Themself

Is this a blog entry about petting cats or about getting used to themself?

The problem with writing a blog of random musings is that over time is that, over time, a writer is bound to repeat themself.

Here is a little metacognition moment: I woke up this morning with Thor-the-cat butting his head into my hand for a head scratch, and I started ruminating on that idea of the sweet pleasure relationship between human beings and the animals that live with us, how scientists believe the cats and wolves came to live with us because we were a stable food source, and we let them come because they helped us to deal with rodents who ate our own food. How that certainly explains the exchange of energy in a certain way, but how it doesn’t explain the pleasure exchange, how we humans get such pleasure from the feel of fur, and from the sensation of the animal’s pleasure. How my distant cousin David Kline writes in his book Scratching the Woodchuck of encountering a groundhog sleeping in the sun, how he reached out his walking stick to gently touch it, how it leaned into the scratch, how satisfying it was to him. How I saw an online video yesterday of a goose tickling a puppy with its beak: Everyone wants to pet the puppy.

But I am pretty sure I have written that before, and then I started writing it anyway, and I came upon that perfect opportunity to practice the singular “they.” (There’s where the metacognition begins.) So today’s musing is not really about the mutual pleasure cycle between humans and animals, after all, but about the process of shifting their (one’s/our) language to include alien-seeming ideas and structures.

We do it all the time, unconsciously or semi-consciously: pick up new words and phrases and ways of saying things. Teenagers do it at such an alarming pace that sometimes they seem to be speaking another language, and those of us whose synapses are getting hard and calcified find it challenging to keep up, to interpret the cant and the jargon. But we do it too. There’s that but at the beginning of the last sentence. “Never,” my teachers told me, “put a but at the beginning of a sentence.” But I do it all the time now. Too often perhaps. It expresses a sense of the fragmentary thought, how my brain experiments with holding an idea, and then skitters over to its complement or opposite. New words and linguistic patterns have a way of seeping in to enhance and brighten our communication.

The injunction against singular they, however, seems to have a particular staying power. My starting sentence up there feels clunky and awkward to me, not just in the fact that its using a “plural” pronoun to refer to a singular human, but because it actually singularizes the plural: themself. Because I identify as female, it would have been perfectly logical for me to use herself in that sentence. Were I someone who identified as male, however, to use the masculine pronoun in a sentence about a generic human being would have taken on political meaning, a sense of masculine as default.

As a teenager, I took the common practice of identifying every generic human in my writing as the “default” he/him, trying to believe that it meant people of any gender, no matter that I saw a distinctly male person in my mind when I tried to picture the sentence. As my consciousness shifted, I rejected the male default, and began to use he or she for a time, or he/she, or s/he, and there’s a certain satisfaction in that, but it does get clunky in the speaking, especially when you start tossing in the him or her. For a while, I tried the pompous-sounding one, but those sentences can get laborious and babbly and, as I said, pompous.

To return to both the meaning and the revelation of that first sentence, I think that along with writing previously about petting puppies and kittens, I have written about singular they before. Shakespeare did it. According to this Oxford English Dictionary blog entry (click the link), we’ve been doing it since at least the 1300s. They (generic use–I don’t know who I am referring to) discuss the attempts by grammatical structuralists in the 18th century to eliminate the use of singular they. But hey, if it was good enough for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for me, and he occasionally began a sentence with he, and finished off using they for the exact same antecedent. If he’s allowed to be so messy, I’m just going to wade right in.

There is plenty of reason to challenge my discomfort, besides my own feminist consciousness. Sure, I can sprinkle lots of generic she into my writing to startle and inspire, but singular they has become a fight for recognition of identity. As we welcome the blooming sense of personal identity and power that non-binary folx are expressing, it’s important for those of us who identify comfortably (say: privilege) on the binary to let ourselves get a little unsettled in the linguistic world, and then to embrace new forms and structures. Embracing new ways of using pronouns is a way to embrace the people who use them.

That first sentence is awkward in my ear. I am comfortable with singular they in many flowing contexts, but that one up there stopped me. Even Shakespeare didn’t use it so jarringly. But why should I try to rephrase it to make it gentler and more flowing to our ears? Instead, I am going to leave it there, to give us both a chance to begin exploring the possibility of new ways of using singular they. We can handle it. In recent years we’ve absorbed so many new words and ways of putting them together, and we’ve hardly looked up from our screens long enough to ponder the significance of all the changes. We can let themself slip in, too.

One way to make non-binary folx in a room feel more embraced and included is to put our own pronouns on our nametags, so they’re not the only ones with the burden. Another is to start using the pronouns in new and creative, and sometimes jarring (deliciously jarring) ways.


Gratitude List:
1. Expanding the brain by using words in new ways
2. Soft fur and purring
3. Vs of geese enlivening the sky
4. Getting the work done. I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel
5. So far, I seem to be holding this cold slightly at bay. Lots of zinc, lots of elderberry

May we walk in Beauty! (And good health.)

Random Associations

Ugh. Insomnia. And it’s the fuzzy-headed kind. Trying to head off a cold, I took a tablet before bed that has zinc and valerian in it. I slept soundly for about five hours, and then that was it. Sometimes I can starting listing the countries of the world, and I’ll fall back to sleep before I can fill a continent, but tonight I got through all of them, and here I am, still awake. By the time I got through South America and was working my way through Africa, I knew I was done for. And now, it’s only half an hour until my alarm goes off, so I might as well start the process of waking up.

Today in Creative Writing, we’ll look at the pictures and poems that people put together with their random words. I showed several of my own on Friday as examples, so I don’t know if I’ll put up pictures like this one. I just pulled fifteen random cards from my word tickets and arranged them together. I’m not sure I like the line “dance wanderer combust.” The flow feels wrong, like I’m packing too many syllables into it. I like the word wanderer on its own, but in some contexts, that “-erer” can sound like a car with an engine that won’t turn over.

I hope my students are feeling the sense of freedom from prescribed meaning that I am feeling from working with word pools. We’ll get into intentional meanings soon enough, but it’s a nice breath to begin the semester with nonsense and random associations. It’s been an odd experience for me, a little risky. I feel sort of vulnerable, like I am letting my students in to my own personal crazy. I keep worrying that they’ll start rolling their eyes, that they won’t get it. And this is so deeply connected to the way my brain works that I feel like I might feel a greater sense of personal rejection if they can’t get into it. Enough of them have sent me fantastic random word projects, however, that I am feeling less anxious about it.


Gratitude List:
1. The shadows that swoop through the woods behind the house when vultures are flying in front of the sun.
2. Random meanings plucked from odd associations
3. Even though sleep was short, I did get some good solid hours of deep sleep
4. The ones who work for justice
5. Warm blankets

May we walk in Beauty!

Truth and Lies

Winsome Chaos: I pulled random words from my word pool tickets to label photos and objects.

Why are poetry and fiction so important in human cultures? What is it about the imaginative telling of a thing that thrills listeners of all ages, makes our minds sit up–criss-cross applesauce–and hang on the smallest word of the storyteller? Nonfiction and biography, the “true” story, is also compelling and engaging, but there is something about fiction, about the fantastic, the imaginative, the made-up, that sets fire to human imagination, across times and cultures.

Ursula Le Guin, in her profound introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, wrote of truth and lies in storytelling: “I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth. The only truth I can understand or express is, logically defined, a lie. Psychologically defined, a symbol. Aesthetically defined, a metaphor.”

In his famous essay, “Of Truth,” Francis Bacon discusses how the human mind bends toward the lie, how earlier philosophers spoke of poetry’s vinum daemonum, wine of the devil, the lies that draw the reader down the delicious pathway of imagination.

In my own estimation, Madeleine L’Engle got most deeply at the heart of this in her discussion of the differences between truth and facts. “Truth,” she said, “is what is true, and it’s not necessarily factual. Truth and fact are not the same thing. Truth does not contradict or deny facts, but it goes through and beyond facts. This is something that it is very difficult for some people to understand.”

“Tell all the truth,” said Emily Dickinson, “but tell it slant.”

More steps in the creation of meaning: Finding the deep truth within the fictive or poetic “lie.” Seeking new and startlingly relevant meanings in the strange juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated facts and ideas. One of my students added the word “speaking” to her word pool. “Is it okay,” she asked, “if I put this word with a photo of a woman with a zipper across her mouth?” Yes, oh yes, please–that’s the point here. And in that little “lie”–the woman, unable to speak, labeled “speaking”–you may have told a deeper truth than any of us can express in straight talk.


Gratitude List:
1. People who let themselves cry. There’s a priestly quality to profound and honest tears in public gatherings. Suddenly everyone has just a little more permission to be human, too. Feelings are invited into the circle.
2. A day off.
3. The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., the way his words continue to echo their challenges today. Will we listen to the challenges as well as the inspirations?
4. The deep truths that make themselves available in poetry and fiction and art.
5. Red cardinals in the sere winter landscape.

May we walk in Beauty!

Orts and Crots and Meaning-Making

Cup of Coffee: I might be having too much fun with the business of labeling things with random words. I hope my students are having half as much fun as I am. I should make sure to credit Susan Goldsmith Woolridge for the idea, in her marvelous book: poemcrazy.

One of the things about the Judeo-Christian creation story that always captures my attention is the idea that the humans are tasked with the work of naming. The Holy One breathes life into the clay to make a living person, and then the people set about the task of breathing out the names of their companions, the animals. I wish I could figure out how to make a seamless connection here to the sort-of-silly and whimsically-fun project of labeling people and things with random words from our Word Pools that we are doing in my Creative Writing class.

There’s something mind-expanding about taking the random word “chaos” and using it to label the foamy swirl in the middle of my cup of coffee. When I added “widdershins” to the outward spiral of the cup, I was being less whimsical, because the old word for the leftward spiral is widdershins. And “chaos” begat “primordial,” so that, too, was association rather than simple randomness.

Even so, I can see how, turned loose to run in its own pathways, my brain played a simple associative game with words and ideas, building up tidbits of meaning into a cohesive whole. And that’s the process I want my students to be finding. Breaking it all down to the little bits, and rebuilding up new structures and associative maps of meaning. Beginning, like First Human, with words for things, and then building up relationships and intricate and complex webs of patterns and thoughts.

Speaking of words and the structuring of meaning, for some reason this morning, my mind has pulled the words “ort” and “crot” out of the stew of my brain. An “ort” is a small piece of something, particularly a leftover bit from a meal. I am thinking of all these little random words that we have pulled out of the webs of sentences and ideas and thrown onto other objects, like the crumbs dropped from the table of a messy eater. A “crot” is a piece of a phrase, an abrupt fragment of meaning used to create movement and rapid transitions in a piece of writing.

Begin with the crumbs, the orts, that fall out of the meal of a conversation. Grab twenty random words. Thirty? Forty? Taste them. Memorize them. Write them. Throw them against the wall. Toss them together and see which ones stick together. Combine them into crots, little strands of potential. Knot them. Twist and spin them. Form them into longer strands and webs, phrases, sentences, ideas. Follow the footsteps of First Human. Breathe that Holy air into your lungs, and breathe out Words. Orts. Crots and phrases. Make a new thing.


Gratitude List:
1. Orts and Crots: Tiny pieces and fragments of meaning that get thrown and tossed and jumbled together to create meanings and ideas and conceptual frameworks.
2. Breath. Breathing. In. Out. Gratitude and compassion. Hope and fortitude. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
3. Goldfinches on the thistle sock. (Thistle sock–that’s fun to say.)
4. Morning writing while my small architect designs a house made of shipping containers. He has taped four pieces of graph paper together to create his idea.
5. A little bit of snow remains on the ground. I’d like some deeper snow at least once this winter, please.

May we walk in Beauty!

Muzzy

On the way to and from school, on the days when we’re all in the carpool, we listen to audio books. Lately, we’ve been listening to Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. Her writing is clever and witty without being chummy or manipulative, her stories are compelling, and she can introduce characters who make you wince and cringe, and then make you love them with a deep and unswerving loyalty. It’s narrated by Will Patton, who can create a character with the smallest shift of tone in his voice.

Yesterday, just as we got to school, we came to a little phrase, “the muzzy mist.” I don’t think I have ever heard the word muzzy, but it grabbed me. It means indistinct, befuddled, unclear. In Creative Writing, we are creating Word Pools, collecting words that interest us, and then doing interesting things with them, like taking pictures of things that we label with them, or making poems and short stories with them. So “muzzy” went right into my word pool.

Here’s a little poem I wrote with using “muzzy” and several other words in my word pool. The idea is to push ourselves to use words in different ways than we normally do. I found myself breaking up the sense of sentences with greater ease than normal.

Muzzy

Today I am
a muzzy fuzzle,
brain a-muddle,
all verhoodled.

Yesterday I
was eagle-eyed,
a green rogue,
and wild divine.

Sharp I was, sharp as dash
but now I am dangerous blood,
with an elephant on my chest.

Last week, we introduced ourselves to the class with Acrostic Poems about our names. Some students simply chose a different adjective for every letter of their name, and these were beautiful and tender. Others wrote poems with longer lines and phrases beginning with the letters of their names, and these were elegant and flowing. Some even allowed themselves to practice a little enjambment, breaking up the flow of a phrase across a line. In one of my classes, the first four of us to read ours used the word Anxious for our A. I wonder what the implications of that are. Here’s mine. I used my whole name:

Every time I
Look in the mirror
I see someone different:
Zealous
Anxious
Bold
Eager
Timid.
How can I be all these things
And one person at the same time?
Names and rhythms,
New and intricate rhymes
Work within me.
Each one of us is
An ocean, a
Veritable
Ecology of Adjectives,
Revealing layers of human attributes.
Kindness and
Revolution can
Exist in tandem.
Individual truths are
Defined by complex webs
Experiences within me.
Reality is many-faceted.


Gratitude List:
1. Weekend!
2. Clear moments that remind me that I am where I should be. Teaching can be rough, especially in the fall and winter, especially when the grading piles up, especially when I am feeling inadequate. Sometimes I wonder if I am where I should be. And then there are weeks where it all aligns, where I can see how even the really challenging bits have led up to a particular moment. How I am changed and transformed by this work. How I actually have some internal characteristics and skills that make this a good fit. (So synchronous: my sister just sent me a text at this moment that added one more little golden thread to this sense of rightness.)
3. A little bit of snow
4. Getting it done
5. Words. Word pools. Word hoards. Word spews.

May we walk in Beauty!

One Wild And Precious Life

Those words: “. . .one wild and precious life. . .” and the question that contains them, were one of my first encounters with the poetry of Mary Oliver. Also, “You do not have to be good.” Simple, quiet, observational statements, so often seen through the doorway of words about misty mornings, herons, still ponds, that send a gentle breath in to awaken a room in an inner world. It has been a year since she died. Still we share her poems like we share life-giving water or food. Just yesterday, a colleague stopped in my doorway and said, “Do you know this one of Mary Oliver’s?” We talk about her as though she were our own friend, our teacher, our priestess.


Friday’s Finds:
“Between every two pines there is a doorway to a new world.” —John Muir


“Maybe death isn’t darkness after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us.” —Mary Oliver


“. . .we are only as strong as we are united, only as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” —Albus Dumbledore, HP & tGoF


“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” —Coretta Scott King


“If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” —Gospel of Thomas


“If a child is to keep alive [her] inborn sense of wonder, [she] needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with [her] the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” —Rachel Carson


“The weight of the world is love.
Under the burden of solitude,
under the burden of dissatisfaction
the weight, the weight we carry is love.”
—Allen Ginsberg


“What have you done for color?”
—Henri Matisse


“Beauty is whatever gives joy.”
—Edna St. Vincent Millay


“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” —Rachel Carson


“waging peace
with tender ferocity
and ingenious empathy
and wild compassion”
—Rob Brezsny


“Dreams make the inner life substantial, giving it dimensionality, colour and form. Ritual is the further enfleshment of the unseen; a way of feeding that which is nourishing you so that your living conversation with the holy in nature grows in strength and vocabulary.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


Gratitude List:
1. Laughter
2. Fridays
3. Long weekends
4. Snow in the forecast
5. A yawning boy waking up here at the table with me.

May we walk in Beauty!

No Chair for Despair

Digital Variation on a drawing of a bird figurine from Marija Gimbutas’ Language of the Goddess

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word. It is the word “maladjusted”. Now we all should seek to live a well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But there are some things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon you to be maladjusted. I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to mob rule. I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism. I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


“.. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. ..” —Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ―Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ―Alice Walker


“We were together. I forget the rest.” ―Walt Whitman


“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” ―Henry James


“My continuing mantra: be gentle, be gentle, be gentle. Stand your ground, know your truth, but be kind.” ―Terri Windling (from her Myth & Moor blog)


“Reconciliation is like dressing a sore: You can’t bandage a sore without first cleaning it.” ―Leymah Gbowee


Gratitude List:
1. The eagle who flew above us as we were driving the bridge home across the Susquehanna last night.
2. My Speech class. In the past, I’ve struggled to set up safe classroom communities in Speech without it devolving into just play and goofiness. This class is so diverse in so many ways—seriousness and silliness, many nationalities, introverts and extraverts—and I was really worried. Yesterday in class, as they were doing simple introductory speeches, they started calling out, “You got this!” and “We’re with you!” as students walked up to give speeches. And it wasn’t snarky or patronizing, just supportive and sweet.
3. The light is returning. Every morning is a little brighter a little earlier. Every afternoon, the sun stays later.
4. Crows everywhere.
5. Rain in Australia.

May we walk in Beauty!

Beauty as Genius

May the seeds we sow today grow into strong and healthy plants.

Gratitude List:
1. How silence enters the body when you sit very still and watch it approach
2. Adaptability. The ability to adapt and change and transform.
3. That thing some cats do, where they roll over and pet their own faces. Sometimes a little face rub is just the thing to add a little stress reduction.
4. I stayed late at school after our staff development day on Monday to clean my unmanageable stacks. It’s much easier to actually work in my room now.
5. Today, all my classes are doing slightly longer personal introductions as community-building exercises. I love these moments of setting up the class connections. I need to remember how vital it is at the beginning of a semester to give a little serious time to helping them connect to each other and create a safe working group together.

May we walk in Beauty!


Quotations for the Day:

Oneiric: of or relating to dreams


“I am dogmatic in one way: I really do see no alternative than the cultivation of crazy loving humility—a visceral sense of ever-renewing wonder in the face of the Great Mystery.” —Rob Brezsny


“We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” ―John Dewey


“I’ve learned for a long time that, to heal my wounds, I had to have the courage to look at them. — Paulo Coelho


“In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churches stand on the sideline and merely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. Here we are moving toward the exit of the 20th century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail light behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice. The contemporary Church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?”
~Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham City Jail (1963)


“I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. The Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not… the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than justice.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963


“Beauty is a form of genius—is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation.” —Oscar Wilde


“Regardless of our beliefs, we all suffer from ignorance, and we all have projected our losses and fears onto each other in one way or another. This is my dream of the beloved community: that we can at least find a way to talk to each other, to talk past the fear, the separation, and find another way to live.”
—Sallie Jiko Tisdale, “Beloved Community”


“Satire is meant to ridicule power. If you are laughing at people who are hurting, it is not satire, it is bullying.” —Terry Pratchett

Doing What I Cannot in Order to Learn

Monday’s Muses:
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” —Robert Frost


“I am always doing what I cannot do yet
in order to learn how to do it.” —Vincent van Gogh


“Have you been to jail for justice? Then you’re a friend of mine.” —Anne Feeney


“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.” —Naomi Shulman


“‎The desire to reach the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible.” —Maya Angelou


“Begin with something in your range. Then write it as a secret. I’d be paralyzed if I thought I had to write a great novel, and no matter how good I think a book is on one day, I know now that a time will come when I will look upon it as a failure. The gratification has to come from the effort itself. I try not to look back. I approach the work as though, in truth, I’m nothing and the words are everything. Then I write to save my life. If you are a writer, that will be true. Writing has saved my life.” —Louise Erdrich (via Terri Windling’s Myth and Moor blog)


“This is the season of owl,
of winds that howl through the hollow,
the season of the sharp bark
of the fox, voicing longing in the bosque.

This is the season of bitter,
of fierce flakes feathering cheeks and hands,
the season of crystal, crisp and cutting,
of beauty that will slice you open.

This is the season of rising,
thin and pale, into the dawn air,
but also of burrowing, huddling deep
into the layers that hold you.

Walk the thin line of today with care,
one foot precisely placed, the other. . .

Perhaps you will notice,
when you raise your eyes for a moment,
how the line curves out ahead of you,
bringing you
always
back home.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (1/13/16)


“Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
Re-examine all you have been told
at school or church or in any book;
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”
—Walt Whitman


“In lying to others we end up lying to ourselves. We deny the importance of an event, or a person, and thus deprive ourselves of a part of our lives. Or we use one piece of the past or present to screen out another. Thus we lose faith even within our own lives.

“The unconscious wants truth, as the body does. The complexity and fecundity of dreams come from the complexity and fecundity of the unconscious struggling to fulfill that desire.” —Adrienne Rich


Gratitude List:
1. This Jungian Life podcast. The one on Shame, in particular. Reminder that finding delight in each other combats shame. Reminder to examine the ways I live by shame instead of by belonging.
2. I think I am ready for the new classes to start. I love the three classes I am teaching this semester: Speech, AP Composition (College Composition I), and Creative Writing.
3. Yesterday’s lovely weather–practicing archery with the kid.
4. Remembering: I don’t have to be perfect. Just good enough. And me–just me.
5. Church fellowship meals.

May we walk in Beauty!

Marching, Marching

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.


“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.” —Elie Wiesel


The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.” —Wangari Maathai


“Language helps develop life as surely as it reflects life. It is the most important part of the human condition.” —Jane Yolen


“It is through beauty, poetry and visionary power that the world will be renewed.” —Maria Tatar


“And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
—William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”


As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.

As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are in the struggle and together we shall win.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.

As we come marching, marching, un-numbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread,
Small art and love and beauty their trudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we. fight for, but we fight for roses, too.

As we go marching, marching, we’re standing proud and tall.
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories, bread and roses, bread and roses.
—James Oppenheim


Gratitude List:
1. Cornbread for breakfast
2. The process of re-balancing. There’s always a wobble or three. Sometimes abrasions and bruises. But the balance returns.
3. Blue sky through winter trees
4. The writings of Robin Wall Kimmerer
5. Planning. I love planning the shape of a class. The challenge for second semester classes is timeliness. I struggle to plan a class in July that I won’t teach until January, and when I do my planning so far in advance, the liveliness in it has died by January, and I have to rework and reassess again in the weeks before class begins. But this planning process is part of what brings the energy for the new thing emerging.

May we walk in Beauty!