Fifty-Five

Today is my birthday. I’ve been here 55 years now (<–link),
beginning at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
To Shirati, Tanzania, when I was ten days old, where I met my father for the first time.
To York PA, back to Shirati, to Philippi WV, to Ephrata PA, and then to the messy all-over-the-placeness of young adulthood, and now back in York County, PA, for 20 years.

Here are some 55 Facts and Notes:
The number given to asteroid Pandora is #55. I am Pandora’s progeny–I can never leave a box unopened.

The number 55 is apparently a lucky number for the astrological sign of Leo. Roar!

In Mathematics:

  • 55 is the product of the smallest sexy prime pair (although I do not know what this means, I too am small, and sexy, and in my prime.)
  • 55 is the largest triangular number in the Fibonacci sequence (again, I know not what this means, but I am large, and I like triangles.)

The element Caesium has the number 55 on the periodic table. According to Wikipedia, Caesium is “a soft, silvery-golden alkali metal with a melting point of 28.5 °C (83.3 °F), which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at or near room temperature.”

In Numerological terms, my soul number is 5 (add the digits in 8.10.1967, and keep adding digits together until you get a single digit), so 55 (five and five) feels like a good strong year for me. In the tarot, the fifth major arcanum card is The Hierophant, which symbolizes the passing on of knowledge and traditions—I like to think of that as the Teacher. So I am going to take that as my personal charge for the coming year and double my efforts to be an effective and compassionate teacher.

The number 5 breaks out of the stable solidity of the 4, offering new opportunities for growth, but also the potential for conflict and instability. I go into this double five year with my life shaken and stirred (boy howdy!), ready to find my new balance, eager to grow and change and Become more me.


Gratitude List:
1. My father’s relative health. July was a difficult month for our family. I am reminded to treasure every moment with the people I love.
2. Walking with a good friend on woodsy trails this morning: Hackberry trees, smell of fox (pervasive in those woods), teasel, wild mugwort, wild hibiscus, the Little Conestoga Creek, and dogbane. Mostly: good, easy conversation and companionship.
3. Monarchs. I know they’re heading onto the Endangered Species List. Grateful to see so many here where we live.
4. Scent of fox is a reminder of the story of Foxwoman, told by Martin Shaw. Reminder to know myself, to know my wildness, to trust my dreamingself.
5. So many delicious birthday blessings! I feel delight and strength and hope, and such a connection with so many people whom I have known, both in person and online. So much love!
May we walk in Beauty!


Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

“You owe me.”

Look
what happens
with a love like that —

It lights the whole
world.
—Hafiz


“The Seven of Pentacles”
by Marge Piercy

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.


“Life…is a wonder. It is a sky laden with clouds of contradictions.” —Naguib Mahfouz


“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” —Coco Chanel


“By virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.” —Teilhard de Chardin


“Soul of my soul … be water in this now-river.” —Rumi


“You are the Soul of the Soul of the Universe, and your name is Love.” —Rumi


“There is one masterpiece, the hexagonal cell, that touches perfection. No living creature, not even human, has achieved, in the centre of one’s sphere, what the bee has achieved on her own: and if intelligence from another world were to descend and ask of the earth the most perfect creation, I would offer the humble comb of honey.” —Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life Of The Bee, 1924


“It’s not only those who have succumbed to hate who have to change. We need to learn to love bigger, to bring them back.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


“If it is bread that you seek, you will have bread. If it is the soul you seek, you will find the soul. If you understand this secret, you know you are that which you seek.” —Rumi


“In these cataclysmic times, living in what Michael Meade calls the ‘slow apocalypse,’ despair can be dangerously seductive. Our lives may feel inadequate to the terrible momentum of our times, but it is in those moments that we must remember the difference between despair and grief.

“While despair traps us in the bog of despondency, grief carries us into life. Grief calls us into a deeper engagement with those things that we love. And even as we are losing them, grief wants to exalt their beauty.

“If we let grief move us into expression, it will sing the blood into our songs, colour the vividness into our paintings, and slip the poetry between our words.

“Rumi says, “All medicine wants is pain to cure.” And so we must cry out in our weakness, our ineptitude, our beautiful inadequacy and make of it an invitation that medicine might reach through and towards us.” —Toko-pa Turner

Materializing in the Shadows

I know I did a lot of intense dreamwork last night, but the images and ideas are fleeting once again. I think I need to wake up and get writing before The Talker wakes up and starts his lengthy discourses on video games.

I’ve been meditating more on the gnomon, the sundial’s indicator. The perceiver. The indicator. Standing in its singular spot, the gnomon casts a shadow that shows the seeker where she is in the map of time. The gnomon must have a shadow in order to guide others to the truth of the moment. How can I be a truly helpful truth-telling guide if I do not know my shadow? If I do not stand boldly in the light of the sun, knowing that my shadow will flow out behind me for all to see? Perhaps this is the next step toward maturity.


Gratitudes:
1. Mending: I have a couple pairs of leggings that are developing some serious ladders, so yesterday I tried a woven mend that I saw on bookhou‘s Instagram videos last week. Mine ended up a little messy, but I definitely see the possibilities, and I have lots more holes to practice and improve on.
2. Last night I received a really moving message from a former student, talking about how, when I made the write poetry in Creative Writing class, he thought it was stupid, but when he had intense healing work to do after a painful time, he discovered that poetry was what he needed to be able to express what had happened to him. My heart hurts for the pain he must walk through, and it sings for the delight that something my work offered would be helpful in his healing.
3. For several months, I have been grieving the loss of a necklace I made. It has a bead and a pendant friends of mine brought me from East Africa, a large quartz crystal given to me by another friend, a cube of limonite Jon found on the farm, and a large garnet I bought at Radiance. Normally I am pretty philosophical about losing things, but this necklace was so attached to my web of beloveds and grounding places that it was a grief to lose it. Yesterday as I was re-arranging one of my altar spaces, I found the necklace, tucked in a corner where I had put it in a place of honor. It feels so good to wear it again.
4. How chakra meditations help to center me in my body. When I study religions and philosophical frameworks, ideas that separate the essential human from the body, that seek to raise the spirit/soul/essence out of matter in order to meet God or reach enlightenment, have always seemed incredibly suspicious and upside-down to me. My strongest sense has always been that the pathway to truth and knowing–gnowing–is by going deep, by centering myself within the body. Matter–matrix-mater matters. While I reject western materialism that clings to things as a superficial source of happiness, I think my pathway is material, enmattering.
5. How our Shadows can become our Guides. I am ready, I think, to take up this work. Having explored my shadows and begun to develop a sense of their shape and depth, I stand in the light and watch to see where they point.

May we walk in Beauty!


Honoring Kwanzaa with those who celebrate it: Today’s Principle in the Kwanzaa celebration is Kuumba: Creativity.


“I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.” —Michelle Obama, Becoming


“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” —Diane Ackerman


A string of beads has a thread running through all the beads, keeping them together. What we need is a thread too—of sanity and stability. Because when you have a thread, even though each bead is separate, they hang together.” —Sogyal Rinpoche


“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” (From the Talmud)


“The earth has music for those who listen.” —George Santayana


“By our love and our need for love we become for one another midwives of the true self.” —James Finley


“Civility will not overturn the patriarchy.” —Mona Eltahawy


“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.” —Bryan Stevenson


“Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been.” ―David Bowie


“In a political culture of managed spectacles and passive spectators, poetry appears as a rift, a peculiar lapse, in the prevailing mode. The reading of a poem, a poetry reading, is not a spectacle, nor can it be passively received. It’s an exchange of electrical currents through language.” ―Adrienne Rich, 1993


“A revolutionary poem will not tell you who or when to kill, what and when to burn, or even how to theorize. It reminds you… where and when and how you are living and might live, it is a wick of desire.” ―Adrienne Rich


“More firebrand women. More dragon spirited women. More loud women. More angry women. More hard women. More intimidating women. More history-making women. More rebel women. More rebel women. More rebel women.” ―Nikita Gill

The Art of Dreaming

Poeming today on The Art of __(BLANK)__.

The Art of Dreaming

You need to brood, to hold the day-world deep,
to creep through hallways and tunnels
in buildings you half remember.
Keep things in their rooms, hidden in hollows,
behind oaken doors and up stairways,
through arches and curtains,
where they become something else,
symbols of themselves, monsters and midwives.

You must step into the stream of the story,
find peace in the threads of the tale
that the smallest elf of your deepest self
is telling you, sifting and shifting images,
sliding pictures through your vision
like an old-time stereoscope.

Do not try to remember. Look sideways,
like you do at the Pleiades, which you can only see
when you look beside them, and never directly.
The memory of dreams requires just such a two-step,
a soft and sideways focus, peripheral.
Write them down. Don’t force sense upon them,
but let them unravel onto the page.

Love Wins

Gratitude List:
1. Love wins.
2. Fried tomatoes for breakfast
3. Such a birdy day: titmouse fledglings, nuthatch, crows, cardinals, goldfinch, swallows. . .
4. Dream visitors: turkey, this time
5. Tomato sandwiches for supper

May we walk in Love!

Marvel and Wonder

How would things change if, every time we approached the word God in our speech, we would instead use the word Love?  Parker Palmer does this sometimes, and it is powerful: We are made, each one of us in the image of Love.

Would we be less judgmental, more likely to be little versions of Love ourselves?

***

Last night in the Dreamings, I was in a green field of clover and vetch at the edge of a wood.  I was out in the field and standing just outside the trees and looking at me very intently, watching and observing me, was Turkey.  I was gathering blue feathers in the field, and a teen-aged boy was walking up the path toward me.  Turkey watched.  I wanted to be friendly to the boy, but I didn’t want to encourage conversation because gathering the feathers was a private and personal thing for me and I wanted to be alone to contemplate.

I have been reading Jamie Sams’ words about Turkey, a symbol of the Give-Away, the “deep and abiding recognition of the sacrifices of both self and others.”  She seems to be a symbol of reaching a new and deeper place.  Feathers are gifts to me, symbols of my communication with Spirit, and blue feathers are about finding my voice.  I feel like Turkey was watching me, like the “woman of that place” in the Denise Levertov poem, to be sure that I was noticing and appreciating the gifts, both the social and the contemplative moments (especially the contemplative rhythm of summer), the voice, being in the presence of Spirit.

The Fountain
by Denise Levertov

Don’t say, don’t say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes

found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched — but not because
she grudged the water,

only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
refreshed.

Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,

up and out through the rock.

– See more at: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2013/03/15/denise-levertov-the-fountain-2/#sthash.1onaRPdD.dpuf

Keep Dreaming

This morning as I woke up, a remnant of dream was just wandering out the back door of my brain, too quickly for me to even catch it by the tail, but its words continued to echo through the halls of my head: “Keep dreaming.  Keep feeling.  Keep talking.”

I certainly don’t think of myself as someone who is in need of an admonition to keep talking, but perhaps there’s an honest and deep-wrought speech attached to the dreaming and feeling that I would do well to hone and refine.

Even without a fragment of a dream remaining to pin it to, I have a strong intuition that this is a social admonition.  In all the personality tests I have ever taken, I sit pretty firmly in the center of the introvert/extrovert scale.  Sometimes, perhaps, this is a comfortable balance where I can pick up the best qualities of both, but there are also times when I feel like I live through the most artless aspects of them instead, the light and chatty self-absorbed extrovert and the socially awkward and uncomfortable introvert.  One part of me has no patience for the “small talk,” and the other part of me is anxious about moving past the friendly surface of conversation.  Then I find myself using the breezy chattiness to cover up the feelings of gracelessness.

It is when I can keep myself in touch with my truest dreaming, feeling self that my speech–both the ritual greetings and the deep conversation–is most honest and real.  That feels like a good spiritual practice.

Keep Dreaming.  Keep Feeling.  Keep Talking.

Gratitude List:
1.  My heart is heavy this morning with the story of a vigil that a friend is keeping.  I ache for the pain and the terror, and feel no gratitude for what she is facing.  But I am grateful to be included in the watchers and listeners who hold her in the light, grateful to have that, at least–prayer, energy, hope, loving hearts–to offer.
2.  We made it through harvest and set-up yesterday with Farmer Jon flat on his back in bed, sick.  What an amazing farm crew!  I get by with much more than a little help from my friends.
3.  Crows calling in the wood.  They sound like adventure is at hand on this still, hushed morning.  Isn’t that odd?  The cat is hollering his head off, and the crows are squalling, but the air feels like silence, like impendingness, like waiting.  Adventure is at hand.  That excites me.  What will the day bring?
4.  Dream messages
5.  Long sleep.  Sleep is such a cure.

May we walk in Beauty!