The art teacher at my school worked with a group of her students to come up with a word for each of the twenty-five days leading up to Christmas. Members of the school community are then asked to post a photo that represents the idea of that word.
Today’s words are “Living Blamelessly.” I felt like I wanted to create a pathway, a set of stepping stones toward whole and mindful and blameless living.
Gratitude List: 1. Picture rocks in a river, each rock covered by dozens of white dots. The gulls are migrating, and an enormous flock was resting today on the rocks of the Susquehanna. So satisfying. 2. Good exercise 3. Having someone to do the NYT Crossword Puzzles with. I can usually do the Monday and Tuesday ones by myself. Sometimes the Wednesday ones, too. But definitely by the time Friday and the weekend roll around, I would always give up were I doing them on my own. Usually one of us begins one, and then gets stumped and leaves it for the other. Now the boys are joining in, too. 4. Stauffer’s Christmas Stars chocolate-covered cookies. 5. The oyster mushrooms that ring my magical stump. May we walk in Beauty!
“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” —Mary Oliver
“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.” —Barry Lopez
“With every action, comment, conversation, we have the choice to invite Heaven or Hell to Earth.” —Rob Bell
“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.” ―Albert Einstein
Gratitude List: 1. Gulls navigating north over the River 2. Yesterday’s pink morning 3. The purposeful morning flight of crows 4. Friday is here. Everyone is in the carpool on both trips on Fridays, so we can listen to our story TWICE! And tonight is family movie night. Lots of story today. 5. Morning stretches. I had gotten out of the habit of morning yoga. Truth be told, one of the more complicated stretches had become a little difficult for me, so instead of working harder to get there, I jumped ship. I’m back now, and I did manage, with a little work to catch my left foot with my left hand, though I am wobblier than I was and made sure I was right beside the counter so I wouldn’t fall. My goal is to get back to comfortable balance sometime this spring.
I think it is time for me to start planning my retreat to the monastery when school ends this spring. I want to go sit under the boughs of the cathedral tree again.
Gratitude List: 1. Gulls by the hundreds flying in the dawn across the River
2. Watching the freshmen really take up the work of deep discussion
3. How one foot just goes in front of the other. Then the next one.
4. The sense of sight. As my eyes age, I am more and more keenly aware of how appreciate clear vision.
5. Being in a body. Incarnation. There is so much to learn in this body, and I spend entirely too much time wishing it were different in some way, like I just did by wishing that my eyes weren’t aging quite so quickly. And every moment, every itch, every ache, every noticing, is a chance to learn something about the interaction of spirit and matter.
Here is a photo from last year when we first began to plant. It’s that time again!
Gratitude List: 1. Bluebirds and the Bluebird Whisperer. The bluebirds know my dad. They “knock” on the window to get his attention. They fly up to the window perch to thank him after they’ve had their share of mealie worms. The watch for him through the windows of the house.
2. The stunning scarlet amaryllis of Amaryllis Drive. They’ve had at least one indoor amaryllis bulb for years and years, so it is only appropriate that their house is now on Amaryllis Drive. And this year’s crop of blooms is out of this world. Sun shining through the red petals.
3. Naming the loss. Often when there are disagreements or differences of opinions in a community, I think we don’t openly name the losses of those who choose to leave, because we don’t want to gossip or pass around misleading information. But then we never really grieve the loss together.
4. First Responders. We passed an accident on the way home yesterday on those slippery roads. People stood out in the freezing rain to help and direct traffic.
5. The way the gulls flew up off the River like snowflakes whirling upward.
6. Bonus, because. The sap is rising. I can see it in the shift of color in the willow up on Pisgah, and in the forsythia.
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?”
1. Unexpected connections
2. Hundreds of white gulls cascading down toward the River like snowflakes
3. Nourishment, sustenance, flavor
4. Trying hard
5. Letting go
May we walk in beauty.
Back to that phrase that came into my brain in a dream last week, in a rondel, and in a single crazy twisting sentence.
All that I have ever been
is compounded by what I am now,
by all I can avow or disavow
and by all that I have ever seen,
the fields of past folded upward by the plow
of Time into this moment, between
all that I have ever been–
compounded by what I am now–
into the turning future, which will allow
this interweaving, scene to scene,
the colors shifting: red to gold to green,
all times overlaid as one, somehow
a part of all that I have ever been.
Friday Prompt Becky and Dakota White suggested a sestina. Even though today was a form experiment, I am going to try a sestina tomorrow because this excites me, and because the rondel was fun and satisfying. Care to join me? Here’s the Sestina Form description from poets.org.
1. Suzy was not badly hurt in the accident today. Hold your friends close.
2. The thrill of writing in a poetic form.
3. That tasty wild blueberry granola from Miller’s.
4. Reading with the kids.
5. Hawks along the highway and gulls on the lights of the old bridge.
Into the Blue
Sparkling winter day:
a flock of one hundred gulls
will catch a kettle
to spiral over the ridge
and wink out into the blue.
Prompt for Jan. 6
Here’s “Ten-Minute Spill” by Rita Dove, from The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn and Chase Twitchell:
“Write a ten-line poem. The poem must include a proverb, adage, or familiar phrase (examples: she’s a brick house, between the devil and the deep blue sea, one foot in the grave, a stitch in time saves nine, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, someday my prince will come, the whole nine yards, a needle in a haystack) that you have changed in some way, as well as five of the following words:
Because I wrote one of these a few years ago, I think I will try to select another random eight words to choose from before tomorrow (unless someone posts a list for me before morning). I will also post “Chasing Chickens,” my first Ten-Minute Spill poem–one of mine that I am most fond of.
1. Those gulls wheeling in the blue above the fields.
2. The beginnings of a fort around the two weed trees in the brushy area beside the Dancing Green.
3. Sarah’s Herbal Vapor Rub.
4. Google Earth
May we walk in Beauty.