Opening the Box

I made this as the cover slide for my back-to-school slideshows this week.

Today is the actual day of heading back to work, so my morning writing is going to have to be focused and efficient.

This morning’s dream: I am just about to open a box when the alarm goes off! Intriguing. It’s like one of those banana boxes, taped shut with packing tape, just delivered in the mail. The cardboard is sort of reddish. It’s on a little table at the top of the stairs. I had been on my way downstairs to talk to Sonia Sanchez–my friend and I were staying with her. I had just gotten awake after a really long night’s sleep, and I was worried that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and I had checked the mirror and noticed how great my hair looked, long and really wild, with tiny braids here and there and yarn and beads braided throughout. I was thinking that Sonia might approve.

Before that, I am on the phone with friends, a couple and their son. I am either telling them that I have found something they were looking for, or else they’re telling me that they have found something I was looking for. It’s a little unclear. They’re out at High Point, and they tell me that the view is really lovely today. The little boy tells me something about the thing that someone has found, and I thank them and say goodbye. I feel really awkward.

Early in the night, I had fragmented dreams about making collages and embroidering the pieces of paper together.

Several of the bits and pieces here come pretty directly from my waking-life symbols. We walked at High Point on Saturday, and last night before bed, I was playing with a digital collage using one of the photos I took there. I’ve done lots of embroidered patching during break, and had fallen asleep last night thinking about a patch-making project I signed up to participate in on IG.

If I look at my dreams as a progressive narrative, I have moved from feelings of being lost and seeking lost things to being in a place where I can visualize the person I am going to see when I go downstairs, and finding things that were lost. I only wish I had been able to sleep long enough to open that box! Maybe I’ll find it again in another dream so I can see what was in it!


Gratitudes:
1. Winter Break has been deeply renewing and refreshing, inwardly. I am still behind on my work, but I am internally much better prepared to take up the work.
2. It has been increasingly challenging to get along with only one bathroom in this house. Because we just got the new septic system installed, we have been able to get the basement toilet working again. It’s a pretty small thing, but it just makes life a little easier.
3. I actually do have a couple resolutions, kind of floating around. One of those is to be much more intentional about regularly making things. It gives me a wonderful sense of anticipation to have little art projects to take breaks with.
4. Virtual learning has its struggles, but I like this soft opening of a return to school–it’s a little less pressured, time-wise. And if all goes well, we’ll be back in live classes next week again.
5. People I know are finally getting the vaccine. The election will be certified on Wednesday. The inauguration is only two weeks away. It’s not like all our problems are going to be magically solved, but the constant anxiety of the past four years and the heightened tension of 2020 are slowing resolving themselves.

May we walk in Beauty!


Sophie Scholl:
“The real damage is done by those millions who . . . just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honor, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”


“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” ―George McGovern


“The truth is that killing innocent people is always wrong—and no argument or excuse, no matter how deeply believed, can ever make it right. No religion on earth condones the killing of innocent people, no faith tradition tolerates the random killing of our brothers and sisters on this earth.” —Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf


“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.”


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

Materializing in the Shadows

I know I did a lot of intense dreamwork last night, but the images and ideas are fleeting once again. I think I need to wake up and get writing before The Talker wakes up and starts his lengthy discourses on video games.

I’ve been meditating more on the gnomon, the sundial’s indicator. The perceiver. The indicator. Standing in its singular spot, the gnomon casts a shadow that shows the seeker where she is in the map of time. The gnomon must have a shadow in order to guide others to the truth of the moment. How can I be a truly helpful truth-telling guide if I do not know my shadow? If I do not stand boldly in the light of the sun, knowing that my shadow will flow out behind me for all to see? Perhaps this is the next step toward maturity.


Gratitudes:
1. Mending: I have a couple pairs of leggings that are developing some serious ladders, so yesterday I tried a woven mend that I saw on bookhou‘s Instagram videos last week. Mine ended up a little messy, but I definitely see the possibilities, and I have lots more holes to practice and improve on.
2. Last night I received a really moving message from a former student, talking about how, when I made the write poetry in Creative Writing class, he thought it was stupid, but when he had intense healing work to do after a painful time, he discovered that poetry was what he needed to be able to express what had happened to him. My heart hurts for the pain he must walk through, and it sings for the delight that something my work offered would be helpful in his healing.
3. For several months, I have been grieving the loss of a necklace I made. It has a bead and a pendant friends of mine brought me from East Africa, a large quartz crystal given to me by another friend, a cube of limonite Jon found on the farm, and a large garnet I bought at Radiance. Normally I am pretty philosophical about losing things, but this necklace was so attached to my web of beloveds and grounding places that it was a grief to lose it. Yesterday as I was re-arranging one of my altar spaces, I found the necklace, tucked in a corner where I had put it in a place of honor. It feels so good to wear it again.
4. How chakra meditations help to center me in my body. When I study religions and philosophical frameworks, ideas that separate the essential human from the body, that seek to raise the spirit/soul/essence out of matter in order to meet God or reach enlightenment, have always seemed incredibly suspicious and upside-down to me. My strongest sense has always been that the pathway to truth and knowing–gnowing–is by going deep, by centering myself within the body. Matter–matrix-mater matters. While I reject western materialism that clings to things as a superficial source of happiness, I think my pathway is material, enmattering.
5. How our Shadows can become our Guides. I am ready, I think, to take up this work. Having explored my shadows and begun to develop a sense of their shape and depth, I stand in the light and watch to see where they point.

May we walk in Beauty!


Honoring Kwanzaa with those who celebrate it: Today’s Principle in the Kwanzaa celebration is Kuumba: Creativity.


“I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.” —Michelle Obama, Becoming


“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” —Diane Ackerman


A string of beads has a thread running through all the beads, keeping them together. What we need is a thread too—of sanity and stability. Because when you have a thread, even though each bead is separate, they hang together.” —Sogyal Rinpoche


“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” (From the Talmud)


“The earth has music for those who listen.” —George Santayana


“By our love and our need for love we become for one another midwives of the true self.” —James Finley


“Civility will not overturn the patriarchy.” —Mona Eltahawy


“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.” —Bryan Stevenson


“Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been.” ―David Bowie


“In a political culture of managed spectacles and passive spectators, poetry appears as a rift, a peculiar lapse, in the prevailing mode. The reading of a poem, a poetry reading, is not a spectacle, nor can it be passively received. It’s an exchange of electrical currents through language.” ―Adrienne Rich, 1993


“A revolutionary poem will not tell you who or when to kill, what and when to burn, or even how to theorize. It reminds you… where and when and how you are living and might live, it is a wick of desire.” ―Adrienne Rich


“More firebrand women. More dragon spirited women. More loud women. More angry women. More hard women. More intimidating women. More history-making women. More rebel women. More rebel women. More rebel women.” ―Nikita Gill