Weathering

Some days feel like the lightning rods of days. Today has been one of those. People attacking people and institutions I love. Attacking me. People working together to answer with love, to hold out our arms, to support each other. Good, hard work–Good Good Work. It’s wearying. And still, there’s the daily and the mundane work to get done in the midst of this other.

I am glad I’ve chosen the path of poetry this month to get me back to the inner work of writing and get me out of my own head.

I don’t know how to withstand the onslaught of the culture wars, especially when they begin so directly to affect me and those I love. Offer love. Offer a hand. Offer a word of wisdom or care. Hold steady. Be the conduit for the Holy One.

My own path, while embracing a wide and universal understanding of the spiritual, is grounded in the Anabaptist Christian tradition. I don’t think I have ever asked myself so frequently, “What would Jesus do?” as I have in the past week, the past months. Is this the moment to turn over tables? Is this the moment to offer stories? Is this the moment to bear witness silently? Is this the moment to ignore the ones who rage and spit, and simply do the Work I am called to do?

Today’s poem form is the mondo. I used this form to try to express some of this inner processing:

Gratitude List:
1. Friends who walk with each other and share the burden.
2. So many kinds of daffodils! (Read that Wordsworth poem over and over and over).
3. Finding center. Holding center.
4. The open-armed ones who welcome all to the table.
5. Writing again. This fog that has held me in the past six months lifts faster as I find my way back to words.
May we walk Justly, in Mercy, and Humbly–in Beauty!


“We write to taste life twice.” —Anais Nin


“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” —Maya Angelou


“If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.” —Thich Nhat Hanh


“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.


“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.” —Wangari Maathai

If I say Green

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Back to my lime-kiln portal,  but this time with a Monet filter.

Here is a poem:

If I say green to you
when the winds of winter
still carry a chill
over the fields
at the top of the hill,
when indigo pockets of shadows
still harbor small mounds of snow,

will you know what I mean,
how even in these days
of limbo, of in-between,
something rises,
barely seen, a little frill,
a thrill of green
beneath the brown of winter?

(originally posted Feb. 28, 2016)

Gratitude List:
1. People you don’t really know, but you know you like
2. Daffodils
3. Young eagle flying above the highway this morning
4. Observing young women finding their voices
5. Cheese bread with a fried egg for supper: Comfort

May we walk in Beauty!

People Are Really Good at Heart

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Gratitude List:
1. Daffodils.  Narcissus.  Sunny golden greetings.
2. Orioles.  It’s too early, I know.  Way too early, I suppose.  But I dreamed last night of that whistle, high in the sycamore tree, of the oriole announcing his return.  I can’t wait until that bright bird is back with us.
3. Getting it done.  This and that and the other thing.  It DOES come together, even when it feels impossible.
4. The goodness in everyone.  Lately, my belief in this idea is being sorely shaken.  In this election cycle, I have begun to let a deep cynicism about the motives and benevolence of others begin to seep into my consciousness.  I want to continue to hold onto the belief that there is something inside each of us that can be touched and met.  If Anne Frank could say it, I can at least do my best to try to believe that “in spite of everything, people are really good at heart.”
5. Towering clouds.

May we walk in Beauty!  (In Goodness.)

How Will the Day End?

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Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled “How <fill in the blank>”

How Will the Day End?

It will fade quietly away
or it will go out in blaze.

It will wander off quietly
into a corner of night,
or it will rattle down the drain,
gurgling as it swirls into the dark.

It will be filled with the quiet murmurings of doves,
the muttering of the last bars of the day’s bird choir,
or it will go out with the shrill whinny of the screech owl,
the screep of the fox, and the whoof of the white-tailed deer.

It will pull the shades of my eyes downward
and fill my brain with fog,
it will draw out my energy
like serum in a syringe.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  I know, daffodils again.  But.  Outside the school office is a row of creamy daffodils with a buttery center.  But in one clump, one daffodil has a bright gold-orange center, just begging for attention.
2. Making and playing Lego Chess with Ellis.
3. Friday morning hymn sing–this remains one of my favorite moments of my week.  My colleagues have wonderful voices.
4. The library book sale!  I scored lots of classics for my classroom shelves, and some more contemporary young adult novels, too.  Jon bought me a copy of Ted Kooser’s Delights and Shadows, which contains this lovely poem, titled “Screech Owl”:
All night each reedy whinny
from a bird no bigger than a heart
flies out of a tall black pine
and, in a breath, is taken away
by the stars. Yet, with small hope
from the center of darkness
it calls out again and again.
5. Delightfully shocking coincidences.  At the sale, Jon also bought a book called American Watercolors and a copy of Little Bear’s Friend, by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  As he was poring through the book of water colors, he noticed a painting by Carolyn Brady.  In the shadows behind a vase of stunning flowers is a copy of Little Bear’s Friend!  What are the chances of that?  And not only one of the books we bought would feature a very different book from a very different genre, but that someone would be looking through it that closely, to catch it.

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God Runs to You

“If you take two steps toward God,” the Sufi mystic Satish Kumar tells Pi Patel in Life of Pi, “God runs to you!”

My friend, do you see
how everything runs to you
when you draw nearer?

Gratitude List:
1.  The daffodils at school are preparing to burst open some morning soon.
2.  That red-tailed hawk that wheeled low above the farm this afternoon.
3.  Still room to ripen.  How to say this one?  I’ve been thinking lately about how middle age doesn’t not have to mean peak ripeness.  I’m still allowed to grow, still allowed to mature.  Whew.
4.  Wiggle room.  Some days, it’s okay to be simply sufficient.  Striving counts.
5.  Teamwork.  I love my colleagues.

May we walk in Beauty!