Wish We Were Here

I took these photos in my classroom yesterday. I’m thinking of printing up a postcard to send to my students with one of themse,saying, WISH WE WERE HERE! I’m always a little worried about being cheesy, but maybe that’s part of my function in the lives of teenagers, to be a cheesy eccentric old person. Another option, which might be more comforting, actually, would be this one.

I should make up and order the card today so I can hopefully start sending them out next week. Maybe I’ll do both, and send the serious one to the ones that I think need that boost and the silly one to those who might need a laugh.


Gratitude List:
1. I know they’re always on here, but really that goldfinch out there is the purest yellow I think I have ever seen. He’s radiant. The grey of the rainy day makes it more intense.
2. I’m really grateful that I had a second pair of glasses in the more recent prescription. I can’t seem to fix the eye-piece on the pair I broke, so I ordered a new pair (that was one expensive bag of flour!), but in the meantime, I have these others. I even like the way they look, but they’re really heavy on the bridge of my nose, so I will be glad when the others come in the mail.
3. New things to anticipate: If I have to be home all the time for a while, I am so grateful that it is during the time that the oriole returns. I will be listening every day for his whistle.
4. Capturing yeast. I’m frustrated that we couldn’t find any in the stores we go to (and I am not going to go driving about and searching–it feels like that breaks the spirit of the rules at the moment, even though it’s technically a grocery), so I am capturing some. I’ve done it before, and it’s a great way to connect directly to the science and the livingness of the organisms we use in cooking. This is the third day, and there are little bubbles beginning to form.
5. It’s not just the gold of the finch, but the green also pops out more vividly and verdantly on certain types of grey days. Isn’t that word fabulous? Verdant. I wonder what the original German or Latin version of the word was in Hildegard’s writings. . . I guess there will be a little research in my day.

May we walk in Beauty!


“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ―Thomas Merton


“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ―Thomas Merton


“We see quite clearly that what happens
to the nonhuman happens to the human.
What happens to the outer world
happens to the inner world.
If the outer world is diminished in its grandeur
then the emotional, imaginative,
intellectual, and spiritual life of the human
is diminished or extinguished.
Without the soaring birds, the great forests,
the sounds and coloration of the insects,
the free-flowing streams, the flowering fields,
the sight of the clouds by day
and the stars at night, we become impoverished
in all that makes us human.”
―Thomas Berry


“All acts of kindness are lights in the war for justice.” ―Joy Harjo


“We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.” ―Denise Levertov

Wish You Were Here!

When this is all over, I wonder how it will have affected my teaching? I try to create a student-centered classroom, and I think my normal (non-Exile) classroom is very student-focused, but I still found myself spending a lot of time as the sage on the stage. But now, in the past week and a half, I have probably erred on the side of not enough teaching, and more on project-style instruction. I am working toward finding a balance. I hope that as I travel this new pedagogical pathway I can integrate old and new aspects of my teaching self. Maybe, hopefully, I will come out of this a better teacher.

How are you faring in your new rhythms? Are you able to consider that the new ways of doing things in this time-out-of-time might actually improve your understanding of yourself? It’s okay if you feel like you are in a holding pattern, or like you’re losing ground. Or if you’re back and forth (truth be told, that’s a more accurate picture of my status–it’s just that morning brings a clarity that is not always completely present for me all day).

My heart is with you, who must still go out daily to do essential jobs for the good of the community. May your immune system be as strong as your good heart.

My heart is with you, who have been laid off, or who will be laid off. May you find a settled place within, to face the uncertainty of these days. May help come soon.

My heart is with you, who live alone in Exile. May you find alternate ways to do community, from a safe distance.

My heart is with you, who suddenly have two or more overwhelming jobs: working from home or out in the community, and still supervising your children’s schooling, or caring for the emotional needs of family members and beloveds. May you find rest and may you settle into the new rhythms with grace. You are doing enough. You are enough.


Gratitude List:
1. The birthday bush (I thought tree, but I have been corrected by the soon-to-be-birthday-boy) survived the night. Before we went to bed, I repeatedly reminded the cats that it was their responsibility to protect the tree from goblins in the night. They’re less likely to destroy something (like sleep or a birthday bush) if they have been charged with its protection.
2. I realized yesterday that I will likely be home this year when Oriole returns. My heart rises in anticipation. To sit on the porch all day and listen to him calling in his beloved is one of my great joys.
3. Yesterday, I managed to keep up with the minute-by-minute work as well as catch up significantly on pre-Friday-the-13th work. I am feeling more on top of things, school-wise, than I have felt since the beginning of the semester. Now if only I can try to end my school day at 5 today, then I will be golden.
4. The way humans rise to a crisis. And I know not all humans are rising. But the regular people, often those with the most to lose, have been settling in and creating community, reaching out, looking after each other. I really do love humans.
5. The bird feeders. If I go back to teaching in my physical school building this spring, I am going to have to figure out how to set up some bird feeders on the roof outside my windows. It brings me such great joy to watch the birds.

Take care of each other!

This morning my grandmother is teaching me
that the easiest (and most elegant) way to defeat an army of hatred,
is to sing it beautiful songs
until it falls to its knees and surrenders.

It will do this, she says, because it has finally
found a sweeter fire than revenge.
It has found heaven.
It has found HOZHO.
—Lyla Johnston


“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days… Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…” —Aldous Huxley


“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” —Anaïs Nin


“What a miracle to be awake inside your breathing!” —Hildegard of Bingen


Definition of Weald: wild, forested lands, uncultivated regions


“Religion is at its best when it makes us ask hard questions of ourselves. It is at its worst when it deludes us into thinking we have all the answers for everybody else.” —Archibald Macleish


“This poem is not housebroken.” —Anne Haines


*I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.” —Joan Didion


“Give yourself time to make a prayer that will become the prayer of your soul. Listen to the voices of longing in your soul. Listen to your hungers. Give attention to the unexpected that lives around the rim of your life. Listen to your memory and to the inrush of your future, to the voices of those near you and those you have lost. Out of all of that attention to your soul, make a prayer that is big enough for your wild soul, yet tender enough for your shy and awkward vulnerability; that has enough healing to gain the ointment of divine forgiveness for your wounds; enough truth and vigour to challenge your blindness and complacency; enough graciousness and vision to mirror your immortal beauty. Write a prayer that is worthy of the destiny to which you have been called.” —John O’Donohue

If you have never read Toko-pa Turner’s work, begin by buying her book Belonging. It will be a comforting and enlightening companion for your Exile.

Questions

You say you don’t believe the stories the moon was telling
last night as she rose among the sparkling stars
over the rim of your feather pillow?
You say you’ve forgotten the song she sang,
the way her voice wrapped your heart
in a blanket made of spider silk?
You say you never find yourself lost and alone
and deliriously satisfied in the meadows of a dream?

Surely you have heard the singing when the rainbow arcs the sky?
Surely you have seen the pattern of the swallows’ dance above you?
Surely you can’t have missed the feel of the moon’s fingers
as she caresses your forehead on a summer night?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Friends, I am on the cusp of a big change, standing at the very edge of the cliff now, remembering that I have wings, but not sure that I am ready to fly.  Oh, I know the wind will catch me, and I know all will be well, but it is right and proper, I suppose, for butterflies to fill the belly in the moments before the leap.

Today is my last Friday of farm harvest for the summer.  While I will continue to fill in the cracks as I am able, Tuesday will essentially be the day I take off the farmer’s hat and put on the teacher’s hat.

I am going to try to continue to be present here on the blog through the changes, to continue to write gratitude lists, and hopefully poems, too.  But the space may get a little dusty and cobwebby from time to time as I work to figure out how my new morning schedule works, and where I can carve out writing time in my new world.

Gratitude List:
1. The morning’s rosy sky
2. Creative community: currently, this postcard project, and how one word or phrase or idea on a postcard I receive becomes the thread I grab for the next two or three poems.
3. Wings.  The fierce feeling of the wind in the eyes in the moments before leaping.
4. Last night the hamster cage was left open.  I am grateful that Jon found Afil before Fred the Cat did.
5. Shuffling.  How the pieces can fit together in many different ways.  Sometimes I get afraid to shift things around for fear I’ll set the whole thing crumbling, but new patterns begin to emerge instead, new ways of making it all work.

May we walk in Beauty!