Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Tabula Rasa, Sort of

I’m not quite sure what that white rectangle is down on the lower right, 
but it seems to be the blank page.

One thing I love about being part of The Academy (I like the pompous sound of that, more than “school system”) is that twice a year I get a fresh start. No matter how badly I feel about myself at the end of a semester, there’s always a fresh, uncharted page coming up, and I can write myself onto that page as solidly and competently as I possible. There’s a hopefulness, a sense of lightness and release. Maybe I can do this, after all. After the slog at the end of the semester, suddenly, there’s a burning fire of creative juices, and a little chorus of inner voices, saying, “You can do this thing!”

Some semesters are harder than others, and this past semester got caught up in the grind of my slip into the year’s shadow. It was harder this year than it has been for a long time. So there’s a soberness to the creative fires that are sparking for the new page before me. And I still have all that work to finish up from last semester. Still, I love the bright shine of that empty page ahead, stretching out before me like the fields of snow I woke up to this morning.


Gratitude List:
1. The beautiful singers at my school. They’re so brave, these young people who get up on stage to perform for their whole school. I am grateful for my colleagues in the music department who offer our kids such a powerful music education. I have tried not to push my own child into the music classes–I want him to be free to take whatever he wants, to explore all his interests–so I am really delighted that he is taking chorus and two different bands this semester.
2. This week’s birds: kestrel hovering, vultures everywhere (as usual), two bald eagles, blue heron, owls calling in the bosque, and crows and geese winging across the sunrise skies. My soul is stirring, too.
3. Tabula Rasa. The fresh page.
4. Snow.
5. The magic of air filling lungs. I listened to a Shakespeare scholar talk this week about how a line of iambic pentameter is just the right number of beats to fill the human lungs. I might have to start reading Shakespeare sonnets to wake up in the mornings.

May we walk in Beauty on the Fresh Page of Today.


“This is the season of owl,
of winds that howl through the hollow,
the season of the sharp bark
of the fox, voicing longing in the bosque.

This is the season of bitter,
of fierce flakes feathering cheeks and hands,
the season of crystal, crisp and cutting,
of beauty that will slice you open.

This is the season of rising,
thin and pale, into the dawn air,
but also of burrowing, huddling deep
into the layers that hold you.

Walk the thin line of today with care,
one foot precisely placed, the other. . .

Perhaps you will notice,
when you raise your eyes for a moment,
how the line curves out ahead of you,
bringing you
always
back home.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (1/13/16)


“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” —Robert Frost


“I am always doing what I cannot do yet
in order to learn how to do it.” —Vincent van Gogh


“Have you been to jail for justice? Then you’re a friend of mine.” —Anne Feeney


“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.” —Naomi Shulman


“‎The desire to reach the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible.” —Maya Angelou


“Begin with something in your range. Then write it as a secret. I’d be paralyzed if I thought I had to write a great novel, and no matter how good I think a book is on one day, I know now that a time will come when I will look upon it as a failure. The gratification has to come from the effort itself. I try not to look back. I approach the work as though, in truth, I’m nothing and the words are everything. Then I write to save my life. If you are a writer, that will be true. Writing has saved my life.” —Louise Erdrich (via Terri Windling’s Myth and Moor blog)


“Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
Re-examine all you have been told
at school or church or in any book;
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”
—Walt Whitman


“In lying to others we end up lying to ourselves. We deny the importance of an event, or a person, and thus deprive ourselves of a part of our lives. Or we use one piece of the past or present to screen out another. Thus we lose faith even within our own lives.

“The unconscious wants truth, as the body does. The complexity and fecundity of dreams come from the complexity and fecundity of the unconscious struggling to fulfill that desire.” —Adrienne Rich

Gratitudes, Musings

Persephone Rises


Quotes for the Day:
“To survive, you must tell stories.” ―Umberto Eco
***
“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
―Henri J.M. Nouwen
***
“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” ―Wendell Berry
***
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ―Walt Whitman


Gratitude List:
1. The greening. Fields and lawns and grassy patches everywhere. Persephone rises.
2. The sap is rising. You can see the life force in the trees, pushing color and light into the limbs. Persephone rises.
3. Aconite and crocus. Persephone rises.
4. The young ones are rising, speaking their voices, leading the way.
5. We saw a great horned owl today. Harried by crows, it flew into the tops of the poplars on the hill above the pond. It waited where couldn’t see it for quite a while, until the crows got bored and flew off. Then it took wing back to the trees up the the hill.

May we walk in Beauty!

Fictions, Gratitudes

Learning Chess

sunrise

Gratitude List:
1. Playing Chess. I am so bad at it. I think of myself as being fairly intelligent, but I am miserable at chess. I do dumb things. But I am loving playing, and loving being schooled by my ten-year-old.
2. Crawling out from under the rock.
3. Long sleeps.
4. The light will return. The light will return. The light will return. Wednesday at 5:44, to be precise.
5. The Great Horned Owl calling in the bosque.

May we walk in Beauty!

****

I’m not sure where I am going with this story. I may take more time off. I seem to have shifted out of the voice in which I began it, and it’s becoming tedious to write it without that initial fire. Perhaps its next steps will have to happen during summer vacation.

****
Deep in the lower ring of the city, where the bustle of the market lasted from early in the morning to late in the evenings, where the fruit and vegetable vendors set up their brightly-colored stalls along the main street out to the gates, where the shops of the bakers and the butchers lined the ancient walls in a rumble-tumble fashion–there where the press of humanity was greatest, in the back of the shop of Bilhah the Baker, there grew up a secret school for women and girls.

While educating females was expressly forbidden by law, many families saw fit to “teach” their daughters to read and write and do simple sums in order that they might help with the family businesses.  As long as no one pushed against the law and tried to send their daughters to school, the spirit of the law could be bent for the good of the family economy.

In recent years, however, the generals had begun to take a firmer hand. King Astra Djin, they whispered secretly amongst themselves, was soft. He wanted easy living, fine wine, gentle and docile women, and lots of gold. His hardest edges were reserved for the collection of taxes, which he raised in greater amounts with each succeeding year.  The generals believed, to a man, that the city-state of Zammarqand needed a heavy-fisted rule. The king could have his cushy life, and the generals would keep him content, fat and happy, while they set about the careful enforcement of law and order in the city.

Gratitudes, Musings

Instructions to Myself

fort2
Just two kids playing in their fort.

Instructions to Myself:
1. Make eye contact.  Even with the people you live with.  Especially with the people you live with–it’s easy to take their solid presence for granted and forget to look them in the eye.
2. Give people the smile they need.  Only some people need the broad and open smile.  Some need a quiet I-see-you smile.
3. Cultivate curiosity, not only about ideas and facts, but about people.
4. Ask.  Don’t tell. This is hard for me, because I like to tell. Learn to draw people out in conversation.
5. Don’t hide your awe. Sometimes people are just waiting for someone to show them the doorway into wonder.

Gratitude List:
1. (In Tanka)
Impossible things
that actually exist,
like the hummingbird.
how she hovers, how she hums,
how she flies like a whisper.
2. Also bats, which are creatures of impossibility.  How they dart and wheel in the circle of space underneath the poplar and sycamore trees, feasting on the wing, right here where we are, as if they enjoy our company.
3. The crisp, cooling crunch of cucumber.
4. All those owls.  Two or three screech owls whinnying in the bamboo grove, and further off, a great horned owl, echoing through the hollow.
5. The way Beauty surrounds us, taps us on the shoulder, breathes in our ears, wraps us in Her veils of wonder.

May we walk in Beauty.  Beauty ever ancient, ever new.

Gratitudes

Paradox

cropped-p4210004.jpg

Gratitude List:
1. The way a good dream infects waking life with its lessons and images and stories
2. That great horned owl calling in the bosque.  May you have good healthy eggs and a safe hatching this year, friend!
3. Wonder
4. Good work to do–even when I wake up tired, even when I am not as prepared for the day as I would like, I still like going there and being in that place with those people.
5. Paradox, mystery, contradictions, the open-ended question

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Season of Owl

2013 May 032

This is the season of owl,
of winds that howl through the hollow,
the season of the sharp bark
of the fox, voicing longing in the bosque.

This is the season of bitter,
of fierce flakes feathering cheeks and hands,
the season of crystal, crisp and cutting,
of beauty that will slice you open.

This is the season of rising,
thin and pale, into the dawn air,
but also of burrowing, huddling deep
into the layers that hold you.

Walk the thin line of today with care,
one foot precisely placed, the other. . .
Perhaps you will notice,
when you raise your eyes for a moment,
how the line curves out ahead of you,
bringing you
always
back home.

Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday’s really lovely start to the new semester.  Nobody, including myself, is very squirrelly yet (we’ll get there, I’m sure).
2. The energy of teaching a new class.  Like being the newbie again.  I’m a little terrified, but in a good and energizing way.
3. Clouds.  Whole fantasy worlds and landscapes there above us.  This is the time of year when the clouds are tinged with sunset as I drive home, and tinged again with sunrise on my way to work.
4. Snow.  Just a dusting.
5. How a hot drink warms hands and face.

Blessings on your day!  May you find Beauty.

Gratitudes, Poems

After the Owl

EWK 2 001

Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled “After __________”

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.

Gratitude List:
1. Collegiality.  Working as a team.
2. Blank pages.  That is to say, fresh possibilities.
3. Blank pages.  That is to say, a chance to start fresh.
4. Wild geese and starlings
5. Figuring out how to say what I really mean to say.

May we walk in Beauty.

Gratitudes, Poems

Birds of Skunk Hollow

Somewhere in the wood,
mourning dove sings of desire:
“Who and who and who?”
Then, from deep in the bamboo,
the owl answers, “You, you, you.”

Gratitude List:
1.  Synchronicity.  People in very different places of my life this week have recommended that I read the very same two authors.
2.  Owl and dove
3.  Sun and thaw and thaw and thaw.
4.  Will forces
5.  Poppy jasper

May we walk in Beauty!