The prompts today are Trap, and Blue. Instead of doing a mash-up, I did two.
In the Arms of the Beloved by Beth Weaver-Kreider
You can’t escape the blue, the windy robe of the Beloved draped like a veil over the rim of your living, over the bowl of your holiest spaces,
and scattered deep within the indigo arms of the tree-shadows, indigo bluer than soul, pathways striping the afternoon green, leading you home to the arms of your most desired Mystery.
Trapped in the Anagrams by Beth Weaver-Kreider
I am rapt. I start prattling, debating. I stay apart: No parties. No pasta. No prattling patter. I’m caught in the strata. No matter, I rap and I mutter. This pome can’t escape the trap and the stutter, lodged under a tarp of ratatat blather, of anagram chatter.
Gratitude List: 1. Yesterday’s dawn: How the sky was a living breathing indigo until the horizon cracked open in magenta, a tangerine orange glow slowly seeping through. 2. Persephone’s footsteps, the crocus and anemone popping up everywhere. We have a large clump of white crocus in a patch of green chickweed by the porch. We usually only have one or two white ones. 3. Crows 4. Puzzles 5. The steady, unflappable people. If you’re feeling anxious about politics or viruses or the economy or whatever, find one of the Unflappables and bask in their settledness.
Welcome, rain. Welcome, dawn on this chilly morning. Welcome, work of the day, of the weekend. Welcome, time yet to come when the work is done. Welcome, clean new pages to write my next chapter.
Gratitude List: 1. Yesterday’s dawn. It began as we pulled out of the driveway, with pink streaks on the horizon over Spicher’s field. On the way to pick up our car pool, we passed the small paddock where two mountainously fluffy sheep graze, and the sky was beginning to glow gently magenta against the woolly clouds, the grass a green almost glowing. The River, as we crossed, flowed pink beneath the old bridge to the south, and the lamps were still twinkling along its span. By the time we reached school, the sky colors had shifted out of indigos and violets and pinks, to tangerine, and rays of coming sun shot upward through the low-flung clouds. 2. Rain and reflections on a Saturday morning 3. People who stand up for peace 4. People who stand up to bullying behavior 5. Poetry
Every year, I have to talk myself through this. I love darkness. I love the quiet and the rest, the comfort of enveloping night. And–
And the short days and long nights also fill me with a growing sense of panic, a sense of claustrophobia, as the night comes early and the dark lingers late into the mornings. I feel the panic rise, like it does when my clothes are too tight or I’m in a crowd, closed in on all sides by people, or when the seatbelt in the car pulls tight and won’t let go. It takes a conscious effort of will and a lot of self-talk to get myself back to the quiet space where I can sit in the darkness of early evening and remember how good it is to sit in the warm yellow glow of a lamp and feel the gentle arms of darkness around me.
So, here in the sixth passage of this labyrinth walk into December, I want to look into the shadows. Perhaps tomorrow, or another day, I will look into the more metaphorical shadows inside me (they make me claustrophobic, too), but yesterday I was caught up in looking at the blues and the indigos and violets that glow in the edges of the shadows and color the deeper areas. The under-shadow of the clouds was such a blue yesterday that I wondered if my eyes are developing a more acute sense of blue as they grow aged and fuzzy. The indigos beside the blue were richer, more lustrous. I think I know why the search for indigo has been a human obsession.
This morning, the shadows cast beyond the lamplight cross shadows falling through the archway to the kitchen. The lines between create distinct zones and areas, but try to look directly at the borders between light and shadow and doubled shadow, and suddenly the boundaries blur and disappear. Stare too long at the edges of a shadow and it starts to pulse and shift.
Without light, there is no shadow. Yesterday when I got home from work, I climbed onto the picnic table to catch a photo of the glorious shadows cast by the sycamore tree onto the red wall of the barn. The moment I raised my camera, a cloud slipped in front of the sun and the shadow was gone.
On today’s journey into winter, shall we explore the spaces between sun and shadow, consider the ways that light creates shadow, hone our noticing of color and line in the deepening shadows of winter?
Envisioning: (On Sunday, Michelle asked us to hold the swords-into-ploughshares vision in our heads, to look for stories of people choosing that vision. For the next little while, I am going to look for such stories as my daily morning meditation.)
Yesterday, One of my friends told me of a woman in a retirement center who greets each person she passes with, “God loves you.” This reminds me of a student of mine who would come into class every day with a high five and a “Make it a great day, Ms. Weaver-Kreider!” And of the students who always thank me as they are leaving class. And of the people who look others in the eye, and make the effort to make that powerful human contact for just a moment in the day. Loving interaction which in which we See each other–that’s my vision for today.
I love these computer apps that turn a photo into a painting. The photo of the moment the vulture sat on the telephone pole and spread her wings does not do justice to the awe and wonder of the moment, but the painting version starts to add that layer.
<Post-publish edit: After I posted this, I went to my Facebook page and saw that on this same day last year I posted a gratitude reflection on the color indigo. I love that synchronicity. I wonder if mid-October is a particularly apt time to notice indigo.>
Gratitude List: 1. Parent-Teacher Conferences yesterday. It takes extra energy, and it’s a really long day, but I love the chance to tell parents how I see their student in classes. Yesterday one of my colleagues talked about the moments before a parent enters the room for a conference–he said, “You have to ‘put on the child.'” It may sound strange, but that’s exactly right. It feels almost like a prayer moment, that moment of breathing, of calling the image of the student into my head and heart, before we begin to talk. I often find myself glancing at the seat where the student sits when I am talking to the parents, as though the student is there in the room. This kind of awareness is particularly important, I think, when we are discussing difficulties, because conversations about challenges can veer into talking as though the student is the problem, but of course that isn’t it at all. The student may have a problem, and we are there to strategize solutions. Parent-teacher conferences are a kind of professional development–both for the parenting and the teaching. We both come away with ideas for supporting these marvelous young people.
2. The colors of sunset. I am still intrigued by the new research that says that scholars who have studied ancient languages can’t find a word for blue. If we don’t have a word for a thing, it usually means we do not conceptualize it. I am baffled by the lack of blue in ancient eyes. On the other hand, indigo seems to be a color that modern eyes struggle to see. We keep dropping it from the rainbow, or we substitute Prussian Blue. I keep going back to the interview I heard with Oliver Sacks on Radiolab where he discussed his search to truly see indigo, how he could only see it during a drug-induced hallucination. I feel like sunset is the time to settle the eyes and brain into a meditative state that might possibly be able to conceptualize and interpret the colors without the help of mind-altering substances. Sunset and sunrise are the moments when I think I am closest to understanding blue and indigo, to experiencing the shades and shifts of color throughout the spectrum.
3. The Moon, the First Star, and the Dragon-Shaped Cloud–these three accompanied me on the ride home as I drove into the sunset yesterday evening.
4. Literature and Story. When I got home last night, my kids were totally engrossed in their books. One of the reasons that I am an English teacher is that I want to give my students the gift of story. I don’t need them to all become voracious readers, but I want them all to learn to find satisfaction in story. The same goes for my boys–I love when they become involved in story. I suppose that the ability to get lost in a story is sort of like the ability to see certain colors. As we enter a story, we refine our internal perceptions of human experience, increasing our ability to conceptualize the shades and colors that fill the spectrum of what it means to be human. Let’s keep searching for each other’s indigo.
5. Michelle Obama. She is one of the most inspiring speech-makers I have listened to. I will miss her as First Lady.
(We decided that with young readers in the house, it might be nice to have a sort of family creed or motto on the wall for them to explore, so we bought this one from Flinchbaugh’s Farm Market and gave it to ourselves for Christmas. They read it out loud quite a lot. The one about doing loud really well is, of course, their most vocal favorite.)
Gratitude List: I have to be really careful to focus on the drive to work these days because I am driving into sunrise, and the colors tend to throw me toward a deep meditative mode. I suppose I could try to attach symbolic significance to the various colors and the way they deepen my meditative state, but I’m not sure that it’s something nameable. Yesterday there were wings of clouds that rose upward from the point where the sun was about to rise. At their base they were a (1) glowing tangerine orange, which shaded upward through (2) magenta into a rich, deep (3) violet. The tops of the clouds were rimed with a velvety (4) indigo, and behind it all was that pure and serene (5) aquamarine that I love so much. I had to stop and get some snacks for my Advisory Group, and when I got back on the road, everything had shifted, and the clouds were, for a moment, a simple shining (6) gold. I think I should take another art class with someone who can give me more vocabulary for color–the last art class I took was at Sunbridge College in 2002, and the color work we did there has become part of my regular meditations.