Gratitudes, Musings

Honest Anger


Gratitude List:
1. Grocery Shopping with Jon. It felt sort of like a date.
2. How things come together sometimes when they seem like they won’t, and how that space of uncertainty is often where the magic comes seeping in.
3. Rituals of healing
4. The power of stories. We watched Nanette last night. Hannah Gadsby has some of the most powerful reflections on the importance of story that I have ever heard.
5. Hot Tea on a chilly evening

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Pathways of the Heart

Mountaintop  42068733_360534797822346_7202145227302807350_n(1)

Looking back through some of my previous blog posts, I came upon this again this morning, something that keeps leaping out at me from the past to remind me to open my throat. Today Joss is nine and Ellis is twelve. They must have been three and six at the time of this story:

This morning when we were playing with our gnomes, Joss decided that the gnome house was on fire, and he raced to get a group of gnomes to put it out. “Red! We need all the red gnomes!” Exactly–to put out a fire, it takes lots of red gnomes. Ellis chimed in, “And Minus! We need the Minus Gnome! Because a house with fire Minus the fire is just a house!”

Sometimes I sure would like to use some of Minus Gnome’s magic on me. An anxious Beth Minus anxiety is just Beth. Angst-ridden, anger-struck Beth Minus angst and anger? Beth. So that’s a nice little thing to do with meditation. Of course as soon as I began to work with the idea, it hit me again that the angers and angsts are so often born of compassion and caring, and for those I have been seeking the services of Multiplication Gnome. I need to untangle the compassion from its attendant anger at injustice, its partner anxiety at losses to those I love.

Wow. Look at those words that I wanted to get rid of: Angst, Anxiety, Anger. . .I looked them up, along with their sister Anguish. There at their root is angh-, which comes from the Indo-European language tree, and generally refers to distress of some sort. That lovely vowel–ah–cut short in the back of the throat, closed up along with all hope of breath: Angh!

Fear, shame, anger, distress: what sound emerges when you truly feel them? Angh! Choke.

But still, that lovely vowel–ah–the first we say in so many languages: Mama, Abba, Baba, Dada, Nana, Papa. The opposite of the choke, our family names, our names for the Ineffable Mystery: they release the breath in a tender sigh. Ah. There we go.

When I get really stuck in the Angh, I can dislodge that choke with a little Hahaha, a great belly laugh to force the air back through, a little spiritual CPR, so to speak. Or skip down the street with a Tra-la-la, a little song to start up the rhythm of breathing again. Or a little eureka, a bright discovery with a great Aha!

So the next time I wake up at three in the morning, suddenly filled with the dread of what is happening to this world that I have brought these light-filled children into, or choked with shame for some harshness I have spoken to their tender hearts, I think I will apply the Ah!, the Mama, the Ha! and see if that breath can be a lullaby to take my spirit back to sleep.


Gratitude List:
1. Breathing through the angh- to the aaaaaah
2. Long sleep last night
3. Re-orientation: Not getting stuck in the ruts of rage, but carrying the coals tucked in my apron to use at need
4. So many names for the Great Mystery
5. Building relationships with those who are not human: ducks, cats, trees, rivers, stones. . .

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Ranting

I have been ranting for the last couple of days. Here’s the gist:
Quote by Nancy Shulman:
“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”
***
Dallas Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress said: “Apart from the vocabulary attributed to him, President Trump is right on target in his sentiment.”

To the contrary: The word “shithole” is nothing compared to the vulgarity of the sentiment he expressed.

I have been quietly not openly calling myself a Christian for years now, because I do not like the look of Christianity in this country. I now openly walk away from the name. I continue to be a Follower of Jesus, in an Anabaptist and Universalist sort of way, with an emphasis on the feminine nature of the Great Mystery, and a belief that the Great Mystery is within everything and everyone. But I can no longer categorize myself as a Christian. I do not belong in any way, shape, or form to the same group as this man. No, we clearly are not following the same Jesus. Yes, this is judgemental. Yes, it is not being accepting of differences. There are differences I will not accept. Racism and xenophobia have absolutely no role in the realm of Jesus. If that is Christian, I am not that. I will have no part of that. Rather than trying to claim the term as something that embraces me as well, I walk away from it.

I will not check myself in as a Christian on polls and forms. If you ask my religion, I will no longer tell you that I am “a Christian, just not one of those.” Public Christianity in the United States is nothing I recognize as having anything to do with Jesus.

There are many people I know who continue to claim and reclaim the word, and I do not judge them. I, however, feel that at this point in time, I need to make a clear distinction between what I believe and what seems to be the path of U.S. Christianity.
***
This is no shock. We knew he was racist. Still, putting it into the public discourse so baldly demands that public figures, especially ones who follow Jesus, repudiate the language. One can say that this is not surprising, that he’s been doing this all along. That is true. But this is a level of unstatesmanlike public discourse that needs to be addressed right now. Robert Jeffries certainly did. His counterparts need to speak up. Now.
***
I believe in the path of Love, but this is one of the biggest challenges to that, even more than Dick Cheney. It was easier when it was abstract, but having an actual person to work it out with is really hard. I should probably take a FB break and read more Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron and Richard Rohr. Still, I feel a need to be part of the conversation. Somehow, I think these things need to happen in tandem: the inner work and the outer work.

Let’s keep talking about how to manage this. If not to Love, if not even to stop hating, at least to manage it all, to not be drowned, ourselves, in the hatred.

This I can say: I love You. I love my family, my students, my colleagues, my Beloved Friends, the sun and the earth and the animals. The moon. Those who are downtrodden and beaten and excluded. And because of that Love, I must fight the Wrong that these men are unleashing.

I have a sense that my hatred will not be an effective tool in that, though I have not managed to quell it. My anger can go either way, to push me to toward effective Work, or to enmire me in the bogs.

I cast a line from me to you, a line of Love for all that we love in common.
***
“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.” –Elie Wiesel
***
I have been neglecting the grounding work of my gratitude lists during a couple of days when I desperately needed the grounding.


Gratitude List:
1. The fine musicians and singers at my school. They are really given the opportunity to learn and to shine.
2. A long weekend
3. Bright souls, all around
4. A warm hat and slippers
5. Being surrounded by stories

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Day of Reckoning


Such beautiful eyes, boy and cat. The purring was loud.

Today’s Prompt is to write a “________ Day” Poem. I am fighting-angry these days, so this poem will speak to that .

Day of Reckoning
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

This is the day we reckon with the lies of the old men.
This is the day we see how the truth is uncovered.
This is the day we pick up the rock,
and watch what crawls out from beneath.
This is the day we watch patriarchy crumble
beneath the load of its own falsehoods.

This is the day we open the golden doors of the cages
where blind old men lock their little dolls
safe from the ravages of others, safe for themselves.
This is the day we stand up and say,
Our bodies are not your political tools.

This is the day we welcome the Mother
from the mists where She has been hidden.

Sisters, God is not a withered old man
who will lock you in a box until he is ready to use you.
God is an Aunty who will teach you how
to unlock the cage of your throat.
She is a Grandmother who will dress you
in your fierce and glorious clothing.
She is a Mother who will open your doors,
and throw wide your windows.
She is a Sister who will listen to your questions,
and teach you how to fight.

This is the day we reckon with women.


Gratitude List:
1. Clean floors!
2. Time to work on grading, and still time to clean and be with boys
3. The truth will out
4. The mothers, the aunties, the grandmothers, the sisters
5. Chicken curry and rice for supper, and Jon says he is bringing home some injera!

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Going Golden

A couple years ago, I wrote a gratitude note about “Honest anger and its connection to compassion.” This is a continual dance.
*
“If we don’t allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotion — deep joy and deep pain — then I think we are less than who we can be.”
―Terry Tempest Williams
*
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
―Henri Nouwen
*
“Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” ―Rumi
*
“Equality keeps us honest. Inequality creates liars and delusion. “―Rebecca Solnit
*
“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai
*
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
―C. G. Jung
*
“You have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ―Harriet Tubman
*
“The forests are the flags of nature. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten.”
―Enos A. Mills
*
“Come, come hither! Leave you and yourself;
Leave us and ourselves! Come swiftly
Come as quickly as possible. Put you and us aside;
Come!
Come until you and we would become extinct!
Come so that Neither you nor we
would exist!” ―Rumi
*
“Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi, The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
*
“Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.
– – – –
In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.
– – –
All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.” ―Mary Oliver


Gratitude List:
1. Libraries. Public libraries.
2. Markets. Town markets.
3. Parks. Community parks.
4. Planning our Halloween costumes.
5. Salted caramel.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Tender Little Dragon

dragon1

Here is something I wrote four years ago today. I found it really helpful to the me of today:

“This morning when we were playing with our gnomes, Joss decided that the gnome house was on fire, and he raced to get a group of gnomes to put it out. “Red! We need all the red gnomes!” Exactly–to put out a fire, it takes lots of red gnomes. Ellis chimed in, “And Minus! We need the Minus Gnome! Because a house with fire Minus the fire is just a house!”

Sometimes I sure would like to use some of Minus Gnome’s magic on me. An anxious Beth Minus anxiety is just Beth. Angst-ridden, anger-struck Beth Minus angst and anger? Beth. So that’s a nice little thing to do with meditation. Of course as soon as I began to work with the idea, it hit me again that the angers and angsts are so often born of compassion and caring, and for those I have been seeking the services of Multiplication Gnome. I need to untangle the compassion from its attendant anger at injustice, its partner anxiety at losses to those I love.

Wow. Look at those words that I wanted to get rid of: Angst, Anxiety, Anger. . .I looked them up, along with their sister Anguish. There at their root is angh-, which comes from the Indo-European language tree, and generally refers to distress of some sort. That lovely vowel–ah–cut short in the back of the throat, closed up along with all hope of breath: Angh!

Fear, shame, anger, distress: what sound emerges when you truly feel them? Angh! Choke.

But still, that lovely vowel–ah–the first we say in so many languages: Mama, Abba, Baba, Dada, Nana, Papa. The opposite of the choke, our family names, our names for the Ineffable Mystery: they release the breath in a tender sigh. Ah. There we go.

When I get really stuck in the Angh, I can dislodge that choke with a little Hahaha, a great belly laugh to force the air back through, a little spiritual CPR, so to speak. Or skip down the street with a Tra-la-la, a little song to start up the rhythm of breathing again. Or a little eureka, a bright discovery with a great Aha!

So the next time I wake up at three in the morning, suddenly filled with the dread of what is happening to this world that I have brought these light-filled children into, or choked with shame for some harshness I have spoken to their tender hearts, I think I will apply the Ah!, the Mama, the Ha! and see if that breath can be a lullaby to take my spirit back to sleep.”

Gratitude List:
1. Love Songs for chapel this morning, and serenaders wandering the halls all day.
2. Tender little dragons
3. The kinds of questions this kid comes up with: “Mom, what if we were to be reincarnated as a planet or other celestial body?”
4. The ones who are leading us into the next levels of consciousness–a lot of them are teenagers.
5. The people rise up, ask questions, hold the powerful accountable, and tiny little changes begin to happen.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Let’s Get Down To Business

First, some mulling drawn from today’s Facebook conversations.  Then a poem.  Then a Gratitude List.

Sometimes I don’t know if I can bear the weight of the problems of the world. I get so furious, not just at the military-industrial complex, but at the way corporations have become the ruling classes, the way Monsanto has taken over the USDA, the way our consumer culture is balanced on the backs of slaves and oppressed people elsewhere in the world. I don’t know if we can turn things back. But I know that there are lots of like-minded people out there who want to turn things back. I’m not sure how we do that, but I want to start by putting as much love out there as possible in the meantime.

I don’t mean for that to sound childish or like I am ignoring the problem. I bring it back to the metaphor of the bowl for the heart. I used to think that I could only have one thing in there at a time, either the joyful things full of wonder, or the angry and despairing things. But recently I have pledged to just sit with the bowl open and let it all fall in together. And the whole crazy mix belongs there. The love I have for butterflies and songbirds is precisely why I hate Monsanto so. The delight I take in my children is precisely why the military-industrial complex terrifies me.

How can I maintain the balance in my head when I get so furious and despairing and tired and sad about so much that is happening in the world? Sometimes it feels so schizophrenic to speak of beauty and wonder and delight when something in my heart is cringing in fear of what the future holds for my children. I know that remembering what I love, remembering what holds my heart, reminding myself why I fight, all this helps me to keep doing my work.

If we who care deeply enough to walk the cliffs of despair, if we let ourselves get frozen or lost or broken on those cliffs, then whatever it is that we’re fighting against has begun to win. Maybe that’s it. Instead of just using my rage and despair to fight this thing, I want to find ways to use my love and wonder to overcome it.

Perhaps my work of late has been too passive, too much in the realm of prayer and contemplation. What is the next step, I wonder?

These Are the Words
These are the things that I tell myself, over and over again.
These are the words I use to remember.

Don’t forget to do your soul-work.
Don’t stop because it seems like no one is watching,
because it seems like no one else is doing their work.
They are working.
Ask around. Tell your own story.
Suddenly they pop up like mushrooms,
all over the yard,
like fairy rings that fairly sparkle in the moonlight.

I always say, Be the web. Throw the lines from one to one to one.
Today I say, Be mycelium.
All those underground signals racing through the soil,
through the roots, through the fine hairs so tiny,
so tiny they are more energy than matter.

But that’s what matters.
That’s the heart of the matter.

We’re all doing our work, sending messages to each other,
invisible like energy,
like the sermons of the fungi
traveling those invisible underground highways.

Something is going to pop up.
I say, Something is going to pop up!

One morning you will wake up
and they’ll be there,
not just hiding underneath the leaves
with the shy toads and salamanders,
but spiced throughout the lawn
throughout the lawns
all over the world,
saying

We are here!
We are doing our work!

In the meantime, keep hoping,
keep praying,
keep making magic spells,
like the one my son made today
from dandelions and Virginia Creeper
to bring peace among the chickens,
and from them to their eggs and to us
and then to the whole world.

In the meantime,
keeping speaking the names of the captives.
Your words will set them free.

Keep singing and dancing,
praying and hoping.

Be the Underground Laureate of The Poetry of Waiting.
Be the One who Sings to the Dark Moon.
Be the Dancer in the Sullen Crowd.
Be the Painter of Speckled Eggs.

Oh, I have to say it, though the activists have said it a thousand times,
like Gandhi said it:

Be the change you wish to see.

Until the twining vines of the sacred squash
grow from your heaving heart,
until the song of the whale echoes through your deserts,
until the world is born afresh.
Until the world is born afresh.

This is the song. This is the poem.
This is the story that will heal the world.

Now.
Let’s get down to business.

Gratitude List:
1.  A pair of indigo buntings feeding in the dandelions before the rain.  (Perhaps some day I will write a gratitude list without the wing-folk.  Or perhaps not.)
2.  Ferns.  The ones I transplanted today from the barn wall to the house and walkway were taller than my children.  I think I may just keep adding and adding until the lawn is gone and the children can walk beneath their waving fronds like hobbits.
3.  The feeling of something being released in my spirit as the air pressure changes before rain.
4.  The way people care for your spirit when you ask for help.  That’s what I mean by asking around.  All that good work is being done, all that hopeful energy, all that intentionality, all that tremendous love waiting to spring into action, springing into action even before it is called upon.  Oh, I believe in angels, and some of them take human form.
5.  Conversations about the grandmothers that bring them into the present moment.

May we walk in beauty.  May we walk in love.

Gratitudes, Poems

Please Don’t Read This Poem If Your Heart Is Feeling Tender

Gratitide List:
(first, in case you want to stop before reading the poem)
1.  Breathing in compassion.  Breathing out compassion.
2.  The helpers.
3.  A compliment: I will be the opposite of Cynicism
4.  The red open mouths of the tulips
5.  Getting to decide who I want to be.

I need a labyrinth today for going into the darkness,
and remembering to come back out.
2011 June 227

I do not want to write this poem.
I need to write this poem.
That boy who died in the blast,
that one with large wide eyes like my sons,
I killed him.  Well, not him, exactly.
But that other one, the one
who happened to be where a Taliban terrorist
happened–oops–to not be
that day when the apricots were blooming
on the hillsides of Pakistan.
He was watching for his father to finish a race,
for his father to come in from planting his fields,
for his father to return from the next village.

I am so tired of all my murdering.  So tired of killing.
I am tired of this poem already, and I am only beginning.
Some days I see the blood everywhere:
on my hands, on my pillow, in the fields
where the spring onions are growing.

I pay my taxes, don’t you see?
That’s the whole story.

I have murdered my own children.
Well, not my sons exactly.
But sons.  I have killed so many.
And mothers.  So many.

Just like Mr. Obama has murdered his daughters.
He sent bombs from the sky
to kill them, to maim.
Well, not his own daughters exactly.
But daughters.  So many daughters.
And fathers.

Please stop me.
I don’t want not to write this poem.
I am so weary of killing,
of writing this poem, I mean.

I keep doing it, keep killing.
Keep sending my finches and bluebirds,
my tender little toad,
keep sending my taxes.
To kill people, children,
in faraway places.  My children.
Eyes so large, they want to take in the whole world.
“No more hurting people,” they all say.

I pay my taxes, don’t you see?
I need to stop writing this poem.
I am so weary of it, so very weary.

Yes, I know it was I.
I was the one who plotted and schemed,
who planted those bombs
like I plant my tomatoes.
Well, not those bombs exactly,
not those very bombs.
But bombs.  The ones raining death
from the blue sky to the hills
where the apricots are blooming,
raining down killing on children.

My own children.
Not my own.  Not mine.
But my children.

Please.  I need to stop writing this poem.

Gratitudes, Poems

March Monday: The Way of Trees

I was hoping that by giving myself a few days I would have something more polished to put up here, but this one feels like it needs a lot more work.  But the Mockingbird says to put it out there anyway. 

A teenaged boy drives his loud car
through the hollow at midnight
on his way from anger to angst.
Ribbons of red sparks catch
on the thorns of the locust trees.

Golden flowers of a woman’s hope
settle into the branches
of the towering sycamore
as she sits in its shade
and speaks her story.

The poplar, too, and the walnuts,
grasp the thoughts and dreams
of people passing through,
the green streamers of a new love,
the fierce orange flames of betrayal.

At night, the trees feed our dreams
with the colors they have harvested.
In the hollow, we dream with the trees,
our sleeping stories tangled
with the strands the trees have gathered.

 

March 3 Gratitude List:

1. Sunlight sparkling through whirling snow.
2. The way shadows hold the shapes of things. the way the snow stayed in the shadow of the poplar tree on the roof while all the rest melted away in the sun.
3. The quest and the questions. Yearning for the Ineffable Mystery.
4. Sea-tumbled, egg-shaped granite.
5. Stories. Love stories, family stories, personal stories.
May we walk in beauty.