The Heart Must Hold Them All

I have been thinking again about the quotations I post every day, how they’re like rungs on a ladder for me, steps toward ideas that I am seeking, seeds of ideas that I am watering and nurturing. Sometimes they’re a little harsh and jangly, and that is well and good, because I am feeling a little harsh and jangly these days, full of nerves easily frayed by the next round of cynicism and rudeness and cruelty and tragedy.

Then I find another quotation that blows cooling breeze over the rippling waters of my soul. Or someone posts a picture of a man carrying a pink umbrella to shield his family from the sun, and his wife, with their baby on her back, wraps an arm companionably about his waist. Or a student comes up to me with shining eyes and a world-changing idea. Or the mist lies over the fields of drying sunflowers like a road to Avalon.

And I find myself back at the start again, learning as if for the first time, that my heart must hold them all, both the jangly and the tender.

I watch my skittish cat, the longing in his eyes to be part of the action, and the constant anxiety, the startlement at every tiny sound. He’s so sensitive, so wound up, so completely attentive to it all, that he sometimes gets paralyzed, and can’t function except to flee and hide. When we determine that our Work is to pay closer attention, to increase our sensitivity, to care more deeply, it is possible to become as tightly wound as poor Sachs, and tremble in fear at any change in atmosphere. In days like these, it’s important to me that I remember the pink umbrella and the shining eyes and the mist. If I don’t want to get completely jangled and twitchy, I must keep looking for the feathers and the sparkling morning cobwebs, must listen for the racket of robins in the hollow each morning, must breathe in the scent of autumn in the air.

“The world has been abnormal for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.”
—Madeleine L’Engle, A Swiftly Tilting Planet
“People are just trees who have forgotten.”
—William Adams
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” —Goethe
“My actions are my only true belongings.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
“If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” —Erica Jong
“The women, united, will never be defeated.” —Ubaka Hill
“Life is a luminous pause between two great mysteries, which themselves are one.” —C. G. Jung
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” —John Steinbeck

Gratitude List:
1. Balance
2. Paying Attention
3. Waking Up
4. Beginning Again
5. Sunrise

May we walk in Beauty!

The Only Way In Is In

2013 August 348
The only way in is in.

Here is an old poem of mine. I am not feeling knife-edgy lately, but perhaps you are:

Some days
you feel as though
you have been walking that knife edge
too afraid
to look to right or left.

Then one day,
you raise your gaze
and there before you
is the green valley
with a blue glass lake
and a silent island
that you have been seeking
in every dream
since you were born.

Gratitude List:
1. Sweet yesterday. The last day of summer for me. Weekends don’t count. Yesterday was a weekday, the last free day of the work week before school begins. Teachers return on Monday, and we welcome the Bright Ones back on Tuesday.  I do love what I do, what we create together at school. Still, these lovely days–no matter how busy they get–of loosely planned rhythm, are sweet and wonderful.
2. Anticipating new rhythms. No matter how sweet the days of summer, something in me also longs for the formal rhythms of the school year.
3. Balance. I think this will be the theme of my school year this year. Particularly with the packs of grading that come in. I have a color-coded calendar all ready so I can visually see when the bigger papers are due.
4. Learning to know my own brain. I know that I am a visual learner, that I often have to see a word or a musical score or a fact in order to “get” it, even if seeing means visualizing it in my brain. When I meet a new person with an interesting name, I spell it out on the screen inside my head so it is easier to remember. Those color-coded calendars are part of my plan to work with the quirks of my brain this year, to give myself the necessary visual cues to get my work done more efficiently.
5. Cicadas. Yesterday, I stood and listened to the concert for a while. When I just move through it without thinking about it, it’s a confusing roar, but when I stop to listen, I can hear one band to the left starting to gear up, while the band in front of me is at full roar at a slightly different pitch. To the right is a third, reedier-sounding gang, trying to meet the roar in the middle, but fading out. What an amazing idea the cicada is–the seasonality (not just annual, but seasons of years at a time), the shells and wings and awkward flight bodies, the roaring.

May we walk in Beauty!

Hello, Speedwell!  Happy Spring to you, too!
Speedwell, tiny bright eye of spring.  Blue of sky, shot through with strands of deep blue threads of Mary’s robe.
Yesterday I saw a patch of dead nettle, such a bright purple against the dry golden grasses and the mud of the field.
And the shaggy forsythia is pushing out yellow blossoms.

May spring come to your spirit,
first the moment of exquisite balance,
when your night and your day have equal play within you.
Then the riot of song in the mornings,
calling you out and outward,
warmth returning to your bones
and sunlight on your hair,
rain that soaks the ground around you,
nourishing your roots.

Look around:
What is ready to hatch?
What is coming to birth in your spirit?
How will the season nurture this new thing
within you?

Gratitude List:
1. Balance
2. Rebirth
3. Transformation
4. Intention
5. Joy

May we walk in Beauty!

Grace and Balance and Beauty

Christmas morning dewdrops on a birch tree.

My dreams have been disturbed the last two nights, sleeping in other rooms, other beds.  Last night, I was living by myself in an apartment, and I was moving out, turning over the lease to someone else.  I realized that I was going to have nowhere to live, nowhere to sleep.  I thought of all the many people in the town that I knew, and tried to think of who to call to ask for a place to stay, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Even when I was talking to people I knew, I couldn’t bring myself to say, “Hey!  Could I stay at your house for a couple days?”  I told myself it was because I am an introvert, but I knew that it is because I couldn’t find the humility.  One of my fatal flaws, I think, is the inability to ask for help when I really need it.

Gratitude List:
1. Grace and balance.  (I have been watching my 9-year-old learn to ride his new ripstick.)
2. Beauty all around.  (I have been taking walks with my 6-year-old, looking for interesting things to photograph.)
3. A misty Christmas Day.
4. Fun playing games with the family.  (3-person chess is exhilarating!  And Ticket to Ride is stressful.)
5. You.  Your stories.  The music you make.  The powerful thoughts you put into the world.  The beauty and grace that you notice and share.  The way you are real.

So much love!

Looking Within

2013 October 015
Cat in the compost. . .

Gratitude List:
1.  A wonderful and rich morning with Alyson Earl, looking deeply within.  Thank you so much!
2.  All my helpers, healers, mentors, guides, faery godmothers, friends.  I get by with a little help. . .
3.  That clickety little bird who sings in the chestnut tree these days.  I don’t know who it is, but its call says, “Stop and pay attention.”
4.  The way the vegetables and fruits that are ripe in any season are designed to give the body exactly what it needs in that season.
5.  Balance

May we walk in Beauty.


Maintaining Balance

The gypsy wind came rattling through at 4:30 this morning.  It raised gooseflesh on my arms and the hair on the back of my neck tingled.  No more sleep.  No more sleep.  Down the stairs, some quiet reading, a little coffee and then some yoga tree poses.

In six months of regular morning tree poses, my balance has improved considerably.  I’m happy enough in my body, don’t get me wrong, but physical balance has never really been one of my strong points.  It’s a little startling to me that I can get this rather unathletic middle-aged body to pick up a new trick.  And it’s odd to me how place-oriented my balance is.  When I try the poses somewhere other than my kitchen, I teeter and totter and tumble all over the place.

On the internal front, I have been living with a low-grade fury again.  I have allowed this government shut down to throw me off my internal equilibrium.  I can’t seem to maintain balance,  to keep myself upright.  I want to rant and call names and burn bridges.
Somewhere I’ll find the poetry for this, the way to speak the need for justice in this story.  Right now, it’s still a little blind and crazed.  One thing that seems to help me hold my morning tree poses is the mirror in my kitchen.  When I look into my own eyes, my body suddenly remembers its upright nature and I stop thinking about falling.And oh.  I have not been writing gratitude lists.  I have stepped out of my space, walked away from my internal mirror.  How could I expect to keep my balance?  Here, then, is me back in my place, practicing my balance postures:

Gratitude List:
1.  A weekend with thoughtful, hopeful women.  All the grandmothers we carry with us.  Open hearts, open eyes.
2.  Dragonfly
3.  Autumn bird conversations.  Mockingbird is back at it after a summer of quiet.  Screech owl and great horned owl have been calling  even after dawn has brought the day.  Phoebe is moving through again.  Robin hordes have been amassing in the hollow every evening, and they begin the mornings with a deafening chatter.  I have even heard the kingfisher’s fussy chitter along Cabin Creek.
4.  A community of rebels
5.  Morning solitude

May we walk in Beauty.

Toad Redux

A week or so ago I posted a collage-style poem, “The Song of the Toad and the Little Birds.”  Toads seem to be lurking their way into my work of late.  Here’s a sequel, or perhaps a Part II:

The toad squats
behind the poem
of the little birds

Underneath its tongue
is a red jasper
and its name is Patience

It is listening for the sound
of the sound of your name
in the falling rain
in the sound of a car
turning the corner

It is listening for your heartbeat
as you wait to be born

If you look closely enough
you will see the thin golden chain
around its left wrist

If you wait
you will hear a sigh
like the settling
of a leaf
in the grass.


Gratitude List:
1.  Feeling energized by the work of the day
2.  Toads
3.  Dragonstone
4.  Balance and paradox
5.  Layers of meaning
May we walk in beauty.

Toad visiting the Faerie house, Summer 2009