Letter to My Cat

Dear Sweet Thor,
I know I said that I love the sound of your happy chirpy morning purr, and I do. Thing is, “morning” is the operative word in that sentence. It resonates a little differently at 3:30.

I love the way you pat my face so sweetly with your paw, but again, what is sweet at 5:30 only startles and annoys me at 4:00. The same is true of whiskers in my face, of walking up and down my body with your needle-fingers, of licking my hands. Please know that, no matter how much you lick my hands, I will not be petting you before the alarm goes off.

So far in my life, I have a 100% record of waking up in the morning–not always on time, I grant you, but usually–so you do not need to check on me every fifteen minutes from 3:30 onward to make sure whether I am still alive. Further, rolling over, stretching out my legs, yawning–these are not signals of my imminent awakening. They usually help me get back to sleep, unless, of course, someone is trying to wake me up.

One more thing, small dude: While I work hard at being culturally competent, I am never going to sniff your butt. You can stop offering. Especially in the night when I am trying to sleep.

See you in the morning, Sweetie.


Gratitude List:
1. Boy has been writing poems. “Who assigned you that prompt?” I ask.
“Oh, I just decided to write a poem for fun.”
Heart is melting.
2. Stretching and breathing. In-spir-ation.
3. Last night, I looked back through my New Orleans 2003 journal. I need to get back into doing watercolor sketches.
4. Carving spaces for myownself
5. All the little signs of spring.

May we walk in Beauty!

Advent 18: Torpor and Dreams

Such a strange and wakeful night it was. The borders between sleep and unsleep were oddly porous. Toward the end there, I did fall into deeper grooves of dream and sleep. I don’t feel particularly unrested, so there’s that. Perhaps it’s the load of work still to get done this week, or the doings in the House today, or the season, or the excitement of going to play practice again after twenty-five years. Or maybe it was simply cats and digestion.

This season, I have been reading Gayle Boss’ All Creation Waits again, learning about the various states of torpor and hibernation and quiet of various animals throughout a northern winter. I, too, feel torpor taking me, but it’s not always about deep sleep for me. Sometimes, it feels more like a simple need to rest quietly and profoundly, while the stories play out in my brain.

Winter is, for me, the Dreaming Time. I do head more readily toward sleep, if I don’t always actually make it to the deepest waters. After Solstice and Christmas, in the hush of nights when the planet seems to pause in its dance, as she begins the whirl back to exquisite balance, I listen more closely to my dreams, watching for symbols and images and words that I might mine for use in the coming year. Already, my night-brain seems to be readying me for the work of conscious dreaming.

Now comes the work of remembering and sorting the images that come in those half wakeful moments between the dreaming and sleeping and waking. May your dreams bring you wisdom.


Gratitude List:
1. The startling talents of my students.
2. The wisdom of dreams and darkness
3. Break is coming
4. Only 3 days until Sunreturn
5. Little spaces in the coming day in which to breathe

May we walk in Beauty!

The Art of Enough


Today is the feast day of St. Hildegard of Bingen. If I have a patron saint, it would be her. She loved music and art, herbalism and stones. She was mystic, poet, doctor, composer, artist, and theologian. I’ll include some of her quotations in the mix below.

Here, to begin the curated quotations of the day, is something I wrote last year about writing poems, and then a poem I wrote about Sadness.

“I feel like I want a disclaimer before I write a poem about sadness. I realize that my life has been free of the iron grip of sadness that many people experience through depression or trauma or deep, recurring grief. I wrote this poem because I am trying to be Rumi’s Guest House and welcome in any and all who come my way, to learn from them what they would teach me. Sometimes I am a poet sitting at a pool, fishing out a single word at a time. Other days, I sit beside the stream, and the poem jumps right out into my lap and only needs to be tidied up a bit before it’s ready for the page. This is one of the latter.”

She’s a strange guest, is Sadness.
She knocks on the door
and when I open it
she turns her face away, says,
“You probably shouldn’t invite me in.”

But when I close the door,
she comes in anyway,
seeping in around the edges
and standing with her back to the wall.
And then she grows.

When I look directly at her, she dissipates
into the indigo shadows,
and all I can see are her eyes,
full of grief, full of resignation.

Sadness. It’s hard to know her, really,
to understand what she wants of me.

Sometimes she comes in as a cold wind
and I feel my senses tingle with the approach of her
before the world goes numb in her silence.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ―Ram Dass
*
“If you spell HA backwards, you get AH! Put them together and you get AHA!” ―Jeff Raught (I think I got the quotation right)
*
“Like billowing clouds,
Like the incessant gurgle of the brook,
The longing of the spirit can never be stilled.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
The Red Wheel Barrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.
*
“She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans…. But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.”
―Hildegard of Bingen


Gratitude List:
1. I keep learning new things: There is so much to give away, to let go, before I know I have enough.
2. Patience. I have enough Patience, if I can find it behind that stack of Busy-ness that keeps getting in the way.
3. Wisdom. I know I have enough Wisdom here, but it keeps getting lost behind the boxes full of Knowledge and Know-it-allness.
4. Sleep. I can get enough of that, if I just work at it. Sleep is such hard work lately, but it’s better than insomnia.
5. Feathers. What does a feather mean?

May we walk in Beauty!

The Birdwatcher


The birdwatcher. Even the arthritis didn’t keep him from a little birdwatching during the storm. (Yes, the chair is getting pretty beat-up. Still, it has a shabby charm that we can’t give up just yet.)

We walk the Coyote Road.
Our eyes are full of night.
A thousand sacred sounds
fill the soft bowls of our ears.

That’s the start of something. I’ll get back to it, find its rhythm. I tend to write poems in snatches and dribs these days, between a stack of student essays, or after reading another chapter to the boys.

Gratitude List:
1. Strengthening–I am adding a little extra exercise to my day. Little but little, I feel myself strengthening.
2. That pasta with cream sauce and spinach and peas that Jon makes.
3. The two-hour delay today was especially needed after last night’s insomnia. I had a craving for some cheese, and that seemed to help me to get back to sleep. Maybe i’ll try warmed milk next time.
4. Tree shadows on snow
5. Passing blessings around

May we walk in Beauty!

Addressing Fear

Poem-a-Day Day 3 Prompt:  Write a poem that scares you.
This one is really challenging me.  The worst fears that I could
conjure are the negatives to the work that I have chosen to
do in the world.  I do not want to speak it.

This is the four o’clock ramble
the tumble into chasms
the angst that awakens me into the story
of the world I fear I have delivered these children to:

Where the grab and the fist
assure the rights and privilege
of Me and Mine above all else.

Where rage is the fuel that carries
the fool between apathies.

Where greed is the creed,
and the goal of existence
is the next shiny trinket
constructed of toxins by slaves
in some faraway land.

A world without spinners
and dyers and knitters and painters,
where poets write ad copy,
where wonders on a screen
fascinate more utterly
than feather, stone or tree.

I can write no more of this.
My hand is frozen into a claw
A roaring fills my ears.
I dare not let this story
see any more light of day.

I’ll tidy up the mess of negative emotions at the end here with a
Joseph Campbell quotation: “The cave you fear to enter holds
the treasure that you seek.”