Gratitude List: 1. That within us which is wild and untameable. The Wildness that calls to be experienced and known. This is why one of my names for the Holy One is the Wildest One. 2. Autumn walks. Leaves falling all around. Red berries. The scuttlings of small animals and birds in the brush. 3. Circles of protection and care. 4. Haiku and Tanka and terse, short-form poetry. 5. A good night’s sleep.
Gratitude List: 1. Red berries and autumn leaves and morning mist. And afternoon walks through the fields and orchards. 2. A day off. It’s a working day, but one I can take at my own pace. (Last night was really rough with gastro-intestinal issues, so I am especially grateful that I don’t have to go anywhere today. And I feel much better this morning.) 3. Maddy Prior and Steeleye Span and their fierce and folksy ilk–my soundtrack for today. 4. Reflected light. 5. You, my beautiful beloveds. How the right word always seems to come at the right moment. Sometimes I need to stew and fret and grumble for a while within the maze of my own troubles, but when it gets hard to breathe there always seems to be a thread in this amazing tapestry that I can grasp onto. May our webs and weavings grow ever outward to hold all within our reach.
Rumi: “Let yourself become living poetry.”
“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are,” Wendell Berry writes. “Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all—by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians—be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us. How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.”
“If I write about the past as I simultaneously dwell in the present, am I still in real time? Perhaps there is no past or future, only the perpetual present that contains this trinity of memory.” –Patti Smith
“Waiting on the words
to do their usual tumble,
I will find instead
a pocketful of golden
leaves, and some scarlet berries.”
Come into animal presence
by Denise Levertov
Come into animal presence
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn’t
quicken his trotting
across the track and into the palm brush.
What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.
Gratitude List: 1. The black arms of the walnut tree against the sky
2. Indigo clouds draped like cobwebs upon the morning
3. Always new chances to practice equanimity and balance
4. Wise friends
5. Intellectual puzzles
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
– e. e. cummings
“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” –Frederick Douglass
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
with a love like that —
It lights the whole
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
~ Mother Teresa
Gratitude List: 1. Re-arranging. We have a storage and clutter problem, but this weekend, we’ve been sorting and shifting, finding places for things, getting the right pieces of furniture for the right jobs.
2. The red berries on the dogwood trees
3. Hints of yellow and red in the leaves
5. Warm socks
Gratitude List: 1. Macaw feather. The feather appeared in my path one day as I was walking up the hill from the pond, and disappeared as magically as it appeared. Parrots are symbols of communication, of knowing when to speak and when not to speak, of using language for healing, of ritual and ceremonial language.
2. Berry season. Strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Mulberries staining the fingers and mouths of small children. Wineberries swelling on the briars. The hard green nuggets of blackberries preparing their sweetness. And the cherries from the ancient cherry tree by the old spring by Cabin Creek–a little wormy, but sweet, so sweet.
3. Reunions. With friends on Friday night, we let the children stay up until 11 because they were having so much fun with each other, this second generation of the College Gang. They made a whirlpool in Abby’s swimming pool, and played themselves dizzy and exhausted. I think they might remember that evening for the rest of their lives. I might, too. One boy slept until two the following afternoon.
4. School. I’ve written this and written this, how grateful I am about this work, these fine young people, these kind-hearted colleagues, Words and Language, and now the Completion of Year One. I just don’t want to take any of it for granted. I have so much mulling to do in the coming weeks about how this has changed my life, what it is calling me to become.
5. Silence. Tomorrow I go on Retreat. Three days of silence at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville. It comes at the perfect time.
1. Mom’s cottage pudding with the last of last year’s frozen strawberries. How did they last all year without being devoured? Time to finish them up. Jon brought the first of this year’s berries down the hill for us last night.
2. Speaking of Jon, he brought me a lettuce yesterday. A beautiful, ruffly lettuce, which he put into a green mug like a bouquet and set on the table. The dining room and kitchen smelled gently of lettuce for the evening–cool, spring green.
3. You know that feeling when you’re talking to someone and they reflect back to you something you’ve said, and you know with a flash of delight that here is someone who “gets” you? That. My cousin Karen provided that for me yesterday, and it filled me. Sometimes when you meet someone out of the blue on the path, you get sweet little friendly chatter, and that is good, but this conversation left me with words and ideas to play with, to integrate, to ponder, and a comforting sense of being known.
4. It’s hard to live out of my deepest center sometimes. But I am grateful for that to strive for, to keep moving inward. But knowing how that inward journey is a journey outward as well. I don’t know if that quite makes sense when it finds its way into words, but I am grateful for it.
5. Somehow, when I see you striving for wholeness, it makes me more whole. That mystery. I am grateful for that.