the shift in birdy activity from the establishment of territories and nesting spaces to the gentler rhythm of housekeeping and childrearing, intuit the planet’s pause in apogee–at the end of its long cycle outward, as we begin the slow roll inward. Here we are in the season of fire, of long days and short nights, of full green and hazy blue, of harvest and abundance. Summer can feel like a sleepy time, a dreamy place, but it doesn’t have to be a time of dullness, just a time of taking in the signals of the world through your skin, through every sense you can name, and more that you can’t. Deepen your roots. Unfurl your leaves and petals. Feel the seeds of the new thing forming within you.


Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.
—David Whyte


“Whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market.” —Pope Francis


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


“This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath.” —Margaret Atwood


“Now, on the longest day, light triumphs, and yet begins the decline into dark. We turn the Wheel… for we have planted the seeds of our own changes, and to grow we must accept even the passing of the sun… Set Sail…See with clear eyes…See how we shine!” —Starhawk


“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” —Albert Einstein


“Ceremonies large and small have the power to focus attention to a way of living awake in the world. The visible became invisible, merging with the soil.” —Robin Wall Kimmerer


“The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.” —Isak Dinesen

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