Gratitudes, Musings

Step by Step

Gratitude as Resistance Nineteen:
It only has to be one step at a time. When I look at the map, and the journey just seems so long, and I know that I can’t go all that distance, I need to remember to look down at my feet and just walk it one step at a time. Bit by bit. Piece by piece. Bright leaf by bright leaf. Morning by morning. Challenge by challenge.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

The Root of Joy

3:45 a.m.―As I was falling asleep last night, words flooded into my head. Something like this:
Walking backward up the mountain
Pulling the future on a string.

It felt inordinately important that I remember it verbatim, but I was almost asleep, so I thought I might be able to remember it in the morning. I don’t think “future” was quite the right word.  I love the random messages that come from sleep-state and dream-state.

I had actually gone to bed early because the previous night’s dream-state message was about exhaustion. And now, there’s this harvest moon shining in under my eyelids, switching off the sleep switch. I can’t sleep, can’t work, can’t really think straight. This is not a complaint, really. I think the moon needs me to be awake in a semi-sleep state, keeping vigil with the night singers.


“The root of joy is gratefulness. . . . It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ―David Steindl-Rast
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“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” ―Fannie Lou Hamer
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“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
―Desmond Tutu (b. October 7, 1931)
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I walk into a poem and walk out someone else. —Nayyirah Waheed
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“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.”
―Arundhati Roy
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“Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book;
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”
―Walt Whitman
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THE JOURNEY
by David Whyte

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again,

painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light
fades quickly now,
you are arriving.


Gratitude List:
1. Stories and Songs
2. Public statements of thanks–At a celebration at my school tonight (75 years!), speakers kept making formal statements of thanks to the audience, and it was richer than the old “Thanks for your support” that you hear in so many settings. I can’t describe it, but it felt like a ritual of gratitude.
3. Three crows
4. The moon, the moon, the moon
5. Dreams and aspirations

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Say Dream and Mean Poem

2014 March 016

To celebrate the dawning of March, here is a photo from last March.  I don’t think the aconite are up just yet, but I will check this morning on the way out to the car.

Two nights ago, I dreamed that Lady Gaga and her beau were touring the school one afternoon and stopped by my room.  The Lady was enthralled by the look of the room, and told me that it must mean I was an excellent teacher.  Look at me, fishing for compliments even in my dreams.  I know where this one came from, of course.  I had been pondering, as I fell asleep, how fascinating it is that all these sober and earnest Lancaster County Mennonites (I include myself in those descriptors) are suddenly three degrees of separation away from Lady Gaga: We know people who taught Taylor Kinney, who is soon to be Mr. Gaga.  Does that make him Lord Gaga, perhaps?

This morning, I woke up in the middle of an etymological dream about the root jour, which my sleeping brain reminded me means day.  I know that journal means the record of the day, so journey, I woke up thinking, must mean the day’s travel.  Sojourn–how does that differ from journey?  I looked it up a moment ago.  The first part of  sojourn comes from sub-, which means “less than,” so sojourn originally intended to indicate a short stay, whereas journey was about the travel from place to place.  I am so glad that my dreaming mind had me clear up all that information.  Perhaps I need to plan a journey, a sojourn.

This morning’s writing exercise is the Language Event I wrote about yesterday.  I am going to try to do it as a free-write–as fast as I can–and see whether any treasures fall out of my foggy brain.

Say journey and mean day
Say blue and mean that you were out in the morning
Say wildness and mean longing
Say twilight and mean the way your soul whispers
Say birdsong and mean message
Say warning and mean that you need to move on
Say season and mean that you have become someone new
Say winter and mean that an old thing is passing
Say springtime and mean that the morning is dawning
Say morning sun and mean that you open your eyes
Say green and mean that you are nourished and fed
Say golden and mean that butterflies are returning

This has some possibility.  I feel like I might want to keep a notebook and write ten of them a day, and then compile a Shaman’s Lexicon Poem, perhaps.  If you want to do it, too, feel free.  Perhaps our poems will meet some day in the ethers of the internet.  I think I will add it to my list of poetry-writing exercises for the ninth-grade poetry unit.

Gratitude List:
1. Grandma Weaver’s afghan and old plum-colored recliner.  Nothing says comfort to me quite like sitting here like this.  Come to think of it, the white and blue quilt that is folded over the back of the chair right now was made by Grandma Slabaugh.  (Say grandmother’s blanket and mean enwrapped by love.)
2. A clean house.  (Say clean house and mean quiet mind.)
3. This sea-foam-colored scarf.  (Say aquamarine and mean contemplation.)
4. Playing violin with Ellis on the cello yesterday afternoon with the winter sun sparkling through the windows. (Say music and mean my heart is dancing.)
5. The shenanigans of a silly five-year-old. (Say shenanigans and mean shenanigans.)

May we walk in Beauty!