Gratitudes, Musings

A New Year, Dreamtime 10

Here we are at Janus’ Doorway again. Janus, remember, is the two-faced Roman god who stands in doorways and gateways and openings, his face looking back to where he came from and forward to where he is headed. And on this day we, too, have made a practice of looking forward as we look back: What do I hold in my heart from the past year? What do I want to keep and improve upon? What do I regret? What do I leave behind with relief? And: What am I looking forward to? What do I want to maintain as the thread that continues from year to year to year? What do I want to pick up What can I strive to become as I step through this gate into the next phase?

Some years I make Resolutions. Some years I eschew them. Some years I make them with qualifications or new names like Intentions or Principles. This year, they’re Resolutions again. I can sit with that. Some of these are loftier than others.

Resolutions
In 2019, I resolve to:

  1. Continue banning face and name of the attention-monger on my FB page. No posts of him.
  2. Nourish my body with care, and make sure to strengthen and stretch.
  3. Tend to my inner life with even greater care. Expand spiritual practices and lifelines.
  4. Let the madwoman out of the attic. Give her flowers and colors, nice music and rich scents.
  5. Be actively kinder to my children.
  6. Finish the book. Can I finish the book this year? I think maybe I can finish the book.g

Gratitude List:
1. Closing the book on the challenges of 2018.
2. Opening a new chapter.
3. Blank pages.
4. Supportive, overlapping circles of community.
5. The blue of those clouds on this first morning of the new year.

May we walk in Beauty!


Today’s Quotations list is long. I decided to include two of my own New Year’s poems.

Words for the Seventh Day of Kwanzaa:
The word for this last day of Kwanzaa is Imani, or Faith. Believe that your dreams have the power to create change in the world. May it be so for you and for me and for all who long for and work for justice in the coming year.


“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier.’” —Alfred Tennyson


“Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.” ―Joan Chittister


Walking Through the Gateway of Another Year
By Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2017

Let’s call them New Year’s Revolutions
or Re-Solutions
or Revelations
or Re-evaluations.

Change. Progress.
Uncovering. Assessing.

In the coming year, I resolve to re-solve
my problems and issues every day,
not just on this morning.

For every morning is the morning
of a whole new year,
a bright blank page
in which any thing
can be a new thing.

Let every moment be a moment like now,
when the newborn sun shines
over the ridge
onto the scarlet breast
of a cardinal,
and the eye
for a moment sees nothing
but sparkling red.


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.” —T. S. Eliot


“And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
—William Blake


“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
―Mary Oliver


“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


This is How It Begins (a New Year’s poem)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, January 1, 2016

This is how it begins:
each year, each week, each day,
each golden shining drop of moment
approaches,
full of expectancy,
dawning,
ready for our use.

How will I inhabit the house
of the now that approaches?
How will I wear the cloth
of the day that is given?
How will I wander the story
of the year that has just now
leapt into shining view
through the gray clouds of winter?

I will face this year with resolution
(this week, this day, this moment)
not to wait until this whirling planet
has danced around the sun
to make the new thing new,
but to step into each freshly-birthed now
with eyes that see the golden shine of possibility
and ears that hear the note of each plucked strand of moment.

Gratitudes, Musings

The Day of Sunreturn

This photo is from Solstice afternoon. 

The sun is not yet rising on this morning of Sunreturn. That’s a term I think I made up myself. Over the years, I have felt the need to slightly separate my Solstice observance from my deep celebration of the next day. I need to keep a space for both: for marking the full darkness, and for joyful honoring of the returning of the light. So I made up a word for it, unless I stole it from someone else.

On Solstice, I settle into the darkness, feel the long night, the blanket of winter. But on Sunreturn, I delight in the turning back to the sun. Yesterday, we reached the end of the tunnel. I could sit in the darkness and feel the satisfaction of another year’s journey to the outer reaches. Today, we turn our faces again to the sun, and begin the journey toward that light.

So my word for today is Sunreturn. May the sun shine upon you. As I have written this, drinking coffee with my sister and my father, hearing the wind whistling around outside, the day has gently dawned into grey morning.


Gratitude List:
1. Christmas karaoke in chapel yesterday
2. The Welcoming Place at MCC
3. Last night’s Solstice Celebration at Community Mennonite.
4. The young man did not jump off the bridge. I might not be able to ever wash that image from my brain, seeing him sitting there, officers and caregivers and concerned citizens gathered around and below him. I suppose all those helpers gathered around were, in their way, Clarence the Angel. I will listen for the bells of the season with a different ear this year.
5. Sunreturn

May we walk in beauty!

(I feel like I should explain #4. On the way here to the Welcoming Place from school yesterday, the traffic on 222 slowed suddenly and measurably. As we approached a bridge that goes over the highway, we noticed that traffic was completely stopped on the other side, beginning at the bridge. I speculated that someone had stood on the overpass and thrown things down on passing motorists, because there were people gathered on the bridge. Only as we approached did I see that they were gathered at a short distance from a clearly distraught young man sitting on the edge of the bridge. The highway was closed for a couple of hours. News reports say that a police officer eventually “grabbed” the man, and he was taken to a hospital for observation.)


“There is really only one way to restore a world that is dying and in disrepair: to make beauty where ugliness has set in. By beauty, I don’t mean a superficial attractiveness, though the word is commonly used in this way. Beauty is a loveliness admired in its entirety, not just at face value. The beauty I’m referring to is metabolized grief. It includes brokenness and fallibility, and in so doing, conveys for us something deliciously real. Like kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold, what is normally seen as a fatal flaw is distinguished with value. When we come into contact with this kind of beauty, it serves as a medicine for the brokenness in ourselves, which then gives us the courage to live in greater intimacy with the world’s wounds.” —Toko-pa Turner


“God has scattered the proud in their conceit.
God has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.” —Mary


“No human relation gives one possession in another—every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.” —Kahlil Gibran


“Always there comes an hour when one is weary of one’s work and devotion to duty, and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth and wonder of a loving heart.” —Albert Camus


“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop. ” —Rumi


My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power
reconstitute the world.
-—Adrienne Rich


Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

The Wayfinder


Today’s prompt is a What I Learned poem.

What I Learned
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

How much a heart can hold, of fire and of earth,
how wild a soul can feel, how feral, how untamed,
how deep attention causes the spirit to rise,
to break free of its earth-bound chains,
how solid the earth upon which we walk,
and how free it feels to rest upon air,
how fire consumes but does not burn,
how water is its own pathway for journeying.


“Oh to meet, however briefly, the greatness that lives under our surface. To summon enough bravery to be without armour and strategy, for the chance at meeting that irreducible power. Oh to make of our terrified hearts a prayer of surrender to the God of Love; that we remain safe in our quivering ache to be near that Otherness, even for a moment. To touch that ancient life who will never relinquish its wilderness, who lets instinct make its choices, whose knowing lives in bones and whose song is a wayfinder.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.”
―Parker J. Palmer
***
“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
―Emily Dickinson
***
“One of my favourite teachings by Martín Prechtel is that ‘violence is an inability with grief.’ In other words, it takes skillfulness to grieve well, to grieve wholeheartedly. It requires us to bravely, nakedly come to face all that is lost, keeping our hearts open to loving just as fully again.

“When we make war, lashing out in rage and revenge, it is because we are unwilling to make this full encounter with grief. It is easy to enact the same violence which has taken so much from us―including towards ourselves―but the greater work is to let that which is missing enlarge your life; to make beauty from your brokenness.

“Whatever you hold in the cauldron of your intention is your offering to the divine. The quality of assistance you can generate and receive from the Holy is governed by the quality of your inner offering. When you indulge in fear and doubt, you are flooding the arena where love is attempting to work.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth
in the present moment.”
―Thich Nhat Hanh
***
“An Awake Heart
is like a Sky that Pours Light.” ―Hafiz
***
“Gather the dawn and wind.
Breathe in sun and frost and song.
Hold for a moment.
Breathe out birds and words and joy.
Breathe out moss and stones and hope.”
―Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. (What was beautiful?) Three geese winging low over golden fields with sky turning to sunset behind them.
2. (What sounds brought you awake?) Students hitting the chimes in my doorway. I have a little chime magnet that hangs from my doorway, and several students hit it on the way in and the way out each day.
3. (What smells enlivened the day?) I can’t smell much through this cold, but the essential oils I wear in the mornings–patchouli and sandalwood, sweet orange, palmarosa, and lavender–got through. Essential oils help to break through the sinusitis.
4. (What was good to the touch?) I brought out my large black and white scarf, so soft and warm. The cats like it, too. They knead it like little kittens.
5. (What is the flavor of the day?) Turkey Hill’s Homemade Vanilla ice cream. It tastes like my childhood.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

This Is Your Birth


I was reading the other day about the Scottish term caim, the circle of magic protection that you draw about yourself. I got to thinking about how I could use the idea as a drawing meditation, incorporating the protection prayer/spell into a mandala drawing. In a mandala, I always begin in the center, and then work outward, often referencing the energy points that I make note of in meditation. Here are a couple mandalas I drew today with the purpose of drawing a circle of protection about myself. The first was very enclosed, safe. Perhaps because the first established such secure boundaries, I was freer to whirl outward in the second.

Today’s Poetry prompt is to write a transformation poem. I am over-tired myself today, and am putting this tiny tanka here as something of a place-holder.

Begin in silence.
Draw your attention inward.
Feel the power grow
within your bones, your spirit.
Hold the image in your mind.


“If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures.”
—Thomas Berry
*
“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” —Kurt Vonnegut
*
“For a Star to be born,
there is one thing that must happen;
a nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your Destruction.
This is your birth.” —attributed to Noor Tagouri
*
“After the owl booms in the sycamore at dawn,
after your eyes adjust to the darkness,
after you stumble through the washing and dressing,
after the flicker of lights,
after the coffee,
after the tree pose,
after the quiet reading of O’Donohue’s poem,
you arrive with your heart at the blank page.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. Sunday Evening Hymn Sing at Freiman Stoltzfus’s gallery. Words and music and poetry and art all intermingle. Sound reverberates through the room, and you can almost feel the intensity with which people are concentrating on the sound. You’re held in a web of sacred sounds.
2. The stories of the morning. Welcoming new members of the tribe.
3. Autumn is stripping down to the essentials. Bare branches frame the sky. Clouds bustle across the blue. Leave skitter through the hollow.
4. Red beet eggs
5. Circles of protection

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

The Song of the Dawning Day

Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.
–Reinhold Niebuhr
*
“The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self–to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.” –Barbara Brown Taylor
*
“As long as I live,
I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.
I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood,
storm, and the avalanche.
I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens,
and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”
–John Muir
*
“The world is our Mother. If we destroy her, where will we live?”
–Kogi Mama
*
“It helps to think of our swamps of despair as the necessary muddle before clarity. Actually, swamps are incredibly fertile places full of life. In mythology the heroine must cross such a place in her darkest hour, where she comes to face her unlived life – meeting each of the divine allies disguised as regret, doubt, and insufficiency which swell up from the mud of her despondency. If she is willing to consummate the full encounter, they will reveal themselves in service to the vitality of her true being.” –Toko-pa Turner
*
“I know our forefathers said you could own a gun, but they also said you could own people.” –Michael Che


Gratitude List:
1. The Earthkeepers and Waterprotectors. More than twenty courageous and determined people were arrested today in Lancaster County, protesting a pipeline that is being built through the outdoor chapel of the Adorers of the Precious Blood. You can support their legal defense fund here: LAP.
2. The songs of dawn
3. How the cats always seem to be hanging out wherever we are.
4. Chicken corn soup for supper
5. Invigorating breezes

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, 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, Poems

The Delegation

DSCN9114
The dragon I drew on the driveway.  

“I do not see a delegation of the four-footed.
I see no seat for the eagles.” –Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga

The wren is not waiting his turn to speak, nor should he.
He calls out into the clamorous room–his name, his name, his name.
The whales have been offering their words for some time now,
but no one at my table seems to be listening,
not to the whales, nor to the insistent chitter of the bats
who, though they have no place on the agenda,
are doing their best to make their voices heard.

Who will call the meeting to order?
Who will make sure that every voice is heard?

Gratitude List:
1. Add more caring adults to the circle of people who mentor my children: I had my first chance to watch the Wrightsville Little League coaches in action yesterday at their first game.  Our guys lost, but the coaches were excellent in their encouragement and their building of team spirit.  They were praising the kids for encouraging each other.  One hears horror stories, but there are wonder stories also.
2. The dawn is catching up to me.  The sun rises shortly after I do, and I have daylight to help me wake up more quickly.
3. Getting back to class today.  I love the break, but I get really antsy to head back into the classroom.
4. The right to vote.  I am going to believe that my vote counts, despite the voices inside me that bray and mock that hope.  But change does not stop with a vote.  We have to work for the justice we seek.
5. Blue jays.  They saunter through the sky like ruffians, like dudes, and they have absolutely no questions about their entitlement.  I like their bombast.  And their clear, loud whistles.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

You Have Always Known

2013 May 032

You have always known what dawn has to offer you,
what the new-born crescent of a moon
hanging above the oaks on the hillside
wants to tell you about your birth,
how you are born every minute
re-cast, re-formed, re-molded
from the stuff of the which
the stars are made.

You have always known what the owls meant
when they called you out of dreaming
with their shadowy conversations
to listen with your whole body
to their fierce song of desire
that pulls you like tides
into this holy breath
of the day’s longing.

You have always known how it would be here
how this taste of daily incarnation
would ignite those inner bonfires
that keep you always burning,
always longing, always open
to fierce and tender winds
that call your soul awake
into the dawning.

Gratitude List:
1. Words of courage and conviction and challenge.
2. Keeping the hands open.  Avoiding the closed fist.
3. How they laughed while watching Pippi Longstocking.
4. How we’re all in this together.  You do your part, I do mine, and they’ll do theirs, and it all gets put together to make for a new thing in the world.
5. The little breaks and graces that add up to mean more than they mean.  How that makes the coping and muddling all more workable.

May we walk in Beauty!