This is going to sound whinier than I mean it to be. It’s just a reality. Kind of funny, actually, when I’ve worked my way to the other side of it.

In summer, troubles just roll off your back. In winter, they stick together and compound each other, like those little fuzzy seed balls that stick to your socks when you walk in the fields. They catch hold of each other and suddenly they’re one big mass, and you can’t really separate them from each other. For example, the car was hit by a deer, and the light switch in the bedroom broke, and the Prius tail light is out, and the kitchen light and the bathroom lights burned out on the same day, and when we did get a new car, the front light was out, and then the water pump starting gasping like it was going out of business. In summer, you fix things and then you move on. In winter, you feel the weight of cosmic fate pounding you down with each little thing. And so many of these tiny things had to do with lost light, it began to feel like someone was making fun of me: “You feeling a little anxious about the shorter days? The loss of light is bothering you? Let’s try this.”

Ugh. Tiny, minor details. Nothing to get fussed about. You fix stuff and you move on. In summer. In winter, you gripe about it, and you feel burdened, and then you fix stuff and move on.

Gratitude List:
1. There is a frog who lives in the springhouse. This knowledge makes me happy.
2. Sun streaming in to the hollow
3. The sleeping silence of a Saturday morning house
4. The Givers. Lancaster raised $10.5 million for charitable causes yesterday. I kept the ExtraGive main page and the page for our school on the board all day yesterday, and kept refreshing it for my students to see. Thank you, Lancaster, for giving your time and money and hearts to help build up our community.
5. The vibrant browns of late autumn. The salmon-beige beech tree leaves in the understory of the woods along Ducktown Road. The leathery burnt-orange of this oak up the hill. The auburn oak across from Flinchbaugh’s.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Prayer for Kyla in tanka

breathing in patience
breathing out worry and fear
breathing in silence
breathing healing, breathing hope
breathing light, breathing courage

Gratitude List:
1. This morning while we were packing up the Lancaster shares, two teeny tiny toads hopped across my toes.  At first I thought they were some of the mud clods that I was sweeping from the pick-up bed, and I am really happy that I did not try to kick them out of the way.
2. Living prayerfully.  Summer affords a chance to step into that contemplative space.  I wish that all my contemplation could be on joy and beauty, but it is also on the needs and suffering of some people I love, but I am grateful to be part of the web.
3. Letterboxing with the kiddos again today.  We found four more stamps today and we hiked and hiked and hiked.  At one point, we stopped to take a break on a really long uphill climb.  “Hey Joss,” said Ellis, “can you let Mama sit on that step?  She’s not as. . .not as. . .not as athletic as you are.”   Moments later, “Hey Ellis!  Could you just wait here a little longer?  I don’t think Mama is quite done resting yet.”  I am not so young as I once was.
4. And then when we got home, Joss and I went berry-picking by the pond, and hundreds and hundreds of teeny tiny frogs went skipping over the lily pads.
5. Pie!  We made a many-berry pie with the berries we picked: blackberries, wineberries, a few token black raspberries, and red and white mulberries.  And because the crust recipe makes two crusts, I found a recipe for applesauce pie and made that as well.

May we walk in Beauty!  May we find healing.

The Soul Purpose Is to Love

This morning, I spent some time writing about how my rages and my fears and my sadness are the things that help me to discover my Work in the world, my Soul Purpose.  I’ve been thinking about how to better integrate those uncomfortable emotions rather than to sweep them under the rug, where the tend to either burn things or start to mildew and rot.

I was raging and tearful after reading about the recent slaughter of the last 15 surviving white rhinos of Mozambique.  I was going into the red tunnel of fury.  And then it hit me that this was a message.  This is one of the clues to my Work.  And I don’t just mean my vocation, I mean the work I do in the world.  It may be activism, it may be writing letters or poems, it may be prayers and magic spells.  But the things which I love so deeply that  to lose them drives me into that red tunnel, those are the things which are my Soul Purpose.

“What are my tasks?” I wrote.  “What is my Work?  I think the place to start is in contemplation and meditation, connecting myself to the Deep Well of Love that makes me want to protect, to heal.  Prayer, magic spells, weaving and shifting energies.  Behind the scenes work.  I don’t think I can stop there.  I think prayer and contemplation need voices, need fingers.”

Later in the morning, a friend shared this Wendell Berry quote that says it more eloquently than I think I can: “What can turn us from this deserted future, back into the sphere of our being, the great dance that joins us to our home, to each other and to other creatures, to the dead and unborn? I think it is love. I am perforce aware how baldly and embarrassingly that word now lies on the page—for we have learned at once to overuse it, abuse it, and hold it in suspicion. But I do not mean any kind of abstract love (adolescent, romantic, or “religious”), which is probably a contradiction in terms, but particular love for particular things, places, creatures, and people, requiring stands, acts, showing its successes and failures in practical or tangible effects. And it implies a responsibility just as particular, not grim or merely dutiful, but rising out of generosity. I think that this sort of love defines the effective range of human intelligence, the range within its works can be dependably beneficent. Only the action that is moved by love for the good at hand has the hope of being responsible and generous. Desire for the future produces words that cannot be stood by. But love makes language exact, because one loves only what one knows.” ~Wendell Berry


Gratitude List:
1.  Much as I loved having babies, and proud as I am of that part of my journey, I am grateful that I am here contemplating and writing tonight instead of walking the labyrinth of labor that I was experiencing this night seven years ago (I was nearing my 24th hour of labor at this point).
2.  I am grateful for that baby, for the boy he has become, for the ways in which he becomes himself more and more every day.
3.  Frogs and creeks and glorious cousins.
4.  8 1/2 hours of healing sleep last night.  I can hardly believe that my children and my cat and my own head let me manage that one.
5.  The Columbia Re-Uzit Shop.  I bought a new dress and summer shoes and some colorful plates.

May we walk in Beauty.  All the days of our lives.