The Answer is Love

Today’s prompt is to write a Love/Anti-Love poem.

Face it.
An act of hate doesn’t begin
when a hate-addled man
picks up his AR-15
and walks into a crowded bar,
like the start of some sick
and twisted joke.

When that man walks into the bar,
he walks with the priest, the imam,
and the rabbi. He walks with the politician
and the school board member,
with the teacher and the parent
and the angry uncle, with everyone
who offered him permission,
tacit or explicit, to exclude and disdain,
to give up his soul to hatred.

We know how the trail of hate
leads from language to violence,
how the rhetoric of the pulpit
and the political speech
becomes the action on the street,
the rock thrown through the window,
the young lovers beaten,
the gun in the nightclub.

We must refuse to let
the narrative of hatred dominate.
We must create new languages for love,
new analyses, new sermons and speeches
that reach beyond the binary way of thinking,
that actively teach connection, inclusion, belonging.

In the end,
the way to combat hate
is to begin with the rhetoric of love,
is to live as though love is the answer
in the end.


Gratitude List:
1. An incredible assembly at school today for Grandfriends’ Day
2. Decking the halls with my colleagues
3. All the people who really do believe that the answer is love
4. Break has begun!
5. That sliver of a moon
May we walk in Beauty!


“The ability to sit with mystery and explore the dark but fertile realms of infinite possibility is crucial to the work of inhabiting a meaningful life. We have to learn to stay rooted in the midst of chaotic obscurity, in the shadow-haunted wild places of the psyche. We need these rootings more than ever during the bone-deep metamorphosis that is menopause.” —Sharon Blackie


“To see where you are going, look behind you. The clues are there. Mistakes you have made, patterns you have followed, breakthroughs you have had, ideas that did not turn out as planned: your experience is your guide. It tells you what you may expect on the road ahead. The key is in how much you have learned from the past and how those learnings shape your decisions for the future. Look before you leap: look back to see what may come.” —Steven Charleston


“Revolution means reinventing culture.” —Grace Lee Boggs

Finding Time

Brewer’s prompt today was to write a poem about the future. I was contemplating the timelessness of praying in the the cherry grove, and on friendships that have lasted and grown over thirty-five years. As I rode my bike this early afternoon along the Susquehanna, I write this poem, stopping every once in a while to write down what had been happening in my head.

Finding Time
for Nancy

Stand in the center of this sacred grove
and feel how past and future
converge upon the miracle of this moment,
how your ancient loves and longings
are stitched with gold and scarlet thread
into the tapestry of the holy Now.
Leave the tattered threads
of future fears behind you
and wade into the waters of this present,
this presence.

You are the soul you have always been,
the soul you all ways have been.
And, you are new now.

And now.

And now.

And now


Gratitude List:
1. A marvelous bike
2. Trees that seem to reach out for human companionship
3. Beloved friends in it for the long haul
4. Strings of prayer flags
5. People who help me to be my best self
May we walk in Beauty!


“Through a process of perpetual discernment and “prayer unceasing” we may dive into the well of each faith and emerge with the treasure that connects us all.” —Mirabai Starr


“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” —Carl Sagan


“If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures.” —Thomas Berry


“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” —Kurt Vonnegut


“For a Star to be born,
there is one thing that must happen;
a nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your Destruction.
This is your birth.” —attributed to Noor Tagouri


‪”So much of bird flight is really expert falling, slipping into that delicate space within the argument between gravity and air resistance. That natural alchemy transforms a plummet into a glide. Someday, I hope to learn to fail like birds fall.‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


“Reading and writing cannot be separated. Reading is breathing in; writing is breathing out.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider

Is a Rose a Rose?

This is actually not a rose, but a carnation, I believe. Visual irony?

I wrote this one a week or so ago. It’s a form called a zejel, which requires this rhyme scheme in the stanzas: AAA, BBBA, CCCA, DDDA. I decided to edge it toward a sort of pantoum by actually repeating the A lines in the last three stanzas.

Is a Rose a Rose?
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

I’ve always thought a rose is a rose.
What you see is what you get, the saying goes,
so what a person is ought to be the part that shows.

Each heart must hold its own singular reality
and secrets belong to the keeper of the keys of that city,
no matter how lonesome or rageful or gritty.
Still, what a person is is eventually the part that shows.

Our innermost isness, no matter how hidden,
will come out in daily living, often unbidden,
to show our deep truths, holy or forbidden.
What you see (looking deeper) is what you get, the saying goes.

A secret self that is anchored by Love
will, under duress, be inspired to move
and to act accordingly, thus-and-such, and thereof:
A rose ought to be, in its essence, a rose.


Gratitude List:
1. People who are what they seem no matter what keep private to themselves.
2. The Ones Who Love. Sometimes you leap, and it’s not a net that appears, but a thousand waiting arms.
3. Possibilities. Oh, the possibilities!
4. These sunny days and frothy pink trees.
5. Birdsong, and poems about birdsong.
May we walk justly, with mercy, and humbly.


“You know you’re on the right path if your capacity for holding paradox expands, your sense of humor broadens, your commitment to justice deepens, your compassion for and protection of life grows, and your love of people transcends race, color, creed, tribe, religion, politics and sexual [orientation].” —Rabbi Rami Shapiro


“It’s not fair,” Linus said, staring off into nothing. “The way some people can be. But as long as you remember to be just and kind like I know you are, what those people think won’t matter in the long run. Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but as long as you remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.” —excerpt from The House in the Cerulean Sea, T.J. Klune


“As truly as God is our father, so truly is God our mother.” —Julian of Norwich


“Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.” ―Anaïs Nin


“Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.” ―William Wordsworth


Forever Oneness,
who sings to us in silence,
who teaches us through each other.
Guide my steps with strength and wisdom.
May I see the lessons as I walk,
honor the Purpose of all things.
Help me touch with respect,
always speak from behind my eyes.
Let me observe, not judge.
May I cause no harm,
and leave music and beauty after my visit.
When I return to forever
may the circle be closed
and the spiral be broader.
―Bee Lake (Aboriginal poet)


“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.”
―Joseph Campbell


“I can’t tell you why your story is important, only that it is.” ―Mara Eve Robbins


“Time is like dragons.
They are both imaginary, yet can eat you anyway.” —The Cryptonaturalist


Heather Havrilesky:
“The antidote to a world that tells us sick stories about ourselves and and poisons us into thinking we’re helpless is believing in our world and in our communities and in ourselves.”

The Moth Emerges

Moth Begins to Emerge, by Beth WK and AI

It’s been a difficult two weeks. I’m still finding words as I prepare to walk through this next bit, but at least there’s a way forward now, after a couple weeks stuck in a strange limbo. I’ve walked through (am walking through) a couple significant losses: a malicious cyber stalking attack, the very sudden death of a dear friend, and now moving on from my job.

But in the middle of the ugliness and sorrow, there’s been such an ocean of love, of Love, to rest in. The support and kind words from people in all the merging circles of my life have been humbling and encouraging, in the deepest sense of the word.

Couer: French for heart. So courage is to be heart-filled, and to encourage is to offer someone courage, to fill someone’s heart.

So. I think this moth is emerging, ever so slowly, from her cocoon. That goo stage was excruciating, and the emergence has its own angst and drama, but–to be a little cliche–Love wins. I still have to sort through vast rooms of sorrow and rage and anxiety, but Love is a strong presence in the process.

So much love has come my way in the past two weeks, and I want to allow it to flow in and through me, and outward. The tower of my ego has taken a significant hit, but so many of the people I love (and even people I don’t know!) have Seen me and told me who I am, that I think I emerge with a greater sense of purpose and belonging, and a determination to answer every question with love. (That doesn’t mean I won’t be raging and weeping and angsting my way through this–love has room for all of that.)

Remind the young people in your lives that their voices matter, even when it feels like they aren’t being heard. Their voices make a difference in ways that they themselves might not see and know at the time. The world is a safer place with this crowd of youngfolk moving in.

Because of the cyber stalking, I have made it a little more complicated to comment here, for now. At the beginning of this mess, someone was leaving spiteful comments on my recent posts here. You can still comment, but you may need to have some kind of password. Sometime in the future, when I feel safe again, I’ll open up the comments more freely.

Because of my recent silence on social media, I stopped posting poems for every day in April. I won’t fill the blog with all of those. I’ll start from here and move forward. Here is the link to my slideshow, if you want to read them all. For today, this is the three-part poem I wrote on the morning when I began to see the extent of the ugliness that was being dropped on my doorstep. It’s in the mondo form, a form that my students really love. Haiku-style stanzas, the first a question, and the second an answer. Zen-like.

Holding Center

1.

How to hold center
when the savage wind pummels
at your sacred, inner truth?

Be love, that is all.
Be love, and love, and more love.
For love will be your anchor.

2.

When angry voices
try to silence and demean,
shall we go out with raised fists?

To what end do you
attack when you are attacked?
Be a stone Love breathes into.

3. 

Where do you go to
find the Holy One when hate
destroys all that’s in its path?

Listen, always, for the
whisper of Love in all things
for She will never fail you.


Gratitude List:
1. The mycelial network of loving circles of community that has held me during my trial by fire.
2. Feeling the feelings, even when they’re awkward and gooey. That’s part of what I think I’m here to do, to learn how to feel and integrate and transform feelings, no matter how raw and ugly they are. So, not grateful for all the feelings, exactly, but for the learning and the growth.
3. Young people. Their fire, their love, their sense of fun.
4. Dreaming of what might be
5. Maybe this is sort of a repeat of the first point: Being Seen and Named.
May we walk justly, in mercy, and humbly.


Earth Day Words:
“The world is, in truth, a holy place.” —Teilhard de Chardin


“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” —Henry David Thoreau


“You are your own cartographer now.” —Ralph Blum


“If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“Every creature is a word of God.” ―Meister Eckhart


“The forest for me is a temple, a cathedral of tree canopies and dancing light.” ―Dr. Jane Goodall


“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” ―The Onceler (Dr. Seuss)


“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” ―Rachel Carson


William Stafford: “I place my feet with care in such a world.”


“A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy.” ―John Sawhill


Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ―Rachel Carson


“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ―Rachel Carson


“Few words are so revealing of Western sexual prejudice as the word Goddess, in contrast to the word God. Modern connotations differ vastly from those of the ancients, to whom the Goddess was a full-fledged cosmic parent figure who created the universe and its laws, ruler of Nature, Fate, Time, Eternity, Truth, Wisdom, Justice, Love, Birth, Death, Etc.” ―Barbara G. Walker


“Our vitality is inextricably bound up with creativity. Like a tree whose expression is fruit, giving our gifts is what keeps life pushing through our veins. It’s what keeps us feeling alive. As anyone who has strayed too far from their creativity knows, without it every corner of one’s life can fall prey to a terrible greying spread. As Kahlil Gibran writes about trees in an orchard, “They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” —by Toko-pa Turner

Pick Yourself up and do better

Photo from the LGBTQ Christian Network

I posted this on my Facebook page last year. Reading it again this morning, it feels like something I want to put out there again. It’s dated, with its references to the 2020 election, but 2024 is looming, and the same forces are pushing for attention again. I know it’s kind of intense, but so is the soul-rejection so many people experience because of terrible theology:


I know I post this and sentiments like it quite often. I have received third-hand feedback that some well-meaning Christian folks get deeply offended by some of the things that I post. You must know that it is because I follow the way of Jesus that I post these things, because I was raised to believe in his essential messages of Love and Welcome for ALL.

Speaking to the well-meaning Christians who might be thinking of voting for the president because of a pro-life stance alone, I say to you that to welcome everyone to the table is a deeply pro-life stance. To exclude and shame any member of the human community is anti-life, is death-dealing. The number of LGBTQ+ people who die or nearly die by suicide each year is staggering, and it is, in many (most?) cases, a DIRECT result of religious people who marginalize and exclude and shame LGBTQ+ folks, a direct result of a theology that labels people sinners because of who they are. I need you to hear this. I need you to understand theological consequences.

Insisting that LGBTQ+ people are sinful by nature is anti-life. If you want a deeper conversation about the very few Biblical passages that your church refers to in order to shame and exclude (yes, “love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin” is shameful and exclusionary) God’s own children, I can find you articles and dialogue with you. I only ask that you come to the table willing to listen.

{Note: If you feel hurt that you may be part of a group that has driven people to suicide, please try to imagine the hurt and despair of those who’ve been cast out and excluded. Pick yourself up and do better. If deep down you agree that this is a death-dealing theology, but it feels really risky to to to speak up in support of LGBTQ+ folks, imagine the intense feelings of risk felt by someone who comes out of the closet. Pick yourself up and do better. I’ve got your back.}


Gratitude List:
1. Last Weekend: swans, storytelling, deepening friendships, swallows, fox, windy beaches, delicious shared food. What DOES the fox say?
2. Tenderness and connection amidst shared grief. I’m not grateful for this terrible grief (one of the young ones in our school/church/family circles has died), but grateful for the way the circles flow together and interconnect.
3. The foresight of my school’s administration: We reached a threshold of active cases and students quarantining because of exposures, and so we went virtual for the week. I feel like the administration cares about my health and the health of my family and my students and their families.
4. This little break. I can assign reading and analysis tasks for the week, do some Zooms, and catch up on grading. Yesterday was a crash day for me. I think the aggregate burden of work overwhelm and grief and not enough time for the introverted self and light insomnia all came to a head for me, but I had the freedom to take a long and deep nap, and I came out the other side refreshed and ready to attack the tasks ahead of me.
5. The kitchen floor. It’s been a LONG time since we sanded and stained, and Jon did that this week, and I am obsessed with it. Pine takes a real beating, but it cleans up so beautifully.

May we do justice, love, mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty! So much love to you.


“Although the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.The warming of the planet is a symptom of a greater problem: the developed world’s indifference to the destruction of the planet as they pursue short-term economic gains. This has resulted in a “throwaway culture” in which unwanted items and unwanted people, such as the unborn, the elderly, and the poor, are discarded as waste.” –Pope Francis
*
Praise, my dear one.
Let us disappear into praising.
Nothing belongs to us.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“Listen: Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” –Mary Oliver
*
“This might be the most difficult task for us in postmodern life: not to look away from what is actually happening. To put down the iPod and the e-mail and the phone. To look long enough so that we can look through it—like a window.” –Marie Howe, poet

NPM Day 4: Loss and Redemption

I offered this as a short story prompt on my FB page the other day, and the results were compelling and moving. Let’s make it into a poem for today.

Write a three- to five-line poem in which you tell a story of loss and redemption.

The veil is torn.
“Why are you weeping?”
Tell me where they’ve taken his body.
“Mary.”
Morning dawns.


I love that Easter happens so often right near the beginning of April. although he is many archetypes–healer, teacher, revolutionary, dying god, redemptive force–one of my favorites is the Sacred Fool, and I never cease to be moved at the way the story plays this out in Easter and its aftermath, in the stories of Mary in the garden, Thomas the skeptic, Peter the shamed, and the travelers on the road to Emmaus. Each time, hope and relief burst in upon the devastation and despair.

The first one is with Mary in the garden. He approaches he and lets the truth of the story dawn on her in her time, lets the surprise flood in to her devastated heart without trying to push the discovery. And how does she hear the truth that he is alive? When he says her name.

It is my hope that, no matter what your spiritual story, that you will know you are Beloved, that you will be truly named.

Here is a Mary poem I wrote in 2017:

Turning the Wheel
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

it can be that quick
the change from one state to another
there’s that moment of devastating awareness
the kick in the gut and the tumble into the terrible truth
then the cold crypt of devastation
the going numb

but there’s that moment when you turn your face
away from the shadows and into the glare
and you don’t know yet who is it you see
but there’s something in the stance
something about the voice
the why are you weeping
and you don’t dare to hope
but then you hear your own name
and it all falls away
and the wheel has turned
and Love is there


Gratitude List:
1. How the light shines in
2. Holy surprises
3. Stories that bring hope to life
4. So many circles of care
5. Love

May we walk in Love!


“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” —Roger Ebert


In a mist of light
falling with the rain
I walk this ground
of which dead men
and women I have loved
are part, as they
are part of me. In earth,
in blood, in mind,
the dead and living
into each other pass,
as the living pass
in and out of loves
as stepping to a song.
The way I go is
marriage to this place,
grace beyond chance,
love’s braided dance
covering the world.
—Wendell Berry
(The Wheel)


”You have to begin to tell the story of your life as you now want it to be, and discontinue the tales of how it has been or of how it is.” —Esther Hicks

Speaking Justice, Enacting Peace

Talking to myself. You may listen in:

Meet it All with Love
Have a care with your words.
Speak justice.
Speak truth.
Words ignite.
Words incite.
Words inspire.
Have a care.

Don’t be afraid.
To act is to risk.
To not act is to risk.
Weigh and measure.

Meet it all with love.
Find joy in every place you can.
Be a prophet.
Be a fool.
Step into the gap
and become a bridge.

Avoid vengeance.
Provoke for change.
Provoke to love.
Provoke for epiphany.
Be a gadfly
and a peace-maker.
Be a prophet and a lamb.
Wise as a serpent,
harmless as a dove.

Enact peace.
Overturn the tables.
Rage and heal.
Meet it all with love.


American Parable:
Once a shepherd brought his sheep back to the fold after a long day of grazing in the high fields. As they entered the fold, he carefully counted each one, until he reached 99.

Oh no! One short! He must have lost one somewhere on the mountain! What would the other shepherds think of him if he lost a sheep? How would he ever live it down?

He stood a while in thought, then said, “Meh. What’s one sheep when I have 99 others? It was probably old or sick or weak anyway. A loser sheep. It is what it is.”

He locked his gates and doors, ate a hamburger from a golden plate, and went to bed.

Elemental

The other day when I got the mail, I pulled a nest-like spider web off one of the letters (that was a fast-working spider!), and without really thinking I spun it like wool. I know that spider web is strong, but I was pretty startled at how incredibly strong this little twist of web is. Think how powerful we become as a movement when we spin firm webs of our deep connections to each other as beloved humans.

Last week, a friend of mine asked me to write a poem for her and her friends who are having a bonfire circle, a healing time and a safe space to express their fears and anxieties and anger and hope in a time when their lives and identities are in danger–it’s a racially diverse group with many gay and trans folks. I love how she has taken on this healing work, and I am so proud to be her friend, and so honored to write a poem to bless them.

You Are Elemental
by Beth Weaver-Kreider
for Faith and her Friends
and in memory of Rem’mie Fells and Riah Milton

Someone once told me we are made of starstuff.
Enough of the dust of the cosmos breathes through us
that we can believe we belong, made as we are
of the essence of that which forms all that is.
Whatever you believe about yourself, know this:
you belong in the web of it all. You are an elemental
miracle of a living, breathing being, and you are the
very expression of Desire Itself, manifested.

Whatever you experience of masculinity or femininity,
what you experience as androgyny, all of that
is emblematic of your Divinity, your connection
to the Source from which we all are born.
Don’t let them tell you, no matter how unsettled
you may feel in the body you were born in,
that you are not made in sacred grace,
each atom, each particle, each space within you,
formed as you are of earth and water,
wind and flame–every name you choose
that means your soul and spirit,
that means your own transforming body,
is sacred, holy, breath and birth.

You, whose journey is all about
transforming who you are into who
you feel yourself to be, are built into the likeness
of the One who made the world, created
in the shape of the Universe Itself,
whose very name is Change, which set
the rules in motion, to cause the caterpillar
to feel her unsettled urge to break away
from caterpillar life, to take his time
in his quiet cocoon, to emerge as their own
beautiful butterfly. You make yourself,
you match yourself to yourself,
you rhyme, you move to the subtle rhythms
driven by the itch for mutability
placed within you by the Holy One Themself.

May you breathe deeply in the skin you’re in.
May you feel your holy fires awaken.
May the blood that pulses in the rivers of your veins
remind you of the waters of the Earth
which bring you, again and again, to birth,
as you shape and form and create yourself
to be the you you know yourself to be.
May the very Earth you walk on hold you up
and remind you every day that you Belong.
Blessed Be.

Kind of a creepy-looking thumbnail, but it was the best of the three that YT offered me.

Gratitude List:
1. Webs
2. Spinning strands together
3. The tender human connections the Fab 5 model
4. FINALLY starting a project that has been hanging over my head, literally. Yesterday, I spent several hours scraping the ceiling of the balcony porch to get it ready to re-paint. It is going to take days, and I don’t have the stamina for more than two or three hours of it at a time. But it is started!
5. Yesterday, we caught glimpses of one of the young raccoons searching the hillside for grubs and bugs. Jon got a good photo of it from the treehouse where he was nailing up walls. Last week, we discovered the body of one of the others, and it’s been hurting my heart so that I can hardly even type the truth of it. It was good to see life continuing on with such focus and curiosity in its sibling.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly–in Beauty!


“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. . .

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.” —Tom Robbins


“To love another person is to see the face of God.” ―Victor Hugo


“Everybody’s In, Baby.” ―The Love Warriors


“And when she wanted to see the face of God, she didn’t look up and away; she looked into the eyes of the person next to her. Which is Harder. Better.” ―Glennon Doyle


“When we ask for help, we are building community. We are doing away with this notion that we should be practicing at detachment. We are rapturously attaching! We become responsible for tending to one another’s pieces. Not only is the giver allowed to express their bestowing heart, the receiver is taken into a greater tenderness of their own giving nature. As we grow our capacity for gratitude, which is another way of saying completeness or belonging, we are healing our tinygiant part of the world’s devastating wound of scarcity.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“Forever is composed of nows.” ―Emily Dickinson


Rob Brezsny: ‘So it turns out that the “blemish” is actually essential to the beauty. The “deviation” is at the core of the strength. The “wrong turn” was crucial to you getting you back on the path with heart.’


“If not for reverence, if not for wonder, if not for love, why have we come here?” ―Raffi


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ―Anne Frank

O’er Rough and Smooth to Travel

Jon found this bookplate in an old book he is selling at work. It was a thin volume, a sort of literary guide to Jerusalem. Because he is who he is, Jon had the idea to Google their names, and he found an image of their gravestone, near Philadelphia. Lincoln Cartledge died at age fifty, while Letty Merrell Shallcross Cartledge lived into her eighties. We became sort of melanchly considering how short their side-by-side travel actually was. Further searches find other old and rare books being sold online noting the Cartledges’ tender bookplate, and several references to, and a few images from, Lincoln Cartledge’s career as a photographer in the Philadelphia area.

At some point, in the very early 1900s, when this couple got married, they placed at least a few special personalized bookplates in their book collection. Over a century later, strangers are moved by the inscription–“O’er rough and smooth to travel side by side”–and left with an ache of knowing how short their side-by-side travel was. Make the most of the rough and smooth that you are traveling side by side with your beloveds. We never know how how short or long our time will be.

Ah. And I said that up there about Jon being the researcher he is, and now, of course, I see again how this is one of the elements that draws us together, because I can’t stop the researches this morning. The phrase comes from this poem:

Sonnet to a Friend
By Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849)

WE parted on the mountains, as two streams
From one clear spring pursue their several ways;
And thy fleet course hath been through many a maze
In foreign lands, where silvery Padus gleams
To that delicious sky, whose glowing beams
Brightened the tresses that old poets praise;
Where Petrarch’s patient love and artful lays,
And Ariosto’s song of many themes,
Moved the soft air. But I, a lazy brook,
As close pent up within my native dell,
Have crept along from nook to shady nook,
Where flow’rets blow, and whispering Naiads dwell.
Yet now we meet, that parted were so wide,
O’er rough and smooth to travel side by side.

Hartley Coleridge is, as you have guessed, the son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wikipedia (the teacher’s favorite source to hate) says that his father even wrote about him in two poems: “Frost at Midnight” and “The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem.” You can follow those rabbit trails if you choose. Does the poem sound sort of Wordsworthian to you? No surprise there: He wrote the poem for Dorothy Wordsworth, William’s sister, also a writer. You can use The Google to find a book about their friendship: Dorothy Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge: The Poetics of Relationship written by Nicola Healey.

Rabbit trails. May your trails be pleasant today, Soulkin, and bring you small delights of discovery, whatever trails you follow.


Gratitude List:
1. Research rabbit trails. On the Enneagram, I am a 7, which means that when we first studied the Enneagram together, I kept saying I thought I was this or that or another thing, probably all of them (7s want to experience EVERYTHING). Deep down, I thought I was probably a 7, but I didn’t feel like I was worthy of the number, not being adventurous enough. Everyone else said, “Duh, you’re a 7,” so I accepted it gladly. I think I have a pretty strong 6 wing, but I can fall with a thud into 8 when I am stressed. Eights are the people I am most likely to fight with, including my own stressy self. All that to preface the point that I adore my solid 5 of a husband, and I love to follow his researchy rabbit trails. I can’t wait for him to wake up today so I can show him the things I have discovered about the Cartledges and the source of the phrase on their bookplate.
2. People keeping the pressure on the system for change. Whatever you do to be part of that, keep doing it.
3. Time to READ! I’m finishing my half-read books so I can get working on the stack, which has grown even taller in recent days.
4. Soulkin. That’s us. I wish I had crafted that word myself. I discovered it somewhere online. It’s what we are, you and I on our parallel and mingled and divergent journeys.
5. That viny brambly mess on the bluff is threatening to take over the world, but it’s got a thousand shades of green, and all sorts of tinyfolk live in its secret ways, so we must take great care in how we tidy it up, so as not to disturb the families of the little ones who live there. And messy as it is, it’s got a wild beauty.

Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly–in Beauty!


“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” —Hannah Arendt


“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ―Audre Lorde


Omid Safi says:
“There are three times in life when we experience this kind of a loveglance.
With our parents, our beloved, and a spiritual teacher.
How lovely the glance, how lovely the glancer, how lovely the one glanced at.”


“You are not an Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you.” —Vandana Shiva


“Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.” ―Lao Tzu


“If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet…maybe we could understand something.” ―Federico Fellini


“When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.” ―Jane Austen


Rob Brezsny:
Thomas Merton’s notion of what makes a saint doesn’t have to do with being a perfectly sinless paragon of virtue. The more important measure of sanctity, he said, is one’s ability to see what’s good and beautiful in other people. The truly holy person “retires from the struggle of judging others.”


You are the mountain, but awake.‬
‪You are the rain, but breathing.‬
‪You are the forest, but unanchored. ‬
‪You are the soil, but with choice.‬
‪You are the sunlight, but dreaming.‬

‪Soon, you will be these things again. Mountain. Rain. Forest. Sunlight.‬

‪So, what will you do until then?‬
—Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist

Make Sure They Can Tell That You Love Them

Looking out the southern window of the living room just now, I was struck by the vertiginous sense that the world outside was twisting and shifting. It took me a moment to realize that it was the willow tree, beyond the black branches of sycamore and dogwood in my foreground, a yellow veil flowing back and forth in the dawn breezes.

Not everything that appears disconcerting and unsettling needs to be feared. That is not to say that fear and horror are not logical and acceptable responses to these altered days; but it is a reminder to myself (and you, if you want it) that the horror is not all-encompassing. Not everything should be interpreted through the lens of Pandemic. I need to keep reclaiming Wonder and Awe, grasping Calm and Centeredness, reaching out in Love and Openness.

Last evening, about twenty-five people/families from my congregation participated in a Zoom meeting, re-connecting, telling our stories, smiling and laughing together. And then in the night, I had my first teleconferencing dream. There was a screen with the whole Brady Bunch grid of a group meeting, and someone was saying, “Make sure they can tell that you love them through the screen.” That was it, but every time I woke up in the early morning, I saw that image, heard that voice.


Gratitude List:
1. Dream messages
2. Two weeks before the Exile, I went to Goodwill near my school and pulled a bunch of big sweaters and shawls out of the by-the-pound bins. I brought them home and washed them, and felt a little odd for buying more sweaters just as spring was breaking. I have been incredibly grateful, in these anxious and chilly days, to have big sweaters to wrap around me.
3. Even a week of working from home needs a weekend (especially, actually). Tome to catch my breath. Friday’s here.
4. The aconite have gone to seed, after blooming early this year, but the green umbrellas remain, and I take the seed pods and sprinkle them across the bank out front. Last year, I sprinkled them under the sycamore, and this year we had yellow blossoms there.
5. Cress. Bitter cress and water cress, and actually all the spring greens. Yesterday I made a spring greens milky soup. It actually didn’t taste as good as I was longing for it to, but it tasted healthy, so there’s that. I felt fed and tended by the land. I trailed my fingers through the frigid water of the stream as I was picking water cress.

Take care of each other. Walk in Beauty!


“Sound or vibration is the most powerful force in the universe. Music is a divine art, to be used not only for pleasure but as a path to Awakening.” —Yogananda


“As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul.” —Hermes Trismegistus


“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” —Jane Goodall


“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” —Henri Nouwen


“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” —Margaret Atwood


“Privilege is when you think something’s not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally.” —attributed to many authors


Dea Ex Machina
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

What we speak
we create.
Writing,
we make meaning
into existence.

These words, cogs
and gears, shift
meaning to matter:

“Let there be. . .”
And there is.

And it is good.