Stay Home, Stay Safe

A Poem, Some Gratitudes, a Dream, and a Quotation Collection:

Listen, Friend:
I will not tell you that
god has a purpose for your anguish.
Your tragedy was not divine will
sending a lightning bolt to wake you up
or to teach you a lesson about trust,
whatever the street preachers tell you.

Bad things happen, and they keep on happening.
Why, just yesterday, I saw a story
about some mother’s child gunned down
in the streets in the daylight
and people stood by and took videos
with their new camera phones.
There’s no god in that, right?
No good in that, no god.

And I don’t know what Moses and his king were thinking,
but I can tell you that this plague is not some
divine retribution by a heavenly pharoah
trying to teach us all a lesson,
though there are lessons aplenty to learn,
if only we can open our eyes and see,
then see again, and deeper.

I still hold that there’s a Creative Force
that set the Universe in motion, a Love
that watches us and even extends Itself toward us
when we’re in the throes of agony,
even sends occasional lightning bolts
of insight when we’re at the edge of holding on.

I don’t know why the good ones die young
or why tornadoes always seem to hit the trailer parks
instead of the mansions on the hills,
why the rich fat cats recover from the virus
after all their disregard of caution,
and those who are already suffering
lose the ones they love.

But here, in all the chaos of unknowing,
is this web: A line from me to you, another
cast to the next one that you love,
and one of mine, and on and on,
a tender, joyful, fierce and loving web
of hearts that hold and notice
even in the midst of all that is being destroyed.



Gratitudes:
1. Health care workers. They’re stretched thin right now. Spare them some love.
2. This man, who plans meals for special occasions just like his mother always did.
3. Making things. I sewed all day yesterday. It made me happy.
4. Finally! After seventeen years here, we are getting the septic system replaced. The pipes are in, and all that remains is to finish hooking up all the extra pieces and to put the dirt back where it belongs.
5. Reflections

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


In the dream, I am in a large crowded theater where people are preparing a play. Everyone is excited. They’re throwing themselves into their roles. I am kind of on the sidelines, supporting, encouraging, wishing I could be part of the fun.

I can’t participate, because no one is wearing masks or social distancing. Also, I am supposed to be in quarantine, so why am I in a crowded theater?

I go sit in a little room with a few others who aren’t in the main cast, and suddenly realize that even I am not wearing a mask. Fortunately, I have one in my purse.

I know where this one came from. Yesterday, I scrolled past something that a friend of mine posted about the Covid Phone alert yesterday, and she and her friends were mocking it, scorning the governor, encouraging each other to get together with their families and friends today. But I know that people are going to get sick as a result of their irresponsible actions today, and some of them are going to die because they ignore the warnings. I know that my beloveds who work in hospitals are preparing themselves for the terrible decisions they are going to be needing to make in the coming weeks about who gets treatment, and who doesn’t.
I have SO MUCH to be grateful for, and I AM grateful, and joyful. But I am also worried and sad, and angry at my friend and her friends for being so cavalier about something that will claim people’s lives. Please make safe and responsible choices today, friends.

[Later Edit: I promise I won’t resent you if you are gathering with the responsible people of your bubble, tending to each other’s mental health as you responsibly gather. I know there are grey areas here. My sulks are reserved for those who simply ignore it all and pretend nothing is happening, and who scorn those who are taking precautions. Still, I wish safety for all.]


Thursday’s Thankful and Thoughtful Words:
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” —Meister Eckhart


“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” —Alice Walker (h/t Tony Brown)


“Perhaps you were brought to this place for just such a time as this.” —paraphrase from book of Esther


“We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. We have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. it is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think, to be an organ and a blade. But, learning to forgive ourselves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human. We make horrible mistakes. It’s how we learn. We breathe love. It’s how we learn. And it is inevitable.”
—Nayyira Waheed


“Only those who attempt the absurd
will achieve the impossible.”
—M. C. Escher


“A seed sown in the soil makes us one with the Earth. It makes us realize that we are the Earth. That this body of ours is the panchabhuta-the five elements that make the universe and make our bodies. The simple act of sowing a seed, saving a seed, planting a seed, harvesting a crop for a seed is bringing back this memory-this timeless memory of our oneness with the Earth and the creative universe. There’s nothing that gives me deeper joy than the work of protecting the diversity and the freedom of the seed.” —Vandana Shiva


Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower
by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy

Listen
Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Once Were Women

Not entirely sure how the strangeness of this poem came about. I found the trail and followed it, is all.

Once Were Women
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

There was a woman who lived in a very
small house. She had small rooms
and small chairs and her door was
small and her windows were small
and when she spoke, her words
came out small and her life was just so
small and no one was surprised
when she ran away from her small house
and went to live in the wilderness.

That other woman lived in a crooked place
and her paths were crooked and her
couch was crooked and the pictures
were crooked on her walls and crooked
was her way of walking and when she spoke
the words tumbled crooked from her mouth
and everyone understood when one day
she stood up straight and stretched her spine
and went to live with the small woman
out in the wilderness.

The very tall and thin woman with
a thin, thin smile, one day she smiled
wide and went to live with the women
who lived their wild lives in the wilderness.
And the woman who tried to be invisible:
she let herself be seen one day and she
ran out to join them, too, and the woman
who used to start every sentence with “Sorry.”
And the one who ate only leaves,
and the one who had headaches,
and the one who bought all the shoes,
and the one who painted everything grey,
and the one who swallowed her song,
and the one who was afraid of the rain.
Off they ran, and they became wild
as the animals, and some of them became
animals and some of them became
raindrops and some of them became
the red oak leaves quivering in the wind.
And they lived.
Happily.
Ever.
After.


Gratitudes:
1. I came downstairs this morning and Youngest (who is in a negative and defiant phase), said, “Ooooh! I like all those colors!”
2. We saw a fox on the way to school! I took a dirt connector road that I’ve been avoiding because the farm cats on that road don’t seem to have enough fear for cars, and trotting down the road ahead of us was Red Tod himself. He ducked into the underbrush before we passed.
3. There’s a Moms group at our school that gave each teacher a gift bag this week: yummy snacks, coffee, tea, mints, trail mix, a Post-it notepad, and a shiny silver pen. It was a big morale boost.
4. At least now that we’re definitely going virtual for a while, it will relive me of the sense of something impending. This feels like a really good call. I was just beginning to feel unsafe.
5. Having hard conversations–I feel like I am growing in my ability to engage conversations without getting defensive and without trying to appease, just sitting with the challenge of it, saying my part, and listening empathetically. (I hope I didn’t jinx myself by saying that.)

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


“Walk fearlessly into the house of mourning, for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy.” —Kate Braestrup


“Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.” —Neil Gaiman


“Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors, but today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.” —Kahlil Gibran


“To write is to ask questions. It doesn’t matter if the answers are true or puro cuento. After all and everything only the story is remembered, and the truth fades away like the pale blue ink on a cheap embroidery pattern.” —Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo


“With guns, you can kill terrorists.
With education, you can kill terrorism.” —Malala Yousufsai


“The [one] who moves a mountain
begins by carrying away small stones.”
—Confucius, The Analects


“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” —Wendell Berry

Line From a Song

For the first line of this one, I stole a line I loved from Jindu’s poem from yesterday. I love how my own poetic voice is stronger and more on fire when I write with someone else.

A Line From a Song
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

There’s a line from a song I don’t remember,
something about the way November closes in,
how thin the space between breaths, how roses
still bloom in this bitter wind, but death stalks
the room I’m in, walks in winter’s shadow.

I know that somewhere in the middle of the song
was a line about longing for what I cannot have,
about the wrong door leading to the right room,
or the other way around. I’ve found I remember it
better when I hum it right before I go to sleep.

But sleep is the best drug I know, when
I can achieve it, when I can believe that I’m not
just escaping the rattle and whir of my days.
Sleep whirls the vortex that tosses the flotsam
of poetry into the day, and I’m remade.


Gratitudes:
1. One of my students asked my advice about her outfit yesterday because she said she thought I was “fashionable.” That’s not a word I think anyone has ever used or me before, and it was startlingly sweet.
2. Also yesterday, a student knocked on my door during a class and asked if he could borrow my skull. I have a plastic skull in my classroom–named Yorick, of course (alas! poor Yorick!)–and I sort of live for moments when I can participate in surreal shenanigans like that.
3. Giant burgundy leaves on a little oak tree.
4. Writing poetry with others.
5. Horchata.

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


“When Tolkien needed someone to place in the face of the great rising evil in his story, he chose the small ones. You and I are the small ones, friends. Let’s join hands and stand together. Let’s work together, speak together, sing and whisper and shout together.” —EWK


“We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” —Terence McKenna


“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” —Audre Lorde


“Don’t operate out of fear, operate out of hope. Because with hope, everything is possible.” —Winona LaDuke


Our deepest fears are like dragons
guarding our deepest treasure.
—Rainer Maria Rilke


Praise Song
by Barbara Crooker
Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there’s left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.


“Look at everything
as though you were seeing it
either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”
—Betty Smith

Portent

Shining Through

This moment actually happened last night as I was driving home. My mind made a meaning of it, where perhaps someone else might not have noticed the way the eagle flew, or watched the crow fly after. I think my point is that it’s not just that I am overly whimsical or that the spirits of the land had a specific message for me, but that we make the meaning we see, and that that does have portent and meaning because of the context we give it. And that perhaps not being ready to see, not paying attention, deprives us of inner connections we could be making.

Portent
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Last night as I crested Mt. Pisgah ridge
beneath a wispy crescent of a moon,
an eagle flew low across my vision
from west to east, across the moon
across the gold-splashed indigo dusk.

I’d caught my breath when
flying north to south, a solitary crow
crossed the eagle’s path
and disappeared into the growing dark.

I could say it was important. Potent.
A portent. Was I the only observer?
Was it a moment meant for me,
an implication for my mind to find?
Had I not been meandering homeward
at that very instant, would there have been
a meaning in that moment?

If a tree falls, and all that, right?
What I do know is
that within the world of me
there is now
a great X inscribed
by black wings
across an indigo sky,
saying, “Here, here, here.”


“You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.” —Fannie Lou Hamer*****”Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow*****“Silence is a frightening thing. Silence leaves us at the mercy of the noise within us. We hear the fears that need to be faced. We hear, then, the angers that need to be cooled. We hear the emptiness that needs to be filled. We hear the cries for humility and reconciliation and centeredness. We hear ambition and arrogance and attitudes of uncaring awash in the shallows of the soul. Silence demands answers. Silence invites us to depth. Silence heals what hoarding and running will not touch.” —Joan D. Chittister*****“The present moment is the intersection of eternity with time.” ―Beatrice Bruteau*****“Only the present moment contains life.” ―Thích Nhất Hạnh*****“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful—an endless prospect of magic and wonder.”―Ansel Adams*****“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” ―Hermann Hesse, Demian*****“I went inside my heartto see how it was.Something there makes me hearthe whole world weeping.”―Rumi (Barks)*****”Did you ever hear a tree pushing out of the ground or the snow falling? Great things happen in silence.” ―Mother Angelica*****”Everything belongs, even the “bad” and dark parts of yourself. Nothing need be rejected or denied. No one need be hated. No one need be excommunicated, shunned, or eliminated. You don’t have time for that anymore. You’ve entered into the soul of the serene disciple where, because the Holy One has become one in you, you are able to see that oneness everywhere else. Almost like magic!” ―Richard Rohr*****“Our work is to show we have been breathed upon—to show it, give it out, sing it out, to live it out in the topside world what we have received through our sudden knowledge, from body, from dreams, and journeys of all sorts.” ―Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes*****“We found ourselves in a realmwhere dreams are formed,destiny is chosenand magic is as realas a handprint in the snow.”―Libba Bray

Forest of Hours

Yes, I am obsessed with my mushroom friends.

Today, my friend Jindu wrote a poem of time and story and God, and I let that wave roll over me as I sat down to write my own poem. I think I let the poem tell me enough about myself to make me a little uncomfortable, maybe light a fire under me.

Forest of Hours
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The clock has berated me all day,
complaining about my betrayal of time,
scorning the way I keep getting lost
in the forest of hours,
claiming I should be familiar
with the pathway home by now.

I am not time’s fool, you know,
nor God’s familiar. I’m no black cat,
no ignorant—or innocent—
child in the fairy tale. I know what I’m doing.
I’m wasting not time, but self.

I’m listening for the sound God makes
as she sings through the branches
of these hours that surround me.
I know in my bones that the story
has a hole in it somewhere, know without asking
that the wolf is standing there
right behind my left shoulder, and also
that there is a well in a stone tower
within a grove of oak
that holds the secret,
if only I can find the key
to fit the door.

But who is telling this story?
I could have sworn it was God,
but maybe I’m just fooling myself, brother.
Maybe the wolf has been lying to me
all along. Maybe God rides a broomstick
through the waving branches.
Maybe the story is telling itself.

Perhaps the clock has a point.
I am, after all, a middle-aged poet
with nothing much to show for my life’s work
but these rags, this tarnished key,
and the sense that I’ll find the secret
of the story in the next bright clearing.


“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.” —Samwise Gamgee


“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that you play that determines if it’s good or bad.” —Miles Davis


“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” —Frida Kahlo


A little story by Amrita Nadi:
At the end of a talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?”
The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”
Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he added, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back. . .but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”


“There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in, but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze.” —Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life


“Always there is something worth saying
about glory, about gratitude.”
—Mary Oliver, What Do We Know


Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together,
that overwhelm the world.
—Desmond Tutu


“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” —Jeannette Rankin


When we see the Beloved in each person,
it’s like walking through a garden,
watching flowers bloom all around us. —Ram Dass


“You came into this world as a radiant bundle of exuberant riddles. You slipped into this dimension as a shimmering burst of spiral hallelujahs. You blasted into this realm as a lush explosion of ecstatic gratitude. And it is your birthright to fulfill those promises.
I’m not pandering to your egotism by telling you these things. When I say, “Be yourself,” I don’t mean you should be the self that wants to win every game and use up every resource and stand alone at the end of time on top of a Mt. Everest-sized pile of pretty garbage.
When I say, “Be yourself,” I mean the self that says “Thank you!” to the wild irises and the windy rain and the people who grow your food. I mean the rebel creator who’s longing to make the whole universe your home and sanctuary. I mean the dissident bodhisattva who’s joyfully struggling to germinate the seeds of divine love that are packed inside every moment.
When I say, “Be yourself,” I mean the spiritual freedom fighter who’s scrambling and finagling and conspiring to relieve your fellow messiahs from their suffering and shower them with rowdy blessings.” —Rob Brezsny


“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ―Brother David Steindl-Rast

(W)Rite of Revolution

My friend Jindu and I are going to write a poem a day for a month. I kind of petered out on the November prompt-a-day process, partly because I didn’t hook up with anyone else to keep me accountable, I think.

I am seeking my poetic edge right now. I think I have settled into a dreamy voice that feels truthful and real to me, but I also want to push myself to dance it more toward the edges, to use the knife of poetry to cut through the lies which have overtaken out communal political life. I want to do, as Toni Morrison suggests: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

I listened to the This Jungian Life podcast episode on QAnon yesterday. The analysts spoke of the mad shaman archetype, cult leaders like the Rajneesh or Jim Jones, and political cultists like Donald Trump. These mad shamans tap into and seem to control the prevailing group subconscious, so I put the political ones in my poem.

In shifting my voice a little, I lose the sense of what is incisive and rich versus what is schlocky and overdrawn. I think I really like this one, but I’m not sure whether it works or not. I am really good at taking constructive criticism, so if you have suggestions for making it better, or if you think it simply doesn’t work, I would value your thoughts.

(W)Rite of Revolution
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

It’s an insane season on the world stage
when the mad shamans have throttled reason,
caged the people’s psyche
to manipulate the narrative, to stir up
snakes’ nests of impotent and undirected rage
that has no urge for revolution.

When old men commit their treasons in broad daylight
with a populace too cowed to call it out,
and the well of civic sense is poisoned
and dissent is disallowed, then
we are ripe for revolution.

Can we write a revolution,
shake up a sleeping people
with glowing word-bombs and poetic lines of fire?
Can we rhyme our way to wakefulness?
Express defiance in the rhythms we lay down?

The ancient prophets called down fire from heaven
with poetic furor, and each stage of history
has its poets in the streets, calling out for justice,
eyes ablaze and wild hair whipped by Armageddon breeze.
The bodies of the tyrants’ victims line the empires’ alleys,
and naked truth has been outshone by sexy lies.

When all they know is violence, can we stand
within the golden pillars of our words, unweave
the strands of their intimidations with our poetry,
ignore the pomp and vain bravado of the ones
who make their final stand in halls of power,
reveal instead a vision of a just and equal future,
turn our backs on old men’s lies? Set Truth,
in all her naked glory, back in the center of our discourse?

Set the poets and the prophets loose in all the streets,
from Washington to Lagos, to Moscow, to Beijing.
From Caracas to Jerusalem, to London, to Riyadh.
Free the words on crumpled pages, creaking laptops,
throats constricted from the tyrants’ iron claws.
Create new incantations to freedom and democracy.
Unravel the curses of the mad shamans, unweave
their version of a twisted history.
Write a new page.
Stage the revolution
in the realm of dream and vision.


“We live in a world of theophanies. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can only happen if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure.”
—Macrina Wiederkehr


“It was one of those days you sometimes get latish in the autumn when the sun beams, the birds toot, and there is a bracing tang in the air that sends the blood beetling briskly through the veins.” —P.G. Wodehouse


“You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.” —Frida Kahlo


“I touch God in my song
as the hill touches the far-away sea
with its waterfall.
The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.”
—Rabindranath Tagore


Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
“We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
“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 beacons, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of 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.”


“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” —Brooke Hampton


“Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things.
Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God.
Every creature is a word of God.
If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature—even a caterpillar—
I would never have to prepare a sermon.
So full of God is every creature.”
—Meister Eckhart


Yes
It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could you know. That’s why we wake
and look out–no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.
—William Stafford


“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” ―J.R.R. Tolkien

The Vampire Poem

I’ve been a little obsessed with the vampire dream I had the other night, with the idea that I knew in the dream that I was watching the images appearing as I read a poem. I needed to have the poem. Because it has an old folk tale feeling, I kept getting caught up in archaic-sounding language. The rhythm and rhyme kind of happened naturally as I began, and even though it felt a little like a light-hearted cadence, I just plugged on. I’m sort of happy with it.

The moon was high on a cool fall night,
and my child walked home in its silver light.
Her clothes were ragged and her feet were bare
and the moon laid a crown on her raven hair.

Approaching the field called “Soldier’s Rest,”
she saw an old man in soldier’s dress.
He too was tattered, from head to toe,
and he sat on a stump, with his head bowed low.

With a deferential nod as she passed by,
my youngster caught the old man’s eye.
“Stop for a while,” he called from his seat.
“I’ve a tale for you I’ve ached to repeat.”

Long she listened in polite fascination
while the elder unspooled his bitter narration
of stabs in the back and egregious wronging,
of betrayals and rages, unrequited longing.

After his recital, she begged his kind pardon,
and turned toward home, our small cabin and garden.
As soon as I heard her open the gate,
I gathered her into my arms. It was late,

and I bolted and barred the front door for the night
as she told of her encounter with the angry old wight
and showed me through cracks in the shutters the spot
up the road in the moonlight where the elder still sat.

We’d hardly turned and were crossing the floor
than the old one materialized through the door.
I guessed in an instant his vampire constitution,
but how could he enter without invitation?

He’d twisted her natural child’s civility
into the requisite welcome for entry.
Icy fingers of fear grabbed my throat and my spine
and my child sank to the floor with an anguished cry.

Through the snail-stepping hours of that longest of nights
I tended my child as he drew out her life.
I tried every hex, incantation, and prayer
to make him release her from his vampiric stare

but all I could do was to keep her alive
with my own spirit-breath. I cannot describe
the exhaustion and horror of each minute that passed
as I waited for dawn when my power at last

could unmake him. But then at the moment I thought I was lost
the first rays of morning broke in, and crossed
the vampire’s shadow. I saw him whiten like death,
and my beloved daughter drew one long deep breath.

I built up the fire and opened the door,
and our tormentor groaned and rose from the floor,
floated upward and out, and faded like song
as we heard the first notes of the first bird of dawn.

Take care, my friends, of the boundaries you keep.
The old tales ask for kindness, but vampires will creep
through your civil demeanor with evil inventions,
so be canny and wise and make clear intentions.


Thursday’s Words:
“If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures.”
—Thomas Berry


“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” —Kurt Vonnegut


“For a Star to be born,
there is one thing that must happen;
a nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your Destruction.
This is your birth.” —attributed to Noor Tagouri


‪”So much of bird flight is really expert falling, slipping into that delicate space within the argument between gravity and air resistance. That natural alchemy transforms a plummet into a glide. Someday, I hope to learn to fail like birds fall.‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


Gratitudes:
1. My order of Africafe came today. I opened it up and the smell took me home.
2. All these mushrooms! So many, and so many varieties!
3. So much gold, and red. So much shine when the sun slants in.
4. People who carry on and do what they know is right even when they get blocked at every turn.
5. The life of Lucille Bridges, who gave her first-grade daughter Ruby the support she needed to face hostile crowds every day on her way to school. Ms. Bridges died today at age 86.

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

Prayer: Season of the Election

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

Election Day Prayer
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.


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

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

Speaking Justice, Enacting Peace

Talking to myself. You may listen in:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Finding Poetry, Part II

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

Here is the second one I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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