Gratitudes, Musings

Practice the Pause

“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret. ”
—Lori Deschene
“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.” ―Parker J. Palmer
“In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?”
―Rabia al-Adawiyya, Sufi poet, 717-801
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
―Albert Einstein

Gratitude List:
1. Today I am grateful that I no longer experience weeks of 4-hour sleep. When I experience insomnia these days, it’s a couple hours for a couple nights in a row. It has become a teacher instead of a raging enemy.
2. The UNICEF kids. They put on a great party today, set up without prompting and supervision, ran the show, and cleaned up so quickly, I hardly knew what hit me. They’re going to change the world.
3. This ratty old black long-sleeved T-shirt. I’ve bought shirts to replace it, and they’re okay in their way, but none are so soft, so mine. I will wear it until it’s rags.
4. The Ducktown Road bridge is functional! I drove the whole way up Ducktown on my way home tonight.
5. How things come together, and fall apart, only to come together again, in a new way.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings


Full Moon filtered through flowery Dreamscope app.

“This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.” –Ben Okri
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” –Albert Einstein
Out of my life I fashioned a fistful of words.
When I opened my hand, they flew away.
—Hyam Plutzik
“On Hearing that My Poems
Were Being Studied in a Distant Place”
Richard Rohr quotes Thomas Keating on the way of peace: “It means to show love tirelessly, no matter what happens. That’s the meaning of turning the other cheek. Once in a while you have to defend somebody, but it means you’re always willing to suffer first for the cause—that is to say, for communion with your enemies. If you overcome your enemies, you’ve failed. If you make your enemies your partners, God has succeeded.”
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” –Rumi

Gratitude List:
1. Singing “Swing Low,” “Oh When the Saints,” and “I’m Gonna Sing” in chapel today
2. Beautiful morning rain
3. Looking back through old blog posts this afternoon, watching how the ideas and dreams that I began to sift and plant last winter have begun to gestate within me.
4. Somehow, I know that I will be able to build that bridge from where I am to where I need to go
5. Cannoli dip

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

The Golden-Eyed Monster

“A society is defined not only by what it creates but also by what it refuses to destroy.” ―John C. Sawhill
“There are no ordinary people.You have never talked to a mere mortal. . . . Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.” ―C. S. Lewis
“We have the power to turn our upsidedown world right.” ―Leymah Gbowee
“Once upon a time, they say, there was a girl…there was a boy…there was a person who was in trouble. And this is what she did…and what he did…and how they learned to survive it. This is what they did…and why one failed…and why another triumphed in the end. And I know that it’s true, because I danced at their wedding and drank their very best wine.”  —Terri Windling
“Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing.”  —Linda Hogan
“Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored.” —Patricia A. McKillip
“When you put your hands and mind and heart into the knowing of a thing … there is no room in you for fear.” —Patricia A. McKillip
“There are no simple words. I don’t know why I thought I could hide anything behind language.” —Patricia A. McKillip

Gratitude List:
1. Foods class. The boy has to make a snack or dessert for the family this weekend. He wanted to make cannoli. I convinced him to try making cannoli bites instead–still a little complicated, but not quite so demanding as the real thing. I love watching him work independently. And HE is supposed to clean the kitchen!
2. The writing of Patricia McKillip. Her words transport me to a dream-state where many levels of reality are working at once. I am currently read The Book of Atrix Wolfe,  one of the books that I reread every few years because it reminds me to keep in mind the consequences of action and inaction.
3. Breakfast at Columbia Market House. We wanted to go to Hinkle’s because we want to get there as often as possible before they close, but the line was incredibly long. Instead, we got to eat omelet and crepes and soul rolls at Columbia Market House.
4. Playing board games with the family. Okay, so The Farming Game is truly a little too realistic for comfort, but there’s something addicting about it. “Can’t we just go through one more year? Maybe I can make up for last year’s losses!”
5. Hopes and dreams.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Bless the Seeds

A Blessed Autumn Equinox to you.

“We have arrived at Autumn Equinox, one of those exquisite balance points of the year cycle, the moment of shift in the whirl around our star. The light has been shifting, coming in at a slant that sets everything atwinkle. Every dusk, hundreds of robins sail into the hollow and set up a clatter and cacophony in the bamboo grove. The geese are going, cormorants winging their way, thousands of feet above us, or angling down to the River for a rest. Seeds burst forth.

Say a blessing for the seeds, those packets of potential that burst from the ripened fruits of the flower buds and fall to earth, some to be trampled by passing feet, some to be eaten–fuel for the journeys of the little birds or stocked up by small animals as fat for the coming cold. And some to fall into the rich soil to wait through the winter until it is time to Become.

How has your own ripening been? What is the seed within you at this moment? What is the hopeful little bundle of potential that is waiting to fall, to be carried by the winds and the waves and the creatures that pass, to tumble into the soil of your future self? What has ripened within you, and what will you release, knowing it may grow and bear its own fruit, or may become food for others? What of yourself do you give to this season? Say a blessing for the seeds.” ―Beth Weaver-Kreider
“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.” ―Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Stories,” he’d said, his voice low and almost husky, “we are made up of stories. And even the ones that seem the most like lies can be our deepest hidden truths.”
― Jane Yolen, Briar Rose
“Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored.”
― Patricia A. McKillip
“Matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen.” ―Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.” ―Paramahansa Yogananda

Gratitude List:
1. The morning sky. Sundogs. Woven clouds. Golden pathways of the sun.
2. Those young hawks sitting everywhere, learning to make it on their own. Buffy bellies high in the trees.
3. Walnut leaves fluttering down through afternoon sun. Cherry blossoms of autumn.
4. A tidy house. Well, sort of tidy. Tidier, anyway.
5. Singing with people

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Gained in Translation

Mockingbird Words: This is a word cloud of the words on this blog from the first week of October.

I am playing around with Google translate this Saturday morning. I translated a short poem of mine into Bengali and back again. The basic poem was pretty similar, but when we got back to English, giant feather had become hairy giants.  That’s extremely promising for a little bit of fun.  The sentence structure of the original poem was pretty straightforward, so the algorithms brought most of the poem back to at least a sense of the original, even when I sent it through several languages before coming back to English.

This is addicting.  I am going to try a poem that begins with a somewhat fractured sentence structure already, send it through several translations, and see what comes back.  Here is my original tanka, titled “Riddle”:

Down halls of dream, through
tattered veils of old stories
no fury, no fear
only the question of where
the next riddle will appear.

Zulu * Burmese * Haitian Creole * Portuguese * Maori * Japanese * and back to English again:

And, the bedroom
It covers the history of his face
Anger do not be afraid
It displays the following password.

“It covers the history of his face” is a fascinating line. I still like my original line, but I wonder how it would go to say:

tattered veils of old stories
cover the history of her face

There’s some possibility there. As goofy as this exercise is, there’s a point here: I sometimes (often?) get caught in certain ways of saying things, stuck in linguistic and imagistic patterns. I worry that my poems sometimes begin to sound all the same. In Song of the Toad and the Mockingbird, I published several poems that were an attempt to break out of my own boxes. The results were several rather surreal poems that I am rather in love with, but which–in hindsight–I think might be somewhat unrelatable to anyone outside my own head.

Here, after some more play with translator, and re-crafting, is “Riddle,” no longer a tanka, and perhaps a little more layered, perhaps a little too clunky:

Down halls of dream,
through tattered curtains of old fairy tales
which cover the history of her face
without eyes, without fear–
only the question of where
the next riddle (this mystery)
will appear.

I was going to stop here, but then I took that last form and translated it into Cebuano and back again, and this marvel appeared:

Dream Hall,
By Tttered Krtens Old fairy tale
He covered his face HISTORY
Vithut Mata, Vithut Fiyr–
Questions included Ware
Next Ridley (Mystery)
The Makita.

Perhaps my next experiments should be to break down even the structure of the words, and play with invented spellings. Vithut for without has captured my imagination. And Mata. Is that eyes? Or matter? I need to simply force myself to stop now, or I’ll be doing this until noon.

Gratitude List:
1. Wordplay. Layers of meanings in words that shift and change color, dash away, and return with whole new meanings. Connections between words and meanings and languages.
2. Imagination. This boy, who is doing his spelling homework here on the floor beside me, suddenly yelled out, “Narwhal!” He had stuck his pencil between his toes (because that’s what you do) and caught the shadow of it on the floor. It did indeed look exactly like a narwhal.
3. Yesterday’s Service of Thanksgiving at my school. Music, speech and story, visuals. Generations. The Moment, for me, was when the choir was coming off the stage. I was one of the first ones off, so I got to watch as members of a composite choir of people of all ages filed into their rows. We all felt a sense of belonging to the choir because we had all been in some form of LMS choir throughout the years. It brought 75 years of time together into one moment.  Deeply moving.
4. Saturday morning sleeping in. I feel so rested and ready for the day.
5. Thermally satisfying weather.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings


Yesterday morning, I was pondering how my children have entered another of those changeling phases, when they suddenly look and act like changelings that the faeries have swapped for my little ones.  Suddenly, their teeth seem to be too big for their mouths, their chins are pointy, and their knees and elbows stick out at all angles.  Their shoulder blades stick out of their backs like they’re about to sprout wings.  Their hair seems to grow an inch a day.  They seem to have lost some hearing: they don’t come when I call or answer questions when I ask them.  They get a faraway look in their eyes.  Wild creatures.

Then I noticed that the Faerie Ring mushrooms had popped open in the night.  This is only the second or third year that I have noticed them out by the shop, and there are more now than there have ever been, about ten, in an oblong ring.  I told my youngest changeling that he might want to make a faerie garden down by the ring.  He spent most of the afternoon and evening creating an elaborate faerie village among and around the toadstools.  At one point, he set up four chairs down by the ring and invited the whole family to come sit and watch him work.

My friend Marie Winger, who is a powerful storyteller, and who was here at the CSA to pick up her weekly share of vegetables, told me how someone had once interviewed her about how people can preserve their capacity for wonder and imagination.  She told him, “How can you hope to see the faeries under the flowers, if you don’t notice the flowers themselves?”  That was the third time yesterday that someone had told me very earnestly that noticing, paying attention, is an important practice.  My children might not be very good right now at noticing when I call, but they’re very busy noticing the minute details of their world.

I love these changeling children and their wild wonder, their startling imaginative worlds.  If this cycle goes as the last one did, they’ll soon start to grow back into themselves.  Their feet and hands will seem to match their body proportions again.  Their fighting will become a little less fierce for a time.  They’ll listen better again.  They’ll come to terms with the space around them.  For now, I hope the faeries let me keep these little feral things a while longer.

Gratitude List:
1.  The faerie toadstool ring and the magic that it brings us.
2.  Virginia Sweet tomatoes, golden yellow streaked with pink, and almost two pounds each.  Sweet and juicy.
3.  Noticing.  Paying attention.  Being Here Now.
4.  My wise, wise friends.  That includes you, Bright Ones.
5.  The smell of good bread toasting.  Isn’t that a sort of iconic scent?  It’s more than it is, you know?

May we walk in Wonder!

Gratitudes, Poems

May Fever

I don’t see how I can
be expected to participate
in this conversation

when bluebird, carrying his piece of sky,
has just flitted past my field of vision
and into a bough of pink dogwood.

How can I focus on these plans
and preparations and good ideas
when redwing has settled into the foxtails

and calls to me with his buzz and click,
making the grasses sway and dip?
When oriole’s bright flame

is setting fire to the treetop?
When the red-bellied woodpecker
shirrrrrrs and clucks

from the little pear tree?
When the carpenter bee hovers
in front of me, people-watching?

How can I listen to human conversation
when all these voices call incessantly,
whistling and chattering, begging my attention?


Gratitude List:
1. The wild, rampant imagination of a five-year-old
2. Bridge of Hope, and its commitment to building communities which protect children and end homelessness.
3. The subjunctive mood (google “Phuc Tran subjunctive” for a great TED talk on the subject)
4. My articulate sister Valerie, and the way she weaves words.
5. So much is dawning.  So much is greening.  So much is coming to birth.  Unfurl!

May we walk in Beauty!