Sacred Circles

Gratitude List:
1. Sacred Circles: Family, friends, communities
2. Laughter and tears in the sacred circle
3. Sharing Stories
4. Birds: geese, hawks, flocks of little birds, lone crows flying above wintry fields
5. A very faint sun dog in the clouds on the way home today

May we walk in Beauty!

How You Get There


I am signing off for a few days. I am going to the woods with some of my beloved community, to sing and laugh and play together, to walk the labyrinth in the woods, to listen for birdsong and look for tiny fungi in the leaf litter, to breathe and to wander. I will see you here in a few days.


“I remember nothing more about that night, except knowing that the enchantment of that moment would be with me forever, how what was burning so intensely in my heart could manifest itself in all of nature and how a song could thread itself through a needle, and stitch it all together, for one other-worldly, soul-aching, heart-breakingly hopeful glimpse of Nirvana.” –Excerpt of blog by Gloria Talcove-Woodward
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“How you get there is where you’ll arrive.” –Cynthia Bourgeault
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“When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” –Louis C. K.
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“Never apologise for your sensitivity. It is the thinness of your skin which makes you brave. You are willing to live. You are willing to be alive.” –Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“Acknowledge your mission. Trust your path. Become your chosen destiny.” –Jamie Sams
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“You are what you eat eats.” –Michael Pollan


Gratitude List:
1. Fridays: Week’s end, Faculty Hymn sing, the anticipation of rest and time in the woods with beloveds
2. Yesterday’s clouds, which were dragons and caves of flame and featherbeds
3. Teenagers and their enormous hearts
4. Monarch and dragonfly
5. Sharing laughter. What warmth of human connection when someone says, “Hey! Wanna hear a joke?” The social connection of good, healthy humor, how it bonds people together
6. (I am breaking the rules today and adding another) Playing with sentences. In a couple different classes right now, we are playing with sentence structure, copying the forms of professionally-written sentences, writing poems based on set formulae of absolute phrases and participial phrases. For some, it’s a bit tedious, but it has been delightful to watch the twinkle in the eyes of others when they begin to get it, to feel what it’s like to write a really elegant sentence.
7. (while I am at it. . .) Yesterday’s chapel talk by Brenda Martin Hurst. She reminded me of how much work has been done by so many to create a world and a church in which girls and women are valued as much as men and boys, and how much work there still is to do. I am grateful for my mother and others who worked with such love and courage and sheer will to begin to pave a way for women’s voices to be more fully heard in the Mennonite Church. This, more than anything, gives me great hope that some day we, too, can break through the wrongs against which we raise our voices.

May we walk in Beauty!

Laughter and Sufficiency


Some of us in this family don’t handle the cold so well.

Gratitude List:
1. Getting organized. I am finally transferring my calendars completely to computer/phone. No more half and half, forgetting to copy something out.
2. Chili, bread, and cheese. And GREENS!
3. Red-bellied woodpecker at the feeder
4. Sufficiency
5. Laughter

May we walk in Beauty!

Re-Gathered Community

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories . . . water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Last night, I went to my thirtieth high school reunion.  I think there were about 23 or 24 of us classmates there, along with many spouses.

We talk about the beauty of youth, and I know the fact of that because I spend my days with teenagers.  I heard somewhere once that someone had somewhat scientifically determined that we read the pinnacle of our physical beauty around age 30, and I can understand that, too.  But for well-polished and gracefully-tempered beauty, sit in a room of people just about to enter their second half-century.  I am trying to define the essence of it this morning: there’s grace in the faces, self-acceptance, a movement beyond the scrabbling and striving of earlier years.  The intervening years since we graduated have brought terrible pain to some of us, great joys, power and powerlessness, anxiety and fulfillment, and the stories and conversation last night were carried on a stream of grace that echoed in people’s voices and showed in their eyes.  People seemed to have moved into themselves.  They are beautiful in ways that make our high school selves look raw and unpolished, our young adult selves look over-polished and grasping.  These people were shining and grace-filled, and in a way that admitted of the harsh realities that we have experienced on our way here.

Gathered in that room, I know, were people of all political stripes.  Many of us sit firmly on one side or the other in the debates that are threatening to shatter our church.  But last night, we were one thing, one group, together sharing our stories.  Some stories got deeper, but many of us told the basic details.  Still, the regular tales of children and grandchildren born and growing up, of jobs and farms and hobbies–all took on deep significance.  There was an acceptance and a sense of belonging in that room, where many of us have become near-strangers over the past 30 years.

A moment of laughter appeared in the room.  Giggles and chuckles.  Then, as understanding dawned, a second wave, and a third.  And the laughter itself became a conversation.  Meaning was there, and levels and layers of meaning that went beyond the initial words that sparked the laughter.  Something holy happened in the laughter.  Did it last for five minutes or for twenty?

I feel shy and awkward with small-talk conversations with people I don’t know well.  Often I can push my way through and into small chat, but I never quite know how to navigate a room.  How long do we talk?  What about the awkward pauses?  Is it my turn to start the next piece of conversation?  It’s always easier for me when the conversation gets going on its own track, and I lose awareness of the way into the conversation, when mutual curiosity draws us together and lends energy to the forward movement of our talking.  In mingle-settings where there are lots of people, I also get a sense of wanting to connect with everyone, so I struggle to get into deeper conversation because there are too many people to connect with.  I get overwhelmed.  So the thing that I look forward to in reunions and gatherings is the group sharing.  Even though it isn’t intimate, and we each package our story into the short five-minute moment we are allotted, we all focus, for those moments, on the one person speaking.  We hear story together, and for a moment, we are a re-gathered community.

Gratitude List:
1. Middle age
2. Reunions and conversation
3. The language of laughter
4. The gravity-loosening power of music
5. October

May we walk in Beauty!

Created to Create

Gratitude List:
1. Talent show.  Belly laughs and tears in one evening.  “It is Well.”
2. Those boys laughing into the face of the Wolf.  I don’t mean any wolf–that laughter would be rude.  This is the Wolf, and that laughter is about survival, and friendship.  I don’t know how else to say this, but I was grateful to witness it.
3. How all these children are becoming who they are, growing into themselves.
4. Conversations about writing and inner landscapes.
5. Collage–all afternoon: images and scissors and cutting and pasting, children and adults, humming and singing, laughing and talking, making.

May we walk in Beauty!

Finding Time, Staying Challenged

Not so much time for poems these days.  Hardly time to catch my breath for the gratitude lists.  All is well.  All is growing and changing.  Moving.  I am tired, so weary.  I am energized, so excited.  I feel competent and capable, but I am also humbled by the fact that I have so very much to learn.

Gratitude List:
1.  More feathers.  Two days ago, as I was walking out of school, I was thinking to myself that I hadn’t found a feather yet that day, and I thought perhaps the daily feather find was at an end.  I had it in my head, the actual words “There will be no more feathers.”  But there, on the sidewalk in front of me was yet another feather.  I have been telling my students that they get to make the meaning of their stories, and I told some of them about the feathers.  I can be the scientific naturalist and say that I find a feather every single day because there are owls in the trees at night eating little birds and crows fighting as they fly above my house and school.  I can say that the Universe is offering me little gifts to remind me that I have wings, that I can fly.  I can say that I just have keen eyes for feathers.  Whatever it is, I am really glad that they keep finding me.
2.  This is a weird one for a gratitude because it’s a difficult story.  But I learned this story this week about how a group of Prussian Mennonites, during WWII, actually sent a letter of support to Hitler.  It was chilling to hear how they unquestioningly thanked the fuhrer for his dedication to the “Fatherland” and to Christian principles.  So sobering.  And a good reminder to myownself to pay more attention to my commitment to my spiritual work than to the work of politics, to keep the political in the perspective of the spiritual.  I am grateful for reminders to be true to the deeper realities.
3.  The laughter of my new friends, my new colleagues.  Belly laughter builds community.  And after the in-breath of focused work together, we need the out-breath of laughter together.
4.  How sleep brings answers.  I went to bed last night anxious about the chapel service I have to prepare for school on Tuesday, not sure what I would say or how I would present my own story.  I woke up this morning knowing exactly (sort of) what I am going to say.
5.  Small kindnesses.  At the end of the day Thursday, I put two bags of trash at my classroom door so I would trip on them and remember to take them out to the big bins.  A student I have never met stopped and peeked in the room and asked it he should throw them away for me.  Little thing, but it made my day.  Probably my week, too.  Or semester.  

May we walk in Beauty!

All in the Bowl

Into that bowl of my heart,
along with my rages and furies,
with recent betrayals,
with my crushing self-doubt,
with your anxieties and your tears

(yes, let me keep them there, too
you know as well as I do
and as well as the Universe knows
that when my crying time comes
as it unfortunately and inevitably
comes to us all
you’ll be running to catch my tears
in a bowl of your own, and not because
I hold yours now–no, it will be because
it’s who you are
it’s what you do
it’s what we do)

into just that bowl,
along with all that,
I place

a small white stone
bee, bee, bee, crocus, bee
concentric circles of friendship
the feel of the sun on my hair
deep rumbling rolls of laughter like thunder.

May we walk in Beauty.

Shedding the Skin

2013 September 059
Safe in the hollow of the tree.
You will be sustained and held.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Good humor, light-heartedness, the way laughter heals and draws people together.
2.  Sustenance
3.  The lessons of snake: shedding the skin, renewal
4.  Finding the thread of the story
5.  Study

May we walk in Beauty.

Bluebirds and Miracles

Gratitude List:
1.  Bluebirds.   When I went out to tend chickens this morning, a pair of them sat in the little tree nearby and talked to me.  The wrens yell, “Here’s where I belong and don’t anyone get into my space!”  The yellow-throat sparrows call, “Here!  I’m here!  Won’t somebody please notice me?”  And other birds sing joyfully and exuberantly.  But bluebirds sing so quietly and sweetly, you could almost miss them: “Everything’s going to be okay, you know?  Here, let me tell you a little story.”  And there’s a bluebird that signals my father when his meal-worm feeder is empty.  But then when it’s filled and the bird has eaten all it wants, it comes back and sits on a little perch my dad put up outside his window–you can’t tell me that bird isn’t there to say thank you.  Oh, and there’s a pair inspecting the birdhouse out back for a potential nesting site.
2.  The laughter of chickens.  Okay, so they don’t actually laugh.  They sort of fuss and dither and clook about the daily fare.  They’re probably a little too simple-minded to get the joke, so they don’t laugh much.  But Jessica thought that’s what I wrote yesterday (see below), and I love the whimsy of the thought of laughing chickens.  Delightful.
3.  Meeting an online friend in person.  These connections we make with other people (in physical life, in computer realms) are like spiderwebs–gossamer, exquisite.  Treasures.
4.  Cerulean.  I’m back to bluebirds.  Isn’t that an exquisite color when the sun shines on their shoulders?  Thoreau said that the “bluebird carries the sky on his back.”  Oh yes he does.
5.  Milagros.  Doesn’t that just sound like a pleasant word?  Even before I looked up the meaning, and having heard it in various contexts without knowing its meaning for sure, it was a word I wanted to carry around for a while.  It’s Spanish: miracle, wonder.  Paul Simon could have just said that these are the days of milagros.  Oh, “the way we look to a distant constellation that is shining in the corner of the sky.”

May we walk in beauty like the bluebird walks on air.

 

February 25, 2013

Gratitude List:
1. The laughter of children
2. The curiosity of chickens
3. The steadfastness of friends
4. The healing powers of the body
5. The nourishment of food
Namaste

2012 August 018
Sunny in the summertime