Stay Home, Stay Safe

A Poem, Some Gratitudes, a Dream, and a Quotation Collection:

Listen, Friend:
I will not tell you that
god has a purpose for your anguish.
Your tragedy was not divine will
sending a lightning bolt to wake you up
or to teach you a lesson about trust,
whatever the street preachers tell you.

Bad things happen, and they keep on happening.
Why, just yesterday, I saw a story
about some mother’s child gunned down
in the streets in the daylight
and people stood by and took videos
with their new camera phones.
There’s no god in that, right?
No good in that, no god.

And I don’t know what Moses and his king were thinking,
but I can tell you that this plague is not some
divine retribution by a heavenly pharoah
trying to teach us all a lesson,
though there are lessons aplenty to learn,
if only we can open our eyes and see,
then see again, and deeper.

I still hold that there’s a Creative Force
that set the Universe in motion, a Love
that watches us and even extends Itself toward us
when we’re in the throes of agony,
even sends occasional lightning bolts
of insight when we’re at the edge of holding on.

I don’t know why the good ones die young
or why tornadoes always seem to hit the trailer parks
instead of the mansions on the hills,
why the rich fat cats recover from the virus
after all their disregard of caution,
and those who are already suffering
lose the ones they love.

But here, in all the chaos of unknowing,
is this web: A line from me to you, another
cast to the next one that you love,
and one of mine, and on and on,
a tender, joyful, fierce and loving web
of hearts that hold and notice
even in the midst of all that is being destroyed.



Gratitudes:
1. Health care workers. They’re stretched thin right now. Spare them some love.
2. This man, who plans meals for special occasions just like his mother always did.
3. Making things. I sewed all day yesterday. It made me happy.
4. Finally! After seventeen years here, we are getting the septic system replaced. The pipes are in, and all that remains is to finish hooking up all the extra pieces and to put the dirt back where it belongs.
5. Reflections

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


In the dream, I am in a large crowded theater where people are preparing a play. Everyone is excited. They’re throwing themselves into their roles. I am kind of on the sidelines, supporting, encouraging, wishing I could be part of the fun.

I can’t participate, because no one is wearing masks or social distancing. Also, I am supposed to be in quarantine, so why am I in a crowded theater?

I go sit in a little room with a few others who aren’t in the main cast, and suddenly realize that even I am not wearing a mask. Fortunately, I have one in my purse.

I know where this one came from. Yesterday, I scrolled past something that a friend of mine posted about the Covid Phone alert yesterday, and she and her friends were mocking it, scorning the governor, encouraging each other to get together with their families and friends today. But I know that people are going to get sick as a result of their irresponsible actions today, and some of them are going to die because they ignore the warnings. I know that my beloveds who work in hospitals are preparing themselves for the terrible decisions they are going to be needing to make in the coming weeks about who gets treatment, and who doesn’t.
I have SO MUCH to be grateful for, and I AM grateful, and joyful. But I am also worried and sad, and angry at my friend and her friends for being so cavalier about something that will claim people’s lives. Please make safe and responsible choices today, friends.

[Later Edit: I promise I won’t resent you if you are gathering with the responsible people of your bubble, tending to each other’s mental health as you responsibly gather. I know there are grey areas here. My sulks are reserved for those who simply ignore it all and pretend nothing is happening, and who scorn those who are taking precautions. Still, I wish safety for all.]


Thursday’s Thankful and Thoughtful Words:
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” —Meister Eckhart


“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” —Alice Walker (h/t Tony Brown)


“Perhaps you were brought to this place for just such a time as this.” —paraphrase from book of Esther


“We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. We have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. it is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think, to be an organ and a blade. But, learning to forgive ourselves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human. We make horrible mistakes. It’s how we learn. We breathe love. It’s how we learn. And it is inevitable.”
—Nayyira Waheed


“Only those who attempt the absurd
will achieve the impossible.”
—M. C. Escher


“A seed sown in the soil makes us one with the Earth. It makes us realize that we are the Earth. That this body of ours is the panchabhuta-the five elements that make the universe and make our bodies. The simple act of sowing a seed, saving a seed, planting a seed, harvesting a crop for a seed is bringing back this memory-this timeless memory of our oneness with the Earth and the creative universe. There’s nothing that gives me deeper joy than the work of protecting the diversity and the freedom of the seed.” —Vandana Shiva


Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower
by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy

Listen
Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Rune for Our Times

The times are feeling fearful to me. After listening to a discussion on the radio on the way home, in which People Who Seem to Know Things suggested that there’s a possibility of uprisings and violence after this election, I offer a slight paraphrase of the Rune of St. Patrick:

At Pisgah in this fateful hour,
I place Earth and Heaven with their power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By divine help and grace
Between myself and the powers of destruction!


Gratitude:
For the golden leaves of autumn and the golden eyes of the cats.
For darkness, of rest, of birth, of preparation for the new thing coming.
For the inquisitive and curious minds of teenagers.
For the web of beloved hearts that yearn and work for justice and peace, for true equality and for functioning and healthy communities.
For you, beloveds. For you. For you.

May we walk humbly, loving mercy, doing justice, ever in Beauty.

Good Trouble

John Lewis, who is a sterling example of thoughtful and compassionate and fierce and determined political leadership in this country, called repeatedly for the people to stir up Good Trouble. What Good Trouble will you make in his honor today?


Gratitude List:
1. All the people who are making Good Trouble. Keep it up, soulkin! You are making a difference.
2. Exercise. This has never been a priority of mine, but as I notice the current effects of aging on my body, and think about where I want to be in ten, twenty years, I have chosen this mantra: limber, healthy, strong. I’m trying to get a long walk or a long bike ride in every day, sometimes both. I definitely feel stronger.
3. Wise friends.
4. Smoothies with lots of fresh fruit.
5. My tiny tribe of succulents. I repotted everyone a couple days ago, and they’re looking so much happier now. I am trying to start a few new ones with leaves that I culled as I was repotting.

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


“Some say you’re lucky
If nothing shatters it.

But then you wouldn’t
Understand poems or songs.
You’d never know
Beauty comes from loss.

It’s deep inside every person:
A tear tinier
Than a pearl or thorn.

It’s one of the places
Where the beloved is born.”
―Gregory Orr


“And the wood is tired, and the wood is old, and we’ll make it fine, if the weather holds. But if the weather holds, then we’ll have missed the point. And that’s where I need to go.” ―The Indigo Girls


“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” ―Joseph Campbell


“Friendship … is born at the moment when one says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
― C.S. Lewis


“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
―Thomas Merton


“To say ‘I don’t know’ is an unparalleled source of power, a declaration of independence from the pressure to have an opinion about every single subject.
It’s fun to say. Try it: ‘I don’t know.’
Let go of the drive to have it all figured out: ‘I don’t know.’
Proclaim the only truth you can be totally sure of: ‘I don’t know.’
Empty your mind and lift your heart: ‘I don’t know.’
Use it as a battle cry, a joyous affirmation of your oneness with the Great Mystery: ‘I don’t know.’
(To revel in this reverie can be a respite, a vacation. Any time you feel ready, you can return to the more familiar state of ‘I know! I know! I know!’)” ―Rob Brezsny


“Declare amnesty for the part of you that you don’t love very well. Forgive that poor sucker. Hold its hand and take it out to dinner and a movie. Tactfully offer it a chance to make amends for the dumb things it has done.

And then do a dramatic reading of this proclamation by the playwright Theodore Rubin: ‘I must learn to love the fool in me—the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool.'” ―Rob Brezsny


“We all receive water from her, we receive food from her, we receive air from her, anything that is received as a gift from the Earth and from nature has to be a commons, it cannot be privatised, that is why privatisation of life forms through patents or water through privatisation schemes driven by the World Bank, or the privatisation of the atmosphere and the air through carbon trading and emissions trading are all illegal and illegitimate in a legal framework based on the Earth’s rights.” ―Vandana Shiva


“The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don’t turn against him; they crush those beneath them.” ―Emily Bronte


“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” ―Susan B. Anthony


“To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.” ―Rudolf Steiner

Anxious Days and Gratitude

Gull on a bad hair day.

I am suffering from some serious internal whiplash these days.

Within the past week, I have experienced some incredibly healing times safely social distanced with some of my best beloveds, looking into twinkling eyes, hearing laughter and wisdom and articulate questions. I have had some deeply reviving time in nature despite the heat.

And at the same time, one thought can set my nerves jangling, twanging the wires of anxiety, clashing and clanging waves of worry. School.

While teaching students to read and write–to communicate, to learn to express emotion and articulate new ideas–is clearly my vocational mission, I have an underlying agenda which is just as important as English Language Arts: To create a safe space for young people to explore who they are and learn how to be comfortable and confident in the world. In the spring, when we were sent home to do our learning, we lost that safe space together. I lost the opportunity to make eye contact in the halls with someone who worried that nobody would ever notice them, lost the chance to listen to a student come into my room ranting about some injustice they wanted to remove from the world, lost the chance to watch laughter displace worry or sadness or fear, lost the chance to tell someone that they are stronger than they think.

And now, we’re planning to meet again in the fall, and I will get some of that back on a limited basis, but I don’t feel safe, for me or for them, for our families and beloveds. This virus has stripped us of our safety. I want so desperately to return to classes, but something in me feels like it isn’t yet time, like my Safe Place is still unsafe. I find myself hoping that the governor calls off school again, so we won’t have to navigate these waters, so I won’t have to add to my duties the policing of students’ spacing and masking in the halls, so I won’t have to worry that every sneeze or cough could result in someone’s grandmother fighting for her life, so every day won’t feel like a risk.

I know that we need to open schools again when it is safe to do so. I know that many students’ mental health depends upon it. But it feels like a dangerous experiment with our physical health, and the health of our families to do it now, when my state can’t seem to get its numbers under control, when adults who should know better are refusing to do the simple things to keep us all safe.

I breathe a lot to ground myself, during these days when I struggle through allergies to catch the deepest breaths and yawns. I go to my beloveds, online and in safe circles. I anchor myself in the green and the blue, in earth and air and water. I search for Beauty, and find my grateful center. It helps me a little, a least to ride the top of the anxiety waves. It’s harder than usual to hold onto a calm center, when grief and rage and worry knot themselves into a little ball inside my spirit.

Some Things to Be Grateful For:
1. The twinkling eyes of my beloveds
2. Blue and green, and golden sun
3. Birdfolk
4. Water
5. Laughter.

May we walk in Beauty!


“May hope rise within you. May peace wash over you.” —Charlene Costanzo


“You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.”
—Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony


“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” —Lilla Watson


“A poem is not a puzzle, even if it’s puzzling at first. Instead, it’s a highly selected parcel or capsule of language meant to burst into your psyche and change you in some way. Poetry is the life blood of our language, and it’s meant for everyone, not just academics or young people in school. Poetry is in a word: consciousness.” —Cathryn Hankla


Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen


Tom Joad, from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath:
I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin’ fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin’. And I been wonderin’ if all our folks got together and yelled…

As long as I’m an outlaw anyways… maybe I can do somethin’… maybe I can just find out somethin’, just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong and see if they ain’t somethin’ that can be done about it. I ain’t thought it out all clear, Ma. I can’t. I don’t know enough.

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