These days demand such centeredness within ourselves and our intentions. There are malicious forces out there actively working to discredit and destroy. Check out the organizers of the protests before you go. Wash your hands. Go to the protests. Sit in the streets. Wear your mask. Social distance as possible. When white people in the crowds incite violence, don’t trust them. Protect each other. Learn how to tend to eyes that have been pepper-sprayed. Destroy white supremacy. Amplify black and brown voices. Admit when you’re wrong. When you make a mistake, own it, and do better. Stay on message: Black Lives Matter. No more police brutality. Justice for George Floyd. White Supremacy is an evil beast, and it isn’t going down without a fight. And when the marches and the protests are over, we still have more work to do, to overcome our own internal biases.
Gratitude List: 1. The people in the streets 2. New schedules. More spaces in the schedule with my name on them. 3. Books to read 4. People who do the right thing 5. Cool mornings mean cats are snugglier.
May we walk in Beauty!
“Sit quietly, and listen for a voice that will say, ‘Be more silent.’” —Rumi
“All wizards, including writers, are extremely careful about their spells.” —Ursula K.Le Guin
“We have always needed good art to sustain us, to strengthen us, even to console us for being born human. Where better can we learn to see through the eyes of others, to gain compassion, to try to make sense of the world outside ourselves and the world within ourselves? —Lloyd Alexander
“Language is the house of Being.” —Martin Heidegger
“And the women said feel the way we became campfire how we ghost storied into this dangerous beauty.” —Kelly Grace Thomas
“So often we armour ourselves thinking we are sparing others the burden of our pain, but the truth is that we are depriving them the opportunity to nurture. Our vulnerability is what brings out compassion in others. As Rumi says, ‘Where lowland is, that’s where water goes. All medicine wants is pain to cure.'” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
“At the end of my life, with just one breath left, if you come, I’ll sit up and sing.” ―Rumi
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” —Helen Keller
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” —Rumi
“The soul of the Soul of the Universe is Love.” —Rumi
I’ve been thinking a lot about this speech a lot lately. I don’t want to co-opt her brilliant language about breaking down racism and xenophobia for my own purposes, and yet I feel like the work we are doing now to bring a new reality to birth during this time of waiting and change is part of the same story. We are cocooning in our home-wombs, envisioning an After that will succeed for everyone in ways that the Before could only dream of.
I don’t think we are anywhere near transition in the story we are birthing. I think we have a long way to go. This labor is more like my labors were, long and protracted, going through cycles of intense and near-transitional waves of desire to push before settling back into the rocking rhythms of preparatory contractions. Rise and fall. Breathe.
What would happen to the world if we would all see ourselves as Midwives of the Moment? If we were all to use this time to envision, to re-orient, to wake up a little, to find ways to articulate the dream of the After?
I want my life in the After to continue to include the baking of bread. I want our lives in the After to be like those first weeks of sheltering in place, when Mutual Aid was the word of the day. Remember that, before we started fighting about personal liberties? I want our lives in the After to include safety nets, like health care. I want our lives in the After to recognize the people who really make things happen. Not the billionaires, but the Workers.
What do you want to see in the After?
Gratitude List: 1. The brisk springy air flowing in the screen door. It’s travel-weather, although I am not traveling. 2. Envisioning a more just and humane future. 3. The people who keep the world running: the workers. 4. Anticipating summer. 5. Making things.
May we walk in Beauty!
“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” ― Terry Pratchett
“The historian deals with the past, but the true storyteller works with the future. You can tell the strength of an age by the imaginative truth-grasping vigour of its storytellers. Stories are matrices of thought. They are patterns formed in the mind. They weave their effect on the future. To be a storyteller is to work with, to weave with, the material of time itself.” —Ben Okri (The Mystery Feast)
“Love trumps dogma every time.” —Vincent Harding
“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.” ―Gandalf, (Peter Jackson)
“Maturity is the ability to live joyfully in an imperfect world.” —Richard Rohr
“Hey, even Santa Claus believes in you!” —Floyd and Janis, The Electric Mayhem
There are the people who keep saying, “When things get back to normal.” I hear the sense of loss, the sense of things thrown out of kilter, in that–the longing to be able to be back with the people we loved, to go to the places we have come to love, to play and interact, to look people in the eye. I hear, and feel, the terrible anxiety of the livelihood losses created by a world on pause. Yes, I too eagerly anticipate the time when things get back to that normal.
There are the people who are critiquing the privilege in that statement. Getting back to what normal? they ask. I need to keep interrogating this for myself. I respect this critique. I want the new normal that comes when all this is over to open doors for more people. I don’t want to go back to a normal that privileges capital over humanity, that privileges the makers of abstract capital over the creators of actual necessary things, and the ones who make society flow smoothly.
There are the people who are celebrating this abnormal as a breathing time for the environment. Less pollution of all kinds–less particulate matter in the air, less noise, fewer lights–offers wildlands and wild creatures a chance to rebound, to heal. We are seeing the Mother’s graceful ability to heal herself. It’s happening before our eyes. There is hope. I don’t want to go go back to a normal that mindlessly plunders and destroys the Mother for capital gain.
I’ve begun thinking about it as The After. What do we want the world to be In The After? How can we honor the deep desire for a “normal,” a stability, a rhythm and routine that so many are expressing, and also strive for a new way of being? Can we make the kindnesses and the mutual aid a matter of course? Can we make the idea of everyone working together for the safety of our most vulnerable one of the established standards of the After? Will we find ways to walk the Earth with more respectful silence, so as not to disturb Her children? Will we give up plunder and competition in favor of sharing and co-existence? Perhaps now, the voices of the ones who have always striven for justice and equality, for kindness and ecological awareness, will be heard above the clamor.
What is the world you want to live in? We have been living in a pause, the world on hold, but there will come a time when we begin to move again, when we step out of the pause into a new something (a new normal, perhaps). Let’s commit to making The After a more just, more tender, more egalitarian, more eco-conscious world. Speak up now. Tell your ideas now. This is the gestation period, the time to be forming and visualizing and developing the normal that is to come in The After.
Gratitude List: 1. Visionaries 2. Dreamers 3. The people who implement ideas 4. Kindness 5. Hope
May we walk in Beauty!
“Grief is normal. It’s not like you’ll have a life someday with no grief. Life is all about loss, but grief is the medicine for that loss. Grief is not your problem. Grief is not the sorrow. Grief is the medicine. The people that have grief cultural awareness are always turning all of their losses into beauty in order to make more life instead of just trying to get through it and then forget about it.” —Martin Prechtel
“The only weapon we have is our bodies, and we need to tuck them in places so wheels don’t turn.” —Bayard Rustin
“My turn shall also come: I sense the spreading of a wing.” —Osip Mandelstam, Russian poet and essayist
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” ―Washington Irving
“Gratitude is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not necessarily something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, a-priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life.” ―David Whyte
“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness—and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
“The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling—their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
“Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” ―Arundhati Roy, War Talk
“And this brings us back to the Hen Wife—that figure of magic who dwells comfortably among us, not off by the crossroads or in the dark of the woods; who is married, not solitary; who is equally at home with the wild and domestic, with the animal and human worlds. She is, I believe, among us still: dispensing her wisdom and exercising her power in kitchens and farmyards (and the urban equivalent) to this day—anywhere that women gather, talk among themselves, and pass knowledge down to the next generations.” ―Terri Windling
Look what the goddess does when she is sad: She takes up a tambourine, made of taut skin and rimmed with castanets of brass, and she begins to dance. The sound blares out wildly, reaching even to the depths of the underworld, so loud, so clamorous is it.
Look what the goddess does when she is sad: She finds the wildness in herself, and as she does, she finds that there is joy there too. –Patricia Monaghan (attr. to Euripides)
Gratitude List: 1. One young snow goose in the flock of a thousand Canadas across the road from my parents’ house yesterday. 2. Anticipation: I have an education conference coming up at the end of the week, and I always look forward to the feeling of a little retreat. All the mundane tasks are taken care of. I get my own little room with my own little bed. I love getting to talk to colleagues and others, but also having time completely to myself. 3. Stories that inspire and heal 4. How breath lifts spirit 5. All the people who are working for justice.
Grades are due Monday. I’m focusing on the day ahead, the weekend ahead, on getting it done. Fueled by coffee, hope, and the wild burst of procrastinator’s eleventh-hour mania. I am good at getting things done on time, but not in a timely fashion, if that makes any sense. Always hoping to rectify that, and sometimes, like now, finding myself deeper in the hole than ever.
Gratitude List: 1. Good colleagues. I love working with these earnest and compassionate people. And they’re funny, too. 2. There are some clear-thinking, justice-aware folks in that room in Washington. I don’t think I am really hopeful at all that the rule of law will prevail, that justice will be done, that the democracy will be saved. Still, some people are standing up for truth and democracy and justice. 3. Reading through student journals yesterday about people they admire. Some of their answers were my colleagues (see point number one), and others were family members. One student write a gripping couple paragraphs about being inspired by Bernstein and Woodward. Another write a page and a half about Tolstoy as an inspirational model for living. I love these young people. 4. Animal companions 5. Flannel sheets
Gratitude List: 1. Fibonacci spirals and the lawfulness of the apparent chaos of the universe. 2. Cycles and seasons. In the middle of challenges, the certainty (at least the hope) that the cycle will shift again to calm. 3. The tang of pesto 4. The people who are afraid, but who stand up for truth and humanity anyway, who don’t let threats or money or power or despair cow them into silence. 5. This reminder from Theodore Parker and MLK: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
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.
A few somewhat random thoughts, some drawn from yesterday’s discussions: * Just as I want to loosen my attachment to the physical stuff that bogs me down and overwhelms me, I want to loosen my attachment to my sense of the infallibility of my perceptions. Admitting that my own perceptions may be fallible does not mean that I am relinquishing my core beliefs. * About that loosening of attachment to stuff: Tidying, de-cluttering, un-hoarding, relinquishing–all this allows me to actually deepen my delight in the Beauty that surrounds me. * In much the same way that loosening my attachment to stuff allows me to see Beauty more clearly, perhaps loosening my attachment to my righteous rage might allow me to see the complexities inherent in moments of injustice. * I learned about Anonymous Collective Rage from a friend yesterday. I think I knew what it was, but I didn’t know it had a name. While I would never join those who write threatening letters and who call for violence against the young men from that school, my own immediate rage was part of the collective pile-on. I feel some shame at my quick leap into the fray. Still, that rage is born of a sense of justice and a desire to bring change. * There are not two sides to racism or misogyny, or to mistreatment of elders. While events like the one that occurred in DC on Saturday might be more complex than they first appeared, disrespectful treatment of others based on their age or their race is unacceptable. Always. * Could people who are experts in restorative conversations, in rebuilding peace in tense situations, offer to help moderate conversations between those boys and Mr. Phillips and his group? This could be a time for real healing and learning. * I think that the time of Catholic boys’ schools is pretty much over. Time for a new model. They seem to simply be training schools for the patriarchy.
Gratitude List: 1. Yesterday’s time off. I needed the rest. I always need the rest. 2. Tidy drawers with clothes folded so I can see everything at once. Now I look forward to getting dressed instead of hating putting clothes on. I hope I can sustain it. 3. The lines of tree-shadow cast by the morning’s moon 4. That red eclipse 5. This is going to be a really busy semester for me–I have more preps than is ideal, but I love the classes I am teaching, and I love the kids in them. Last year was my first year teaching Speech, and although it wasn’t bad, I just didn’t quite have a handle on it. This year, I feel like I am much more able to pin down the perfect resources. Of course, I am only one week in, but already the course is taking shape with greater liveliness and interest.
May we walk in Beauty!
fire and flight
“In writing, and perhaps all endeavours, there must be a way which doesn’t simply do as men before us have done, but turns to its own erotic authority. The feminine voice comes from the body’s knowing. It is the writing of aches and ragged breath and dirty fingernails from climbing out of the underworld. It is the sonority of our words which is primary, not their definition. This voice is the howling of a child for its mother before language is even learned. It strives not for the objectivity which is removed from feeling, but rather sinks us deeper into the muck of it. It takes things personally. And it gives personally in return. There is no such thing as impartiality when you live in a body. And it speaks from the flesh and bone rhythms of that first belonging.” —Toko-pa Turner
“A noise annoys an oyster, but a noisier noise annoys an oyster more.” —Anonymous
“…The green earth
is your cloth;
tailor your robe
with dignity and grace.”
“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” —Thomas Jefferson
fire and flight
after the fire
of coals beneath
fire within you
fire in the earth
fire in the fruit
flames will burst forth
and you will rise
you will know
open your feathers
catch the breezes
the old world
of magic and monsters
will fall away
you will dance
on pillows of cloud
you will swim
in rivers of air
you will hear your
in the voice
of the wind
Gratitude List: 1. Anticipating a family day 2. Safety 3. Creative outlets 4. Pumpkins (Yes, even the spices that do with them–feel free to judge me.) 5. The ones who fight for justice
May we walk in Beauty! *****
Wherever You Stand by Beth Weaver-Kreider
“Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.” –Rumi
Be the spark, the knowingness, the mother of the moment, be the dream, the home, and the hope. Wherever you stand, be the stone and the wind. Yes, be the wind in the trees of the soul of a place. Wherever you stand, be a memory, a hope of the future remembering how once we all lived together in peace. *****
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor—such is my idea of happiness.” —Leo Tolstoy
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. It’s right in front of me, if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” —Brené Brown
“You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them.
That is how prayer works.” —Pope Francis
“Allow dark times to season you.” —Hafiz
“Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!” —Mary Oliver
“I don’t have to figure it all out. I don’t have to be perfect for every moment. I just need to be Present. I just need to show up.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (My past self is preaching to my present self.)
“The ego forgets that it’s supposed to be the little traveler with its bindle bag over its shoulder, following behind [not ahead] the radiant Soul who walks as more wise, more tender, more loving, more peaceful trailblazer throughout our lives.
Ego aspires sometimes to wear the garments of the Soul, which are way too big, making the ego trip over the miles of radiant robes it tries to wrap itself in, instead of following the light those robes give off. And tending to the Soul’s needs, the Soul’s directions.
Yet with Soul in the lead, and ego following the lead of the Soul, then we can fulfill the vision of the Holy People…” —Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world are seeking one another.” —Teilhard de Chardin
Gratitude of Resistance Three:
Good people doing good work. ASSETS Lancaster, and organization which trains and mentors and invests in small businesses. RAICES provides legal services for immigrants and asylum-seekers. The people who are traveling into Honduras to meet with and comfort and aid the asylum-seekers who are traveling north right now. The canvassers and door-knockers who talk to people about what they really want. You, doing your good work, smiling at your neighbor, picking up trash, writing letters, making change, believing in the best version of us all.
“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estés
“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.” —Anton Chekhov
“They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.” —Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha)
“I would like to think that everybody in America would think it’s wrong to spend all your time from a position of power vilifying people, questioning their patriotism, calling them enemies of the people and then suddenly pretending that you’re concerned about civility.” —Barack Obama, in Michigan
“And then there are the cravings. Oh, la! ⠀
A woman may crave to be near water, or be belly down, her face in the earth, smelling the wild smell. She might have to drive into the wind. ⠀
She may have to plant something, pull things out of the ground or put them into the ground. She may have to knead and bake, rapt in dough up to her elbows.⠀
She may have to trek into the hills, leaping from rock to rock trying out her voice against the mountain. She may need hours of starry nights ⠀
where the stars are like face powder spilt on a black marble floor. ⠀
She may feel she will die if she doesn’t dance naked in a thunderstorm, sit in perfect silence, return home ink-stained, paint-stained, tear-stained, moon-stained.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estés
“It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much
and too little.”
“Blessed is this, the new day of slowly uncovering fog, the echoing song of ravens praising a break in the rains, the moon somewhere still quietly ripening, the calm of always receiving another chance.” —Toko-pa Turner
“When we went to jail, we were setting our faces against the world, against things as they are, the terrible injustice of our capitalist industrial system which lives by war and by preparing for war.” —Dorothy Day
“You want to be human. Be angry, it’s okay. But not to practice is not okay. To be angry, that is very human. And to learn how to smile at your anger and make peace with your anger is very nice. That is the whole thing—the meaning of the practice, of the learning. By taking a look at your anger it can be transformed into the kind of energy that you need—understanding and compassion. It is with negative energy that you can make the positive energy. A flower, although beautiful, will become compost someday, but if you know how to transform the compost back into the flower, then you don’t have to worry. You don’t have to worry about your anger because you know how to handle it—to embrace, to recognize, and to transform it. So this is what is possible.” —bell hooks
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.” —Frida Kahlo