Gratitudes, Musings

Season of Oak

Gratitude of Resistance Twenty-Seven:
Oak leaves. I find myself getting obsessed with oaks at this time of year. The maples are mostly bare, and the walnuts have long ago dropped their leaves. But the oaks muscle through, holding onto their leaves longer than the rest, all shades of brown and ochre and umber and maroon. When we go walking, it’s oak leaves my eyes are finding: chestnut oak, white oak, red oak, pin oak. . .

Wishing you joy on this day of thankfulness for harvest and for beloveds. If family is difficult for you, I wish you friends, peace, quiet reflection, and grace in the minefields of conversations.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Oaks


Today’s prompt is to title the poem the name of a plant, and then to write the poem.

Oaks
(for the people who sit in their trees to stop the pipeline)

The women themselves are oaks
in this ocean of oak,
in these groves of trees–
Sycamore, Poplar, Pine–
riding their boats,
tiny houses high in the boughs of the oak trees.

Riding the waves of storm,
surfing the wind high up in the branches,
they have no safe port, no harbor,
no safe place to re-supply.
Below them, the sharks circle,
waiting for the first sign of weakness.
But their friends, too, have made a circle,
a web to hold the women who sit in the oaks.

The women are watching and waiting.

They are protectors.
They are the guardians.
They are trees and the mothers of trees.
They know the secrets of the acorn.
They know how long it takes an oak to grow.
They have the patience of mountains.


Gratitude List:
1. Warm spring weather
2. Spring breeze
3. Reading books together
4. The defenders of the earth
5. Magic

May we walk in Beauty!


A few weeks ago, I had a Facebook conversation with several friends about the books we loved as children because someone we loved read them to us. The conversation was brought on by a post by the author Kate DiCamillo, who wrote about her elementary school teacher reading her The Island of the Blue Dolphins. Kate DiCamillo is herself the author of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. On Friday, at the Kreutz Creek library book sale, I bought a copy of Edward Tulane. When Joss saw it, he said his Library teacher had read it to his class, and that it was one of his favorite books, and he said we were going to take a break in our reading of Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising in order to read it. We just finished reading it now, on the porch, and even though I knew what was going to happen, even though my heart had been broken and mended with Edward’s half a dozen times already, when the absolute perfect ending happened, I went to pieces and sobbed. Oh. It is exquisite. It is now one of my favorite books, too.

Gratitudes

The Dreams of Trees

Gratitude List:
1. The black arms of trees reaching up into a magenta sky
2. The white arms of the sycamores with the ginger ruff of autumn leaves against the deep grey of woods along the river
3. Al the many varieties of oak
4. The two triplet birch trees in front of my parents’ house
5. The rusty feathers of the larch and dawn redwoods

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Late Bloom


Today’s prompt is to write a “How I’ll be remembered” poem.

How I’ll Be Remembered
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Forget my tendency to pedantry,
the grammatical dogmas,
the adherence to form.

Remember the need for grace,
and the giving of it in return.

Remember the wildness, the laughter,
remember the deconstructed rules.

Remember the earnest Mennonite face, yes,
but hold also the image
of the wild creature on the hillside,
resisting capture in a closed box.

Remember the flakiness, too,
the tendency to butterfly
from one idea to the next,
and the ease with which delight arose.

Remember the fire of my rages,
and let them fuel your own workings.

Remember the flawed and the broken,
remember the one who walked
outside the walls of the City of Despair.

Remember the late bloom,
the long gestation.


Oak is supreme in late November. Maples and willows and sycamore and poplar have lost their leaves, while oak still holds its leathery leaves–golden, brown, burgundy, red–shining in the slant of November afternoon sun. In a few short week, oak will lose its kingly mien and holly will take the place of honor. Holly and pine. For now, oak draws my heart upward.


Gratitude List:
1. Chicken curry and injera leftovers for supper
2. Making progress–slow but steady
3. The ache of muscles after good, healthy, hard work
4. Such a variety of leaves! I think of us as poplar, maple, and sycamore here. I know there are some oaks, but when we rake leaves in autumn, I always find at least three different varieties. I need to walk the property more. Of course, we’re in the hollow, so anything higher on the ridge will eventually drift down to us.
5. Fire Cider/Dragon’s Breath/Rosemary Gladstar

May we walk in Health and Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

The Art of Enough


Today is the feast day of St. Hildegard of Bingen. If I have a patron saint, it would be her. She loved music and art, herbalism and stones. She was mystic, poet, doctor, composer, artist, and theologian. I’ll include some of her quotations in the mix below.

Here, to begin the curated quotations of the day, is something I wrote last year about writing poems, and then a poem I wrote about Sadness.

“I feel like I want a disclaimer before I write a poem about sadness. I realize that my life has been free of the iron grip of sadness that many people experience through depression or trauma or deep, recurring grief. I wrote this poem because I am trying to be Rumi’s Guest House and welcome in any and all who come my way, to learn from them what they would teach me. Sometimes I am a poet sitting at a pool, fishing out a single word at a time. Other days, I sit beside the stream, and the poem jumps right out into my lap and only needs to be tidied up a bit before it’s ready for the page. This is one of the latter.”

She’s a strange guest, is Sadness.
She knocks on the door
and when I open it
she turns her face away, says,
“You probably shouldn’t invite me in.”

But when I close the door,
she comes in anyway,
seeping in around the edges
and standing with her back to the wall.
And then she grows.

When I look directly at her, she dissipates
into the indigo shadows,
and all I can see are her eyes,
full of grief, full of resignation.

Sadness. It’s hard to know her, really,
to understand what she wants of me.

Sometimes she comes in as a cold wind
and I feel my senses tingle with the approach of her
before the world goes numb in her silence.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ―Ram Dass
*
“If you spell HA backwards, you get AH! Put them together and you get AHA!” ―Jeff Raught (I think I got the quotation right)
*
“Like billowing clouds,
Like the incessant gurgle of the brook,
The longing of the spirit can never be stilled.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
The Red Wheel Barrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.
*
“She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans…. But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.”
―Hildegard of Bingen


Gratitude List:
1. I keep learning new things: There is so much to give away, to let go, before I know I have enough.
2. Patience. I have enough Patience, if I can find it behind that stack of Busy-ness that keeps getting in the way.
3. Wisdom. I know I have enough Wisdom here, but it keeps getting lost behind the boxes full of Knowledge and Know-it-allness.
4. Sleep. I can get enough of that, if I just work at it. Sleep is such hard work lately, but it’s better than insomnia.
5. Feathers. What does a feather mean?

May we walk in Beauty!

Musings, Poems

Never Enough

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A couple weeks ago, we took a ride on a little train, the Ma and Pa–we were in the open car, and our shadows raced along beside us in the leaves.

It’s never enough
to say that the eagle flies
over the River.
It’s never enough to say
that the River is flowing.

Gratitude List:
1. Den’s Service Center: Thursday at 4, I called them and said that I was on my way home from work with a slow leak in my tire.  They said they’d look at it, even though it would be the last (and busiest) half hour of their day.  I made it safely, they found the nail and fixed it, and they only charged me $13.
2. Harvest hymns in Friday morning hymn sing yesterday.
3. Oaks–less showy than the sugar maples, perhaps.  A rich rusty red.
4. The monarch I saw the other day at school.  I stepped outside in a brief moment, and there it was, dancing through the slanting autumn sun rays.
5. Breath.  (Ellis says I need to include things that I take for granted.  I agree.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Breath-taking

What an interesting word, that.  One of those that loses some of its value in its overuse.  Over-spoken and Under-thought, perhaps.  Today, my gratitude list is about Breath-taking Views and Scenes.  Places that make me pause in wonder.  That take my breath away for a moment.  But the act of noticing beauty also gives me breath, sustains me for the often difficult practice of compassion.  Breath-giving.

Gratitude List–5 Breath-Taking and Breath-Giving Views that I Noticed Today:
1.  The early spring view off Mount Pisgah, down over the bubbles of hills toward the River.  Green is spreading, but the leaves have not yet hidden the view.
2.  Heading East on 30 across the Susquehanna, looking toward Chiques Rock, with trees along the River frosted white from the morning mist, the poles along the railroad tracks sticking up blackly among them, and the charcoal grey hill and rocks rising beyond.
3.  A small oak tree, with its leathery leaves still clinging on, in a stubbly corn field, surrounded by tall yellow grasses like wheat.
4.  The very old stone house near the mall–probably once a mill?–surrounded by bone-white sycamores and weeping willows just beginning to don their spring green petticoats.
5.  Great blue herons patiently winging through blue sky.  Primal.
May we walk in beauty.

I realize my list is treeful.  Trees people my consciousness and my heart.
Soon the green will come. . .

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Gratitudes

Gratitude List

1.  The sturdy little oak on the corner of Water and James Streets in Lancaster.
2.  Nag champa
3.  Looking for the patterns.  Dendritic agate.
4.  Milk beans and rice.
5.  That interview with Barry Manilow on NPR this morning.  I could hear the wonder creep into his voice when he talked about making music.  After 4 decades.  And he was humble.

Namaste.