Today is my birthday. I’ve been here 55 years now (<–link),
beginning at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
To Shirati, Tanzania, when I was ten days old, where I met my father for the first time.
To York PA, back to Shirati, to Philippi WV, to Ephrata PA, and then to the messy all-over-the-placeness of young adulthood, and now back in York County, PA, for 20 years.

Here are some 55 Facts and Notes:
The number given to asteroid Pandora is #55. I am Pandora’s progeny–I can never leave a box unopened.

The number 55 is apparently a lucky number for the astrological sign of Leo. Roar!

In Mathematics:

  • 55 is the product of the smallest sexy prime pair (although I do not know what this means, I too am small, and sexy, and in my prime.)
  • 55 is the largest triangular number in the Fibonacci sequence (again, I know not what this means, but I am large, and I like triangles.)

The element Caesium has the number 55 on the periodic table. According to Wikipedia, Caesium is “a soft, silvery-golden alkali metal with a melting point of 28.5 °C (83.3 °F), which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at or near room temperature.”

In Numerological terms, my soul number is 5 (add the digits in 8.10.1967, and keep adding digits together until you get a single digit), so 55 (five and five) feels like a good strong year for me. In the tarot, the fifth major arcanum card is The Hierophant, which symbolizes the passing on of knowledge and traditions—I like to think of that as the Teacher. So I am going to take that as my personal charge for the coming year and double my efforts to be an effective and compassionate teacher.

The number 5 breaks out of the stable solidity of the 4, offering new opportunities for growth, but also the potential for conflict and instability. I go into this double five year with my life shaken and stirred (boy howdy!), ready to find my new balance, eager to grow and change and Become more me.

Gratitude List:
1. My father’s relative health. July was a difficult month for our family. I am reminded to treasure every moment with the people I love.
2. Walking with a good friend on woodsy trails this morning: Hackberry trees, smell of fox (pervasive in those woods), teasel, wild mugwort, wild hibiscus, the Little Conestoga Creek, and dogbane. Mostly: good, easy conversation and companionship.
3. Monarchs. I know they’re heading onto the Endangered Species List. Grateful to see so many here where we live.
4. Scent of fox is a reminder of the story of Foxwoman, told by Martin Shaw. Reminder to know myself, to know my wildness, to trust my dreamingself.
5. So many delicious birthday blessings! I feel delight and strength and hope, and such a connection with so many people whom I have known, both in person and online. So much love!
May we walk in Beauty!

all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

“You owe me.”

what happens
with a love like that —

It lights the whole

“The Seven of Pentacles”
by Marge Piercy

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

“Life…is a wonder. It is a sky laden with clouds of contradictions.” —Naguib Mahfouz

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” —Coco Chanel

“By virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.” —Teilhard de Chardin

“Soul of my soul … be water in this now-river.” —Rumi

“You are the Soul of the Soul of the Universe, and your name is Love.” —Rumi

“There is one masterpiece, the hexagonal cell, that touches perfection. No living creature, not even human, has achieved, in the centre of one’s sphere, what the bee has achieved on her own: and if intelligence from another world were to descend and ask of the earth the most perfect creation, I would offer the humble comb of honey.” —Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life Of The Bee, 1924

“It’s not only those who have succumbed to hate who have to change. We need to learn to love bigger, to bring them back.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“If it is bread that you seek, you will have bread. If it is the soul you seek, you will find the soul. If you understand this secret, you know you are that which you seek.” —Rumi

“In these cataclysmic times, living in what Michael Meade calls the ‘slow apocalypse,’ despair can be dangerously seductive. Our lives may feel inadequate to the terrible momentum of our times, but it is in those moments that we must remember the difference between despair and grief.

“While despair traps us in the bog of despondency, grief carries us into life. Grief calls us into a deeper engagement with those things that we love. And even as we are losing them, grief wants to exalt their beauty.

“If we let grief move us into expression, it will sing the blood into our songs, colour the vividness into our paintings, and slip the poetry between our words.

“Rumi says, “All medicine wants is pain to cure.” And so we must cry out in our weakness, our ineptitude, our beautiful inadequacy and make of it an invitation that medicine might reach through and towards us.” —Toko-pa Turner

Rune for Our Times

The times are feeling fearful to me. After listening to a discussion on the radio on the way home, in which People Who Seem to Know Things suggested that there’s a possibility of uprisings and violence after this election, I offer a slight paraphrase of the Rune of St. Patrick:

At Pisgah in this fateful hour,
I place Earth and Heaven with their power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By divine help and grace
Between myself and the powers of destruction!

For the golden leaves of autumn and the golden eyes of the cats.
For darkness, of rest, of birth, of preparation for the new thing coming.
For the inquisitive and curious minds of teenagers.
For the web of beloved hearts that yearn and work for justice and peace, for true equality and for functioning and healthy communities.
For you, beloveds. For you. For you.

May we walk humbly, loving mercy, doing justice, ever in Beauty.

The Birdwatcher

The birdwatcher. Even the arthritis didn’t keep him from a little birdwatching during the storm. (Yes, the chair is getting pretty beat-up. Still, it has a shabby charm that we can’t give up just yet.)

We walk the Coyote Road.
Our eyes are full of night.
A thousand sacred sounds
fill the soft bowls of our ears.

That’s the start of something. I’ll get back to it, find its rhythm. I tend to write poems in snatches and dribs these days, between a stack of student essays, or after reading another chapter to the boys.

Gratitude List:
1. Strengthening–I am adding a little extra exercise to my day. Little but little, I feel myself strengthening.
2. That pasta with cream sauce and spinach and peas that Jon makes.
3. The two-hour delay today was especially needed after last night’s insomnia. I had a craving for some cheese, and that seemed to help me to get back to sleep. Maybe i’ll try warmed milk next time.
4. Tree shadows on snow
5. Passing blessings around

May we walk in Beauty!

Living Into the Questions

Circle of Stones

You there
in the center of the circle
and all of us gathered around

within the weight of the moment
and stillness in the bowl of time

We breathe
waiting, holding you inside us
and watching for what yet may be

Gratitude List:
1. Blessing each other in our transitions
2. Living into the questions
3. Holding the paradoxes
4. Preparing for winter
5. Listening for the messages

May we walk in Beauty!

Dear Bright Soul and Blessings (Two)

Dear Bright Soul:

Those demons and addictions do not define who you are.
They do not define you.
They only serve to sharpen your focus,
to teach you what is your heart’s desire.

In this place where you are recovering your spirit:
Don’t forget to breathe.  All the way to your toes.
Put your roots deep and deeper still, into the earth.
Listen for the birds.  Watch for wings.
Seek your waters.  Drink lots and lots of water.
Cleansing water.  Clear water.
Find your fire.  Fan those coals.

Forgive yourself.
Over and over and over again.

Keep making art of your life.
Be safe. Be strong. Be well.
I love you.  Oh so much.

Walk in Beauty!

Green Tara

Blessing from My Students (two)

The best summer is right around the corner.
We are not sure about tomorrow,
so take on the challenges of today.
You never know what might come the next day.
We all deserve the best the world has to offer us.
May the Lord bless us to graduate.

May the force be with you!
May you never have a bad hair day.
May you always have a strong hair game.
May things work out for you.

May you not procrastinate.
May you follow the plan God has for you.
May you be happy in whatever you do.
May you live with love in your life for others to see.

May you wake up every day with a smile.
I hope you’ll step out into the world
with your shoulders back and your head up,
not giving in to the world’s stressors.
May you enjoy life.
Don’t worry about time.
May you never step on a Lego.
May all your stress fade away
and may your dreams become life.

Happiness shall start your day,
and peace shall start your night.
Never say things are impossible,
because God only puts you through things
that are possible to get through.

May trouble neglect you.
May angels protect you,
and heaven accept you.

God says: “We are in love always
if we never give up.
We are tough always
if life is tough.
We are different always
if life is always wonderful.”

May life offer you not so much challenge
that it knocks you down, but just enough
to make you know you are strong.
May you laugh a lot with friends.
May you find happiness in the little things.
May you live without regret.

May you remember to be unafraid of questions.
May you learn to dance in the rain.
And may you remember the stories they told you,
and be brave enough to write your own.
Like a tulip take root
and unfold in the light,
baring your colors to the world
like a tiny little sunrise.

Blessings (one)

School is over.  I have just returned from a three-day mostly-solitude retreat at a local monastery.  I have so much to write.  This blog goes from nearly silent to clamorsome (I just made up that word), which is a little the reverse of my daily life, which has gone from delightfully clamorsome (and exhaustingly so) to expansively contemplative.

Before I re-weave the things I wrote at the monastery, I must write the blessings that my students wrote in the last week of school.  I asked everyone in three of my classes to each write a line of blessing which I then put together into a single blessing, which gained intensity and power by the sense of the gathered voices all contributing to the benediction on our year.

Here is the first, from one class (which seemed to fixate on the coming summer).  I have taken the liberty of arranging them.  When I read them to the class, they were in random order; I just gathered them, shuffled them, and read it out.

Summer is almost here.  The school year is almost over.
May you have fun this summer.
May you have a super-duper summer.
May you have a great summer holiday.
May your summer days be happy and bright.
My wish is that you will have a fun but safe summer,
and that I will see you all next year.
May the dust settle and the sun start shining.
Blessings to you as the world extends its arms open to you.
For years and years of endless amounts of success,
leading to years and years of wealth and endless relaxation.
May you know where you want to go, and who you want to be.
My wish is that you find joy and comfort everywhere you go.
As the stars are far, may your journey be farther.
May you have many hardships,
so you can know how strong you are.
May life go on for you.  Be happy–
I know it won’t be easy,
but there are people who want you to be happy.
Don’t be happy if you aren’t.
Don’t smile if you can’t.
Cry if you have to.
May you find pleasure in your tasks.
May the sun kiss your cheeks and bring you life.
Be blessed by the smiles of children.
May you have the best future.
May your life be full of joy and happiness.
May your days be full of memories and laughter.

Walk in Beauty!