Poems, Poetry Prompts

Morning

It’s another April. This year, grades were due at 8 a.m. on April first, so I didn’t even consider Poem-a-Day until after I’d muddled my way through the day, taken a nap, and eaten supper. But here I am. It’s a strange compulsion, this drive to write a daily poem, knowing that the next four weeks will have their own share of other stresses, that there will come a day, mid-month, when I will hate the way poetry is holding the whip above my head, when I will write a grocery list and call it a poem, just to get through the day. But now, on the first day of the month, everything seems bright and shiny, and I feel up for anything.

Brewer’s prompt today is to write a morning poem. I worked up a photo of this morning’s magenta cloud in a blue sky to go with it.

Finishing the Grades

The battle cry of yesterday’s ghost
startled me into morning
at precisely 4:38 according to the clock,
and as I couldn’t wrestle the monster
back into oblivion, I strapped on the day
like a rusty sword and went downstairs
in the chilly dark, to coffee and a blue screen,
to the silent dread of numbers on a page,
and the certainty of this day’s wave of work
receding, while the pull of the next wave
began its undertow toward the rising sun.

Gratitudes, Musings

A New Year, Dreamtime 10

Here we are at Janus’ Doorway again. Janus, remember, is the two-faced Roman god who stands in doorways and gateways and openings, his face looking back to where he came from and forward to where he is headed. And on this day we, too, have made a practice of looking forward as we look back: What do I hold in my heart from the past year? What do I want to keep and improve upon? What do I regret? What do I leave behind with relief? And: What am I looking forward to? What do I want to maintain as the thread that continues from year to year to year? What do I want to pick up What can I strive to become as I step through this gate into the next phase?

Some years I make Resolutions. Some years I eschew them. Some years I make them with qualifications or new names like Intentions or Principles. This year, they’re Resolutions again. I can sit with that. Some of these are loftier than others.

Resolutions
In 2019, I resolve to:

  1. Continue banning face and name of the attention-monger on my FB page. No posts of him.
  2. Nourish my body with care, and make sure to strengthen and stretch.
  3. Tend to my inner life with even greater care. Expand spiritual practices and lifelines.
  4. Let the madwoman out of the attic. Give her flowers and colors, nice music and rich scents.
  5. Be actively kinder to my children.
  6. Finish the book. Can I finish the book this year? I think maybe I can finish the book.g

Gratitude List:
1. Closing the book on the challenges of 2018.
2. Opening a new chapter.
3. Blank pages.
4. Supportive, overlapping circles of community.
5. The blue of those clouds on this first morning of the new year.

May we walk in Beauty!


Today’s Quotations list is long. I decided to include two of my own New Year’s poems.

Words for the Seventh Day of Kwanzaa:
The word for this last day of Kwanzaa is Imani, or Faith. Believe that your dreams have the power to create change in the world. May it be so for you and for me and for all who long for and work for justice in the coming year.


“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier.’” —Alfred Tennyson


“Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.” ―Joan Chittister


Walking Through the Gateway of Another Year
By Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2017

Let’s call them New Year’s Revolutions
or Re-Solutions
or Revelations
or Re-evaluations.

Change. Progress.
Uncovering. Assessing.

In the coming year, I resolve to re-solve
my problems and issues every day,
not just on this morning.

For every morning is the morning
of a whole new year,
a bright blank page
in which any thing
can be a new thing.

Let every moment be a moment like now,
when the newborn sun shines
over the ridge
onto the scarlet breast
of a cardinal,
and the eye
for a moment sees nothing
but sparkling red.


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.” —T. S. Eliot


“And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
—William Blake


“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
―Mary Oliver


“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


This is How It Begins (a New Year’s poem)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, January 1, 2016

This is how it begins:
each year, each week, each day,
each golden shining drop of moment
approaches,
full of expectancy,
dawning,
ready for our use.

How will I inhabit the house
of the now that approaches?
How will I wear the cloth
of the day that is given?
How will I wander the story
of the year that has just now
leapt into shining view
through the gray clouds of winter?

I will face this year with resolution
(this week, this day, this moment)
not to wait until this whirling planet
has danced around the sun
to make the new thing new,
but to step into each freshly-birthed now
with eyes that see the golden shine of possibility
and ears that hear the note of each plucked strand of moment.

Gratitudes, Musings

Holding Our Brokenness

This ceramic chalice was on a shelf in a meeting room at my church last year. I could sense the disappointment that must have occurred to the person who broke it or discovered it broken. But it spoke to me, to my own sense of brokenness, how we hold our brokenness, how the essential form and idea of the thing remains even when it is broken. I wonder if someone ought to try to mend it with kitsugi in the Japanese way.

Gratitude List:
1. The blue underbellies of evening clouds
2. Taking a break: I am nursing a rather nasty cold, but the idea of a break is a big lift to my mental well-being as well. Hmmm. They seem to be related, both the downward slide, and the recovery.
3. Butter coffee
4. Bright pops of color in the muted landscape: I suppose that’s why everyone seems to love cardinals and berries.
5. Naps: Refer to #2

May we walk in Beauty!

“Healing comes in waves and maybe today the wave hits the rocks. And that’s ok, that’s ok, darling. You are still healing, you are still healing.” —Ijeoma Umebinyuo


“No matter where we are, the ground between us will always be sacred ground.“ —Fr. Henri Nouwen


“The truest art I would strive for in any work would be to give the page the same qualities as earth: weather would land on it harshly; light would elucidate the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding.” —Gretel Ehrlich


“‪The fact that these words and the jumble of lines that create their letters has no real, inherent meaning outside of a human context, yet they hum with life, is a wonderful reminder that what we imagine can easily become real and powerful simply because we decide it should be so.‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


“Writing at the library. Surrounded by thousands of books, windows into other minds. Some of these writers are living. Some are not. Neatly ordered rectangles of concentrated human life and intellect. A book is certainly a kind of ghost and libraries are pleasantly haunted places.” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


“The beauty of the world…has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.” —Virginia Woolf


I know nothing, except what everyone knows —
If there when Grace dances, I should dance.
—W.H. Auden


“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic—the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”
—Charles de Lint

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Follow Your Map

Quotations for today:
“Morning is the best of all times in the garden. The sun is not yet hot. Sweet vapors rise from the earth. Night dew clings to the soil and makes plants glisten. Birds call to one another. Bees are already at work.” —William Longgood
***
“Elsewhere the world may be blustering or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, while others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn—and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, while the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames, tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb. So, let us drink a cup of tea.” —Muriel Barbery, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”
***
“There is ecstasy in paying attention.”
—Anne Lamott
***
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estes


Gratitude List:
1. I usually try to protect his privacy on my social media sites, but I just have to say that you have to love a man who sings to his cats.
2. And who delights in sharing the first ripe tomato. On toast. With mayo.
3. Reading with the children. Sharing stories together.
4. Maps and guides, which is to say, You. You and the stones and the rivers. And the Voice inside.
5. Therese Patricia Okoumou, who climbed to the feet of Our Lady Liberty to protest the criminalization of migrants. She inspires.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Back in the Day

Today’s Prompt is to write a “Back in the Day” poem.

Back in the Day
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Back in the morning
when I was young,
when youthful energy
gripped my limbs
and raised me up
to face the adventures ahead,
then I was a dancer.

Back in the day
when I met the Challengers
faced my fears,
and accepted my quests,
riding into battle
the dragons of ignorance,
then I was a warrior.

Back in the evening
when my eyes began
to feel the weight
of the day’s gravity,
and my legs ached
with weariness,
then I was a teacher.

Now at day’s close,
I am old and worn out,
waiting for the moment
when I will close my eyes
and enter the land of sleep,
to wake in the morning
young again.


Gratitude List:
1. Finishing and submitting the manuscript!
2. Sleep to come
3. Not being alone
4. Getting it out in a good, hard rant
5. Tomorrow is Friday.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Honesty Matters

Today’s Prompt is to write an Abundance poem:

How can we speak of abundance
amid such an abundance of wrongs,
when the throngs of people seeking safety
are turned from our borders,
when we long for justice within,
but the strong still crush the weak,
when we seek simple peace,
but we’ve begun to doubt that the meek
will inherit much of anything,
much less the earth?

Still, much remains, abundantly,
beyond the walls and the hostility.
The abundance of tender friends,
of quiet moments of reflection,
of laughter bubbling between us,
and tears that bring release, and heal us.
Kindness sometimes overflows
and gentle eyes and warm hands,
and stories woven together,
the cloth for a table lavishly spread,
with a welcome for all.


“Walk fearlessly into the house of mourning, for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy.” —Kate Braestrup
***
“Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.” —Neil Gaiman
***
“Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors, but today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.” —Kahlil Gibran
***
“To write is to ask questions. It doesn’t matter if the answers are true or puro cuento. After all and everything only the story is remembered, and the truth fades away like the pale blue ink on a cheap embroidery pattern.” —Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo
***
“With guns, you can kill terrorists.
With education, you can kill terrorism.” —Malala Yousufsai
***
“The wo/man who moves a mountain
begins by carrying away small stones.”
—Confucius, The Analects
***
“That day,
the morning came golden,
sudden,
like wind over the mountains
pushing the dark away like a curtain.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” —Wendell Berry


Gratitude List:
1. Oatmeal toast for supper. Simple, delicious comfort food, made by my dad. Also, apples and cheese. And chocolate cake for dessert. But the oatmeal toast was the medicine for the moment.
2. More people weaving their stories into the tapestry of our lives.
3. This congregation I belong to: People to laugh and cry with, to discuss and discern with, to deepen and grow with. And that’s just one Sunday morning.
4. Lights at ends of tunnels. Walking through those doorways with people I love.
5. A couple years ago, I wore through the heels of a couple pairs of striped socks that I loved. Rather than throw them away, I cut off the feet, and now I wear them as undersleeves. That little extra layer on my arms really helps to keep me from getting chilled.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

This Is Your Birth


I was reading the other day about the Scottish term caim, the circle of magic protection that you draw about yourself. I got to thinking about how I could use the idea as a drawing meditation, incorporating the protection prayer/spell into a mandala drawing. In a mandala, I always begin in the center, and then work outward, often referencing the energy points that I make note of in meditation. Here are a couple mandalas I drew today with the purpose of drawing a circle of protection about myself. The first was very enclosed, safe. Perhaps because the first established such secure boundaries, I was freer to whirl outward in the second.

Today’s Poetry prompt is to write a transformation poem. I am over-tired myself today, and am putting this tiny tanka here as something of a place-holder.

Begin in silence.
Draw your attention inward.
Feel the power grow
within your bones, your spirit.
Hold the image in your mind.


“If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures.”
—Thomas Berry
*
“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” —Kurt Vonnegut
*
“For a Star to be born,
there is one thing that must happen;
a nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your Destruction.
This is your birth.” —attributed to Noor Tagouri
*
“After the owl booms in the sycamore at dawn,
after your eyes adjust to the darkness,
after you stumble through the washing and dressing,
after the flicker of lights,
after the coffee,
after the tree pose,
after the quiet reading of O’Donohue’s poem,
you arrive with your heart at the blank page.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


Gratitude List:
1. Sunday Evening Hymn Sing at Freiman Stoltzfus’s gallery. Words and music and poetry and art all intermingle. Sound reverberates through the room, and you can almost feel the intensity with which people are concentrating on the sound. You’re held in a web of sacred sounds.
2. The stories of the morning. Welcoming new members of the tribe.
3. Autumn is stripping down to the essentials. Bare branches frame the sky. Clouds bustle across the blue. Leave skitter through the hollow.
4. Red beet eggs
5. Circles of protection

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

The Sweet Spot Between Striving and Perfectionism


God of Thundering Paws, Thor

The final quotation on this list, from Toko-pa Turner on perfectionism, is powerful for me. I don’t think I present to the world as a perfectionist. My house is messy, I can’t seem to follow a calendar for more than a few weeks at a time, I leave projects unfinished and work incomplete, I make my deadlines at the eleventh hour. Some of us are closet perfectionists, but our perfectionism is perhaps all the more insidious for that. Perfectionism is one of my shadows, the conjoined twin with shame. The never-good-enough twins. Where does that come from?

I’m working on it, steadily and surely, naming it, recognizing how perfectionism is actually at the root of so much of my messiness and time-management trouble and deadline avoidance. Every few weeks or so, I have to remind myself that it’s okay not to be perfect, that my way of being in the world is okay. Like Toko-pa suggests, I need to seek out my eccentricities, acknowledge them, and learn their gifts.

Like so many things in life, it’s a balance. In this case, between relaxing into who I am and striving to be a better person. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but I do need to find out how they inform each other, or they get pretty crunchy inside me.


“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?”
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” ~Leonard Cohen
*
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” –Robin Williams
*
“One gives one’s life to be and to know, rather than to possess.” –Teilhard de Chardin
*
“A smile starts on the lips, A grin spreads to the eyes, A chuckle comes from the belly; But a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows and bubbles all around.” ~Carolyn Birmingham
*
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” –Rumi
*
The Love of Morning
by Denise Levertov

It is hard sometimes to drag ourselves
back to the love of morning
after we’ve lain in the dark crying out
O God, save us from the horror . . . .
God has saved the world one more day
even with its leaden burden of human evil;
we wake to birdsong.
And if sunlight’s gossamer lifts in its net
the weight of all that is solid,
our hearts, too, are lifted,
swung like laughing infants;
but on gray mornings,
all incident – our own hunger,
the dear tasks of continuance,
the footsteps before us in the earth’s
beloved dust, leading the way – all,
is hard to love again
for we resent a summons
that disregards our sloth, and this
calls us, calls us.
*
Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

“You owe me.”

Look
what happens
with a love like that —

It lights the whole
world.

–Hafiz
*
Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
*
“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.”
–William Stafford
*
“Perfectionism is a virus which keeps us running on the treadmill of never-enoughness. It is inherently deadening for how it strives and never arrives. Failure is embedded in its very pursuit, for our humanity can never be homogenised. The only antidote is to turn away from every whiff of plastic and gloss and follow our grief, pursue our imperfections, exaggerate our eccentricities until they, the things we once sought to hide, reveal themselves as our true majesty.” –Toko-pa Turner


Gratitude List:
1. Reminiscing with the leader of the college jazz trio I sang with. I may not be able to sing like that anymore, but that experience pushed me to trust my voice in a way that will never leave me. And maybe now in mid-life, when I am again trying to understand the role of my writer’s voice in the world, I can weave some of that sense of confidence into my forward movement.
2. These two kids–boy and cat–playing toss the mouse. They’re hilarious and very entertaining.
3. This is a momentous day. My dear sister-in-law is being ordained to the ministry this evening. She is one of the most pastoral people I know and has been since I met her thirty years ago in college: she’s a good listener, she’s good at drawing people out, she asks questions that get you thinking more deeply. She has a caring heart, a powerful intuition, and a deep, deep understanding of people and communities. This has been a long journey, and I am excited about celebrating her work in the world. An ordination like this is not so much the beginning of a ministry, but the recognition that she has been doing this work all along.
4. Seeking the sweet spot between striving and perfectionism.
5. All the lovely birthday blessings! I begin my second century buoyed upon the well-wishes of a marvelous community of beloveds.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

You Have Always Known

2013 May 032

You have always known what dawn has to offer you,
what the new-born crescent of a moon
hanging above the oaks on the hillside
wants to tell you about your birth,
how you are born every minute
re-cast, re-formed, re-molded
from the stuff of the which
the stars are made.

You have always known what the owls meant
when they called you out of dreaming
with their shadowy conversations
to listen with your whole body
to their fierce song of desire
that pulls you like tides
into this holy breath
of the day’s longing.

You have always known how it would be here
how this taste of daily incarnation
would ignite those inner bonfires
that keep you always burning,
always longing, always open
to fierce and tender winds
that call your soul awake
into the dawning.

Gratitude List:
1. Words of courage and conviction and challenge.
2. Keeping the hands open.  Avoiding the closed fist.
3. How they laughed while watching Pippi Longstocking.
4. How we’re all in this together.  You do your part, I do mine, and they’ll do theirs, and it all gets put together to make for a new thing in the world.
5. The little breaks and graces that add up to mean more than they mean.  How that makes the coping and muddling all more workable.

May we walk in Beauty!