BROKEN TRUTH

Today’s prompt was to write a thoughtless or/and a thoughtful poem. I decided that a found poem is the perfect example of both. I am taking up the lines that friends on FB offered me, entirely without putting thought into them. Then the arranging requires much thought. Probably more than I have after a long day at school. But here it is:

Childhood traumatic experiences
have been shown to bear very directly
on what authorizes
or rationalizes the fear.

Since appliances vary in power,
the back seat,
unlike the sturdy external shell of my snail,
is the safest place for children.

My supporting structure was internal.
The sport of adult political orientations
was a defining passion
whole clocks later,

Whatever the truth is,
it was eventually broken.

Cuckoos crept into other birds’ nests,
laid their eggs among strangers,
We shouldn’t put it off any longer,
try to minimize the interruption
of bass fishing by scheduling
going to the dragonfly pool.
Water flowed from the ground
in hundreds of springs and seeps
to one huge bottle
that could have contained nothing
but a captured djinn.
It will be anchored to one spot.
I have to dig.
When you identify it,
ask next what I was
and what I wasn’t.
All characters in this book
have no existence.

Discover that the heart is
moved everywhere by a pulse
that is aliveness in gut.

These instructions are guidelines only.
You will know them by their fruits.
In the end there was love,
untried muscles,
glow on your lap,
trial by earth.

You needed the normal routine:
thorn, nettle, bramble, gorse, and briar
sealed in stone and hidden by fire.
I sing, I sing to the end.


Gratitude List:
1. Warm blankets
2. Rest
3. Kind words
4. Doing the work
5. Rest
May we walk in Beauty!
(I didn’t realize at first that I had typed “Rest” twice. I am going to let it stand.)


“Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”
—Walt Whitman


“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful—an endless prospect of magic and wonder.” —Ansel Adams


“A tree is a nobler object than a prince in his coronation-robes.” —Alexander Pope


“We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing—for that is nothing but fear. ‘Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless’—for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible’s demands in times such as these?” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear. . . . Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“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


“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.” —Nelson Mandela


“We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future. We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.” —Thomas Berry

Ekphrastic Poem

Today’s prompt is to write an ekphrastic poem, to take a piece of art, and to write a poem about it. All month, I have been writing a poem, and then creating a piece of AI art to go with it. As I began to create a piece of AI art to use for this prompt, the poem approached. Before I managed to create a piece of art, the poem had found its way to my notes, and so I created the art to go with the poem that went with a piece of artwork that I had imagined. And so it goes: Which comes first?

Which came first:
the image or the word,
the sound or the sense,
the egg or the bird?

Did it happen with BANG or “Begin,”
with the seed or the dream,
with poem or picture,
with to say, or to seem?

A project, a poem, a world comes to be
in the nodes where the lines of word and image cross,
the woven fibers of vision and voice interlocking,
and in the silence and darkness between,
meaning–like water– trickles into the spaces,
into the interstices, of the living, breathing tapestry.

Becoming becomes,
word takes shape and image speaks,
and something new comes into being.


Gratitude List:
1. Every day right now: November Roses!
2. People telling their stories
3. The buck who whuffed at me in the grove
4. Cardinal singing in the cherry tree
5. Words and images
May we walk in Beauty!


“Choosing to be honest is the first step in the process of love. There is no practitioner of love who deceives. Once the choice has been made to be honest, then the next step on love’s path is communication.”
― bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions


“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.” ―Gandalf


Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.

Amen.
―Rabbi Harold Kushner


I place in the hands of Time these stones:
the story of this day,
the people I have been near to,
the songs the Fates have whispered in my ears,
the colors that haunt me.

See how they turn to mist,
how they glow for a moment–
red, then golden, then blue–
then dissipate like ash blown by a wind
before I can register
that they have lost their substance.

Where does memory go
when it flows out with the tide,
when it slips down the drain,
when it is blown out with the morning fog?

I am still the child in the forest,
walking blind through the swirling mists,
under the shadows of the great trees.
With each forward step on the trail,
a little bird flutters from the pathway behind,
a bread crumb in its beak.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider


“When I stopped trying to change you, you changed me.” ―Rachel Macy Stafford

Finding Time

Brewer’s prompt today was to write a poem about the future. I was contemplating the timelessness of praying in the the cherry grove, and on friendships that have lasted and grown over thirty-five years. As I rode my bike this early afternoon along the Susquehanna, I write this poem, stopping every once in a while to write down what had been happening in my head.

Finding Time
for Nancy

Stand in the center of this sacred grove
and feel how past and future
converge upon the miracle of this moment,
how your ancient loves and longings
are stitched with gold and scarlet thread
into the tapestry of the holy Now.
Leave the tattered threads
of future fears behind you
and wade into the waters of this present,
this presence.

You are the soul you have always been,
the soul you all ways have been.
And, you are new now.

And now.

And now.

And now


Gratitude List:
1. A marvelous bike
2. Trees that seem to reach out for human companionship
3. Beloved friends in it for the long haul
4. Strings of prayer flags
5. People who help me to be my best self
May we walk in Beauty!


“Through a process of perpetual discernment and “prayer unceasing” we may dive into the well of each faith and emerge with the treasure that connects us all.” —Mirabai Starr


“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” —Carl Sagan


“If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures.” —Thomas Berry


“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” —Kurt Vonnegut


“For a Star to be born,
there is one thing that must happen;
a nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your Destruction.
This is your birth.” —attributed to Noor Tagouri


‪”So much of bird flight is really expert falling, slipping into that delicate space within the argument between gravity and air resistance. That natural alchemy transforms a plummet into a glide. Someday, I hope to learn to fail like birds fall.‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


“Reading and writing cannot be separated. Reading is breathing in; writing is breathing out.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider

Making Tuesday’s News

It’s not my most poetic of poems, but RLB’s prompt at Writers Digest was to write a news poem, and right now, I’m preparing my inner self to deal with the this coming Tuesday’s news. I kind of copped out at the end. . .

What will you do with Tuesday’s news?
Will you lose your head in a whirling tizzy
or sink into a slough of desperate sadness?
Will you dance on political graves
of the ones you wanted to vanquish?
Will you wear a crown of gloating laurels?

Will you follow the call of your guru and your gut
to make the world a kinder place?
Will you follow the call of your humanity
to make the space more humane?
Will you call out the gleeful cruelty,
and stand up for those who were left behind?

What will you do for democracy?
What will you do for your neighbor?


Really, please vote. Please help to stand up to the forces of fascism. Stand up for kindness and goodness and love and democracy.


Gratitude List:
1. Democracy–it’s really a good idea
2. Kindness
3. Zooming with my beloveds
4. The color! Oh, the color!
5. How prayer changes me
May we walk in Beauty!


“Walked for half an hour in the garden. A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn. The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains – a melancholy nature. The leaves were falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tears of irremediable grief. A brood of chattering birds were chasing each other through the shrubberies, and playing games among the branches, like a knot of hiding schoolboys. Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail.” —Henri Frederic Amiel


Chasing Chickens
by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider
.
I’ve counted my chickens.
A dozen times or more they’ve dashed–
dashed, I tell you–
into blackberry canes,
wings whirring.
.
White clouds of dust engulf me.
Their voices chuckle
from the cliff’s edge.
Don’t tell me about chickens.
I’m green, baby. Green.
And I don’t know how
I’m getting home from here.
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


There is a legend that has its roots buried deep inside the prehistoric culture of these lands. It is a myth that was seeded before the stories were anchored onto the page, before rigid systems of belief tied gods and spirits into names and form, even before the people were persuaded from paths of individual responsibility into hierarchies of power. This story has been fluid and flowing, changing shape and growing over many thousands of years. It is a story of ancestors and a deep relationship with the ancient land. It is a story of memories that permeate stone and wood to rest within the body of the earth. This legend is too old to be defined by history and therefore we are not limited in our own remembering of it; creative recollection lies at the heart of our very best tales.

Memory may arrive at odd moments and in unexpected forms. Recognition may unravel along strange paths. Wherever the wild reaches through the land, we may touch the edges of this story. We start to tease out a thread, then pick and pull until first a fragment of colour, then a whole strand of story, is revealed. Now we peel away the layers, glimpse the traces of a design, watch a pattern grow until an entire story emerges, then a cycle of stories, and now we are unwinding the fabric of our ancestors’ lives.” —Carolyn Hillyer


We stumble on the journey, O God.
We lose heart along the way.
We forget your promises and blame one another.
Refresh us with the springs of your spirit in our souls
and open our senses to your guiding presence
that we may be part of the world’s healing this day,
that we may be part of the world’s healing.
—John Philip Newell

Perilous

Art by Beth and AI.

Today’s Poetry Prompt, suggested by Robert Lee Brewer of Writers Digest, is Peril. This one feels incomplete. . .

Oh Lady of the Labyrinth,
Mother of Midnight,
Queen of the star-strewn Heavens,
only now do I know that I need not pray
that the way will be windswept and winsome,
that the dreams will be joyful and golden.

For it was on the perilous path that you found me,
and the moment I stumbled you came to my aid.
When the road was encumbered by shadows,
you grasped my hand and said, “Follow.”


Gratitude List:
1. An absolutely pleasant day
2. All the colors of autumn
3. Riding Rail Bikes at Seven Valleys
4. Cats in the family
5. An extra hour
May we walk in Beauty.


“Safety is not the absence of threat.
It is the presence of connection.” —Gabor Maté


“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.” —James Keenan


Expose yourself to your deepest fear. After that, you are free.” —Jim Morrison


“You need not wade through the mists and bogs to reach the moon.
You need not climb a ladder of cobweb.
You need not ride the stallions that wicker in the sea’s pounding surf.

Draw back the curtain and open the window.
Breathe the bracing air and listen:
The whinny of an owl, the click of the bat,
The grunt of a buck and the distant roar of the train.

The full moon will spill a milky road before you.
That is all the pathway you will need.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


“The word is the making of the world.” —Wallace Stevens


“Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“The leaves of the tree become as pages of the Sacred Book to one who is awake.”
—Hazrat Inayat Khan


“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” —Albert Einstein


“I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Suppressing a culture is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.” —Coretta Scott King


“When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness.” —Bhagavad Gita


“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.”
―Naomi Shihab Nye

Misguided

Art: “A New Beginning” by Beth and the AI. Prompt: “Write a Misguided poem,” by Robert Lee Brewer of The Writers Digest.

Take the misbegotten moment,
the misinterpreted glance,
the misguided misapprehension,
and the miserable chance.
Take the mistakes you’ve made,
the misjudgments.
Take the mischief and the misaim.
Then take out your finest eraser,
and start all over again.


Gratitude List:
1. Chances to start over
2. The second half
3. Revision
4. StoryCorps
5. Lemon Drops
May we walk in Beauty!


“Awake, my dear. Be kind to your sleeping heart. Take it out into the vast fields of light and let it breathe.” —Hafiz


“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.” —James Keenan


“The heavens are sweeping us along in a cyclone of stars.” —Teilhard de Chardin


“Sometimes I hear it talking. The light of the sunflower was one language, but there are others more audible. Once, in the redwood forest, I heard a beat, something like a drum or heart coming from. the ground and trees and wind. That underground current stirred a kind of knowing inside me, a kinship and longing, a dream barely remembered that disappeared back to the body. Another time, there was the booming voice of an ocean storm thundering from far out at sea, telling about what lived in the distance, about the rough water that would arrive, wave after wave revealing the disturbance at center.

Tonight I walk. I am watching the sky. I think of the people who came before me and how they knew the placement of stars in the sky, watched the moving sun long and hard enough to witness how a certain angle of light touched a stone only once a year. Without written records, they knew the gods of every night, the small, fine details of the world around them and of immensity above them.

Walking, I can almost hear the redwoods beating. And the oceans are above me here, rolling clouds, heavy and dark, considering snow. On the dry, red road, I pass the place of the sunflower, that dark and secret location where creation took place. I wonder if it will return this summer, if it will multiply and move up to the other stand of flowers in a territorial struggle.

It’s winter and there is smoke from the fires. The square, lighted windows of houses are fogging over. It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” —Linda Hogan


Expose yourself to your deepest fear. After that, you are free.” —Jim Morrison


Joseph Campbell: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.”

Hermit

The Hermit, from The Brightwing Tarot by Beth Weaver-Kreider and AI.

If you’re just joining me in these recent posts, I am taking a trip through the Fool’s Quest, the soulpath laid out in the stages of the Major Arcana of the tarot cards. I have been using the tarot as a tool for deep inner understanding and spiritual growth and development since 1992, and I thought it was time to do a public exploration of some of the ways in which this tool has helped me to learn more about myself and my connection to others and to the Holy One.

The way out is the way in.

Recently, I have begun praying the rosary. I’m in the middle of a 54-day novena, praying along with a group of others for our heart’s desire. I’ve been praying that I may live wildly and freely, unbound by others’ expectations and boxes. I can feel this prayer working and growing within me every day. The saint that we’ve been focusing on during this novena is St. Thecla, who listened to the apostle Paul and herself became an evangelist. Her story is told in the Apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla. Thecla was captivated by Paul’s preaching, particularly with his ideas of celibacy, which seemed to offer her freedom from an arranged marriage and the Roman ideas of respectability proscribed to young women of her day. Instead of being caged within her proscribed gender role, Thecla became a wandering preacher, wearing men’s clothes, and living on her own terms.

I’ve been thinking about St. Thecla quite a bit lately as I have been considering the tarot. The eighth card in the Major Arcana is Strength, which traditionally features a young woman closing the mouth of a lion. In St. Thecla’s story, when she refused the advances of a prince of the city, she was thrown to the lions, but they would not harm her, and one female lion actually protected her from the others. Thecla, like Strength, is portrayed in the company of lions, not dominating them, but quietly present with them.

Later in her life, having survived several attempts by powerful people to have her put to death, she withdrew from human society and lived in a desert cave, as many of the church’s early mothers and fathers did, where she ministered to people who came to visit her, and performed many miracles of healing.

So today’s Tarot character, the Hermit, is also reminiscent of St. Thecla. The Hermit withdraws from the hustle and bustle of society in order to focus and think, to pray and contemplate, to do inner work.

The way out, they say, is the way in.

The Hermit is a special kind of activist, an inner activist, who anchors and focuses the work that must be done through prayer, contemplation, generating healing energy, developing wisdom–not hoarding it. The Fool comes to the Hermit in the wilderness to learn to anchor and channel energy, to balance outward movement with inward contemplation. The Hermit is always portrayed carrying the light of their own inner wisdom in the wilderness. The Fool comes to the Hermit and learns to find the fount of Wisdom within.

One of the lessons I still carry from my college days was one a group of our professors worked hard to help us explore: that the work of the activist to create social justice must be balanced with inner work. Contemplation feeds action. Action enriches contemplation.

If you’re a Hermit, don’t give into feelings of shame that you aren’t doing more active work in the world. Do the work you’re called to do. Anchor energies. Pray. Find wisdom. Welcome the seekers. Be a refreshing fountain where your beloveds who are at the front lines of activism may come and receive your healing calm and wisdom.


Gratitude List:
1. Hummingbird
2. Holiness everywhere. In the Aenid of Virgil is the phrase: Incessu patuit dea. The Goddess is revealed as she passes. Everywhere you turn, She is there.
3. Wide and welcoming tables, and the people who work to create them.
4. My colleagues are so incredibly supportive and welcoming.
5. Cats
May we walk in Beauty!


“What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours—that is what you must be able to attain.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“Hope is a renewable option:
If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.” ―Barbara Kingsolver


“There is a voice that doesn’t use words.
Listen.”
―Rumi


“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
―Carl Jung


“I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only the depth of my seeing.”
―Mary Oliver


“We have come into this exquisite world to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom, and light.”
―Hafiz


“Our space was a home because we loved each other in it.” —Barbara Ehrenreich


“A lot of what we experience as strength comes from knowing what to do with weakness.” —Barbara Ehrenreich


“There is a vast difference between positive thinking and existential courage.” —Barbara Ehrenreich

Happy Earth Day!

“The earth, the air, the fire, the water: Return, return, return, return. . .” –Libana song

Contemplative Research Journey for Earth Day:
Contemplate the earth you walk, right in your yard, your neighborhood, your town.
If you can, put your bare feet on earth today.
Think about the people who were here before your, and before them.
Do you know who were the indigenous peoples who lived on and hunted and farmed and fished on the land where you stand?
What do you know of the soil and the rocks and minerals of your place?
What feeds the life of the place where you are?

Contemplate the plants of your neighborhood.
Can you name three trees? Five? Twenty?
Who is in bud now? Who is in bloom?
There is so much more than grass in the grass. Do you know the names of all the plantfolk who provide the green carpets you walk on?

Contemplate the wingfolk and the four-footed people who share this space with you.
Can you tell one shining bird from the other?
Can you differentiate their calls?
Can you see evidence of the night wanderers?
Who might be visiting your yards and gardens and alleyways while you sleep?
And the tiny insect people that try so hard to live inside our houses.
Have you watched them make webs, tend to their own business, seek the dark spaces?

What about the waters of your place?
Where does it come from and where does it go?
If you have wild water running near you, take some time today to trail your fingers through it.

Touch earth. Touch water. Touch bark.
Listen for the messages in birdsong.
Smell the rising spring.
Breathe wind. Take ten deep outside breaths.
Greet the Beings of your place with love and gratitude.


Gratitude List:
1. The guarddogwoods are beginning to bloom. Even though I no longer hang poetic laundry on their branches, I always feel like poetry itself is blooming when they start to throw pink at the sun.
2. Wangari Maathai, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Greta Thunberg, Berta Caceres–and all the fierce and joyful activists around the world whom they represent.
3. The many Beings of Skunk Hollow. The shine and the flutter. The wafting and the whoosh. The verdancy. The brilliance.
4. Golda’s Lake and Goldfinch Creek and Ezilie’s Spring and Cabin Creek and the Susquehanna River, and the Chesapeake Bay.
5. The promise of a new way. The hope of change.

May we walk, so joyfully, in Beauty!


Earth Day Words:
“The world is, in truth, a holy place.” —Teilhard de Chardin


“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” —Henry David Thoreau


“You are your own cartographer now.” —Ralph Blum


“If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“Every creature is a word of God.” ―Meister Eckhart


“The forest for me is a temple, a cathedral of tree canopies and dancing light.” ―Dr. Jane Goodall


“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” ―The Onceler (Dr. Seuss)


“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” ―Rachel Carson


William Stafford: “I place my feet with care in such a world.”


“A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy.” ―John Sawhill


Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ―Rachel Carson


“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ―Rachel Carson


“Few words are so revealing of Western sexual prejudice as the word Goddess, in contrast to the word God. Modern connotations differ vastly from those of the ancients, to whom the Goddess was a full-fledged cosmic parent figure who created the universe and its laws, ruler of Nature, Fate, Time, Eternity, Truth, Wisdom, Justice, Love, Birth, Death, Etc.” ―Barbara G. Walker


“Our vitality is inextricably bound up with creativity. Like a tree whose expression is fruit, giving our gifts is what keeps life pushing through our veins. It’s what keeps us feeling alive. As anyone who has strayed too far from their creativity knows, without it every corner of one’s life can fall prey to a terrible greying spread. As Kahlil Gibran writes about trees in an orchard, “They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” —by Toko-pa Turner

Twelvenight: Omens and Messages

Today, some notes on the dreamwork I do during Twelvenight. I just read Caitlyn Matthews’ blog post, “The Omen Days: The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the most thorough consideration of the folklore and legend of the intercalary days (December 26 to January 6) that I have been able to find in a long time. Twenty or so years ago, I had done some reading about this season in the medieval calendar and pieced together my own practice for this period of Time out of Time. I’ve lost my original sources, so it was a delight to find her writing.

The search for omens and divination for a coming year may feel superstitious and strange to you. I think of the dreams and images that roil in my head during these days as guiding archetypes and images for the coming year. The observation of my dreams and the search for images in waking life is, for me, like being a beachcomber carefully combing the sand for anything the ocean of my psyche may toss up. Pick up a pretty shell here, a pebble there, a piece of driftwood, an oddly-shaped something of no known origin. When I lay them out on a table and examine each, some of them seem to fit into groups and categories, while others get discarded. Some I can make immediate sense of, while others I carry with me for months, loving them for their inscrutability, hoping that they’ll offer me a connection at some later point in time.

These inner labyrinths we’ve been traversing and exploring in the quiet work of Advent are also vast and unknowable oceans, tossing up bits of flotsam for us to examine. It can happen in recurrent dream messages, where the little hard-working elf of my deep self sends pictures and stories to try to get my attention. We don’t speak the same language, the deep self elf and I–she communicates in images and oblique stories that my waking self must interpret.

The same process often happens in waking-life observations and meditations. Several days ago, I wrote about the Fool, the topsy-turvy tumbler who offers true wisdom to the wise ones, often in the form of riddles. In the days since, the archetype of Fool has caught fire in my imagination, recurring to me throughout the day. I keep finding more that I want to say about the Fool. Then I read the seven little books that my family bought for me from Hedgespoken Press. One, in particular, Twilight by Jay Griffiths, is a prose-poem essay, a thoughtful meandering through the deep symbolic qualities of twilight. One of his primary images is the Trickster, the Fool. My own deep-self elf began to do a little dance. If she could speak in words, she’d be yelling, “See? See? Do you see the connections?” Instead, a deep satisfaction, a nearly audible visceral click occurs somewhere in my inner spaces. I get it, deep in my gut.

And so, for me, I think this year may have me following the path of the Fool, searching for that click again. Because my brain loves intellectual work, part of my exploration will include searching through Shakespeare for fools and fools’ talk. Because of Lear’s Fool, I trust Shakespeare on this. I might have to do some collage work or painting or doodling of fools. And when I see a representation of the Fool or the Sacred Clown or the Trickster in the mundane world, I’ll recognize her and we’ll wink at each other.

In some of the circles I work and play with, we do careful dreamwork together, telling dreams and reflecting on their symbols. One of the things we try to do is to tell the dream in present tense. It can take some work to get into that groove, but the immediacy of the present-tense telling often draws forth images and colors and general weirdness that get ignored in a past-tense telling. All storytelling is a process of choosing which details to tell and which to ignore. We try not to censor out the odd and seemingly-insignificant details in our dream-tellings. Often those deep-self elves have a purpose in the sudden shifts, when your sister is now a sparrow or you step out of bed and find yourself walking on air. In dream-tellings, the truth is often in the weird. Then when others reflect on the dream, we are careful not to baldly interpret. We rarely say, “I think your dream means. . .” More often, it’s “That red dress really catches my attention. I wonder if you have any associations with red?” Dreamwork seems to proceed best when done dreamily. Interpretation is fluid and watery, not calcified. And no one is an expert. We all have skills at noticing.

As often happens in dreams, last night’s setting was in a big rambling building. Sometimes, even though the rooms and halls are unfamiliar, my dream-mind knows exactly here I am. For years, my building dreams were located in my grandmother’s house, though not in any rooms that existed in my waking reality. School dreams have frequently recurred, as have various hotels.

Last night’s dream is in a school. I’m in the library, talking to a couple of colleagues. We are discussing giving an extension on a big paper to a student who has been sick. Students are looking for books. Out of the window, in the long straight rows of orchard trees, a vulture keeps spreading its wings wide against the green of the leaves. I can see the individual feathers and how the light shines on them. At some point in the discussion, I find that I am holding a small figurine of the bird, and my colleague says, “Oh, that’s just a crow.”

As we are leaving, important visitors come into the library, mostly men in short-sleeved button-up shirts and ties, with pens in their pockets. They look like Mennonite men from the seventies. They enter the library in two straight lines. I smile politely and edge past them. They feel like history, like people from my childhood, and so I am kind of drawn to them, but wary as well. I don’t really want them to notice me.

Yesterday, it felt somehow wrong to end the storytelling about the horrors of the day with my dream of the night before. Only a fragment, really: I am walking sock-footed up wet stairs around the outside of a big old rambling house, carrying a folding chair because I want to sit on the roof and watch a rainbow.

So, my current collection of Twelvenight deep-self flotsam for now contains a Fool, shining black wings, and a rainbow. I think the patriarchy is walking through there somewhere, too, but I will wait and see what connections that one makes. Oh, and that solemn phrase from two days back: “There’s more than two ways to think about it.” This table of gathered flotsam is going to get pretty full in the next nine nights!

What about you? What has been roiling and boiling inside you in these last days and weeks? What does the dreaming season have to tell you?


Gratitude List:
1. I can feel the light returning.
2. While I’ve been grateful for deep sleep, last night’s troubled sleep offered me more memorable dreaming to work with.
3. The seven little books that my family bought me for Christmas from Hedgespoken Press. Seven Doors in an Unyielding Stone is the name of the series. I love the writers: Terri Windling, Rima Staines, Tom Hirons, Jay Griffiths and more. I love the feel of them in my hands. They’re little and thin. I love the design, the font, the paper choice. I have been mulling and muddling self-publishing some more of my poetry for several years now, and this design is so compelling and enchanting, I might let it inspire me to next steps with that work.
4. This lo-o-o-ong break. Do you know what it feels like to breathe deeply and satisfyingly after you’ve recovered from the panting of a long walk or run? That.
5. Messages from that deep-self elf: dreams, contemplations, messages, archetypes, images, flashes of color. Psychic flotsam. The poetry of the deep inner realms.
6. Bonus: There are now 1000 condors! I can distinctly remember when there were fewer that 25, and I think there were only 8 in the wild!

May we walk in Beauty!

A Brilliant Brigid’s Day

Song for Brigid’s Day
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Do you feel how the world comes alive?
How even underneath its coat of snow,
inside the bright crystals of the ice,
something in the Earth is stirring?

Within your own eyes I see it rising–
in this breath,
and now this one–
the Dreamer is awakening.

The dawn has come,
spreading its golden road before you,
asking, “Will you step upon the pathway?”

As you move out onto the road,
Brigid’s sun upon your face
will trace your outline full behind you,
defining you in the Shadow
which will be your soul’s companion
into spring.

–2018

Brigid’s Day has dawned bright and sparkling. The groundhog and her rodent kin have seen their shadows. The crone can merrily wander through the woods edge and hedgerows to gather firewood for the next six weeks of winter.

And here’s one of the sacred truths of the moment: If I’m willing to look deeply into the reality of my own shadows, if I’m willing to know them, to understand how they reflect me and show my inner realities, then I have nothing to fear from the shadows. I have nothing to fear from the coming weeks of winter.

Yesterday after I got home, I went out to shovel the drive so it would be easier for Jon to get up the slope. My neighbor came out to help me. She loves to shovel snow, she said. She loves winter, especially when it’s cold and snowy. And for those moments with her, shoveling and talking together, I too loved the cold and the snow. For the beauty, for the exercise, but mostly for the neighborliness.

Questions to Contemplate in the Season of Brigid
This is the season of sunlight and shadow:
What is the shape of my shadow?
How does it hamper me?
How does it hold me?
How does it tell me the shape of my soul?

Brigid is the Smith, she who works the forges:
What within me is being tempered this season?
What is being shaped and shifted?
What sacred patterns are being traced along my edges?
What useful tool am I being forged to become?

Brigid is the Healer.
The waters of her well bring wholeness.
What spaces within me need the touch of her waters?
What dis-ease drains my vitality?
How can I offer the waters of healing to others?

Brigid is Patroness of Poets.
How do words shape my reality, like iron is shaped in the forge?
How do my words bring healing, like water from the well?
How can I speak poetry into the cold and the shadows
of the season which is upon us?
Can I offer my daily words with the care and the artfulness of the poet?