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

Searching for the Beloved

This morning, I found this image that I altered a year ago. That’s another thing about Mary Magdalene: she went out actually searching for the Beloved. Like Rumi and Hafez, she followed the trail of her longing. Thomas hid, Peter went back to work, the Emmaus travelers whispered their grief. Mary went searching, asking, into the cave itself and out again into the sunlit garden.

I love this series of stories, the Mary Magdalene story, the Emmaus story, the Thomas story, the Peter and the Fish story, and anticipate them with glee every year–Jesus, the Holy Fool, going from beloved to beloved with the Easter-eggiest of Easter eggs. Surprise! It’s me! Certain surprises are deeply heart-opening. The veil is suddenly torn down. The stone explodes from the entrance of the cave and light streams in. I love how Jesus sets up the epiphanies with the exact surprise each person needs: the gardener turning into the sunlight and speaking her name, the ghost-like appearance in a room where he had not been and the physical touch Thomas demanded, the wise comforter and breaker of bread for confused and grief-weary travelers, the stranger on the beach cooking fish to challenge and reconcile Peter. Everybody got what they needed in the surprises he gave them.

Springtime brings epiphanies and surprises: the sudden glimpse of a morel in the leaf-litter (I’m still looking for my first), the flash of red on a blackbird’s wing, the bursting of bloom on the dogwood that was naked just three days ago. The new and different slant of sun on the sidewalk, the particular springiness of the breezes and winds, the warmth in the air. May spring surprise you even during isolation. May your hear the Beloved calling your name. Remember: Even as you search, the Beloved is seeking you.


Gratitude List:
1. Last year on this day, I wrote about the musical thrill when leading singing in church, of being in front of all those earnest and joyful voices. I miss that. There will be lots of singing in church in The After.
2. I have always been incredibly grateful for the way we work as a team at school—faculty, guidance, administration, staff—to support students and their families, and now, more than ever, I am deeply moved by the net that we create (we’re trying hard to create) together.
3. Mr. Redwing just puffed out his flaming sleeves from atop the feeder stand and whistled merrily.
4. While I have noticed that I am holding tension in my body in ways I never have before, I am also learning new ways to stretch and breathe in order to release tension.
5. I think today might be a grocery day. We’re trying to make the time Between last longer and longer, but these kid eat a thousand things and guzzle milk like water. And as scary as it is to send someone out and to bring things in, grocery day is a shift of the rhythm. And we’re out of yeast, just as I was hitting my stride on the baking jag, so maybe there’ll be yeast tomorrow. At least there will be more flour so I can consider starting my own yeast.

Take care of each other. Walk in Beauty!


“Let me tell you what I do know though…
I know mountains grow because of their fault lines. I know lakes turn that gorgeous shade of turquoise because of their silt. I know jewels are formed under pressure. I know trees can grow through rocks, and rivers can break canyons.
I know there are 120 crayola crayons to choose from, so you can color yourself any which way you like.
I know the earth smells fabulous after a hard rain, and I know she breathes. I know out of the destruction of forest fires, new and stronger ecosystems can emerge. I know there is life in the deepest depths of the ocean and her tides can soften stone.
I know there can be no shadows without light. I know the passion is in the risk.
I know time heals, and most things will be okay eventually. I know you are made of the star stuff, and I know out there somebody loves you; exactly the way you are, even if you haven’t found them yet.
I know all these things, and tell them to you — in case you forgot to remember.” —Jacquelyn Taylor


“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” —James Baldwin


“We have tried to create a watertight social system so that mercy is not needed, nor even attractive. Mercy admits and accepts that not all problems can be solved by our techniques, formulas, and technology. The ‘superfluous’ opening of the human heart that we call mercy is essential for any structure or institution to remain human and humanizing.” —Richard Rohr


“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
—Anne Lamott


“Your heart and my heart are very, very old friends.” —Hafiz


“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and eat and sleep with the earth.” —Walt Whitman


“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.” —John Muir


“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” —Roald Dahl


“A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as she is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things she would not have thought of if she had not started to say them.” —William Stafford (but I have changed the pronouns to feminine)


“America stands for exactly what Americans will stand for. History doesn’t write itself. It must be lived and practiced.” —Jesse Williams

Mary Magdalene

Artists, left to right: Owen Couch, unknown, Robert Lentz, Richard Stodart, unknown
(If you know the makers of either of the unknowns, I would be grateful to learn.)

She has always been one of my favorite characters from the stories of Jesus, along with Photina, the Woman at the Well. Women who lived raw and wild, undomesticated and on their own terms. There always seems to be something more, something deeper, something I can’t quite hear or understand, like a powerful dream that’s just fading before I can remember the details, or a word that sits on the tip of the tongue without finding its way into the open air. Mary Magdalene holds a Mystery that is always one step deeper into the veil of mists, one more curtain to encounter, one more step into the wilderness.

All the attempts to nail down her mystery, to put words to it, always leave me a little cold, compelling as they are: Maybe she was Jesus’ wife or lover. Maybe she was the real writer of one of the canonic gospels. Maybe she is the Holy Grail. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Mary Magdalene sits, like the High Priestess, before the curtain of mysteries, and only as I gain wisdom will I be granted the clue or the code or the shaft of golden sunlight that will admit me to the next stage of understanding. Like all the deepest mysteries, like the Deep Self, she lives in the realm of image and symbol, offering egg and thunder, grail and alabaster jar, skull and hair and tears. Best understood on the level of a dream. Best spoken in poetry, perhaps.

That moment of Mary’s epiphany is the mirror of every moment of yearning and longing and ache. Deep grief gives way to confusion and an intensification of grief: Where have they taken the body? And then the moment when the Beloved calls her by her name. I can never write that without getting chills and tearing up. Thomas, Peter, The Emmaus Travelers–those surprises are all coming, all delightful. But this one moment of sunlight in a garden and the sound of her/my name in the voice of the Beloved–it needs no pinning down, no explanation.


Gratitude List:
1. Wind. Yes, it’s scary, and I don’t really need more anxiety right now, but it’s so beautiful and powerful. After the big winds, I always think, “Wind-shriven,” the world scoured clean.
2. This long weekend. I have not yet gotten my lagging work completed, but I have had three marvelous days of baking and sewing and trail-work and playing with the family.
3. The story of Mary Magdalene. I need her Mystery and Epiphany now, perhaps more than ever.
4. Making plans even in the midst of this uncertainty. Putting programs and ideas and lesson plans into online formats is so much less than ideal, but I feel myself growing and thinking in new ways. In the after, I will be informed by the ways my brain has been forced to adapt in these months, and hopefully that will contribute to a glorious new normal instead of a return to an old normal.
5. Martin Prechtel’s ideas about Grief and Praise. I am going to have to buy some of his books.

May we walk in Beauty!


“I pray to the birds. I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day—the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.” ―Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place


“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” ―Emma Lazarus


“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual.” ―Ernest Hemingway


“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” ―Robert Frost


“What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as One,
Received not in essence but by participation.
It is just as if you lit a flame from a live flame:
It is the entire flame you receive.”
―St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022)


“We love the things we love for what they are.” ―Robert Frost


“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.” ―Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” ―Sarah Williams


“Resist much, obey little.” ―Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass


“Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.” ―e. e. cummings


“If we do not mean that God is male when we use masculine pronouns and imagery, then why should there be any objections to using female imagery and pronouns as well?” ―Carol P. Christ


“Subversive language, however, must be constantly reinvented, because it is continually being co-opted by the powerful.” ―Carol P. Christ

In the Doorway of Lost Hopes

Today’s prompt is to write a sketch poem. Most of my poetry is sketches anyway, imagistic moments, a few lines of spiderweb, a dash of color, touch of light.

Crouching in the doorway
of your lost hopes,
you raise your head.
Morning sun dazzles your eyes
in a wash of gold and green.
Someone’s rooster crows
in the distance,
and a thousand little birds
bring the garden alive.

And then your name,
there in the too-bright light:
an egg, a seed,
planted in the soil
of your confusion, your grief.

Wake up! Do not try
to touch the heart of it.
Not yet.
Breathe it in.
Let it grow within you.
Now go and speak your truth
to those who will listen.