Wandering in the Myth

This morning, I decided to just dive into the myth that has been calling me, and I spent my writing time working on the story of Inanna/Ishtar, pondering the way her descent into the Underworld mirrors my own inward travels as the year turns cold and dark. I think this one will keep me busy for the rest of the week and beyond.

What symbols of your personal power and wisdom and authority are you prepared to relinquish as you circle downward into the deepest realm of your own inner knowing?

Gratitude List:
1. Myths and stories that frame and guide our own daily journeys
2. Small breaks
3. Seeking the fire within
4. Anticipation
5. Layers and layers of warm clothes

May we walk in Beauty!

Live in the Layers

Japanese Fisherman’s winter jacket

Much as I love this semester’s batch of students, I am looking forward to wrapping up this semester this week, and getting started on the new schedule.  Many of my first years will continue on with me into second semester, but it will be in different configurations of classes, and this coming semester I will teach Drama and Creative Writing instead of Academic Writing and Writing Skills.  I like fresh starts, new plans, tabula rasa.  Part of me really resisted the fact that we still have a week of first semester to finish when we return to school, but a looser, more flexible part of me loves the rolling start, the fact that we don’t have to do it all at once, the beginning of the new year and the beginning of the semester.

I have recently become a little obsessed with Japanese boro cloths.  Traditionally, this was a mending process used by workers to create durable and often beautiful fixes to torn and worn-out clothing.  Instead of trying to create a look of new perfection, boro mending created a new cloth by layering patches and scraps with distinctive stitching, and the results maintained the integrity of the original cloth while making it a whole new thing.  It reminds me of the sense of layering in a palimpsest manuscript: the old part shines and twinkles through to the new.  Come to think of it, living in an area with layers and layers of history is sort of like a boro or a palimpsest–some days when I drive across the bridge, I am acutely aware of how this River was once the home and highway of the Susquehannock peoples, or how it was one of the waterways that people followed to escape the torment of bondage in their flight to freedom in the north.

As Stanley Kunitz’s “nimbus-clouded voice” suggests: “Live in the layers, not on the litter.”  May your new year be full of fresh starts and new dreams, but may the new be stitched and overlaid artistically and pleasingly upon the past that has birthed this new beginning.

(Tomorrow is the eve of Epiphany–what is the Aha that is awaiting?)

Gratitude List:
1. Rhythm and Schedules
2. Envisioning possibilities
3. Starting fresh
4. Layers
5. Choosing every day to live the life that I would love.  (That’s a John O’Donohue reference)

May we walk in Beauty!  May your possibilities be endless.

Layers of Time

Making hay on the old farm
(Old Slabaugh Family Photo.  I’ll need to ask around to find out who they are.)

Layers of Time

Sit in this bubble
of now, and settle yourself
into the moment.
The past will wash over you,
and the future will rush in.

Gratitude List:
1. Were I on our custodial staff, I would hate it, so I feel a little sheepish saying this, but I love the way the leaves leaves track all over the floor at school on rainy days.  It’s like the trees are trying to come inside.
2. Our long-suffering and hard-working custodial staff.
3. One of my Chinese students made sushi for Advisory Group snack yesterday.  That was delicious.
4. Problem-solving.  Puzzles.  Conundrums.
5. Restorative Justice.  What if our schools and communities would start offering classes and workshops and trainings in restorative justice, in creatively addressing conflict rather than escalating it?  What if all prospective security guards and police officers were required to log 50 hours of restorative justice training (and anti-racism training) before they entered their jobs?

Blessings on your Beautiful Day!

Not What it Seems

Today’s prompt is to write a things-not-as-they-appear poem.  I keep going back to the Shaman Poem from March 1:

Here is how we make the world:
I will say fire and mean wisdom.
I will say wisteria and mean my thoughts are tangled.
I will say the river is flowing and mean that time is passing.
I will say grandmother’s quilt and mean that the work is love.

I will say house and mean your heart.
I will say spiderweb and mean the prayers are holding you.
I will say the eagle flies and mean my thoughts are with you.
I will say the daffodils are blooming and mean you are healing.

I will say song and mean dream.
I will say dream and mean prayer.
I will say prayer and mean poem.


Gratitude List:
1. My neighbor’s bank of nodding sunny daffodils.  (Say Man-who-Plants-Sunshine, and no longer mean Crusty Curmudgeon.  That one is going to take some work.)
2. Freckles on a small boy’s face.
3. A day to organize and tidy the classroom.
4. Playing outside!
5. All the poems of April.  I decided I did not have time curate a Poetree this year.  Still, the Internet is a grand Tree of Poetry.  I am loving reading everyone’s poems.

May we walk in Beauty!

Scandalous Grace

Sometimes it just feels good to settle into the grumpy places, like a hen, and brood a bit. Then when the time is right, you step out into the sunshine, shake the dust out of your feathers, and run with the flock.

We live in the layers. Part of me wants to be so evolved and conscious in my living that I don’t get into the occasional grumpy snit, that I don’t lose my temper and holler at my kids, that I don’t go on a rant with no reasonable basis in facts, that I don’t buy myself a new pair of boots just for the fleeting happiness of new stuff. But there’s a paradox in there, I think. To actually embrace my humanness, to live in the layered reality of being a being in a body right now, I have to experience those bits of me that I am a little sheepish or ashamed about. Part of the mystery and the delight of being human is the life in the layers–we can be seeking to understand the deep pools of our emotions and the far-reaching paths of spirit and still, when it comes down to it, these are the clothes we wear, these human clothes, and sometimes the emotional bits get a little messy.

Perhaps it’s also partially a function of the Swiss/German DNA that I carry in my human clothing. Even while I am having a rant or a snit, some small voice in the back of my head is saying, “Now is that reasonable?  Is that proper?” Perhaps for me, diving more deeply into the layers, exploring the depth of my humanness, might mean stilling that voice, letting myself have at it, not worrying whether my current rant is grounded in verifiable facts like a college research paper, whether I am going to sound sulky or whiny.

I think that what I am saying is that reason and philosophy and spiritual seeking are all good and useful tools, but that a life too focused on being reasonable and rational can divorce us from the emotional part of our fully human selves. Emotions aren’t reasonable. Like any art supply, they’re messy. But they’re colorful, too. Here’s to the art of living in the layers!

Gratitude List:
1. Getting home in the dark and getting out of the car to the hooting of the Great Horned Owl in the bamboo. They’re really active right now. About a week ago, one night as we were putting the boys to bed, the owls were having a regular hootenanny out in the woods–there must have been at least three of them, and they weren’t leaving their usual thoughtful pauses between comments.
2. I finished all my coursework for my class:Building Caring Communities. It has been a wonderful class, and I have found much that I can apply directly to my classroom, so I am grateful for that. But I am weary and eager to have a little less on my plate for a while, so I am grateful that it is over, too.
3. Family time over the holiday. Crazy Uno games with both sides of the family. Thoughtful conversations. Hugs and snuggles and sharing delicious food.
4. Tender justice and scandalous grace.
5. Revolutionary poetry.

May we walk in Beauty!