Re-membered

Once there was a woman who was set upon by bandits.
They took everything:
more than her money,
more than belongings.
They took her belonging.
They took her name.

And she was left feeling invisible.
Erased.
But only for a moment.

For as the dust began to settle,
the ones who love appeared
and they put their hands on her
to remind her that she existed
and they spoke her name
over and over again
until she remembered.

They re-membered her.
They re-minded her.
The re-solved her.

And their words became a weaving around her,
each strand holding her name,
each woven pattern saying,
We See you.
We Know you.


So many good people there are in the world, my friends. People who gather ’round and tell you your name when the sky falls, when the bandits strike, when the world comes crashing down.

I’m meditating today on ripple effects. How one person’s pain becomes other people’s pain. How when you comfort and Name someone whose life is imploding, those who’ve been caught by the shrapnel also feel the healing. How hurtful words radiate outward, but so do words of comfort, and those are more lasting.

How the young person who stands up for what she believes is right not only brings more justice to the world, but shows others a pathway. How she instructs others to also stand up and be Present.

How all the kind words and texts and messages and hugs are teaching me how to be better at being Present myself.

Love overcomes hatred. It’s not just a platitude. It’s not just a cliche. And love can be so, so fierce.


Gratitude List:
1. The musical revue my students (they’ll always be my students) put on this past weekend. What brilliant singing and dancing and acting! What absolute heart and soul!
2. The ocean of kind words.
3. Reminders to write, and to do art.
4. Possibilities. There’s a future out there on the other side of this.
5. Walking these foggy places together. I hear you, too, in your own fogs and brambles. There will come a time when the sun will burn away our fogs, and the thorns will give way to grassy meadows. May you feel yourself Named and Known.
May we walk in Beauty!


“An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their choice, but I CHOOSE to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved. Young people, black and white, know this. That’s why they’re so involved in politics. We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.” —Nina Simone


“A loving silence often has far more power
to heal and to connect than the
most well-intentioned words.” —Rachel Naomi Remen


“The secret to waking up is unscrambling the word earth.” —anonymous


“I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume this means they haven’t actually read it.” ―Rachel Held Evans


“What a comfort to know that God is a poet.” ―Rachel Held Evans


“Geometry is the archetype of the beauty of the world.” —Johannes Kepler


“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” —John Keating (Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society)


“You are the Ground of all being
the Well-Spring of time
Womb of the earth
the Seed-Force of stars.
And so at the opening of this day
we wait
not for blessings from afar
but for You
the very Soil of our soul
the early Freshness of morning
the first Breath of day.”
—John Philip Newell

Twelvenight: Mist and Fog and Rising Sun

So many of the little treasures that wash up on the shore of my consciousness after a night of dreaming seem insignificant, silly, unconnected. This morning, I woke up really early with my mind tugging at a joke it was making, about someone with the last name of Waters who had a son named Wade. Weird brain.

I know where my deep-self elf pulled the word Wade from. Yesterday one of my friends posted one of those word searches where the first three words you see are to predict something about your coming year. The words are always sweet and inspiring. I saw HEALTH, and GRATITUDE, and WADE. Wade? I think that word got into the search by accident, but there you have it. And then I think, the inner fool sent it back to me again, as a sort of joke. If I keep to the beachcombing metaphor, this one is a really odd-shaped piece of who-knows-what. It’s interesting enough, if it doesn’t seem to have any particular meaning. Into the collecting bag it goes.

Later, in my more complete and final waking of the morning I am dreaming: We are staying with friends at a little bed and breakfast sort of place in a sort of European-seeming city-town. I wake up really early and wander around the courtyard a bit. After a while, one of our friends wakes up and makes a fire in the fireplace in the kitchen. We sit and talk, but I wish we had made the fire in the courtyard by the garden, to watch the sun rise and feel the morning breeze.

Later, I go up to the second floor to pack up some things, and I open a window and look out at the sunrise. The landscape before me is green and rolling, first the gardens of the town, then rolling hills, and finally deep blue sky and the sun rising in a halo of rainbow. (There’s rainbow again.) I am filled with a sense of complete well-being.

I woke into the waking day to a grey-fog-filled hollow, which has its own kind of deeply satisfying beauty. I love the mystery of a good fog.

Do your dreams bring you satisfaction? Are they unsettling? I am paying attention to that sense of wellbeing I felt at the end of my dreams. The deep-self speaks in feelings as well as in images.


Gratitude List:
1. Fogs and mists
2. The long view
3. Mysteries–both holy and mundane (maybe they’re the same thing)
4. How people show up, even when it’s hard
5. Our friend’s surgery seems to have been successful. We pray that he will now be cancer free and on the road to recovery.

May we walk in Beauty!

Leaping Spirits of Trees

Gratitude List:
1. Today is not yesterday. Yesterday I never quite came out of the fog. This morning I already feel crisper than I did at any point in the day yesterday, so hopefully that was just a blip. I feel ready for this one.
2. Homemade cookies. MCCL kids, for making those kits: Thank you!
3. People who are anchors. You know who you are. My life is so much better for your presence. Thank you. (Actually, maybe you don’t know you’ve anchored me. It might be the kind thing you said, or the story you told, or the little quote you posted on social media, or the way you talk about someone you love, or the way you genuinely look people in the eye when you talk to them, or the way you take a deep breath and stand up straight when you have something hard to do: I notice, and I am inspired and anchored just by being near you.)
4. Also, people who are speaking and living truth. Especially in times when so much truth is being so cynically bartered for power. Thank you.
5. For the trees, for the “leaping greenly spirits of trees” (even when you are no longer green, your spirits still leap greenly: holy, holy): Thank you.*

May we walk in Beauty!
*e. e. cummings reference

Fog and Owls

“Fear does not prevent death. It prevents life.” —Naguib Mahfouz
*
“Humans are vulnerable and rely on the kindnesses of the earth and the sun; we exist together in a sacred field of meaning.”
—Joy Harjo
*
“Everything I love most happens most every day.”
—Howard Norman
*
“I was just thinking
one morning
during meditation
how much alike
hope
and baking powder are:
quietly
getting what is
best in me
to rise,
awakening
the hint of eternity
within.”  —Macrina Wiederkehr
*
The Wild Geese
by Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
*
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” —William Wordsworth


Gratitude List:
1. Morning fog
2. Crows flying through trees in the fog
3. The way fog nestles in the hollows, among the hills
4. Driving through morning fog–how it makes the mundane journey feel like an adventure
5. Great horned owl calling from the south. Screech owl calling from the north.

May we walk in Beauty!

Roses and Honey

Poetry First Song

Here is a revision of a poem I wrote last year. I don’t think it’s quite finished. It was pretty loose and free when I first wrote it, which doesn’t bother me, but I wanted to take it into a more mythic rhythm, if I could. I shaped it into something like a triversen, trying to keep the four-beat rhythm on each line–working with the four beats felt like the Kalevalla, and I want to try working more with that old Scandinavian feel.  I’m not sure yet whether it’s better than the original. I’ll post the original at the end of this post, and you can tell me what you think, if you want to. I’m open to critique–feel free to spill some blood upon the page.

Once upon a time, Child, when you were caught in the swirling fog–
remember how it held you, how it caught your arms and legs like brambles,
until you saw the wild rose bush beside the pathway in the woods–

remember how the roses dropped their scarlet petals on the ground,
how the tender centers swelled into ripe red berries,
a little sharp, a little sweet, and how they fed you, how they healed you–

remember how the golden bees swarmed around you as you wandered,
how you cried out in fear, how suddenly the wakeful sun
broke through the buzzing cloud: all was golden, all was sweetness–

remember how you heard the howling in the distance, closing in,
how the beast emerged from the wood, all teeth and claw, all hiss and fury,
how you quelled the urge to run, how you looked it in the eye,

how you spoke into its raging, “What is your name?”
I remember now, how you walked that day out of the mists,
a rose in your hair and honey dripping from your fingers.

Gratitude List:
1. Sorting sea glass, stones and shells with Josiah
2. Getting to bed early and only waking up twice before 5
3. Revising: poetry, plans, ideas
4. Wise people
5. Everything is going to be okay

May we walk in Beauty!

***
First Version of the poem:

Once upon a time, Child,
when you were caught in the fog–
remember how it held you, how it
caught at your arms and legs like brambles,
until you saw the rose bush
beside the path in the woods–

remember how the roses
dropped their tender petals on the ground,
how the center swelled
into those ripe red berries,
a little sharp, a little sweet,
and fed you, healed you–

remember how the bees
swarmed around you,
how you cried out in fear,
how the sun broke through the buzzing cloud
and all was golden,
all was sweetness–

remember how you heard the howling
off in the distance and closing in,
how the beast emerged from the wood,
all teeth and claw,
how you quelled the urge to run,
how you looked it in the eye
and said, “What is your name?”

I remember now,
how you walked that day
out of the mists,
a rose in your hair
and honey dripping
from your fingers.

How Do You Know?

How do you know,

when the River has told you
the stories of the ancestors,

that you will remember the tale
to tell to the wind,
after the snow has fallen,
after the grey fog has settled
deep into the valleys,

that you will remember the cadence
when the the small animals gather
to listen to you sing the River’s song,

that you will recall the bright watery threads
that weave through every story the River has told
since the beginning of time,
since the dawn of remembering?

Gratitude List:
1. The mist/fog yesterday morning that settled over the valley below Mt. Pisgah and above the River.  The highway skirted the edges of it for a time, and I would travel through patches of sunshine, with open space to one side and dense fog on the other.  At times the fog hovered above the road and pink shone through the layer of mist, so it looked like pink was caught on the underbelly of the fog, and it was difficult to determine the source of its illumination.
2. It happened again yesterday: I don’t often spend much thought on worrying about how I look, but occasionally the old voices pipe up: “Look at the frumpy teacher!”  On the very day that I have had such a thought (and I am very careful not to let personal things like that show in the classroom), there is always some girl who comes up and tells me she loves something about what I am wearing.  I used to think that teenage girls were like sharks–they could smell your discomfort with yourself a mile away, and they would circle in for the kill.  I now think that this was only my personal teenage self projecting my own anxiety onto others.  Still, I now think that they DO have radar.  They sense how and in what way you might need a boost, and they circle in and offer help.
3. I had an anxiety dream last night, and I managed to manipulate it to solve my problem.  So often I wake up from those feeling like I am at the mercy of the fates, but this morning, I feel like I have the tools to make my way through the things I was worried about.
4. The women who fought and protested to make it possible for women to vote.  “As we go marching, marching. . .”
5. I know I go on about this, but GOLDEN.  Everything is golden.
DSCN8751

May we walk in Beauty!

Waking Up

Today’s Writing Prompt from Auto Writing Prompt is to write a two sentence story with a mood change.

I have been walking through this fog, in this wood, since before there was a before.  Today I saw a shimmering silver light above the trees.

Gratitude List:
1. Deer on the hillside
2. Sharp-shinned hawk in a tree
3. Snowflakes
4. Baby wombats (google “baby wombat images”)
5. Mary Oliver’s “Starlings in Winter” (you can google that, too)

May we walk in Beauty!