A Small Bird in My Heart

Erebus loves to play Mousetrap. One of the blocks in the game says, “Big fat cat! Go back 3 spaces!” He loves that he has a specific role in the game. Also, he loves to knock the diver off the table.

Toko-pa Turner: In the Quechua tradition, when you feel grateful, you say, “There is a small bird in my heart.”

Gratitude List:
1. Looking forward to Good Work
2. Having time do focus inward and do inner work
3. A restful pace
4. I got a lovely view of a female Baltimore oriole yesterday–such a beautiful gentle orange, and that means that the lighter greenish-yellow oriole I have been seeing must have been a female orchard oriole.
5. Playing games with the family yesterday, even if it was Monopoly (which I really don’t like).

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly–in Beauty!


“Whenever there is a strong lock used there is something extremely precious hidden. The thicker the veil, the more valuable the jewel. A hoard of treasure is guarded by a large snake; do not dwell on the hideousness of the snake, contemplate the dazzling and the priceless things you’ll discover in the treasure.” —Rumi


“If your religion requires you to hate someone, you need a new religion.” ―Glennon Doyle


“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
―W. B. Yeats


“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
―Patrick Rothfuss


“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”
―Sue Monk Kidd

Quiet Sunday

Gratitude List:
1. People can change and grow and transform
2. Cool mornings
3. Moving toward green. We’re still being super careful, and we worry that the numbers might be going up. Still, it’s okay to start dreaming and planning, anxious as it is.
4. The voices of young women. Did you hear about those six teenage girls who planned a multi-thousand person protest in their city?
5. Rest

Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly–in Beauty!


“In times of uncertainty, the most difficult thing to do is to stop searching for detours. It can be tempting to act from the desperation one feels when an abyss opens around you, but all of the ego’s equipment is useless in these dark regions. Instead, consider this an invitation to deepen your trust, to renew your committed heart to its course. After all, every creation was first seeded in an absence.” —Toko-pa Turner


“What? Love.
Who? Everyone.
When? Now.”
―Glennon Doyle


“No,” Charles Wallace said. “I have to go on. We have to make decisions and we can’t make them if they’re based on fear.”
―Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time


“Live not for Battles Won.
Live not for The-End-of-the-Song.
Live in the along.”
―Gwendolyn Brooks, Report from Part One


“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. . . .” ―Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder


“Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” ―Abraham H. Maslow


“I don’t try to understand everything in nature. I just look at it. And enjoy it.” ―Bob Ross

Dystopia

What a dystopian movie I watched last night. I didn’t catch the name–it was something like Evening News. It was a powerful commentary on what happens when empire uses religion to prop itself up. The opening image in the movie is a birds-eye view of a park in a marbled city. There are clouds of tear gas wafting above the park, and crowds of peaceful protesters running to safety. There is the sound of concussion grenades exploding. Cut to a close-up of a man gasping for breath, holding his stomach, where he’s been hit by a rubber bullet. Through the veils of tear gas, you can see a phalanx of black-suited riot police with their shields up, moving in on the panicked crowd.

The nation in the film is experiencing an uprising of thousands and thousands of people taking to the streets to demand justice for ALL the people instead of just for the ones who had historically claimed power. There is looting and burning and violence, and there are thousands upon thousands of peaceful protesters.

There is a shift to a scene of the nation’s autocratic ruler ranting about using any force necessary to quell the violence and looting. “We cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob,” he rants, and you realize that the violent gassing and dispersal of the crowd in the opening credits was of those very “righteous and peaceful protesters.”

Cut to the dictator (it’s not clear in the movie what to call him, but he seems kind of like a dictator) walking with his minions and ministers (they all seemed to be men in the world of this movie) past barricades and marble buildings to a house of worship on the edge of the park. He stalks up to the front of the church, lifts a Bible in his hand, smirks for the camera, and stalks off again.

I actually haven’t seen the end of the movie. It’s still going on. But it was a brilliant piece of cinematography. The soulless look in the eyes of the leader. The blatant use of religious symbols and spaces to attempt to give validity to the violent quelling of protest. The lies about protecting the very people they were at that moment violently removing from the park so the dictator could use the religious building like a movie set.

I’m not sure how it’s going to play out. The religious people have to see it now, don’t they? The soullessness, the way their beautiful Teacher is being used as an agent of the violence of empire.

Usually in these stories, the people, after their hundreds of years of oppressive rule, throw off the mighty arm of the empire and create a new and better reality in its place. Sometimes everything is destroyed and the new and beautiful thing is built from the ashes of the violent past. I’m going to keep tuning in.


Gratitude List:
1. The marchers in Lancaster yesterday, and Michelle Johnson who filmed it all for five hours, live. There were some powerful moments when the police chief was speaking, and people began to yell their pain and rage, and he just handed the bullhorn over and listened. He said he had to go to a meeting, and somebody yelled out that they were there to march because they couldn’t escape this reality, and he nodded his head, skipped his meeting, and joined the marchers.
2. I got two emails from students yesterday about the current national emergency. I am so grateful that they’re reaching out, that they’re thinking and processing and deciding what their role in this world should be. I’m so proud of them.
3. Snugglecats. Really, every household needs at least one cat. One of mine is snoring.
4. Hummingbird dipping into the petunia basket, a strand of cobweb held in her claws.
5. People are finding their voices in the midst of this. Keep articulating. Keep talking it through. Keep speaking up.

May we walk in Beauty!


“The women said feel how we are not open
fields waiting for their strike. They cannot not bury us
deep, call us things of war and be surprised
when we land mine.” —Kelly Grace Thomas


“The necessary thing is to be solitary, the way one was solitary as a child.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke


“Words are things, I’m convinced. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes, and finally, into you. We must be careful about the words we use.” ―Maya Angelou


“I’d rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” ―Gerry Spence


“Life is a lot more interesting if you are interested in the people and the places around you. So, illuminate your little patch of ground, the people that you know, the things that you want to commemorate. Light them up with your art, with your music, with your writing, with whatever it is that you do. Do that, and little by little, it might gradually get to be, if not a better world, then a better understood world.” ―Alan Moore

Fire and Shadow

Look. I know you probably wouldn’t gas and burn
your city’s police precinct station.
I know you’re not a fan of the flaming
and looting of private property,
first and most sacred commandment
of our common capitalist religion.
But if cities inside you are not burning,
perhaps you haven’t been paying attention.
If it’s easier to condemn the people
who make their rage into a massive
public art demonstration, setting their symbols
of oppression raging through the streets,
than it is to condemn the smug and public
murder of a man in those same streets,
perhaps you need to get an education.
Perhaps you need to study the whole cloth
of an ethic of respect for human life.
Listen to the rage. It has a reason.


Gratitude List:
1. Snuggling my shadows (I wrote this one last year, and while I forget the context, it feels right for right now).
2. Grades aren’t done, but I can rest for a day or two now.
3. Oh dear. I’m just copying and pasting bits of last year’s list. Call me lazy, but this fits right now, too: Curiosity. When people get curious about each other. Curiosity is a fine engineer, building bridges of gossamer web and light across chasms. But stronger bridges than you can imagine.
4. Living in layers of memory.
5. Even this one, slightly re-tooled from last year: Cool breezes. This means exactly what it says, because our house can get hot as a sauna. But then it means more than that because your poems and your wisdom and your presence in the world are cool breezes to me, my friends.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Jesus often said, ‘It’s very hard here. Have you eaten? Look―you all stick together, go to the beach and have some fish. Share what you have. We’ll talk later.'” ―Anne Lamott


Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap them around
You like a shawl
—Alice Walker


“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” ―Martin Luther King Jr.


“A [person] should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a beautiful picture everyday in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of Beauty which God has implanted in the human soul.” ―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, 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 and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ―Walt Whitman


“Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it.
It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of
‘you’re not alone.’” ―Brene Brown


“Don’t die with your music still inside of you.” —Wayne Dyer


“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” —Colette


“Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals.” —David Whyte


“Soul is not a thing, but a perspective. It’s the slow courtship of an event which turns it into a meaningful experience. It’s the practice of trusting that if one sits silently and long enough with the absence of magic, the miraculous will reveal itself. Nothing is sacred until we make it so with the eloquence of our attention, the poetry of our patience, the parenting warmth of our admiration.” —Toko-Pa Turner


“It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, – is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

Naming the Colors

A golden person peeked in my window this morning while I was writing about colors.

Here’s a little Noticing Exercise for today:
Go outside, or stand at your window, and look around. Take a few deep breaths, of course. Feel your feet on the ground. Now, start naming the colors you see. Maybe start with the spectrum. Hang out with old Roy G. Biv for a few moments.

Find something red (it can be something human-wrought, but it’s especially satisfying to do this only with naturally-occurring colors). Breathe in red.

Orange might be harder, unless you have a family of resident orioles chasing each other across your view, but look really closely at the turnings of color at the tips of a patch of weeds, or the hidden shades of turned earth in the flowerbed. See if you can find it. Breathe in orange.

Yellow is pretty easy if you’ve got a dandelion patch, or goldfinches. Breathe yellow.

Green–it’s everywhere, but don’t forget to breathe it in.

Blue. Also easy, perhaps, particularly if the sky is cloudless. Breathe blue.

Indigo: We’re not really trained to notice indigo. If you have a bunting or a bluebird handy, the indigo is really the deep well of blue that pools beneath the flash and shine. Or look at a cloud–what we call the silver lining of a cloud is actually indigo. Really look at it. Then look into it. Without a cloud, you can do this with shadows. Indigo is the deepest layer of shadow. If you think you’re really only imagining it, you’re probably in the presence of indigo. Indigo is mysterious, almost elusive. Breathe in indigo.

Violet is in the gill-on-the-grass, the edges of asters, the pulsing life force in the newest branches. Find violet. Breath in violet.

Now you’ve breathed a rainbow. Won’t it just be a glorious day from here on out?


Gratitude List:
1. Things are zoomy and bright out there in birdland. In all the years we’ve been here, I really don’t know when I have seen such a healthy flock of local goldfinches.
2. Last night’s weekly Birding Club (I mean Family) Zoom call. If you think I talk a lot about birds, you need to meet my family. In the Before, I might sometimes go a couple months without seeing or talking to my siblings. Now, I talk to them Every Week. I just got a little teary writing that. Even when I am raging at the losses, here is a gift. Such a gift.
3. This is the last week of school. I am so terribly torn. There really is a part of me that dreads this. The lack of closure is extremely painful. It feels wrong. I think I have been keeping myself from anticipating the end of the semester because I don’t know how to close this out. But I so desperately need this break, the chance to re-group, to make art without feeling like I should be doing something else, the opportunity to write what I want when I want, and the movement out of this incredibly sedentary life.
4. Sunshine and cool breezes. Thermal Delight.
5. Color!

May we walk in Beauty!


“Perfectionism is a virus which keeps us running on the treadmill of never-enoughness. It is inherently deadening for how it strives and never arrives. Failure is embedded in its very pursuit, for our humanity can never be homogenised. The only antidote is to turn away from every whiff of plastic and gloss and follow our grief, pursue our imperfections, exaggerate our eccentricities until they, the things we once sought to hide, reveal themselves as our true majesty.” —Toko-pa Turner


“The fact is, I don’t know where my ideas come from. Nor does any writer. The only real answer is to drink way too much coffee and buy yourself a desk that doesn’t collapse when you beat your head against it.” —Douglas Adams


“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” —Carl Sagan


“UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.”
—The Onceler, Dr. Seuss

Finding the Magic

I still have a lot to learn, and I didn’t take a lot of time on this one.

Gratitude List:
1. We had our first takeout in eight weeks yesterday. It was a treat!
2. Yesterday, a blue-gray gnatcatcher came searching for bugs in the cobwebs o the balcony, and sat still for a little while so we could get a perfect view. My eyes have never been good at discerning fast and distant birds, so warblers and their ilk are usually out of my purview. I just assume they’re all chickadees. So it was nice to see this sweet little one up close.
3. Josiah and I saw three bright orange orioles flying across the road during our walk yesterday.
4. Last week Josiah showed me somewhere where I can really easily remove backgrounds from photos to make pngs for digital collage. physical collage has always been a really exciting art form for me, and this has great possibilities.
5. Finding the magic.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” —Albert Einstein


“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?” ―George Orwell


“Cowards make the best torturers. Cowards understand fear and they can use it.” ―Mark Lawrence


“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” ―Frida Kahlo


“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.” ―Clarissa Pinkola Estés


“I am always doing what I can’t do yet in order to learn how to do it.” ―Vincent van Gogh


“Do one good thing every day that everyone else is scared to do.” ―Leymah Gbowee


“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” ―Rabindranath Tagore


“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” ―Margaret Atwood


“We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been—a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.” ―Starhawk

Room For You at the Table

Last year, I got really excited about trying to use some Pixton graphics to enhance my Smart Board presentations. It took enough extra work that I sort of gave it up. Now I think perhaps I ought to try to make a couple for some of my classes to add a little interest to the online learning.

Gratitude List:
1. How poems from past Aprils come back to show me how I have grown, and what I have forgotten.
2. Wednesday is now a little Thursday, penultimate day of teaching. There is space for breathing.
3. Music
4. Story
5. Poetry

May we walk in Beauty!


“The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.” —Barry H. Gillespie


“There is room for you at our table, if you choose to join us.” —Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing


“For beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen.” —from the musical “Ordinary Days”


“You will be found.” —from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen”


“How do you become the person you’ve forgotten you ever were?” —from the musical “Anastasia”


“The universe is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of tiny stories.” ―Joseph Gordon-Levitt


To all the children
by Thomas Berry

To the children who swim beneath
The waves of the sea, to those who live in
The soils of the Earth, to the children of the flowers
In the meadows and the trees of the forest,
To all those children who roam over the land
And the winged ones who fly with the winds,
To the human children too, that all the children
May go together into the future in the full
Diversity of their regional communities.


Carl Jung: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”


“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.” ―Rumi


“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend, or not.” ―Isabel Allende


“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ―Bréne Brown, Wholehearted

Unmixed Attention

Gratitude List:
1. Crisp morning
2. Looking forward to family Zoom today
3. Ten deep breaths of outside air enliven me
4. Greeting the Beings of this place grounds me
5. Rain brings more greens

May we walk in Beauty!


“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” —Rumi


“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” —Simone Weil


“You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.” —Leymah Gbowee


“God speaks to each of us as [she] makes us, then walks with us silently out of the night. These are the words we dimly hear: You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing. Embody me.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“I do not see a delegation of the four-footed.
I see no seat for the eagles.” —Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga


“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” —Kurt Vonnegut


“I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.” ―Rachel Held Evans


Go deeper.
Past thoughts into silence.
Past silence into stillness.
Past stillness into the heart.
Let love consume all that is left of you.
—Kabir

When We All Go Marching In

Room 206 before I took down the things from the walls and bulletin board.

This week I have been the worship leader for my church’s Sunday service, my first time to prepare the videos to open the service, to pray, to bless us at the end, and to ask others to do children’s time and scripture. It felt daunting, and it highlighted how much I miss being part of that weekly gathering. And so last night’s dream:

In the dream, I am planning worship, asking people to make videos for the Sunday morning service. The pastor suggests that we really need a saxophone solo, so I go searching for people I know who could record a saxophone solo, but suddenly it’s no longer quarantine, and we’re holding church in a parking lot in a city (on folding chairs) and it’s about to begin and I have not yet found someone to do the saxophone solo when an old friend comes walking by and I ask him, and he starts to play “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In” and everyone gets up and follows him in a dancing march around and around the parking lot, and everyone is laughing and dancing and celebrating, and no one is afraid to bump into anyone else or to touch.

And now I am crying.

The other day, Jon and I were talking about what it will mean when parts of Pennsylvania go from red to yellow, and I realized that for me, it won’t necessarily be any different. Really, in life Before, I mostly went to four places: church, school, and to visit our parents. When we go to yellow, we still won’t go to church, we definitely won’t go to school, and I don’t think we’ll be able to visit retirement communities yet. It feels pretty bleak.

I wrote that thing the other day about the After, how the time when this is over won’t be a “getting back to normal.” I like that awareness that people are putting into the world–this is a time for change and transformation, to envision what the new way will be when we are again out in the world. Still, for me, I long to get back to a normal where we can brush past each other in public, link arms, hug, dance, celebrate together without fear, when we can go marching in, joyfully, to the public places we share together.


Gratitude List:
1. Sometimes something that appears and creates stress is also really exciting. I have a week to get my whole classroom cleared (that means my thousand and one books packed, too) because it looks like construction on our air conditioning will begin in June!
2. Anticipating Oriole
3. Quiet mornings with my boy before anyone else is up
4. Good stretching
5. Dreaming well

May we walk in Beauty!


“An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their choice, but I CHOOSE to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved. Young people, black and white, know this. That’s why they’re so involved in politics. We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.” —Nina Simone


“A loving silence often has far more power
to heal and to connect than the
most well-intentioned words.” —Rachel Naomi Remen


“The secret to waking up is unscrambling the word earth.” —anonymous


“I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume this means they haven’t actually read it.” ―Rachel Held Evans


“What a comfort to know that God is a poet.” ―Rachel Held Evans


“Geometry is the archetype of the beauty of the world.” —Johannes Kepler


“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” —John Keating (Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society)


“You are the Ground of all being
the Well-Spring of time
Womb of the earth
the Seed-Force of stars.
And so at the opening of this day
we wait
not for blessings from afar
but for You
the very Soil of our soul
the early Freshness of morning
the first Breath of day.”
—John Philip Newell


“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” ―J.K. Rowling

For the Good of Everyone

My poetry collaborator dreams up the next line.

The grumbling is getting louder. The anxiety is rising. People are starting to toss the words “rights” and “freedom” around. People are afraid that this is all power-plays by the leadership to cow us, subject us, hold us in our places. And why shouldn’t they be afraid? When have we ever known the (mostly) rich (mostly) white (mostly) male ruling class to work on behalf of the people, to remember their sweetly quaint little title of “public servant”? Who should we trust?

The doctors. And scientists. We can, hopefully, trust the scientists and the physicians. And the story. Trust the story. Watch how it has played out across the globe. Remember Italy. Remember China.

It’s very likely that some of the governors are working out of self-interest and electability, that some are too cautious and timid, that others are hungrily consolidating power in a time when people are vulnerable. So I will trust the leaders who seem to be trusting the doctors and the scientists and the story. It hasn’t been difficult to find an example of a leaders who isn’t trusting the science, who is inexorably manipulating the narrative to feed his own ego and his own power. And if you want to start talking about freedom and rights, let’s begin with the ways in which he has been harming the freedom and the rights of the common people since the day he took office. I’m going to cast my lot in with the governors on this one.

This doesn’t have to be an American frontier epic contest between your fear and your freedom. That’s an old and worn-out trope, and it’s a false dichotomy, a fairy tale told to us by end-stage capitalism. The governors are not Big Bart riding into town with all guns blazing, ordering the women and children to cower in their homes. In this story, we make the choice to stay home, to wait, to isolate, in order to protect the vulnerable ones among us, in order to protect our health care workers.

As far as I know, my parents and my immuno-compromised beloveds are all safe. But if we resume business as usual too soon, they may all be in danger, and those you love, too. It’s not about whether or not you or I personally fear death. It’s about whether we have the deep communal compassion to do something that protects the most vulnerable among us. Remember, this is the Exile for the Good of the Realm.


Gratitude List:
1. The Iron Lady Trail. My Project Manager says I shouldn’t call it that, that it’s still unnamed, but he initially called it the Iron Lady, and so I’m calling it that for now. Josiah is marking and clearing a series of deer trails in the woods above the pond. He calls himself the Project Manager, and her has enlisted his progenitors to assist with the cutting of poison ivy and brambles. Yesterday after our schoolwork, we cleared a side trail that links the Iron Lady (I mean Unnamed) Trail to a second entrance to the fields. This one emerges from the woods beneath a curving limb of a cherry tree. For too long, the poison ivy has kept us out of the woods. We are going to try to keep the trails maintained so we can have some passages through the woods.
2. The passion with which my kids follow their interests. It can be tiring to listen to hours of discourse on the minute differences between the Tesla models, or how to build a very detailed something-or-other in Minecraft, or the many reasons why a particularly obscure piece of technology is either illegal or shady or brilliant. Still, I love that they can be passionate about things that have near-zero interest for me.
3. Homemade oatmeal protein bars. I don’t know why I got away from making them. And of course, I have no recipe, so I have to go back and recreate it. The ones I made last night are too crumbly. But they taste good!
4. The veils of green appearing through the woods.
5. I am loving the poetry-writing process right now. It’s very much like the energy of April 2012 (I think that was the year), when I felt something click and sizzle. This is perhaps less giddy, more grounded, but it tingles. I’m especially grateful for my poet-community right now.

Take care of each other. Walk in Beauty!


The Soul, it sees by synesthesia
Tasting light caressed by song
A touch is like a descant fire
resonant and strong.
—Craig Sottolano


“I’m not as cooperative as you might want a woman to be.” —Carrie Fisher


“The unconscious wants truth. It ceases to speak to those who want something else more than truth.” —Adrienne Rich


And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
-—Raymond Carver’s Late Fragment, inscribed on his tombstone


Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.

The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last.

All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
—David Whyte


“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
―Mother Teresa


“Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
―Linda Hogan


“This will be our reply to violence:
to make music more intensely,
more beautifully,
more devotedly than ever before.”
―Leonard Bernstein