Gratitudes, Musings

Small Paper Lanterns


“I went down in the river to pray. . .”

‘When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves.
Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power.
We shall stamp our feet with new power and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like burnt paper.’
―D.H.Lawrence
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“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
―Rabindranath Tagore
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“Every day look at a beautiful picture, read a beautiful poem, listen to some beautiful music, and if possible, say some reasonable thing.”  ―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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“Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire?” ―Christine Valters Paintner
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“Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity, we shall harness for God energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world we will have discovered fire.” ―Teilhard de Chardin
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“We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.” ―Hildegard of Bingen
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“Dare to declare who you are. It is not far from the shores of silence to the boundaries of speech. The path is not long, but the way is deep. You must not only walk there, you must be prepared to leap.” ―Hildegard of Bingen


Gratitude List:
1. This, from a song in church this morning: “Not by your finger, not by your anger, will our world order change in a day, but by your people, fearless and faithful, small paper lanterns lighting the way.” I am grateful for you and you and you, for being my small paper lanterns.
2. The young people of my church, who are small paper lanterns for me.
3. Community dinners, sitting out on the lawn, eating together, laughing, talking, remembering.
4. My tender-hearted children.
5. Anticipation of a new year.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Beloved Community

tree1

A couple years ago, I had a girl in my freshman class who entered every classroom on high alert, ready to attack at the slightest provocation. She didn’t wait to be bullied or insulted–she was ready to lash out at the least hint of a slight, the least whiff of aggression. Within days, most of her classmates were steering a wide path around her, terrified that they might accidentally look at her the wrong way and find themselves on the receiving end of her wrath.

One of the things I love about my school is the restorative way that teachers and administrators work with students. Teachers kept reminding her to keep her language school-appropriate, to speak more gently with her classmates. Students who felt harmed by her sharpness were cared for and comforted, and she was held accountable for the harm she caused. Still, she was treated like a person herself, not like a perpetrator, not like a problem. The adults understood that she was experiencing an extreme sense of vulnerability, that her social anxiety and the pain she was dealing with in her personal life made her push people away before she could be hurt.

Gradually, she began letting other students and adults near her. She discovered that people liked her for who she was, that we appreciated her quick wit, that she could make us laugh and smile. She began to talk and write about deeper things, too. When she lost someone she loved, instead of retreating to her cave and biting anyone who came near, she wrote it out. She talked about it. She let her friends hold her and care for her.

Now she’s a junior.  She’s finding her voice, catching her stride. She can still make you cringe when she gets into a temper. She’ll always be good at speaking her mind. But the aggressiveness is tempered with gentleness. Instead of masking her vulnerability, she uses her tender heart to find connections with others who hurt. She’s beginning to speak out about issues and causes that matter to her, using both reason and passion. She’s becoming a leader. I am proud of her, and grateful for this community that helped her find her way to her best self. She’s going to be one of the ones who changes the world.

Gratitude List:
1. Beloved community that provides a place for us to fail and try and fail and try and learn and become.
2. The way the sunlight spilled across the fields as dawn arrived.
3. Magenta, Indigo, Aquamarine, which is to say: The clouds at sunrise.
4. The way those five crows flying in a perfect line laced up the clouds they flew between.
5. The members of the Silhouette Magazine staff. They’re witty, earnest, playful, and thoughtful. I’m proud of the assembly they presented this morning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Crossing Bridges

Peppers

Gratitude List:
1. Summertime suppers.  Everything is based on the veggie of the moment.
2. Working together. Just before sunset, all four of us went up into the fields to transplant brassicas under a glorious Michelangelo sky.
3. Dream fragments.  I woke with this phrase in my head: “You have been chosen to be the caretaker of this tree for the time that you are here.”  Try as I might, I cannot remember the context, cannot pull out the fleetingest of images, cannot see who said this.
4. Bridges.  To recovery. To hope.  To new strength. To the other side of the terrifying chasm.  To the each other. Keep crossing them.  Keep building and fortifying them.  Keep believing in them.
5. How a little phrase will capture and hold the attention of the inner eye: beloved community, furious opposites, the interior castle.  How they ring like bells in the inner consciousness, saying: Pay attention now.  Think on this thing.

May we walk these bridges together, in Beauty.