Nourishing Those Who Come After

Someone got to the Heron in the night before I could check it out yesterday—one of the People Who Deal with Death. I wasn’t quite able to bring myself to go get a close look. Perhaps after a while, I’ll go check if there are feathers left which I can photograph. Meanwhile, I will imagine the rich milk of a fox mother nourishing a nestle of kits, who dream at night that they are gliding on great blue wings above the fields and streams of the hollow.

Everything returns. Everything feeds the next thing. Everything is nourished by that which came before. May we be food for the next cycle. May our words, our actions, our fierce determination, our resilience, our abiding joy, our activism and our contemplation be nourishment for those who come after us.

It is International Women’s Day. Let’s remember, as we celebrate the women whose lives and stories have fed us, that we must feed the coming generations of women their rights.


Gratitude List:
1. The courageous activist women who have struggled with their whole beings for equal rights. May we continue their struggle.
2. The quiet women who continued to work and nurture and do what needed to be done behind the scenes. May we be steady and reliable, too.
3. The contemplatives and poets, women who inspired us to be better, more evolved humans. May our words sing, and our meditations deepen.
4. The resilient women, who took their own stories of struggle and pain, and turned them into fierce walking boots, firm ground for striding, protective clothing for the long journey. May we, too, be resilient.
5. The women who are coming behind us. May they reach with hope and determination and calm and fierce resilience toward their own empowered futures, their own empowered nows. May we be a strong foundation upon which they may stand and reach upward.

May we walk in Beauty!

Advent 19: The Value of Being Seen

by Gustave Doré

At the public school where my ten-year-old son is in fifth grade, the principal has taught the students the South African greeting, “Sawabona,” which translates to, “I see you.”

They respond, “Sawabona sikhona.”

“Because you see me, I am here.”

I have a friend who simply tells me that in English, usually when we’ve had a deep and meaningful conversation. “I See You.”

I feel Seen.

Just yesterday, I had a moment of feeling Seen. While much of my demeanor is heart-on-my-sleeve, I have my masks, the little disguises I wear to cover and protect parts of myself that don’t feel safe to reveal in certain settings. It was a little thing, really, but it opened up a tiny nest of calm in a place where belonging can sometimes feel a little tenuous.

It was only a book recommendation, offered in a quiet moment. But it felt like a gift, a way of saying, “I See You.” Not a tearing off of my mask, but a nod to the truth beneath it.

My masks are part of the shadows that I am exploring in these days of walking into darkness. Every shadow that I cling to has its purpose, its protection, and some I must release into the light when light returns, but others protect vulnerable and tender selves, make it possible for parts of me to move and flow in social circles. I’ll shine my little light on these protective shadow-masks here in the labyrinth, but keep them in place, and be glad of the people who know even these little parts of who I am.

Some of our masks keep us from being seen, being known. The protection becomes solid armor and the shadow takes on tangibility, beyond their need to protect, instead keeping people away, keeping people from knowing who we are. I have students who are wrapped up in their protective shadows with such care that they appear almost invisible.

The gentle work of tending to these quiet souls needs not a harsh and blinding light, but the golden glow of the little candles we’ve been nursing in this walk through the labyrinth. Let’s be a safe and nurturing circle, where we can look someone in the eyes and say with words or glance: “I See You.”


Gratitude List:
1. Being Seen
2. Something is lifting. Today, I feel the little animal of my spirit is lifting its nose and sensing the coming Sunreturn. Instead of two more days of walking into darkness, I feel two more days until Sunreturn, and that feels like a big inner shift for me.
3. Foxes. Yesterday I read the page on foxes to my students from my advent book, All Creation Waits. (If you are reading it too, I am a few days ahead, because I want to read them the Christmas reading on Friday.) And this morning, I was sifting through a deck of inspirational cards I keep near me, and today’s character, synchronously, is the fox. All the senses tuned. Ears cocked. The mystery of inner knowing.
4. Chocolate. Yesterday, I sort-of-but-maybe-not-quite accidentally listened to the hearing on the radio. After only a little while, I was in desperate need of chocolate, and my beloved obliged.
5. Anticipation

May we walk in Beauty!

Paths Crossing

Last Sunday morning, two rabbits hopped companionably from northeast to southwest, and someone else trotted sort of purposefully from north to south. Probably this happened at significantly different times. Cat or fox seems to have been unaware of its potential prey-folk going the other direction.

This morning, a week later, most of the snow is gone. The sun is bright in the blue sky, and a murder has just passed through the hollow, a massive flock of crows, barking and yapping, making the very air tingle with their passing. I stood in the yard and watched them. I could swear one of them vocalized “Hello” from the lower limbs of the dying chestnut. In four or five of the trees in the lower part of the hollow, sentries had placed themselves, repeating five or six short quick yaps in a row, in succession: walnut tree sentry, then maple tree sentry, then locust tree, and so on. Changes are on the wing. Fly brightly, Wildfolk.


Gratitude List:
1. Thoughtful conversations with young people on topics of social media and race and personal accountability.
2. My school’s Lunar New Year celebrations.
3. Hundreds of crows flying through the hollow.
4. This sore throat doesn’t seem to be more than a little part of a cold (knock on wood). When I take a cough drop or drink tea, it feels so much better.
5. All the people working for a better world.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Whether through prayer, ritual, poetry, or song, gratitude solidifies our relationship with the living mystery. It rejoins us to the intangible wholeness from which we feel disconnected. As we remember ourselves to the holy in nature, we are forging our own belonging.” —Toko-pa Turner


“If you want to do the work of God, pay attention to people. Notice them. . .especially the people nobody else notices.” —John Ortberg


“There is no reality but Oneness. Open into that.” —Bahauddin


“Take a deep breath. Find the place inside you that remembers how truth feels; remember that there are kinds of anger that are more effective than blind outrage.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (to remind myself)


Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Remember: truth and justice ultimately always win.


“The goal of any true resistance is to affect outcomes, not just to vent. And the only way to affect outcomes and thrive in our lives, is to find the eye in the hurricane, and act from that place of inner strength.” —Arianna Huffington


“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” —All of us, now, continuing to take the words away from that senator

Three Crows

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This is a public domain stock photo that I filtered. I wanted an image of three crows in a tree.

Today we packed up Christmas. I like to keep the decorations up through the twelve days, but then we need to get our space back. The tree makes me feel claustrophobic after a while, and the rug needed a good vacuuming to get the needles out. Suddenly the living room has space again. We’ve let Lego-land completely take over the library floor, so it’s especially nice to have a mostly empty floor in one room at least.

As I was standing in the breezeway getting up the courage to go out in the cold and take down the wreath and bows, a pair of house finches flew in and sat on the wreath, checking it out for winter quarters, perhaps. I decided to hang the wreath (minus the bow) from one of the trees out back so they can use it if they want.

The person who loses out the most from the Christmas clean-up is Fredthecat. The tree had become his haven. He loved sleeping beneath it. Jon is thinking of buying a ficus to give Fred a tree to sleep beside. Now that’s a good man. But I already knew that.

Gratitude List:
1. Fox prints by the pond. Yesterday after school, Joss and I went walking in the snow by the pond, and we saw fox prints: eight prints and then a three foot space, eight more prints and a three foot space, then eight more prints again. That fox was running. At one point, there was a little spot where someone had scrabbled in the soil, and a little mouse hole was exposed. We figured that the fox got a little snack. But then we noticed that a set of rabbit prints converged with the fox trail, and so we wondered if the fox got a dinner. There were more rabbit trails around, so perhaps the rabbits and fox were out at different times. My Christmas wish was to see a fox. Knowing one was racing through yesterday after the snow makes me feel as though my wish was partly granted.
2. I saw a flock of turkeys today, crouching along a bramble patch on a snowy field.
3. Three crows in a winter tree against a winter sky. There’s something primal and elemental about three crows in a winter tree. I saw two such groups in my driving today.
4. Supportive colleagues.  Wise collaboration with curriculum design.
5. Packing up Christmas. Moving on into January.

May we walk in Beauty!

My Christmas Wish

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It’s been a while since I have seen a fox. At least a year, I think. My Christmas wish is that sometime in the next week while I am at home, I will see another fox.

Gratitude List:
1. Long, long friendships
2. Strangers working together to help a frightened dog–we stopped on busy Route 30 this afternoon to help a German Shepherd who was running back and forth between the lanes. She was terrified, and didn’t know what to do. Eastbound traffic stopped, but the westbound folks couldn’t seem to get it together. When she saw me coming toward her, her ears perked up and she ran to me, but even so, Jon and I had to sort of herd her off of the road, she was so scared. Two other cars stopped, and they called the vet number on the tags and one very level-headed woman who lived nearby took her home until she could get in touch with her owners.
3. Making Christmas. Making Yule.
4. All the goodness that is being born into the world
5. Highway hawks, the sun on their feathers

May we walk in Beauty!

Leave a Trail

my-heart-edited
Heart of Stone. It doesn’t always mean what the song-writers say it means.

“I want to be a mermaid. I’m half-mermaid already. The human half.”  ~~my friend Liza

“I am always aware, when I am trailing an idea–it may be a god in disguise.”  ~~Dr. Martin Shaw, Westcountry School of Myth

I have been thinking of shape-shifting lately, and of myth, and of magic. I have been pondering art and poetry and activism. Pondering hysteria and alarm, contemplation and calm. I have been considering how we can leave a trail for our children and grandchildren, so that when the people of the future look back upon us, they will be able to see the webs of resistance that we created against the tides of hate and insult and discrimination and injustice.

heartstone

She appeared at dawn, her skin shining in the water, the color of the sun rising over the ridge, a tangerine carp-fish large as my thigh, her head breaking the surface for a hush of a moment. Bubbles broke the surface. Fish and womanfish, she spoke: “Leave a trail for them to follow.” And she was gone in a whisk of orange fin, water roiling behind her, the tiny sunfish and polliwogs scattering to the shallows.

A glinting of sunlight shafted through maples, and the air around the pond’s edge filled with sudden electricity. The pond waters boiled forth and a golden bird erupted from the surface. Sunlight lanced and ricocheted through the glade, and I lost the trail of shining feathers in the glare.

The surface of the pond became a still and silent mirror once again, a capricious breeze skuthered a cloud across the sun’s face, and a single golden feather floated lazily out of the hole of sky between treetops.

Later, I climbed the hill to the high fields, pausing to search the pathway for shining quartzite, or the gaze into the blue sky for signs of the bird. Reaching for a shining stone in the path, my fingers found a silky feather, one side golden, one side blue. My ears pricked at a whistle and a calling over the crest of the hill. I topped the ridge, and the golden bird fluttered out of the trees to earth before me. “Leave a trail,” she called. “Something for them to follow.”

Again, she was gone, this time a whisk of a tail into grasses and brambles, ginger-furred fox, fleetfoot. A phantom. Eyes could not avail, but for slight shimmering movements ahead in the meadow, yet scent drew me onward to follow her trail. Down the steep hill of the orchard she led me, up over the hill to the field of the winds.

Two trees stand at the field edge, one tall and graceful, losing its last leaves in the autumn wind, the other broken and twisted, dead for long years. The trees of life and death. Again the sun was shining, a shaft glowed between the trees, and for one brief moment I saw the pointed nose of the fox, and heard one last time, “Leave a trail for others to follow.”

stonehear

Gratitude List:
1. The annual tree-hunt at McPherson’s Tree Farm. Setting up and decorating for the holidays.
2. Exploring the cycle of the coming year with a dear friend, an old soul with a young heart.
3. These webs–sometimes I read or hear a thing that resonates with what has been happening in my head, and suddenly, I see the webs of the idea everywhere. Mindweb synchronicity.
4. I really like our new neighbors.
5. Saturday evening games of Sorry and Farkle.

May we walk in Beauty!

Season of Owl

2013 May 032

This is the season of owl,
of winds that howl through the hollow,
the season of the sharp bark
of the fox, voicing longing in the bosque.

This is the season of bitter,
of fierce flakes feathering cheeks and hands,
the season of crystal, crisp and cutting,
of beauty that will slice you open.

This is the season of rising,
thin and pale, into the dawn air,
but also of burrowing, huddling deep
into the layers that hold you.

Walk the thin line of today with care,
one foot precisely placed, the other. . .
Perhaps you will notice,
when you raise your eyes for a moment,
how the line curves out ahead of you,
bringing you
always
back home.

Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday’s really lovely start to the new semester.  Nobody, including myself, is very squirrelly yet (we’ll get there, I’m sure).
2. The energy of teaching a new class.  Like being the newbie again.  I’m a little terrified, but in a good and energizing way.
3. Clouds.  Whole fantasy worlds and landscapes there above us.  This is the time of year when the clouds are tinged with sunset as I drive home, and tinged again with sunrise on my way to work.
4. Snow.  Just a dusting.
5. How a hot drink warms hands and face.

Blessings on your day!  May you find Beauty.

Let Me Learn

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May I learn to walk today
the way that butterfly walks
down sunbeams and breezes
in a purposeful meander
from shimmer to glory to shine:
desire to desire

to speak in the manner of fox
who listens all day from her home
in a hole beneath bramble
quiet and quivering,
and speaks only in the dark
a fierce and joyful bark
that tingles the spine
and calls out the wildness

to dream the dreams
of the ones who will become,
there in the round stones
of shell, patient, breathing,
until the moment is ripe
for breaking open the houses
that have held them protected.

Gratitude List:
1. Hearing the fox scream from the bosque in the midnight.  Terrifying and thrilling.
2. The Underground Railroad history of Columbia.  We went to see a train layout at the Columbia Historical Preservation Society yesterday and got into conversation with a man who is an expert on Columbia’s role in helping people escape from slavery.
3. These halcyon days of Winter Break that are almost at an end.  It has been time out of time.  Many mornings for snuggling.  Lots of play and chatter.  (In the interests of balanced reporting, it must probably be noted that there has been yelling and grouching and sulking as well).
4. Dream-messages
5. Moving on to new chapters.

May we walk in Beauty!

Happy Villaintine’s Day

Some kid-stories from the weekend:

–On a walk with a Small Boy, we were walking along the hedgerow, and I noticed that deep musky base-note odor and said, “Do you smell the fox?”  Boy blinked, grinned, and said, “No.  That was just me.”  Getting more and more like his dad every day.

–Yesterday, someone was running around the house, yelling, “Happy Villaintine’s Day!  I’m a Villain!”

Gratitude List:
1. Crocheting.  I love this business of taking a piece of thread/yarn/ribbon/string and giving it a form and a shape.  It means something more than it means, you know?  It’s one of those meditative activities that brings clarity and focus to my brain.  Threads of thought, threads of emotion, threads of conversation get twisted and knotted and formed into something tangible.
2. Putting puzzles together with my parents.  Playing Uno with my kids.  Gathering around the table to delight in each other.
3. Wind!  Oh, that wind!  Little snow devils twisting and twirling over the fields.  Wild gusts and squalls whooshing through the hollow.  Wind makes me feel feral, makes me want to fly with the rebel crows, makes my bones ache with longing to travel. (Maybe this is why I need the grounding and centering action of crochet right now.)
4. Transformation.  Transfiguration.  Metamorphosis.  Change.  Shift.  Revolution.
5. So many shades of green.

May we walk in Beauty!

Look Out the Window

My friend Mara’s poetry Prompt from last Saturday (I’m a late bloomer):  “Look out the window. Notice what’s there. Notice what’s not there. Write about it.”

Outside my window in the dying day
the little wooden spring house
is a smudge of white
set among the briars
at the edge of the little bosque.

Outside my window
the pear tree begins
to push its leaves
into being.

Like the fox that dashed
over the hillside in the winter
you have passed
through this place
and away.
I wish I could have offered you both
a place of safety.

April 045

Gratitude List:
1.  The bombastic and creative robot parade.  Hours of fun with cardboard boxes.
2.  Clearing away the vines
3.  Respectful disagreement, and how it helps me to be a better version of me when you respect me enough to disagree with me
4.  A new book of poetry is taking shape!
5.  Words, lovely words, especially adjectives: recursive, numinous, bombastic, noetic. . .

May we walk in beauty.