Found a Poem

It turns out that the feral tortoiseshell bobtail cat in the neighborhood is a female. Yesterday, we watched her in the front drive and yard. When we opened the door and called to her, she startled and moved off toward the barn, but then stopped and looked back. I suppose I am reading too much into it, but it sure did seem that she was asking us to follow. Josiah did, and discovered the box in the barn where she’d gone to nurse her three ginger bobtail babies.

This kid is loving the idea of taming a cat and kittens this summer. We’ll be looking for homes, of course. Oddly, a friend of mine has been asking me to help her find a kitten or kittens, and here they suddenly are. We’re hoping to be able to catch Mathilda (Joss has named her) by the time the kittens are old enough for families of their own, so she can at least be fixed.

May we walk in Tenderness and Beauty!

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” ―Pema Chödrön

“Morning is the best of all times in the garden. The sun is not yet hot. Sweet vapors rise from the earth. Night dew clings to the soil and makes plants glisten. Birds call to one another. Bees are already at work.” —William Longgood

“Elsewhere the world may be blustering or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, while others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn—and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, while the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames, tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb. So, let us drink a cup of tea.” —Muriel Barbery, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”

“There is ecstasy in paying attention.”
—Anne Lamott

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estes

A Day of Mourning and Reflection

Here is an Interdependence Day piece I wrote a few years ago. For years, I felt uncomfortable on July 4th because I believed we had broken our ideals and our pact of humanity and equality, but now I realize that we never truly lived up to them. Some days, I still hope that we can become the Good Force that we have sort of thought we were. I recognize that this is a painful conversation for some of my beloveds, that to question the root truth of the nation that you have given your lives and your families to feels like a terrible betrayal. I only ask that you consider that the whole idea of the nation has been a terrible betrayal for those we enslaved since before we even became a nation, and for those who lived here in the Before, who were decimated and tortured, whose land we stole in order to make a nation at all.
I recognize that today is the United States independence day. It’s always crunchy for me.

I don’t celebrate war and war “victories.”
I don’t celebrate a freedom that was borne on the backs of slaves.
I don’t celebrate the genocide that wiped out, marginalized and impoverished the people of the first nations.
I don’t celebrate a freedom that ignores our slave-owning and genocidal history to proclaim us all-good and all-powerful, evidence to the contrary.
I don’t celebrate the increasing calls to close us off, to keep out those who seek sanctuary in our borders.
I don’t celebrate throwing candy to the rich while grabbing bread from the poor.
I don’t celebrate the rush to destroy this beautiful part of the Earth, to call her gifts “resources” that must be maximized and used until she is played out.
I don’t celebrate the fear-mongering that I see, the use of fear to keep people in their places, afraid of each other, afraid of their own freedom.
I don’t celebrate “America First.”
I struggle to celebrate when the country itself is in crisis, when those who were chosen to administer our ship of state have instead chosen to rule like the king we thought we had freed ourselves from those centuries ago.

I can celebrate human community.
I can celebrate the spirit that longs to break the bonds of tyranny for all peoples.
I can celebrate the spirit of that statue that stands in our harbor, her lamp held high in welcome for all who seek refuge.
I can celebrate the strong spirit of resistance to tyranny that continues to pull people to demand rights for ALL of us.
I can celebrate the beautiful diversity of us, and the way we find connecting points, the way we so willingly wear each others’ stories.
I can celebrate the music, the foodways, the arts, the dialects, the histories, of us in all our many colors and shades and tones and temperaments.
I can celebrate inTERdependence.
I can celebrate the hope that we will stand up to the greed-mongers and the fear-mongers and the hate-mongers, that we will work to create a nation where all can be free, where all can expect justice.

Gratitude, today,
for the awakeners,
for the story-sharers,
for the truth-speakers,
for the one who walk into the fire,
for the ones willing to change and to make change.

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

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” ―Lao Tzu

“The heart is the house of empathy whose door opens when we receive the pain of others. This is where bravery lives, where we’ll find our mettle to give and receive, to love and be loved, to stand in the center of uncertainty with strength, not fear, understanding this is all there is. The heart is the path to wisdom because it dares to be vulnerable in the presence of power.”
—Terry Tempest Williams

“You are something that the Whole Universe is doing, in the same way that a wave is something that the Whole Ocean is doing…” ―Alan Watts

“You are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly, more dearly than the spoken word can tell.”
—Roger Whittaker

“It’s a matter of discipline. When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend to your planet.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery in “The Little Prince”

“To cope with losing our world requires us to descend through the anger into mourning and sadness, not speedily bypass them to jump onto the optimism bandwagon or escape into
indifference. And with this deepening, an extended caring and gratitude may open us to what is still here, and finally, to acting accordingly.” —Per Espen Stoknes

. . .if truth is to be taught, then teaching and learning must take the shape of truth itself–a community of faithful relationships. Education in truth must bring teacher and student into troth with each other, into the very image of the truth it hopes to convey.” —Parker J. Palmer

“No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense.” ― John Trudell

“I celebrate independence anywhere it happens. The question here is how. When a diversity of peoples is destroyed or diminished in a holocaust of outrageous proportions for independence, does this truly result in liberty, justice and freedom for all? In a few generations indigenous peoples of America have been reduced to one-half of one percent. Imagine Africa with one-half of one percent Africans. We have been essentially disappeared in the story of America. Our
massive libraries of knowledge, rich cultural and intellectual gifts have been disparaged, destroyed and broken by interloper religions and a hierarchical system of thought in which indigenous people exist only as savages. What then does this say about liberty and justice in this country?

“For healing the wound needs to be opened, purged and cleansed. Our stories need to be allowed. Our traditional ways and languages need to be honored. This country needs to
apologize and reparations must be made. We all need to come together, every one of us to make a true plan for liberty and justice for all. As long as indigenous peoples are disappeared and disparaged, or surface only in Hollywood movies like The Lone Ranger, this country will remain as a child without parents, who has no sense of earth, history or spirituality.” —Joy Harjo

Always Becoming

Every day is a new opportunity to begin again.
Was yesterday harsh or difficult?
Did you find yourself (like I did) complaining and grousing and expecting the worst of people?
Did you miss the chance to get outdoors and breathe fresh air?
Did you put more time into stuff and money than into people and ideas?
Did you forget to notice the green, the birdsong, the summer cast of sunlight?
Did you write or say something you wish you hadn’t?
Today is a new day, a fresh slate, a blank sheet of paper.
Choose your pathway with determination and lightness of heart.
Begin, begin, begin again, beloved.

Grateful for the always freshness of beginnings.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!

“Always we begin again.” —St. Benedict

Thomas Merton: “There are only three stages to this work: to be a beginner, to be more of a beginner, and to be only a beginner.”

“If the Angel deigns to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears, but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

“One does not ask of one who suffers: What is your country and what is your religion? One merely says: You suffer, that is enough for me.” —Louis Pasteur

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” —James Bovard

“We must ask ourselves as Americans, ‘Can we really survive the worship of our own destructiveness? We do not exist in isolation. Our sense of community and compassionate intelligence must be extended to all life-forms, plants, animals, rocks, rivers, and human beings.” —Terry Tempest Williams

Jan Richardson:
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” —William Stafford

“There are years that ask the question and years that answer.” —Zora Neale Hurston

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.” —Hafiz

“One puts down the first line. . .in trust that life and language are abundant enough to complete it.” —Wendell Berry

“Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.” —Job 12:8

“Sometimes the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” —Wallace Stevens

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

“The contemplative stance is the third way. We stand in the middle, neither taking the world on from another power position nor denying it for fear of the pain it will bring. We hold the dark side of reality and the pain of the world until it transforms us, knowing that we are both complicit in the evil and can participate in wholeness and holiness.” —Richard Rohr

Clarissa Pinkola Estes on the Curanderisma healing tradition: “In this tradition a story is ‘holy,’ and it is used as medicine. The story is not told to lift you up, to make you feel better, or to entertain you, although all those things can be true. The story is meant to take the spirit into a descent to find something that is lost or missing and to bring it back to consciousness again.”


Early in the summer, I agreed to create a Camp-in-a-Box for my school. I decided to do a camp on Zine-Making, which is something I love, and I got into the project with gusto.

A few things about me: I am a Leo, and I am a Seven, so when I get excited about a project, I can tend to go a little teensy bit overboard. Roar. But I can also get snagged on the tail end of a deadline. Sigh. The materials are due tomorrow at 9 am, and I just finished packing them up.

I thought it would be really fun to have all the instructions for every day in little Zines! And every day should have a sample Zine! And more instructional Zines! In the end, I wound up folding nearly two hundred Zines for this project.

But it’s finished now. On to the next thing!

Gratitude List:
1. We’re trying to get one long walk or bike ride in every day. I’m loving making a habit of going to the local trails for a daily walk. There is so much beauty here!
2. Yesterday at High Point, we saw and heard several grasshopper sparrows, and two meadowlarks!
3. I’m done with that L-O-N-G project!
4. So many generous people.
5. Art and poetry.

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

Hold onto your hearts. Take Courage.
Here are some Thoughts for Friday:
Mother Teresa: “So often the problem is simply this—that we make the circle we put around our family too small.”

Chimamanda Adichie: “Stereotypes are not wrong; they are just incomplete.”

“We must ask ourselves as Americans, ‘Can we really survive the worship of our own destructiveness? We do not exist in isolation. Our sense of community and compassionate intelligence must be extended to all life-forms, plants, animals, rocks, rivers, and human beings.”
—Terry Tempest Williams

“It’s hardest to love the ordinary things, she said, but you get lots of opportunities to practice.” —Brian Andreas

“To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.” —Manly P. Hall

Be softer with you.
You are a breathing thing.
A memory to someone.
A home to a life.”
—Nayyirah Waheed

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
―Howard Zinn

“Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” —Representative John Lewis

Antonio Machado:

“Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.

Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.”

“I don’t write out of what I know; I write out of what I wonder. I think most artists create art in order to explore, not to give the answers. Poetry and art are not about answers to me; they are about questions.” ―Lucille Clifton, who was born on this day in 1936

“Everyone is born with a set of sacred agreements to a higher authority than those of this world. Like a pole star, there is a divine Self which directs and shapes our lives into what we’re meant to become. Sooner or later, we must navigate by our star’s light, or risk being lost in the dark night of the soul.” —Toko-pa Turner

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.” —CS Lewis

“. . .without a sense of the sacred, all knowledge remains abstract.” —Rosebrough and Leverett, Transformational Teaching

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” —William Butler Yeats

“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 happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure.” —Macrina Wiederkehr

“The storm walked around the hills on legs of lightning, shouting and grumbling.” ―Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

“most people don’t set foot outside their own heads much.” ―Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Cherry Cobbler

Here’s to good neighbors! A couple days ago as we were walking, our neighbor down the road invited us to his Solstice drumming circle. I would have taken him up on it, but we were going to see my parents the next day, and I wanted to limit my exposure to other people. I do hope he asks again!

And a couple days ago, another neighbor texted me that she had a bunch of extra sour cherries from her cherry tree–Could we use them? Um. Yes, please, and thank you! Supper last night was a sweet summer fruits meal: cherry cobbler with ice cream.

Gratitude for kind neighbors.

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

“They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.” ―Granny Weatherwax, Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

‪”Nature is real and vital. Wealth is neither. How is it we grant imaginary dragons the power to breathe real fire?‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist

“Only you and I can help the sun rise each coming morning. If we don’t, it may drench itself out in sorrow. You special, miraculous, unrepeatable, fragile, fearful, tender, lost, sparkling ruby emerald jewel, rainbow splendor person. It’s up to you.” —Joan Baez

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
―Leymah Gbowee

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” —Dr. Seuss

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” —Nelson Mandela

“Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.” —Wess Stafford

“Children are one third of our population and all of our future.” —Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981

“Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.” —Fred Rogers

“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” —Nelson Mandela

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” —Frederick Douglass

“Do not be afraid to include other people in your story, to ask others to hold the light for you in times of darkness and pain. This is a grace and a gift you offer them, to allow another the honor of walking beside you on the path, in silence or in song, no matter how treacherous the journey.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2012

“When you realize the Earth is so much more than simply your environment, you’ll be moved to protect her in the same way as you would yourself. This is the kind of awareness, the kind of awakening that we need, and the future of the planet depends on whether we’re able to cultivate this insight or not. The Earth and all species on Earth are in real danger. Yet if we can develop a deep relationship with the Earth, we’ll have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change our way of life.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

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

We’re All Coopers

As an English teacher, one of the disciplines I try to teach my students is analysis. Take a situation, a piece of art, a novel, a political view, a fight you had with your friend. Lay it out in front of you and examine it from every angle. Check out its component parts, and start asking yourself questions. How does this cog fit into that cog and make this crankshaft turn? How does this word combined with this biblical or pop culture allusion develop this tone that creates in the reader a sense of satisfaction or humor or existential dread? How does the painter use indigo to create a sense of depth perception in this painting?

So often, when we see a painting, or read a poem, or experience a national moment, we rush into our conclusions, and that’s not necessarily bad or un-intellectual. I think first impressions are really important in analysis. How did it make you feel? The first reactions lead the analyst into deeper questions, beginning questions: Why did she do that, I wonder? What caused him to react that way? How would I have acted in that situation?

Here’s why I am ranting about analysis today: Amy Cooper woke me up really early this morning. She’s the most recent national “Karen,” a white woman calling the police on a black person for being in a public space. Yesterday, I had First Reactions. Remember, first conclusions are not invalid. They’re the spark that takes us deeper into analysis. Why am I so angry? What was she thinking? Yesterday, Amy Cooper stepped out of her individual story and into the boat of an archetype. She’s a “Karen.” She’s a morality lesson. She’s an example of implicit bias and unquestioned entitlement and white supremacy. And when she floated into my mind at 4:30 this morning, I wasn’t getting back to sleep.

I do not know Amy Cooper, and any guesses I make about her motivations and choices are a complete disservice to her as an individual. I’m pretty sure she had no intention of stepping onto the stage and becoming a player in a National Morality Play. But she did do so. And now her part in this story has become the setting for necessary cultural analysis.

There are a lot of possible points of analysis here. The most obvious, of course, is race. The setting, however, has to do with civic duty and entitlement. Again, I do not know Ms. Cooper or why she would walk through a sensitive wildlife habitat, past signs that read Dogs Must Be Leashed At All Times, and let her dog run free of the leash. (Just this week, a friend of mine was injured while walking her own leashed dog, by a rambunctious unleashed dog in a park with Leash Your Dog Signs. “Oh, he’s friendly!” called the scofflaw owners of the leash-free pup just moments before the dog barreled exuberantly into my friend and her dog.) What is this entitlement that causes people to assume that basic laws and guidelines of civic and community co-existence don’t apply to me? There’s fodder for a whole article here. I would guess that we could all find some of these rules that we would scoff at personally. My favorites are the Homeowners’ Associations that forbid gardens in front lawns or washlines or wildflower patches. This piece of the analysis gets to the root of who we are as a society: Where does your freedom end and mine begin? Are there necessary “rules” for how we behave together in shared spaces? Don’t we need rules that protect the Earth and animals, which cannot speak for themselves? Should we regulate industries that pollute the air and earth and water that we all share? Can we ask each other to wear masks in public in order to protect each other from a pandemic? American individualism versus community health and well-being. Anarchy, individualism, authoritarianism, communitarianism, civic-mindedness all crunch together. There are whole articles to be written on this one.

Obviously, the main issue in this story, however, is the race issue. A white woman calling the police on a black man. Birding while black. Upholding community standards while black (he was simply asking her to leash her dog). In the context of the murder of a Minneapolis man by the police this week, the possible danger she placed him in cannot be discounted or minimized. Amy Cooper said later that she saw the police as protectors. As a black man in America, Christian Cooper (no relation) has every historical reason to fear the police when a white woman says, “I am afraid!” There are historical echoes in Amy Cooper’s phone call, echoes of Carolyn Bryant Donham calling down white wrath on Emmett Till, echoes of white slave-holding women maintaining cultural supremacy by placing black men in the role of dangerous savage from whom they needed protection.

And the moment I get into that territory, I need to recognize the gender story here. While this is a Morality Play about Race, we can’t ignore the gender question, the fact that women fear public spaces. I’m not sure how to parse the general fears of women from the racialized use of that fear that Amy Cooper played upon. A woman alone hiking in the woods has to contend with fear of male violence. Women grow up knowing we’re prey in some men’s minds. It doesn’t matter that most men would not harm us. We learn to be watchful and vigilant, to feel unsafe. We who look through Christian Cooper’s camera feel no sense of threat toward Amy Cooper. Yet we don’t know what traumas she may have experienced in her life that might have sent her into her reptilian brain for responses. We do hear her name race in her call, repeatedly. (Echo. Echo.) Still, simple gendered fear has to be taken into account not as an excuse, but as a factor.

You could analyze the surreality of their names. Were you to write this as a short story about race and gender and social entitlement in the US today, surely you wouldn’t name them the same thing. And yet, there’s something that awes me about this detail, some universal synchronicity that says: In the midst of it all, you’re the same. You’re related. You may think you’re the opposite on every imaginable scale–race, gender, age, civic engagement–but you’re really the same. You’re coopers, barrel-makers. You take the different elements of wood and metal and put the pieces together with such skill that the water and the wine stay safely within.

You could analyze their age difference. You could do a psychological exploration of the role of fear in this encounter. You could look at her treatment of the dog. You could look at the subculture of birders, and wonder about the warblers that Christian Cooper was most likely watching that day. You could explore their religious and political leanings (she appears to fall on the liberal side of the spectrum, if you’re making assumptions).

To do this justice, I would parse each piece in much greater detail, examine every element, but this is a blog-journal and not a professional article. It’s personal ramblings and not an English essay. Instead of trying to wrap it up neatly, I want to take it back to what I wrote yesterday, about curiosity. After all this muddling through today, I’m still angry. I still think Amy Cooper needs to be held accountable for calling the police on a black man who just wanted her to follow the rules and leash her dog, despite that fact that the story may have human complexity that extends beyond the symbolic and archetypal significance we place upon it.

But now I am curious. I wonder how this story would play out as deliberate fiction, what it might tell us about ourselves and how we live in the world. I’m curious about how Amy Cooper will find her way into life again as herself after living as an archetype. I wonder what would happen if Mr. Cooper and Ms. Cooper could be brought together in a mediation situation where they could tell each other their stories. I wonder what would happen if we would all begin to tell each other our stories, if we would all explore our internal biases, if we could maintain curiosity as a constant, if we would choose to encounter each other–with all our differences in age and race and gender and social awareness and civic-mindedness–as somehow inherently the same. This really is a morality play in which each character holds layers of symbolism. It’s a Jungian dream, in which each of us is equally each of the characters, bringing with us the distinct elements of race and gender and age and experience that make us distinct. We’re all Coopers.

Gratitude List:
1. We’re all different. We’re all the same. Being human is messy, but it’s so beautiful.
2. Wonder and curiosity
3. The way dawn came this morning on an aural wave, first the night insects and the early twittering of birds, along with an occasional rumble of a bullfrog in the pond, then louder, more voices joining, echoes resonating in the bowl of the hollow.
4. Finding closure
5. Blackberry blossoms covering the bluff like snow.

May we walk in Beauty!

“What does it mean to be pro-life if you defend the life of a child in the womb, but not the life of a child on the border?” —James Martin SJ

“It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” —Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Forests will always hold your secrets,
as that’s what forests are for.
To envelop things.
They’re the blankets
of the earth,
grown to protect,
to comfort, to hide,
to carry, to seep
into our chests,
and to teach.
Your sharpest aches
and bygone dreams
will be scattered across
these knowing trees
while the ancient contrasts
of shadow and light
whisper once again
that we are built to seek.
It is here in this space
where we’ll rediscover
the rhythms of roots
and what it fully means
to renew.
To revive.
To breathe.” —by Victoria Erickson

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.”
—Ralph Waldo

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” ―Rachel Carson

“In nature’s economy, the currency is not money. It is life.” —Vandana Shiva

Grace for What Will Be

Interesting patterns of lichen and rust on the old iron bridge at school. I am holding the image of this bridge in my heart as I think about how we make a safe and purposeful bridge for our students and community into the fall and beyond. What Will Be is going to look different from What Was. And that will be okay. We get to choose, now, to construct the beautiful and thoughtful and creative future that we want.

I have no doubt that there may be pieces of the future plan that will push me out of my comfort zone–continued elements of online learning, strange new schedules–but leaving my comfort zone is how I grow.

And, despite the changes, we carry important elements of the old way forward, into the new times, traditions that support and identify us as who we are, deep down. Some of the Beauty of What Was will permeate and inform What Will Be, not just at school, but everywhere. Let’s be deliberate, gracious, and filled with compassion as we create a future that is safe and humane and comfortable for everyone.

Gratitude List:
1. The hope of hummingbirds
2. How the children educate themselves, given half a chance. One is researching, in great depth, how to create and develop a Youtube channel, along with exploring how to create artful imagery and videos. The other is learning things about computers that I have no name for, but which I know are important to the world somehow.
3. Integrating some Qigong suggestions from a dear friend into my daily stretching and breathing practice. Sometimes, and especially at times like this, intangible gifts are special treasures. Every day, when I stretch and breathe, this will be like opening–once again–a little gift package from someone I love.
4. Getting kicked out of my comfort zone. I am not always grateful for this, and usually I am actually sort of kicking and screaming, but hindsight, baby, is full of grace.
5. Pathways through the woods. Yes, and I mean those, too. . .

May we walk in Beauty!

“Alas, the webs are torn down, the spinners stomped out.
But the forest smiles. Deep in her nooks and crevices she feels the spinners and the harmony of their web. We will dream our way to them.
Carefully, we feel our way through the folds of darkness. Since our right and left eyes are virtually useless, other senses become our eyes. The roll of a pebble, the breath of dew-cooled pines, a startled flutter in a nearby bush magnify the vast silence of the forest. Wind and stream are the murmering current of time, taking us back to where poetry is sung and danced and lived. In the distance a fire flickers—not running wild, but contained, like a candle. The spinners.” —Marylou Awiakta

“I don’t know if y’all heard, but women are the same as humans.” —Leslie Jones

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
―Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
―Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“I know that when I pray something wonderful happens, not only for the person that I am praying for, but also for me. I am being heard.” —Maya Angelou

“My pen is my harp and my lyre; my library is my garden and my orchard.” —Judah Ha-Levi (Spanish Poet, Physician)

Jesus and the Women

Jesus and the Women
A Mother’s Day Poem
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

His mother and his aunt made sure he knew more
than just the laws and canons of the men,
the patriarchy passed from father down
to son. They passed on their own mysteries,
from mother, from aunt, to these sons
they were raising. They suspected something big
was coming when Jesus and his cousin
came into their own, and they wanted them prepared.

And at his own wedding, when she upbraided him
for skimping on the wine, the gospels don’t record
his mother’s upraised eyebrow, quirked grin, tilted chin,
the way she swirled those robes of sky like hurricane
about her ankles as she turned and pointed to the empty
amphoras, then poked the steward in the chest, “Just do
whatever he tells you.” How the son hung his head
and shook it side to side, laughing. “Fill ‘em up
with water,” he told them, hands out in front of him,
like surrender. “No one can fight my Mama on this one.”

Martha had her say, too: “Bro! You’re bringing all these people
into the house! There are chairs and tables to set up,
children to tend to, food to be cooked and served.
Can’t you tell Maggie to help me with the work?”

“Whoa! First of all, let’s get this straight. No one tells Maggie
what to do. Maggie does what Maggie wants,
and furthermore, Mama said we’ve got to get the men
into the kitchen, too. Zaccheaus, will you grab that roast?
John, rearrange those chairs, will you? Uncle Nick,
can you catch that baby there before she toddles
out the door? Come sit here with us, Mar, and tell them
that idea you had about community gardens in Bethany.”

And when the party ended in the wee hours of night
and they were cleaning up, Martha handed him a dishcloth:
“Everybody wants a revolution,” she said and slapped him on the back.
“But no one wants to do the dishes.” He chuckled as he did them.

Then there was beloved Maggie—Don’t quibble with me
about Miriam and the Magdal-Eder and the names
of seaside towns. This is my poem, and I say
he called her Maggie like the rest of them, except
in the dark, when those healing hands were wrapped
around her. Then, “Mary,” he said, and “Mary,” again,
which is why the name went through her like knives,
like the sunlight which pierced her eyes on that morning
in the garden. But that came later.

“Why does the rabbi let his wife walk about,” they grumbled
in the synagogue, “with her head uncovered?”

I can see him rolling his eyes. Can’t see you how he
rolls his eyes? How he responds: “We’ve been over this
and over this. No one tells Maggie to do or not do anything.
Maggie speaks. Maggie writes. Maggie lets her raven hair
swirl about her shoulders in the sun. You might
as well tell thunder when to speak or to keep silence.
Maggie’s got a perfect mind, and Maggie will do
whatever Maggie pleases to do, and that pleases me.
Listen to this poem she wrote yesterday:
I am the mother and the daughter.
I am the barren one
and many are my sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
and it is my husband who begot me.”

And when the time had come, they gathered—
mother, aunts, sisters, wife—and they waited
and they watched. They knew what they had to do,
as women do who have received the mysteries of women
from generation to generation, and passed them on,
as women who have borne pain and healed pain
from the beginning of time. They stayed at the cross,
they went to the garden, they carried life forward
in the way that women do, in vials of oil and jars of herbs,
in loaf and grail, in words of thunder, and in mysteries
that you can see if you but look behind the veil.

Gratitude List:
1. My wise and compassionate mother
2. All my beloveds who mother me in so many ways
3. The experience of mothering. The joys and delights outweigh the wrenching sense of inadequacy, the shameful awareness of all I have done wrong in this gig.
4. All those birds out there. Some people say they think that global shelter-in-place has contributed to more songbirds. Anecdotally, I would say that could well be true.
5. Coffee

May we walk in Beauty!

“I stand before what is with an open heart. And with an open heart, I dwell in possibility.” —Macrina Weiderkehr

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
― Ida B. Wells-Barnett

“Somewhere in the world there is a treasure that has no value to anyone but you, and a secret that is meaningless to everyone except you, and a frontier that possesses a revelation only you know how to exploit. Go in search of those things.

Somewhere in the world there is a person who could ask you the precise question you need to hear in order to catalyze the next phase of your evolution. Do what’s necessary to run into that person.” —Rob Breszny
*“Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it.” —Stephi Wagner

“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?” ―George Orwell

“Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, that person sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” —Robert F Kennedy

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil it multiplies it.” —Martin Luther King Jr

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.” —Frederick Douglass

“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.” ―Jane Goodall

Justice Delayed

Don’t get me wrong.
I am glad that those men have been arrested.
There’s an aroma of justice to that part of the story.
It’s just that it’s so late in the story.
It’s just that it took a leaked video.
It’s just that it took concerted and focused public outrage.
It’s just that it took so long.
It’s just that it has happened before,
and it will happen again.
And again.
And again.
And what will it take for justice,
each time it happens?
And how does justice happen
if there’s no video to leak?
And is delayed justice any kind of justice at all?

Something is broken in America.
It’s been broken for a long time.
It’s never not been broken.
But we keep saying we have fixed it,
living like it’s been healed.
Acting shocked when we see how broken it is.
And then another round of outrage,
hoping that some sort of justice will be done,
and shrugging with relief and disgust
when the arrests are finally made,
knowing it’s never enough,
never soon enough.

I don’t know how to finish this.
I’ve run out of words.

Birthing Day

Fourteen years ago today, this person came to join us. I’m grateful every day.

Gratitude List:
This amazing child. That’s my gratitude for today.
Fifteen years ago, I lost my first pregnancy, over a period of about a week. One year later, to the week, this marvel of a human came into our lives. From the first hours of his time here, he was curious and awake, observant and engaging. He’s goofy and gorgeous, compassionate and tender. He loves his people and his cats. He spends hours thinking about how things work. He teaches me daily how to be a better person.

“We are not just made by God. We are made of God.” —Julian of Norwich

“In the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.” —Jonas Mekas

“Awake, my dear. Be kind to your sleeping heart. Take it out into the vast fields of Light, And let it breathe.” —Hafiz

“Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.’” —Maya Angelou

“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.” ―Maurice Sendak

“The best teachers are those who tell you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” —Alexandra K. Trenfor