Labels and Longings

Getting ready for a new semester. Putting the old one to bed. Caught in the web of behindness that has been my truth for this entire semester. Recognizing my own responsibility in that, how my disorganization and distractedness were a big part of it, how the Big Task gets bigger as it gets put off. Also trying to give myself a break because of the outer dramas of these months: pandemic, election, insurrection.

What labels do I choose for myself?
Lazy. Procrastinator. Mildly depressed. Present in the Moment. Creative.

How do I see myself differently depending on how I choose my labels, and will a different label actually help me to get my work done more efficiently so I can really enjoy the non-work times in my life? How does that clementine in my picture change identity based on whether it wears the label scurvy or winsome? What happens to my sober and hard-working great-grandparents if I label them dance? Or if I label my great-great-grandmother, who midwifed children into the universe and lived according to the gentle order of the Mennonite Church, chaos?

The photos are part of a project I did with my Creative Writing classes last year, and I am tweaking and improving on for this year. We wrote dozens of words on little cards, and then we took photos of them labeling objects in our world. It was a way to try to push students into using language creatively. As I reflect on my own images from last year, I feel attached to them, as if they’re poems of their own.


Three Gratitudes:
1. The sky was absolutely alive this morning when we got to school! Geese and crows winging across the grey at angles, honking and grawking. A little flock of twittery folk above the crows, beating faster, but only just keeping pace with the slow-rowing crows. An anxious family of doves, flushed noisily from the juniper tree, wings whooshing and voices crying, “Oh dear!”
2. I think I am going to catch up with myself. And then Wednesday is a new day, semester-wise. (Is there something else happening on Wednesday?)
3. Creative projects. I am eager to offer my classes a deeper level of creative projects next semester, and hopefully that will enable us all to keep our minds and hearts more carefully tuned to the work.

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


“The mystic sits inside the burning.” —Rumi (Barks)


“Writing is the painting of the voice; the closer the resemblance, the better it is.” —Voltaire


“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” —Dalai Lama


“Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth.” —Diane Ackerman


“In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churches stand on the sideline and merely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. Here we are moving toward the exit of the 20th century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail light behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice. The contemporary Church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?”
~Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham City Jail (1963)