Twelvenight: Synchronicity, Orenda, and the Fool

One of the subjects that keeps snagging my poetic attention is the landscape manuscript–how everything around us (not just the landscape) has a “text” that we might understand, if only we could read it. When I’m driving down the road and thinking about a knotty issue I am trying to resolve and I see three crows standing quietly in a winter field, or seven geese suddenly fly overhead in a raggedy V across my view, or something in the way the sun shines on the remaining leaves of that old oak seems to have a message for me–it’s as if there’s a deep text in the world that could be understood if only I knew the letters. And of course the landscape does have messages, and they can be read. It’s what farmers and meteorologists and hikers have done forever. It is what ecologists and environmentalists are doing right now, to save our lives.

And sometimes the visual and aural messages in my environment do seem to align themselves in perfect messages that feel like they’re meant for me, specifically, to read. Again, this is whimsical and playful rather than scientific. And it also captures my attention. I’m not going to make a judgement about whether or not the Holy One Herself, or the Universe, or the faeries, set up yesterday’s little alignment just so my heart could see it, but I will claim the whimsy, say that the synchronicity caught my heart, and then I will use it to construct the next steps of intuitive meaning for the shape my ponderings take in the coming days. I’d rather step into the future making meaning from the rich webs of whimsy and coincidence that surround me than refusing to gather the symbols that dance through my life and live with meaning defined only by the hardest of logic.

I was driving across the Route 30 bridge, listening to the most recent episode of “This Jungian Life” podcast, on the Trickster archetype, because my friend had recommended it to me. I was thinking about the Fool, and how I hoped that this archetype would inform my activism in the coming year, speaking truth through the lies in the way only the Fool can. The theme of the podcast suddenly turned to the way that tricksters throughout history have been challengers of suppression and repression and autocratic rule, how they act as a corrective when a person or a system becomes too rigidly rule-based and oppressive. There was a “click” in my brain at the coincidence of thought and outer message.

At that moment, my eye caught the new Sight and Sound billboard at the end of the bridge—shining purple, it advertised their upcoming production of Queen Esther, and one of my favorite Bible phrases, from the book of Esther, took up the central space in large letters: “FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS.” Again, an internal click.

As I passed the billboard, a large vulture swooped low above the highway. Click.

Yes, it’s whimsy and intuition, poetry and dreaminess, rather than hard science or pure logic or cold reason. While I need the latter, while I value science and logic and reason as important mental processes, I think a world that makes meaning without the more poetic processes is bereft of the spark of spirit.

And so it is settled, this day before Epiphany. My word, my archetype, my guiding principle, for the coming year is the Fool. Sacred clown. Jester. Trickster. I’ve been considering how the Fool subverts the dominant paradigm (to use an old phrase) to speak the truth behind the lies. In a political milieu swimming in falsehoods, how does the Fool speak truth? Lear’s Fool spoke from deep love and tenderness, was not afraid to speak harsh truths right to the king’s face, and kept repeating the truth from various angles until the truth shone in.

Even the travelers whose arrival we celebrate today and tomorrow, the Wise Ones, the magi, have an element of the Fool. Magi, Mages, Magic, Image, Imagination. The truth they first told Herod was too bald, too open, too dangerous, and so, when they were presented with the deep truth of this Child, they disobeyed the king and fled home a different way, tricking the King. Still, the consequences were grave and terrible for too baldly proclaiming the truth to the king in the first place. This is lesson to be deeply conscious of to whom and how the truth is presented. The Fool must be wise.

So. The Fool.
Those black vulture wings are also in my consciousness.
And the echidna, a hybrid creature who survives and thrives because it is more than one thing.
Those mists and rainbows, veiling and shattering, scattering light.
Wading in the water: Do you want to be well?
And Aslan’s words to Lucy: “Courage, Dear Heart!”

There is one more thing, a more abstract word rather than an archetype: Orenda. It comes from the Iroquoian language systems, and it refers to the spiritual power that exists in all things, the energy that we transmit between us, that we can access to change the world.

Okay, and there’s one more thing. My friends. Community. Last night’s dreams were a succession of anxiety dreams. In several scenes, I was trying to find Joss, and just couldn’t make contact. In several scenes, I had little fiddly school details to remember and take care of while I was rushing around trying to do other things. In several scenes I was in a car, constantly missing my exit, needing to turn around, but unable to get around another car or to fit my car into the space of the turn-off. Finally, standing on a sidewalk, about to throw my phone on the ground because I couldn’t get it to make a simple call to Joss, a group of my college friends walked up. Nancy took my phone and got it to dial Joss. Gloria put her hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes, and started to tell me a helpful story. The others gathered around. I could feel everyone’s presence. And I calmed down. Friends. I get by with a little help. . .

What are your messages from the coming year? What words and images coalesce for you? What synchronicities in your inner and outer landscape call to you to listen and follow?


Gratitude List:
1. Friends. How even in my dreams, my beloveds appeared to bring me peace. You. The little connections that are bigger than you know. The way the web of our connections holds us up, and holds the world.
2. The spiritual force within each one of us that enlivens and enlightens and helps us to bring change and goodness into the world.
3. Synchronicity and coincidence and making meaning where it comes.
4. Image and imagination and magic.
5. Being greeted throughout the day by cats.

May we walk in Beauty!

Twelvenight: Mist and Fog and Rising Sun

So many of the little treasures that wash up on the shore of my consciousness after a night of dreaming seem insignificant, silly, unconnected. This morning, I woke up really early with my mind tugging at a joke it was making, about someone with the last name of Waters who had a son named Wade. Weird brain.

I know where my deep-self elf pulled the word Wade from. Yesterday one of my friends posted one of those word searches where the first three words you see are to predict something about your coming year. The words are always sweet and inspiring. I saw HEALTH, and GRATITUDE, and WADE. Wade? I think that word got into the search by accident, but there you have it. And then I think, the inner fool sent it back to me again, as a sort of joke. If I keep to the beachcombing metaphor, this one is a really odd-shaped piece of who-knows-what. It’s interesting enough, if it doesn’t seem to have any particular meaning. Into the collecting bag it goes.

Later, in my more complete and final waking of the morning I am dreaming: We are staying with friends at a little bed and breakfast sort of place in a sort of European-seeming city-town. I wake up really early and wander around the courtyard a bit. After a while, one of our friends wakes up and makes a fire in the fireplace in the kitchen. We sit and talk, but I wish we had made the fire in the courtyard by the garden, to watch the sun rise and feel the morning breeze.

Later, I go up to the second floor to pack up some things, and I open a window and look out at the sunrise. The landscape before me is green and rolling, first the gardens of the town, then rolling hills, and finally deep blue sky and the sun rising in a halo of rainbow. (There’s rainbow again.) I am filled with a sense of complete well-being.

I woke into the waking day to a grey-fog-filled hollow, which has its own kind of deeply satisfying beauty. I love the mystery of a good fog.

Do your dreams bring you satisfaction? Are they unsettling? I am paying attention to that sense of wellbeing I felt at the end of my dreams. The deep-self speaks in feelings as well as in images.


Gratitude List:
1. Fogs and mists
2. The long view
3. Mysteries–both holy and mundane (maybe they’re the same thing)
4. How people show up, even when it’s hard
5. Our friend’s surgery seems to have been successful. We pray that he will now be cancer free and on the road to recovery.

May we walk in Beauty!

Mist, Moon, Mist


As November 6 approaches, and amid all the squeamishness I am feeling about the privileged way we do politics in this country, I am thinking about the “right” to vote.

June 4, 1919: The 19th Amendment finally offered women the right to vote in this country.

Except. Only White Women. Women put their bodies on the line for this right. They went to jail. They were beaten. They were brutally force-fed during hunger strikes. They were called terrible names, and experienced social shaming that destroyed their reputations. And they were white women, and they fought for white women. Some of my heras from that fight were notably silent on the subject of race. Others actively campaigned against women of color being included in the mix.

On this hand over here, I honor them for their selfless and courageous fight. They saw their moment and they took it, and the world was at least a marginally better place for it.

On this hand over here, though: Is it a victory, really, if it actively marginalizes such a large number of us?

My heras have feet of clay. Fatal flaws. Lack of real vision and insight and completely human compassion. Still, their work paved the way. But not for all of us. Did it at least open the door for all of us?

The Snyder Act, in 1924, finally gave the country’s original inhabitants the right to vote, five years after white women could vote. And looking at the kinds of voter suppression that took place for African American people after white people finally passed the 15th Amendment, it’s likely that many Native American women didn’t vote until much later.

While the 15th Amendment in 1870 ostensibly gave African American men the right to vote, we don’t have to look so far back into the mists of history to see how recently the Voting Rights Act was passed, to REALLY give black people the right to vote. It was on 1965, two years before I was born, and I’m not that old. So, while my grandmothers could have voted if they’d wanted to (it was against their religious principles, so they didn’t), my grandmothers’ African American sisters couldn’t vote until they were in their forties or fifties.

So this year I won’t be posting any images of the white suffragettes marching for women’s right to vote, as door-opening as that period was, as sacrificial as they were. And I am having trouble celebrating any movement to bring about ACTUAL Democratic voting in this country while the Supreme Court can take away the voting rights of First Nations people in North Dakota, while unscrupulous people are suppressing the black vote in Georgia, while elderly black voters are removed from a bus taking them to a polling place. There are more stories. Look them up.

I will honor the intent of the suffragettes who fought for the right to vote, for the doors they opened, and I will truly celebrate the life and work of the tireless Congressman John Lewis, who nearly died in the fight to bring about the Voting Rights Act.

There will always be undemocratic forces in this country that try to garner power for their own ends, to control the people. Voting, and fighting for the voice of all people to vote, is part of the bedrock of the democratic process.  And I will speak out–and I beg you to speak out, too–for the rights of ALL Americans to vote for those who are chosen to speak for us in the halls of power.


Gratitude List:
1. Good fiction. I am listening to The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. I don’t know why post-apocalyptic literature is so charmingly comforting in these difficult times. Perhaps it has to do with reminding me that things aren’t as bad as all that. Yet. Feel free to psychoanalyze me.
2. Speaking Truth to Power–all the people who do so
3. Cool fall days
4. The river, the river, the river
5. Magical, prayerful, contemplative acts

May we walk in Beauty!


Rhapsody Part 7 – Mary Oliver

If you are in the garden, I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea I will slide into that
smooth blue nest, I will talk fish, I will adore salt.
But if you are sad, I will not dress myself in desolation.
I will present myself with all the laughters I can muster.
And if you are angry I will come, calm and steady, with
some small and easy story.
Promises, promises, promises! The tongue jabbers, the heart
strives, fails, strives again. The world is perfect.
Love, however,
is an opera, a history, a long walk, that
includes falling and rising, falling and rising, while
the heart stays as sweet as a peach, as radiant and
grateful as the deep leaved hills.
*
“You either walk inside your story & own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” ~BRENÉ BROWN
*
Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
October.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Live the question now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some day into the answer.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“and if i hear one more time
about a fool’s rights
to his tools of rage
I’m gonna take all my friends
and I’m gonna move to Canada
and we’re gonna die of old age” –Ani Difranco

Always a Trail to Follow


Here is a tiny story-thing I wrote last year on this day:

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. Chicken Pot Pie for supper. Jon’s a great cook!
2. One of my students, who is an artist, talks about how she sees beauty in every person. Yes.
3. Settling into the darkness of winter. It’s not easy for me. I have to talk myself through it every year. I love the womb of dark. I love the comforting raven’s wings about me. Still, I feel as though I am losing time. I want to sleep and eat and sit and dream. I am finding my winter rhythm. Don’t ask too much of me right now.
4. Mist in the morning over the bridge. We all imagined where we wanted to be when we came through the mist on the other side of the bridge. We were still in Columbia, but that’s okay. Sometime I really do want to come through the mist into Avalon or Hogwarts or Iceland.
5. The dreamtime. My brain begins to gather dreams in its cobwebs in these long nights. There was snow in last night’s dream.

May we walk in Beauty!

Magic Happens

Gratitude List:
1. I love writing poems in November, and I am always relieved when November is over.
2. Some days, you just let the students hijack the lesson and magic happens as they tell their own stories.
3. Morning mists and magenta sunrises
4. Trying again after you fail
5. The open spaces of a weekend

May we walk in Beauty!

Winds of Grace


I cannot wrap my head around the events of the past twenty-four hours. My heart is trying to encompass tragedy, to be witness, to hold a space for love. May we learn to be better humans.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
―LM Montgomery/Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)
*
“I think it’s so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary–you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.” ―Georgia O’Keeffe
*
“It’s impossible to contemplate the life of soil very long without seeing its analogy to the life of the spirit.” ―Wendell Berry
*
“There is no room for harsh words among us, only open hearts.” ―Pope Francis
*
“If you want to know who your tribe is, speak your truth, then see who sticks around. Those are the people who get a spot in your blanket fort.” ―Nanea Hoffman
*
“The winds of grace are always blowing,
but it is you who must raise your sails.”
―Rabindranath Tagore


Gratitude List:
1. The morning seemed full of portents and omens, in an almost Shakespearean way,
2. how the mist lay thickly in the hollows and valleys below the ridge,
3. how the sun became visible like a red ghost as we neared the River,
4. and the hills along the River peeked out between skuthers of mist,
5. and a young eagle flew above us as we emerged into a clear sky on the River’s opposite side.

May we walk in Beauty!

Bedevilment

Today in Creative Writing, we did a fun bit of wordplay from the website Writing ForwardYou make lists of a dozen or so nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. Then you make a list of prefixes/suffixes. Using your lists, you add prefixes and suffixes to some of your nouns in order to create words of your own. Then you make up new compound words, use nouns as verbs and adjectives as adverbs–all to experiment with using language in different ways.  Today’s poem, using the prompt of bedevilment, comes out of that writing experience.

I have dungeoned my wonder,
enshaded my joy,
chaining myself in the ragecage
I made for my shadowling.

Addicted to fury,
I fought fear with burning,
teethful in reaction,
and wasting my flame.

When you make a rope of curses,
you catch your own head in the loop.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
The tower. It may have begun as the Tower of Rapunzel, where her witch-mother kept her waiting. It may have been a fortress, strong and impenetrable, or a solitary place of retreat. But this tower is falling, burning, lightning-struck, and the Fool is falling, falling. To understand the lightning-struck tower, it may be necessary to remember the journey the Fool has taken from learning temperance to the experience of bedevilment and addiction. We find our balance, and then we fail, and so we are thrown off-balance again, and need to find a new grounding. The experience of falling from the Tower is about losing your attachment to your ego. The Fool has to learn that she cannot be completely in control.

Gratitude List:
1. The misty fogginess in the hollow as dusk fell. It felt like a fairy tale world.
2. The way rain brings out the deepness of the colors.
3. Kreutz Creek Library Book Sale
4. Mandalas
5. Kindnesses. Today, standing in the hallway, I watched one of my students who sometimes seems a little isolated by his extreme shyness. He was walking quietly through the crowd in the hall, head down, and another kid saw him and just reached out and bumped him on the shoulder and grinned at him, noticing him. The shy boy smiled back. It might seem like a small, almost unremarkable kindness, but I think it was really actually pretty huge for the shy one. That’s the kind of people these young folk are. I know that my school is not perfect, and that unkind words and bullying occur, but more than that I am aware of kindnesses, of thoughtfulness.

May we walk in Beauty!

You’ll Be Flying

elves

Today is the last day of the November Poem-a-Day Challenge. The Prompt is to write a Last-Chance poem.

Last Chance
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Last dance
take a chance
never any
backward glance

high hopes
a grand scope
acrobat
walks the rope

doing or dying
never stop trying
before you know it
you’ll be flying

Gratitude List:
1. Making Progress
2. Mist. Have I mentioned mist on the River? How it crawls along the surface of the water and boils up into the air? Fog and mist.
3. How dreams and ideas are like mist–they’re so ephemeral, but so substantial. You swim in them, even though you can’t touch them.
4. Warm scarves
5. The way the students in my Foundations class are making connections, thinking, processing. Lots of strong EQ in that class.

May we walk in Beauty!

Poem: A Minute

beach
A few years ago I was working on a project about my younger self, and I wanted to take a photograph of this framed photo that my father took of me when I was six, standing on the shore of Rusinga Island. I just couldn’t seem to get the photo without the glare and the reflection in the glass of myself taking the photo. Suddenly I realized that I needed to put my current self into the photo, too, and set it up to intentionally gt my shadow on the glass.

Here is a poem from October 16, 2013. The form is called a minute, using three 20-syllable stanzas (60 syllables, like 60 seconds, equals one minute):

Out in the dawn, a misty sea
in walnut tree
a silent crow
will dream of snow

will ruffle feathers in the chill
will wait until
the first bright ray
begins the day

then with a final shake will rise
from branch to skies
and this will be
a memory

Gratitude List:
1. My School. Today Lancaster Mennonite School launches its 75th year celebrations.
2. I can’t get over the wreaths and draperies of mist on the fields on the way to school. Even yesterday afternoon on the way home, there was a snake of mist winding down the River along the western shore by Accomac.
3. I made it through the week. I have been having terrible sinus headaches in the last few days, and I kept thinking it might turn into something worse, but it hasn’t. If I am going to have allergy issues in the fall, I would rather have silent sinus headaches than the wild sneezing and sniffling and burning eyes that I sometimes get.
4. The color purple. (You know what Sug says in the book of that name.) Rich, inviting, heart-opening.
5. The poetry of Langston Hughes. One of my students asked me last week if I knew anything about Langston Hughes, so this week has been Langston Hughes week in my class.  This morning will be “I, to, Sing America.”

May we walk in Beauty!

May You Have Rainbows

Rainbow

It was one of the brightest rainbows I think I have ever seen, but a cell phone photo just can’t do it justice.  There was a second rainbow in the space of this photo, and the deeper band of gray between them.

Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday’s shining double rainbow
2. The way mist gathers in the pockets of trees in the hillsides
3. St. John’s Wort.  I found some wild patches of it along my street, and on this morning’s walk, I dug some up to bring home for my garden.
4. Lemon, Mint, and Basil infused water
5. The Weaving that we all are doing, not always aware as we place our threads how we are intertwining our stories and prayers together.

May we walk in Beauty!  Much love.  And rainbows.