Fragments and Anxieties

So many random dream images from last night. They’re fragmented, but they all seem connected somehow.

Josiah and I buy sandwiches in some sort of sunny outdoor courtyard. People are setting up for some sort of event, so we put together a couple of chairs and sit down. One of the custodians from school makes a chair for himself and eats with us.

Jon and I are in a classroom. I think we’re back in elementary school. We’re ahead of the class, so we get to sit near the back and read the next material on our own. The class is finished with the work, but the teacher can’t find the test. I have little plastic animals set up all around my desk and on the windowsill behind me. I’m a little claustrophobic in the space, worried I’ll send my little animals tumbling if I move.

I’m in a Victorian sort of house with two other young women. It’s the next class (after the one in the previous paragraph), and we’re reading a Shakespeare play together. The one woman gets bored and wanders off. I am helping the other to read the parts. It sounds more like Jane Austen than Shakespeare. The other woman tires out, but we’ve been reading for half an hour, so we quit.

I am frantically calling people and trying to find out where my baby is. Someone took him and said they’d bring him right back, but I can’t get in touch with anyone.

I’m on a sort of courtroom, and the proceedings have been going on for hours. I’m bored. Suddenly I notice that the one lawyer is terribly sick. His eyes are red and puffy and he’s sneezing. No one else seems to notice, but I am frantic about finding my mask and putting it on. I move to a corner of the room near a window.

I find a telephone and try to remember how to dial my parents’ number to tell them about the missing baby. This never goes well in dreams, but this time when I pick up the old-fashioned receiver, my mother is right there, on the other end of the line! I think that perhaps everything is going to be okay.

I decide to rid my bike through the countryside to get home to my parents. This is common in dreams for me. I get to a place that is familiar to my dream-self, except that the corn has grown up on all the corners. Someone has placed blankets on the corn all around, as if they needed somewhere to hang a thousand blankets to dry. The road to the right should be the right way to go, but it seems to curve up ahead in a way that it isn’t supposed to. I ride several yards up toward the curve, but it actually turns back upon itself in a loop and ends up heading back the way I have come. Someone has planted their corn across the road! Just as I decide to ride back the way I have come, I wake up.

The odd thing in the waking up was that I thought I was hearing people speaking, so faintly it could have been my imagination (which it probably was). I thought maybe one of the kids was up really early, listening to a video somewhere in the house. But there’s no sign of anyone. Maybe it was the heat coming on that sounded in my dreambrain like people talking.

This set has a lot of little anxieties: the lost child, the inability to get to my parents, the unprepared teacher, the claustrophobia, the coronavirus, the confusing pathway home. So many of these are my dream-tropes for lostness and confusion. In each one, I am just going along, trying to muddle through each scene the best I can, which is what Jon and I are doing here, trying to make the best of this strange year. This will be a lovely introverts’ holiday, all of us together here, but we also need our people, and we can’t quite see how the road ahead will lead us to them. It seems to be recursive, bending back upon itself.

If there’s a message here, it’s to tend to my anxieties, to notice how the worry affects my choices.


Gratitude:
1. The messages of dreams
2. Quiet holidays
3. Loving hearts, even at a distance
4. There will be an end to this
5. All the people who are working to keep us safe, and to bring an end to this.

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


Someday soon, we all will be together, if the Fates allow. . .”


“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. . . .get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” —Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel


“From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
every tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
These are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears,
For the dawn draws near,
And the world is about to turn.”
—Rory Cooney, from “Canticle of the Turning”


Making the House Ready for the Lord
by Mary Oliver
Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice–it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances–but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.


“I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ’s breath moves through
listen to this music
I am the concert from the mouth of every creature
singing with the myriad chorus” —Hafiz (Ladinsky)


“May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful.” ―Mary Oliver


“We’re all just walking each other home.” —Ram Dass


“I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple—or a green field—a place to enter, and in which to feel.” ―Mary Oliver

Growing

In second or third grade, my teachers did that thing where you fill a jar with wet paper towels and then poke corn kernels and beans around the outside, and as they send out roots and send up shoots, you get to watch the whole process. Last fall, I decided I wanted to do that in my classroom, just for a little excitement, even if it’s an English class in a high school rather than an elementary science room. I left the jar of corn on my desk for a long time, too busy to get to it, but at the beginning of the semester, a couple students noticed and asked what it was. When I told them, they went and filled the jar with wet paper towels, and we poked the corn in along the sides. I rubber-banded a piece of plastic over the top to keep in the moisture.

Within days, the roots were beginning to grow, and it was less than a week before the sprouts started poking upward. I brought them home last night to plant in a little container, and now I am going to do a set of beans.

Maybe it will help my students to connect with natural processes in a visceral way. Maybe it will be a metaphor for their own rampant growth. Maybe it’s just a nice diversion, a way to spark and nurture generalized curiosity. It’s a fun thing to have in the classroom, and a community-building experience: Everyone is rooting for growth.


Gratitude List:
1. Growth
2. Green
3. Curiosity
4. Hope (Curiosity and Hope were the themes of last weekend’s conference)
5. Jon WK. He’s always on my implicit Gratitude List, but sometimes I’ve just got to mention how marvelous it is to share a life with such a wise and compassionate soul.

May we walk in Beauty!

Things Work Out

Same photo as yesterday, sent through a rainy filter.

Gratitude List:
1. Wonder. When I was a kid, my teacher had us fill a jar with wet paper towels, and then poke seeds around the edges, and we watched the corn grow roots and sprouts. Last fall, I brought a jar and some corn into my classroom, and set it on my desk, hoping to get around to doing it in my classroom, just to see what would happen. (I’m a high school English teacher, but wonder is wonder, and science belongs everywhere.) Last week, my students were asking me about the jar, and one of them went and filled it with wet paper towels, and I poked the little kernels in, kind of doubting that it would work as I remembered. But the roots have been growing down, long and strong, and several sturdy green shoots are shooting upward. My students are loving it as much as I am. We’re all rooting (ha!) for the little plants. I guess I will have to transplant them soon, and then I’ll have sweet corn this summer! (Next up: beans.)
2. The power of personal narrative. We do a lot of personal narratives in writing classes. It can be a little challenging to keep it fresh, especially when you have the same students in a couple different classes, but it’s part of the deep curriculum at my school: We want our students to be able to self-examine, to understand who they are.
3. Colors. A student of mine introduced me to the game I Love Hue, an app that sets up a grid of colored squares, and then rearranges a bunch of them, and you have to move them back to the right places in relationship to each other. Sometimes I am a whiz at this game, and sometimes I am terrible. My brain is not consistent in its recognition of varieties of hues. I feel like I’m learning and improving my sense of hues, especially as they shift around the grid in relationship to each other.
4. Books. A friend recommended The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. It came in the mail yesterday. I want to read it with Josiah, and we’re currently into Avi’s Ragweed and Poppy series, so it will wait, but I am excited to get started. (We were reading The Book of the Dun Cow, but I had forgotten that the basilisks killed Pertelote and Chauntecleer’s three chicks, and that was a deal-breaker for us. We stopped the book.)
5. When the planning works out. My brain was so foggy last night that I went to bed without a plan for Speech class, but I woke up with a very clear picture in my brain of the file where I had last year’s plans for the same thing, and I found it this morning, and it’s brilliant. I don’t know what foggy-brained-me was thinking, trying to re-invent the plans all over.

May we walk in Beauty!

Across the River

As of today, nearly 250 of the children abducted by the Trump/Sessions/Miller policy of family border separation remain in detention camps and facilities, months after the debacle occurred.


I carried my bones across the river and into the arms of the border patrol.
I laid my child in the hollow between sand-hills where she would be hidden.
I placed her in the quiet shade of a cactus where the little wren would sing to her.
I carried her on my back when the wind drove sand in our faces.
I tore her from the powerful arms of the river, and up the far bank

but now
she is lost in the long white hallways,
lost in the echoing rooms.
The vultures have carried her bones
to a far-off place
and all I can hear
is the screaming of sirens.

The sound fills up my bones.
There is no color but sound,
no feeling but the wailing of sirens,
the screeching and scraping,
the fierce clang of doors,
the cold bars of cages.

I carried my child to the river and now I am empty sky filled with ash.
My bones have turned to ashes and my dreams have fled
across the desert like birds.

There is nothing in this hollow place but sirens and slamming doors and questions,
the godawful questions–and a wailing that will not be silenced.

The gods have all died, blown across the sands like so much ash,
fled deep into soil like the water that has gone from this place.
Mother Mary, who sheltered us, is cast into a cage
and her child is walking alone in the maze of hallways
where she cannot reach him.

Where now is the mother?
Where is the child?
Where is the voice that will call to me
through this cacophony?

Where is the map through this desert?
Where is the red thread to follow in the wilderness?

The end is here.
The end is here.
The end is here.
And all the little birds have flown beyond the river.

I carried my bones across the river and the waters did not close about me.
I carried my child through the desert and now my story has ended.
The ashes swirl and eddy in the wind, borne into the raging arms of the river.

This is the end.
This is the end.
This is the end.


Gratitude List:
1. Making time to get some of this angst into a poem. I can breathe a little better.
2. Magical, prayerful acts. Granny squares have a really satisfying rhythm of threes: the steps of a double crochet are threes, and there are three double crochets in each set. Threes are good for the rhythm of prayer/chant.
3. How laughter helps me to breathe
4. The angle of autumn sunlight
5. Solitude

May we walk in Beauty!

Lego Factory Explosion

DSCN8216

 

“I believe that appreciation is a holy thing–that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time.  So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.”  ~~ Fred Rogers

In this story, there are two boys.  Their Mama’s cousin came for a visit one day, and while she was there, she listened to them and she watched them and she noticed them.  Not in that overwhelming way that some of us do sometimes, that actually draws more attention to the adult and makes the child anxious, but quietly and thoughtfully.  Just aware of who they are.

The next week, when she had gone home, two boxes arrived in the mail, addressed to the boys.  The cousin was giving them her old Lego blocks.  Gearhead Boy received a special bagful of gears in his box, and Racecar Boy received racecars in his (“Look!  You can make them crash together, and they come apart!  And then you just put them back together again!)  They felt noticed and known.

Isn’t that really what our Work is about?  We’re here to notice each other, to let each other know that we see who they are.  Sometimes it’s just a raise of the eyebrows in the middle of a conversation, and you know that person gets you, sees you.  Sometimes it happens when someone asks you just the right question at the right moment, totally heart-open to listen to your truth.  Sometimes it occur when someone says, “You have been working so hard at that task.  That must be really important to you.”

In some Christian practices, people seek the Christ in each other, look for the living Incarnation of the Divine in those around them.  Wouldn’t healing seep into all our crevices if we watched for the beauty and truth of the Great Mystery in each person we met?  How might our perspectives on each other shift?  How might our world change?

Gratitude List:
1. The Village.  Noticing.  Loving.  Healing.
2. Corn on the cob
3.  Summer Storm
4.  Green beans
5.  Pie R Shared.  It is all gone now, but it helped to create the circle as completely as any equation.  Pie R Best Shared.

May we Walk in Beauty!  So much love, People!  So much love.

Mockingbird Says

Mockingbird says:
“Listen well, and your own speech will be enriched.”

Gratitude List:
1.  The trees, those people who grasp the Earth between their toes and grow down toward the heart of the mother, who dream their leaves and needles and nuts and flowers and fruit into the air, who breathe for us.
2.  The spiders, those people who fling themselves with abandon into the air and drift on their own silk to a new anchoring place, who make the connections, who spin and weave.
3.  The birds, those feather people who dash from tree-branch to tree-branch or rest on a hammock of sky–treading wind currents, whose very speech is music, who range in size from the hummingbird smaller than my open hand to the eagle whose wingspan is greater than my own.
4.  Margaret Atwood, who is tearing at my heart with her book, The Year of the Flood.
5.  Fresh corn for supper tonight.

May we walk in Beauty.

Tomato Sandwich!

2011 June 190
This wasn’t today’s sandwich.  I ate that too fast to even think of a photo.  I think that is a Cherokee Purple tomato.

Gratitude List:
1.  The first tomato sandwich!  That crusty, yeasty brown bread and an Iron Lady tomato with sharp cheddar and mayo and salt.  Oh my, oh my, oh my. . .
2.  Was it Andrea who said something at break today about a man who said that when he was a boy he could hear corn growing?  Like a whistling sound, he told her.  I love that so much.
3.  Life force.  That corn up there in #2, and the mung bean sprouts that Ellis grew this week, how they pushed up the lids, and then grew an extra half inch in a hour this morning.
4.  The old, old woman from my dream last night.  Her name is Grafa.  “Sometimes I wake up in the night and fling off the covers,” she tells me.  “I wake up in the middle of the night just to tweak the energy a bit.”  Grafa–writing or drawing?  From Old Norse or Proto-Germanic (according to Wiktionary), means to dig, to bury, to engrave.
5.  The random way that Joss throws words together or sings a word repeatedly while he’s playing, just for the fun of the sounds.  “My teeth are devious!”  “My foot of God.”  “Nairobi, Nairobi, Nairobi!”

May we walk in beauty.

Out in the Wind

Here was the prompt for a borrowed poem:  Because today is 3/11/13, I decided to go to a book near at hand, turn to page 13, scan down to the 3rd line, and choose eleven words to use in some form in a poem.  I sort of cheated, by looking through four books until I found one that I could work with.  This was Barbara Walker’s Feminist Fairy Tales, from the tale of Princess Questa.  I chose the phrase, “. . .went out to walk the dunes in the wintry wind, weeping. . .”  The final poem is perhaps a little overwrought, but it was cathartic to run with it, to see where it took me.  (This was to be March Monday Morning, but I seem to have trouble posting poems in the mornings).

Out you went in the wintry wind
to walk the dunes, weeping
with only a scattering of sandpipers
to witness, and a scuttling crab.

The wind tore the tattered foam from the waves,
sent shreds of lather scudding like sailboats
over the sands, and wrenched your voice from you.

You keened your word
into the force of the gale
a wail, like a siren.

The wind snatched it up with such unholy force
it sucked the breath right out of you.

But your word was carried like a seed pod
in the womb of the wind, to break open
high above all our fields, releasing
a thousand seeds to fall to earth
as the wind itself grew ragged
and shattered into calmer breezes.

We felt them fall, like a net upon us,
and now we wait, our breathing bated
to see what will grow.

Gratitude List:
1.  The perfect hexagonal symmetry of a purple crocus in the lawn, three petals curving inward, three curling out.  No wonder the bees find themselves at home in there.
2.  Sorted Legos.  That seems a little OCD, but something about having them all sorted into piles of color shifted the boys’ attention, and their play become more focused and cooperative for a time.
3.  Tiny green things poking up their heads in the greenhouse.  The way onions come up folded like laundry and then gently unfold into the sun.
4.  Corn casserole–yay for last summer’s frozen bounty!
5.  Courage for the difficult conversations.

Namaste

One way to keep the cats from actually sitting on the counter. . .

2013 March 025