Gratitudes, Musings

Pathways of the Heart

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Looking back through some of my previous blog posts, I came upon this again this morning, something that keeps leaping out at me from the past to remind me to open my throat. Today Joss is nine and Ellis is twelve. They must have been three and six at the time of this story:

This morning when we were playing with our gnomes, Joss decided that the gnome house was on fire, and he raced to get a group of gnomes to put it out. “Red! We need all the red gnomes!” Exactly–to put out a fire, it takes lots of red gnomes. Ellis chimed in, “And Minus! We need the Minus Gnome! Because a house with fire Minus the fire is just a house!”

Sometimes I sure would like to use some of Minus Gnome’s magic on me. An anxious Beth Minus anxiety is just Beth. Angst-ridden, anger-struck Beth Minus angst and anger? Beth. So that’s a nice little thing to do with meditation. Of course as soon as I began to work with the idea, it hit me again that the angers and angsts are so often born of compassion and caring, and for those I have been seeking the services of Multiplication Gnome. I need to untangle the compassion from its attendant anger at injustice, its partner anxiety at losses to those I love.

Wow. Look at those words that I wanted to get rid of: Angst, Anxiety, Anger. . .I looked them up, along with their sister Anguish. There at their root is angh-, which comes from the Indo-European language tree, and generally refers to distress of some sort. That lovely vowel–ah–cut short in the back of the throat, closed up along with all hope of breath: Angh!

Fear, shame, anger, distress: what sound emerges when you truly feel them? Angh! Choke.

But still, that lovely vowel–ah–the first we say in so many languages: Mama, Abba, Baba, Dada, Nana, Papa. The opposite of the choke, our family names, our names for the Ineffable Mystery: they release the breath in a tender sigh. Ah. There we go.

When I get really stuck in the Angh, I can dislodge that choke with a little Hahaha, a great belly laugh to force the air back through, a little spiritual CPR, so to speak. Or skip down the street with a Tra-la-la, a little song to start up the rhythm of breathing again. Or a little eureka, a bright discovery with a great Aha!

So the next time I wake up at three in the morning, suddenly filled with the dread of what is happening to this world that I have brought these light-filled children into, or choked with shame for some harshness I have spoken to their tender hearts, I think I will apply the Ah!, the Mama, the Ha! and see if that breath can be a lullaby to take my spirit back to sleep.


Gratitude List:
1. Breathing through the angh- to the aaaaaah
2. Long sleep last night
3. Re-orientation: Not getting stuck in the ruts of rage, but carrying the coals tucked in my apron to use at need
4. So many names for the Great Mystery
5. Building relationships with those who are not human: ducks, cats, trees, rivers, stones. . .

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Guardian of Dreams

Today’s Prompt is similar to an earlier one, with a single letter change: ______ of _____

Guardian of Dreams
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

She rises from the shadows
when you wander in the dreamscape.
She stands above the doorway
and awaits your greeting.
She gives you the gift of her name
and stands aside that you may pass inward.


Gratitude List:
1. Enough leftovers for supper. What an odd, delightful mashup it was: Valerie’s lentil and collard soup as the base, with the leftover chicken curry and rice and some leftover noodles. Injera and oatmeal bread.
2. Dreams with messages.
3. Catching my breath. A little.
4. That pink cloud this morning. Breath-taking.
5. Rivers of crows in the sky.

May we walk in Beauty!


Last Night’s Gripping Dream:
We’ve moved to a new house, set on a hill above the barn. From the house, a small row of bushes obscures all but the top of the barn. As we explore the new barn, we’re a little overwhelmed by all the rusty junk and hay bales and mess. Cobwebs are everywhere, and it’s dark and dingy. We hear people walking around upstairs, but we’re too scared to go up there, so I yell, “Get out of our barn!” We go back up to the house.

A little while later, it has snowed, and we see that someone has shoveled all around the barn. We decide we have to confront the squatters. We get in the big red truck and race down the hill, right through the shoveled area and plow into a snowbank.

As we walk up to the barn door, we see a woman crouching in the bushes on the roof area above the barn door. She’s enormous. Heavy, sumo-style, and maybe eight or ten feet tall. She has a Renaissance-style hairdo with a pink rose, and she is completely naked. Her skin is a mocha color and she has enormous and compelling eyes.  I ask her her name. She says it’s Panella. (Or Panadella.) I do not feel threatened or anxious about her–I feel like she is sort of a guardian.

Inside, we are utterly astounded. Someone has, in an incredibly short period of time, completely cleaned the barn. The junk is gone. The hay bales and cobwebs are gone. There’s fresh plaster on the walls, neatly placed between barn beams. It’s gently lit, all over, upstairs and down. There must be fifty or sixty people in the barn. One woman is wearing silver body paint, head to foot. She and the others we first encounter seem a little startling, and not particularly friendly, but not threatening. The others we meet are friendlier, eager to show us around, to talk. It’s definitely my kind of party, no loud noises, sort of hushed conversations, but people everywhere, threading themselves through the space.

It is furnished like a house, and downstairs there is an enormous walk-in fireplace with a sort of ditch in front of the fire, and water running through the ditch. In front of that are lit candles. I am aware of how carefully people have placed the candles within the fireplace area, in order to be safe. They take us outside to show us the incredible compost pile they’ve created. They point up the hill to the other neighbors’ house. “Those are the hippie neighbors,” they say. The hippie neighbors’ house is a pavilion-style despite the frigid weather, and the hippie neighbors have their feet up on a low all, and they’re drinking and smoking.

Actually, the ones who’ve created this space aren’t here. They’ve gone out and left their friends there to have a party. There’s a young woman–I think her name is Elise–who used to go to the Waldorf School. A young man is a graduate of LMS. And there’s a third.

I feel incredibly drawn to this dream. There in my inner world, a space I tend to neglect in the rush of the daily, where I thought there would be clutter and ruin, are inviting rooms filled with energy and innovation. Jon pointed out that two of the Creators are from schools where I have taught, so I am wondering if the third might be a BCCC student. After a challenging morning conversation about some of the issues some of our students are experiencing, I spent a good part of yesterday worrying about my students, wondering if I have been doing enough to educate my students about racism and misogyny, about recognizing their entitlement and privilege.  I feel like this dream was a message from my deeper self that I need to trust that the daily work bears its fruit, that these people will have the creativity and resilience to create healthy lives.  And Panella? I think She is my Guardian.

Gratitudes, Poems

Keep Breathing

I can’t see through green,
through this pollen-misted air
to the other side.
These are the step by step days.
Meanwhile, I just keep breathing.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Communities of women.  Light and gentle chat turns a corner into a story, a birth story, tears, smiles, oh-yesses, I-remembers.
2. The world feels washed clean this morning after that lovely rain.  I’m still a little anxious about venturing outside while the poplar is in bloom, but breathing is a little easier this morning.
3. Poppies!  Did I say poppies?  I have a clear memory of being six years old, looking at a book of flowers of the world with a group of kids at boarding school, and everyone was saying their favorite flowers.  I really liked the rose mallow.  Then someone turned the page and there was a rich crimson bloom with a velvety black center.  That one.  And it has been my favorite ever since.
4. Ruby Bridges.  I was talking about her story with a friend yesterday.  There was a moment in our story when the world depended on the courage of a child to confront evil, to be the tide-turner.
5. Last night’s dreams. Reunions, balance, mysterious pathways, reconciliation.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Look for the Helpers

Re-posting a poem I wrote on a dark day back in December.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

Look for the helpers.
I cast a line from me to you.
You cast it outward to those you love.
Fill that web, that basket, that nest, that bowl
with our open wounded hearts,
our prayers, our stones,
our candles, our feathers,
the fine white hair of our grandmothers.
Something to hold the children,
the mothers, the fathers,
a bowl that will witness and hold the grief.
We will be the helpers.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Breathing in.  Breathing out.
2.  The way people help.  Almost blindly.  Just running into the fray.  Goodness that goes beyond sense of personal preservation.
3.  The wonderful people who help us on Goldfinch Farm.  We have such a great crew.
4.  Great customers, new and old.  I feel so heartened.
5.  Mowing the grass.  I love to get out on that old riding mower and mow the grass.

May we walk in beauty.

2013 April 059
Mockingbird in Maple this afternoon.

Gratitudes, Musings

Breath-taking

What an interesting word, that.  One of those that loses some of its value in its overuse.  Over-spoken and Under-thought, perhaps.  Today, my gratitude list is about Breath-taking Views and Scenes.  Places that make me pause in wonder.  That take my breath away for a moment.  But the act of noticing beauty also gives me breath, sustains me for the often difficult practice of compassion.  Breath-giving.

Gratitude List–5 Breath-Taking and Breath-Giving Views that I Noticed Today:
1.  The early spring view off Mount Pisgah, down over the bubbles of hills toward the River.  Green is spreading, but the leaves have not yet hidden the view.
2.  Heading East on 30 across the Susquehanna, looking toward Chiques Rock, with trees along the River frosted white from the morning mist, the poles along the railroad tracks sticking up blackly among them, and the charcoal grey hill and rocks rising beyond.
3.  A small oak tree, with its leathery leaves still clinging on, in a stubbly corn field, surrounded by tall yellow grasses like wheat.
4.  The very old stone house near the mall–probably once a mill?–surrounded by bone-white sycamores and weeping willows just beginning to don their spring green petticoats.
5.  Great blue herons patiently winging through blue sky.  Primal.
May we walk in beauty.

I realize my list is treeful.  Trees people my consciousness and my heart.
Soon the green will come. . .

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