Saturday’s Stories: ‘When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego and when we escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personality and get into the forests again, we shall shiver with cold and fright but things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in, and passion will make our bodies taut with power. We shall stamp our feet with new power and old things will fall down, we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like burnt paper.’ ―D.H.Lawrence
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” ―Rabindranath Tagore
“Every day look at a beautiful picture, read a beautiful poem, listen to some beautiful music, and if possible, say some reasonable thing.” ―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire?” ―Christine Valters Paintner
“Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity, we shall harness for God energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world we will have discovered fire.” ―Teilhard de Chardin
“We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.” ―Hildegard of Bingen
“Dare to declare who you are. It is not far from the shores of silence to the boundaries of speech. The path is not long, but the way is deep. You must not only walk there, you must be prepared to leap.” ―Hildegard of Bingen
I’ve been a little obsessed with the vampire dream I had the other night, with the idea that I knew in the dream that I was watching the images appearing as I read a poem. I needed to have the poem. Because it has an old folk tale feeling, I kept getting caught up in archaic-sounding language. The rhythm and rhyme kind of happened naturally as I began, and even though it felt a little like a light-hearted cadence, I just plugged on. I’m sort of happy with it.
The moon was high on a cool fall night, and my child walked home in its silver light. Her clothes were ragged and her feet were bare and the moon laid a crown on her raven hair.
Approaching the field called “Soldier’s Rest,” she saw an old man in soldier’s dress. He too was tattered, from head to toe, and he sat on a stump, with his head bowed low.
With a deferential nod as she passed by, my youngster caught the old man’s eye. “Stop for a while,” he called from his seat. “I’ve a tale for you I’ve ached to repeat.”
Long she listened in polite fascination while the elder unspooled his bitter narration of stabs in the back and egregious wronging, of betrayals and rages, unrequited longing.
After his recital, she begged his kind pardon, and turned toward home, our small cabin and garden. As soon as I heard her open the gate, I gathered her into my arms. It was late,
and I bolted and barred the front door for the night as she told of her encounter with the angry old wight and showed me through cracks in the shutters the spot up the road in the moonlight where the elder still sat.
We’d hardly turned and were crossing the floor than the old one materialized through the door. I guessed in an instant his vampire constitution, but how could he enter without invitation?
He’d twisted her natural child’s civility into the requisite welcome for entry. Icy fingers of fear grabbed my throat and my spine and my child sank to the floor with an anguished cry.
Through the snail-stepping hours of that longest of nights I tended my child as he drew out her life. I tried every hex, incantation, and prayer to make him release her from his vampiric stare
but all I could do was to keep her alive with my own spirit-breath. I cannot describe the exhaustion and horror of each minute that passed as I waited for dawn when my power at last
could unmake him. But then at the moment I thought I was lost the first rays of morning broke in, and crossed the vampire’s shadow. I saw him whiten like death, and my beloved daughter drew one long deep breath.
I built up the fire and opened the door, and our tormentor groaned and rose from the floor, floated upward and out, and faded like song as we heard the first notes of the first bird of dawn.
Take care, my friends, of the boundaries you keep. The old tales ask for kindness, but vampires will creep through your civil demeanor with evil inventions, so be canny and wise and make clear intentions.
Thursday’s Words: “If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures.” —Thomas Berry
“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” —Kurt Vonnegut
“For a Star to be born, there is one thing that must happen; a nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your Destruction. This is your birth.” —attributed to Noor Tagouri
”So much of bird flight is really expert falling, slipping into that delicate space within the argument between gravity and air resistance. That natural alchemy transforms a plummet into a glide. Someday, I hope to learn to fail like birds fall.” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist
Gratitudes: 1. My order of Africafe came today. I opened it up and the smell took me home. 2. All these mushrooms! So many, and so many varieties! 3. So much gold, and red. So much shine when the sun slants in. 4. People who carry on and do what they know is right even when they get blocked at every turn. 5. The life of Lucille Bridges, who gave her first-grade daughter Ruby the support she needed to face hostile crowds every day on her way to school. Ms. Bridges died today at age 86.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!
Gratitude List: 1. People can change and grow and transform 2. Cool mornings 3. Moving toward green. We’re still being super careful, and we worry that the numbers might be going up. Still, it’s okay to start dreaming and planning, anxious as it is. 4. The voices of young women. Did you hear about those six teenage girls who planned a multi-thousand person protest in their city? 5. Rest
Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly–in Beauty!
“In times of uncertainty, the most difficult thing to do is to stop searching for detours. It can be tempting to act from the desperation one feels when an abyss opens around you, but all of the ego’s equipment is useless in these dark regions. Instead, consider this an invitation to deepen your trust, to renew your committed heart to its course. After all, every creation was first seeded in an absence.” —Toko-pa Turner
“No,” Charles Wallace said. “I have to go on. We have to make decisions and we can’t make them if they’re based on fear.” ―Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
“Live not for Battles Won. Live not for The-End-of-the-Song. Live in the along.” ―Gwendolyn Brooks, Report from Part One
“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. . . .” ―Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
“Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” ―Abraham H. Maslow
“I don’t try to understand everything in nature. I just look at it. And enjoy it.” ―Bob Ross
“Don’t build walls around your passions. Don’t be a gatekeeper to enthusiasm. Don’t scorn the uninitiated or treasure exclusivity. Instead, cultivate your loves into a vast forest. Build many paths there and, when you encounter a stranger beneath the trees, greet her as a friend.” —Jared Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist
I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process— an integral function of the universe.” —R. Buckminster Fuller
Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” ―David Bowie
“A good half of the art of living is resilience.” ―Alain de Botton
“Everyone needs a practice which polishes them, to wear away at the obscuring mindstuff which settles like debris on one’s way of seeing. In our hearts, we know there is meaning to it all, an ordering nature to the chaos, but like a dream which slips away into forgetting, we have to practice at coming into its coherency. Without such a practice, we fall prey to the belief that the toxic fog of consensus culture is the real reality. When in fact, it is only the ‘not-beauty’ behind which beauty is hiding.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
Gratitude List: 1. How poems from past Aprils come back to show me how I have grown, and what I have forgotten. 2. Wednesday is now a little Thursday, penultimate day of teaching. There is space for breathing. 3. Music 4. Story 5. Poetry
May we walk in Beauty!
“The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.” —Barry H. Gillespie
“There is room for you at our table, if you choose to join us.” —Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing
“For beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen.” —from the musical “Ordinary Days”
“You will be found.” —from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen”
“How do you become the person you’ve forgotten you ever were?” —from the musical “Anastasia”
“The universe is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of tiny stories.” ―Joseph Gordon-Levitt
To all the children by Thomas Berry
To the children who swim beneath The waves of the sea, to those who live in The soils of the Earth, to the children of the flowers In the meadows and the trees of the forest, To all those children who roam over the land And the winged ones who fly with the winds, To the human children too, that all the children May go together into the future in the full Diversity of their regional communities.
Carl Jung: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.” ―Rumi
“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend, or not.” ―Isabel Allende
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ―Bréne Brown, Wholehearted
Gratitude List: 1. The large list of students who signed up to take the ASL Club that our deaf student is leading at school.
2. Breaking through the walls. People wear walls on their faces, and the walls are meant for protection, but they hinder belongingness and tenderness and community. I don’t think I am good at knowing the exact thing that will break through a wall, but yesterday, two of my attempts were successful, and the joy of those moments of connection with hidden souls made my day.
3. COOL AIR!
4. Kind words.
5. The Resistance. Keep resisting, keep pushing for kindness, for goodness, for compassion, for community, for humaneness. You give others heart and hope whenever you stand against the tide of unpleasantness and crassness and greed. You may not always feel it, but thousands are standing with you.
6. (Did I mention cool air? I can think better in cool air.)
May we walk in Beauty!
“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
how much alike
and baking powder are:
getting what is
best in me
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
“Death is an ascension to a better library.” —John Donne
Gratitude List: 1. I met a long black snake in the grass on the way up the hill to water at the greenhouse today. I do have a startle reflex every time I see a snake, but I love them so much, and this one was glossy and watchful. I always feel like it’s a blessing to see them.
2. The excitement of kids getting ready for a yard sale
3. Corn on the cob
4. The people who know what is right and just and good, and then they do that, even at cost to themselves.
5. Quiet time
May we walk in Beauty!
“Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.” —Aldo Leopold
“Recognize the invisible hands that guide you, the breath that breathes you, the walls and roof that keep cold from chilling you, the water that magically springs from your taps, the long line of ancestors whose every step made your incarnation possible. You belong to these holy helpers. You have undisputed membership. In your recognition of this wealth, your own life cannot help but become an offering back to that which feeds you.” —Toko-pa Turner
“For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning.
“You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, but it is still not enough to be able to think of all that.
“You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open windows and the scattered noises.
And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.” —Rainer Maria Rilke
“. . .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
“The very form of our thinking has to be re-formed from “thinking about” to “thinking within,” and Silence is the teacher. . . . Silence is intelligence. . . . As we enter into Silence, we enter into Wisdom. We do not become wise but enter into the objective Wisdom of world processes. Judgment, as the primary mode of our thinking, ceases or is taken up only when needed for our practical life. As we enter into the Wisdom of Silence, we allow ourselves to be taught by the things of the world.” —Robert Sardello
“We are not alone. The world gets so heavy sometimes, but it’s at the heavy times that you can look around you and see all the people who are stepping out to the front to get the Work done. Sure, there’s a lot of fluffy and ranty clamor that distracts, but keep your eyes and ears open. They’re there, stepping into the fray, holding people, presenting clear and thoughtful ideas, loving their neighbors and the world. Often, they’re keeping their mouths shut, though sometimes they are the ones writing cogent and articulate pieces that help to shape the conversation. Listen and watch. The Workers are out there.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
“To disobey in order to take action is the byword of all creative spirits. The history of human progress amounts to a series of Promethean acts. But autonomy is also attained in the daily workings of individual lives by means of many small Promethean disobediences, at once clever, well thought out, and patiently pursued, so subtle at times as to avoid punishment entirely.” —Gaston Bachelard
“Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” ―Linda Hogan (Always a favorite)quotations
Wise Words for Wednesday:
“The only time incorrectly is not spelled incorrectly is when it is spelled incorrectly.”
“There is no such thing as one-sided generosity. Like one ecosystem, we are each at different times receiving or purging, growing or pruning. In those moments when you believe you aren’t receiving enough, consider what you most want to receive might be the thing you need to give away.” —Toko-pa Turner
“Long you sat and wept,
feeling the bars of the cage
that held your spirit fast,
until one bright May morning
when you raised your eyes
toward the sun and saw
how the bars were only shadows,
each one a pathway
showing you the way out.”
“Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.” —Joanna Macy
“What if the Creator is like the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s God: “like a webbing made of a hundred roots, that drink in silence”?
What if the Source of All Life inhabits both the dark and the light, heals with strange splendor as much as with sweet insight, is hermaphroditic and omnisexual?
What if the Source loves to give you riddles that push you past the boundaries of your understanding, forcing you to change the ways you think about everything?
What if, as Rusty Morrison speculates in “Poetry Flash,” “the sublime can only be glimpsed by pressing through fear’s boundary, beyond one’s previous conceptions of the beautiful”?
Close your eyes and imagine you can sense the presence of this tender, marvelous, difficult, entertaining intelligence.” —Rob Brezsny
I think it is only a couple months that I have been putting these quotations on this blog, but I have noticed that I began the practice on FB about a year ago. When they reappear now, I re-use some of them, and I choose a few new ones from the day’s searches.
“Hold on to what is good, Even if it’s a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, Even if it’s a long way from here. Hold on to your life, Even if it’s easier to let go. Hold on to my hand, Even if I’ve gone away from you.”
–A Pueblo Indian Prayer
“All roads lead to my house,
Even ones I’ve never known.
And when I’m backing out my driveway,
I’m just taking the scenic route home.”
–Trout Fishing in America
‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.’ –Lewis Carroll
yellow walnut leaves
twist and twirl silently earthward
lavishly giving themselves to breeze, to breath
prodigal as love –Beth Weaver-Kreider
I wish for you,
when you lose your way,
a bright feather on your path.
I wish for you,
when your eyes are spangled with tears,
a shaft of shining light to prism you a rainbow.
I wish for you,
when the load is heavy,
a gentle wind to lift you up.
May your roads be green.
May your stars shine brightly in the night.
May the valley ahead be filled with small hearth fires
and the sound of singing. –Beth Weaver-Kreider
“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.”
— Maya Angelou
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
— James Baldwin
Gratitude List: 1. Going back to school. Yesterday, when we were buying school supplies, the young man at the check-out told us he is a high school senior. Talking to him, I realized that I’d flipped the switch on summer–I want to be back in the presence of teenagers.
2. The boys are excited to go back to school, too.
3. Entering new rhythms
4. The sheer joy of playing fetch and mouse hockey with a madcap cat
5. The glorious weekend that stretches before us
“Sacred activism is the fusion of the mystic’s passion for God with the activist’s passion for justice — creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve, and nurture every living thing. ” ―Andrew Harvey
“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” ―Frederick Buechner
“Listen to the night as it makes itself hollow.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke
Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.” ―The Talmud
“Choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance. You’re going to confuse, piss off, and terrify lots of people, including yourself. One minute you’ll pray that the transformation stops, and the next minute you’ll pray that it never ends. You’ll also wonder how you can feel so brave and so afraid at the same time.” ―Brene Brown
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” ―Joseph Campbell
“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ―Elie Wiesel
“The seduction in the wake of betrayal is to take up a thicker armour, to practice at expecting less of others, or to punish one’s own naïveté. But these are the same refusals from which our world is dying. Never should a judgement be made against one’s willingness to open the heart.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
“I’m so lucky we lived through who we were to become who we are.” ―Neil Hillborn
Prayer for Kyla (in Tanka)
Beth Weaver-Kreider (a 2 years ago―grateful today)
breathing in patience
breathing out worry and fear
breathing in silence
breathing healing, breathing hope
breathing light, breathing courage
“Grace bats last.” ―Anne Lamott
Gratitude List: 1. Vegetable stromboli. So satisfying. I think I am going to make it lots this summer with whatever veggies we have on hand.
2. The sound of the wind singing in my hoop earrings.
3. A clean house and a mowed lawn. Now I want to just be here.
4. The mumbly wuv-yous of bluebirds. All day in the hollow: “There, there. It’s all okay. See here, I wuv you, wuv you.”
5. A roomful of stories: A friend of mine challenged his FB friends to try to tell a story about themselves that no one else on the thread would have done or experienced. I copied him, and the stories that have come from that one prompt are amazing. Funny, terrifying, richly inspiring, mortifying, humanizing. I don’t know if I have ever hosted such a successful party.