Claiming Space

Gratitude List:
1. Time with friends
2. Pizza on the grill
3. New shelves in the classroom. I’m starting my fifth year here, and I finally feel like I am filling my space–giving away books that I won’t use, taking the time to organize my shelves in a logical way. I almost can’t wait to get back to teaching!
4. Cooler weather
5. Pewee calling from the chestnut tree

May we walk in Beauty!

Thursday’s Thoughts:
Marc Chagall: “In life there is a single color, it is the color of love.”
“Try this:
Sit in a circle at dusk with people you love.
Let it be when the swifts are flying.
Let there be a catbird with a whiskery voice in a spruce tree.
Speak your stories into the bowl of the space between you:
stories like a rich meal, the bitter, the savory, the sweet.
Let it get dark. The darkness will listen, too.
You can hear people listening when you speak in the dark.
You may light a candle if you have a candle.
Laugh together. Cry.
Let there be occasional questions,
occasional grunts, occasional exclamations of oh-I-hear-that!
Make a meal of the stories before you,
and eat your fill. Be nourished.
Be together in your stories.
Know that all these stories are your story, too.
Let there be a benediction,
words sung or spoken into the full dark,
accompanied by the chittering of bats,
good words to keep you always
in this circle where you belong.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
Thursday’s Quotes:
“Each of us faces a time when the holy well within needs tending. When we’re no longer able to bestow blessings on others because we’ve overgiven, or when something precious has been taken from us, or life’s demands are too great on our fragile system. But when the moisture goes out of our lives, and we’re no longer able to see beauty or converse with magic, we must ask ourselves how we can replenish our well-ness.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“We never belonged to you. / You never found us. / It was always the other way round.” —Margaret Atwood
“Would you like to have an adventure now, or would you like your tea first?” —JM Barrie
“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” —Zora Neale Hurston
“. . .The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth…” —Carl Jung
“Listen. . .with the ear of your heart.” —The Rule of St. Benedict
“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” —Malala Yousufzai
“It’s always the beginning of the world.

“Even if you don’t call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life’s ceaseless invitation to change.

“It’s to this part of you—the restless, inventive spirit—that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don’t be satisfied with the world the way it is; don’t sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.

“Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it’s in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul’s code.” —Rob Brezsny

No Cure for Curiosity

Daily Feather.

“You’ve seen my descent. Now watch my rising.” –Rumi
“If I have something that is too difficult for adults to swallow, I will write it in a book for children.” –Madeline L’Engle
“Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” –perhaps Dorothy Parker
“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” –Thomas Paine
“Once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme.” – Seamus Heaney

Gratitude List:
1. Sleep is healing, and I got lots yesterday and last night. Cold, be gone!
2. Did I mention those fields of sunflowers? I might do it every day for a while. How those golden faces turn toward sunrise.
3. My colleagues. What a team of earnest, compassionate, gentle people, all focused on building up and supporting our teenagers.
4. My kids’ teachers.
5. Homemade pizza

May we walk in Beauty!

Make Your Own

I have heard of people having a make-your-own-pizza night, but last night was our first try. I set out a regular store-bought tomato sauce and a store-bought pesto, and I made up a sort of tapenade of black olives, dried sungold tomatoes, and basil. We chose which of those three we wanted, mixing and layering if we wanted. Then we had little bowls of chopped peppers, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, dill, basil, halved sungolds, slice black olives, and we topped them with shredded cheese. We will definitely be doing this again.

Another poem from last spring’s Creative Writing prompts (write about an element):
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

You’re golden, simply golden,
sunshine on a stick,
a priceless prize,
the treasure in the middle of the map,
a glorious X marking the spot,

which is you,
which has always been you,
just waiting patiently,
a box of surprises:

“In order to arrive at what you are not you must go through the way in which you are not.”
—T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
“We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.” —Richard Rohr
“Whatever gets in the way of the work is the work.”
—Jason Shinder
“An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it. In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth. What these beings are and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend, but it helps to realize that even though they are many, they work as one.”
—Carol Williams
“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.” —Flannery O’Connor
“I don’t know about you, but I didn’t become an environmentalist because someone made a rational argument that convinced me that the planet was in danger. I became an environmentalist out of love and pain: love for the world and its beauty and the grief of seeing it destroyed. It was only because I was in touch with these feelings that I had the ears to listen to evidence and reason and the eyes to see what is happening to our world. I believe that this love and this grief are latent in every human being. When they awaken, that person becomes an environmentalist.” —Charles Eisenstein
“You can’t dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools.” —Audre Lorde

Gratitude List/Examen:
1. (What has awakened you?) The increasingly familiar ache of muscles and joints, the streaming of sunlight into the hollow, the comfortable presence of a small boy, love
2. (How have you encountered Mystery?) The communication that happens between humans and animals. The moment of awareness, of recognition.
3. (What has given you cause for wonder?) Roadside flowers: toadflax, mullein, St. John’s wort, Queen Anne’s lace, purple clover, vetch, buttercup, chicory. So many colors and textures to the weaving.
4. (What has nudged you forward?) Past pains, not wanting the future to be like certain parts of the past. I struggle with this answer. I know it finds me in a caught and immature place. Still, part of what helps me to be a better person is acknowledging past failures so I can amend them for next time, and in these days as I prepare for the coming school year, I need to think about what I managed poorly so I can prepare myself to manage well.
5. (What do you offer the day?) More holding, more noticing, more listening. Laughter. I will find laughter in the day. Also, twinkling eyes–I will seek out twinkles. (This was last year’s answer, and I find it good for today as well.

May we walk in Beauty!

Walking in the Big Story

Another dancing fire picture from last week.  This one is a little dragony. 

Gratitude List:
1. Homemade pizza.  With onions and fresh basil on top.
2. Inner exploration.  I am finishing this semester with my Creative Writers with an autobiographical piece, using lots and lots of writing prompts to explore their identity, to really look at what makes them who they are.  I think that self-reflection can help us to develop into more mature and healthy people.
3. Good Ethiopian Coffee to start my morning
4. Waking up, and then waking up, and then waking up.  There are always new rooms to awaken within.
5. How the stories that we read and listen to intertwine themselves with our own.  Sometimes this process is more intense than others.  I can remember the beautiful language and imagery of certain books with pleasure, but it’s when I am working a book–not just reading it–that I really thoroughly absorb it and take it in.  It happened to me at a young age with the Narnia books, and much later with the Lord of the Rings.  The Odyssey.  Perhaps it’s epics and journey stories that do it mostly.  We ourselves become part of the meta-myth.

May we walk in Beauty!


I am taking a class right now, called Shaping a Community of Learners.  We are using terms like the “invisible curriculum” and discussing the ways in which various philosophers defined the word “care.”  We are asking ourselves what it means to be a teacher, what it means to have a relationship with our students, what capacities we want to develop within our students beyond good grammar, knowledge of the world, and strong mathematical and science skills.

Today, in Jan Richardson’s Sacred Journeys, I came across this excerpt from a sermon by Dorri Sherrill, in reference to Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who defied the pharaoh’s order to kill the male Hebrew babies.  Some people refer to this as the first recorded act of civil disobedience.  Sherrill says: “The truth is that Pharaohs, in some form or fashion, always will exist.  And as Shiphrah and Puah faced the Pharaoh of their day, so we must face ours.  We must face with courage and power those who want to take freedom because we, today, still are called to bring liberation into being, to be co-creators with God in the continual re-creation of the world.  We may not be midwives in the the literal sense, but each of us has a calling to bring to birth that which is in us and each other which, left to its own, likely will die.”

She has much more to say on the subject of courageously facing our Pharaohs, but this last sentence struck me as part of the answer to some of the questions we are asking ourselves in this class: What is the deeper role of the teacher?  The teacher assists as midwife at the birth of her students’ callings.  We help them to birth their dreams, their visions, and their destiny.

Gratitude List:
1.  For all the midwives of my life, real and metaphorical.  Those who helped me to birth my sons, those who helped me to birth my poems and books, those who helped with each vision, each idea, each dream.
2.  For the color orange.  We talk about the food cravings that people have when they are pregnant.  During my very first pregnancy, and then again during my pregnancy with Ellis, I had intense cravings for the color orange.  Weird, perhaps, but I bought orange cloth, wore orange clothes, and hung a picture on my wall of a Maasai mother and child swathed in orange (that picture is still on my wall today).  Today Ellis, clad all in orange, said, “Orange is an apt color for me.”  Yes, I believe so.  Incidentally, my color cravings during my pregnancy with Joss were purple.
3.  Mockingbird.  I think he was following us from field to field during harvest today.  Probably spying on us, to ensure we weren’t going to steal his babies, but along the way he told us marvelous jokes and stories.  Becky reminded me that sometimes they will imitate people, so I am going to start trying to teach him the first few bars of “Ode to Joy.”
4.  Cucumbers and cream cheese on sourdough bread.  A little salt.  Just right.  (And while I am on the subject of food, those boys ate tonight’s pizza supper, though I put so many veggies on it, it was more like casserole on a crust than pizza.)
5.  Working in the fields with the Goldfinch Farm crew.

May we walk in Beauty!