What is the Name of the Song?

What is
the name of the song
you will sing
into the house
of this day?

Gratitude List:
1. A FUN and inspiring project. I am doing a Camp-in-a-Box project on zine-making for my school, and I am obsessed. I need to do more things like this.
2. I signed up for a Recycled Poetry class with PCA&D. I’ve been wanting to do something with PCA&D for a long time, and this is just perfect because it’s for me as a poet, but also as a teacher.
3. The different ways that light flows through different leaves. The edges and frills on the leaves of that little oak dance differently with the light than do the rounded and billowing leaves of the maple and the poplar.
4. How the lockdown has pushed me to grow. I had a conversation with someone online this morning about how I see the basic objectives for Speech class differently today than I did six months ago. So much of our modern speech-making happens in video format. I am going to add the video element as a basic part of Speech class in the future. I used to be scared to try adding more about making videos, but I have been forced into exploring that during this lockdown, and I am grateful for the new knowledge that I can share with students.
5. Those energy bars I made yesterday. I need to be careful not to eat too many! They’re so delicious.

Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly–in Beauty!


“A man who does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good. And a man that does not know how to be shaken to his heart’s core with indignation over things evil is either a fungus or a wicked man.” —Henry Ward Beecher, social reformer and abolitionist (1813-1887)


Here’s the best way to see a thing: catch
the edge of light
that burns
around its opposite, that
which it would otherwise
obscure.
—Mark Bibbins


I saw you once, Medusa; we were alone.
I looked you straight in the cold eye, cold.
I was not punished, was not turned to stone.
How to believe the legends I am told? …

I turned your face around! It is my face.
That frozen rage is what I must explore—
Oh secret, self-enclosed, and ravaged place!
That is the gift I thank Medusa for.
—May Sarton, “The Muse as Medusa”


“How you get there is where you’ll arrive.” —The Mad Hatter


“When you look at what is happening to our world—and it is hard to look at what’s happening to our water, our air, our trees, our fellow species—it becomes clear that unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible.” —Joanna Macy


“We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time.” —Joanna Macy


“And I consider myself a skeptic, but Lord, I’m an optimistic soul.” —Rising Appalachia

Advent 21: The Shortest Day

We arrive at the shortest day.
Silence.
Stillness.
This moment, when I am writing, is the darkness just before the dawn.
The year, too, is dawning.
Sit in the dark.
Feel the empty quiet around you.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Holy, holy, holy.


Gratitude List:
1. Laughing with my family. Somebody said last night that they were glad we get to celebrate Winter Stoltzfus together.
2. The long night is over and the day is dawning.
3. There are still many days to become acquainted with the shadows, but the light is returning.
4. How the house lights make the dew sparkle and twinkle. Light and shadow. Light and shadow
5. Now the day begins, the laughter, the clatter, the murmurs, the music the twinkling eyes.

May your day be filled with Shine!

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


Back in the Day

Today’s Prompt is to write a “Back in the Day” poem.

Back in the Day
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Back in the morning
when I was young,
when youthful energy
gripped my limbs
and raised me up
to face the adventures ahead,
then I was a dancer.

Back in the day
when I met the Challengers
faced my fears,
and accepted my quests,
riding into battle
the dragons of ignorance,
then I was a warrior.

Back in the evening
when my eyes began
to feel the weight
of the day’s gravity,
and my legs ached
with weariness,
then I was a teacher.

Now at day’s close,
I am old and worn out,
waiting for the moment
when I will close my eyes
and enter the land of sleep,
to wake in the morning
young again.


Gratitude List:
1. Finishing and submitting the manuscript!
2. Sleep to come
3. Not being alone
4. Getting it out in a good, hard rant
5. Tomorrow is Friday.

May we walk in Beauty!

A Sestina for All Saints (2 of 2)

I plan to write a poem a day again this November, following the prompts from Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog. Today’s prompt is to write a new day poem. I decided to try another sestina, using new and day as two of the six words, and creating a little end rhyme. It may make it a little too bouncy, and a sestina is a little ambitious for my falling-asleep brain, but it’s all in the name of experimentation.

All Saints Day
a sestina
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

As the veil closes on this day,
day between days when I–and you–
go seeking guides and saints, seeking the way
our dear beloveds have wandered through
the parted curtain: Listen, can you hear them say
the names of all the souls they knew

when their own days were green and new?
Now we ourselves slip from behind the curtain of this day
to follow their singing, to hear them say
our own names. Can you feel how they long for you?
How they seek your attention through
this veil that obscures the way?

How silently they guide you when you lose your way?
Our memories are vast pools they bathe in. They renew
their lives within the waters of the dreams we threw
away. Their memories are thin as cobweb, flashing like a day,
then gone. All they have to hold them here is you–
and me–so we must be careful what we say

about the dead, about the ones who’ve gone before. We say
they’re just a vapor, just a mist, a feather that will weigh
less than a living soul. But we know, me and you,
how light is heavy, how old is new,
how they continue to exist beyond their days,
and how the weight of our own memories brings them through.

And so we speak the names of saints and our beloveds, through
the long nights of the Hallowed Days, we say
their names, we keep them real, we mark the days
and help them through the veil to find their way
back to our joyful tables, set with bread and wine and new
candles. Look how they glow and hover around you.

I will keep this night along with you
and listen as the music whispers through
the mists that rise across the veil, new
pathways drawn between us. We can say
that finally we have found our way
between the curtains and into a new day.

Tomorrow you will step into another day,
find the way between, the way through, find your way
into a new dawn, full of light. You’ll have new names to say.


I needed a brain diversion today, and so I pulled up two Rilke autumn poems and translated them into English. I had forgotten how satisfying translation is.

An Autumn day (Herbsttag)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by E. A. Weaver-Kreider

Lord: it is time. The summer was so long.
Lay your shadow upon the sundials,
and set the winds loose upon the fields.

Command the final fruits to ripen;
give them yet two southerly days,
urge them to fullness and coax
the last sweetness into the earnest wine.

Whoever has no home, has now no time to build.
Whoever is alone, will stay alone a while,
will awaken, read, write long epistles
and in the alleys here and there
will wander, while the leaves drift by.

Fall (Herbst)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by E. A. Weaver-Kreider

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far away,
as if they’ve withered in the distant gardens of the heavens;
they are falling in the gesture of denial.

And through this night the heavy Earth is falling
away from all the stars in lonely space.

We all are falling. This hand falls.
And look at the other one: falling is in everything.

And yet there is One who holds all this falling
in infinitely tender hands.

You Are the Dragon, You Are the Cave

DSCN9148

The thing you learn, of course,
before you strap your sword belt on,
is that the princess you pledged to save
is only yourself in another guise,
that the dragon you swore to smite
is simply your own roaring ego
belching flame in the mouth of the cave.

You are the villagers rioting in the streets,
and calling for the dragon’s blood.
You are the bells that pealed from the towers
when the dragon circled above the town.
You are the sword,
the shield, the very cave,
the small frightened mouse
trampled in the fray.
You are the village.
You are the mountain.
You are the day itself,
quiet witness to the story.

Gratitude List:
1. Compassion
2. Nettles
3. The color orange
4. Routine.  Breaking routine.
5. Clear vision

May we walk in Beauty!

How Will the Day End?

DSCN7896

 

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.

DSCN7891  DSCN7892  DSCN7894

 

Don’t Know Where It Came From

Today green the sun rose
and red down again descended.
Sang high in golden birds were singing,
wild the morning spent.

Before the west began in shadow,
out of yonder called the day.
Within the margin birds at vespers
all for indigo, for summons.

Release!  The day, the wander
wondering in the finches’ song.
I would have dawned a tangerine sun
but the orb forgave my tardiness.

Gratitude List:
1.  The way sun twinkles through oak leaves.
2.  Butter-yellow Tiger Swallowtail.
3.  Always beginning again.
4.  Water is flowing.
5.  There is no expiration date on my dreams.

May we walk in Beauty!