Elemental

The other day when I got the mail, I pulled a nest-like spider web off one of the letters (that was a fast-working spider!), and without really thinking I spun it like wool. I know that spider web is strong, but I was pretty startled at how incredibly strong this little twist of web is. Think how powerful we become as a movement when we spin firm webs of our deep connections to each other as beloved humans.

Last week, a friend of mine asked me to write a poem for her and her friends who are having a bonfire circle, a healing time and a safe space to express their fears and anxieties and anger and hope in a time when their lives and identities are in danger–it’s a racially diverse group with many gay and trans folks. I love how she has taken on this healing work, and I am so proud to be her friend, and so honored to write a poem to bless them.

You Are Elemental
by Beth Weaver-Kreider
for Faith and her Friends
and in memory of Rem’mie Fells and Riah Milton

Someone once told me we are made of starstuff.
Enough of the dust of the cosmos breathes through us
that we can believe we belong, made as we are
of the essence of that which forms all that is.
Whatever you believe about yourself, know this:
you belong in the web of it all. You are an elemental
miracle of a living, breathing being, and you are the
very expression of Desire Itself, manifested.

Whatever you experience of masculinity or femininity,
what you experience as androgyny, all of that
is emblematic of your Divinity, your connection
to the Source from which we all are born.
Don’t let them tell you, no matter how unsettled
you may feel in the body you were born in,
that you are not made in sacred grace,
each atom, each particle, each space within you,
formed as you are of earth and water,
wind and flame–every name you choose
that means your soul and spirit,
that means your own transforming body,
is sacred, holy, breath and birth.

You, whose journey is all about
transforming who you are into who
you feel yourself to be, are built into the likeness
of the One who made the world, created
in the shape of the Universe Itself,
whose very name is Change, which set
the rules in motion, to cause the caterpillar
to feel her unsettled urge to break away
from caterpillar life, to take his time
in his quiet cocoon, to emerge as their own
beautiful butterfly. You make yourself,
you match yourself to yourself,
you rhyme, you move to the subtle rhythms
driven by the itch for mutability
placed within you by the Holy One Themself.

May you breathe deeply in the skin you’re in.
May you feel your holy fires awaken.
May the blood that pulses in the rivers of your veins
remind you of the waters of the Earth
which bring you, again and again, to birth,
as you shape and form and create yourself
to be the you you know yourself to be.
May the very Earth you walk on hold you up
and remind you every day that you Belong.
Blessed Be.

Kind of a creepy-looking thumbnail, but it was the best of the three that YT offered me.

Gratitude List:
1. Webs
2. Spinning strands together
3. The tender human connections the Fab 5 model
4. FINALLY starting a project that has been hanging over my head, literally. Yesterday, I spent several hours scraping the ceiling of the balcony porch to get it ready to re-paint. It is going to take days, and I don’t have the stamina for more than two or three hours of it at a time. But it is started!
5. Yesterday, we caught glimpses of one of the young raccoons searching the hillside for grubs and bugs. Jon got a good photo of it from the treehouse where he was nailing up walls. Last week, we discovered the body of one of the others, and it’s been hurting my heart so that I can hardly even type the truth of it. It was good to see life continuing on with such focus and curiosity in its sibling.

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


“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. . .

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.” —Tom Robbins


“To love another person is to see the face of God.” ―Victor Hugo


“Everybody’s In, Baby.” ―The Love Warriors


“And when she wanted to see the face of God, she didn’t look up and away; she looked into the eyes of the person next to her. Which is Harder. Better.” ―Glennon Doyle


“When we ask for help, we are building community. We are doing away with this notion that we should be practicing at detachment. We are rapturously attaching! We become responsible for tending to one another’s pieces. Not only is the giver allowed to express their bestowing heart, the receiver is taken into a greater tenderness of their own giving nature. As we grow our capacity for gratitude, which is another way of saying completeness or belonging, we are healing our tinygiant part of the world’s devastating wound of scarcity.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“Forever is composed of nows.” ―Emily Dickinson


Rob Brezsny: ‘So it turns out that the “blemish” is actually essential to the beauty. The “deviation” is at the core of the strength. The “wrong turn” was crucial to you getting you back on the path with heart.’


“If not for reverence, if not for wonder, if not for love, why have we come here?” ―Raffi


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ―Anne Frank

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

Sweater Weather

Gratitude List:
1. How dreams and half-dreams bring clarity.
2. A low-impact day today. Juniors and Seniors are busy. My other students will mostly write and read quietly.
3. People who speak the truth, who aren’t swayed by money and power, who stand between the powers and the vulnerable.
4. Sweater weather.
5. Sometimes people who are blissfully unaware of the wound you are wearing give you exactly the words necessary to make it bearable.

May we walk in Beauty!

A Brilliant Brigid’s Day

Song for Brigid’s Day
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Do you feel how the world comes alive?
How even underneath its coat of snow,
inside the bright crystals of the ice,
something in the Earth is stirring?

Within your own eyes I see it rising–
in this breath,
and now this one–
the Dreamer is awakening.

The dawn has come,
spreading its golden road before you,
asking, “Will you step upon the pathway?”

As you move out onto the road,
Brigid’s sun upon your face
will trace your outline full behind you,
defining you in the Shadow
which will be your soul’s companion
into spring.

–2018

Brigid’s Day has dawned bright and sparkling. The groundhog and her rodent kin have seen their shadows. The crone can merrily wander through the woods edge and hedgerows to gather firewood for the next six weeks of winter.

And here’s one of the sacred truths of the moment: If I’m willing to look deeply into the reality of my own shadows, if I’m willing to know them, to understand how they reflect me and show my inner realities, then I have nothing to fear from the shadows. I have nothing to fear from the coming weeks of winter.

Yesterday after I got home, I went out to shovel the drive so it would be easier for Jon to get up the slope. My neighbor came out to help me. She loves to shovel snow, she said. She loves winter, especially when it’s cold and snowy. And for those moments with her, shoveling and talking together, I too loved the cold and the snow. For the beauty, for the exercise, but mostly for the neighborliness.

Questions to Contemplate in the Season of Brigid
This is the season of sunlight and shadow:
What is the shape of my shadow?
How does it hamper me?
How does it hold me?
How does it tell me the shape of my soul?

Brigid is the Smith, she who works the forges:
What within me is being tempered this season?
What is being shaped and shifted?
What sacred patterns are being traced along my edges?
What useful tool am I being forged to become?

Brigid is the Healer.
The waters of her well bring wholeness.
What spaces within me need the touch of her waters?
What dis-ease drains my vitality?
How can I offer the waters of healing to others?

Brigid is Patroness of Poets.
How do words shape my reality, like iron is shaped in the forge?
How do my words bring healing, like water from the well?
How can I speak poetry into the cold and the shadows
of the season which is upon us?
Can I offer my daily words with the care and the artfulness of the poet?

Honest Anger


Gratitude List:
1. Grocery Shopping with Jon. It felt sort of like a date.
2. How things come together sometimes when they seem like they won’t, and how that space of uncertainty is often where the magic comes seeping in.
3. Rituals of healing
4. The power of stories. We watched Nanette last night. Hannah Gadsby has some of the most powerful reflections on the importance of story that I have ever heard.
5. Hot Tea on a chilly evening

May we walk in Beauty!

Hope and Zen

The young folk have developed some lovely intricate stacks of wood and stone in the zen garden.

Gratitude List:
1. The Black History Month chapel today. The students lead and teach us.
2. Chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips.
3. The slow blink of cat’s eyes.
4. Sickness seems to be abating.
5. Hope and zen.

May we walk in Beauty!

Beloved Community

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A couple years ago, I had a girl in my freshman class who entered every classroom on high alert, ready to attack at the slightest provocation. She didn’t wait to be bullied or insulted–she was ready to lash out at the least hint of a slight, the least whiff of aggression. Within days, most of her classmates were steering a wide path around her, terrified that they might accidentally look at her the wrong way and find themselves on the receiving end of her wrath.

One of the things I love about my school is the restorative way that teachers and administrators work with students. Teachers kept reminding her to keep her language school-appropriate, to speak more gently with her classmates. Students who felt harmed by her sharpness were cared for and comforted, and she was held accountable for the harm she caused. Still, she was treated like a person herself, not like a perpetrator, not like a problem. The adults understood that she was experiencing an extreme sense of vulnerability, that her social anxiety and the pain she was dealing with in her personal life made her push people away before she could be hurt.

Gradually, she began letting other students and adults near her. She discovered that people liked her for who she was, that we appreciated her quick wit, that she could make us laugh and smile. She began to talk and write about deeper things, too. When she lost someone she loved, instead of retreating to her cave and biting anyone who came near, she wrote it out. She talked about it. She let her friends hold her and care for her.

Now she’s a junior.  She’s finding her voice, catching her stride. She can still make you cringe when she gets into a temper. She’ll always be good at speaking her mind. But the aggressiveness is tempered with gentleness. Instead of masking her vulnerability, she uses her tender heart to find connections with others who hurt. She’s beginning to speak out about issues and causes that matter to her, using both reason and passion. She’s becoming a leader. I am proud of her, and grateful for this community that helped her find her way to her best self. She’s going to be one of the ones who changes the world.

Gratitude List:
1. Beloved community that provides a place for us to fail and try and fail and try and learn and become.
2. The way the sunlight spilled across the fields as dawn arrived.
3. Magenta, Indigo, Aquamarine, which is to say: The clouds at sunrise.
4. The way those five crows flying in a perfect line laced up the clouds they flew between.
5. The members of the Silhouette Magazine staff. They’re witty, earnest, playful, and thoughtful. I’m proud of the assembly they presented this morning.

May we walk in Beauty!

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Today’s poetry prompt is to write a poem about something that happens again and again.

This is a poem in hope that the cycle will continue for many years to come:

The Monarchs Return to Mexico
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Every year they find their way back.
Through the veils of mist that hover
over the mountain passes they flutter.

Their flaming wings set the woods afire
as morning sun sparkles through the canopy.
The forest breathes with orange light.

Gratitude List:
1. The music in church today. “Kyrie, eleison.” Supporting each other in song. Sitting next to Nancy and harmonizing with her, blending our voices.
2. A wonderful set of interviews at LMS this afternoon: Phyllis Pellman Good interviewed nine alumni about their work, how LMS prepared them for their lives, and what touchpoints they use for making ethical/moral decisions. Profound.
3. Seeing people’s safety pins.
4. The poet Andrea Gibson tweeted something about remembering how music heals. Yes.
5. Making salt dough with the kid.

May we walk in Beauty!

Somewhere in the World

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Shere Khan of Skunk Hollow (we watched  The Jungle Book last night)

Somewhere in the world
there must be a house
where you will find safety,
a place where maybe
you will find the grace of wholeness.

Somewhere in the world
there must be a word
that holds your truest name,
a word that is a haven,
a shelter for your aching.

Somewhere in the world
there must be a table
set for soothing, set for aiding,
a table that will make
a new way for your healing.

Gratitude List:
1. Dreams
2. Metaphors
3. Symbols
4. Poems
5. Laughter

May we walk in Beauty!

Golden

DSCN8677

Reach out your hand
like the quivering leaf.
Someone is there to grasp it:
wind, rain, a tiny green spider
wandering, crab-like, across its surface.

Lay your arms upon the air
like the oak branches that are held
in the grasp of the autumn sun.

Somewhere the invisible ones
are listening for the moment
when you offer your story to the breezes.

 

Gratitude List:
1. The fact that I have a lot more sense about how I dress in the daytime than I do in those crazy dreams.
2. Having wild and crazy dreams means I was sleeping last night.  I can feel the restfulness seeping into me.
3. Watching healing take place.  Friendship and kindnesses can begin to draw a person back toward wholeness.  May the healing continue.
4. Students beginning class by asking if we can pray for an injured classmate.
5. Golden.  I came out of school yesterday afternoon, and everything was Golden.

May we walk in Beauty!