Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Uncategorized

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

Fictions, Gratitudes

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!

Gratitudes

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!

Gratitudes, Musings

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!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

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!

Gratitudes, Poems

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!

Gratitudes, Musings

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!

Gratitudes

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.

Gratitudes

Panda and Panther

Panda and Panther
I am rather proud of these two paintings which I managed despite the fact that the canvases constantly twitched and squinted.  Panther requested that I paint green eyes on his eyelids, which meant that he went around with his eyes closed for a while.  When he smudged his paint, he touched it up himself.  He has requested that we buy ourselves a family set of face paints. I think I will.

Gratitude List:
1. A day of play
2. Public spaces that are created specifically for children. (Yes, I know it’s a lucrative business.  Still, the Hands on House is particularly well done.  My boys were some of the older ones there, and they became obsessed with keeping the factory room tidied and organized.)
3. The determination of a small child to participate in the cleaning of the garage, the preparation for the first share of the season on Monday.
4. Mist in the mornings.  Makes me want to hike to Rivendell.
5. Courage, which I think is different than bravery, because the courageous person recognizes that she is terrified, but she takes the next breath anyway.  I have friends who are deeply courageous, though perhaps they don’t realize how deeply courageous they are.  (Root is couer = Heart.) I want to start a poem like Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese,” only to say:
You do not have to be brave.
You only have to fill your aching lungs with one more breath.
You do not have to wait until you no longer feel afraid.
You only have to step from this moment into the next one.

May we walk in Beauty, in Couer-age.

Gratitudes

Awakening

DSCN8980
I took yesterday’s photo on Saturday, and today’s photo on Monday.  It’s the same tiny patch of aconites.  In two days, it went from just peeking above the soil surface to blooming.  Blessed be.

Gratitude List:
1. Flexibility, adaptability
2. Mists and fogs.  Mist flowing over the ramparts of the bridge at night, lit by moonlight and lamplight.  Mist in that boggy area by Route 30 on my way to school, back lit, orange in the morning sun.  Mist rising over the Millstream at school.
3. Flocks of gulls.  Yesterday, I stopped briefly on my way home from school to take some pictures of the sun on the River, and the parking lot of the River Park was covered in a white carpet of gulls.  I love to watch them floating on the River, and wheeling above it.
4. This work.  It’s really difficult on some days, and really rewarding on some days.  Sometimes both on the same day, for the same reason.
5. Vegetable stew and crusty bread

May we walk in Beauty!