Gratitudes

Rain

Gratitude List:
1. The Women’s Trio this morning at church. Blending of voices, colors, textures, rhythms.
2. Feeling the bass rumbling through the back of the pew.
3. Rain: Making it not-hot
4. Rain: I get to walk around with my cheery yellow duck-headed umbrella
5. Rain: Lying on my parents’ couch, wrapped in Uncle Henry’s red-violet blanket, watching the rain and listening to the murmuring and laughter between my parents and my children in the garage.

May we walk in Beauty! (And may all your basements stay dry!)

Gratitudes, Musings

I’m Still Here


It’s been a good start to the school year, but the focus and exhaustion of beginning a new year has kept me away from the blog for a couple weeks.


Gratitude List:
1. Owls calling in the bosque.
2. Cats that sleep on their backs. Such soft bellies.
3. Strong community everywhere.
4. An earnest and bright-eyed crew of students.
5. Earnest and intentional colleagues.
. . .and monarchs. . .and sunflowers. . .and de-stressing decisions. . .and air conditioning. . .and the indigo throat of the morning glory. . .and long weekends. . .

May we walk in Beauty!
 
You get to choose the names that you wear, like you choose the clothes you wear. I am going to stop wearing Messy and Disorganized. I have too much to accomplish to be held back by those old rags. I will be She Who Walks Rooted. I will be Seeker of the Open Door. I will be Re-Sister and Per-Sister. I will be Snuggler of Cats.

Gratitudes, Musings

Enter the Portal


Two crow feathers in one week. The world is full of messages, if we know how to look,
if we know how to read the text of the landscape.

Gratitude List:
1. Teaching the spectrum. I have begun teaching college-in-the-high-school courses this year, and I am loving the conversation, the determination, the bright-eyed desire to LEARN of these soon-to-fledge upperclassfolk. I also have much younger students just coming in as ninth graders, both the 101s, and the students coming into my Foundations class to get some more literacy skill-building to prepare them to succeed in high school. This latter group tends to be more shy, more uncertain about school, but they’re ready and shiny-eyed in their own way, and eager to learn. I saw stirrings of deep understanding in this group on Tuesday when I showed them Kendi Ibram’s speech about what it means to be an intellectual. My heart is full.
2. Monarchs. Every day on the drive to and from school, I can count 3-5, and sometimes more, flitting across the road or in the roadside wildflower buffet. Sun in their wings, dancing in the breezes, determined wings setting a course for the beach. My heart is full.
3. Joe the Duck and the Cat Clan. Now that school has started, we pick up ED every morning and drive down the road where Joe the Duck lives, and where a colony of half-feral cats lives. We pause at Joe’s personal paddle pool to say hello, and drive slowly through the territory of the cat colony. There are new kittens: black, ginger-and-white, and a greyish-tortoise-shell. My heart is full.
4. Learning New Messages. “I am an organized person.” Ellis and I are reminding each other of our Organized Person identities, and I’m at least beginning to override the old story I habitually told myself about being unable to remain organized. And I see him doing the same. My heart is full.
5. My children are excited about school. Ellis has been advocating for himself to take Spanish 2 when it looked like he wouldn’t be able to fit it into his schedule. In the end, he and three others got permission to take a computer course in the library during the time others are taking Spanish 1. He’s taking charge of his learning, and that makes me proud. Right now, he’s downstairs on a Friday night doing his Algebra homework. (I think he knows it’s Friday.) And Josiah had three extra days off this summer because of mold in the school district, and while that was exciting, he is chomping at the bit to get back to school. My heart is full.

May we walk in Beauty!


Friday’s Meditations:
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.” —Hafiz
*****
“When your world moves too fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset. Reacquaint yourself with the earth beneath your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.” —Christy Ann Martine
******
“Every word you utter to another human being has an effect, but you don’t know it. If people began to understand that change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then, they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.” —Howard Zinn
******
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” —Leonard Bernstein
*****
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ―Elie Wiesel
*****
“All forms of racism must be rejected directly and openly.” —bell hooks and Cornel West
*****
“Our mission was to make a beloved community in the world where everyone would be free to live well.” —bell hooks

Gratitudes, Poems

Breath of the Goddess

Gratitude List:
1.  Colleagues. I am grateful for colleagues who are truly concerned about the welfare and well-being of the students. Not just their academic performance, but the health of their spirit as well.

 

2. Glory clouds, sun rays shining down through
3. June is coming. I can taste it.
4. Witnessing a student who is usually quiet and reserved be one of the first to respond to a classmate in meltdown mode, with a gentle word and a hand on the shoulder. And seeing how the calm spread like a wave to the one in need.

 

 

5. How the scent of lilac and lily of the valley fills the hollow.

May we walk in Beauty!

 

 

Gratitudes, Musings

To Withhold is to Perish

    
Images from the morning’s walk.

Saturday’s Thoughts:
“Daughter, the songs of women
are the first words of children” —Abby E. Murray
***
“Our vitality is inextricably bound up with creativity. Like a tree whose expression is fruit, giving our gifts is what keeps life pushing through our veins. It’s what keeps us feeling alive. As anyone who has strayed too far from their creativity knows, without it every corner of one’s life can fall prey to a terrible greying spread. As Kahlil Gibran writes about trees in an orchard, ‘They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.” —David Sobel
***
“What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb – but the darkness of the womb?” —Valarie Kaur


I’ve always wanted to take more art classes. I love to sketch and doodle. Still, I haven’t taken many classes, and I feel like I don’t  have a lot of courage about getting images on paper. I love certain comic book and animated art, and I always find myself wanting to draw “like that.”

So for the next month, I am going to try to commit to doing one sketch page a day. I have borrowed Shaun Tan’s The Bird King from the school library, and today’s sketch is sort of a copy and sort of an extension of one of his drawings. I am going to try to be brave enough to sketch some things directly from life and from photos as well. Just today, I learned some things about line and shading. I hope I can learn to apply them.


Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday’s  Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at school. Good music, powerful quotations.
2. Geese all over the sky
3. The office staff and dentists and hygienists at the place where my children get their teeth cleaned. They’ve always been understanding and friendly and helpful.
4. Walking outside. I can’t really bear the cold, and I haven’t spent more time outside than I absolutely have to for several weeks now. It was nice to have a balmier morning for some outside play.
5. The Emergency Women’s Shelter in Lancaster. I always have to gear myself up for the long night awake, but it’s good work, and I always come away inspired by the women I meet.
6. The Women’s Marches.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Winged Heart

Fragment:
To build the bridge from where I am to where I want to be:
I will gather cobweb, shadow, feathers, rainbow.
I will weave a net of dreamings:
spider, lion, wolf, a blazing number seven,
labyrinthine city, and a tower with a thousand rooms.

Every day, I step a little closer to the chasm,
another key, a shining pebble on the pathway,
birdsong in the mist, a shifting shadow in the forest.


Rungs on Wednesday’s Ladder:
“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
~ Khalil Gibran
*
Richard Rohr: “The wild beasts and the angels reside in the same wilderness. . .”
*
“There is another world, but it is in this one.” ~William Butler Yeats
*
“It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor” ~ Nelson Mandela
*
“There is always this tension between the lengths we wish to travel in life and the depths we long to penetrate in dreaming. By dreaming, I mean not only the sacred transmissions we receive in the night, but the dreaming we also do in the day: Listening to the wiseness of a moment, an encounter, a humble patch of land. Engaging with magic in an ongoing conversation.” ~ Toko-pa Turner (@ Dreamwork with Toko-Pa)
*
“God is as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly—breathe. Isn’t it wonderful that breath, wind, spirit, and air are precisely nothing—and yet everything?” —Richard Rohr
*
Advent At Midlife

I am no longer waiting for a special occasion; I burn the best candles on ordinary days.
I am no longer waiting for the house to be clean; I fill it with people who understand that even dust is sacred.
I am no longer waiting for everyone to understand me; It’s just not their task
I am no longer waiting for the perfect children; my children have their own names that burn as brightly as any star.
I am no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop; It already did, and I survived.
I am no longer waiting for the time to be right; the time is always now.
I am no longer waiting for the mate who will complete me; I am grateful to be so warmly, tenderly held.
I am no longer waiting for a quiet moment; my heart can be stilled whenever it is called.
I am no longer waiting for the world to be at peace; I unclench my grasp and breathe peace in and out.
I am no longer waiting to do something great; being awake to carry my grain of sand is enough.
I am no longer waiting to be recognized; I know that I dance in a holy circle.
I am no longer waiting for Forgiveness. I believe, I believe.
~ Mary Anne Perrone
*
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. …Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.”
~Aldous Huxley – Island


Gratitude List:
1. Bridges
2. Cobweb
3. Sunrise
4. Beauty
5. Desire

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

So Many Fragile Things

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ―J.R.R. Tolkien
*
“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire” ―Teilhard de Chardin
*
“There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.”
―Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
*
“Grace met us right there. It meets you right where it finds you, but it does not leave you where it found you. It moves you toward breath; moves you towards things being a little bit better: wow. Grace WD-40. Grace is water wings. Grace makes you shake your head with wonder, and laugh and cry.” ―Anne Lamott
*
To Be Of Use
by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
*
“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” ―Oscar Wilde
*
“No single voice will be able to take control if everyone in the circle has a voice.” ―Kay Pranis
*
” I look up at God every day, and I say, “You are SUCH a show-off.” I have to shake my head and laugh. Maybe God does, too. If He or She does not have a sense of humor, I am doomed.” ―Anne Lamott


Gratitude List:
1. The protesters, showing us how to make courageous choices
2. In the new day, the crisis of the previous night pales
3. Today’s songs, especially this line: “. . .unseen wings, protecting, hide you.”
4. Catching up
5. Living with cats

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

No Cure for Curiosity


Daily Feather.

“You’ve seen my descent. Now watch my rising.” –Rumi
*
“If I have something that is too difficult for adults to swallow, I will write it in a book for children.” –Madeline L’Engle
*
“Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein
*
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” –perhaps Dorothy Parker
*
“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” –Thomas Paine
*
“Once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme.” – Seamus Heaney


Gratitude List:
1. Sleep is healing, and I got lots yesterday and last night. Cold, be gone!
2. Did I mention those fields of sunflowers? I might do it every day for a while. How those golden faces turn toward sunrise.
3. My colleagues. What a team of earnest, compassionate, gentle people, all focused on building up and supporting our teenagers.
4. My kids’ teachers.
5. Homemade pizza

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Feathers

Feathers

I have written before about the feathers.  Two years ago, it began in mid-July: I realized one day that I had been finding a feather every single day for about two weeks.  I kept watch, then, and realized that, until early September, I found a feather almost every single day.

Last year, it was longer: early July through the end of September.  I needed feathers then.  I was jumping off a cliff into a new and unknown wind, and I needed the reminder that my wings would carry me.  They did.  I used the idea to talk to my students about how we make the meaning in our lives, how the Science me said, “Yes, there are owls hard at work in the holler, and the little birds are feeding the next generation of owlets.”  But the Poet me said, “Yes, I needed an affirmation from outside myself that I had wings that would catch the wind, and the message was feathers.”  I get to choose the meaning for my own story.  And both meanings carry a certain truth, enriching each other.  We all choose our meanings, even when we’re not aware of consciously doing so.

This year, back in early August, I had a run of about a week of feather-finding.  I thought I was back in business, but then I didn’t find any for a couple weeks.  Now again, for the past ten days or so, I have found a feather every day, sometimes at home, and sometimes at school.

******
Palimpsest

Another shifting meaning story that came my way again today is that of the Palimpsest, the old vellum manuscripts which were scraped when one text was no longer necessary, and new words written on the pages.  Highly valued by modern researchers, the re-appearance of the “under-text” gives historians not one but two texts to work with.

When reading a palimpsest, you must look beyond the surface text to read the deeper meaning.  A colleague of mine today showed me his journal, an altered book, in which he is using gesso to white out old text and writing his own text on top.  We got to talking about how people are palimpsests, too–how important it is to read beneath the surface to the deeper “text” that shines through the surface layers.

Gratitude List:
1. Challenging conversations.  I am learning to balance the speaking and the listening, I think. Still, there is so much to learn, so much to practice.
2. The miracle of the heart, of the heartbeat.
3. Collaboration.
4. Feathers and flight.
5. Palimpsest.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Whiplash

IMG_0341

This is a whiplash of a week, one of those times when the emotional setting is not tuned to a specific feeling, but is simply set on High.

Excitement?  In spades.  School starts tomorrow.

Anxiety?  Under control, but really bubbly.  School starts tomorrow.

Lament?  Really, really deep.  Tomorrow evening is the life celebration for a good man who left the world too soon.

Joy?  Absolutely. I h ave only to lift my eyes up and look about me in these mid-August days to fine something that makes my heart sing.

 

Gratitude List:
1. Emotions.  They’re a compass, even when they’re all over the place.
2. Contemplation.  Breathing.  Grounding the emotions, so I can really experience them, rather than simply dashing wildly from one to the other.
3. The tender orange sliver of a rising new moon last night as I was leaving LMH.  I am a believer in omens (propitious ones at least), and that one felt like a gentle nod toward the hope and the delight that this coming year brings.
4. Seasons turning.  Constancy.  One thing comes after another.
5. Feathers.  I’ve told this story before, because it fills me with wonder.  Last year and the year before, for at least six or seven weeks in the months of July and August, I found an almost daily feather.  Both years, there were perhaps two or three days in a six-week span when a feather did not appear in my path.  This year has broken the pattern somewhat.  I am definitely finding more feathers all of a sudden, one every two or three days.  Yesterday morning, just as I left for a computer training at school, there was one, on the pavement right at the door of my car.

May we walk in Beauty!
Keep your heart-eyes open.