This fall is a full semester. A very full load of preps. Lots of student recommendations to write. Even as I begin to consider my next sentence, I feel as though I’m drawing up my list of complaints, my explanation for why my life is so hard right now. Do you ever find yourself doing that? Justifying your exhaustion? Explaining away your sad mood?

That’s why I need to get back to gratitude lists. Not to ignore all the difficult things, but to balance them. The other stuff is there, and it will still be there, and I need to process it all and get to work on it, but brooding on it, obsessing about it, only causes insomnia and agitation to add to the list of woes. If my mind had to jump to enumerating lists, let it be my reasons for not, for contentment, for satisfaction.

Gratitude List:

1. I slept the whole way through the night last night.

2. My good, good colleagues.

3. Good books. My favorite escape.

4. Today is a light day, lots of breathing spaces in it.

5. Falling asleep to the sound of the rain.

May we walk in Beauty.

“Look! Look! Look deep into nature and you will understand everything.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The only trap I must beware not to fall into, is to think that each day is the same as the next. In fact, each morning brings with it a hidden miracle, and we must pay attention to this miracle.”
~ Paulo Coelho
“In the end, so much of the conflict we feel in our hearts is because we’ve split ourselves off from the very life we are living. We partition ourselves from the things with which we are at odds, treating them as unbelonging even as we live them. We vaguely imagine some other place, some better job, some other lover – but the irony is that so much of what makes us unhappy is our own rejection of the life we have made. Eventually we must take our life into our arms and call it our own. We must look at it squarely with all its unbecoming qualities and find a way to love it anyway. Only from that complete embrace can a life begin to grow into what it is meant to become.”
–Toko-pa Turner
“There is a notion that creative people are absentminded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true.” –Mary Oliver
“Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable.” –Mahatma Gandhi
“People who talk only to communicate are different from people who talk for pleasure. People who talk for pleasure, as opposed to people who talk to communicate, become wonderful talkers over the years. They have eloquence.”
—Wendell Berry
“You must not only aim right, but draw the bow with all your might.”
–Henry David Thoreau
“Be curious, not judgmental.” –Walt Whitman
Out in the dawn, a misty sea
in walnut tree
a silent crow
will dream of snow

will ruffle feathers in the chill
will wait until
the first bright ray
begins the day

then with a final shake will rise
from branch to skies
and this will be
a memory
–Beth Weaver-Kreider

Pick Yourself up and do better

Photo from the LGBTQ Christian Network

I posted this on my Facebook page last year. Reading it again this morning, it feels like something I want to put out there again. It’s dated, with its references to the 2020 election, but 2024 is looming, and the same forces are pushing for attention again. I know it’s kind of intense, but so is the soul-rejection so many people experience because of terrible theology:

I know I post this and sentiments like it quite often. I have received third-hand feedback that some well-meaning Christian folks get deeply offended by some of the things that I post. You must know that it is because I follow the way of Jesus that I post these things, because I was raised to believe in his essential messages of Love and Welcome for ALL.

Speaking to the well-meaning Christians who might be thinking of voting for the president because of a pro-life stance alone, I say to you that to welcome everyone to the table is a deeply pro-life stance. To exclude and shame any member of the human community is anti-life, is death-dealing. The number of LGBTQ+ people who die or nearly die by suicide each year is staggering, and it is, in many (most?) cases, a DIRECT result of religious people who marginalize and exclude and shame LGBTQ+ folks, a direct result of a theology that labels people sinners because of who they are. I need you to hear this. I need you to understand theological consequences.

Insisting that LGBTQ+ people are sinful by nature is anti-life. If you want a deeper conversation about the very few Biblical passages that your church refers to in order to shame and exclude (yes, “love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin” is shameful and exclusionary) God’s own children, I can find you articles and dialogue with you. I only ask that you come to the table willing to listen.

{Note: If you feel hurt that you may be part of a group that has driven people to suicide, please try to imagine the hurt and despair of those who’ve been cast out and excluded. Pick yourself up and do better. If deep down you agree that this is a death-dealing theology, but it feels really risky to to to speak up in support of LGBTQ+ folks, imagine the intense feelings of risk felt by someone who comes out of the closet. Pick yourself up and do better. I’ve got your back.}

Gratitude List:
1. Last Weekend: swans, storytelling, deepening friendships, swallows, fox, windy beaches, delicious shared food. What DOES the fox say?
2. Tenderness and connection amidst shared grief. I’m not grateful for this terrible grief (one of the young ones in our school/church/family circles has died), but grateful for the way the circles flow together and interconnect.
3. The foresight of my school’s administration: We reached a threshold of active cases and students quarantining because of exposures, and so we went virtual for the week. I feel like the administration cares about my health and the health of my family and my students and their families.
4. This little break. I can assign reading and analysis tasks for the week, do some Zooms, and catch up on grading. Yesterday was a crash day for me. I think the aggregate burden of work overwhelm and grief and not enough time for the introverted self and light insomnia all came to a head for me, but I had the freedom to take a long and deep nap, and I came out the other side refreshed and ready to attack the tasks ahead of me.
5. The kitchen floor. It’s been a LONG time since we sanded and stained, and Jon did that this week, and I am obsessed with it. Pine takes a real beating, but it cleans up so beautifully.

May we do justice, love, mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty! So much love to you.

“Although the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.The warming of the planet is a symptom of a greater problem: the developed world’s indifference to the destruction of the planet as they pursue short-term economic gains. This has resulted in a “throwaway culture” in which unwanted items and unwanted people, such as the unborn, the elderly, and the poor, are discarded as waste.” –Pope Francis
Praise, my dear one.
Let us disappear into praising.
Nothing belongs to us.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
“Listen: Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” –Mary Oliver
“This might be the most difficult task for us in postmodern life: not to look away from what is actually happening. To put down the iPod and the e-mail and the phone. To look long enough so that we can look through it—like a window.” –Marie Howe, poet

A Calming Retreat

In June, right after school was over, and before I had even completed my grading, I went on silent retreat at the Jesuit Center at Wernersville, probably my last time there, as the Jesuits are selling the building and grounds. I needed that healing time.

In the weeks since, I have been taking stock, clearing out my hoard (fabric, mostly, but more will come), and working on getting healthy.

Here is a little photo essay of my time on retreat:

On the way, I stopped and walked the labyrinth at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church near Lititz. On the way out of the labyrinth, the word embodiment came to me. That became the focus of my retreat. When I got home, I listened to sonia renee taylor’s The Body is Not an Apology. I liked it so much that I bought my own copy so I can underline bits and read sections to my classes.
My room. First time I have had air conditioning. It was very hot, so I actually spent more time in my room than usual.

I took along a white cloth and some red thread. I have been inspired by several instagrammer embroiderers to begin to create a story cloth, something that’s not specifically functional, but is more of a journal, a dialogue with my inner self. On one of the first days there, I was meditating on something I’d read, a Buddhist idea about the base of the spine being where the three rivers meet. I began to consider what my three rivers are. Along with embodiment, I received creativity, and magic/mysticism. So I began embroidering the flowering hand image I found framed on the wall–for creativity. Then I embroidered a full body–my body–with wings and a crown, to represent embodiment, being alive within this body. And later, I embroidered my stump, the center of my current magical work, representing the inner work and the spiritual connection to the Source of All Life. All three are connected to a center cauldron, which is the place where the three rivers meet. Other images above include some collages I made while meditating, a painting (“You can become all flame,” said the ancient desert abba), and the back of my #alonetogether sweater, which I completed during retreat.

Every year when I am at the monastery, I greet Jesus in the stairwell when I go up and down the stairs. This year, he and the painting of Mary with the sacred heart were especially meaningful as I held my anxieties about my father’s upcoming open-heart surgery (all has gone exceedingly well, and he is now recovering and regaining his strength).

More than almost anything, perhaps, I will miss this grand cathedral beech.

NPM Day Nineteen: Science

I can’t remember where this form came from. I may have made it up, too. I’ve only written this one, and on one hand it feels strange and experimental, and on the other hand, I really like it. I don’t have a name for it.

Take any two-syllable word. That’s your title. Write five lines of poetry. The first sound in each line is the sound of the first syllable of your word, and the last sound in each line is the second syllable. Don’t try to keep the spelling the same, just the sound. My poem has lines of 10-12 syllables long.


Silent as a mouse creeping along a fence,
Simple the patterns, but intricate the sense,
Since what’s in the center is often intense,
Sift carefully through all the evidence,
Silt washes away, leaving behind reverence.

Yesterday’s sermon has really caught me, particularly the moment when Saul is watching the coats for the men who stone Stephen, because they know Saul is responsible and trustworthy. Later, after his conversion, Paul mentions it again, that he watched the coats while the others killed the man. Mindy asked whether we, too, hold the coats. Am I considered to be someone who is trustworthy to hold the coats of people who harm others in the name of established religion? I want none of that. If you feel you must uphold religious ideology that harms others in the drive for some misbegotten sense of church purity, you can count me out. I will not hold your coats.

Gratitude List:
1. Children making chalk art on the parking lot during parking lot church
2. Mending, making whole, making do
3. Yesterday’s sermon–grateful for new metaphor and language to describe the work of justice
4. Plans and projects for summer
5. Snowfall of tree blossoms everywhere

May we walk in Beauty!

“It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity.” —Cesar Chavez

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” ―Frederick Buechner

“The words you speak become the house you live in.” ―Hafiz (translated by Ladinsky)

“Humans are the most intellectually advanced animal on the planet and yet, we are destroying our only home. The window of time is very small, but I refuse to believe that we cannot solve this problem.” ―Dr. Jane Goodall

“Memory makes the now fully inhabitable.” ―David Whyte

“Things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance even after the physical contact has been severed.” ―James Frazer

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

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” —John Steinbeck

“Crystals are living beings at the beginning of creation. All things have a frequency and a vibration.” —Nikola Tesla

NPM Day Thirteen: Apology

April Poetry Prompts: Day Thirteen

Today, write an apology poem. Get it off your chest. Ask for forgiveness. Say you’re sorry. Apologize for something you did or didn’t do. Apologize to your parents, or to your children, or to the Earth, or to the librarian for that book you never returned.

Gratitude List:
1. The sense of smell–the heady perfume of rose, the tang or peppermint, the redolence of supper cooking
2. Layers of flavor, and how texture and sweet/salty/sour make up the experience of taste
3. Rest, even when I don’t feel like it. My body says REST, and I must comply, so I do
4. Teaching poetry. I try to design my classes that have poetry components to have poetry during April, so this is a happy month for me
5. Talking it through

May we walk in Beauty!

“I pray to the birds. I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day—the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.” ―Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” ―Emma Lazarus

“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual.” ―Ernest Hemingway

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” ―Robert Frost

“What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as One,
Received not in essence but by participation.
It is just as if you lit a flame from a live flame:
It is the entire flame you receive.”
―St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022)

“We love the things we love for what they are.” ―Robert Frost

“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.” ―Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” ―Sarah Williams

“Resist much, obey little.” ―Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

“Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.” ―e. e. cummings

“If we do not mean that God is male when we use masculine pronouns and imagery, then why should there be any objections to using female imagery and pronouns as well?” ―Carol P. Christ

“Subversive language, however, must be constantly reinvented, because it is continually being co-opted by the powerful.” ―Carol P. Christ

NPM Day Six: Ode to the Librarian

Today is National Librarian Day. Really.
Write an ode to your librarian.
Or to your library.
Or to the Ancient Library of Alexandria.
Odes are formal, song-like praise poems in honor of a person, an event, or an idea.
Set it to music, maybe?
Get your guitar and go sing to your librarian.

Here’s a rather free-verse ode to my librarian friends:

You are my favorite subversives,
sneaking about in the racks of books,
stalking the readers, eyes a-gleam:
“This one, I think, might interest you,”
knowing full well that you just may
have altered the course of a life.

Gratitude List:
1. My colleagues. They’re such good folk. Such good folk.
2. Sunshine
3. Yellow flowers
4. Sunshine
5. Sunshine (Oh, did I say that one already?)
6. Sunshine

May you walk in Beauty!

The Happy Virus
by Hafez

I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
It is remarkably contagious –
So kiss me.

“It is our mind, and that alone,
that chains us or sets us free.” —Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” —George Orwell

“We must live from the center.” —Bahauddin, father of Rumi

“Some days I am more wolf than woman and I am still learning how to stop apologising for my wild.” —Nikita Gill

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” —Albert Einstein

“Writer’s block results from
too much head. Cut off your head.
Pegasus, poetry, was born of Medusa
when her head was cut off.
You have to be reckless when writing.
Be as crazy as your conscience allows.”
—Joseph Campbell

“Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.” —Annie Lennox

Ever Given and I Are Both Afloat

My niece the nurse gave me this little plant reminding us to Stay Home! Thor thinks that is a Very Good Idea. When I got home from the doctor’s office yesterday, after an hour away, he begged to be picked up and carried around. He gave me very sad eyes this morning when he saw me getting ready for work.

Well, I’m back to life and living. I think. It’s been a challenging ten days. I would feel fine for a short while, and then I would just crash, my energy ebbing, leaving me stranded, stuck. Hmm. Sort of like a certain ship the world’s been watching for the past week. I’d lie there, thinking about how lazy I was, not getting anything done, not grading, just scrolling through Facebook and re-watching The Great British Baking Show. But my brain was foggy, too, and energy to think and process was also at a minimum.

I did manage some knitting and some mending while I was stuck in the Covid Canal, things that took only quiet movements, and little thought. That helped me to feel like I wasn’t completely out of commission. Isolation was hard, and I was feeling depressed and weepy by the last day. I had the erroneous idea that somehow walking out of isolation would mean I was suddenly well, as if it was the bedroom itself which was stealing my vim. Sunday was a hard hit with reality, realizing that getting out of isolation and getting well are two different things.

My doctor says I am one of those mysterious cases in which fatigue and exhaustion linger. No one knows quite why, but they do say that it tends to abate in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I am going to school, keeping the teaching parts light, getting them writing and researching and reading. I’m back to school today with a really light schedule, trying to conserve energy, to rest as I am able. It does me good to see my students again. They’ve managed extremely well without me, of course.

My doctor says I’ll need to sort of recondition my body to maintain energy for longer periods, to listen to it when it says REST. I’ll also need to recondition my breathing and sense of smell, she says, to train my lungs to remember that they can take in enough air for a full breath, to train my olfactory sense to pick up various scents and aromas again.

I tried to go back into the world with the double mask again, but I am so short of breath that I am just wearing one surgical mask for now, and breathing is definitely easier than with two. I suppose I really don’t need to double mask since I have both vaccine and active antibodies. I’ve been doing it because I am an example to my students, and I want them to see it as normal.

May be an image of cat and indoor
Day 2 of Isolation
May be an image of indoor
Gifts from Beloveds: The oximeter was helpful, and I made good use of the Darning Mushroom.
I learned to make a good secure woven darn, using the darning toadstool my dad made for me.
May be an image of cat
Day 3 in the Covid Tower. My human family was not allowed in the room, but the CDC says you don’t need to isolate from cats, and who could have kept them out, anyway?
May be an image of indoor
Day 4, and I was feeling the fatigue more significantly.
Day 5–took a very short walk, mended, watched the light.
May be an image of cat and indoor
Day 6: Thor and Erebus were regular visitors. Thor (on the left) rarely left my side. Sachs, who usually needs a significant snuggle every day, visited me only twice, spooked by the closed door, by the strangeness of it all.
May be an image of flower and nature
The lenten roses bloomed so beautifully while I was sick. I got outside a couple times to check them out.
May be an image of prairie gentian, rose and indoor
Flowers from an anonymous fairy.
May be an image of nature, sky and tree
Day 7: Spring Rain
May be an image of cat
Day 8: Thor is a mama-baby.
No photo description available.
My brain couldn’t focus on much but knitting and mending.
May be art of one or more people and text that says 'the truthi like gravity dangerous. dang and mecessary'
I managed the energy to participate in a Lenten Zoom Workshop on altered books with the Parish Resource Center.
May be a black-and-white image of eyeglasses and indoor
Day 9: I was exhausted from Covid, exhausted by the isolation from my family, weepy and frustrated.
May be an image of indoor
Day 10: More wonderful gifts from beloveds, along with a snakeskin to remind myself of healing, and soap to sniff to see if my sense of smell might be returning. I’m going to begin my own therapy to try to regain my sense of smell. I can get some of the most intense smells, but still have a long way to to to retrain my olfactory connection to my brain.
May be an image of cat
My last evening in Covid isolation, and Sachs finally came and snuggled for a spell.

Gratitude List:
1. Cat love
2. Being back at school. Monitoring my flagging energy, but energized by my students.
3. So much care from my circles of Beloveds.
4. Spring. The riot of trees breaking into bloom. Forsythia setting fire to everything.
5. Some hints of smell returning.

May we walk in Beauty!

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic. . .the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”
—Charles de Lint

“My invitation to each of you—student, faculty, community member—is to find a story of someone who has made a change, small or large, whether the consequence was their life or their comfort, and I want you to share that story with at least one other person, something that inspires you to step beyond the boundaries of your courage into a new world beyond the measure you ever thought you could make.” —Kevin Ressler, in 2017 memorial for M. J. Sharp

“What you will see is love coming out of the trees, love coming out of the sky, love coming out of the light. You will perceive love from everything around you. This is the state of bliss.” ―Miguel Ruiz

“My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.” ―Alice Hoffman

“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer

by Mary Oliver from Thirst (Beacon Press)
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

From Rapunzel’s Tower

(Oooh. It’s been over a month since I have posted. This business of trying to juggle all the balls means something tends to get set upon the back burner. Sorry, dear blog-space–you got the back burner this time.)

Irony, according to Mx. Google: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

Example: When Covid cases in your area have been going down, but you’ve continued to double mask, to keep your distance, to wash hands, and also, you just got your J&J one-shot special anti-Covid vaccine, and five days later, feeling a distinct malaise, you go get a rapid antigen test at your local urgent care, and come home with instructions to isolate yourself from your family and the world for ten days because you have contracted Covid. Somehow.

I have contracted a case of Covid, along with a distinct case of Irony.

Things could be so much worse. Really. It’s a pain to be out of commission in the final week of a quarter, but also, I can write my lesson plans for my most excellent substitute, and then catch up on the overdue grading that was weighing me down.

I’m not afraid I’m going to die. There’s that really weird thing I’ve read about the vaccines: that they don’t entirely eliminate your chance of getting sick, but they 100% reduce your chance of dying.

Three days in, and an acetaminophen for the headache, and I am feeling pretty good. I’ve got grading to do, and a huge pile of mending, books to read, a blog post to write, and poetry floating through my brain. The birds are singing their springtime arias outside (it IS spring today!), and the sun is flooding in my window.

The cats keep knocking at the door to be let in. And then let out again. And then let in again. The CDC papers they gave me at Urgent Care say pets pose minimal risk of spread, so we’re going with that. It would be impossible to keep them out.

I’m allowed to go outside and walk around and take springtime pictures, as much as my energy allows, and if I stay away from people. I mask up when I go out, even though we live in the country.

I miss my family, even though they’re here in the house. So much of our togetherness is just togetherness, not necessarily talking, so yelling “How’s everybody doing?!?!” through my closed door doesn’t quite cut it. Still, I can hear them out there, creaking floorboards, talking to their friends on the Discord server, and Jon brings me food and coffee.

Once upon a time there was a woman named Rapunzel. Her hair, unlike that of the fairy tale princess, was short and grey. She lived, for a time, in a tower in a little wooded hollow surrounded by rolling hills. Although witches get a bad rap in all the stories, and most of them really aren’t as evil as they seem (in fact, many of them are wise women), there is an evil witch in this story, named Covid. Every day three princes would bring Rapunzel food and coffee. Cats would come and go as they pleased.

I think Rapunzel will live happily ever after.


Also, and most importantly: A Joyful Spring to you! Blessed Ostara! The shining wheel of the year turns, and we stand poised, balanced, equal day and equal night. Breathe in the balance, the sun, the birdsong. Breather out hope, compassion, dedication to making the world a better place.

A poem from 2006, to celebrate the turning of the year-wheel into Spring.

Day Turns

The way maple swings its wings spiraling down shafts of dawn wind,
The way chickadee whistles on bitter March mornings,
The way lichen spreads grey-green lace upon the patient rocks,
The way the egg falls from jay’s beak to lie silent, cold, and whole upon the moss,
The way the wren defends her nest,
The way rabbit hints at her home and scratches the packed earth,
The way squirrel scolds her wayward cousin’s child.
The way heron stands more still than thought,
The way the pond reflects the orange air at sunset,
The way snake stalks the field mouse through gathering dusk,
The way the fields are washed in the milk of the moon,
The way dark midnight covers the farm like a blanket.

Also this, from 2014:
“We come to that place, one of the quarter points we notice in Terra’s dance with Sol.  Equinox.  My head today is full of these complicated E-words: Equinox, Equator, Equilibrium, in-Evitable.  At these equal points of spring and fall, we are ever so much slightly closer to our star than we are on the outward fling of the Solstices.  Do-si-do, Sun.  Swing your partner.  Welcome, Spring, oh welcome, Spring.” (I’m not sure that bit about being closer to the sun at Equinox is quite accurate.)

And, from 2018:
Today, snow or no snow, our planet whirls into another season. Here in the western hemisphere, in the northern temperate climates, the early flowers have been up and blooming, calling to the bees. I have yet to see the early foragers this year, and it makes me anxious.

Someone must awaken the bees!
The crocus have opened their golden throats.
The windflowers have blown awake
out on the lawn.
Where are the Queen’s daughters?
Where are the melissas?
Someone awaken the bees!

On this first day of Ostara, the ancient holiday to celebrate the awakening spring, on the day when night and day are equal in duration, I like to ask myself questions to awaken my spirit:

What are the instincts and drives within me that must awaken, like the bees, to get my work done, to find the food I need to carry me through the season?
What new things are stirring within? What is awakening? What is hatching?
How do the forces of balance and imbalance work in my life? What can I do to bring more elegant balance into my daily rhythms? In what ways can I disrupt the balances which keep me caught in a rut?
This year, I keep coming back to the question of what calls me awake? When I fear that the bees will not awaken, I think about the sleepy spirit within me that likes to settle into sameness. It takes some effort to wake up, and then to wake up again, and to keep waking up, shedding the outer layers, like an opening flower.

Today, I will watch for the bees.
Today, I will keep my eyes open for the People of Feathers, who wing their way across the sky.
Today, I will feel the breezes on my face.
Today, I will keep listening for the voices of the bees, and for the voices of the young people.

Blessed Ostara to you! Happy Equinox! A Joyful spring. Walk in Beauty.

Heron Feather

I am finding new rooms in the house of my voice while I write with Jindu. When I respond to something in one of his poems or something he has said, and then weave it into the sense and the sound of my next poem, the writing gets electric and lively in ways I can’t often set myself up for when I write simply for myself.

Heron Feather
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

On my altar are bones and
a blue heron’s feather a shard
of broken pottery a snake skin
five seeds three pennies and a
statue of an ancient goddess
I made from clay some milkweed
fluff a pen I love to write with and
a paintbrush tools of the trade
some sea shells and a stone
from the path to my house
in the village where I was born.

Some of this is a lie but all
of it is true and when I die
you may keep all my lies
but put the stone into my
left shoe so I will know
where to go and put the heron
feather in in my hand so I can
fly there but don’t make plans
for a long time yet I have lots
of magic yet to make I think
this is what it really means
to be alive.

1. Glad we decided to go to virtual learning when we did. My son and I were sent home early today because we were exposed. I’m grateful that my school takes tracing seriously. I hope I can get a test tomorrow.
2. My students are such tender and sweet-hearted folx. I’m going to miss seeing them in person, but I look forward to seeing their whole faces for a while on Zoom.
3. Writing with Jindu. I am learning so much about poetry from writing with someone with such a rich sense of craft and word-work. It is such an honor.
4. Wordplay and artplay
5. Lancaster’s ExtraGive. Every year my town has a day of giving, and people give to their favorite charities, together, and every year it raises more money for people do to good in the world. It gives me hope.

Stay safe, Beloveds!

“…when women speak truly they speak subversively–they can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert.
We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.
That’s what I want–to hear you erupting. You young Mount St. Helenses who don’t know the power in you–I want to hear you.” —Ursula Le Guin

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” —Muriel Rukeyser

“Oh to meet, however briefly, the greatness that lives under our surface. To summon enough bravery to be without armour and strategy, for the chance at meeting that irreducible power. Oh to make of our terrified hearts a prayer of surrender to the God of Love; that we remain safe in our quivering ache to be near that Otherness, even for a moment. To touch that ancient life who will never relinquish its wilderness, who lets instinct make its choices, whose knowing lives in bones and whose song is a wayfinder.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa

“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.”
―Parker J. Palmer

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
―Emily Dickinson

“One of my favourite teachings by Martín Prechtel is that ‘violence is an inability with grief.’ In other words, it takes skillfulness to grieve well, to grieve wholeheartedly. It requires us to bravely, nakedly come to face all that is lost, keeping our hearts open to loving just as fully again.
“When we make war, lashing out in rage and revenge, it is because we are unwilling to make this full encounter with grief. It is easy to enact the same violence which has taken so much from us―including towards ourselves―but the greater work is to let that which is missing enlarge your life; to make beauty from your brokenness.
“Whatever you hold in the cauldron of your intention is your offering to the divine. The quality of assistance you can generate and receive from the Holy is governed by the quality of your inner offering. When you indulge in fear and doubt, you are flooding the arena where love is attempting to work.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa

“Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth
in the present moment.”
―Thich Nhat Hanh

“An awake heart
is like a sky that pours light.” ―Hafiz (Ladinsky)

“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.” ―Oscar Levant

Back to School

Kittens don’t worry. They look for the game in everything.

Today is the first day of school. I don’t think I have ever begun a year with such a roiling sense of uncertainty, even my first year. My room looks ready. My slideshows look ready. I seem to have lesson plans in place. I have practiced Zooming and recording and publishing the Zoom.

I just have to trust that it’s all there, all in place, because something inside me feels like I am trying to stand on water. Or, as someone posted in a meme this week, building the plane while it’s in the air. Yeah, that.

One thing that I am certain of is this: The support and prayers and good energy I feel from my beloveds is so strong, it is almost palpable. Without that, without the good humored and earnest colleagues and administration and custodial staff, without the knowledge that I will be back among my students today, I don’t think i could do this. But these human circles make it possible, and even delightful, to step in and see what happens. This is my entire gratitude list for today.

If you’re looking for some concrete ways to be energetic support in these anxious times:
First and foremost, pray for the safety of students and teachers and staff at the schools in your area, that we and our families will be able to mitigate with enough intention and care that we will not make each other sick.

Then, perhaps just as important, pray that we will FEEL safe, that we will be able to re-establish school as a place of belonging and wellbeing. That we will be able to establish strong and healthy community. We’ll never be able to make it through the twisting pathways of the brain past the protection centers toward the higher level critical thinking skills if we can’t first feel safe.

Then pray that we will learn together, that we will be able to engage each one, especially those who are remote.

Thank you for being part of the village that raises the children of your community. In a year when it seems that every answer is the wrong one, we need to step in and BE the answers.

Blessed Be.

“All the wonders of life are already here. They’re calling you. If you can listen to them, you will be able to stop running. What you need, what we all need, is silence. Stop the noise in your mind in order for the wondrous sounds of life to be heard. Then you can begin to live your life authentically and deeply.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

“When you have to make a choice, and you don’t make it, that is itself a choice.” —William James

“What do you promise your distant ancestors you will bring back into the world? What do you promise our cultural descendants you will bequeath them? Amid the ruins of a dying civilization, let us be clear and intentional in what we plant.” —Sean Donohue (FB post)

“Educating yourself does not mean that you were stupid in the first place; it means that you are intelligent enough to know that there is plenty left to learn.” ―Melanie Joy

“I hold the most archaic values on earth. . .the fertility of the soul, the magic of the animals, the power-vision in solitude. . . .the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.” ―Gary Snyder

“The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.” ―Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh

“The study of silence has long engrossed me. The matrix of a poet’s work consists not only of what is there to be absorbed and worked on, but also of what is missing, desaparecido, rendered unspeakable, thus unthinkable.” ―Adrienne Rich

“Be ready to be surprised by the crazy, wonderful events that will come dancing out of your past when you stir the pot of memory. Embrace those long-lost visitors.” ―William Zinsser

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” ―Bob Marley

“Bare your soul of all mind, and stay there without mind.” ―Meister Eckhart