Into the Dark, December 5

very year at this time, I feel the anxiety and restlessness begin to rise within me, and the cold settles into my bones. Every year, I need to consciously ease my spirit into the season. This year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I will set it down here on the blog. May we journey into the darkness with intention and tenderness.

Those sunrise clouds do it every morning. I move through the morning darkness like a wader in a murky pond every morning, until I am fully awake, until I can let some of my muscles relax into the day. The clouds help. Magenta and tangerine streaks across cobalt and indigo and grey. Touches of aquamarine in the sky below.

Not every day, of course. Some of the sunrises are simple shifts from grey to grey. But some mornings, the sky breathes for me, breathes in colors that seep into my bones, the way warmth begins to creep inward from a nice cup of tea.

My word for today will be Color. Even in the grey days, there’s color to be found, and even now there are deep rich greens, pops of berry red, cardinal red, golden sunbeam.

Today, may colors seep into your soul, awaken and enliven you, help you breathe. Blessed be.


“The opposite of consumption is not frugality, it is generosity.”
—Raj Patel


“By reciting a myth, the storyteller remembers a creation, and, by remembering, is a part of that creating. It is best understood in that dreadful solecism “walkabout”. In walking, the Australians speak the land. Their feet make it new, now, and in its beginning. And the land speaks to them, now, anew, and in their beginning, by step and breath that meet in its dance, so that land and people sing as one.” —Alan Garner, The Voice That Thunders


“This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.” —Ben Okri


“So every day
I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth
of the ideas of God,
one of which was you.” ―Mary Oliver


“Let the violence and pain in our world root you even more deeply in your commitment to be kinder and love harder, no matter the person or circumstance. Your great ability to love has everything to do with creating a more peaceful reality on our planet. Your love matters. It makes a critical difference. It helps us all.” —Scott Stabile


“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” —Nelson Mandela


“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
—Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)


“Never does Nature say one thing and Wisdom another.” —Juvenal


“There is a place where words are born of silence,
A place where the whispers of the heart arise.” —Rumi


Gratitude List:
1. Warm blankets
2. Elementary School Music Concerts
3. Nourishment
4. Words
5. You

May we walk in Beauty!

Shadow and Flame

What would you see if you could look through that window?

Gratitude List:
1. Elderberry wine. It’s a great comfort for a cold.
2. Windows, on many levels
3. Quiet and solitude
4. Color
5. DreamsThe dream as I woke up this morning went like this:
Two sisters were holding each other.
One says, “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay.”
The Other says, “I wish I could believe that.”
The First says, “It’s okay. I’ll believe it for both of us. You just concentrate on taking one step at a time.”
This was after a harrowing dream about trying to get somewhere that I needed to go, and trying to contact Jon to tell him I would be late, and the taxi just wouldn’t come, and my phone was blinking out, and I couldn’t remember whether I had closed the door to keep the cats from getting out.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Quiet the mind enough
so it is the heart
that gives the prayer.”
—Ingrid Goff-Maidoff


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King Jr.


“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” —Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


“Creative acts of social justice constitute life’s highest performance art.” —Rebecca Alban Hoffberger


“If you will, you can become all flame.” —Abba Joseph


“Become all shadow.
Become all light.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


“You cannot use someone else’s fire; you can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it.” —Audre Lorde


“The first duty of love is to listen.”
—Paul Tillich


“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith. The opposite of faith is certainty.”
—Paul Tillich


“When you go to your place of prayer, don’t try to think too much or manufacture feelings or sensations. Don’t worry about what words you should say or what posture you should take. It’s not about you or what you do. Simply allow Love to look at you—and trust what God sees! God just keeps looking at you and loving you center to center. ” —Richard Rohr


“All through your life, the most precious experiences seemed to vanish. Transience turns everything to air. You look behind and see no sign even of a yesterday that was so intense. Yet in truth, nothing ever disappears, nothing is lost. Everything that happens to us in the world passes into us. It all becomes part of the inner temple of the soul and it can never be lost. This is the art of the soul: to harvest your deeper life from all the seasons of your experience. This is probably why the soul never surfaces fully. The intimacy and tenderness of its light would blind us. We continue in our days to wander between the shadowing and the brightening, while all the time a more subtle brightness sustains us. If we could but realize the sureness around us, we would be much more courageous in our lives. The frames of anxiety that keep us caged would dissolve. We would live the life we love and in that way, day by day, free our future from the weight of regret.” —John O’Donohue


“People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels.” —Charles Fort


“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.” —Shakespeare, The Tempest

Holding Our Brokenness

This ceramic chalice was on a shelf in a meeting room at my church last year. I could sense the disappointment that must have occurred to the person who broke it or discovered it broken. But it spoke to me, to my own sense of brokenness, how we hold our brokenness, how the essential form and idea of the thing remains even when it is broken. I wonder if someone ought to try to mend it with kitsugi in the Japanese way.

Gratitude List:
1. The blue underbellies of evening clouds
2. Taking a break: I am nursing a rather nasty cold, but the idea of a break is a big lift to my mental well-being as well. Hmmm. They seem to be related, both the downward slide, and the recovery.
3. Butter coffee
4. Bright pops of color in the muted landscape: I suppose that’s why everyone seems to love cardinals and berries.
5. Naps: Refer to #2

May we walk in Beauty!

“Healing comes in waves and maybe today the wave hits the rocks. And that’s ok, that’s ok, darling. You are still healing, you are still healing.” —Ijeoma Umebinyuo


“No matter where we are, the ground between us will always be sacred ground.“ —Fr. Henri Nouwen


“The truest art I would strive for in any work would be to give the page the same qualities as earth: weather would land on it harshly; light would elucidate the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding.” —Gretel Ehrlich


“‪The fact that these words and the jumble of lines that create their letters has no real, inherent meaning outside of a human context, yet they hum with life, is a wonderful reminder that what we imagine can easily become real and powerful simply because we decide it should be so.‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


“Writing at the library. Surrounded by thousands of books, windows into other minds. Some of these writers are living. Some are not. Neatly ordered rectangles of concentrated human life and intellect. A book is certainly a kind of ghost and libraries are pleasantly haunted places.” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


“The beauty of the world…has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.” —Virginia Woolf


I know nothing, except what everyone knows —
If there when Grace dances, I should dance.
—W.H. Auden


“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic—the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”
—Charles de Lint

Featherbed

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Gratitude List:
1. A field of smiling yellow sunflowers shining through the fog of a rainy morning.
2. Featherbed. Two nights ago, I couldn’t sleep for a while because I was shivering so badly. The weather change hit me hard (not complaining, though!). Last night I pulled the featherbed down from the cupboard, and I was warm and cozy. Makes me want to sing this: John McCutcheon singing “Featherbed”
3. When a new idea for a classroom activity gets them buzzing and collaborating without any pressure or pushing from me. This is not always the case. In fact, it is often enough NOT the case that when it happens, it still feels like magic. AND this one meets the goals of the unit perfectly. Win-win.
4. My classroom. I like this space. I loved the coolness of the science aerie up there on the third floor of Rutt during the heat wave, but I have created this space to be somewhere that I want to host groups of students throughout the day, somewhere that we WANT to be, and it’s nice to be here with a cool breeze blowing in the windows. I missed it.
5. Color, texture, hue, harmony, blending, Beauty.

May we walk in that Beauty!


“We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.” ―Hildegard of Bingen
*****
“Beneath our clothes, our reputations, our pretensions,
beneath our religion or lack of it,
we are all vulnerable both to the storm without
and to the storm within.” ―Frederick Buechner
*****
“The vulnerability of precious things is beautiful because vulnerability is a mark of existence.” ―Simone Weil
*****
Here is how we make the world:
I will say fire and mean wisdom.
I will say wisteria and mean my thoughts are tangled.
I will say the river is flowing and mean that time is passing.
I will say grandmother’s quilt and mean that the work is love.
I will say house and mean your heart.
I will say spiderweb and mean the prayers are holding you.
I will say the eagle flies and mean my thoughts are with you.
I will say the daffodils are blooming and mean you are healing.
I will say song and mean dream.
I will say dream and mean prayer.
I will say prayer and mean poem.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*****
“When an elder dies, a library burns.” ―African proverb
*****
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ―Anne Frank
*****
“But how could you live and have no story to tell?” ―Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Rain

Gratitude List:
1. The Women’s Trio this morning at church. Blending of voices, colors, textures, rhythms.
2. Feeling the bass rumbling through the back of the pew.
3. Rain: Making it not-hot
4. Rain: I get to walk around with my cheery yellow duck-headed umbrella
5. Rain: Lying on my parents’ couch, wrapped in Uncle Henry’s red-violet blanket, watching the rain and listening to the murmuring and laughter between my parents and my children in the garage.

May we walk in Beauty! (And may all your basements stay dry!)

Claiming Space


Gratitude List:
1. Time with friends
2. Pizza on the grill
3. New shelves in the classroom. I’m starting my fifth year here, and I finally feel like I am filling my space–giving away books that I won’t use, taking the time to organize my shelves in a logical way. I almost can’t wait to get back to teaching!
4. Cooler weather
5. Pewee calling from the chestnut tree

May we walk in Beauty!


Thursday’s Thoughts:
Marc Chagall: “In life there is a single color, it is the color of love.”
***
“Try this:
Sit in a circle at dusk with people you love.
Let it be when the swifts are flying.
Let there be a catbird with a whiskery voice in a spruce tree.
Speak your stories into the bowl of the space between you:
stories like a rich meal, the bitter, the savory, the sweet.
Let it get dark. The darkness will listen, too.
You can hear people listening when you speak in the dark.
You may light a candle if you have a candle.
Laugh together. Cry.
Let there be occasional questions,
occasional grunts, occasional exclamations of oh-I-hear-that!
Make a meal of the stories before you,
and eat your fill. Be nourished.
Be together in your stories.
Know that all these stories are your story, too.
Let there be a benediction,
words sung or spoken into the full dark,
accompanied by the chittering of bats,
good words to keep you always
in this circle where you belong.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
Thursday’s Quotes:
“Each of us faces a time when the holy well within needs tending. When we’re no longer able to bestow blessings on others because we’ve overgiven, or when something precious has been taken from us, or life’s demands are too great on our fragile system. But when the moisture goes out of our lives, and we’re no longer able to see beauty or converse with magic, we must ask ourselves how we can replenish our well-ness.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“We never belonged to you. / You never found us. / It was always the other way round.” —Margaret Atwood
***
“Would you like to have an adventure now, or would you like your tea first?” —JM Barrie
***
“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” —Zora Neale Hurston
***
“. . .The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth…” —Carl Jung
***
“Listen. . .with the ear of your heart.” —The Rule of St. Benedict
***
“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” —Malala Yousufzai
***
“It’s always the beginning of the world.

“Even if you don’t call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life’s ceaseless invitation to change.

“It’s to this part of you—the restless, inventive spirit—that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don’t be satisfied with the world the way it is; don’t sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.

“Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it’s in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul’s code.” —Rob Brezsny

Keep Pushing


Not intending to be maudlin here. I don’t know quite why the carvings of skull wings on 17th century gravestones is so fascinating to me.

Gratitude List:
1. Doing things. Channeling the unsettledness into working for change. Keep up the writing and calling, folks. Keep your Senators’ and Representatives’ feet to the fire. Demand that they be fully informed of the truth of what is happening. Send them the images and the videos and the news reports. Require them to respond.
2. Hours of professional development this afternoon with a colleague who just retired, and in passing on two challenging but fun classes to me.
3. Listening to a Terry Pratchett novel. I love reading the Tiffany Aching books, but to really get the accents right, you can’t beat an audiobook. I’m listening to Hatful of Sky. Really disappointed I couldn’t find Wee Free Men.
4. Butterflies
5. Colorful stones. I am oiling the collection of stones I found on Race Point Beach. It’s taking a while because I am soaking them for hours in the oil before polishing them. They come out with slightly matte colors compared to the brilliance of being in water, but the colors are definitely brighter than the dry ones.

May we walk in Beauty!


Quotes for the Day:
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ―Anne Lamott
***
“[E]ducation is not just about utilizing a particular curriculum, or ensuring that critical reflection in a community follows a particular formula. It is full of intangible and random events. It is not just taught in the classroom, but lived in the midst of the community in ways that are not even fully quantifiable.” ―M.S. Bickford on the educational theories of John Westerhoff
***
“The trouble with trouble is, it starts out as fun.” ―Anonymous
***
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. . .give it, give it all, give it now.”
—Annie Dillard
***
“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
—Leymah Gbowee
***
“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.” —Wangari Maathai
***
“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.”
—Wangari Maathai
***
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
—Joseph Campbell
***
“I’m a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself. I don’t think about what I do. I do it. That’s Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.”
—Ray Bradbury

Ride the Wave


Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled __________ Wave.

Ride the Wave

If you watch closely
as it approaches
you can begin to feel
the energy enter your body
before the water
even takes shape.

Enter the sound and the color
before the matter engages you.

And suddenly you are part of it,
caught in the song of it,
bound in the curve and the crash
and the pull of the wave.


Gratitude List:
1. Speedwell and dandelion and grape hyacinth and violet and deadnettle. The little quiet beauties that catch your eye when you’re least expecting it. “Wake up now,” they say.
2. Spring in the air
3. People who put their souls and hearts into what they do. Art that is more than technical perfection, but is a reflection of humanity.
4. Getting some of the work done. Not nearly enough. But some. The load begins to lift.
5. Blooming. Flowers, children, teenagers, relationships, work, ideas.

May we walk in Beauty!

Bring Forth What is Within You

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” —Coretta Scott King
***
“If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” —Gospel of Thomas
***
“If a child is to keep alive [her] inborn sense of wonder, [she] needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with [her] the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
—Rachel Carson
***
“The ultimate measure of a person is not where [he/she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where [she/he] stands at times of challenge and controversy.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
***
“The weight of the world is love.
Under the burden of solitude,
under the burden of dissatisfaction
the weight, the weight we carry is love.”
—Allen Ginsberg
***
“What have you done for color?”
—Henri Matisse
***
“Beauty is whatever gives joy.”
—Edna St. Vincent Millay
***
“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” —Rachel Carson
***
“waging peace
with tender ferocity
and ingenious empathy
and wild compassion”
—Rob Brezsny
***
Have you caught the rustle of wings
as the train rushes through,
hardly slowly to stop at the station?
Have you felt the breath in your ear
as the quiet sun leaps from the ridge
and touches your face like a lover?
Have you noticed the shadow that darts
just at the edge of your vision
as the river flows with purpose
under your ancient bridge?
And suddenly, before you–
before you can take another breath,
the madness is upon you,
the craving has taken you,
the pen is in your hand,
the words glow and bleed
beneath your fingers.
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
“Dreams make the inner life substantial, giving it dimensionality, colour and form. Ritual is the further enfleshment of the unseen; a way of feeding that which is nourishing you so that your living conversation with the holy in nature grows in strength and vocabulary.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


Gratitude List:
1. Snow sure is pretty
2. By hook or by crook, I am ready for the new semester to start today. Now if only I can find a few hours to finish up last semester’s grading. . .
3. I’m getting a whiteboard in my room, which will be nice and easy. I will, however, miss the beauty of chalk work. I’m a secret chalk artist, and I do love to leave little drawings on my board. But the surface was really rapidly wearing away. The other sad thing is that one of my own high school memories of this room is of walking into the classroom and seeing the same green chalkboard filled with Mrs. Banks’s neat and beautiful cursive notes. There were some of us who sought to emulate her handwriting. The more notes, the better–we got more practice copying the beauty.
4. The way you can’t keep a group of English Teachers on a focused conversation because everything comes back to grammar and pedagogy.
5. Chocolate. You know how it helps Harry Potter recover from the dementor attacks? Yeah.

May we walk in Beauty!