Musings, Poems

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?

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Gratitude as Resistance

Perhaps I am going to sound a little like a conspiracy theorist here, but I think it holds pretty true, actually. Those who are in power, those trying to consolidate their economic and political power against the people, rely on our anxiety and fear, our disillusionment and angst, our impotent rage and our divisive talk, to paralyze us against positive and just action. I don’t think this means I have to entirely give up my outrage and worry, my despair and angst–they’re the feels I feel, and I won’t cut off my feelings. Still, I can surf them instead of getting sucked into their vortex–which is, I think, what the destroyers want of us.

I have practiced the writing of gratitude lists for about ten years now, on and off, sometimes religiously writing a list a day, sometimes settling into a weekly or bi-weekly pattern. As I have written before, this particular spiritual practice has helped to ground and deepen me, particularly in times of stress and rage and grief. In recent weeks, when the practice might have been extremely helpful, I have been very sparse in my gratitude-contemplations, and I think I have had trouble finding my way back to center. I think it correlates.

This morning, my friend Karen wrote that every day between now and Thanksgiving, she will write one simple gratitude as an act of resistance. That gives the Work of Gratitude a whole new layer of inner empowerment, doesn’t it? Gratitude as Resistance. What better way to resist the destroyers’ dependence on our paralysis?

In order to find my way back toward equilibrium, and to maintain the magical/prayerful intention of resistance, I will follow Karen’s wise example in the coming month and post One Gratitude as Resistance each day in the month leading up to Thanksgiving. Thank you, Karen, for leading me into a new space.


Gratitude One:
Guidance Counselors: Guidance Counselors are superheroes. I have no doubt that you save lives. As a teacher, I am comforted to know that you are there, a safety net, offering solace and help for students in their pain and troubles. At least twice this week, I have been able to rest in the knowledge that someone was taking care of a student who was in a crisis. And when I was helping a student perfect her college application essays, she kept telling me things that her guidance counselor had helped her to think about as she wrote. I’m glad you’re in my village, both my local school village, and in other schools.

May we walk in Beauty!


Here’s a little self-touting:
I’m actually not sure what it means. It’s not a publishing thing, and it doesn’t have prize money or certificates attached to it, but it’s satisfying. I try not to doubt my poetic voice, but when mostly what I have in response to sending poems for publication is a long list of rejections, I sometimes struggle to keep me sense of my poetic self intact. So it was a good morale boost for me to discover yesterday, sort of by accident, that I had won last year’s Poetic Asides November Poem-a-Day Challenge Chapbook contest. The little book is called Shapeshifting, and it contains thirteen poems that I wrote during last November’s challenge.

Here’s the link to the announcement.

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Realignment

It is one of those glorious spring mornings, the dawn chorus almost deafening in the hollow, the sun beginning to chase away the deeper shadows as it tops the ridge.  It is spring, and the world is resetting itself, opening, shifting. This time between May Day and Summer Solstice is a good time to catch that energy, to examine our intentions and dreams and hopes and decide which passions need our whole-hearted focus.

In order to find this space for change and focus in my life, I am going to take a short break from social media and blogging.

You know those little puzzles that used to be so popular, with a picture broken up into sixteen or twenty-five squares and arranged on a five-by-five grid? In order to shift all the pieces into the correct order, one of the pieces has to be removed. Then you have to think several steps ahead of yourself to shift things, piece by piece, until the picture comes clear. That’s where I am at this moment. I am trying to shift and slide things into place, and I need to remove a piece for a time until I get things sorted out. My non-teaching computer time is that piece for now.

I am not going off in a huff, and I am neither sad nor angry. (No, that’s untrue. I am both sad and angry–but no more than usual, and still in the balance of delight and love and pleasure. And neither sad nor angry at my online community.) I will continue to write, to process, to contemplate and ponder. I am not sure how long this is going to take me. Probably a week or two. Perhaps until the end of May. I want to end my school year with a strong and healthy focus, and begin my summer with a new set of good habits.

Perhaps the thing that reminded me to step into the moment of this shift was that weaving in the photo. On Spring Equinox, I made myself a little prayer bundle/wish bundle of random papers and strings and fabrics. I was in a hurry and didn’t spend a great deal of time choosing and processing the items I put in the bundle–I just made sure that they represented the ideas I wanted to bring to birth in the next cycle of my life. I left the bundle in the elements, in my little faerie circle, where the ferns grew up around it in the six weeks that it waited. On May Day, I brought it inside and opened it up. Yesterday, I cut the fabric into strips and began a weaving, using the items from the bundle, and some extra yarns. As it started to take shape, I began to feel a sense of the first steps that I must take in order to find my way toward myself. (I wasn’t sitting in a quiet room with peaceful music for contemplation–I was at the table, where my husband and one son were making a diorama of a train in a landscape and the other son was creating props for a spoken word poem he is preparing for class. There was a lot of chatter, but at one point, all three guys were thoughtfully humming different things to themselves. This is the sort of space I have for contemplation these days, and I love it.)

That little puzzle game with all the pieces of the picture? Right now, I have several parts of the teacher to shift into place, while keeping the mom and partner pieces as steady as possible. The various writer pieces have been terribly scattered, never actually assembled into a cohesive whole. That’s the part I really want to shift into place. The reader and wild woman and farmer and monk-in-the-world pieces will shift and re-shift as I figure out what the final picture looks like. I trust them to know that they belong.

Perhaps you want to join me? You don’t need to drop the ethereal world of the internet to shift the picture. What are the elements in your own life that you want to reassemble? If there’s a habit piece that you need to set aside for a moment while you gather the others into focus, is it possible to set it aside, to make a fast from it for a time?

If you need to contact me during the month of May, you will need to email me at 4goldfinches@gmail.com. I have been terrible about keeping up with emails in the recent weeks, and my social media fast will help me to re-develop an efficient relationship to email.

Here is a poem I wrote last year. I think it might be my theme for the coming realignment:
You are the Dragon, You are the Cave
By Beth Weaver-Kreider

The thing you learn, of course,
before you strap your sword belt on,
is that the princess you pledged to save
is only yourself in another guise,
that the dragon you swore to smite
is simply your own roaring ego
belching flame in the mouth of the cave.

You are the villagers rioting in the streets,
and calling for the dragon’s blood.
You are the bells that pealed from the towers
when the dragon circled above the town.
You are the sword,
the shield, the very cave,
the small frightened mouse
trampled in the fray.
You are the village.
You are the mountain.
You are the day itself,
quiet witness to the story.

Some quotations for your Saturday:
“Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.” ―Stanley Kunitz
*
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
― Jane Goodall
*
“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
*
“The challenges in our world can’t be solved by individualistic thinking. These challenges must be tackled by groups of individuals who understand that collective strength and selflessness is the only way out. Sometimes the craziest ideas can give you the most impressive change.” ―Leymah Gbowee

And a Gratitude List:
1. Realignment
2. Intention and manifestation
3. These boys playing together
4. The way that leaf twirls gently down the spring wind
5. You. Always You.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Walking Back to Center

lace-bridge

Perhaps if I keep writing the same thing over and over again, I will find my way into a new story. I keep returning to what the balances are in these days. Contemplation and activism, destruction and building up, resistance and gelassenheit, staying awake and staying sane.

This morning, after I had posted yet another horrifying news blurb (this one about the WH stance on the press as the enemy) on Facebook, my friend Anna politely and respectfully asked me whether there might be a point at which the continued reposting of the outrages might actually feed the energy of the current administration. This makes a lot of sense to me. When I live in a state of high anxiety about the meanness or pettiness or rudeness of someone else, I hand that person power, I let the bully control me. When I name someone my enemy, I bind myself to that person in a powerful way, and then every move that person makes becomes something I need to react to.

So. Cut the bindings. I can’t let these news cycles control me, can’t let every new atrocity throw me out of kilter. Yet this sounds dangerously similar to dis-engagement, to willful ignorance, something my privilege might allow me to do, but something my conscience cannot allow. How can I keep from being battered about by every move of this bully giant we’ve brought into existence, but still keep close enough to lend my strength to the toppling of the giant?

This is the thing I keep re-writing, over and over and over again: How can I keep from being carried along blindly by the waves of outrage, and still stay awake to the very real dangers that this giant poses to my Beloved Community?  How can we live with a sense of peace and purpose in the midst of the storm? Resist AND persist?

I think that the next four years are going to necessitate a constant reassessment of that balance, and it may not be the same for every person.  Here are some things I am going to try:

1. Listen to my wise Beloveds. Like Anna. Like you.
2. Learn to ask tender gentle questions like Anna did for me. Little wake-ups that help bring people around to themselves.
3. Remember to call people by their truest name: Beloved.
4. Limit the news. I need it in order to stay awake, to know my Work, but I can’t let it control my emotional state.
5. Read the words of MLK. He found a balance.
6. Watch more videos of baby fruit bats with their expressive ears and eyes.
7. Don’t fall into the pit of thinking that action is better than prayer.
8. Don’t fall into the pit of thinking that the Work is done when the prayer is done.
9. Feed action with contemplation.
10. Go outside and look up. Feel the wind. Feel the rain. Absorb color like sunlight.

Gratitude List:
1. The voice of the travelers in the morning, high above. “You do not have to be good.” “What we need is here.” (Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry references.)
2. The way winter trees stand against the sky, letting the magenta or the Maryblue or the aquamarine slip through their branches and twigs.
3. Although it was a little scary to drive through it, the way that storm front moved through. The scary clouds are also beautiful and exhilarating. Is there a life lesson in that? Sounds a little like Little Red in “Into the woods.”
4. All my Beloveds. We can always widen our circles to contain more and more Beloveds. Our hearts have limitless capacity.
5. A small retreat I took today at Radiance, to write and meditate and make art based on the chakras.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Seeking Solitude

DSCN8116
In a couple hours, I will be heading up to the Jesuit Center for three days of solitude.  I will not write on the blog until I return.

Gratitude List:
1. Wandering and pondering
2. Solitude and silence
3. Memory and dream
4. Reflection and contemplation
5. Re-imagining

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Being Interpreted

DSCN8116
Remembering my days of quiet contemplation at the monastery last summer.  Longing for another weekend there in a few months.

Gratitude List:
1. Elderberry syrup, which being interpreted means: I have kept the cold at bay so far.
2. The coming 3-day weekend, which being interpreted means: Sleep.
3. Those crows–how can I stop writing about the thousand crows?–which being interpreted means: Something inside me is flying into the wind.
4. These quiet morning moments of feeding the introvert, which being interpreted means: Silence.
5. Poetry, which means words, which means layers of language, which means a bridge.

May we ever walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

The Contemplative Muscle

Not much time to focus on poems these days.  A small boy needs Mama time.  A cat needs a snuggle that cannot handle a computer.  I feel a need to keep working the contemplative muscles, so here is a little bit of free association for the morning.

In my head every poem begins
“This is the story. . .”
Inside my heart every story starts out
“She lived at the edge of a great, dark forest.”

What did you do when the song began?
Did you huddle beneath the leaves in the bears’ den
or step into the sunny clearing,
trusting the shining threads that fell upon your ears?

Gratitude List:
1. Sleeping in past 6:30
2. My current reading stack: Ruth Gendler’s Book of Qualities, Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water, and Mary Oliver’s Felicity.
3. Sweater weather
4. Embracing the transitions
5. Story

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Finding Poetry

Found Poem
Source: Joss Weaver-Kreider

I just saw a tree
that had no leaf left

and

at first I thought
it was a giant feather.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is an old photo, from December,
but it shows some naked feathery trees.

Gratitude List
1.  Ten Years of Goldfinch Farm.  It has gone by in a flash.  It has been forever.  Happy Birthday, Bright Spot!
2.  Prayer.  Or singing.  Or writing poems.  Or drawing.  Or listening.  Or looking.  Or magic.  Whatever you call it, the energy that is the connective tissue of the Universe, the Multiverse.
3.  Four-part harmony
4.  Standing in the borderlands, looking around, and realizing that I’m ready for the journey.
5.  This contemplative morning time all to myself.

May we walk in Beauty, in Love