Gratitudes

Back to Basics: Gratitude

Gratitude List:
1. Dreaming of crows. The way poet/priestesses unpack the images. Snuggling my shadows.
2. Today I had so many opportunities to do my WORK. Teaching is my vocation, and I love so much about it, but the best thing about it is that it lets me do my Work. It includes tears and hugs and hard conversations and so much self-reflection.
3. Curiosity. When people get curious about each other. Curiosity is a fine engineer, building bridges of gossamer web and light across chasms. But stronger bridges than you can imagine.
4. This fine boy of mine, who keeps being ahead of himself in so many ways. Perhaps what I mean to say is that he is ahead of my perceptions. Or that he grows into whatever space he enters. With grace and thoughtfulness. . .and curiosity (there it is again). He leaves a stage of childhood behind tonight at his eighth grade graduation.
5. Cool breezes. This means exactly what it says, because my room is hot as a sauna. But then it means more than that because your poems and your wisdom and your presence in the world are cool breezes to me, my friends.

May we walk in BEAUTY!

Gratitudes, Musings

Paths Crossing

Last Sunday morning, two rabbits hopped companionably from northeast to southwest, and someone else trotted sort of purposefully from north to south. Probably this happened at significantly different times. Cat or fox seems to have been unaware of its potential prey-folk going the other direction.

This morning, a week later, most of the snow is gone. The sun is bright in the blue sky, and a murder has just passed through the hollow, a massive flock of crows, barking and yapping, making the very air tingle with their passing. I stood in the yard and watched them. I could swear one of them vocalized “Hello” from the lower limbs of the dying chestnut. In four or five of the trees in the lower part of the hollow, sentries had placed themselves, repeating five or six short quick yaps in a row, in succession: walnut tree sentry, then maple tree sentry, then locust tree, and so on. Changes are on the wing. Fly brightly, Wildfolk.


Gratitude List:
1. Thoughtful conversations with young people on topics of social media and race and personal accountability.
2. My school’s Lunar New Year celebrations.
3. Hundreds of crows flying through the hollow.
4. This sore throat doesn’t seem to be more than a little part of a cold (knock on wood). When I take a cough drop or drink tea, it feels so much better.
5. All the people working for a better world.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Whether through prayer, ritual, poetry, or song, gratitude solidifies our relationship with the living mystery. It rejoins us to the intangible wholeness from which we feel disconnected. As we remember ourselves to the holy in nature, we are forging our own belonging.” —Toko-pa Turner


“If you want to do the work of God, pay attention to people. Notice them. . .especially the people nobody else notices.” —John Ortberg


“There is no reality but Oneness. Open into that.” —Bahauddin


“Take a deep breath. Find the place inside you that remembers how truth feels; remember that there are kinds of anger that are more effective than blind outrage.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (to remind myself)


Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Remember: truth and justice ultimately always win.


“The goal of any true resistance is to affect outcomes, not just to vent. And the only way to affect outcomes and thrive in our lives, is to find the eye in the hurricane, and act from that place of inner strength.” —Arianna Huffington


“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” —All of us, now, continuing to take the words away from that senator

Gratitudes, Musings

For Such a Time

Gratitude List:

  1. Murder of Crows in the trees outside my parents’ house
  2. Bittersweet—I know it’s an invasive and a pest, but I love it.
  3. The ones who feel Injustice in their bones and then stand up
  4. Fuzzy nap companions
  5. The autumn slant of light that makes everything shine

Thoughts for Monday:

“It’s important to be brave and to not keep silent.” —yesterday’s Children’s Message in church


“Perhaps you were brought to this place for just such a time as this.” —paraphrase from book of Esther


“We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. We have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. it is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think, to be an organ and a blade. But, learning to forgive ourselves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human. We make horrible mistakes. It’s how we learn. We breathe love. It’s how we learn. And it is inevitable.”
—Nayyira Waheed


“Only those who attempt the absurd
will achieve the impossible.”
—M. C. Escher


Blessing for the Visitor
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

May you who wander, who sojourn, who travel,
may you who make your way to our door
find rest for your tired feet and weary heart,
food to fill your bellies and to nourish your minds,
and company to bring you cheer and inspiration.
May you find comfort for your sorrows,
belonging to ease your loneliness,
and laughter to bring you alive.

And when your feet find themselves again upon the road,
may they remember the way back to our door.


“A seed sown in the soil makes us one with the Earth. It makes us realize that we are the Earth. That this body of ours is the panchabhuta-the five elements that make the universe and make our bodies. The simple act of sowing a seed, saving a seed, planting a seed, harvesting a crop for a seed is bringing back this memory-this timeless memory of our oneness with the Earth and the creative universe. There’s nothing that gives me deeper joy than the work of protecting the diversity and the freedom of the seed.” —Vandana Shiva


“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” —George McGovern

Musings

Skyful of Crows

Yesterday as I was falling asleep, meditating on how we make the shift from incivility to kindness, I saw a sky full of crows flying across the sky of my inner eye. All of us together, Friends. Hope against hope. Believe in the Good which is to come. Be ready to Be Change. Love and joy.
 
I do not deny that I go to bed tonight full of anxiety and angst for what tomorrow brings, but there’s a boatful of hope sailing that swamp, and a vast cloud of wise souls flying that gray cloudy sky. I cast the web from me to you. Let’s weave and dream.
Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Searching for the Beloved

Today’s prompt is to write a metaphor poem. I have been contemplating the Sufi concept of the Divine Beloved, so a metaphorical search for the nature of the Beloved seemed apt.

The Beloved

She is a whisper
in the breeze,
‎calling you
‎into the wilderness,
‎reminding you
‎of your true name.

She is a crocus
in the wild wood,
‎escaping the borders
‎of the gardens,
‎catching the gaze
‎of your downcast eye.

She is three crows
casting themselves
‎into the tempest,
‎claiming the sky,
‎inviting you
‎to take wing.


Gratitude List:
1. Perhaps it’s the increased exercise, but I am getting better sleep again after about a week of ache-filled nights.
2. How people look out for each other. The three grandsons looking out for their grandma as she’s moving out of her cottage and into personal care.
3. The singing in church this morning. It’s always good, but it’s just so lovely to lead singing and stand in front and hear everyone making music together. Sacred and holy.
4. Pink trees. Pink. Pink. Pink. Pink.
5. Yesterday’s weather. (There’s a hidden grumble in that one, I think, but there’s definitely a promise of warmth to come, even if it takes another week.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Guarding Our Deepest Treasure


Today’s Prompt is to write a “good for nothing” poem:

Good for Nothing
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

This poem has not practiced its lines,
it hasn’t memorized the tricky bits,
it doesn’t know the plot shifts.

This poem might be good for something,
but more likely it’s a time-waster.
More likely, it’s just addlepated.

This poem knows it isn’t going anywhere.
It knows it’s got a short shelf life,
so it will just take this country minute

to saunter into the middle of the room
and bow, and tell the only story it knows:
about the poem that has not practiced its lines.


“When Tolkien needed someone to place in the face of the great rising evil in his story, he chose the small ones. You and I are the small ones, friends. Let’s join hands and stand together. Let’s work together, speak together, sing and whisper and shout together.” —EWK
***
“We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” —Terence McKenna
***
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” —Audre Lorde
***
“Don’t operate out of fear, operate out of hope. Because with hope, everything is possible.” —Winona LaDuke
***
Our deepest fears are like dragons
guarding our deepest treasure.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
***
Praise Song
by Barbara Crooker

Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there’s left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.
***
“Look at everything
as though you were seeing it
either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”
—Betty Smith


Gratitude List:
1. Synchronicity
2. Magic
3. The bravado of the Fool
4. The wildness of crows
5. Reminders to be true to myself

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

The Rivers and the Bridges

coptic-bridge
Nag Hammadi and Susquehanna (via Dreamscope app)

Being able to weave together two different photos gives me the chance to blend my obsessions. Here, the Bridge over my River, and a piece of ancient Coptic text on a papyrus. I don’t have much time these days for personal researches, but when I have a free moment, I often turn to texts from the Nag Hammadi Library. Right now, I keep a page of The Thunder, Perfect Mind open on a tab on my Chromebook. Those texts are both a bridge and a river for me. I love how this mash-up placed text where the leaves of the sycamore would be in summer, and how there seems to be the suggestion of a greater arch in the sky above the arches of the bridge.

Gratitude List:
1. The willows are putting on their shiny green dancing clothes for spring.
2. The way flocks of little birds connect the dots across the sky.
3. Three crows in a field in the dawn, bobbing their heads up and down, doing obeisance to the sunrise.
4. Tea. It has been such a non-frigid winter that I haven’t often felt the need for tea to break the chill. Lately my students have been making tea in my room, and I enjoy a couple cups a day with them, and then some in the evening. It takes away the craving for the second cup of coffee and leaves me feeling warmed from the inside out.
5. Teenagers. I don’t know why I used to be anxious about the idea of teaching in a high school. The brilliant minds, the bursting creativity, the great hearts, the developing critical thinking skills. I love them. I am learning so  much. They are also my rivers and my bridges.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Beloved Community

tree1

A couple years ago, I had a girl in my freshman class who entered every classroom on high alert, ready to attack at the slightest provocation. She didn’t wait to be bullied or insulted–she was ready to lash out at the least hint of a slight, the least whiff of aggression. Within days, most of her classmates were steering a wide path around her, terrified that they might accidentally look at her the wrong way and find themselves on the receiving end of her wrath.

One of the things I love about my school is the restorative way that teachers and administrators work with students. Teachers kept reminding her to keep her language school-appropriate, to speak more gently with her classmates. Students who felt harmed by her sharpness were cared for and comforted, and she was held accountable for the harm she caused. Still, she was treated like a person herself, not like a perpetrator, not like a problem. The adults understood that she was experiencing an extreme sense of vulnerability, that her social anxiety and the pain she was dealing with in her personal life made her push people away before she could be hurt.

Gradually, she began letting other students and adults near her. She discovered that people liked her for who she was, that we appreciated her quick wit, that she could make us laugh and smile. She began to talk and write about deeper things, too. When she lost someone she loved, instead of retreating to her cave and biting anyone who came near, she wrote it out. She talked about it. She let her friends hold her and care for her.

Now she’s a junior.  She’s finding her voice, catching her stride. She can still make you cringe when she gets into a temper. She’ll always be good at speaking her mind. But the aggressiveness is tempered with gentleness. Instead of masking her vulnerability, she uses her tender heart to find connections with others who hurt. She’s beginning to speak out about issues and causes that matter to her, using both reason and passion. She’s becoming a leader. I am proud of her, and grateful for this community that helped her find her way to her best self. She’s going to be one of the ones who changes the world.

Gratitude List:
1. Beloved community that provides a place for us to fail and try and fail and try and learn and become.
2. The way the sunlight spilled across the fields as dawn arrived.
3. Magenta, Indigo, Aquamarine, which is to say: The clouds at sunrise.
4. The way those five crows flying in a perfect line laced up the clouds they flew between.
5. The members of the Silhouette Magazine staff. They’re witty, earnest, playful, and thoughtful. I’m proud of the assembly they presented this morning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Messages from Skunk

skonker

Blessed are the watchers, the sentinels, the keepers.
Blessed are the ones who pause and listen
for the quietest voices on the wind.

Blessed are the ones who let truth whisper
in the curling spirals of their ears,
who take it in and feel it in their marrow,
let it settle in their bellies, in the gut, the womb, the blood.
Blessed are the ones who sit with that bright coal
that grows and glows within them
as it reaches flaming fingers into every artery and vein.

I have been in conversation today with a friend on the subject of truth. While I love truth as an ideal, and I have worked on impeccability as a spiritual discipline, I have tended to be uncomfortable speaking of truth because of the way it has been used–particularly in religious circles–as a bludgeon. Too many times I have heard people speak of the One Truth: “I have a corner on the Truth, and unless you believe exactly as I do, you are believing lies and falsehoods and you are hopelessly lost.” Poor, poor Truth. She’s so misunderstood.

And lately she’s become such a commodity. When people in positions of power are slicing her up into tiny fragments, stitching her into their webs of falsehoods, and selling her to the lowest bidder, she’s lost all her sense of purpose in the world. It behooves people of integrity to take her in, harbor her, give her sanctuary. My friend suggested taking Truth inside, and observing your physiological response. How does she feel inside you? These times call for a new and wide-awake relationship with Truth. She’s an ally, not a weapon. She’s a teacher, not a dictator.

Gratitude List:
1) You know how I chose skunk (see February 3) as my symbol of nonviolent resistance? This morning as we were driving between corn-stubbly fields on the way to school, a great big skunker with ambled out of the thin line of woods and looked at us passing by. I love seeing skunks at any time, but today it felt like an affirmation.
2) Crows. I think we saw all 20,000 at once this afternoon. No kidding. They were swirling in the wind above a field like a little cyclone, sitting in all the trees along the highway, flying above us in the sunset. They also feel like a message.
3) All the migrators. Along with the crows, the sky was simply filled with all the wing-folk today. Flock of small birds layered behind the crow flocks, and behind and above them, skeins of geese.
4) That seahorse cloud. Golden-white against the pinking sky. Like an embossment. Far away, it kept its shape longer than other whimsy-clouds tend to, almost the whole way home from school.
5) Vision. Sight. Seeing.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Three Crows

crows1
This is a public domain stock photo that I filtered. I wanted an image of three crows in a tree.

Today we packed up Christmas. I like to keep the decorations up through the twelve days, but then we need to get our space back. The tree makes me feel claustrophobic after a while, and the rug needed a good vacuuming to get the needles out. Suddenly the living room has space again. We’ve let Lego-land completely take over the library floor, so it’s especially nice to have a mostly empty floor in one room at least.

As I was standing in the breezeway getting up the courage to go out in the cold and take down the wreath and bows, a pair of house finches flew in and sat on the wreath, checking it out for winter quarters, perhaps. I decided to hang the wreath (minus the bow) from one of the trees out back so they can use it if they want.

The person who loses out the most from the Christmas clean-up is Fredthecat. The tree had become his haven. He loved sleeping beneath it. Jon is thinking of buying a ficus to give Fred a tree to sleep beside. Now that’s a good man. But I already knew that.

Gratitude List:
1. Fox prints by the pond. Yesterday after school, Joss and I went walking in the snow by the pond, and we saw fox prints: eight prints and then a three foot space, eight more prints and a three foot space, then eight more prints again. That fox was running. At one point, there was a little spot where someone had scrabbled in the soil, and a little mouse hole was exposed. We figured that the fox got a little snack. But then we noticed that a set of rabbit prints converged with the fox trail, and so we wondered if the fox got a dinner. There were more rabbit trails around, so perhaps the rabbits and fox were out at different times. My Christmas wish was to see a fox. Knowing one was racing through yesterday after the snow makes me feel as though my wish was partly granted.
2. I saw a flock of turkeys today, crouching along a bramble patch on a snowy field.
3. Three crows in a winter tree against a winter sky. There’s something primal and elemental about three crows in a winter tree. I saw two such groups in my driving today.
4. Supportive colleagues.  Wise collaboration with curriculum design.
5. Packing up Christmas. Moving on into January.

May we walk in Beauty!