Gratitude List: 1. Autumn sunlight and breezes creating a shadow play on the tree trunks on the hillside, on the barn, on the grass. 2. The people who stand up to bullies, who stand against cruelty, who push for people’s basic human rights, and who do their best to help. 3. Great readers and great writers. I am immersed this morning in the voices of LeVar Burton and N. Scott Momaday. 4. Whole wheat bagels and peanut butter. 5. Quiet Saturday mornings. My brain needs the rest from aural clutter.
During the season of Lent, the worship materials for the Mennonite Church suggest a more ritualized confession time, not particularly about confessing sin, but expanding it to confess what we believe. As part of the ritual, a few people each week are asked to come forward and bring their confessions in the form of a poem or a piece of art or a story or a reflection of some sort. Today, I have been asked to be part of the ritual, answering the question: “Who will trust in God today?” Here’s my poem:
Whom shall we trust?
When hurricanes and charlatans
destroy the weak?
When the meek are set
to inherit a world laid waste by greed?
When human need bats last,
long after lust for money, sex, and power?
Whom shall we trust
in this hour when so much has been lost?
When the cost seems too high
for such a simple thing
as resting in belief
that the Holy One has time
for grief about our trials and tribulations.
The pillars of the past no longer hold.
They’ve had feet of clay all along,
and wrong upon wrong upon wrong
has brought the ancient houses down.
There’s no more room here for illusion.
How, then, shall we trust?
Shall we just ignore the lancing fear
that tears our sense of safety from its moorings?
That bears us outward into territories
we’ve not known before?
Perhaps it’s not a matter
of ignoring what we face,
but rather an attempt
to place our anxious thoughts
within the context of the Greater Power.
I will put my trust in Mystery, in that ineffable presence we call God, in the Knowable Unknowing, and in the One who put on shoes like us and trod the roads we walk, and spoke as one who knew the course of human suffering. I’ll trust us to the Holy Wind of Spirit, who hears our songs and knows our fears, who causes us to rise, though we resist; in our resistance fills our sails, the wind that pulls against the kite and makes us rise to higher height.
Perhaps nothing can be truly known, no comfortable future gardens sown with seeds of certainty. But we can trust the certainty of seed, the trusty breeze of Spirit and the rains of the Creator on these fields we bear within us.
Gratitude List: 1. The Little Sisters buzzing for pollen among the crocus and anemones 2. A fun afternoon of pond play yesterday with my kid 3. This man who makes the most amazing birthday cakes 4. The opportunities for my soon-to-be-teenager to learn to do the tech things he loves 5. Summer break is on its way
Gratitude of Resistance Twenty-Five: The McCaskey Gospel Choir and their amazing director Ms. Stevens. Energy, verve, commitment, delight, depth. . .they brought such a fine musical program to our school yesterday, and finished up by inviting our singing groups up onto the stage to perform the last song with them. Such a rich experience. All day, that moment of their day was one of the things my students were expressing gratitude for.
I am back after a bit of a media hiatus. My intention was to give myself a little more breathing room to get my end-of-semester grading done. The news barrage fed on itself and sent me into a cycle of needing more news, more information, as though somehow knowing more would help to quell my anxieties. I did maintain a connection to some news sources in the past week, but it was helpful have a bit of a fast.
Gratitude List: 1. That feeling when the semester grades are in. Suddenly the wave has passed, the weight is lifted, the light end of the tunnel is reached–I’ll shove in all the metaphors I can manage here. I feel so much better. And voila, the slate is blank again, and I am starting this semester just one notch closer to my goals of remaining organized.
2. All the people who are standing in the gap. Did you see the footage of protesters at airports all across the country? Spontaneous support for those who are harmed by the refugee ban. I am grateful for people who just go out and do the good thing. Love is indeed our resistance.
3. All those songs about peace and comfort yesterday at church. Truly, I need to keep my inner house in order if I am going to help get the outer house in order. Ending the service with the song of blessing from the Navajo tradition: Peace before us, peace behind us, peace under our feet. Peace within us, peace over us. Let all around us be peace.
4. Friends. Isn’t it nice to have friends? People who keep track of each other, who listen, who advise, who hold the space.
5. The way the snow makes visible the sleeping bodies of the wooded hills and ridges, outlining their sinuous forms through the trees.
Gratitude List: 1. The life and influence of Grace Lefever, herbalist, peace and justice advocate, wise woman, compassionate heart, teacher
2. Wild chamomile feathering up through the brown grass and dead leaves
3. Hundreds of wild geese flying over the farm in the mist this morning: “You do not have to be good.”
And crows and gulls flying and calling through the rain above the farm this afternoon: “Be here. Let your wild self fly free.”
4. The faerie worlds and magic that my friend Heather sees and offers in her photographs
5. Rainy day art projects: “Hey Mom, can we do that thing that we do? Where we draw and then trade?”
I saw a photo the other day of a list that someone had made of people who inspired her. She’d written the names by hand, artistically. That was part of what caught my attention, but the idea of keeping a running list of people who inspire me has really grabbed hold of me. I plan to start a list right away. When I get to one hundred names or so, I’ll look it over and see if I can discern themes and ideas that give me some clues to what I hold dear. And I want to make sure that there’s variety there.
If you want to join me, here are some ideas to get us started. You can list several names in each category, of course:
Someone in your immediate family.
A revolutionary person who helped to change the world.
Someone who changed the world quietly, behind the scenes.
A musician or band.
A great thinker.
A historical figure.
A novelist and/or a poet.
Make sure that you have a good representation of gender, a good mix of races, of countries of origin, of historical periods.
Hmm. How about a fictional character or two?
A religious or spiritual teacher.
A dancer or other athlete.
What other categories might you choose?
Gratitude List: 1. The cardinal in the top of the chestnut tree singing, “Pretty, Pretty, sweeeEEEt, sweeEEET!”
2. Afternoon sun on chicken feathers
3. Walking between worlds. Not sure how else to describe it. Holding your story and yours and yours. Being here, but there, too.
4. Iron. I know I need more of it. The Earth supplies it.
5. How everything and everyone changes and evolves, even me, to become more and more ourownselves.
White hot noonday sun;
The earth, still;
Cattle and birds, silent at midday.
Later a breeze would come sweeping up from the shores of Lake Victoria;
And children would laugh and call and run home from school;
But in this time and place
And at this hour,
The sound of sheer silence.
In that stillness,
That absence of all sound and movement,
There would come an awareness of sound beyond sound
Stars incinerating themselves?
The ongoing music of creation?
“And God spoke. . .”
I experience a knowingness
That beyond all the sounds of life on earth
And beyond all the noise of my own inner world
God still speaks.
In the Cosmos and in the heart,
God can be heard.
1. Learning the poetry of my mother, Ruth Slabaugh Weaver, and my grandmother, Lura Lauver Slabaugh. Experiencing the wisdom and beauty of the voices of the women who have come before me, my mother and grandmothers, my friends who have paved such incredible pathways. (And for my father, for pulling out this poem for my birthday, for poetically suggesting that my mother may have been hearing my own music emerging as she wrote this poem in the year before I was born.)
3. Staying afloat
4. So many words, so many stories
5. The imagination of chidren
Farm season has begun. I am exhausted, and falling asleep in the recliner in the evenings. But it’s the best kind of exhausted, the kind that comes from good hard work out in the elements, working with great people, and hanging out with our customers. It will mean that I will not be posting as regularly, likely only a couple times a week. I’ll keep working at gratitude, keep formulating poems and ideas.
1. Harvesting conversations, working our way down a strawberry patch.
2. Share days. Those are the days when the shareholders come to pick up their weekly produce. I love to sit and chat, to talk with people about food and recipes and children and education and spirituality and Reiki and growing older and growing up. . .
3. Providing beauty and nourishment for people.
4. Sandra and my parents: I always know that someone is seeing to the needs of my children on these mornings when I am seeing to the needs of the farm.
5. Jane Peifer, Mim Book, and whoever comes next. Cycles, giving space for grieving, welcoming the next chapter in the story.
There it is, the way to close the book.
I’ll sit in my hut with the fire burning,
light to shine out on the wintry world.
My heart is here,
and you are welcome.
I will write my name on a stone,
and drop it into the pond
where the golden carp is waiting.
I will whisper it into the feathers
of the rusty screech owl
who huddles in the hollow of the sycamore.
I will of course tell the toad
who watches from her litter of leaves.
My heart, I think I said, is here,
and yours is welcome in this circle.
My friend Sarah and I have been talking about Gratitude Lists, and the value of changing up the themes of the items. Some days it takes an effort of will not to just make a list of five of the wing-people I have seen and heard from that day.
1. The Pileated Woodpecker who called an announcement of his presence and then rowed through the sky across the hollow this afternoon.
2. Phoebe has returned to the hollow, calling his name insistently from the walnut tree.
3. Driving the tractor. I love to drive the tractor.
4. Delightful surprise of friends stopping in for a visit this afternoon.
5. Moving forward, pushing through.
May we walk in beauty.