The Root of Joy

3:45 a.m.―As I was falling asleep last night, words flooded into my head. Something like this:
Walking backward up the mountain
Pulling the future on a string.

It felt inordinately important that I remember it verbatim, but I was almost asleep, so I thought I might be able to remember it in the morning. I don’t think “future” was quite the right word.  I love the random messages that come from sleep-state and dream-state.

I had actually gone to bed early because the previous night’s dream-state message was about exhaustion. And now, there’s this harvest moon shining in under my eyelids, switching off the sleep switch. I can’t sleep, can’t work, can’t really think straight. This is not a complaint, really. I think the moon needs me to be awake in a semi-sleep state, keeping vigil with the night singers.

“The root of joy is gratefulness. . . . It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ―David Steindl-Rast
“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” ―Fannie Lou Hamer
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
―Desmond Tutu (b. October 7, 1931)
I walk into a poem and walk out someone else. —Nayyirah Waheed
“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.”
―Arundhati Roy
“Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book;
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”
―Walt Whitman
by David Whyte

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again,

painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light
fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

Gratitude List:
1. Stories and Songs
2. Public statements of thanks–At a celebration at my school tonight (75 years!), speakers kept making formal statements of thanks to the audience, and it was richer than the old “Thanks for your support” that you hear in so many settings. I can’t describe it, but it felt like a ritual of gratitude.
3. Three crows
4. The moon, the moon, the moon
5. Dreams and aspirations

May we walk in Beauty!

Only Time

Poem-A Day Day 21 Prompt: Write a Song Title Poem.  Choose 5 song titles at random and write a poem which weaves them together.  I stood at the CD shelf and closed my eyes and chose 5 CDs, then chose the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th songs on the CDs.  I had a pretty negative feeling about the potential layers of the 5 songs that came up with that pattern initially–an angsty darkness that is not mine to claim, even accidentally.  So I shuffled the 5 CDs and chose the odds again.  So, mostly random, and for some reason, that matters a great deal to me.  The list of songs follows the poem.

This is not the only time
when we eat this bread,
when we shine like stars,
when we are filled with plenty
from the horn of abundance,
from that curling cornucopia
showering goodness upon us
from the fields of the beautiful ones
who shine, the watery ones,
those western stars.

Who is this old man
stepping slowly along the path
out of the twinkling shadows
the moon makes over the hills,
a rangy hound at his heels?

Will we remember to ask his name
when he stands before us?
Will we think to thank him
for the names he will bestow upon us?
Only time will reveal the story.
Only the stars will hear the answer.

(“Western Stars,” K.D. Lang, Shadowland; “Only Time,” Enya, A Day Without Rain; “Horn,” Nick Drake, Pink Moon; “This Old Man,” Pete Seeger, A Child’s Celebration of Song; “When We Eat This Bread,” The Dave Brubeck Quartet with the Cathedral Choral Society Chorus and Orchestra, to Hope!)