In the Dreamtime, Day 14

The Morning Star.

Today is the last day of Dreamtime. Tomorrow the light dawns. Tomorrow, I will look through the soup of dream-images from the past two weeks and choose the word for the year.

In last night’s dream, I am at a book sale, focusing on the books on the table in front of me. At one point, I become aware that a man facing me at the next table down has a face divided into two: his hair and beard on the left side of his face are white against his brown skin, and both hair and beard are closely trimmed. On the other side, his hair and beard are black and fuller, scruffier. When he faces toward the right side of the hall, he’s an older, white-haired man. When he faces the other direction, he’s younger. It’s like there’s a line down the middle of his face.

Looking around, I notice that everyone is standing in profile in relationship to me. I look down and then up again, and they’re all looking the opposite way, and they appear to be completely different people. Everyone has opposite faces! As I move faster around the room, they find it more difficult to keep only in profile to me, and the game is up. Everyone is two people. They all look toward me, and I can see the lines down the center of their faces where hair and beards and make-up are divided into two different sides. I find out someone’s been doing a social experiment. I figured it out pretty quickly.

Two-sided people, showing you two different sides to themselves.

I woke with a phrase from a song in my head, from a song they sang in chapel yesterday, something about “bringing all his sons to glory.” It really made me feel uncomfortable that young people are still singing and speaking in such patriarchal language. The music was beautiful, though, and the young woman leading the music was a former student with an absolutely angelic voice.


Gratitude List:
1. Books
2. Comfy jammies
3. Playing games with the family
4. The weekend
5. Warm showers

May we walk in Beauty!


Saturday’s Messages:
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” —e. e. cummings


“Again and again, our dreams demand leadership of us, calling our life’s vision forward into the world, step by tenderbrave step.

“The practice above all practices is to relinquish the immature desire to be taken care of (by our parents, spouse, government, guru, church, etc), and to parent our own originality. To give ourselves the support that we may never have received.

“To get behind the creation of one’s life is to recognize your influence in ‘the way things are,’ and nurture your vision with protective discipline until it is strong enough to serve in the world on its own.” ―Toko-pa Turner


“You learn to write by reading and writing, writing and reading. As a craft it’s acquired through the apprentice system, but you choose your own teachers. Sometimes they’re alive, sometimes dead.

“As a vocation, it involves the laying on of hands. You receive your vocation and in your turn you must pass it on. Perhaps you will do this only through your work, perhaps in other ways. Either way, you’re part of a community, the community of writers, the community of storytellers that stretches back through time to the beginning of human society.” ―Margaret Atwood


“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” ―Fred Rogers


“Good poetry, I think, is more about finding your way by signposts than about following a map. It gives readers a few cues and clues, sets us loose, and then waits for us to say, “Oh! I recognize this territory! I know this landscape.” A series of seemingly unrelated but compelling images can spring to life when sprinkled with the fairy dust of beautiful language or the hint of a story. While I want to be able to understand enough of the controlling idea of a poem for it help me create some sort of sense, the most satisfying meaning that I derive from reading a good poem comes not through the intellectual front door, but through the back door of the emotions. Meaning made through emotional connection rather than mental processing often appears in the form of wonder and holy surprise, even when it comes in a painful or angry guise. Poetic understanding is gut-level understanding. I have long been a fan of singer-songwriter Paul Simon. I don’t think I know what he means about anything, but he always makes me feel something.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014

In the Dreamtime, Day 13

We’re still within the twelve days of Christmas, but since I start counting the Dreamtime at Solstice, we’re on to Day 13 now in this little pocket of my counting of time.

One of the things I begin to discover at this point in the process of collecting the words and images from my dreams is that I start to catch echoes of my collection in the world around me. Bridges and boundaries are common enough metaphors, but because they’ve been swirling around in my dream-soup, when I catch references to them in people’s daily speech, it feels like I am receiving secret messages. I am listening for echoes now, affirmation that the words and images I am sanding and honing are the ones I should put in my internal medicine pouch to carry into the coming year.

In last night’s dream, Jon and I and a child (perhaps an amalgam of the two boys) are trying to get somewhere, hitching rides on the trains like hobos. It’s really dangerous, and I am terribly worried that the child will fall off. We finally decide to stop taking the risks and walk, but by this time we are far out in the wilderness, in the woods, and getting to civilization will take days. We sleep in the woods, and find our food where we can. Despite the long walk and the uncertainty, it feels like the right choice. I think the child is really me, and some of the recent choices I am making about the way I work, and the boundaries I set, are making the journey harder and lonelier perhaps, but safer for that inner child. Good choices.

In other dreams I am trying to text Jon that my meeting has gone really short and I can take Ellis home from school after all. Technology and phones never seem to work in dreams. I cannot find the numbers or the right app to text. Typical anxiety dream. Will Deep Self really be able to get the necessary messages across to Waking Self?


Gratitude List:
1. The dawning of women. I was unprepared for quite how relieved I would feel yesterday looking at the images of those joyful, powerful women entering Congress. I thought I had experienced all the joy when I learned they had been elected, but yesterday was a joyful day.
2. The three million women of Kerala who made a chain to tell the world that it is the time of women.
3. It’s the Tuesday of my work week, but it’s Friday. I really needed this slow start.
4. Michelle Obama’s book. She weaves words and ideas well. Her story is so completely her own story and her family’s story, but she deftly weaves the connection of her story to the experiences of black families in the past century, so that as I am learning her own history, I am developing a deeper context for understanding the Great Migration, white flight from cities, and the persistence of structural racism.
5. Dean’s pies. Every year my colleague makes a tableful of pies (8? 10? 12?) for us. It creates truly impossible choices. I take tiny slivers of several. And it’s sublime. Yesterday was a delicious day.

May we walk in Beauty!


“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“We use language to build the structures upon which we hang our ideas. Language is the scaffold upon which we develop whole structures of thought. Language anchors and shapes and breathes life into thought and idea. Conventional thinking, and conventional language, can end up being a pretty tight little box of a windowless building that doesn’t let in the light. The air in there gets pretty stale. When language—and its attendant ideas—become calcified and crippled into arthritic patterns, poetic image and word-use can find new ways to say things, can break windows into the walls of those airless rooms and build ornate new additions onto the old structures. Poetry jars the cart of language out of its constricting wheel ruts. This is why poets and writers can make good revolutionaries—if they know their work and do their jobs well.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014


“The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist-deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.” —Carl Sagan


Mary Oliver, on the Great Horned Owl: “I know this bird. If it could, it would eat the whole world.” And then: “The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I too live. There is only one world.”


Fierce Wild Joy
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2016

May this year bring you joy
like crows rising from the fields

fierce
wild joy

yelling full-voice
into the wind

rowing through the tempest
with nothing but feathers.


“Have patience with everything
that remains unsolved in your heart.
Try to love the questions themselves,
like locked rooms and like books
written in a foreign language.
Do not now look for the answers.
They cannot now be given to you
because you could not live them.
It is a question of experiencing everything.
At present you need to live the question.
Perhaps you will gradually,
without even noticing it,
find yourself experiencing the answer,
some distant day.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“With life as short as a half taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi

In the Dreamtime, Day 7

I went to bed really late again last night, after a couple hours of writing. I was frustrated. I had just realized that the sweet and tender scene I had just written would completely through off the truth of another piece of the story that I am deeply attached to, so I have to rewrite a few pages, and make sure that one character is kept in the dark about her mother’s true identity.

Consequently, my dreams were fragmented and illusory. I cannot remember them. Perhaps I just slept well because of the late hour. So I have no dream images to add to my storehouse of images for the year.

I did do some meditation work yesterday, drawing upon three sets of images that have been in my mind. Pairs of images seemed to play with and inform each other. From this dance of images came three principles I will consider for the coming year:

* In crunchy and conflictual situations, instead of squashing my own feelings and needs or avoiding the stress of conflict, I will strive to be generous with myself and others while setting strong boundaries.

* In response to my weariness and exhaustion about picking up the Impossible Tasks (the looming work that gets bigger the more it gets avoided), I will create gentle life-giving personal rituals that ease me through the challenges and mark the little accomplishments along the way.

* For the sake of balancing my mental health, I will do something that I deeply love, which at this moment is writing. Deep down, I still long for a Writer’s Life, but I have a family to support, so I cannot simply leave my wonderful job to write. But my wonderful job ceases to be wonderful when it feels like it keeps me from doing what I love. If I am to maintain balance, I must make time to write. And it can no longer just be practice and place-holding, but seriously crafted Storymaking.


Gratitude List:
1. Messages
2. Sunshine
3. Homemade bread and soup
4. Following the trail of bread crumbs in a story
5. Twinkling lights and twinkling eyes

May we walk in Beauty!


Words for the Fourth Day of Kwanzaa:
Today’s Kwanzaa Word is one of my favorite Swahili words: Ujamaa. Cooperative economics. How can we create local systems that develop economic justice for all? How can we share our finances in ways that build up the community?


“Don’t let the tamed ones tell you how to live.” —Jonny Ox


“The best way for us to cultivate fearlessness in our daughters and other young women is by example. If they see their mothers and other women in their lives going forward despite fear, they’ll know it is possible.” —Gloria Steinem


Mark Twain: “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”


Frederick Buechner:
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”


“A night finally came when I woke up sweaty and angry and afraid I’d never go back to sleep again. All those stories were rising up in my throat. Voices were echoing in my neck, laughter behind my ears, and I was terribly, terribly afraid that I was finally as crazy as my kind was supposed to be. But the desire to live was desperate in my belly, and the stories I had hidden all those years were the blood and bone of it. To get it down, to tell it again, to make something—by God, just once to be real in the world, without lies or evasions or sweet-talking nonsense. It was a rough beginning—my own shout of life against death, of shape and substance against silence and confusion. It was most of all my deepest, abiding desire to live fleshed and strengthened on the page, a way to tell the truth as a kind of magic not cheapened or distorted by a need to please any damn body at all. Without it, I cannot imagine my own life. Without it, I have no way to tell you who I am.” —Dorothy Allison, from “Deciding to Live”


Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov:
“Love all of God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”


Antonio Machado, Border of a Dream: Selected Poems:
“Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.
Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.”


Walt Whitman:
“Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Traveling with me you find what never tires.
The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.”


“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15

Dreamtime 5: Day of Solitude

Today I will be alone. My parents are taking the children for the day, and Jon is going to work, and I get to be just me by myself. There’s tidying to do, and grading, possible baking projects, and all sorts of other things to distract me, but today, I am mostly going to write. I am going to plan to get five or six solid hours of writing done. Maybe a nap. Maybe some reading, some quiet contemplating, some yoga.

Last night’s dreams included the one about the treehouse. This is a recurring setting in my dreams. You climb up to the tree house, and then there are two possibilities for how to get into the treehouse: You can squeeze through a claustrophobic little window (I only tried that option once or twice) or you can balance across the very slippery top. Last night, I scooted across the top backwards on my backside, and it was easy. Usually, crossing through or over the treehouse is the only way to get to one or two of the rooms in the hotel–and I am usually assigned to one of those rooms when I have this particular dream.

In last night’s dreams, I meet a group of friends on the porch of the hotel. One friend, whom I haven’t seen for a long time, has lost a dire amount of weight. He says that some signal coming from his television has turned the fillings in his teeth toxic. Shortly after telling me his story, he gets a surprised look on his face and comes across to sit next to me. Something emanating from me has reversed the process, he says. And he IS looking healthier suddenly.

In the last couple of days, I have done a lot of processing about the way I have become weighed down in the past month or so, wondering whether it’s a mild depression, a seasonal affective disorder, a little of both. . . I’ve been thinking about my style of working, how I approach the Impossible Tasks (or avoid them, rather). I think the ease with which I crossed the bridge-roof of the treehouse is a metaphor for the shift I am making, not just pushing right into the first tight hole and getting stuck, but looking up and outward at other possibilities, putting aside worry, and just crossing to where I need to go.


Gratitude List:
1. Solitude
2. Quiet
3. Sunshine
4. Cats
5. Words on a page

May we walk in Beauty!


Words for the Second Day of Kwanzaa:
Today’s word is Kujichagulia. Self determination.
(Even if you don’t know Swahili, it’s a fun word to roll around in your mouth. Try it. Emphasize the second and second to last syllables.)


“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other. This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


John O’Donohue:

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.


“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” ―Carrie Fisher


“Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody.” —Kid President

In the Dreamtime, Day 4

This is a digitally enhanced fragment of the painting that was on the wall of the restaurant at yesterday’s 
Christmas dinner. I think it looks like the Susquehanna River Bridge.

I don’t know if anxiety dreams should count in the collection of images I gather for the coming year. Last night’s dreams were all about being unprepared, about having to wing it in front of school administrators and donors. Considering how helpful and supportive my school’s administrators are, it’s clear that these dreams are about my anxieties about myself rather than about my school. I suppose it’s important not to ignore the deep truth of these dreams–that I do not feel adequate to the task of teaching. This is not a revelation. It’s part of my every day reality. Whenever someone depends on me, I feel the weight of not performing, not mastering, not being perfectly suited to the task. No matter how much daytime work I do to convince myself that I am being sufficient to the tasks of my life, my dreams always tell me how much more work I have to do. Sigh.

In last night’s dreams, I actually did fairly well teaching a chapter from a book I had never read while administrators (they were clearly from my dream-school, not recognizably from my real life school) looked on. Then I gave a group of very sleepy donors a run-down of the work we do in our Advisory Groups. It actually woke them up and got them participating and laughing, even though I diverged into some topics I really knew nothing about. So maybe I will look at those dreams and remind myself: I am sufficient to the tasks I must accomplish. But today, at least, will be another day of stepping away from the necessary tasks I must complete in order to be sufficiently prepared to return to school next week.


Gratitude List:
1. My Christmas robe. It’s soft and toasty warm–the perfect thing to cope with winter.
2. Family. I know not to take these people in my life for granted. Family can be our greatest joy or our most intimate agony. If the latter is your story, I wish for you the discovery of healthy, joyful family that is formed by bonds not of blood, but of circumstance and friendship.
3. Time out of time
4. Darkness and light
5. Music of resistance

May we walk in Beauty!


Words for the first day of Kwanzaa:
Joyful Kwanzaa to my friends who are celebrating the first fruits: Today is Umoja, or Unity. Reflect on ways in which we can bring unity in divided situations in the coming year.


“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” —Mary Oliver


“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.” ―Susan Sontag


“People who own the world outright for profit will have to be stopped; by influence, by power, by us.” —Wendell Berry


“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.” —Mary Oliver


“When you understand interconnectedness, it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying.”
—Robert A. F. Thurman


“It’s quiet now. So quiet that can almost hear other people’s dreams.” ―Gayle Forman


“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh

Shadow and Flame

What would you see if you could look through that window?

Gratitude List:
1. Elderberry wine. It’s a great comfort for a cold.
2. Windows, on many levels
3. Quiet and solitude
4. Color
5. DreamsThe dream as I woke up this morning went like this:
Two sisters were holding each other.
One says, “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay.”
The Other says, “I wish I could believe that.”
The First says, “It’s okay. I’ll believe it for both of us. You just concentrate on taking one step at a time.”
This was after a harrowing dream about trying to get somewhere that I needed to go, and trying to contact Jon to tell him I would be late, and the taxi just wouldn’t come, and my phone was blinking out, and I couldn’t remember whether I had closed the door to keep the cats from getting out.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Quiet the mind enough
so it is the heart
that gives the prayer.”
—Ingrid Goff-Maidoff


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King Jr.


“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” —Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


“Creative acts of social justice constitute life’s highest performance art.” —Rebecca Alban Hoffberger


“If you will, you can become all flame.” —Abba Joseph


“Become all shadow.
Become all light.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


“You cannot use someone else’s fire; you can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it.” —Audre Lorde


“The first duty of love is to listen.”
—Paul Tillich


“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith. The opposite of faith is certainty.”
—Paul Tillich


“When you go to your place of prayer, don’t try to think too much or manufacture feelings or sensations. Don’t worry about what words you should say or what posture you should take. It’s not about you or what you do. Simply allow Love to look at you—and trust what God sees! God just keeps looking at you and loving you center to center. ” —Richard Rohr


“All through your life, the most precious experiences seemed to vanish. Transience turns everything to air. You look behind and see no sign even of a yesterday that was so intense. Yet in truth, nothing ever disappears, nothing is lost. Everything that happens to us in the world passes into us. It all becomes part of the inner temple of the soul and it can never be lost. This is the art of the soul: to harvest your deeper life from all the seasons of your experience. This is probably why the soul never surfaces fully. The intimacy and tenderness of its light would blind us. We continue in our days to wander between the shadowing and the brightening, while all the time a more subtle brightness sustains us. If we could but realize the sureness around us, we would be much more courageous in our lives. The frames of anxiety that keep us caged would dissolve. We would live the life we love and in that way, day by day, free our future from the weight of regret.” —John O’Donohue


“People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels.” —Charles Fort


“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.” —Shakespeare, The Tempest

Fly Well, Bright Ones!

       

    

Gratitude List:
1. Dragonflies
2. Imagination. How you can say, “Hey, look! That cloud looks like the Loch Ness Monster diving deep!” And someone from outside your own strange mind will say, “Wow! Yeah!” And totally get it. That’s kind of how poetry is, too, come to think of it.
3. Beans cooking on the stove
4. Revelatory dreams
5. The Music of Layne Redmond

May we walk in Beauty!

Some Day. . .

    

     

Gratitude List:
1. The interesting visitors continue: On the way to school the other day, I saw a groundhog that had climbed into a pair of bent-over saplings. It was contentedly chewing on the leaves of one, about three feet above the ground.
2. Re-reading my January journals about my vulture dreams gives new depth for contemplating healing, transformation, and grounding.
3. Tomorrow is the last of the school commitments–then finish grading and sail into summer.
4. Senior dedication and Commencement ceremonies were beautiful and tender and inspiring. Now they fly on their own. This was a sweet class. Solid. Steady. Earnest.
5. Companionship. Hospitality. Warmth.

May we walk in Beauty!


Sunday’s Notes and Quotes:
“I feel like I’m binge-watching the fall of the Roman Empire set to the music of Benny Hill.” —Bill Maher
***
“We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.”
―Ursula K. LeGuin
***
“Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.” ―Maya Angelou
***
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” ―L.M. Montgomery
***
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” ―Jorge Luis Borges
***
TS Eliot:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
***
Resignation
by Nikki Giovanni

I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows North
Sometimes
because the Pope is Catholic
and most Rabbis Jewish
because winters flow into springs
and the air clears after a storm
because only my love for you
despite the charms of gravity
keeps me from falling off the Earth
into another dimension
I love you
because it is the natural order of things.
***
“The third near enemy of compassion is idiot compassion. This is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should definitely say ‘no.’

“Compassion doesn’t only imply trying to be good. When we find ourselves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries. The kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say ‘enough.’ Many people use Buddhist ideals to justify self-debasement. In the name of not shutting our heart we let people walk all over us.

“It is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. There are times when the only way to bring down barriers is to set boundaries.” —Pema Chodron

Closing Time

The last poetry prompt of the month is to write a closing time poem.

The door stands ajar.
The curtain rises.
The window is open
and the screen is torn.

The moment has come
to escape the old ways
and enter into the new drama,
to dance down new pathways,
to fly toward a new horizon.

Escape!
Begin the Play!
Soar free!

That’s an exciting prompt for a Beltane Eve. May Day is about running through the door, barefoot and maybe naked, but completely unconcerned, willing to take the necessary risks to accomplish your dreams. What will you risk in the coming season? What “clothing” do you need to cast off in order to abandon yourself to your projects?

A Blessed Beltane season to you! May your dreams feed you.

Gratitude List:
1. Flicker on the ground at LMH this morning when we pulled in. We got to watch it for a full two minutes before it flew away into the morning sunlight.
2. On our walk this evening, swallows swooping low to get a look at us. I think there were both barn and tree swallows.
3. The smell of gill-over-the-grass after someone has walked on it. Smells like spring.
4. The smell of cow patties drying in a field. It transports me back in time, and suddenly I’m five-year-old Bethie walking home from Gwen’s house in the slanting sun of a late Shirati afternoon, the lake breeze playing in my hair.
5. Speaking of poop, I love the open-throated bark of a laugh that Joss gives when he hears a good scatological joke. Total delight, especially when his dad makes the joke.

May we walk in Beauty and Laughter.

Manifesting

Here’s a meme that’s been making its rounds on social media lately:
The way you are describing your life is the way it is manifesting.
The way you are describing your life is the way it is manifesting.
The way you are describing your life is the way it is manifesting.

Now tell me again:
How are things going?

It’s not a NEW thought, really. The way it catches me is more about how it’s worded. It gets behind my oh-I-know-that-stuff-already defenses. The gratitude work has been immensely helpful to me in breaking some of the old cycles of complaint and self pity that happen when I describe my life to myself as series of burdensome events. Yes, if I look back at my meanderings on this blog over the years, I can see that I have been struggling–successfully and unsuccessfully–with this process in its deeper psychic layers. It’s not that I haven’t read and absorbed Shakti Gawain (she’s a sweet version of the Norman Vincent Peale for the New Age set). What you visualize is what you become, she says. One of the sermons I remember from years ago was one in which my pastor spoke about what we tell ourselves about ourselves. Do I keep telling myself I am exhausted and overwhelmed? (Yes.) Then I feel/am exhausted and overwhelmed. I “know” this principle, but I need to keep deepening it.

I can’t just visualize myself NOT overwhelmed and exhausted because visualization and belief don’t make the stacks of work go away. Imagination and action have to go together. That, too, has been a principle I have long been working to realize within myself. The contemplative and the activist need to dance together.

When I began this blog six years ago, I decided to move beyond just thinking of myself as a poet, but to DO poetry, to let those strips of words across the page in every gratitude list be little poems where I would daily juxtapose images and ideas that formed little poems of my day. As I began to describe myself to myself as a poet, I found my way into the identity of poet in a more solid way than I had ever done before.

Throughout my life, I have had begun several novels, imagining plot and structure in my brain, thinking through characters, beginning first chapters. And then abandoning them as life took over. A couple days ago, my friend Fern talked about Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic, in which she talks about how the ideas come shopping for us, and if we don’t answer them, they go away and find someone else to bring them to reality. I have two ideas that have been knocking at my door for a couple years now. To use the words of that meme up there, I am afraid to describe my life in terms of writing books. That is partly because I have been such a squirrel with the ideas that come knocking. I don’t want to do that anymore. If I welcome one in for tea, then i want to invite it to stay for the weekend, instead of becoming enamored of the next one that comes along and letting the first one drift away in loneliness and rejection.

So I’m putting it out there. The book idea I began working on two summers ago is still hanging out in the corners. I am going to feed it, begin to shape it, help it find its place. And the novel that began knocking a year ago has again begun to catch my attention. I’m grateful that these two friends have stuck around, and I want to facilitate their existence.

Still, I need to tend to the overwhelm of the mundane, or my life will implode. For now, I will catch little spaces in each week to tend to these companions, and plan for a summertime process that might give me time to work more intentionally with them.

I am a little sheepish when I speak about this, because I know what a squirrel I have been, how I have wandered away from the urgent ideas in the past. Oooh. See what I did there? I described my life in terms of a tendency to failure. What if I turned that around? What if, instead, I described my life this way: I have been a seeker of new ideas, a kid in the candy shop of story, a dreamer of books. And now, I am going to see if I can draw some of those ideas out of the ether, begin to describe myself as a writer of books.

Gratitude List:
1. Bald eagle
2. Shooting star
3. The shining talents of our shining young people
4. The sound of Spring
5. Laughter

May we walk in Beauty!