A Poem is an Egg

“A poem is an egg with a horse in it.” –4th grader, FB post
“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?”

“There are people who advocate and practice compassionate listening, there are those who embrace voluntary simplicity, who remove the calluses from their hearts and keep them open to feel the pains of others. Seek them out, I urge you, and join them in their compassion.”
–Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalom
“The moon rose over an open field.” –Paul Simon
“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” –Fredrick Douglass
“Love is the strongest force in the universe. We must keep walking in the direction of love, no matter what we hear and see around us. No matter our human failures. No matter what happens, or appears to happen.And if we are thankful for that love, the power magnifies. Forgiveness is a process of love. Love is not bound by religion, belief system, or man-made laws. Our human minds cannot comprehend the immensity of it. We are lit by it, or we would not be here. Some smother the light with fear and acts of fear. Others tend their light and they light the world. Breath feeds the light. Breathe deep today, and continue walking toward that which will enlighten, no matter what burdens you are carrying of shame, grief, or fear. No one can buy their way or push their way ahead of everyone else. We are all in this together.” –Joy Harjo

Gratitude List:
1. Sweater weather
2. What the eyes say
3. Baby steps
4. The deliciousness of sleep
5. That delicate little yellow moth on the outside of the window

May we walk in Beauty!


Full Moon filtered through flowery Dreamscope app.

“This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.” –Ben Okri
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” –Albert Einstein
Out of my life I fashioned a fistful of words.
When I opened my hand, they flew away.
—Hyam Plutzik
“On Hearing that My Poems
Were Being Studied in a Distant Place”
Richard Rohr quotes Thomas Keating on the way of peace: “It means to show love tirelessly, no matter what happens. That’s the meaning of turning the other cheek. Once in a while you have to defend somebody, but it means you’re always willing to suffer first for the cause—that is to say, for communion with your enemies. If you overcome your enemies, you’ve failed. If you make your enemies your partners, God has succeeded.”
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” –Rumi

Gratitude List:
1. Singing “Swing Low,” “Oh When the Saints,” and “I’m Gonna Sing” in chapel today
2. Beautiful morning rain
3. Looking back through old blog posts this afternoon, watching how the ideas and dreams that I began to sift and plant last winter have begun to gestate within me.
4. Somehow, I know that I will be able to build that bridge from where I am to where I need to go
5. Cannoli dip

May we walk in Beauty!

A Wide Open Field

2014 April 068

Sometimes I think that I am a Benedictine, seeking the Order that would give my life an established contemplative rhythm: work and prayer, work and prayer, work that is prayer.

Sometimes I think I am Ignatian, looking to follow the Rule, the map to the journey inward: this step, then this one, then this–deeper, deeper, deeper.

Sometimes I think I am Franciscan, seeking the Holy One in the mundane, in the wild places, in the faces of people around me, in the incarnate world.

Or–how would I even say this one?–Julianist?  Seeking ecstasy and union with the One.

Hildegardian–Searching for the correspondences between the eternal and the temporal, to see the macro within the micro.

Brigidan–Tending, nurturing, observing, experiencing pure devotion.  Perhaps this one could also be called Oliverian (I am a follower of the way of Mary Oliver, of paying attention).

My own tradition has no saints, so I wander into the realm of the Catholics and others to borrow theirs.  The more I study, the more it seems to me that some of the least dogmatically churchy people are some of the people the church holds up most lovingly for veneration.  Even many of my own Anabaptist forbears were rebels and refuseniks, iconoclasts and outsiders.  It helps me to remember this, that my own sense of being on the edge, of standing in the open field outside the structure of the church, of lurking on the fringes, is part of a long tradition.  It’s what Father Richard Rohr calls the place of spiritual freedom: “a life on the edge of the inside–not at the center or at the top, but not outside throwing rocks, either.”

Some of those we venerate were stone-throwers themselves.  I’ve seen the modern iconoclasts and rebels picking up stones, have joined in that myself, actually.  And if I am honest, my fingers still occasionally twitch with the desire to join the battlers again.  Sometimes even the people who speak most passionately and articulately for the way of peace and justice in the world are all the while wreaking violence and destruction in the spiritual field.  I will put down my stones, and I will continue to stand out here on the field of the fringe, my feet in the world of both/and.

Perhaps, in the end, I am all of the above, and a Mennonite, too, following the path of Menno Simons toward Quietness, toward Yieldedness, toward Community, not blind submission to the established order, but a resting in the peace of being on this wide and open field, experiencing and sharing grace, absorbing the lessons of so many who have been here before.

Gratitude List:
1. The field is so wide, so eternally expansive
2. Articulators, people who envision the pathways–saints and poets and musicians and artists and children and you
3. Purring–why is a cat’s purr so calming to humans?
4. Someone else woke up early in this house so he could make paper hearts to hang all around to celebrate Valentine’s Day
5. Balance

May we walk in Beauty!