Searching for the Beloved

This morning, I found this image that I altered a year ago. That’s another thing about Mary Magdalene: she went out actually searching for the Beloved. Like Rumi and Hafez, she followed the trail of her longing. Thomas hid, Peter went back to work, the Emmaus travelers whispered their grief. Mary went searching, asking, into the cave itself and out again into the sunlit garden.

I love this series of stories, the Mary Magdalene story, the Emmaus story, the Thomas story, the Peter and the Fish story, and anticipate them with glee every year–Jesus, the Holy Fool, going from beloved to beloved with the Easter-eggiest of Easter eggs. Surprise! It’s me! Certain surprises are deeply heart-opening. The veil is suddenly torn down. The stone explodes from the entrance of the cave and light streams in. I love how Jesus sets up the epiphanies with the exact surprise each person needs: the gardener turning into the sunlight and speaking her name, the ghost-like appearance in a room where he had not been and the physical touch Thomas demanded, the wise comforter and breaker of bread for confused and grief-weary travelers, the stranger on the beach cooking fish to challenge and reconcile Peter. Everybody got what they needed in the surprises he gave them.

Springtime brings epiphanies and surprises: the sudden glimpse of a morel in the leaf-litter (I’m still looking for my first), the flash of red on a blackbird’s wing, the bursting of bloom on the dogwood that was naked just three days ago. The new and different slant of sun on the sidewalk, the particular springiness of the breezes and winds, the warmth in the air. May spring surprise you even during isolation. May your hear the Beloved calling your name. Remember: Even as you search, the Beloved is seeking you.


Gratitude List:
1. Last year on this day, I wrote about the musical thrill when leading singing in church, of being in front of all those earnest and joyful voices. I miss that. There will be lots of singing in church in The After.
2. I have always been incredibly grateful for the way we work as a team at school—faculty, guidance, administration, staff—to support students and their families, and now, more than ever, I am deeply moved by the net that we create (we’re trying hard to create) together.
3. Mr. Redwing just puffed out his flaming sleeves from atop the feeder stand and whistled merrily.
4. While I have noticed that I am holding tension in my body in ways I never have before, I am also learning new ways to stretch and breathe in order to release tension.
5. I think today might be a grocery day. We’re trying to make the time Between last longer and longer, but these kid eat a thousand things and guzzle milk like water. And as scary as it is to send someone out and to bring things in, grocery day is a shift of the rhythm. And we’re out of yeast, just as I was hitting my stride on the baking jag, so maybe there’ll be yeast tomorrow. At least there will be more flour so I can consider starting my own yeast.

Take care of each other. Walk in Beauty!


“Let me tell you what I do know though…
I know mountains grow because of their fault lines. I know lakes turn that gorgeous shade of turquoise because of their silt. I know jewels are formed under pressure. I know trees can grow through rocks, and rivers can break canyons.
I know there are 120 crayola crayons to choose from, so you can color yourself any which way you like.
I know the earth smells fabulous after a hard rain, and I know she breathes. I know out of the destruction of forest fires, new and stronger ecosystems can emerge. I know there is life in the deepest depths of the ocean and her tides can soften stone.
I know there can be no shadows without light. I know the passion is in the risk.
I know time heals, and most things will be okay eventually. I know you are made of the star stuff, and I know out there somebody loves you; exactly the way you are, even if you haven’t found them yet.
I know all these things, and tell them to you — in case you forgot to remember.” —Jacquelyn Taylor


“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” —James Baldwin


“We have tried to create a watertight social system so that mercy is not needed, nor even attractive. Mercy admits and accepts that not all problems can be solved by our techniques, formulas, and technology. The ‘superfluous’ opening of the human heart that we call mercy is essential for any structure or institution to remain human and humanizing.” —Richard Rohr


“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
—Anne Lamott


“Your heart and my heart are very, very old friends.” —Hafiz


“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and eat and sleep with the earth.” —Walt Whitman


“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.” —John Muir


“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” —Roald Dahl


“A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as she is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things she would not have thought of if she had not started to say them.” —William Stafford (but I have changed the pronouns to feminine)


“America stands for exactly what Americans will stand for. History doesn’t write itself. It must be lived and practiced.” —Jesse Williams

Mary Magdalene

Artists, left to right: Owen Couch, unknown, Robert Lentz, Richard Stodart, unknown
(If you know the makers of either of the unknowns, I would be grateful to learn.)

She has always been one of my favorite characters from the stories of Jesus, along with Photina, the Woman at the Well. Women who lived raw and wild, undomesticated and on their own terms. There always seems to be something more, something deeper, something I can’t quite hear or understand, like a powerful dream that’s just fading before I can remember the details, or a word that sits on the tip of the tongue without finding its way into the open air. Mary Magdalene holds a Mystery that is always one step deeper into the veil of mists, one more curtain to encounter, one more step into the wilderness.

All the attempts to nail down her mystery, to put words to it, always leave me a little cold, compelling as they are: Maybe she was Jesus’ wife or lover. Maybe she was the real writer of one of the canonic gospels. Maybe she is the Holy Grail. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Mary Magdalene sits, like the High Priestess, before the curtain of mysteries, and only as I gain wisdom will I be granted the clue or the code or the shaft of golden sunlight that will admit me to the next stage of understanding. Like all the deepest mysteries, like the Deep Self, she lives in the realm of image and symbol, offering egg and thunder, grail and alabaster jar, skull and hair and tears. Best understood on the level of a dream. Best spoken in poetry, perhaps.

That moment of Mary’s epiphany is the mirror of every moment of yearning and longing and ache. Deep grief gives way to confusion and an intensification of grief: Where have they taken the body? And then the moment when the Beloved calls her by her name. I can never write that without getting chills and tearing up. Thomas, Peter, The Emmaus Travelers–those surprises are all coming, all delightful. But this one moment of sunlight in a garden and the sound of her/my name in the voice of the Beloved–it needs no pinning down, no explanation.


Gratitude List:
1. Wind. Yes, it’s scary, and I don’t really need more anxiety right now, but it’s so beautiful and powerful. After the big winds, I always think, “Wind-shriven,” the world scoured clean.
2. This long weekend. I have not yet gotten my lagging work completed, but I have had three marvelous days of baking and sewing and trail-work and playing with the family.
3. The story of Mary Magdalene. I need her Mystery and Epiphany now, perhaps more than ever.
4. Making plans even in the midst of this uncertainty. Putting programs and ideas and lesson plans into online formats is so much less than ideal, but I feel myself growing and thinking in new ways. In the after, I will be informed by the ways my brain has been forced to adapt in these months, and hopefully that will contribute to a glorious new normal instead of a return to an old normal.
5. Martin Prechtel’s ideas about Grief and Praise. I am going to have to buy some of his books.

May we walk in Beauty!


“I pray to the birds. I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day—the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.” ―Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place


“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” ―Emma Lazarus


“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual.” ―Ernest Hemingway


“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” ―Robert Frost


“What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as One,
Received not in essence but by participation.
It is just as if you lit a flame from a live flame:
It is the entire flame you receive.”
―St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022)


“We love the things we love for what they are.” ―Robert Frost


“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.” ―Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” ―Sarah Williams


“Resist much, obey little.” ―Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass


“Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.” ―e. e. cummings


“If we do not mean that God is male when we use masculine pronouns and imagery, then why should there be any objections to using female imagery and pronouns as well?” ―Carol P. Christ


“Subversive language, however, must be constantly reinvented, because it is continually being co-opted by the powerful.” ―Carol P. Christ

Twelvenight: Happy New Year!

The Fool rides a dragonfly.

On this day when everyone’s attempting to solve and re-solve their solutions, to resolve their resolutions, to tend to their intentions, I’m still waiting on a word. I watch my dreams and inner questions until the shining sixth, Epiphany, until the kings come. Wise ones. Mages. The light pours in on Epiphany and wisdom comes to the house.

It doesn’t really matter which day you embark on the journey. It only matters that you take it. Today we stand with Janus in his doorway, looking back and looking forward. With the double-faced god beside us, we can simultaneously look behind to the road that has brought us here, and ahead to the road we’re soon to take.

How could I live the coming year without that knowledge of the shadow that travels behind me, the road I walked to get here, the person I have been? It’s so easy, when we turn over a new leaf marking a new season in our lives, to simply yank the leaf from its twig, but the what-will-be is built upon the what-was. The new self which is emerging only arrived at this doorway on the persistent legs of the self which brought me here.

Whether you are waiting, like me, for Wisdom to come on Epiphany, or whether you step away from the door this morning to begin the journey of the year, this is the season of the set intention, the forward-moving affirmation. This is the time of the tabula rasa, the blank page upon which you can write whatever you choose.

Do you have a resolution for the coming year? A re-solution, perhaps, to an old and persistent problem?
Or perhaps you need this official moment to end a habit that has you in a rut? Or to begin a new one that will get you traveling a more liberating and exciting road than the one you’ve become accustomed to walking?
Many people I know prefer to call it an intention rather than a resolution. Perhaps an unachieved intention sounds less like a broken promise than an unsolved resolution.

The road to February is littered with broken resolutions and lost intentions, with holy words discarded and new habits jettisoned as old habits creep from the undergrowth and reattach themselves. I don’t think this means we shouldn’t set intentions or resolutions. Perhaps we need to set the intention and then set a second intention: To tend the first. If I set the intention to get 7,000 steps a day, and I succeed for a week or two, but then fall away, I will have had a less sedentary week or two. That’s a good thing. The idea, then, is to come back to it. Perhaps 7,000 is too much to ask, amid all the other things I need to accomplish. So maybe I re-set my intention and say 5,000 steps a day during the weekday, and 7,000 on weekends. And I try again, with fresh will and determination. After all, February first is another new beginning.

And I think we need to take great care in the intentions we set. If I decide that I don’t like the way I look these days, so I am going to whip my body into shape by diet and exercise, that’s a punishing resolution. My body is going to rebel, and the deep-self is going to feel attacked. But the fact is that for my whole life, I have needed to keep re-setting the intention to move more, and to maintain a healthier balance of the foods I eat. I don’t believe in self-denial. I will never entirely give up chocolate or ice cream or cookies, because then I am bound for failure. But I can probably re-set some of my boundaries with the sweet things. Slow down and savor.

Now there’s a good intention for experiencing life in 2020: Slow down and savor.

In the coming year, may you be kind to yourself. May you set reasonable goals that help you meet with success and fulfillment. May you bring out the best you, informed by all the versions of yourself that you have been. May you not jettison old versions of yourself along the trail behind you, but transform yourself in ways that acknowledge all the work you’ve done to get here.


Blessing for the New Year
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

May you be born
fresh and shining
into the new year
and may the old you
continue, too,
a thread that ties you
to past versions
of your truest self,
for we need to be
constantly reborn
while we hold a deep sense
of the shape we create
in the universe.


Gratitude List:
1. All the birdlife of yesterday! It felt like we were in a legend. Suddenly, after weeks of very little bird activity, there were birds everywhere: bluebirds on the wires, finches and sparrows at the feeders with juncoes and mourning doves catching the windfall below, woodpeckers rowing through the space between trees. On the road, flocks of little birds schooled from grove to grove of roadside trees. Vultures, and maybe an eagle, hung in the updrafts above the Susquehanna. And a kingfisher chattered on Fishing Creek.
2. A good, hard hike/climb on the Mason-Dixon Trail south of Long Level. The trail rises above the river on a steep rocky ridge climb, and you’re on a dragon’s back of up-jutting rocks for a quarter mile or more, the river flowing wide like a lake on your left, and Fishing Creek rushing rapidly down the steep ravine to your right.
3. The hike reminded me of the moment in Prince Caspian when the children and Trumpkin are walking along the gorge, trying to find their way, and Aslan appears to Lucy. She must make a choice to follow him rather than going the way the others are going. She knows what is right, and she must follow that way, even when the others mock her for seeing things they cannot see. Even though he doesn’t say it at that moment in that book, I still heard him say, “Courage, Dear Heart” as we picked our way along the stony pathway. I’ll take that with me into the New Year.
4. We meant to go to Infinito’s for their pizza bar for supper last night, but they had closed early for the holiday. Instead, we went next door to Asian Yummy, and it was beautiful as well as yummy.
5. Again, as I feel the sadness and loss of these long mornings for writing and thinking, I can only be grateful for the gift of them in this Time out of Time. While I have not made headway on any projects in particular, I have stretched my writing/thinking muscles on the blog, and it has been satisfying and fortifying.

May we walk in Beauty!


Last January, I had repeated visitations from kingfisher, in waking life, in dreams, in conversations, in books. I chose kingfisher as one of my symbols for the year. Yesterday, as we were finishing our hike, climbing down the ridge toward Fishing Creek, where it moves slowly in deep pools before rushing down the ravine, we heard a kingfisher chattering in the hollow, over and over again. When I got home, inspired by a friend who is writing Shadormas, I wrote this two-stanza shadorma (3/5/3/3/7/5):

Kingfisher,
who visited me
at the start
of the year
chattered farewell to the year
this cold afternoon.

And vulture
floated like eagle
through currents
o’er the ridge
while last year’s waters flowed down
the Susquehanna.


Dreamwork:
I don’t have much to say about last night’s busy anxiety dreams. In the dream, there is some sort of educational conference going on. It is both at my school, and not at my school. I go into a room, meaning to climb the stairs and go up a few floors, but it’s kind of Escher-like in design. I climb a flight of stair, walk along a landing, and the next flight leads down again into the same room, though I don’t really remember stepping down. Someone tells me I need to find the secret door on the landing. After that it’s possible to find stairs that go up, but each leads to an identical room with the same weird stair situation.

At one point, my colleagues are walking through my bedroom, and I say, “It wouldn’t be so bad if I felt this tired at the end of the day, but I feel like this right after waking up!”

Another of my colleagues, who retired a few years ago, is there, and he has brought his pet echidna. It’s really quite curious and adorable. It keeps sort of morphing into a puppy.

Perhaps I do need to pay attention to the exhaustion bit in here, and the confusion of stairs.

Epiphany: The Holy Aha!

Today is Epiphany, the day the light dawns, the coming of the wise ones, the baptism of light, the moment of the Holy Aha! Cultures throughout the world celebrate today as the coming of the Three Kings. Orthodox Christians celebrate this as the day of the baptism of Jesus.

There is a moment, in the baptism story, when the Spirit of the Holy One appears in the form of a dove and speaks to those gathered, saying, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” My prayer for you, for me, for all of us in this coming year, is our significant dawnings and discoveries may be accompanied by the absolute shining certainty that we are the Beloved Children of the Universe. That the One who watches us, who wings above us, who blows through us, who shines light into our confusion and grief and fear, is well pleased with us. It is one of my most deeply held beliefs that this is true, but it is sometimes hard to hold onto. You are Beloved.


Here’s my Dream and Meditation Soup from the Dreamtime. I’m organizing them by character, symbol, theme, and word:
1. Rhiannon, Epona, Kingfishers, the Madwoman in the Attic, the Ferryman, crossing-Maker, two-faced people
2. Bridge, Boundary, Shadow
3. Crossing, grief, solitude (privacy), sufficiency (insufficiency), resistance
4. Maferefun (Praise be!), Sawabona (I see you)

For the coming year, the three words that I will carry with me:
Bridge, Boundary, Wing

I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for kingfishers this year.


Yesterday, my Beloved friend Mara asked her friends to write Epiphany poems. Because of its association with the Three Magi, I wrote my poem about the legend of La Befana, sometimes called the Witch of Christmas, because she flies around the world on her broom searching for the Child of Promise. When the wise ones stopped at her door on their journey to find Holy Child, they invited her to join their caravan, but she was too busy with her own concerns. The moment their dust disappeared in the distance, she regretted her choice, and ever since then, she searches. Sometimes she gives children sweets.

La Befana: The Epiphany Witch

She’d got her eyes fixed
on what was right in front of her,
the dust and the dirt
and the everyday mess.
Wanted to be ready
for the coming of the child
but couldn’t see beyond
the day she was in.

Believe me, I know
what the old one
was up to. I too get caught
by the fishhook of the present,
stuck in the nextness
of each task ahead,
forget to lift my eyes
to see the shine and sparkle
of my arriving guests,
can’t put down my broom,
my pen, my daily rhythm,
to look up and outward.

Like Old Befana, I catch, too late,
the jingle of the caravan bells
as they turn the corner in the distance,
see the disappearing cloud of dust.

Hastening to grab my cloak and bag,
I’ve lost their trail before I reach
the distant corner, left behind,
bereft, alone, dust-covered,
traveling bag in one hand
and besom in the other,
destined to spend my life
sweeping the skies on my broom,
chasing down the Holy Aha.


Gratitude:
1. The search for the Dawning
2. Bridges, even when they’re rickety and dangerous
3. Boundaries. I don’t believe in political walls. I do know that to preserve my own sanity in the coming year, I have to develop stronger boundaries within me between the working self and the creative self. I need to know myself separate from my work and not defined by my specific work identity.
4. Wings. Flight. Seeing things from new perspectives.
5. Knowing myself a Beloved child of the Universe.

May we walk in Beauty, Beloved Children of the Great Mystery.


Words for the Holy Aha!
“A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.” —Maya Angelou


“In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.” —Phil Ochs


“The sense-making in poetry is about getting behind the brain. A poem is a door. Sometimes poets make sturdy, locked, exclusive club doors that you can only enter if you are one of ‘us,’ or if you can speak (or pretend to know) the password. A really good and satisfying poem is an open and inviting doorway that frames the view in a particularly compelling way. ‘Look!’ it says. ‘Stand and stare. Take a deep breath. Then tell me what you see.’

“Good poetry, I think, holds a paradoxical perspective on language itself: it acknowledges the inadequacy of words to completely map an inner geography, and it also steps with reverence and awe into the sacred space that language creates between writer and reader. Words are both inadequate and holy.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014


“Where does despair fit in? Why is our pain for the world so important? Because these responses manifest our interconnectedness. Our feelings of social and planetary distress serve as a doorway to systemic social consciousness. To use another metaphor, they are like a ‘shadow limb.’ Just as an amputee continues to feel twinges in the severed limb, so in a sense do we experience, in anguish for homeless people or hunted whales, pain that belongs to a separated part of our body—a larger body than we thought we had, unbounded by our skin. Through the systemic currents of knowing that interweave our world, each of us can be the catalyst or ‘tipping point’ by which new forms of behavior can spread. There are as many different ways of being responsive as there are different gifts we possess. For some of us it can be through study or conversation, for others theater or public office, for still others civil disobedience and imprisonment. But the diversities of our gifts interweave richly when we recognize the larger web within which we act. We begin in this web and, at the same time, journey toward it. We are making it conscious.” —Joanna Macy


Why Are Your Poems So Dark?
by Linda Pastan

Isn’t the moon dark too,
most of the time?
And doesn’t the white page
seem unfinished
without the dark stain
of alphabets?
When God demanded light,
he didn’t banish darkness.
Instead he invented
ebony and crows
and that small mole
on your left cheekbone.
Or did you mean to ask
“Why are you sad so often?”
Ask the moon.
Ask what it has witnessed.


“In a time that would have us believe there is always more to strive for, more to accumulate, more enlightenment to reach – the most radical stance we can take is enoughness.
What if we quit trying to be spiritual and aspired to be human instead?
What if there is nothing to fix because we are already whole?
What if there was no time to prove ourselves, because we’re consumed with marveling at life?
What if there is no reason to hold back our gifts, because they are meant to be given?
What if every morsel, every glance, every moment and every breath is a miracle of enough?” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa

Into the Dark: December 1

Every year at this time, I feel the anxiety and restlessness begin to rise within me, a claustrophobic pressure in my soul. The darkness begins to feel overwhelming, and the cold settles into my bones. Every year, I need to consciously contend with the darkness, to ease my spirit into the season. This year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, when we proclaim the light really and truly returned, I will set it down here on the blog. Knowing how the season hits me, I will give myself permission for some minimal days, a sentence or two, or soothing words from another poet or writer instead of my own. May we journey into the darkness with intention and tenderness.

The first panic rises
when the days begin to dwindle,
when the darkness fills the afternoons,
and each day-cycle offers less light.

At first, I cannot make peace with darkness,
cannot move, cannot stop moving,
cannot rest for the restlessness.

In the last month, the dark has become
something like a living creature,
a dragon or a bear that pursues me
down the tunnel of the year.

So. First, we feel the panic,
name the restlessness,
sit with the great bear of darkness,
no matter how restless,
no matter how afraid,
no matter how filled with dread.

As the dark surrounds my soul
and presses into the light-filled rooms,
I will ask its name, and listen
for the words it has to teach me.

Today, I think the name is insufficiency.
Within myself, I fear I do not have reserves
of patience, or goodness, or strength,
of time, or will, or energy
to make it through. Insufficiency
is an ache in my bones, a rodent
gnawing in the back of my brain.

The trick I am trying is simply to sit
with the names that come,
not to deny the ugliness or fear.
I will not end this with an affirmation
that denies the reality of the feeling.

Today, I will meet only one goal,
and then perhaps I will find the strength
for another, and another.
I will find the inner resources
for a single task at a time.


Today’s Gratitude:
Yesterday, due to some schedule changes, I had an ad hoc study period with students who are not usually in my classes. After lunch, a spirited group came laughing into my room to ask me to settle a silly argument. They pointed to a blue circle on a package of gummy fruit. “What is this this?” they demanded. When I said I was sure it was a blueberry, giggles erupted. Some said blueberry, some said grape.

It was a good-humored debate among a group of four girls from different places in the world: Bahrain, US/Russia, China, and Belize. One of them has a sign language interpreter. They weren’t ignoring their differences or trying to be all the same–they were reveling in their differences, finding delight in each other and in their difference of perception.

We just kept up the conversation for the rest of the period, and two others came in just after, and joined, these two from Ethiopia. The playful conversation grew and expanded, and soon someone was asking these two what it was like to be twins, and everyone was sharing stories.

I know that we don’t always meet our goals to be as inclusive as we want to be. We still have separation of race and ethnicity and social class and identity at our lunchroom tables, but we do break through. We do expand beyond our little circles. We have times of totally un-self-conscious openness when we delight in our stories together.

Making It Matter

My word for this year will be Matter. Matter, the primal stuff, the essence, the source. Matter, from mater, which is mother, which is source. What matters? What manifests? What incarnates and comes into being? Matter is that which is of consequence, of significance, of importance. Material, substance, that which has form.

My work for the year is to take the idea and make it real, to materialize it, to manifest it, to enmatter it. The work of the year will matter: it will be important, it will manifest, it will go from idea to reality.

The dreams that have accompanied me this month have been about approaching with curiosity ideas and tasks which make me uncomfortable, about stepping with courage into the work that approaches.

There was the dream about the young Ellegua who beckoned me to wide green field where we greeted a flock of vultures. Their feathers were surprisingly soft.

There was the dream about the three girls (Graces? Goddesses? Muses?) who led me forward, and laughed kindly at my timidity.

There was the dream where I was told two times (and very distinctly): “This is how you will begin to do battle with the big lie.” And then there was no further direction. How? How am I to battle the lie?

There was a dream about bears which turned themselves into trees. And then the trees turned into birds and flew away.

There was the dream of a blue sky and some sort of hazy philosophical discussion, and someone gesturing around the vast bowl of blue, “It all makes sense, unless you factor in the Goddess. If you add the Goddess to the mix, it all becomes a mystery.”

What a hodgepodge of ideas and images! They’ll be in my toolbox as I contemplate what it means to make the ideas matter in the coming season.

Do you choose a word or a phrase or an idea or image to accompany into the New Year? How do you find it?


Gratitude List:
1. Good movies. We watched Amal last night on Netflix. We hadn’t heard of it, but Jon was looking through the Rotten Tomatoes movies with 100% ratings and found it. I concur with the rating. It was simply sweet, and deeply profound, like an excellent short story. You should watch it, too.
2. A lovely quiet day with Joss yesterday. It was just the two of us, playing games and reading. My voice is hoarse from reading.
3. The house is still clean. I can still think.
4. Dreams that light the way.
5. Blue skies and mystery.

May we walk in Beauty!


“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
—Zora Neale Hurston
***
I see her walking
on a path through a pathless forest
or a maze, a labyrinth.
As she walks, she spins
and the fine threads fall behind her
following her way,
telling
where she is going,
telling
where she has gone.
Telling the story.
The line, the thread of voice,
the sentences saying the way.
—Ursula K. Le Guin (from “The Writer On, and At, Her Work)

Give Yourself to Love

roots

Another year has dawned, Bright Ones! And of course time is a human construct. Where we begin to count its passage on this Wheel of the Year is utterly arbitrary. I like how it has come to be that we create a passage, a doorway in time, here in this place of winter, just after we have swung around the sun again and begun to whirl in toward Equinox. I love the Days Out of Time marked by the twelve or fifteen days of Solstice or Christmas to Epiphany. I revel in the dreamtime of these days.

I have been mining my dreams again for the word or phrase that I will take into this year. Several years ago, I woke up one morning with the word Palimpsest in my head. It became my word for the year, the idea that we live in layers, simultaneously experiencing the past and the present. The next year was Bridge. The next, Mystery and Secrets and Impeccability. And last year’s phrase was Bold Wise Counsel. Ooh. That was important. What will be my word for this year, I wonder? I have begun to wait until the Dreamtime of Twelvenight is officially over on Epiphany, so I will give myself these next five nights to settle. I think because we celebrated Epiphany Sunday at church this morning, I am particularly impatient this year.

Join me? Keep particular watch on your dreams (daydreams, too) and conversations in the coming days. What images keep coming back? What songs present themselves? What names keep surfacing in conversation? Be like the Magi, who followed their intuition and a star through the dark nights to seek their truth. What will be your words and images for 2017?

Here is a poem I wrote in 2015 about the impatience and the anticipation of seeking out the word or idea that I will use to shape and mold my story for the coming year:

Waiting for the Dreams
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

While I wait for the dreams to be complete
while I sit at the feet of winter
listening

waiting for the little bell to ring
for the sound of rushing wings
for the things born in darkness
to take form
to rise up–

while a vulture flies across my window
red root and plantain nourish and heal me
a lynx crouches by a granite outcrop in the meadow
the storyteller raises her voice in a chant of longing
and a silent girl turns the corner ahead of me

I sit down to work
and sleep overtakes me:
One more vision for the road
One more message for the journey

Gratitude List:
1. Give Yourself to Love. What a song. I loved Mindy and Jared’s version this morning.
2. The Magi–colorful, messy outsiders who followed their intuition and a star: What a story about stepping into the unknown dark to seek their truth with only the stars and their intuition to guide. Mindy’s tales of magi this morning: Giving, Resisting, and Being Honest.
3. Dinner with the family, reflecting on the ways in which our parents have inspired us, considering–in their presence–some of the legacy they have given us: noticing beauty, advocacy, mentoring others, using their own voices to empower others. The story of Grandpa wanting to send my mother to college, how Uncle Moses and Aunt Lydia told him to send her to EMC, which is where she met my father. The story of Joe Shenk introducing them, and of their first “date.” How series of decisions come together to make a story happen.
4. Those vultures, sunsheen on their black feathers, kettling above Columbia this morning.
5. An afternoon with my college friends. Dear, dear thoughtful people. There’s never enough time together, and yet even a few hours is satisfying. What a profound blessing it is to have friends who are family.

May we walk in Beauty!

Waiting for the Dreams

Each year, during the long nights between Winter Solstice and Epiphany, I carefully watch the dreams and pictures that appear to me, gleaning ideas and images that might be helpful to me in the coming year.  This year I am impatient.  I have been cataloging my list for the past two weeks and I want to solidify it and crystallize it.  But it’s also delightful to anticipate what these last few nights might show, so I will wait, and perhaps nudge some of my list into a poem:

While I wait for the dreams to be complete
while I sit at the feet of winter
listening

waiting for the little bell to ring
for the sound of rushing wings
for the things born in darkness
to take form
to rise up–

while a vulture flies across my window
red root and plantain nourish and heal me
a lynx crouches by a granite outcrop in the meadow
the storyteller raises her voice in a chant of longing
and a silent girl turns the corner ahead of me

I sit down to work
and sleep overtakes me:
One more vision for the road
One more message for the journey