A Small Bird in My Heart

Erebus loves to play Mousetrap. One of the blocks in the game says, “Big fat cat! Go back 3 spaces!” He loves that he has a specific role in the game. Also, he loves to knock the diver off the table.

Toko-pa Turner: In the Quechua tradition, when you feel grateful, you say, “There is a small bird in my heart.”

Gratitude List:
1. Looking forward to Good Work
2. Having time do focus inward and do inner work
3. A restful pace
4. I got a lovely view of a female Baltimore oriole yesterday–such a beautiful gentle orange, and that means that the lighter greenish-yellow oriole I have been seeing must have been a female orchard oriole.
5. Playing games with the family yesterday, even if it was Monopoly (which I really don’t like).

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly–in Beauty!


“Whenever there is a strong lock used there is something extremely precious hidden. The thicker the veil, the more valuable the jewel. A hoard of treasure is guarded by a large snake; do not dwell on the hideousness of the snake, contemplate the dazzling and the priceless things you’ll discover in the treasure.” —Rumi


“If your religion requires you to hate someone, you need a new religion.” ―Glennon Doyle


“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
―W. B. Yeats


“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
―Patrick Rothfuss


“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”
―Sue Monk Kidd

Finding the Magic

I still have a lot to learn, and I didn’t take a lot of time on this one.

Gratitude List:
1. We had our first takeout in eight weeks yesterday. It was a treat!
2. Yesterday, a blue-gray gnatcatcher came searching for bugs in the cobwebs o the balcony, and sat still for a little while so we could get a perfect view. My eyes have never been good at discerning fast and distant birds, so warblers and their ilk are usually out of my purview. I just assume they’re all chickadees. So it was nice to see this sweet little one up close.
3. Josiah and I saw three bright orange orioles flying across the road during our walk yesterday.
4. Last week Josiah showed me somewhere where I can really easily remove backgrounds from photos to make pngs for digital collage. physical collage has always been a really exciting art form for me, and this has great possibilities.
5. Finding the magic.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” —Albert Einstein


“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?” ―George Orwell


“Cowards make the best torturers. Cowards understand fear and they can use it.” ―Mark Lawrence


“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” ―Frida Kahlo


“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.” ―Clarissa Pinkola Estés


“I am always doing what I can’t do yet in order to learn how to do it.” ―Vincent van Gogh


“Do one good thing every day that everyone else is scared to do.” ―Leymah Gbowee


“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” ―Rabindranath Tagore


“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” ―Margaret Atwood


“We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been—a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.” ―Starhawk

Chagall’s Blues

I’m having a lot of fun mashing my photos with Chagall paintings to get that blue.

One of my Facebook friends, someone I don’t know IRL, but someone I have come to care about through our network of mutual friends, is in trouble. What do you do when you care about someone, but you aren’t part of their close network, and can’t call or text to check up? I breathe, which is like a prayer. So today I am breathing for my friend who is wandering close to the edge.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
As you breathe, let your mind wander through the circles of your beloveds.
Who needs your energy right now?
Breathe in, and hold that person in your mind’s eye.
Hold that breath a moment, and hold that person close to your heart.
Breathe out. Breathe out love and compassion and energy and hope.
Breathe in your beloved.
Hold them close to your heart.
Breathe out and cast them a line.
Breathe in and hold your beloved.
Breathe out and offer them love.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.


Gratitude List:
1. A socially distant visit from a dear, dear friend and a gift of tulips! Thank you, Dear One!
2. Those slightly hot yellow pickled pepper rings.
3. Spring peepers. I still remember one summer around the campfire at Camp Hebron when Gloria tried to help me hear the peepers in the midst of the cicadas and the crickets. I thought there was some magic I was missing in the world–my ears don’t sort sound well, and I couldn’t catch it. But now, for whatever reason, the peepers are busy up our street, and I can hear them, and they make me happy.
4. Chagall’s blues.
5. Erebus. We both know it is illegal for him to be up here on the table, but he wants to be right next to me. How can I tell him no?

Take care of each other. Walk in Beauty!


If you haven’t watched Jon Krasinski’s SGN show, take a few minutes today to google it. I think you’ll be glad you did.


“Dear friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others.” —Pope Francis


“Remember, the ugly, old woman/witch
is the invention of dominant cultures.
The beauty of crones is legendary:
old women are satined-skinned,
softly wrinkled, silver-haired, and awe-inspiring
in their truth and dignity.” —Susun Weed


“God invites everyone to the House of Peace.” —The Holy Quran


“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” —George Orwell


“What a pity that so hard on the heels of Christ came the Christians.”
—Annie Dillard


“The arc of history is long, and what we’re here to do is make a mark. . . . You do the work because you’re slowly moving the needle. There are times in history when we feel like we’re going backward, but that’s part of the growth.” —Barack Obama


“Each moment from all sides rushes to us the call to love.” —Rumi


“You are a co-creator of love in this world.” —Richard Rohr


“Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“When we let ourselves respond to poetry, to music, to pictures, we are clearing out a space where new stories can root; in effect we are clearing a space for new stories about ourselves.”
—Jeanette Winterson


“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.” —Eden Ahbez

Poem a Day: 3

Today’s two prompts were Blossoms and Follow ______.

I’m not really happy with this one. I got caught on the hook of the rhythm and I couldn’t tear myself loose, so I followed the trail. I followed the blossoms, I guess.

Follow the Blossoms
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Step, Golden Child, onto the pathway:
follow the blossoms strewn on the pebbles.
Pink-flowering trees and golden-bloomed bushes
line the trail that calls you to wander.

Follow the blossoms wherever they lead you.
Heed only the call of aroma and color
as your feet take the rocky trail into the wild-lands,
away from the village, away from the hearth-fires.

The stories will tell of your innocent spirit,
naive, how you trusted the universe,
never believing that anything
out in the wildwood could harm you.

But you, like the Fool, have kept your eyes open.
You know of the risks, you know of the shadows,
but something else calls you to step beyond boundaries
out to the wildwood, where dangers await you.

Ahead of you, waiting around every bend in the pathway,
are challengers, riddles and questions to answer,
witches to work for and riders to follow.
Now you will have come to the edge of your trial.

Step, Golden Child, into the clearing.
Now you are nearing the challenge you came for.
This is the moment you’ve trained your whole life for,
to follow the blossoms to where they may lead you.

Some Rooney Rants

I had a couple long conversations with Thor yesterday. I reminded him that my success rate for waking up in the morning has been 100%, so he doesn’t need to check whether I am still alive. I told him to wait until the alarm goes off. And here’s the thing: He did not wake me up last night.


Gratitude List:
1. The doves are getting all amorous out there in the weeds and the vines. Sure sign of spring.
2. During my lunch watch yesterday, at least three students came up and told me about book series that they love.
3. I correctly identified that Araucana hen in the FFA quiz in chapel yesterday, even if I missed the one about the cultipacker.
4. Friday. It’s Friday
5. How the kids in Speech class support each other. Some powerful stories were told.

May we walk in Beauty!


I’ve been really circumspect about not discussing the Democratic political candidates here. From the early days of 27+ candidates, I have been mostly sitting back to watch what happens. It feels to me like the more we citizens fight about our candidates, the more unruly the whole process becomes, the ore tarnished all the candidates become. When a nominee rises to the top, I don’t want them to be muddied and bruised by the Dem rivals. But this most recent candidate is causing me no little angst, and so here are a few thoughts, Andy Rooney-style:

  1. I have not been particularly vocal about my candidate choice in the primary, and I’m still keeping all the doors open, with the exception of one candidate. I think it’s best, in general, to avoid jumping into the negativity and back-biting tornado. Still, when you line them up on a debate stage, you can sing Sesame Street’s teaching song “One of these things is not like the others. . .” with a pretty clear view of the one that “just doesn’t belong.” If he wins the nomination, I don’t know how I will be able to vote.
  2. Speaking of Andy Rooney, I am getting so tired of grumpy old white men running things. Just tired. Tired. And I’m getting grumpy–like those old white men.
  3. I can get behind a woman who can speak the truth about the Old Boys’ Club right to their faces. Call them out. Stand up to them. Call the bluff on their obfuscations. Such a woman empowers other women. I feel intense gratitude for people who don’t let the boors hide their bad behavior under a veneer of Good Old Boy bluster.
  4. Stridently calling out bad behavior is not the same thing as being mean. Sometimes you have to be strident to be heard above the bluster and the big money.
  5. I laughed out loud at the Elle article by R. Eric Thomas. Google it–you know how.
  6. Can someone tell Bernie that pointing at people comes across and hostile, and emphasizes all the negatives of the grumpy old white man persona?
  7. Some of you are older white men. I have no quibble with you, per se. I just want to try something different in the White House for a while.

Letter to My Cat

Dear Sweet Thor,
I know I said that I love the sound of your happy chirpy morning purr, and I do. Thing is, “morning” is the operative word in that sentence. It resonates a little differently at 3:30.

I love the way you pat my face so sweetly with your paw, but again, what is sweet at 5:30 only startles and annoys me at 4:00. The same is true of whiskers in my face, of walking up and down my body with your needle-fingers, of licking my hands. Please know that, no matter how much you lick my hands, I will not be petting you before the alarm goes off.

So far in my life, I have a 100% record of waking up in the morning–not always on time, I grant you, but usually–so you do not need to check on me every fifteen minutes from 3:30 onward to make sure whether I am still alive. Further, rolling over, stretching out my legs, yawning–these are not signals of my imminent awakening. They usually help me get back to sleep, unless, of course, someone is trying to wake me up.

One more thing, small dude: While I work hard at being culturally competent, I am never going to sniff your butt. You can stop offering. Especially in the night when I am trying to sleep.

See you in the morning, Sweetie.


Gratitude List:
1. Boy has been writing poems. “Who assigned you that prompt?” I ask.
“Oh, I just decided to write a poem for fun.”
Heart is melting.
2. Stretching and breathing. In-spir-ation.
3. Last night, I looked back through my New Orleans 2003 journal. I need to get back into doing watercolor sketches.
4. Carving spaces for myownself
5. All the little signs of spring.

May we walk in Beauty!

Hope

Today, during the quiet moments between things, make a conscious effort to breathe deeply, down into your roots. Feel your spine straighten and your branches extend out and up.


Gratitude List:
1. The sweet little chirpy purr of a small cat who is happy that his human is awake.
2. Homemade soup
3. Making little changes to routines
4. The intense excitement of a small boy preparing for a competition. You’d think he was flying to California, with the seriousness of his planning and preparations.
5. Breath.

May we walk in Beauty!

You are Beloved

When they are babies or small children, each child at my church is held and blessed by one of our pastors, and told: “You are known and loved by God.” Whatever your word for that great and unknowable–but personal and tender–Mystery, know this today and always: The One who is the Source and Cause of all being, all Beauty, all Knowing, all Making, loves you. Knows you. As intimately as a painter who cherishes the tiny green dot of color in a painting, which she knows is there, which she placed there with purpose. You are deeply and singularly beloved.

Gratitude List:
1. Contemplating Longing and Belonging, and the Web upon which we all live and move.
2. Deep sleep. Somehow, at this point of middle age, sleep has become a regular visitor to this list–perhaps because it’s not so regular in real life
3. How dreams teach me about myself
4. Artistic processes–whether it be collage or poetry or doodles, or simply seeing and listening
5. All my Beloveds. You’re in my heart, on my web. I cast a line from me to you today. Take hold.

May we walk in Beauty!

On the Dream Scene

In the dream, I am back in a little town where I have often found myself in dreams. It’s a fully realized little town, with neighborhoods and trees and people and traffic. It’s miles away from any other town or city, out in a scrubby desert. On the outskirts of town are several truckyards–I suppose this is the source of the town’s thriving economy. But this is something I know from previous dreams about the place.
**
In this particular dream, we are living in a house (that I think belongs to us or a friend). People come and go through the property, and the path leads over a steep, muddy embankment in the corner of the yard. When I skid down over the hill, I realize at the bottom that the mud and grass cover an enormous quartz crystal “colony.” Some beautiful points are visible beneath the mud. Bits have broken off, and points and broken pillars of crystal scatter the lower yard. They’re so clear and shiny, even amidst the mud that they look almost more like Herkimer Diamonds than Quartz. I collect LOTS of random pieces, and someone has left baskets of stones and little carvings and treasures on the sidewalk near our house. I know that they are for us, if we want them, so I decide to come back and get them later, along with several of the more beautiful quartz bits.
**
A little later, we’re going to eat lunch at the cafe in the community center (which might also be our house, or next to our house). We’ve gone to taste the Bhaktar (not a waking-life word or recipe), which is a cracker-like bread crumbled into a bowl with a creamy soup poured over top. On the way in, we pass a student of mine who is taking people’s orders. She looks at me and says, “Have you ever seen James Kinder’s wife? She reminds me so much of you!” I google them, and it turns out that she is the creative director of the plays and events at the community center.

After lunch, we watch some of the dancers preparing a performance at the community center. I don’t think James Kinder’s wife looks or acts anything like me. She reminds me a bit of Amanda Palmer, someone with a lot of creative energy and vision, which I really admire, but super vampy/campy in her own aspect, which makes me feel uncomfortable and awkward. I wonder if people perceive me as vampy and insincere. Not that she is insincere, really. I just can’t get past the vampy-style mask to make a human connection. I wonder if people think of me as wearing too much of a mask to really get to know me.

The dance performance they’re preparing is amazing. Back stage (or maybe on stage), I make friends with the Kinders’ sweet black cat.
**
A little later, my whole family is gathered at our house. Everyone seems to have something they really want to do right there at the house, but I want to explore the town. Finally, I get up the nerve to tell everyone that I would like to go window shopping. They sort of chuckle, but they don’t make fun of me for wanting to shop. I say it’s because I want to get the steps on my step-counter.
**
Just as I am waking up, I find myself fascinated with how my legs and arms move as I am walking up the hill, and I realize that I am actually in someone else’s body. I’m not sure if anyone else notices. I enjoy the odd experience of being in a different body. Her limbs are long and thin and very dark brown. I’ve tripped and scratched her knee, but I don’t feel the hurt.
**
A small ginger cat in the waking world is licking my cheek, and someone is meowing in the hall to say that no one filled the cat food bowl before we went to bed, so the dream ended and the day began.


Gratitude List:
1. Sincerity and honesty. People who can interact without too much of the mask.
2. While I am tired of the recent days of constant waking in the night, the waking brings the memories of dreams, and dreams are fascinating, and they offer me clues to my deeper self.
3. New strategies for handling the workload. There’s always hope that another way to organize will help me keep up with things better this time.
4. Reading books to a small person. I’m going to string this out as long as he can take it. He still demands that we read every night.
5. The interplay between language and ideas. In AP Comp, we watched a TED talk by Lera Boroditsky on how language shapes thought, and I am finding that the video itself is giving me new language for thinking about how vocabulary actually directs the shape of abstract ideas.

May we walk in Beauty!

Combustible Child

I was a little obsessed yesterday with the way the sun shone through the wine and water glasses.

In the dream, there is a combustible child, who is likely at any moment to burst into flame: hair, chest, shins on fire. I am the child, running to escape a mob of children. Their fear and their curiosity and their rage torment me. I just want to be alone, so I can burn in peace. I burn, but I am not harmed. But my fire can burn the buildings of the town, and the trees.

Also I am a child in the mob. I run with the others, trying to catch the combustible child. I want to protect him. I know that some of the others mean to kill him, and I want to be the first to find him, to warn him, to help him. But he is always ahead of us.

We are in the labyrinthine passages beneath an old mill building. I am the child, running and hiding, afraid the light of my burning will show the children where I am. I am also seeking the child, fearful that he will hurt himself, or burn the building down, but mostly that the other children will hurt him.

I have found a way to the roof of the old mill. The others are still mostly down in the underground passages. The building is wood, but it is not burning beneath me, although other buildings have burned in the past. Down below, I am a child in the mob; I hear two children talking. They have discovered one of the secrets of the combustible child: “I think he was the one we thought had drowned there in the lake. Remember?” I have to find the combustible child and warn him.

(I welcome comments and thoughts about my dreams. I don’t feel comfortable with the “Your dream means” sort of interpretations, but speculative and conjectural comments and questions are better for helping me to think through what might be going on.)


Gratitude List:
1. How tears sometimes bless the receiver of tears. Sharing emotion, like sharing bread.
2. Laughing with loved ones
3. Pumpkin coconut pie, venison pie, chocolate pumpkin cheesecake pie
4. Sweet soft cat. I’m a little grumpy because Thor was chasing Sachs all around the house, thumpily and hissily. I could not get him to stop. I came downstairs to the recliner, hoping it would distract him, and I could get back to sleep. No. I held him and gave him a lecture about chasing kitties. No. Every time I settled down to sleep, he was off and thundering. The minute I turned on the light and picked up the laptop, he jumped up beside me, rolled onto his back, and fell into a deep sleep. Sigh. And am I grouchy? No, I just love this soft warm breathing presence beside me. I’ll nap later.
5. Belonging. I don’t always feel like I belong, or like I understand the unwritten rules of certain groups, even though I think I am a pretty good observer of human nature. So when I am in a group whose rules accept everyone’s awkwardness and oddness unconditionally, which loves each one not in spite of our oddities, but because of them, then I feel safe. Then I feel belonging. I am especially grateful to those of you who know how to extend unconditional welcome in ways that make everyone believe they belong.

May we walk in Beauty!