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!


Years ago, during the month of April, I kept a poetree. Two dogwood trees stand on either side of my driveway. I would hang poems from the branches of the one closest to the house. Rain and snow caused problems until I got smart and hung them in plastic sheets. Since I have been teaching school, I have not had time to tend and April poetree, except on my bulletin board in the classroom one year. The year of this photo, 2013, I called myself the laundress of poetry, hanging my fresh sheets in the sun every few days.

Today’s prompt is to write a temptation poem. This year’s poems feel more solid than some years in the past. Fewer toss-offs, fewer place-holders. Today’s poem might fit those categories, but it has a little promise, I think:

Lead me not into temptation,
not into the Faculty snack room,
not into the valley of Facebook,
not into the sleepy arms of the recliner.

Lead me not into the second pot of coffee,
not into the bargain bin at the yarn store,
not into the library book sale,
not into the place of shiny stones.

Lead me into the long afternoon walk,
into the quiet seat in the spring sunshine,
into the circle of the oriole’s song,
into the embrace of a weeping pink tree.

Lead me into a whole classroom of laughter,
into the smile of a child,
into the room of your song,
into the twinkling space of your gaze.

Gratitude List:
1. Pink
2. Yellow
3. Yellow
4. Pink
5. Pink

May we walk in Beauty!

Happule Evr Aftr

Here are some stories.  The author requests anonymity, so it’s probably best not to talk to him about them.

“ther was a liyin. ther was a mce. the liyin was chasing the muce. the liyin chast the muce up the chrey.”

“Waunts apon a tim thir was a chicin. the chicin codnt lia ene eggs. the uther chicins laft at him.”

“If cows came into my bedroom they wod eat my sox. the wod dschroy my desr. they wod poop on my machris.”

“thir was a dog. the dog’s gob is hrding the shep. a lam was mising. a caing roo was coming to the frm. in its pawch it was ciyreing the lam.”

“Thier was a froge. the froge lived in a ran foriest. one day the froge mit a maucee.  they wre frens. they lived happule evr aftr.”

Gratitude List:
1. One year ago today, I interviewed for a job at Lancaster Mennonite High School.  I am grateful that they hired me, and that it has been as good a fit as I imagined.
2.  I am grateful for my colleagues and the way they care for the students as much as for the subjects they teach.
3.  I am grateful for my students and all that they teach me.  Today, a student announced our new Unicef Club in chapel.  I was hoping that at least five or six people would respond and sign up.  By day’s end, over thirty had done so.  I am thrilled that so many kids want to get involved in humanitarian work, and delighted that the student who hatched the idea is getting so much support.
4. Not being in labor–9 years ago right now, I had already been in labor for about 20 hours, and I still had a whole night to go through.  I am grateful for the medical technology that ensured we both survived.  I’m inexpressibly grateful for this child, who amazes and delights me every single day.
5. The way the sun is shining over the ridge.

May we walk in Beauty!