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!

Live the Questions

Rhapsody Part 7 – Mary Oliver

If you are in the garden, I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea I will slide into that
smooth blue nest, I will talk fish, I will adore salt.
But if you are sad, I will not dress myself in desolation.
I will present myself with all the laughters I can muster.
And if you are angry I will come, calm and steady, with
some small and easy story.
Promises, promises, promises! The tongue jabbers, the heart
strives, fails, strives again. The world is perfect.
Love, however,
is an opera, a history, a long walk, that
includes falling and rising, falling and rising, while
the heart stays as sweet as a peach, as radiant and
grateful as the deep leaved hills.
“You either walk inside your story & own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” ~BRENÉ BROWN
Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
“Live the question now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some day into the answer.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
“and if i hear one more time
about a fool’s rights
to his tools of rage
I’m gonna take all my friends
and I’m gonna move to Canada
and we’re gonna die of old age” –Ani Difranco

Gratitude List:
1. Biking by the River, north of Marietta
2. Science Saturday: We made three kinds of slime/gak, and also oobleck
3. Getting enough sleep
4. Inspiring ideas (this time from a TED talk)
5. How cats are like dragons. I feel like we live with little fluffy house-dragons. Inscrutable. Demanding. Condescending. But tender by turns.

May we walk in Beauty!

Living in the Empire


Tomato season is upon us.  Those speckled romans in the upper right hand corner appear to have done a little hybridizing with the Amish pastes–so many of them are chunky and round.

I had a conversation with a wise man yesterday (my father).  My book on the desert mothers and fathers caught his eye, and he told me about what he had read about the movement of these communities into the deserts of what is now Syria and Palestine and Egypt–that they appear to have been reacting to the Christianization of empire in the 4th and 5th centuries.  Watching how their spiritual path had been taken and used to unify people under military and nationalistic banners, they chose instead to retreat into the deserts.

We got to talking about how our own direct spiritual ancestors, Mennonite Anabaptists in Switzerland in the 1500s, were also confronting the ways in which faith and spirituality had become a tool of empire and state-building. They refused to baptize their babies into the state church, choosing to untangle their spiritual story from the story of the religious city-states.  Many of them paid with their lives.  Many of them fled that empire for the new world.

Today, I think we also live in a time of empire-building, when the engines of state appropriate and exploit spiritual dogmas in order to consolidate power.  We have no desert to flee to, no new world that holds the promise of a life lived according to principle outside the boundaries of empire.  And perhaps flight is not what is called for in these days.  Perhaps the work of today demands that our desert monastic cells and our new world communities be villages of spirit, grounded inside ourselves.  Perhaps our work is to build and strengthen what St. Teresa of Avila, in the 1500s called the Interior Castle, the spaces inside ourselves that experience the life of the spirit in deep communion with the Great Mystery, a place where political and empirical powers hold no sway.

And then, how does the tending of our own inner gardens inform our daily living in the empire?  How will I explore my anxieties and concerns about things like elections and drone warfare and poverty and refugees in light of my inner journey?  How will I act in the outer world, if I am informed by my own inner amma in her quiet desert cell?  What will our communities of spirit look like here, within the belly of the empire, if we do not set ourselves apart in desert communities or sail away to a new land?  How do we keep our circles wide and inviting, our conversations holy and uplifting, our actions principled and full of resolve?

The movement of spirit that I see today is not defined by a singular religious group or sect.  It crosses religious boundaries.  The Muslim seeker and the Christian seeker, the Sikh, the witch, the Buddhist, the agnostic, and the universalist–it is one spirit community, working together to live with intention and purpose, with compassion and wisdom, calling forth that longing to experience the life of the spirit within each other and with everyone they meet.

Gratitude List:
1. I found the hummingbird nest yesterday.  It’s been a couple years since I found one.  I just happened to be looking at the right place at the right moment when she flew in and settled on her nest.  What a miracle of existence is the hummingbird.
2. This seems petty, but it’s a biggish deal to me: the warning lights in the Prius went off.  I decided to drive her for small errands yesterday because we couldn’t get a car appointment until this morning.  After two or three stops, she stopped giving me panicky lights.  My mechanic says to just keep watching for the lights and hope she was just resetting something.  I was afraid of a huge repair bill.
3. The inner work.  Knowing you’re out there, and so many others are with us, tending our inner gardens, building and connecting communities of spirit.
4. How sleep refreshes.  I felt really run down yesterday.  Jon said maybe I didn’t eat enough.  I thought maybe it was the humidity.  My bones ached.  I thought I might never feel rested again.  A good sleep has done the trick this time.
5. Inter-species friendship.  Here’s Fred, talking to me about breakfast.  I had to give him my attention and respond to his questions and snuggle and feed him.  Now he has settled quietly into the chair right beside me, companionably.  What a great guy.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gardens and Islands

Season of the ferns.

Gratitude List:
1. Goethite, those small brown-black cubes we find in the fields.  Remineralized pyrite.  Philosopher’s stone.
2. The Curious Garden.  A small boy came home from school yesterday, inspired by a book/video his teacher had shown him in class.  He wanted me to help him to create a place behind the house where he would put plants he likes.  Then he took me inside to show me the book on the computer.  As we were finding this, he said, “I think you’re really going to like this one.”  I love that, that he is sharing literature with me, thinking about whether I would like it.  And he was right.  I really did.
3. Meeting the challenges.  I’m really living into The Odyssey right now, looking at the islands of Odysseus’s journey, thinking about the things that derail me, that challenge me, that keep from becoming my truest self, and the challenges that help me to become my truest self.
4. Planning my contemplative retreat.  I’ve chosen dates for my monastery trip.  Today I will call and reserve my little room.  I cannot express how deeply satisfying this is.
5. I also heard orioles on campus yesterday–even one in the tree outside my window!

May we walk in Beauty!