Enter the Portal


Two crow feathers in one week. The world is full of messages, if we know how to look,
if we know how to read the text of the landscape.

Gratitude List:
1. Teaching the spectrum. I have begun teaching college-in-the-high-school courses this year, and I am loving the conversation, the determination, the bright-eyed desire to LEARN of these soon-to-fledge upperclassfolk. I also have much younger students just coming in as ninth graders, both the 101s, and the students coming into my Foundations class to get some more literacy skill-building to prepare them to succeed in high school. This latter group tends to be more shy, more uncertain about school, but they’re ready and shiny-eyed in their own way, and eager to learn. I saw stirrings of deep understanding in this group on Tuesday when I showed them Kendi Ibram’s speech about what it means to be an intellectual. My heart is full.
2. Monarchs. Every day on the drive to and from school, I can count 3-5, and sometimes more, flitting across the road or in the roadside wildflower buffet. Sun in their wings, dancing in the breezes, determined wings setting a course for the beach. My heart is full.
3. Joe the Duck and the Cat Clan. Now that school has started, we pick up ED every morning and drive down the road where Joe the Duck lives, and where a colony of half-feral cats lives. We pause at Joe’s personal paddle pool to say hello, and drive slowly through the territory of the cat colony. There are new kittens: black, ginger-and-white, and a greyish-tortoise-shell. My heart is full.
4. Learning New Messages. “I am an organized person.” Ellis and I are reminding each other of our Organized Person identities, and I’m at least beginning to override the old story I habitually told myself about being unable to remain organized. And I see him doing the same. My heart is full.
5. My children are excited about school. Ellis has been advocating for himself to take Spanish 2 when it looked like he wouldn’t be able to fit it into his schedule. In the end, he and three others got permission to take a computer course in the library during the time others are taking Spanish 1. He’s taking charge of his learning, and that makes me proud. Right now, he’s downstairs on a Friday night doing his Algebra homework. (I think he knows it’s Friday.) And Josiah had three extra days off this summer because of mold in the school district, and while that was exciting, he is chomping at the bit to get back to school. My heart is full.

May we walk in Beauty!


Friday’s Meditations:
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.” —Hafiz
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“When your world moves too fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset. Reacquaint yourself with the earth beneath your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.” —Christy Ann Martine
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“Every word you utter to another human being has an effect, but you don’t know it. If people began to understand that change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then, they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.” —Howard Zinn
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“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” —Leonard Bernstein
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“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ―Elie Wiesel
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“All forms of racism must be rejected directly and openly.” —bell hooks and Cornel West
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“Our mission was to make a beloved community in the world where everyone would be free to live well.” —bell hooks

You Are Known and Loved

you-are-known
Message in a seashell.

Here is how a heart
holds the story of a love:
Spiraling around,
it carries the message inward
to the deepest inner chamber,
revealing it in echo,
like the mystery of ocean
reverberating
through hidden passages,
always there when you
hold it to your ear.

Gratitude List:
1. Messages
2. Love
3. Rest
4. Quiet
5. Warmth

May we walk in Beauty!

The Girl Who Could Read the Landscape

2014 April 119

In the days when the people had begun to keep their lives in great boxes, living less and less on the land, a girl was born who could read the scripts and runes in the landscapes.

When a frog leaped into the pond with a startled “Eeep!” the ripples and circles in the surface of the pond read, “Splash!” of course, but also something about the day being green, the waters cool on the gills, and the polliwogs growing hale and hearty.

In a branch burrowed and tunneled by bark beetles, she could read the insect-runes: “Chronicle of the Year of Our Lady Wingshine: We are preparing for another winter. Tunnels and fortifications are underway and a healthy grub population is thriving. No woodpeckers spotted in three cycles.”

The branches on the trees crossed and curled to make whole novels of story, revealing the secret lives of owl and warbler, the gossip of squirrels, and the wisdom of ancient oaks.

Across a vast tangerine sunset, she read the letters and lines created by flocks of migrating geese and calling swans: “When your heart has two homes, you will always be a wanderer.”

And much more subtle, but as real as the words in water or bark or sky, the musky tang of a fox in the undergrowth wove through the lines and curls of autumn grasses, which she read as, “There is always a trail to follow, if you will give your heart to the moment.”

Gratitude List:
1. Advent songs
2. Sunday lunch with my parents
3. Naps
4. New stories, old stories, holding stories
5. Bringing in the greens

May we walk in Beauty!

What Is the Message?

IMG_0468

The bluebird told me, and I told the wren.
The bluebird got it from someone on the ground,
a vole, perhaps, or field mouse,
who’d caught the gist from the catfish
who lives in a corner of the pond.
She’d heard it from the turtle
who was scratching a hole in the bank
where she could lay her clutch
of pearly eggs, and she said she had learned it
from the black snake looping its way
along a branch of locust, careful of the thorns.
Who knows where that old slitherer
came upon the information?  Perhaps
she heard it on the wind
as it whispered through the valley.

I regret I cannot tell you what it was–
it has gone on now, beyond me
and beyond this poem’s edges.
Ask wren, perhaps, but he has already
told the thing to bat, who’s given it
to a thoughtfully grazing groundhog
who keeps her springtime quarters
across the field there by the little oak,
right where a sprinkle of sunshine
sparkles in the dew most mornings.

Gratitude List:
1. Earth: The view from the top of the ridge of Mt. Pisgah, looking down to the Susquehanna River always lifts my spirits.  How did I get so lucky, to get such a view almost every day?
2. Air: Poetry and Stories spoken aloud.  Last night’s Spoken Word Play (the 14th) was profound and powerful.
3. Fire: Making fire with the boys yesterday.  Ellis finally drew flames from a pile of sycamore fluff, using the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass.  Joss wanted a fire, too, so we built two small fires on bricks on the driveway, and the boys spent hours feeding them with sticks (it cleaned up the yard, that’s certain).  Joss toasted a piece of bread, and they each roasted potatoes in the hot coals for our supper.  I recently read, “They won’t remember their best afternoon of television.”  That’s the truth.  But I think they’ll remember the day they made fire.
4. Water: The River.  Did I say the River?  I cross her twice every day.  She runs through our lives like a thread that weaves us together with the lives of those who live all along her shores, and with those who have ever lived here in this place where she runs.
5. Spirit: That which enlivens and animates us.  Love that connects and weaves us together, like the River.

May we walk in Beauty!