Gratitudes, Musings

Rivers of Life


I carefully outlined the significant stages of my life, but somehow forgot to put my 18-22 section on there–and that was a SIGNIFICANT part of my life. It’s where I met Jon, where I met my lifelong friends. Where I learned to hold on to love even through a rough patch. I want to remake it in paint or colored pencils.

I am pretty strongly anti-established-religion. White Christian evangelicals in the US today are complicit with such great evils that I want nothing to do with them. I see people who say they follow the way of Jesus shrugging their shoulders and ignoring the pain of children torn from their parents by a government they support. I see them rabidly calling for more ill-treatment of people seeking asylum at our borders. I see them fighting for systems and policies that further marginalize people who are ill and struggling with poverty. I see them speaking with vitriol and rancor toward people of color, LGBTQ people, women, people from other countries. The list goes on.

There’s a quotation, often attributed to Gandhi (though perhaps erroneously), that goes: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I’m a fan of Jesus, too. I just don’t like a lot of the people who claim him. I don’t think it’s possible to really “get” who Jesus was and support a political administration that tears families apart, that regularly spews such racist and xenophobic and homophobic and misogynist hatred. I sound really judgey here, and I try hard not to be judgey, but I can’t withhold my judgement at times of great injustice and destruction.

On the other hand, I love a lot of Christians. In fact, despite its harsh beginning, this post is really about a church that I love, a place where I–with all my wild, witchy, unsettled, doubtful, defiant, questioning universalism–can feel belonging. We’re all welcome in this place, and questions are blessed, and crunchy feelings are held and observed together. Some people use very specific God-language that I couldn’t bring out of my own mouth, but I don’t feel uncomfortable because my own non-specific and outside-the-box language is accepted, too. I am not the only one who calls the Holy One by the name of Mystery. And I don’t want to be in a place where everyone believes exactly the same thing–just a place like this, where Love is the guiding principle.

And we sing together. And we make art. And we talk and dream and stand up to the powers together. We talk earnestly with each other and we laugh together, and cry. Our children feel safe and loved. It’s Real Church. It’s good community. I am grateful for each of the individuals who make up the circle of us.

Gratitude List:
1. Making collages with Chloe and Monica and the others this weekend at camp. Drawing the Rivers of our Lives with Josiah and Andrea and Maggie. Soulful art-making.
2. Storytelling. Vulnerable, life-affirming, tear-filled, laughter-filled, life-sharing storytelling.
3. Fudgy chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. I have severely curtailed my sweets intake in the past month, and I don’t let myself eat sugary things unless I am absolutely sure it will be worth it. This cake was completely worth it.
4. Christine’s Box of Tea. I tried the Stash Chocolate Hazelnut, which was sublime.
5. We are in the Golden Season: Goldenrod, sunflowers, slanting sunlight in the afternoons, Jerusalem artichokes, yellow walnut leaves. Glorious golden! Now for some coolness, please?

May we walk in Beauty!


“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” —Christopher Walken
*****
“Who has not sat before his own heart’s curtain? It lifts, and the scenery is falling apart.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke
*****
“The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance.” —David Whyte
*****
“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its’ imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them.” —Annie Dillard
*****
“Forms are the symbols of formless divine principles; symbolism is the language of nature.”
—Manly P. Hall
*****
“One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening become a lie.” —C. G. Jung
*****
From Omid Safi:
The great mystic Zol Nun (Dhu ‘l-Nun) met a woman at the sea shore.

He asked her: “What is the end of love?” She answered: “O simpleton, love has no end.”

He asked why.
She said: “Because God, the Beloved, has no end.”
*****
“Whenever one person stands up and says, ‘Wait a minute, this is wrong,’ it helps other people do the same.“ —Gloria Steinem
*****
In the silence before time began, in the quiet of the womb,
in the stillness of early morning is your beauty.
At the heart of all creation,
at the birth of every creature,
at the centre of each moment
is your splendour.
Rekindle in me the sparks of your beauty
that I may be part of the splendour of this moment. Rekindle in me the sparks of your beauty
that I may be part of the blazing splendour
that burns from the heart of this moment. —John Philip Newell
*****
Hafiz:
“I wish I could show you,
when you are lonely or in darkness,
the Astonishing Light
of your own Being.”
*****
“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution” —Emma Goldman

Gratitudes, Poems

Going Golden

A couple years ago, I wrote a gratitude note about “Honest anger and its connection to compassion.” This is a continual dance.
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“If we don’t allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotion — deep joy and deep pain — then I think we are less than who we can be.”
―Terry Tempest Williams
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“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
―Henri Nouwen
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“Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” ―Rumi
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“Equality keeps us honest. Inequality creates liars and delusion. “―Rebecca Solnit
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“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai
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“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
―C. G. Jung
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“You have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ―Harriet Tubman
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“The forests are the flags of nature. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten.”
―Enos A. Mills
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“Come, come hither! Leave you and yourself;
Leave us and ourselves! Come swiftly
Come as quickly as possible. Put you and us aside;
Come!
Come until you and we would become extinct!
Come so that Neither you nor we
would exist!” ―Rumi
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“Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi, The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
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“Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.
– – – –
In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.
– – –
All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.” ―Mary Oliver


Gratitude List:
1. Libraries. Public libraries.
2. Markets. Town markets.
3. Parks. Community parks.
4. Planning our Halloween costumes.
5. Salted caramel.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

To Have Enough

“The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.” –Frederick Buechner
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“Those who are willing to break a conspiracy of silence are guaranteed to meet with the disapproval of others. Having a dissenting voice naturally exiles you from the group, but this rejection is a validation of the bravery having such a standpoint requires. It’s also a marvelous training in originality and acts as an agent of attrition. It teaches you who and what is in alignment with your integrity, strengthening those affinities within and without. It’s important during such times of change to practice self-love, comforting the brave & terrified rebel within who doesn’t want to be alone and grieves those losses none the less.” –Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“To make a living is not to make a killing. It’s to have enough.” –Wendell Berry
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“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” –Nanea Hoffman
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“God is love, without asterisks.”  –Father Stratis
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“Poetry is a life-cherishing force, for poems are not words, after all, but fires for the coal, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread for the hungry.” –Mary Oliver
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Written on seeing a photo of that circle bridge in Germany: “Always she went through her days with a feeling of being a half, an arc. The bridge of her spirit went out from herself to the world, most certainly, yet somehow all seemed partial, unfinished. There came a bright golden October morning when she looked outward to see the way her own story was reflected everywhere. In the flight of wren from stalk of goldenrod to quivering branch of sycamore. In the calling back and forth of the owls in the bamboo wood. In the branching willow withes reaching to touch the surface of the pond. And suddenly the circle was complete.” –Beth Weaver-Kreider
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“Poetry begins as a lump in the throat . . . a homesickness, a lovesickness.” –Robert Frost
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“Poetry seduces you and entices you into being a searcher for the Mystery yourself. It creates the heart leap, the gasp of breath, inspiring you to go further and deeper; you want to fill in the blanks for yourself.” –Richard Rohr
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“To see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower.”
–William Blake


Gratitude List:
1. Golden mornings
2. How the light shines through
3. October
4. The table is Wide
5. Open hearts and arms

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Make Your Own



    
I have heard of people having a make-your-own-pizza night, but last night was our first try. I set out a regular store-bought tomato sauce and a store-bought pesto, and I made up a sort of tapenade of black olives, dried sungold tomatoes, and basil. We chose which of those three we wanted, mixing and layering if we wanted. Then we had little bowls of chopped peppers, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, dill, basil, halved sungolds, slice black olives, and we topped them with shredded cheese. We will definitely be doing this again.


Another poem from last spring’s Creative Writing prompts (write about an element):
Golden
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

You’re golden, simply golden,
sunshine on a stick,
a priceless prize,
the treasure in the middle of the map,
a glorious X marking the spot,

which is you,
which has always been you,
just waiting patiently,
a box of surprises:
golden


“In order to arrive at what you are not you must go through the way in which you are not.”
—T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
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“We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.” —Richard Rohr
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“Whatever gets in the way of the work is the work.”
—Jason Shinder
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“An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it. In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth. What these beings are and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend, but it helps to realize that even though they are many, they work as one.”
—Carol Williams
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“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.” —Flannery O’Connor
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“I don’t know about you, but I didn’t become an environmentalist because someone made a rational argument that convinced me that the planet was in danger. I became an environmentalist out of love and pain: love for the world and its beauty and the grief of seeing it destroyed. It was only because I was in touch with these feelings that I had the ears to listen to evidence and reason and the eyes to see what is happening to our world. I believe that this love and this grief are latent in every human being. When they awaken, that person becomes an environmentalist.” —Charles Eisenstein
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“You can’t dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools.” —Audre Lorde


Gratitude List/Examen:
1. (What has awakened you?) The increasingly familiar ache of muscles and joints, the streaming of sunlight into the hollow, the comfortable presence of a small boy, love
2. (How have you encountered Mystery?) The communication that happens between humans and animals. The moment of awareness, of recognition.
3. (What has given you cause for wonder?) Roadside flowers: toadflax, mullein, St. John’s wort, Queen Anne’s lace, purple clover, vetch, buttercup, chicory. So many colors and textures to the weaving.
4. (What has nudged you forward?) Past pains, not wanting the future to be like certain parts of the past. I struggle with this answer. I know it finds me in a caught and immature place. Still, part of what helps me to be a better person is acknowledging past failures so I can amend them for next time, and in these days as I prepare for the coming school year, I need to think about what I managed poorly so I can prepare myself to manage well.
5. (What do you offer the day?) More holding, more noticing, more listening. Laughter. I will find laughter in the day. Also, twinkling eyes–I will seek out twinkles. (This was last year’s answer, and I find it good for today as well.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Colors

DSCN8891
(We decided that with young readers in the house, it might be nice to have a sort of family creed or motto on the wall for them to explore, so we bought this one from Flinchbaugh’s Farm Market and gave it to ourselves for Christmas.  They read it out loud quite a lot.  The one about doing loud really well is, of course, their most vocal favorite.)

Gratitude List:
I have to be really careful to focus on the drive to work these days because I am driving into sunrise, and the colors tend to throw me toward a deep meditative mode.  I suppose I could try to attach symbolic significance to the various colors and the way they deepen my meditative state, but I’m not sure that it’s something nameable.  Yesterday there were wings of clouds that rose upward from the point where the sun was about to rise.  At their base they were a (1) glowing tangerine orange, which shaded upward through (2) magenta into a rich, deep (3) violet.  The tops of the clouds were rimed with a velvety (4) indigo, and behind it all was that pure and serene (5) aquamarine that I love so much.  I had to stop and get some snacks for my Advisory Group, and when I got back on the road, everything had shifted, and the clouds were, for a moment, a simple shining (6) gold.  I think I should take another art class with someone who can give me more vocabulary for color–the last art class I took was at Sunbridge College in 2002, and the color work we did there has become part of my regular meditations.

What experiences with color enrich your spirit?

Gratitudes, Poems

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.
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May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Golden

DSCN8677

Reach out your hand
like the quivering leaf.
Someone is there to grasp it:
wind, rain, a tiny green spider
wandering, crab-like, across its surface.

Lay your arms upon the air
like the oak branches that are held
in the grasp of the autumn sun.

Somewhere the invisible ones
are listening for the moment
when you offer your story to the breezes.

 

Gratitude List:
1. The fact that I have a lot more sense about how I dress in the daytime than I do in those crazy dreams.
2. Having wild and crazy dreams means I was sleeping last night.  I can feel the restfulness seeping into me.
3. Watching healing take place.  Friendship and kindnesses can begin to draw a person back toward wholeness.  May the healing continue.
4. Students beginning class by asking if we can pray for an injured classmate.
5. Golden.  I came out of school yesterday afternoon, and everything was Golden.

May we walk in Beauty!