Poems

Luna on the Hill

I wrote this poem on 8 October 2014, after seeing part of a lunar eclipse one early morning on my way to work. This morning, again, as we crested Pisgah ridge, the ball of the moon was rolling off over the far hills, a smudge of Earth-shadow beginning to veil her face.

What Moth? What Butterfly?
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The raucous owls were silent in their bamboo haunts
this morning as I rushed up the hill to meet the moon
emerging from her umbral shadow,
from her ombre ochre cocoon.

What moth will she become?
What butterfly will I?

I sat a moment at the junction where my road
meets the ridge, Mt. Pisgah Road before me,
then the tidy fence,
the dusky hill meadow,
a lacy line of trees across the hilltop,
and the changing moon above in chestnut orange glory
nestled into the indigo dawning.

I caught glimpses of her on my way down the ridge
and then in my mirror as I crossed the bridge
over the water and under the last dusk of night
and I saw then that she was only now just fading into the shadow,
only entering her transformation.

I had to leave her there behind me to do her work
behind the veils of dusky morning
while I drove into the shining pink of sunrise,
Venus riding high before me
and two crows above,
lifting their wings in alleluia.

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Fog and Owls

“Fear does not prevent death. It prevents life.” —Naguib Mahfouz
*
“Humans are vulnerable and rely on the kindnesses of the earth and the sun; we exist together in a sacred field of meaning.”
—Joy Harjo
*
“Everything I love most happens most every day.”
—Howard Norman
*
“I was just thinking
one morning
during meditation
how much alike
hope
and baking powder are:
quietly
getting what is
best in me
to rise,
awakening
the hint of eternity
within.”  —Macrina Wiederkehr
*
The Wild Geese
by Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
*
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” —William Wordsworth


Gratitude List:
1. Morning fog
2. Crows flying through trees in the fog
3. The way fog nestles in the hollows, among the hills
4. Driving through morning fog–how it makes the mundane journey feel like an adventure
5. Great horned owl calling from the south. Screech owl calling from the north.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Heart at Rest


In the dream, I too looked directly at the sun. Gold-orange sparkles flashed out from the surface, crackling and twinkling in the air in front of the enormous orb. Was it my looking that caused the sparks, I wonder? And then I turned my face to the other side of the sky, and the moon hung over the horizon, bigger than a hundred moons, filling the sky with its silver face.


“Anyone who feeds on majesty becomes eloquent. The bee, From mystic inspiration, fills its rooms with honey.” ―Rumi
*
“A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.” ― John Ciardi
*
“The heart must be at rest before the mind, like a quiet lake under an unclouded summer evening, can reflect the solemn starlight and the splendid mysteries of heaven.”
―McDonald Clarke (1798–1842) New York poet
*
“How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing—
each stone, blossom, child—
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God


Gratitude List:
1. Those owls. Every night now, my sleep is measured by the rhythm of the owls.
2. The new week is a blank slate
3. Even when the night is a tangle of sneezing kid and twisting dreams, there has been sleep, enough to refresh and renew
4. Interlocking rings of community
5. The ones who speak truth to power. How much we need them today.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Words

 

“The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.”  ― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
*
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
*
“I hold the most archaic values on earth … the fertility of the soul, the magic of the animals, the power-vision in solitude…. the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.” ― Gary Snyder
*
“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh
*
“The study of silence has long engrossed me. The matrix of a poet’s work consists not only of what is there to be absorbed and worked on, but also of what is missing, desaparecido, rendered unspeakable, thus unthinkable.” ―Adrienne Rich
*
“Be ready to be surprised by the crazy, wonderful events that will come dancing out of your past when you stir the pot of memory. Embrace those long-lost visitors.” ―William Zinsser
*
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds. ―Bob Marley


Gratitude List:
1. Fridays
2. Owl calling in the pre-dawn
3. Artists
4. Dreams
5. Words

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

My Voice and the Owls

DSCN8677
Now is the time of the seed-fall, leaf-fall.

“No single voice will be able to take control if everyone in the circle has a voice.” –Kay Pranis

I am learning, these days, about Circle Keeping, holding a space for powerful and intense conversations to occur, where every voice has a chance to be safely heard and listened to. It’s hard work, emotional work, vulnerable work. My school believes in the importance of restoration of relationships during times of conflict, and is spending the resources and teacher time to make sure that a cohort of us from the school become familiar with the process, so that it can be used in times of conflict. I hope that I can begin creating a stronger Circle culture in my classroom. I’ve read about it, and participated in many variations of circles over the years, and even implemented elements in my classrooms, but I know this experience will be very helpful for me.

I needed to leave circle early yesterday in order to celebrate a friend’s wedding. We were in the middle of some very hard work, and I left with quite a lot of anxiety. The topic at hand was about definitions of spirituality, which is a topic close to me heart, but also one that has been difficult for me because of the ways in which my own path diverges from the traditional forms of the faith community where I have situated myself. I didn’t feel that I could be truly, deeply, honest about myself. I was able to speak in one round before I left, but I felt inarticulate and bumbling, and weepy.  And then I had to leave, which should have been a relief, but I think something within me felt a need to engage the topic more head-on, in the way that someone had brought it to the group.

This paragraph right here. I have written parts of it and deleted it six or seven times now. This is the forest where I cannot find words. I wander through and pick up little stones, but none of them feels right to express the dance of distancing and belonging that I do in spiritual circles. Perhaps it is because this is a public forum, and I should write the words in secret. Perhaps it is because the words are like little birds that fly away when I try to catch them.

Gratitude List:
1. Hard conversations that help to bring clarity and deepen understanding
2. Dancing. The wedding last night was beautiful, and the dancing was delightful.
3. Owls. Last night when we got home, three or four screech owls were calling and calling, all over the hollow. This morning, the great horned owl is the one doing the talking. We almost never see them, but I love knowing that we live among owls.
4. When I haven’t found the words I need to express my own truth, but then someone across the circle speaks the very words that I needed.
5. Listening. Listening. Listening.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

A Hole in the Fabric

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And a blue true dream of sky

There’s been a change in my noticing, a small hole in the fabric of my attention. What used to be an alive and vibrant node in my awareness is now an empty expectancy.  I experienced a little zing every time I walked beneath the sycamore tree, even if I did not take the time to pause and look up, to find the tiny nest, to focus my aging eyes on the spot where two tiny birds were growing. Now the nest is only a shell, a remnant. It’s a wonderment all the same, that tiny house of cobweb, but it is empty.

Yes. Empty is a cutting word.

No, this is no grief akin to the great griefs. It’s just a little hole, a shift, an empty place where my attention and sense of wonderment flowed for weeks, but which is now an empty space like other empty spaces. There is other wonder to seek. There are other places for my deep attention to flow. The dog of my brain is sniffing the air for the next impossible beauty, the next whirring of wings, the next impossible thing that exists.

Gratitude List:
1. New ideas that keep the mind alive
2. The people who are welcoming the refugees
3. The people who stand up for justice
4. The voices of my friends the owls, calling from the bamboo forest
5. You. How we hold the world together, together. How our hands are joined across time and distance to form webs that carry and comfort, that heal and make whole.

Blessings on the Work!

Gratitudes, Musings

Scandalous Grace

Sometimes it just feels good to settle into the grumpy places, like a hen, and brood a bit. Then when the time is right, you step out into the sunshine, shake the dust out of your feathers, and run with the flock.

We live in the layers. Part of me wants to be so evolved and conscious in my living that I don’t get into the occasional grumpy snit, that I don’t lose my temper and holler at my kids, that I don’t go on a rant with no reasonable basis in facts, that I don’t buy myself a new pair of boots just for the fleeting happiness of new stuff. But there’s a paradox in there, I think. To actually embrace my humanness, to live in the layered reality of being a being in a body right now, I have to experience those bits of me that I am a little sheepish or ashamed about. Part of the mystery and the delight of being human is the life in the layers–we can be seeking to understand the deep pools of our emotions and the far-reaching paths of spirit and still, when it comes down to it, these are the clothes we wear, these human clothes, and sometimes the emotional bits get a little messy.

Perhaps it’s also partially a function of the Swiss/German DNA that I carry in my human clothing. Even while I am having a rant or a snit, some small voice in the back of my head is saying, “Now is that reasonable?  Is that proper?” Perhaps for me, diving more deeply into the layers, exploring the depth of my humanness, might mean stilling that voice, letting myself have at it, not worrying whether my current rant is grounded in verifiable facts like a college research paper, whether I am going to sound sulky or whiny.

I think that what I am saying is that reason and philosophy and spiritual seeking are all good and useful tools, but that a life too focused on being reasonable and rational can divorce us from the emotional part of our fully human selves. Emotions aren’t reasonable. Like any art supply, they’re messy. But they’re colorful, too. Here’s to the art of living in the layers!

Gratitude List:
1. Getting home in the dark and getting out of the car to the hooting of the Great Horned Owl in the bamboo. They’re really active right now. About a week ago, one night as we were putting the boys to bed, the owls were having a regular hootenanny out in the woods–there must have been at least three of them, and they weren’t leaving their usual thoughtful pauses between comments.
2. I finished all my coursework for my class:Building Caring Communities. It has been a wonderful class, and I have found much that I can apply directly to my classroom, so I am grateful for that. But I am weary and eager to have a little less on my plate for a while, so I am grateful that it is over, too.
3. Family time over the holiday. Crazy Uno games with both sides of the family. Thoughtful conversations. Hugs and snuggles and sharing delicious food.
4. Tender justice and scandalous grace.
5. Revolutionary poetry.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

So Much We Do not See

There is so much we do not see.
We walk through a maze of rocks on a beach
and think that all the world is washed in beige,
when before us lie the myriad possibilities
of the rainbow, if we would only turn our gazes
to the shine, the light that splinters
into beauty on every surface.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  The great horned owls are calling this morning.  I have heard three distinct voices, I think.  Their call, here in the hollow, is the same rhythm as I have heard it elsewhere, but there’s something different, like a regional accent, an extra light bounce between the early notes.
2.  From my end, chapel seemed to go well yesterday.  They seemed attentive to what I was saying.  I talked about the Open Bowl of the Heart: the practice I do, when I get to feeling hopeless and despairing about what is wrong in the world, of visualizing that my heart can hold it all, the stories of horror right alongside the stories of unexpected kindness and the beauty around me.
3.  Elderberries!  Thanks to my wonderful friend Tabea, I now have two large bags of berries in the freezer, enough to make quite a bit of syrup to keep my family healthy in the coming winter, I hope.
4.  Unexpected kindnesses.  A student I have never met walked into my classroom and deposited on my desk a picture that he had drawn for me, a beautiful pencil rendering of a movie heroine.  Apparently he used to draw pictures for my predecessor, and he decided to keep up the tradition.  Lucky me!
5.  This gray moth that is fluttering about in front of the computer has a little flash of rosy sheen when its wings catch the light just so, and when it slows down enough for me to see.  It’s sort of like the magic of moonstone or labradorite, appearing dull and grayish on the surface, but filled with faerie twinkles when it is turned to the light just so.  Maybe people are like that, too, the ones who seem to be going about the day in a gray pallor, not drawing particular attention to themselves suddenly shine forth a color you can’t even name, it comes on you so whimsically.

May we walk in Beauty!