Gratitudes, Poems

Stand a Moment

Gratitude List:
1. Sharing rainbows with strangers
2. Monarchs everywhere
3. The many years of shade the old Poplar has given this hollow
4. Good quick air-clearing rain
5. Tenderness and kindness are still to be found, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places

May we walk in Beauty!


Words for Tuesday When the Tree Comes Down:
“Drop your maps and listen to your lostness like a sacred calling into presence. Here, where the old ways are crumbling and you may be tempted to burn down your own house. Ask instead for an introduction to that which endures. This place without a foothold is the province of grace. It is the questing field, most responsive to magic and fluent in myth. Here, where there is nothing left to lose, sing out of necessity that your ragged heart be heard. Send out your holy signal and listen for the echo back.” ―Toko-pa Turner
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“A child needs the same things a tree needs: Earth. Water. Sun. Air.” ―Unknown
***
“What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being. We should recognize that while we have extravagantly subsidized the means of war, we have almost totally neglected the ways of peaceableness. We have, for example, several national military academies, but not one peace academy. We have ignored the teachings and the examples of Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peaceable leaders. And here we have an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the means of peaceableness, being cheap or free, make no money.” ―Wendell Berry
***
“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”
―Barry Lopez
***
“There’s a flame of magic inside every stone & every flower, every bird that sings & every frog that croaks. There’s magic in the trees & the hills & the river & the rocks, in the sea & the stars & the wind, a deep, wild magic that’s as old as the world itself. It’s in you too, my darling girl, and in me, and in every living creature, be it ever so small. Even the dirt I’m sweeping up now is stardust. In fact, all of us are made from the stuff of stars.” ―Kate Forsyth

Gratitudes, Poems

Blessed Be Your Longing

“Why are you so determined to keep your wild silently inside you? Let it breathe. Give it a voice. Let it roll out of you on the wide open waves. Set it free”
―Jeanette LeBlanc
*
“Lots of people talk to animals…Not very many listen though…that’s the problem.” ―Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
*
“When war is our only industry, the only crop is blood.” ―Will Giles
*
Plant
So that your own heart
Will grow.

Love
So God will think,
“Ahhhhh,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Rolls.”

Sing
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Needs.

Laugh
Because that is the purest
Sound.
—Hafiz
*
“My journey has taught me that I must learn religion as the mystics learned it, through the inward quest that Jungian psychology has helped me with so much. Banding together in institutions, whether religious, academic or professional, helps some feel secure and able to look down on the unenlightened. But I’ve clearly learned that the inward quest must become one’s own before it’s any good at all.”
—Bud Harris, Ph.D.
*
“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?” —Gabrielle Roth
*
“Blessed be your longing. Your endless ache. Your sharp crystal shatter. Your sea glass heart.” ―Jeannette LeBlanc


Gratitude List:
1. Monarchs drifting down the wind.
2. Murmurations. On the way home today, I saw, suddenly, in the windy sky ahead of me, two great black shapes like lungs in the air. It was a flock of starlings on a group maneuver. A second later, they banked and separated, and flickered out of apparent existence. When I drew underneath them, I could see a long and ragged flock flying north to south across the road. Only in their communal aerial acrobatics were they visible from a distance.
3. Driving beneath golden walnut leaves twirling earthward.
4. Singing together, and speaking poetry, and telling stories.
5. All the thousand names for God.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Day of the Monarchs

Monarchs mating. May your tribe grow and thrive, Brightwings!

“There is so much in eternity that is trying to reach us, if only we can suspend our wranglings long enough to be touched.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea.”
—D. H. Lawrence
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“Water, the Hub of Life. Water is its mater and matrix, mother and medium. Water is the most extraordinary substance! Practically all its properties are anomalous, which enabled life to use it as building material for its machinery. Life is water dancing to the tune of solids.”
—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 – 1986) Hungarian-American physiologist; Nobel laureate
*
“There is really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
—Arundhati Roy
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“God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice.”
—Naomi Wolf
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“Follow the waters,
lean in with the trees,
breathe the cool morning air,
walk through the swirling mists.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude/Examen:
1. (How did you meet the Mystery?) Monarchs dancing in the field. A small person’s excitement to tell me that he and his dad had watched monarchs mating. May there always be monarchs.
2. (What brought you awake?) Hard work in the heat and humidity. I do want to be cautious about pushing myself out there when it’s so hot, but it does feel good. Strengthening. Working the body gives the mind and heart time and space for a different pacing.
3. (What is the message from your heart?) Listen. When there is clamor, when there is silence, when there doesn’t seem to be anything to listen to or for.
4. (What takes you into the Center?) Hints of magic and mystery all around. There is so much I do not understand at an intellectual level about the world around me, but sometimes my heart gets glimpses.
5. (What do you take forward?) The inner stillness. This is getting redundant, perhaps, but it is the lesson I am learning in these days of heat and humidity, of getting work accomplished and finding energy even in the lethargy induced by the weather. There is an inner stillness that can find its way from the moments of solitude into the clamor of the day. (Most of the clamor is pretty delightful, even when it’s bickering children.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

dscn9222

Today’s poetry prompt is to write a poem about something that happens again and again.

This is a poem in hope that the cycle will continue for many years to come:

The Monarchs Return to Mexico
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Every year they find their way back.
Through the veils of mist that hover
over the mountain passes they flutter.

Their flaming wings set the woods afire
as morning sun sparkles through the canopy.
The forest breathes with orange light.

Gratitude List:
1. The music in church today. “Kyrie, eleison.” Supporting each other in song. Sitting next to Nancy and harmonizing with her, blending our voices.
2. A wonderful set of interviews at LMS this afternoon: Phyllis Pellman Good interviewed nine alumni about their work, how LMS prepared them for their lives, and what touchpoints they use for making ethical/moral decisions. Profound.
3. Seeing people’s safety pins.
4. The poet Andrea Gibson tweeted something about remembering how music heals. Yes.
5. Making salt dough with the kid.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Limber

imag1908
Becoming. . .

Several years ago in mid-September, I was sitting in the parking lot at Temple Beth Israel with boxes of vegetables for our CSA pick-up. During the hour and a half that I was there, at least thirty monarchs floated southward above my head. Like the birds and the dragonflies, monarchs are migrating now, too.

We used to go to the beach at this time of year, when most people have gone home for the summer. No crowds to get in the way–only warm water, cool breezes, and all the wingfolk flying south: flocks of a thousand swallows, and dragonflies and monarchs. The Wetlands Institute at Stone Harbor, NJ has a Monarch Migration Festival every September.

It’s the hummingbirds and the monarchs that really get me, such tiny and vulnerable little bodies sailing out over the Gulf to Mexico, to South America.  Dragonflies look like little machines, like helicopters built for the distance, but even they are vulnerable to weather, far out over the Gulf.

Now is the season for refueling, preparing for the leap into the blue, water and air. What will I risk in this space of my life? What void will you leap into?  Like those orange butterflies, we can trust that the long journeys of the past and the knowledge of the ancestors that lives in our own wings will inform our own flight.

Orange wings dip in farewell–
monarch catches a breeze
and wings toward the Gulf.

(I don’t really have a seasonal word as such in this haiku, but the second part of it is about the migration, so that gives the clue.)

Gratitude List:
1. Limber. Jon used this word yesterday to express something to do with fluid thinking. I like that word, especially as I am more and more aware of how the aging process demands more focused work on keeping the body limber. I like to think that my mind can also be limber if I keep it exercised.
2. Clouds: In yesterday’s sunrise, the clouds were first tangerine and indigo. Magenta. Then ivory and indigo and gold against a Maryblue sky. Clouds of mist hung low over the fields, pooling around the ankles of the cows. Clouds hung low over the River. Layers of clouds filled the sky.
3. Monarchs. Yesterday I took a walk and found four large caterpillars munching on milkweed behind the greenhouse. Eat well, little ones.
4. Janelle’s bees. The Middle School Science room has a hive right in the room. The Queen was quietly holding court, the larvae were squirming to get out of their little chambers, and the workers were dancing directions to each other.
5. This year’s Silhouette staff. That’s the school literary magazine. We had our first meeting yesterday, and they are so eager and willing to get right down to work. I think it’s going to be a really great year.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

On the Border

Rock

Where will you wander today?

What doorways, what thresholds,
what boundaries will you traverse?

Where will your heart find the opening
into the next open meadow?

Gratitude List:
1. Monarchs! We saw six yesterday in the milkweed patch, four butterflies and two large, healthy caterpillars we saw without even searching. Blessings on the monarchs.
2. Hard work. I haven’t been up the fields with the farm crew yet this season. I can’t quite believe that, but there it is. So yesterday, when we were short a few hands, I worked with a small crew in the bean and tomato fields. The camaraderie, the sweat dripping down the small of the back, the view over the hills. All good, good, good.
3. “August is the Sunday of the summer.” Isn’t that a wonderful phrase? Someone said it out in the fields yesterday. It captures the anxiety and excitement, the resolve and the dread of Sunday afternoons before you go back into the week, that sense that this is your moment to pile on the fun. Whee! Here we go–one more week of my summer-August. It’s like 6:00 on a Sunday evening: I have to get my papers in order for Monday, and do one more super-fun thing.
4. It’s been quite a while since I have eaten a tomato in the fields, but there was this gorgeous butter-yellow Goldie with one triangular turtle bite, and I didn’t want to just toss it without getting some of the benefit. Then there was a deep purple Carbon with a large bruised patch on one side. Then a Mr. Slabaugh with a deep crack. There is nothing so refreshing when you’re keel-over hot than a juicy tomato right off the vine, the juice running down your arms to your elbows.
5. Finding the memory that eludes, no matter how trivial: At snack break yesterday, someone started talking about a WXPN show that featured “Yacht Rock.” I am not a pop culture maven, nor have I ever been on a yacht, but I got it, especially when she said that Duran Duran and Kenny G would both fit, no matter their quality differences. I had in my head the perfect song to fit the genre, one I have really liked, but I couldn’t remember the singer’s name, the title, or even a phrase from the song. The moment I said out loud, “I know one!” it was gone-gone-gone. We played a guessing game for a while, with the others trying to draw it out, but my brain held onto it and wouldn’t let it go. Finally, as we were walking up the hill to the tomatoes, even though it felt completely ridiculous, I told Jon how I kept feeling like I almost had it, and then Cat Stevens would come into my head, but he was definitely not it. Jon immediately said, “Al stewart–‘Year of the Cat'”–and that was it. Except it was “On the Border,” not “Year of the Cat.” Weird how the mind works. (I think Oliver Sachs might have enjoyed studying my weird brain.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Treasures in the Haystack

Today as I was walking down the hall, I noticed a small group of first years huddled in a little cluster not far from a grove of tree-like seniors.  The freshmen looked so young and innocent and small compared to the sturdy and confident older students.  I realized that it was only partly about their respective heights; it was also about their carriage and body language.  The blooming from childhood to young adulthood really seems to happen in these few years that they walk the halls of high school.  I also realized that those particular freshmen, who seemed so small in comparison to the seniors, were actually all taller than I am.  Heh.

I should be grading.  I have a big stack of essays that really need to be done by tomorrow.  But my gratitude list today is sort of centered around that stack.

Gratitude List:
1.  All these stories.  Perhaps it’s a little brutal, a little brusque, to ask these young folks whom I don’t really know to write essays for me, describing something that brought about a change in their lives.  Oh, how tender, how vulnerable, their responses.  I hold them like eggs, like butterfly wings, like whispers.  Tales of joyful tears at the birth of a niece or a nephew, of tenderly nurturing small creatures, of leaving their homes to travel to the US to study, of deciding to care about their futures and their dreams.  Oh, the stacks of grading can be a teacher’s bane, like mythological challenges to be overcome, but they hold such treasures.  Such powerful and fragile treasures.  Have I said how in love I am with these people who fill my days?
2.  How a little bit of unplanned time in the classroom can sometimes turn into powerful discussion time.  Yesterday, it was about how, when you stand up against something wrong, it makes it easier for the next person to do so.  Today, it was parenting techniques, and helping children to develop intrinsic motivations to choose the “right” option instead of forcing them to follow the extrinsic motivation of threats of parental punishment.  Really.  These are wise and thoughtful folks.
3.  Monarchs on the move.  I keep seeing them–it’s migration time.
4.  Wild geese.  The ones that fly overhead.  The ones in Mary Oliver’s poem.  The ones in Mary Black’s song.  The one some call the Spirit.
5.  Tomorrow we go to the beach.  The farm work will go on here without us.  The school work will get done in the cracks and spaces.  And I will have a day and a half to breathe seas air and refresh and rejuvenate.  Blessed be.

May we walk in Beauty.