Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Epiphany: The Holy Aha!

Today is Epiphany, the day the light dawns, the coming of the wise ones, the baptism of light, the moment of the Holy Aha! Cultures throughout the world celebrate today as the coming of the Three Kings. Orthodox Christians celebrate this as the day of the baptism of Jesus.

There is a moment, in the baptism story, when the Spirit of the Holy One appears in the form of a dove and speaks to those gathered, saying, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” My prayer for you, for me, for all of us in this coming year, is our significant dawnings and discoveries may be accompanied by the absolute shining certainty that we are the Beloved Children of the Universe. That the One who watches us, who wings above us, who blows through us, who shines light into our confusion and grief and fear, is well pleased with us. It is one of my most deeply held beliefs that this is true, but it is sometimes hard to hold onto. You are Beloved.


Here’s my Dream and Meditation Soup from the Dreamtime. I’m organizing them by character, symbol, theme, and word:
1. Rhiannon, Epona, Kingfishers, the Madwoman in the Attic, the Ferryman, crossing-Maker, two-faced people
2. Bridge, Boundary, Shadow
3. Crossing, grief, solitude (privacy), sufficiency (insufficiency), resistance
4. Maferefun (Praise be!), Sawabona (I see you)

For the coming year, the three words that I will carry with me:
Bridge, Boundary, Wing

I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for kingfishers this year.


Yesterday, my Beloved friend Mara asked her friends to write Epiphany poems. Because of its association with the Three Magi, I wrote my poem about the legend of La Befana, sometimes called the Witch of Christmas, because she flies around the world on her broom searching for the Child of Promise. When the wise ones stopped at her door on their journey to find Holy Child, they invited her to join their caravan, but she was too busy with her own concerns. The moment their dust disappeared in the distance, she regretted her choice, and ever since then, she searches. Sometimes she gives children sweets.

La Befana: The Epiphany Witch

She’d got her eyes fixed
on what was right in front of her,
the dust and the dirt
and the everyday mess.
Wanted to be ready
for the coming of the child
but couldn’t see beyond
the day she was in.

Believe me, I know
what the old one
was up to. I too get caught
by the fishhook of the present,
stuck in the nextness
of each task ahead,
forget to lift my eyes
to see the shine and sparkle
of my arriving guests,
can’t put down my broom,
my pen, my daily rhythm,
to look up and outward.

Like Old Befana, I catch, too late,
the jingle of the caravan bells
as they turn the corner in the distance,
see the disappearing cloud of dust.

Hastening to grab my cloak and bag,
I’ve lost their trail before I reach
the distant corner, left behind,
bereft, alone, dust-covered,
traveling bag in one hand
and besom in the other,
destined to spend my life
sweeping the skies on my broom,
chasing down the Holy Aha.


Gratitude:
1. The search for the Dawning
2. Bridges, even when they’re rickety and dangerous
3. Boundaries. I don’t believe in political walls. I do know that to preserve my own sanity in the coming year, I have to develop stronger boundaries within me between the working self and the creative self. I need to know myself separate from my work and not defined by my specific work identity.
4. Wings. Flight. Seeing things from new perspectives.
5. Knowing myself a Beloved child of the Universe.

May we walk in Beauty, Beloved Children of the Great Mystery.


Words for the Holy Aha!
“A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.” —Maya Angelou


“In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.” —Phil Ochs


“The sense-making in poetry is about getting behind the brain. A poem is a door. Sometimes poets make sturdy, locked, exclusive club doors that you can only enter if you are one of ‘us,’ or if you can speak (or pretend to know) the password. A really good and satisfying poem is an open and inviting doorway that frames the view in a particularly compelling way. ‘Look!’ it says. ‘Stand and stare. Take a deep breath. Then tell me what you see.’

“Good poetry, I think, holds a paradoxical perspective on language itself: it acknowledges the inadequacy of words to completely map an inner geography, and it also steps with reverence and awe into the sacred space that language creates between writer and reader. Words are both inadequate and holy.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014


“Where does despair fit in? Why is our pain for the world so important? Because these responses manifest our interconnectedness. Our feelings of social and planetary distress serve as a doorway to systemic social consciousness. To use another metaphor, they are like a ‘shadow limb.’ Just as an amputee continues to feel twinges in the severed limb, so in a sense do we experience, in anguish for homeless people or hunted whales, pain that belongs to a separated part of our body—a larger body than we thought we had, unbounded by our skin. Through the systemic currents of knowing that interweave our world, each of us can be the catalyst or ‘tipping point’ by which new forms of behavior can spread. There are as many different ways of being responsive as there are different gifts we possess. For some of us it can be through study or conversation, for others theater or public office, for still others civil disobedience and imprisonment. But the diversities of our gifts interweave richly when we recognize the larger web within which we act. We begin in this web and, at the same time, journey toward it. We are making it conscious.” —Joanna Macy


Why Are Your Poems So Dark?
by Linda Pastan

Isn’t the moon dark too,
most of the time?
And doesn’t the white page
seem unfinished
without the dark stain
of alphabets?
When God demanded light,
he didn’t banish darkness.
Instead he invented
ebony and crows
and that small mole
on your left cheekbone.
Or did you mean to ask
“Why are you sad so often?”
Ask the moon.
Ask what it has witnessed.


“In a time that would have us believe there is always more to strive for, more to accumulate, more enlightenment to reach – the most radical stance we can take is enoughness.
What if we quit trying to be spiritual and aspired to be human instead?
What if there is nothing to fix because we are already whole?
What if there was no time to prove ourselves, because we’re consumed with marveling at life?
What if there is no reason to hold back our gifts, because they are meant to be given?
What if every morsel, every glance, every moment and every breath is a miracle of enough?” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

In the Dreamtime, Day 13

We’re still within the twelve days of Christmas, but since I start counting the Dreamtime at Solstice, we’re on to Day 13 now in this little pocket of my counting of time.

One of the things I begin to discover at this point in the process of collecting the words and images from my dreams is that I start to catch echoes of my collection in the world around me. Bridges and boundaries are common enough metaphors, but because they’ve been swirling around in my dream-soup, when I catch references to them in people’s daily speech, it feels like I am receiving secret messages. I am listening for echoes now, affirmation that the words and images I am sanding and honing are the ones I should put in my internal medicine pouch to carry into the coming year.

In last night’s dream, Jon and I and a child (perhaps an amalgam of the two boys) are trying to get somewhere, hitching rides on the trains like hobos. It’s really dangerous, and I am terribly worried that the child will fall off. We finally decide to stop taking the risks and walk, but by this time we are far out in the wilderness, in the woods, and getting to civilization will take days. We sleep in the woods, and find our food where we can. Despite the long walk and the uncertainty, it feels like the right choice. I think the child is really me, and some of the recent choices I am making about the way I work, and the boundaries I set, are making the journey harder and lonelier perhaps, but safer for that inner child. Good choices.

In other dreams I am trying to text Jon that my meeting has gone really short and I can take Ellis home from school after all. Technology and phones never seem to work in dreams. I cannot find the numbers or the right app to text. Typical anxiety dream. Will Deep Self really be able to get the necessary messages across to Waking Self?


Gratitude List:
1. The dawning of women. I was unprepared for quite how relieved I would feel yesterday looking at the images of those joyful, powerful women entering Congress. I thought I had experienced all the joy when I learned they had been elected, but yesterday was a joyful day.
2. The three million women of Kerala who made a chain to tell the world that it is the time of women.
3. It’s the Tuesday of my work week, but it’s Friday. I really needed this slow start.
4. Michelle Obama’s book. She weaves words and ideas well. Her story is so completely her own story and her family’s story, but she deftly weaves the connection of her story to the experiences of black families in the past century, so that as I am learning her own history, I am developing a deeper context for understanding the Great Migration, white flight from cities, and the persistence of structural racism.
5. Dean’s pies. Every year my colleague makes a tableful of pies (8? 10? 12?) for us. It creates truly impossible choices. I take tiny slivers of several. And it’s sublime. Yesterday was a delicious day.

May we walk in Beauty!


“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“We use language to build the structures upon which we hang our ideas. Language is the scaffold upon which we develop whole structures of thought. Language anchors and shapes and breathes life into thought and idea. Conventional thinking, and conventional language, can end up being a pretty tight little box of a windowless building that doesn’t let in the light. The air in there gets pretty stale. When language—and its attendant ideas—become calcified and crippled into arthritic patterns, poetic image and word-use can find new ways to say things, can break windows into the walls of those airless rooms and build ornate new additions onto the old structures. Poetry jars the cart of language out of its constricting wheel ruts. This is why poets and writers can make good revolutionaries—if they know their work and do their jobs well.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014


“The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist-deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.” —Carl Sagan


Mary Oliver, on the Great Horned Owl: “I know this bird. If it could, it would eat the whole world.” And then: “The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I too live. There is only one world.”


Fierce Wild Joy
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2016

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.


“Have patience with everything
that remains unsolved in your heart.
Try to love the questions themselves,
like locked rooms and like books
written in a foreign language.
Do not now look for the answers.
They cannot now be given to you
because you could not live them.
It is a question of experiencing everything.
At present you need to live the question.
Perhaps you will gradually,
without even noticing it,
find yourself experiencing the answer,
some distant day.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“With life as short as a half taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

In the Dreamtime, Day 11

The traditional Twelve Days of Christmas last until January 6, Epiphany. Since I begin my Dreamtime walk on the solstice, I give myself a few more days in Dreamtime, and choose my images and words for the year from the soup of my Dreamtime stew on the sixth of January. Perhaps I throw things off by adding a few extra days to my high holy days of winter. The twelve days have particular cosmic significance, being the number of days’ difference between the lunar and solar years. The twelfth day itself is only a partial day. I suppose I could have my Epiphany tomorrow, and then I’d have committed myself to only twelve days of dreaming. But maybe I need a longer gestation period for my ideas and words and images.

This morning, I woke up with the word “Maferefun” in my head. I had been reading an article earlier in the day about religious traditions around the world, and Maferefun is the Yoruba greeting for the holy ones. It means something like, “I greet you. Praise be!” A nice word, I think, to greet the new year, and a reminder to myself that all about me is holy. All carries the spark and imprint of the Creative Mystery. It is our work to notice and to greet it as we see that livingness in the world and the people around us.

Elderly bench that holds me as I sit in the morning, I greet you. Praise be.
Purring cat who wakes me in the dawn, I greet you. Praise be.
Owl calling your family home from hunting, I greet you, Praise be.
Sun soon to rise over the ridge, I greet you. Praise be.

As Peter Mayer says in his sweet song, “Everything is holy now.”


Gratitude List:
1. Slow Starts–Today is Professional Development, and then two days of classes for the week.
2. Setting boundaries
3. Knitting and Crocheting: Making beauty from a knotted piece of string
4. The Enneagram, a thoughtful tool
5. Reading together as a family. Jon bought us a copy of Danny the Champion of the World to read to us this break because he remembered loving it as a child. I missed part of it while I graded yesterday, but I heard the beginning, and the tender ending last night before the children went to bed.

May we walk in Beauty! I greet you! Praise Be!


Words for Wednesday’s Slow Start:
“The Work. I am learning, slowly and in tiny little ways, to stop asking myself what I can get from each moment, but instead what my Work is here in the moment. And realizing, ever so dimly, that when I am really doing my Work (really doing my Work), I am also receiving what I need.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider


“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” —Peter Drucker


“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it will be a butterfly.” —Margaret Fuller


“Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.”
—Minna Thomas Antrim


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” —T. S. Eliot


“How do we go on living, when every day our hearts break anew? Whether your beloved are red-legged frogs, coho salmon, black terns, Sumatran tigers, or fat Guam partulas, or entire forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, or oceans, or the entire planet, the story is the same, the story of the murder of one’s beloved, the murder of one’s beloved, the murder of one’s beloved.” ―Derrick Jensen, Dreams


ONE OR TWO THINGS
by Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems: Volume One (Beacon Press)
1
Don’t bother me.
I’ve just
been born.

2
The butterfly’s loping flight
carries it through the country of the leaves
delicately, and well enough to get it
where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping
here and there to fuzzle the damp throats
of flowers and the black mud; up
and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower.

3
The god of dirt came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now,
and never once mentioned forever,

4
which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.

5
One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond, over the deep
roughage of the trees and through the stiff
flowers of lightning– some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain.

6
But to lift the hoof!
For that you need an idea.

7
For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then

the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“Don’t love your life
too much,” it said,

and vanished into the world.

Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Searching for the Beloved

Today’s prompt is to write a metaphor poem. I have been contemplating the Sufi concept of the Divine Beloved, so a metaphorical search for the nature of the Beloved seemed apt.

The Beloved

She is a whisper
in the breeze,
‎calling you
‎into the wilderness,
‎reminding you
‎of your true name.

She is a crocus
in the wild wood,
‎escaping the borders
‎of the gardens,
‎catching the gaze
‎of your downcast eye.

She is three crows
casting themselves
‎into the tempest,
‎claiming the sky,
‎inviting you
‎to take wing.


Gratitude List:
1. Perhaps it’s the increased exercise, but I am getting better sleep again after about a week of ache-filled nights.
2. How people look out for each other. The three grandsons looking out for their grandma as she’s moving out of her cottage and into personal care.
3. The singing in church this morning. It’s always good, but it’s just so lovely to lead singing and stand in front and hear everyone making music together. Sacred and holy.
4. Pink trees. Pink. Pink. Pink. Pink.
5. Yesterday’s weather. (There’s a hidden grumble in that one, I think, but there’s definitely a promise of warmth to come, even if it takes another week.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Persephone Rises


Quotes for the Day:
“To survive, you must tell stories.” ―Umberto Eco
***
“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
―Henri J.M. Nouwen
***
“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” ―Wendell Berry
***
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ―Walt Whitman


Gratitude List:
1. The greening. Fields and lawns and grassy patches everywhere. Persephone rises.
2. The sap is rising. You can see the life force in the trees, pushing color and light into the limbs. Persephone rises.
3. Aconite and crocus. Persephone rises.
4. The young ones are rising, speaking their voices, leading the way.
5. We saw a great horned owl today. Harried by crows, it flew into the tops of the poplars on the hill above the pond. It waited where couldn’t see it for quite a while, until the crows got bored and flew off. Then it took wing back to the trees up the the hill.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Will

final.jpeg

I will.

That should fill
the task list of the day.
Just say,
“I will.”

Then make that happen.
Make your will into a thing
Let it sing.
Give it ground.

Cast your boundaries around you:
east and south and west and north.
Go forth
and do your will.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
If we follow the patterns set out for the Fool, she usually meets the Empress before encountering the Emperor. Perhaps my own Fool’s journey took let the Subconscious take the wheel on that one–I have so many poems to edit and revise and work up that it will be more than a summer’s work to get them into workable order for publication. I need the Emperor’s good structure and boundaries. So tomorrow, let’s invoke his soul-mate the Empress: fecund and fertile, nurturing and warm, she supports the Fool’s creative nature, offers the soil and sustenance to build and make.  She embodies the archetype of the mother: fertile, nurturing, supportive, and happily creative. Tomorrow’s poem will be in her realm.

I am taking these prompts very deliberately this season, to be not only the spark of poems, but to take me deeper into contemplation, to gauge and assess where I am on my own Fool’s Journey, to look for the challengers and the allies, and those who fill both roles at once.

Gratitude List:
1. Cool breezes in the the classroom window.
2. Laughter. It’s sort of like a cool breeze coming in the window.
3. The wisdom and contemplation of poetry.
4. Rainbows
5. When they “get” it. There are some days when I feel as though I am beating my head against a wall to get some new concept across. Sometimes, even in a different class on the same day, everyone seems to get it, like I have opened a line from me to them, and they just absorb the new material like sponges. Today, with the very dry subject of citing sources in MLA 8 style, for instance.

May we walk in Wisdom and Beauty!

Gratitudes

Slipping Out of Bounds

Cacao
I went through a period of time when, instead of gluing down the pieces of a collage, I would just set them together, and then photograph them.  I carried with me a little box of collage elements for months, arranging and rearranging them.  I don’t know if this was a good and interesting artistic process or a symbol of something in my brain that was unwilling to commit to permanence.  Still, some of the photos that I took then continue to grab at strands in my unconscious, like this one.

Gratitude List:
1. The way crocus refuse to stay within their borders.  While I do believe in good, strong, safe boundaries, I do think that those crocus escaping out over the lawn have a special message.
2. Good strong boundaries.
3. Breathing room.
4. The poem that is beginning to form.
5. How language shapes and creates ideas.  How ideas hinge on the language used to express them.

May we walk in Beauty!