Wear Gratitude Like a Cloak

Following your bliss, as Joseph Campbell put it, doesn’t mean knowing where it might lead. Bliss beckons us every single day. At first, it may come in a small voice, out from under a great heap of rubbish, but it definitely knows your name. It starts with a dream that you may not even remember, and it grows into a déjà -vu, a surge of emotion, an inexplicable familiarity in a stranger’s face. Rather than getting caught up in finding “your purpose,” take the risk to talk to that stranger, follow your feeling and trust your dreams, and before you know it, as Rumi says, “your living pieces will form a harmony.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” —Rumi
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
—Annie Dillard
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet. “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet. “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.” —AA Milne
“The aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
out of their leaves.”
—Mary Oliver
“Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?”
“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”
—Danny Kaye
“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”
—Maya Angelou
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
—John Muir
“I started going for long lone country walks among the spendthrift gold and glory of the year-end, giving myself up to the earth-scents and the sky-winds and all the magic of the countryside which is ordained for the healing of the soul.”
—L.M. Montgomery

Gratitude List:
1. The Holy Moment of telling story, of powerful vulnerability, of the hush of listening, of voices found and reclaimed, of grit and resilience. How our stories bless each other.
2. Blessing the babies. I love the way my church blesses the babies. I think that part of my pastors’ job must be the best job in the world.
3. Spicy Korean noodles for lunch
4. Now we go from golden to orange and red
5. The Water Protectors. Lancaster Against Pipelines. People who stand up, speak up, put themselves on the line.

May we walk in Beauty!

All Our Children

#resist — I found this in my classroom zen garden last week.

I am sure that I have written this before. Still, it seems to want to be said again.

The first time I was pregnant,
I spent Mother’s Day
with the dawning awareness
that I was losing that baby.

The next Mother’s Day,
I held that one’s brother in my arms.
Becoming a mother was fraught
with much more peril than I’d anticipated,
each son preceded by a shadow child,
a rainbow child.

We talk amongst ourselves
about the lost ones,
and we wonder:
Were they just the first attempt
of these two who made it,
missing the train on the first go?

Were they the vanguard,
the waymakers,
making a pathway
for their brothers to follow?

Were they forces of nature,
faerie children,
unleashed into the world
to watch and protect?

But here in the sun of today
are these two shining changelings,
eyes older than time.
They know they belong here
in these bodies made of earth,
of wind and bone.

Perhaps they sometimes hear
the spirit children
singing in their dreams.

Some random quotations:
“Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.” ― Bob Marley
“Truth is an agile cat. It has more than nine lives.” ― Joy Harjo
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).” ― Mark Twain
“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”  ― Fran Lebowitz
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Gratitude List:
1. Wood duck on Goldfinch Pond.
2. Three chittery indigo buntings flitting across the road.
3. The new giving project idea at church. I have never seen such unmitigated joy in response to the announcement of a new giving project. People clapped.
4. My mother. All the wisdom and Presence she offers to so many people.
5. And my grandmothers. And my mother-in-law. And all the women who have been mother to me. And Mother Earth.
6. My children: the two who bless and challenge me every day.
7. All our children, who challenge me/us to make the world a better and a safer place.
8. And Icarus Oriole, who sings to me all day. (I know he is really singing to Her Ladyship who hides herself greenly in the leaves, but it feels like he is singing to me.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Threads of a Poem


Spider is writing her poems along the field
from sedge to bramble to foxtail
in silver shining threads and dew.

Gratitude List:
1. Several new babies safely in the world now.  Blessings on the new people and their parents.
2. Dawn chorus.  I may need to change up my routine and do my writing in the evenings so I can sit out on the porch and listen to the morning’s symphony.
3. Harriet Tubman will be on the $20 bill.  It’s a symbol, and it’s only money, but it’s a nod to her role in our history.  The people we set up as our heroes shape who we become as a nation.  This is a small step, but it has the potential to show us a better side of who we can be.
4. Resolve.  Determination. Will.  I don’t know about you, but it seems as though I have energy cycles–sometimes I can only focus on getting done the things I need to get done at the moment, whether it’s a lot or a little.  There are times, however, when it seems as though the winds push through an extra measure of resolve, and the energy for moving forward is more constant.
5. How spring always has a new thing.  The crocus and the earliest spring flowers are faded, but a few daffodils remain.  Ms. Freiberg’s yellow tulips are still shining in the morning dew, and the my guarddogwood trees are daring each other to be the first to burst into bloom.  (Now, if only oriole would come and whistle for me.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Story Ramble

This week I have been thinking about the layers of stories that I experience.  There’s this story of mine that I am creating with every thought or idea that I latch onto or release, every image I carry with me, each action, each refusal to act.  I create the tone and subtext for my story, and even develop the plot with a certain amount of control.  A fair bit of the plot is beyond my control, and then my role in the story becomes how I respond and shape myself in relationship to the plot.

My story is interwoven with the stories of my husband, my children, my parents and the rest of my family, my friends and community, the folks who work on and who visit the farm, my internet network.  And they shape my story as I shape theirs.  We hone and whittle, we tweak and trigger and tickle each others’ stories.  When your story gets rocky and challenging, it shakes my story, too.  I sort of think that’s the work we’re here to do, to help each other hone and perfect our stories.

There’s the living of story and the telling of story.  Someone told me part of his story this week, and said, “It helps to tell it.  There’s no point in keeping it inside.”  Something in the experience of being present for the telling, being tuned in to the mixture of pain and relief and terror and hope, something in that changed me in a way that I can’t quite understand.  I am glad that telling the story helped him.  How is it that it healed and completed something within me as well?

I think, too, about the religious and spiritual stories that inform our lives, the way they overlap and challenge us, the ways that firm adherence to a story can close and calcify hearts.  The ways that tender adherence to a story can open a heart to acceptance and compassion.

And fiction and myth.  Why is it that we need to talk with other people about Downton Abbey and Mad Men and Six Feet Under?  About The Fifth Sacred Thing and The Hunger Games and Harry Potter?  Why do we get obsessed with Star Trek and Doctor Who?  There’s something in the public, corporate sharing of story that develops and hones community experiences, that helps us explore more deeply what is means to be human, what it means to be community.

We’ve been pretty careful to shelter our children from the frenetic pacing of much of contemporary movies and television shows.  And I will continue to do so, but I am realizing that I also want to be careful not to stunt their opportunities for community-making through story-sharing with their peers.  Of course, I want them to create story with their friends as much as possible, which is what imaginative play is, but I also want them to have storylines to discuss and ponder with their friends.  Shared story is so important to community-making.

I feel a little like Andy Rooney on a ramble, without his skill at wrapping up the free association.  So I’ll leave you with a few pieces of my story from today, in the form of my current gratitude list.

2013 May 027

Gratitude List:
1.  That the elder patriarchs in my life are not The Patriarchy.  Such wonderful hearts, such rich meaning-making and humility and acceptance and tolerance.
2.  That the matriarchs continue to hone their voices, to lead the way into the story.  The ways they lead the charge to defend justice, to admit anger, to fiercely and joyfully protect and nurture.  Their solid practicality.
3.  Spirit, the fifth sacred thing, the wind that makes all winds that blow, the flame, the Center, the Mystery.
4.  The LCCN came for my book.  Conservative estimate is that it will be ready to purchase within a week.  I stated that with much more calm than I feel.  I am extremely excited.
5.  Being in a community where people pass babies around.  Watching the way people’s eyes change, the way their energies shift into such a tender place when they hold a baby.
6.  Bonus:  The way Jon can make me laugh by throwing out some little Jon-ism.  Still.  After more than half our lives.  I still love the way he makes me laugh.

May we walk in beauty.