Musings, Poems

How the Beloved Enters

      

(I could have at least used the same fonts.)

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts for Tuesday:
“The great affair, the love affair with life,
is to live as variously as possible,
to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred,
climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day.
Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding,
and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours,
life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.
It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,
but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” —Diane Ackerman
***
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” ―Vincent Van Gogh
***
“Change is continuous on the seamless web,
Yet moments come like this one, when you feel
Upon your heart a signal to attend
The definite announcement of an end
Where one thing ceases and another starts;
When like the spider waiting on the web
You know the intricate dependencies
Spreading in secret through the fabric vast
Of heaven and earth, sending their messages
Ciphered in chemistry to all the kinds,
The whisper down the bloodstream: it is time.”
―Howard Nemerov
***
“One of the most exciting things for me about being in the freedom movement was discovering other people who were compelled by the Spirit at the heart of our organizing work, and who were also interested in the mysticism that can be nurtured in social justice activism. We experienced something extraordinary in the freedom movement, something that hinted at a tremendous potential for love and community and transformation that exists here in this scarred, spectacular country. For many of us, that “something” touched us in the deepest part of our selves and challenged us in ways both personal and political.” ―Rosemarie Freeney Harding, in “Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering”
***
“I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.”
―Desmond Tutu
***
IT WORKS
“Would you come if someone called you
by the wrong name?
I wept, because for years He did not enter my arms:
then one night I was told a
secret:
Perhaps the name you call God is
not really His, maybe it
is just an
alias.
I thought about this, and came up with a pet name
for my Beloved I never mention
to others.
All I can say is―
it works.”
―Rabia of Batista
***
“The aim of education is to reveal an attainable image of self that is lovelier than that manifested in his or her present acts.” ―Nel Noddings

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Seeking Blue


One of my ponderings, as I travel from place to place each day, is to meditate on the colors of blue, to try to identify various blues in the sky and the shadows. Even in my dreams, I am seeking blue, collecting moments of blue. In last night’s dream:

I am sitting on a grassy patch at the edge of a large parking lot, waiting for my friend who has gone to go collect some things from the car. There is a large smoky white cat purring on my lap. I am wearing a long blue dress, almost the color of Mary’s robes. My friend comes running up, her arms laden with packages, but she has one hand sort of free to hold a pair of binoculars.

“There!” she says, dropping her packages, and pointing down the hill behind me, where crowds of people are walking about. She focuses her binoculars. “You have to see it! She’s wearing the perfect blue!”

I look where she is pointing, and everyone is wearing blue, and some of them are exquisite. She tells me to look for a woman with a brown jacket on. And then I see it. Her dress is the perfect blue. It’s a little lighter than I have been imagining it, not quite as saturated as I have thought it would be. I wonder for a moment if the woman in the dress is Mary.


“Between us are vast distances, perhaps,
as vast as star to star and galaxy to galaxy,
or as blade of grass to blade of grass,
atom to atom–each space bridged
by gossamer web, threads of light and wind,
of prayer and dream, holding us together
with such beauty, with such insatiable desire
for the point of connection.”  ―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“No, this year I want to call
myself to task for what
I have done and not done
for peace. How much have
I dared in opposition?
How much have I put
on the line for freedom?
For mine and others?
As these freedoms are pared,
sliced and diced, where
have I spoken out? Who
have I tried to move?” ―Marge Piercy
*
“Before I am your daughter, your sister, your aunt, niece, or cousin, I am my own person, and I will not set fire to myself to keep you warm.” ―Hannah-Joy Robinson
*
“God is everywhere, but I have been in a lot of churches where God wasn’t really welcome.” ―found on FB
*
“People say you only live once. That’s incorrect. You only die once. You live every day.”  ―John Feal
*
“If we are to have a culture as resilient and competent in the face of necessity as it needs to be, then it must somehow involve within itself a ceremonious generosity toward the wilderness of natural force and instinct. The farm must yield a place to the forest, not as a wood lot, or even as a necessary agricultural principle but as a sacred grove – a place where the Creation is let alone, to serve as instruction, example, refuge; a place for people to go, free of work and presumption, to let themselves alone.” ―Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
*
In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.


Gratitude List:
1. Whispers of fog caught like dreams in the trees of Flinchbaugh’s orchard.
2. The golden shift into autumn has begun to happen. There’s a diffuse golden quality to the light again, a way that the sun slants in, that I don’t experience as fully at any other moment in the year.
3. Sleep. This is big. Lately, my hips and shoulders always ache when I wake up, but it has been a long time since I have had a bout of insomnia. I hope I didn’t jinx this run by saying it. It’s really a big deal that, despite the aches, I keep managing to find my way back to sleep when I wake up.
4. The colors of blue
5. It’s pawpaw season. I need to find some. I can taste them already.

May we walk in Beauty!

Uncategorized

Green Tara


Two years ago, I spent some time meditating in an alcove at the Jesuit Center where Green Tara rested beneath a painting of the Madonna. Last year, she wasn’t there. This year, I am going to search for her again.

Today’s Quotes:
Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.”
*
“We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit.”
—Audre Lorde
*
“Acknowledging our love for the living world does something that a library full of papers on sustainable development and ecosystem services cannot: it engages the imagination as well as the intellect. It inspires belief; and this is essential to the lasting success of any movement.” —George Monbiot


Gratitude List:
1. (What wakes you up?) Stiff, aching muscles from a 2.5-mile walk with my youngster yesterday. While the increasing aches of aging are challenging for me, this stiff-and-soreness is because of a delightful walk in the evening, where we just kept going. “Shall we see where the road construction began? Why don’t we just walk up Poff Road now?”
2. (What inspires you?) The friend who keeps running, keeps walking, keepings signing up for those half-marathons. Reading last year’s reflections on an educational seminar I took.
3. (What catches your eye?) Daylily, Chicory, and Queen Anne’s Lace are a-bloom again. Contrasting colors of orange and blue, and that lacy white among them.
4. (What keeps you in the moment?) The oriole calling from the honey locust trees by the parking lot.
5. (What draws you into the future?) Yesterday’s conversation with a teacher friend about the past year, about what sort of teachers we want to be. The gangly growth spurts of my children. The anticipation of next weekend’s solitude retreat.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Cat and a Hat

catandhat cats
Cat and a Hat. My hat is ready for Saturday. Between my abysmal selfie skills and my poor smartphone camera, the original is a little blurry and grainy and wonky, but the filtered version, as much as I like the pattern that it makes on Fred, doesn’t quite make it clear that I am wearing a hat, perhaps. (Now I have a little vanity issue: My good warm parka is red. Can I wear a fluffy pink hat with a cool red parka?)

I know I have said this before, but it bears frequent repetition: The future is in good hands. I can walk really close to those cliffs of despair sometimes, but I have only to look into my students’ wise and curious and compassionate faces to see the way the future is headed. And it is not toward doom. We’re leaving them quite a mess to tidy up, but they have the inner resources and the drive to do the work.  They’ve got the perfect mix of humor and earnestness, the perfect combination of innocence and seasoning.

Let’s commit ourselves to mentor, support, challenge, and encourage the young folks in our lives. Let’s listen to their ideas and thoughts, offer them signposts, and believe in them. Let them know what we see in them, tap their shoulders, offer them as many opportunities to use their gifts as we can arrange.

Bring in the Age of Wisdom and Compassion. The vanguard is ready and stepping onto the stage.

Gratitude List:
1. New semester! I love starting new classes, learning to know new students, the mix of familiar and new faces in a classroom. I have two Creative Writing classes this semester, which makes me totally not miss having a Study Hall.
2. Quinoa salad for lunch. That was delicious.
3. FFA gave the Faculty coffee and doughnuts this morning. What an enheartening treat to start the semester.
4. Crows flying out of the mist.
5. Blue. Again, I keep repeating this, but again this evening, the bellies of the clouds were a grab-your-heart blue, glowing like ice, and rimed with indigo.  Do aging eyes see blue better than young, 20/20 eyes? I don’t remember seeing such blues before, blues that make me want to kneel. Or weep. Do you know the blue I am talking about?

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

How Do You See the Sky?

blue2   sky-blue
blue-sky

Another November has come and gone. Such a feeling of sadness, such a feeling of relief. The pressure of a poem every day can be intense, especially when I am already tired, already busy. But it keeps me in the soup of words in ways that teaching doesn’t lead me.

Gratitude List:
1. When you set your heart on blue, it shows itself to you. I do not know how else to describe it, but to say that some colors seem to appear when you ask for them.
2. A good month of poeming. It was hard work, and I pooped out some nights, but I got some good work in, too. It keeps something in me alive to write even when I don’t have time to focus on it for long periods. I’m going to revise and edit several of them for the chapbook contest.
3. Mushrooms. Mycelium. Fungi. Whole networks of underground communication are functioning. Watch for the fruiting.
4. Bagels. Sometimes a few happy carbs are all you need.
5. Nikki Giovanni. I love her fearless work with rhythm and rhyme.

May we walk in Beauty. In Blue.

Gratitudes

Honing Perception

vulture1
I love these computer apps that turn a photo into a painting. The photo of the moment the vulture sat on the telephone pole and spread her wings does not do justice to the awe and wonder of the moment, but the painting version starts to add that layer.

<Post-publish edit: After I posted this, I went to my Facebook page and saw that on this same day last year I posted a gratitude reflection on the color indigo. I love that synchronicity. I wonder if mid-October is a particularly apt time to notice indigo.>

Gratitude List:
1. Parent-Teacher Conferences yesterday. It takes extra energy, and it’s a really long day, but I love the chance to tell parents how I see their student in classes. Yesterday one of my colleagues talked about the moments before a parent enters the room for a conference–he said, “You have to ‘put on the child.'” It may sound strange, but that’s exactly right. It feels almost like a prayer moment, that moment of breathing, of calling the image of the student into my head and heart, before we begin to talk. I often find myself glancing at the seat where the student sits when I am talking to the parents, as though the student is there in the room.  This kind of awareness is particularly important, I think, when we are discussing difficulties, because conversations about challenges can veer into talking as though the student is the problem, but of course that isn’t it at all. The student may have a problem, and we are there to strategize solutions. Parent-teacher conferences are a kind of professional development–both for the parenting and the teaching. We both come away with ideas for supporting these marvelous young people.
2. The colors of sunset. I am still intrigued by the new research that says that scholars who have studied ancient languages can’t find a word for blue. If we don’t have a word for a thing, it usually means we do not conceptualize it. I am baffled by the lack of blue in ancient eyes. On the other hand, indigo seems to be a color that modern eyes struggle to see. We keep dropping it from the rainbow, or we substitute Prussian Blue. I keep going back to the interview I heard with Oliver Sacks on Radiolab where he discussed his search to truly see indigo, how he could only see it during a drug-induced hallucination.  I feel like sunset is the time to settle the eyes and brain into a meditative state that might possibly be able to conceptualize and interpret the colors without the help of mind-altering substances. Sunset and sunrise are the moments when I think I am closest to understanding blue and indigo, to experiencing the shades and shifts of color throughout the spectrum.
3. The Moon, the First Star, and the Dragon-Shaped Cloud–these three accompanied me on the ride home as I drove into the sunset yesterday evening.
4. Literature and Story. When I got home last night, my kids were totally engrossed in their books. One of the reasons that I am an English teacher is that I want to give my students the gift of story. I don’t need them to all become voracious readers, but I want them all to learn to find satisfaction in story. The same goes for my boys–I love when they become involved in story. I suppose that the ability to get lost in a story is sort of like the ability to see certain colors. As we enter a story, we refine our internal perceptions of human experience, increasing our ability to conceptualize the shades and colors that fill the spectrum of what it means to be human. Let’s keep searching for each other’s indigo.
5. Michelle Obama. She is one of the most inspiring speech-makers I have listened to. I will miss her as First Lady.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Sea Glass

marie
Sea glass: the transformative power of water

Here is to wakeful, cooler days, to that crisp feeling in the air, to a watery slant of sunlight through the atmosphere, to sweaters, to the shushing of leaves, to the preparation for the dreamtime of winter.

Gratitude List:
1. Back to the regular rhythm, even if I am not quite prepared
2. Water
3. Turnings
4. Autumn
5. All the shades of blue

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Praise

WORDSCloud

Psalm of Praise
(10 August 2015)

Yours is the music that enters our hearts.
Delight of you enlivens our voices to join in the song.
We are born to worship our Maker.

The world is awash in color and music;
your works are enkindled in sparkle and dazzle.
Every bright bird, each flashing star,
the chirp of the cricket and drone of cicada,
roaring waterfall, quivering leaf–
all of creation sings your glory.

We have only to look up and outward,
and wonder will fill our mouths with praise.

Yet daily our hands reach out
for wealth and power and fame,
instead of rising to praise you.

Our eyes are set on the glitter and shine
of all the distractions that we have made,
and not on your grace and your beauty.

Our voices turn to bitter complaint,
to quarrels and bluster and grumbling,
instead of joining creation’s constant hymn
of praise to the Creator.

O God of wonder and beauty and grace,
open the eyes of our hearts,
awaken our senses to all you have made,
that our spirits may rise in wonder,
that our voices may open in song,
that our days may be filled with praise.

Gratitude List:
1. Symbols. The way images act like bowls to hold ideas.
2. Words. The way they act like bowls to hold ideas.
3. Blue. Is there are greater range of blues in the sky these days?
4. Rain.
5. Crape Myrtle. I saw so many on Chincoteague, but then since we have been home, I have been noticing them all over here as well. Sometimes you need to leave home to notice something you appreciate about it.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Shades of Blue

DSCN8741

May this year bring you joy
like crows rising from the fields

fierce
wild joy

yelling full-voice
into the wind

rowing through the tempest
with nothing but feathers.

Gratitude List:
1. Wise counselors appearing in dreams
2. It’s never too late
3. Believing in the possibilities
4. Crows
5. All those shades of blue in yesterday’s sky

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Leap

Deep breath.
Straighten the spine.
Scan the wide vista before you.

Feel the morning breeze
as the sun rises
over the far horizon.

Another deep breath.
Spread your wings.
Leap.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Beads, stones, stories, and a little bottle of water from Lake Victoria.
2.  This family.  The growing kids.  The cousins who take time and heart with the little ones.
3.  People who sing.  I love being around Winnie the Pooh and Bilbo the Hobbit types, who are always transforming the moment into a song.
4.  The color blue, from the peace of turquoise, to the love and nurture of Mary’s Robe, to deep visionary indigo, to crisp and intellectual cobalt.
5.  Leaping into the blue.

May we walk in Beauty!