Gratitudes, Musings

Pathways of the Heart

Mountaintop  42068733_360534797822346_7202145227302807350_n(1)

Looking back through some of my previous blog posts, I came upon this again this morning, something that keeps leaping out at me from the past to remind me to open my throat. Today Joss is nine and Ellis is twelve. They must have been three and six at the time of this story:

This morning when we were playing with our gnomes, Joss decided that the gnome house was on fire, and he raced to get a group of gnomes to put it out. “Red! We need all the red gnomes!” Exactly–to put out a fire, it takes lots of red gnomes. Ellis chimed in, “And Minus! We need the Minus Gnome! Because a house with fire Minus the fire is just a house!”

Sometimes I sure would like to use some of Minus Gnome’s magic on me. An anxious Beth Minus anxiety is just Beth. Angst-ridden, anger-struck Beth Minus angst and anger? Beth. So that’s a nice little thing to do with meditation. Of course as soon as I began to work with the idea, it hit me again that the angers and angsts are so often born of compassion and caring, and for those I have been seeking the services of Multiplication Gnome. I need to untangle the compassion from its attendant anger at injustice, its partner anxiety at losses to those I love.

Wow. Look at those words that I wanted to get rid of: Angst, Anxiety, Anger. . .I looked them up, along with their sister Anguish. There at their root is angh-, which comes from the Indo-European language tree, and generally refers to distress of some sort. That lovely vowel–ah–cut short in the back of the throat, closed up along with all hope of breath: Angh!

Fear, shame, anger, distress: what sound emerges when you truly feel them? Angh! Choke.

But still, that lovely vowel–ah–the first we say in so many languages: Mama, Abba, Baba, Dada, Nana, Papa. The opposite of the choke, our family names, our names for the Ineffable Mystery: they release the breath in a tender sigh. Ah. There we go.

When I get really stuck in the Angh, I can dislodge that choke with a little Hahaha, a great belly laugh to force the air back through, a little spiritual CPR, so to speak. Or skip down the street with a Tra-la-la, a little song to start up the rhythm of breathing again. Or a little eureka, a bright discovery with a great Aha!

So the next time I wake up at three in the morning, suddenly filled with the dread of what is happening to this world that I have brought these light-filled children into, or choked with shame for some harshness I have spoken to their tender hearts, I think I will apply the Ah!, the Mama, the Ha! and see if that breath can be a lullaby to take my spirit back to sleep.


Gratitude List:
1. Breathing through the angh- to the aaaaaah
2. Long sleep last night
3. Re-orientation: Not getting stuck in the ruts of rage, but carrying the coals tucked in my apron to use at need
4. So many names for the Great Mystery
5. Building relationships with those who are not human: ducks, cats, trees, rivers, stones. . .

May we walk in Beauty!

Musings

Discussing Gnome Philosophy

This evening, we decided that the Math Gnomes are actually Element Gnomes, representing Earth, Air, Water and Fire, as well as the four operations.  The Equals Gnome has always been the Queen of the Gnomes, so that remains her character.  I was playing with a sixth gnome in a sort of shaggy green robe, and I decided to call her the Swamp Gnome, and in our Gnome Convocation this evening, the Swamp Gnome was responsible for the coming together of all the elements.  I thought this was a brilliant way to represent the spirit at the center of the circle–Swamp Gnome, the eldest of the gnomes, brings them all together.  My elder son, ever the thinker, was really uncomfortable with this: “Mom, there is no Fire in a swamp!  Swamps are really a combination of Water and Earth.”  I thought that the will-o’-the-wisp would qualify, but he said that will-o’-the-wisp is extremely rare, so it hardly gives Fire an equal place.  He’s right, of course, so I said that perhaps the Fire part of the swamp is the life force in the plants and trees, but he thinks that’s the realm of Earth, and it is a strong argument.  “And anyway,” he said, “You have the Queen over here, and she is really the center, the place where all the Elements come together.”  When did he get so wise?  And I am in awe, having spent part of my evening discussing the philosophy of the Deep Nature of Things with my son.

I feel a need of a caveat, just to make it clear: I do not always feel like a success at this parenting business.  I yell and ignore and belittle and cave in way too often.  That is one of the reasons moments like this one are so sweet–it reminds me that I can mess up regularly, but these people are going to grow into themselves despite my messy momming.

Oh, and there was this, too: He was actually playing on the iPod while the younger one and I were playing with the gnomes.  My gnomes were having a meeting, and the Queen was checking in with each of her helpers.  At one point, he stopped his game and looked over at me: “I think your gnomes are having a formal meeting, Mom, using formal language.  They probably should not be using contractions.”  Indeed.  Ahem.

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The Queen on her throne, the Four Elements.

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Fred the Dragon captures the Queen.

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All Aboard the Gnome Train, and Chicken and Mouse nests in tree.

Examen:
How did Mystery encounter you today?
In thoughtful conversation with a child on the nature of things.

What awakened you?
The breeze in the evening as the sun was setting out of Skunk Hollow.  The cool of the day.

What nudged you forward?
The singing group kith+kin, whom I just now discovered when I was looking for a version of the song “The Cool of the Day.”  Sublime.
Also, working in my classroom today.

What sits in your heart?
Satisfaction, delight, quiet care, tending the spirit, peacefulness.
Some deep sadness remains–there is always an undercurrent of deep sadness, no matter how content and joyful my own place is.  Someone is always suffering.  While I can keep that ocean of sadness outside the door most days, I know it is there, and some days it wants to be acknowledged.

What do you take deeper?
My children.  Mothering.  Preparing the space for my students.

What do you offer tomorrow?
Intention.  I will be present to my moments.

May we walk in Beauty!

 

Gratitudes, Poems

Bowl Full of Winter

Here in the space between what it means
and what is brightly shining,
in the moment between breathe out
and breathe in again,
in the doorway to May

I have found the key to the door
of my grandmother’s old house.

Here in the thin space
between sun rays,
in the verdant corner
between the wren and the bluebird,
on the threshold between worlds

I place the key,
along with a small white stone
and the small arm bone of a squirrel
into my bowl of winter.

I have been pulling poison ivy
from among the honeysuckle vines,
plotting kindness to my neighbor,
watching how the wisteria twines
around the iron railing,
how it cascades into sunshine
like a purple waterfall.

Gratitude List:
1.  Reiki.  I saw so many colors during my session.  Such colors.
2.  People who support their local farmers.  I am humbled and honored by it every year.  Grateful, so grateful.
3.  The Gnomes of Goldfinch Farm.  They offered Jon the gift of a stunning clear quartz crystal today.  A twin, with double terminations.  Jon would say he found it.
4.  The way the wheel turns so lucidly into May.
5.  Fried Rice.

Namaste.

Gratitudes, Musings

From Angh to Ma

2012 November 144

This morning when we were playing with our gnomes, Joss decided that the gnome house was on fire, and he raced to get a group of gnomes to put it out.  “Red!  We need all the red gnomes!”  Exactly–to put out a fire, it takes lots of red gnomes.  Ellis chimed in, “And Minus!  We need the Minus Gnome!  Because a house with fire Minus the fire is just a house!”

Sometimes I sure would like to use some of Minus Gnome’s magic on me.  An anxious Beth Minus anxiety is just Beth.   Angst-ridden, anger-struck Beth Minus angst and anger?  Beth.  So that’s a nice little thing to do with meditation.  Of course as soon as I began to work with the idea, it hit me again that the angers and angsts are so often born of compassion and caring, and for those I have been seeking the services of Multiplication Gnome.  I need to untangle the compassion from its attendant anger at injustice, its partner anxiety at losses to those I love.

Wow.  Look at those words that I wanted to get rid of: Angst, Anxiety, Anger. . .I looked them up, along with their sister Anguish.  There at their root is angh-, which comes from the Indo-European language tree, and generally refers to distress of some sort.  That lovely vowel–ah–cut short in the back of the throat, closed up along with all hope of breath: Angh!

Fear, shame, anger, distress: what sound emerges when you truly feel them?  Angh!  Choke.

But still, that lovely vowel–ah–the first we say in so many languages: Mama, Abba, Baba, Dada, Nana, Papa.  The opposite of the choke, our family names, our names for the Ineffable Mystery: they release the breath in a tender sigh.  Ah.  There we go.

When I get really stuck in the Angh, I can dislodge that choke with a little Hahaha, a great belly laugh to force the air back through, a little spiritual CPR, so to speak.  Or skip down the street with a Tra-la-la, a little song to start up the rhythm of breathing again.  Or a little eureka, a bright discovery with a great Aha!

So the next time I wake up at three in the morning, suddenly filled with the dread of what is happening to this world that I have brought these light-filled children into, or choked with shame for some harshness I have spoken to their tender hearts, I think I will apply the Ah!, the Mama, the Ha! and see if that breath can be a lullaby to take my spirit back to sleep.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Moving out of Angh to Ma, Aha! and Hahaha!
2.  A shining piece of quartzite, white as ice, in the field by the henhouse.
3.  The things the gnomes teach us.
4.  A swept and dusted house (partly, anyway)
5.  Love, love, love: oh, you, and you and you!
May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Hold the Moment

I had intended today’s poem to be a children’s poem.  It’s coming out more like a poem for my children.

I want to snag your memories,
to hold your busy brains and say,
“This.  This is one to hold on to.
Here.  Don’t ever let this moment go.”

Remember that day
when you first sat
in the butterfly swing
up on the hill?
I pushed you
so high
you thought you were flying
above the house
into the clouds.

Remember when we went sledding
down the barn hill
on little plastic sleds
over a bare sprinkle of snow?
“Oh, yay for sledding day!”
you hollered
as you danced
back up the hill
through the powder.

Remember the day
we went to pick up the chicks
and I saw you suddenly change
from one who is cared for
to one who cares for others?
You held the soft down
up to your cheek
and your eyes shone
with the mystery of
sudden love
for the small ones.

Remember when
you first began to read?
How you said,
“You read this one,
please,” but
you couldn’t resist
reading aloud with me
at the good parts.

Our days are constant and comfortable.
The stream of life carries us
moment to moment,
and it would spoil it,
I suppose, to try to grasp it all,
to hold onto every shining treasure.

Oh, but I want to hook these few,
hold them to me like warm quilts
carefully crafted by the grandmothers,
and pass them on to you to treasure.

Prompt for Friday

I think tomorrow I will try a chant-style poem.  Join me?

Gratitude List:

1.  “Yay for sledding day!”–Joss said it and I agree with him.
2.  Making gnomes with Ellis today.  What a delight to watch him make something that he treasures.
3.  The breezeway is clean–thanks, Jon!
4.  Fidelity, loyalty, integrity, being true, garnets.
5.  This:  “Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” ― Mary Oliver

May we walk in beauty!

2013 January 023

Ellis made the star gnome.

2013 January 018

Four new gnomes.