Musings, Gratitudes

Resilience and Resistance

Friends I met on my walk yesterday:
1. Crow. Crow reminds me to get the wide perspective, to take on the adventure that any wind offers, to speak my mind. Crows don’t take heed for nothing.
2. Dogbane. Dogbane reminds me to be resourceful, to take note of the helpers who are always present, and to spin: cord, stories, prayers. . .
3. Deer. She ran across Schmuck Road, causing an SUV to brake. She reminds me to pause. She reminds me to love myself unconditionally, to live from the heart, to listen.
4. Monarch. He reminds me of resilience, how fragility and strength are not mutually exclusive. He reminds me to always look for beauty in everything.
5. Scarlet Pimpernel. A tiny five-petaled scarlet flower found in the grasses. When I was in college, I watched the old black and white movie The Scarlet Pimpernel, about a French dandy who uses disguises to rescue aristocrats condemned to the guillotine. What I took away from the movie is the importance of resisting the machines vengeance and death-dealing. Be surprising. Pop up wherever you’re needed.

What messages is the world sending your way?

Gratitudes, Musings

Enter the Portal


Two crow feathers in one week. The world is full of messages, if we know how to look,
if we know how to read the text of the landscape.

Gratitude List:
1. Teaching the spectrum. I have begun teaching college-in-the-high-school courses this year, and I am loving the conversation, the determination, the bright-eyed desire to LEARN of these soon-to-fledge upperclassfolk. I also have much younger students just coming in as ninth graders, both the 101s, and the students coming into my Foundations class to get some more literacy skill-building to prepare them to succeed in high school. This latter group tends to be more shy, more uncertain about school, but they’re ready and shiny-eyed in their own way, and eager to learn. I saw stirrings of deep understanding in this group on Tuesday when I showed them Kendi Ibram’s speech about what it means to be an intellectual. My heart is full.
2. Monarchs. Every day on the drive to and from school, I can count 3-5, and sometimes more, flitting across the road or in the roadside wildflower buffet. Sun in their wings, dancing in the breezes, determined wings setting a course for the beach. My heart is full.
3. Joe the Duck and the Cat Clan. Now that school has started, we pick up ED every morning and drive down the road where Joe the Duck lives, and where a colony of half-feral cats lives. We pause at Joe’s personal paddle pool to say hello, and drive slowly through the territory of the cat colony. There are new kittens: black, ginger-and-white, and a greyish-tortoise-shell. My heart is full.
4. Learning New Messages. “I am an organized person.” Ellis and I are reminding each other of our Organized Person identities, and I’m at least beginning to override the old story I habitually told myself about being unable to remain organized. And I see him doing the same. My heart is full.
5. My children are excited about school. Ellis has been advocating for himself to take Spanish 2 when it looked like he wouldn’t be able to fit it into his schedule. In the end, he and three others got permission to take a computer course in the library during the time others are taking Spanish 1. He’s taking charge of his learning, and that makes me proud. Right now, he’s downstairs on a Friday night doing his Algebra homework. (I think he knows it’s Friday.) And Josiah had three extra days off this summer because of mold in the school district, and while that was exciting, he is chomping at the bit to get back to school. My heart is full.

May we walk in Beauty!


Friday’s Meditations:
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.” —Hafiz
*****
“When your world moves too fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset. Reacquaint yourself with the earth beneath your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.” —Christy Ann Martine
******
“Every word you utter to another human being has an effect, but you don’t know it. If people began to understand that change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then, they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.” —Howard Zinn
******
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” —Leonard Bernstein
*****
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ―Elie Wiesel
*****
“All forms of racism must be rejected directly and openly.” —bell hooks and Cornel West
*****
“Our mission was to make a beloved community in the world where everyone would be free to live well.” —bell hooks

Musings

Messengers


I’m setting up the FB page for Skunk Holler Poetryworks. I think I need to get out the better camera and a tripod to try to make it crisper.

Some days, some weeks, the visitations come so clustered and thickly that I simply can’t ignore the fact that Someone has something I need to hear. Hummingbird is a regular. Snake was a startlement. Vultures are pretty common, like hummer, except. . .

A couple days ago, I wanted to return to my meditations at the beginning of the year, to revisit the idea of matter, enmattering. I read through my blog posts from early January, and jogged my memory about the dreams I had been having. Among them, a startling dream about an encounter with the child-spirit Ellegua of Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions.

While I want to be careful about not assimilating and taming and taking over the religions of other people groups (as white people are wont to do), I have been fascinated by the spirit world of Afro-Caribbean traditions and have studied them somewhat extensively, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Ellegua appeared to me in a dream. There were vultures (six, I think) in a field, and Ellegua took my hand and pulled me toward them. I didn’t want to touch them because I thought their feathers would be matted with dried blood and offal. Instead, they were soft as down, and the vultures bobbed their heads at us.

So the day after I renewed my memory of the vulture dream, Ellis and I encountered a pair of black vultures, one flying low over the road in front of us, and the other alighting on a telephone pole and looking down at us curiously as we passed slowly beneath it. That was yesterday. Today, on the way to school, we slowed down beside a field to watch four turkey vultures in a field. They eyed us closely as they hopped over the stubble, and for the first time in my years of watching them, I noticed the pronounced black and white “spectacle” marking in front of the eyes.

I was marveling at the triad of vulture visitations (noting that there were six vultures in real life now, like there had been in the dream) when I had to slow down again for a small creature running across the road ahead of me. Long, low, thin, and blondish, I thought, “Weasel!” and that’s what it was! I’ve never seen one in the wild. Otters. A mink. But this was my first weasel. Vultures and weasel.

This afternoon, as I was helping out with group activities for ninth graders outside the school, a ruckus of feathered folk burst out of a tree nearby: a really large crow followed by three smaller birds, flickering orange like little flames in the sun. Orioles! Three males chasing a crow. Perhaps it was after their little ones. But it felt like a message to me. Three flames. One great big mystery.

In my list of messengers, do I include the great blue herons that flap across my field of vision every day or so? They’re definitely on the move. The early butterfly sightings? The groundhogs standing on their hind haunches, surveying their fields like the farmers they are?

It’s a lot to ponder.

Do you get visitations, too? Periods of time when the animal- and bird-realms, and maybe plant- and tree-realms, or stone-realms, seem to come in clusters and chunks, with messages that you can decipher if you only take the time to meditate and contemplate their meanings?

I write this in the moments before I head upstairs to dream-time. Perhaps I’ll find more images there to enrich the story.


Gratitude List:
1. Visitors
2. Reminders
3. Messages
4. Dreams
5. Meditation

May we walk in Beauty!

Poems

Luna on the Hill

I wrote this poem on 8 October 2014, after seeing part of a lunar eclipse one early morning on my way to work. This morning, again, as we crested Pisgah ridge, the ball of the moon was rolling off over the far hills, a smudge of Earth-shadow beginning to veil her face.

What Moth? What Butterfly?
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The raucous owls were silent in their bamboo haunts
this morning as I rushed up the hill to meet the moon
emerging from her umbral shadow,
from her ombre ochre cocoon.

What moth will she become?
What butterfly will I?

I sat a moment at the junction where my road
meets the ridge, Mt. Pisgah Road before me,
then the tidy fence,
the dusky hill meadow,
a lacy line of trees across the hilltop,
and the changing moon above in chestnut orange glory
nestled into the indigo dawning.

I caught glimpses of her on my way down the ridge
and then in my mirror as I crossed the bridge
over the water and under the last dusk of night
and I saw then that she was only now just fading into the shadow,
only entering her transformation.

I had to leave her there behind me to do her work
behind the veils of dusky morning
while I drove into the shining pink of sunrise,
Venus riding high before me
and two crows above,
lifting their wings in alleluia.

Gratitudes, Musings

Icarus and the Smell of Rain


It’s such a relief to not have to write a poem today, and at one quiet moment in the day, I sat down and started writing something that I was thinking, and suddenly I had written another poem. Sigh. I just can’t NOT. But I forgot it at school, so I’ll have to post it another day.

Gratitude List:
1. Crows: This morning, we passed a crow sitting on a bit of corn stubble. You know how they pump their bodies up and down when they caw? This one seemed to be chuckling to itself, its body shaking as it cawed.
2. Although I am disappointed and a little anxious that I have not yet seen or heard my friend Icarus the Oriole yet this spring, I did hear one of this cousins in the sycamores at school this afternoon. I love sycamores.
3. A good, deep nap.
4. My wish bundle. I put it out into the elements on spring equinox, and brought it in this afternoon, unwrapping the cloth and trying to pull apart the papers. It’s going to take me a little time to figure out how to create a project from it, but I am looking forward to the process. I wonder how I can shape my intentions more clearly?
5. Rain. The smell of rain.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Cat and a Hat

catandhat cats
Cat and a Hat. My hat is ready for Saturday. Between my abysmal selfie skills and my poor smartphone camera, the original is a little blurry and grainy and wonky, but the filtered version, as much as I like the pattern that it makes on Fred, doesn’t quite make it clear that I am wearing a hat, perhaps. (Now I have a little vanity issue: My good warm parka is red. Can I wear a fluffy pink hat with a cool red parka?)

I know I have said this before, but it bears frequent repetition: The future is in good hands. I can walk really close to those cliffs of despair sometimes, but I have only to look into my students’ wise and curious and compassionate faces to see the way the future is headed. And it is not toward doom. We’re leaving them quite a mess to tidy up, but they have the inner resources and the drive to do the work.  They’ve got the perfect mix of humor and earnestness, the perfect combination of innocence and seasoning.

Let’s commit ourselves to mentor, support, challenge, and encourage the young folks in our lives. Let’s listen to their ideas and thoughts, offer them signposts, and believe in them. Let them know what we see in them, tap their shoulders, offer them as many opportunities to use their gifts as we can arrange.

Bring in the Age of Wisdom and Compassion. The vanguard is ready and stepping onto the stage.

Gratitude List:
1. New semester! I love starting new classes, learning to know new students, the mix of familiar and new faces in a classroom. I have two Creative Writing classes this semester, which makes me totally not miss having a Study Hall.
2. Quinoa salad for lunch. That was delicious.
3. FFA gave the Faculty coffee and doughnuts this morning. What an enheartening treat to start the semester.
4. Crows flying out of the mist.
5. Blue. Again, I keep repeating this, but again this evening, the bellies of the clouds were a grab-your-heart blue, glowing like ice, and rimed with indigo.  Do aging eyes see blue better than young, 20/20 eyes? I don’t remember seeing such blues before, blues that make me want to kneel. Or weep. Do you know the blue I am talking about?

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Crows and Sunset

window
Winter tree reflected in the basement window.

Gratitude List:
1. Class discussion today. It was one of those days when the whole period got hijacked by a conversation. Students were curious about each other, asking questions about how they see their governments, how they celebrate holidays. We’ll get Julius Caesar read–just not today.
2. Student musicians. The band and orchestra concert tonight. We have some world class conductors and some fantastic musicians.  What a pleasure to listen.
3. Settling into the darkness.
4. A thousand thousand crows flying in front of an orange sunset.
5. Yummy snacks. Today was JW’s annual Faculty Christmas snack. And a low-key, but delicious Faculty Party after school. There’s something about the special treats on these last days before break.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Poem: A Minute

beach
A few years ago I was working on a project about my younger self, and I wanted to take a photograph of this framed photo that my father took of me when I was six, standing on the shore of Rusinga Island. I just couldn’t seem to get the photo without the glare and the reflection in the glass of myself taking the photo. Suddenly I realized that I needed to put my current self into the photo, too, and set it up to intentionally gt my shadow on the glass.

Here is a poem from October 16, 2013. The form is called a minute, using three 20-syllable stanzas (60 syllables, like 60 seconds, equals one minute):

Out in the dawn, a misty sea
in walnut tree
a silent crow
will dream of snow

will ruffle feathers in the chill
will wait until
the first bright ray
begins the day

then with a final shake will rise
from branch to skies
and this will be
a memory

Gratitude List:
1. My School. Today Lancaster Mennonite School launches its 75th year celebrations.
2. I can’t get over the wreaths and draperies of mist on the fields on the way to school. Even yesterday afternoon on the way home, there was a snake of mist winding down the River along the western shore by Accomac.
3. I made it through the week. I have been having terrible sinus headaches in the last few days, and I kept thinking it might turn into something worse, but it hasn’t. If I am going to have allergy issues in the fall, I would rather have silent sinus headaches than the wild sneezing and sniffling and burning eyes that I sometimes get.
4. The color purple. (You know what Sug says in the book of that name.) Rich, inviting, heart-opening.
5. The poetry of Langston Hughes. One of my students asked me last week if I knew anything about Langston Hughes, so this week has been Langston Hughes week in my class.  This morning will be “I, to, Sing America.”

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Pigeon and Dawn

pigeon
Shirati, Tanzania: a long-ago dawn with African green pigeon. (1969?)

From a photo of a distant place of my childhood to a poem of my River, just down the ridge from where I am typing in the newborn morning. I wrote this one of April of 2014:

Susquehanna Dawning
by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider

Stand just there on the sandy bank of the river.
There, where the water laps over the roots
of the ancient sycamore. There, where the bridge
and the memory of a bridge run over the water.

Listen for the rustle and murmur of dawning,
the whisper of wavelets, the groan of the trees,
the sudden wild call of robin: thrush of the morning,
leading the dawn chorus, unwrapping the day.

What will you discover this daybreak, this borning?
What stories will otter bring you? And heron?
What are the words that the river will utter,
there, where the sun spreads the golden road before you?

Gratitude List:
1. Phoebe, sitting out in the misty, dripping trees, calling his name into the dawn.
2. The mist, the rainy season
3. The trees: sycamore, poplar, oak, walnut, dogwood, maple, willow
4. Those two crows, winging purposefully across the hollow
5. All the ways in which we hold each other, carry each other, listen for the sound of each other’s tears and laughter, even from great distances.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Say a Blessing for Seeds

imag1997
And now is the time for seed to burst forth.

We have arrived at Autumn Equinox, one of those exquisite balance points of the year cycle, the moment of shift in the whirl around our star. The light has been shifting, coming in at a slant that sets everything atwinkle. Every dusk, hundreds of robins sail into hollow and set up a clatter and cacophony in the bamboo grove. The geese are going, cormorants winging their way, thousands of feet above us, or angling down to the River for a rest. Seeds burst forth.

Say a blessing for the seeds, those packets of potential that burst from the ripened fruits of the flower buds and fall to earth, some to be trampled by passing feet, some to be eaten–fuel for the journeys of the little birds or stocked up by small animals as fat for the coming cold.  And some to fall into the rich soil to wait through the winter until it is time to Become.

How has your own ripening been? What is the seed within you at this moment? What is the hopeful little bundle of potential that is waiting to fall, to be carried by the winds and the waves and the creatures that pass, to tumble into the soil of your future self? What has ripened within you, and what will you release, knowing it may grow and bear its own fruit, or may become food for others? What of yourself to you give to this season?  Say a blessing for the seeds.

Gratitude List:
1. Little things. A little help at just the right moment. Little things are sometimes big things.
2. Commiseration. I cannot walk these coming days alone. I do not want to give in to despair or complaining, but having others who share my worry, who hold the bowl of these days with such tenderness, helps me not to feel alone in my angst. Let’s help each other to hold this one. Sigh together. Be the people for the moment–together.
3. Blue. I keep noticing the cobalt reflection beneath the clouds these mornings, not the Maryblue that shines through from sky, but a shining cobalt underneath, mingled with the Prussian Blue and Indigo of the shadows. I think it must be light reflecting in an autumnal slant onto the water of the cloud.  Whatever creates it, it’s a new way to experience blue, and I am grateful to see it.
4. Crows. I want to be a crow, diving fearlessly into wind, wings akimbo and a shout of joy in my throat.
5. New things to learn. Today I am beginning a three-day workshop/class with the Center for Community Peacemaking on Restorative Circles, a way of working with conflict in communities. I love that I work in a school that is putting forth the resources to train its teachers in this work, and I am honored to be doing this.

May we walk in Beauty!