Hollyhocks and Gratitude

1. Grateful for wonderful neighbors, who invited me to sit (at a safe distance) and chat as I was returning from yesterday’s walk. Lovely folks, with fascinating life experiences.
2. The black snake who slithered across the trail in front of my bike yesterday.
3. The doe and fawn who bounded off the path in front of my bike yesterday.
4. Every day, I feel more healthy, limber, and strong. It is requiring a certain level of obsession with my fitness and good health, but I hope that it will become habit and regular rhythm.
5. Always more to learn. This can be painful because I sometimes just want to BE woke, to BE knowledgeable, to BE enlightened. Getting to a new stage of awareness always feels so good, but it’s dangerous to stop and call it done. And really, it’s always good to learn a new thing, to evolve, to transform. (Which brings me around to the first point again, because this is part of the conversation I had with my amazing neighbors yesterday.)

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!

“Without understanding yourself, what is the use of trying to understand the world?” —Ramana Maharshi

“There is peaceful. There is wild. I am both of them.” —Nayyirah Waheed

“This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known.” —Marion Woodman

“It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and to fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated….” —JK Rowling

“Help one another. It is the only way to survive.” —Elie Wiesel

“Therefore, dark past,
I’m about to do it.
I’m about to forgive you

for everything.”
—Mary Oliver

“I believe that without some inner experience of powerlessness, and the wisdom that potentially comes with it, most individuals will misunderstand and abuse power.” —Richard Rohr

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anais Nin

“Let us not become the evil that we deplore.” —Rep. Barbara Lee, 9/14/01

From Terry Tempest Williams:
“We are creatures of paradox, women and bears, two animals that are enormously unpredictable, hence our mystery. Perhaps the fear of bears and the fear of women lies in our refusal to be tamed, the impulses we arouse and the forces we represent….As women connected to the earth, we are nurturing and we are fierce, we are wicked and we are sublime. The full range is ours. We hold the moon in our bellies and fire in our hearts. We bleed. We give milk. We are the mothers of first words. These words grow. They are our children. They are our stories and our poems.”

War Is Not the Answer

Wage Peace, spelled out in vegetables.

While the saber-rattlers practice their stern faces in mirrors,
we gather our children and see the reflections
of the eyes of mothers on the other side of endless wars,
holding their children to their own hearts.

While the war profiteers add up their numbers,
we count too, numbering our young people,
knowing that somewhere, in that distant land,
other mothers pull sons and daughters
away from that red line in the sand,
other teachers are doing the math
of the beloved scholars ripening
to the age of soldier.

We know, as those others know,
that collateral damage means someone’s child,
someone’s empty arms, someone’s heart torn apart.
We know that the men who make war,
the maestros who orchestrate the grand drama,
are not the ones who do the war,
are not the ones who live it.

We know, as the women of Iran know,
as the war-makers can never seem to understand,
that every casualty has a mother.

Gratitude List:
1. That quiet doe who slipped across the road in yesterday’s headlights, reminding me of shy tenderness, of the need to take great care in all things, to pay attention.
2. The people of Lancaster, standing in the freezing cold, holding up the hope of peace between nations. Young and old, and everyone’s toes like ice, but hearts warm and determined.
3. Doing the last-minute hopeful tweaks on second-semester classes. I love jumping in to second semester, despite the stress of the overlay of first semester’s finish on second semester’s start. Tabula rasa. Anything can be.
4. Last night I heard a story of a former student (before my time here) whose family has recently been reaching out to the school to share how much the school helped to shape–in often quiet and seemingly small respects–the life of their son. I’m grateful for all the ways in which the little things we do for each other open us to deeper connection–in ways we might not always be able to express.
5. The shine of snow-covered landscapes. Winter is not simply dark and drear. Some days, it dazzles!

May we walk in Beauty!

Watching and Being Watched

I came across these old photos yesterday, three random photos of different years tucked together into an envelope. Top: 2000, Middle: 2014, Bottom: 2006 (Bumblebee boots).

Day 4 of All the Things I Wish I Had Said (While You Were Still Here)
The Prompt is to write a couplet.  I am balking, but perhaps I should try.
Like a great oak tree, within your leafy heart
I see how you protectively conceal
your secret griefs. You stand apart
and only partially reveal

the aches and losses that have brought you low.
Be strong, my friend.  Some day you’ll let them go.

It’s hard to put things into rhyme, but satisfying, too.  I couldn’t find my way to a couplet until I hit those last two lines, and I feel as though the poem sounds more like an accusation than it is intended.  It is meant to be simply a way of saying, “I see that you are carrying your past pain with great determination.”  At first, I typed: “the aches and losses that have brought you down. / You wear them like a martyr’s crown,” which I think is poetically stronger than this, but it didn’t say what I wanted to say at all.

I want to keep working with couplets and rhymes.  I do not usually actively rhyme in my poetry, but I try to pay attention to the internal assonance and consonance within the lines, and trying to form a poem around a rhyme is a helpful exercise. I think it opens new processing pathways in the brain.

Gratitude List:
1. (Who did you see?) That soft-eyed curious doe who stood on Oriole Bluff behind the house and watched us watching her through the dining room window.  We did not climb the hill to see, but I have a hunch that she may have hidden a dappled child of shadow in the tall grasses up there.
2. (What was magical?) Fireflies like sparks, like stars, twinkling all around us.
3. (What was satisfying?) Making fire with the children, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs.  (This was the first that I have really craved meat in the past year, but Jon had bought some vegetarian “sausages” that were mostly sufficient to the moment.)
4. (What is energizing?) I will be finished with my grading by the evening.  It was hard, so hard, to get into it yesterday, and I fought it off by organizing papers and stacks from the year.  And now, those stacks are organized, and I am also almost finished with the grades.
5. (What do you anticipate?) Continuing to find the rhythms of summer.  I have a Teachers as Scholars seminar at Messiah College this week, so I cannot quite set up the new patterns, but I want to give parts of each day to preparing for the fall and to working on some writing projects.

May we walk in Beauty!